Tuesday, March 5, 2013

III: Why having a D800 feels like having a Mac in the 90's

Part III

Read Part I

Read Part II

My mother bought our first computer, a HP Windows system PC, it was awful, unstable and prompt to all kind of errors, it took longer to get the computer ready to work than the time you took to write your essay. Two weeks after, we returned it and exchanged it for a Mac, like the one on the picture. It was not a popular computer and had less software options than the Windows, but it did what you asked it to and almost never froze. My friends made fun of me and my odd computer but I had more time to play and I was happy. Since then I have been a Mac fan and never regretted it, even tough now every "cool" person has to have one, even if its just to send mail and work with MS Office.

 Now days I feel the same way about my Nikon D800. Everyone is so used to the Canon 5D Mark II that they ask for it or the Mk. III as a camera type. They don't say " do you have a HD DSLR for this project" they say "do you have a Mark II or III for this project" and then comes the long explanation of why the Nikon D800 is better in my opinion and after the project is done, they seem really surprised and happy, because they never thought that the D800 would be such a great camera to work with. I think D800 to them sounds worse than 60D.

So I decide to make this blog, to bring this unknown camera out to everyone. We will discuss, I mean and hope "DISCUSS" is a lot of feedback and opinions, all the ways we can use this great camera, mine is called Lumen, and the pros and cons, advice for and from Professional Videographers and technical details.

My objective for this blog is to help people consolidate information about this camera.
On the next post we will start to discuss technical details about the camera.

Have a great day.

Monday, March 4, 2013

II: Why having a D800 feels like having a Mac in the 90's...

· Part II : 5D Mk. III  vs. D800


Read Part I

They both came out "almost" at the same time. It gave me some months to see if my gut was right and the Nikon would turn the table on Canon.

So I made a list of Pros and Cons:

Canon 5D Mk. III


  • Magic Lantern type software. (Better video options and menus)
  • More lenses to be adapted. (Nikkor included, with limited options)
  • 4:2:0 8bit internal recording with a great codec. (no huge files)
  • Great high ISO performance. Up to 64000 ISO.
  • 3.2" screen (bigger is better).
  • Myriad of Canon and Mk. II fans accessory's.
  • Incredible Photographic camera (2 in 1 body). 


  • No 4:2:2 10bit external CLEAN HDMI output (now available).
  • No internal Image Stabilizer (bad for handheld) 
  • No PL mount lenses allowed.
  • Bad low and normal ISO performance.
  • External time lapse option.
  • Bad Sound controls (worse internal sound) .
  • Moire (most non over €10,000 cameras have it).
  • No RAW output option.
  • DSLR (not user friendly for video).
  • 30 min recording barrier (due to a dumb tax law in Europe).
  • More expensive than the D800. 

Nikon D800 



  • Nikkor glass fits without any converter and all functions remain.
  • 36,6mpx Sensor.
  • FX 1x, 1,2x, DX 1,5x video formats, which means all prime lenses x3.
  • Integrated time lapse option.
  • Great low and normal ISO performance. Up to 1600 ISO.
  • 14 DR stops if properly used at 100 ISO.
  • SD & CF cards compatible.
  • 4:2:0 8bit internal recording with a great codec. (no huge files)
  • 4:2:2 10bit external CLEAN HDMI output (external recorder allowed)
  • 3,2" screen. (bigger is better)
  • Very good original firmware "Movie" controls.
  • Sound input levels can be arranged to become neutral. ( better internal sound)
  • Myriad of Nikon accessory's.
  • Incredible Photographic camera (2 in 1 body). 
  • Cheaper than the 5D Mk. III


  • Less lenses to be adapted, no PL (no Canon glass, not a great loss)
  • Moire (most non over €10,000 cameras have it)
  • No RAW output option
  • DSLR (not user friendly for video)
  • 30 min recording barrier (due to a dumb tax law in Europe)
  • No Internal Image Stabilizer (bad for handheld)
  • No Magic Lantern type software. (new to the video-hacker)

That is as far as the comparison went before the "gut feeling" became obviously right .

Here are some links that speak well of both cameras (make up your mind):

So I bought the D800 and I have never regretted it, except for the fact that I feel with the D800 the same way I felt back in the 90's with my Mac.

On Part III  I will explain why.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I: Why having a D800 feels like having a Mac in the 90's...

· Part I: Why Nikon?

Back when I was only a child in Guatemala, my father used to take me for long weekends to film documentaries with the Arri SR II and a camera bag. He always brought a Nikon F4 with a heavy bag full of glass. I never understood why he took so long behind the devices until I got my hands on this baby...

I've been hooked on photography since I was 10 years and evolved with every new camera I could get my hands on. They used to be plastic and cheap, my photos where also typical family and "wow look at the dog" type of photos. But one day in1997 everything changed at once, I turned 16 and got a Nikon F3 as a gift. The camera was great...

 It had a different feel to it, the body was heavy and robust. It had so many buttons and options that I had to take it seriously, I immediately started asking how everything worked and it took me some time to get used and not scared of it. This camera changed my point of view, now I had no excuses not to take great photos.

So I started taking them and got used to the superb Nikkor glass. To this day I keep my first lens, a 35-135 3.5-4 Macro Zoom that you can see on my equipment.
Then I migrated to a F4, then an F5 which I love and keep for very little use.

I tried my stepmothers Canon EOS 1 and immediately saw that it had a much superior auto-focus system, but the glass was milky in comparison with Nikkor, I tried a Pentax and it was clunky, I tried my mothers Minolta that had a Nikon mount and saw that the glass made the difference.

Then many years passed and I never bought a new photo camera. I was studying to become a cinematographer and camera operator and video cameras where so expensive and very bad at everything. I didn't think of buying a camera until Red announced the Red Scarlet  and I immediately started to save money. If what Red was saying was right I would be able to use my Zeiss Mk. I S16mm kit with it and it would be glorious.

Two years later, after following every post on Reduser forum and telling everyone I knew how great it would be, Red finally launched their Scarlet camera  and it was a disappointment, never meant to be a 2/3" sensor, just a downgraded version of the Epic, the price soared on top of that. I was left with my illusion destroyed and no camera that I would or could buy.

The Canon 5D Mk. II was in full explosion back then and the 7D was working well, so I thought of giving them a try. I bought a converter for my Nikkor glass and worked with the 7D and Arri Alexa on a project for Camper. The results where very satisfactory and I started to think seriously of buying a DSLR for myself.

I looked for a second hand Canon 5D Mk. II, since Nikon DSLR cameras where many steps behind in video recording, and was close to buying one when I learned that the Mk. III was about to be announced. So I decided to wait and without knowing it, I struck gold. At the same time Nikon announced its counterpart. The D800...

Everything I had wished. 

On Part II, I will discuss why I chose the Nikon D800 over the Canon 5D Mk. III and why I chose this setup...