About Me

Wells, BC, Canada
Richard is a working photographer and writer in B.C. His camera focuses on natural history. archeology, travel, and documentary photography. His photography blog may be found at: http://richardtwright.blogspot.com/

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Nikon D800 night shooting - a test

Ongoing testing of the Nikon D800 - night shots.

Sai Kung front street with no exposure compensation on D800. Richard Wright Jr. photo.
Our time in Hong Kong is drawing to a reluctant close. After close to six weeks we will be returning to the comparative cold of Canada; Amy to Vancouver and me to home in Wells where I will face some 20 feet of accumulated snow and below zero temperatures.  Tomorrow in Hong Kong it is supposed to be 27 deg.C. We will leave a city of 7 million - my home town has 250, no subway, and no noodle shops. There is lots about Hong Kong and the New Territories that we will miss.

Boats in Sai Kung harbour. To the unaided eye this was dark. We could see the boats, but they
were lit only by shore lights from storefronts. 1/30 sec, f2, 35mm Nikon lens, auto white balance,
ISO 3200, no flash. Richard Wright Jr. photo.

Last evening we took a trip a little north to Sai Kung, a seaside village renowned for it's sea food restaurants, for a departing dinner. Fi had reserved at a particularly good restaurant so off the five of us went, all laden down with our Nikons of course.
The food was fantastic - lobster, squid, bean curd, gai lan steamed greens, topped off with Tsingtao beer. After dinner we walked the streets and waterfront and tried out the D800 in evening light and poor light.

My grandson and I. No flash, lighting only from restaurants across the street. ISO 3200, f2. 1/20, 35mm lens. Auto white balance. Again, one would have thought this far to dark to shoot.  The red in my face is from the street lighting. The color depth and definition is bang on other than that. The balance from foreground to the background boats is actually quite amazing. Richard Wright Jr. photo.

We wandered the town in the warm evening looking for good subjects, while Richard enjoyed shooting the D800 for the first time since it had arrived.  We both found the ergonomics improved, with the tipped shutter release and the weight.  I will not be adding the overpriced MB-D12 battery pack for some time. On my D7000 I found I like the weight the battery pack adds.
Rich found it wanted to eye an eyepiece as the hard plastic of the D800 does not block light well, nor is it comfortable. The D7000 on the other hand does have a soft rubber eye cup.
Rich also remarked on the cost of the CF cards. Here in Hong Kong an SanDisk Extreme Pro 100 megbyte/sec 16 gig cards is $200. The 32 gig card is $300. I bit of a kick in the pocket.

The three Richard Thomas Wrights. The lighting is just from the ambient street lighting,
again no flash, no reflectors. A great balance of foreground and background and good color balance.
ISO 1100, auto white balance, 1/40 sec., f4, 35mm lens. Fiona Tsang Wright photo.
"Throw away the flash," Rich said - only joking of course, but the results we got were so much more pleasing than using a flash, and we were deliberately not trying anything other than the auto features of Program mode. (Unlike some models, the D800 has no AUTO mode.)

Finally we saw a pick-up basketball game.  I exposed one shot for the court and included the court lights, and another without the court lights.  Both were acceptable.
ISO 450, 1/40 sec., f2. 35mm lens. D800.

ISO 400, 1/40 sec., f2, 35mm lens, D800 Including the court lights seemed to make little difference
 to the exposure, and again the color balance on the court was bang on. Richard Wright photos.
Our final appraisal was that the D800 is superior to any other Nikon we have used for night shooting.  Add to that the 36 megs and it is a hands-down winner.

Back to the waterfront: here is a shot of a neon sign, and a radical crop.

A full frame shot, D800, 35mm, ISO 1000, f2, 1/1000 sec, no crop, no adjustment.
Richard Wright Jr. photo

Shark's dentures, cropped from above photo.  No adjustment. The original holds up well
for this crop though some noise came be seen with this magnification. Richard Wright Jr. photo.
We have more D800 shooting to report on but it may have to wait until my return to Canada. In the meantime I have to leave the D800 behind with my son, unless another turns up in Hong Kong by tomorrow night - without a 25% premium.  Stay tuned.

An addendum.  Several days ago when we took a ferry ride to Sharp Island, Amy lost her monopod - in a cab, a bus, a ferry, a bookstore or a cafe.  Several phone calls later she had no luck finding it, so she bought a tripod at Chung Pui Photo Supplies on Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong. When we visited Sai Kung for dinner she decided to have one more try at the cafe, Classified.  Sure enough, there it was, identified as a walking stick, not a "camera stick".  $40 better off it was a good night.

For those who are interested in birding stay tuned for a report on our visit to Mai Po WWF Reserve with guide John Holmes of Walk Hong Kong - a great guide who went out of his way to get us a total of 74 species for the day.

If you have any questions leave a comment.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Richard;
    Thank you for the very informative, succinct look at the D800 for night photography. I have had mine for just over a year but have not done much night shooting. My wife and I (Canadians) are in Spain/Portugal and I will be trying it out here for sure. Thanks again for your insights.