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D800 Tripod myth

Cyrus Procter , Feb 27, 2012; 12:17 a.m.

Whats all the fuss that the D800 will be best on a tripod? Its ridiculous, all cameras are best on a tripod. They would probably also benefit if the world stopped turning to prevent vibration too. If you shoot your current camera handheld, you can shoot the D800 handheld with the same results.

Why does everyone fret this point? What makes you think that the D800 will be different from any other DSLR produced?

Why does everyone freak out about high MPs, and no one points out the benefits, like high dynamic range, better color rendition? These are the things that makes images, the highlights don't blow out as fast, the darks don't go black, isn't that worth having to buy bigger cards for? Even if you come home and immediately re-size everything to 12 MPs, that higher dynamic range and better color rendition is going to stay with the image (assuming you re-size to a RAW format).

Come on people. Its a new camera, it means what you are going to shoot is going to look better, sure you pay an extra price for that, but haven't we payed that same price at almost every new camera generation? Aren't we used to the drill yet after 13 years of digital SLRs?


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Hector Javkin , Feb 27, 2012; 12:35 a.m.

They would probably also benefit if the world stopped turning to prevent vibration too.

The turning of the earth produces no vibration of interest for ordinary, earthbound photography. I think that the logic about the D800 requiring a tripod is (1) that it seems silly to use a camera capable of great detail and not make use of it and (2) that if you examine your D800 images at 100% , you'll see more pixels affected by not using a tripod than if you had used a D50.
Of course the effect of the vibration will be the same with either camera.

John Williamson , Feb 27, 2012; 12:54 a.m.

I understand the poster's points of view. By some accounts, we will all need to get the most expensive glass and just about ALWAYS have a tripod for this camera to be good. Does that mean only studio and landscape photographers should bother ? If 36Mp has hit the " don't hand hold it ! " wall, then maybe we've found the end of the pixel wars and can focus on better features in the cameras.

ross b , Feb 27, 2012; 12:59 a.m.

I have learned to grip the earth solidly with my toes. That way I will not fly off just because the earth is spinning about. It's been working pretty good so far.

Michael Chang , Feb 27, 2012; 01:21 a.m.

I think the sensitivity to motion blur is proportional to the pixel ratio at any dimension of the sensor.

The D800 is 7360x4912 compared to the D50 at 3000x2000, so its sensitivity at any axis of movement at a pixel level is 2.4 times greater than the D50, which means you'd want to be 2.4 times steadier, or use a VR lens with 2.4 times the correction speed in order not to affect blur at a pixel level.

Given the same amount of camera movement, however, the resulting image blur would be the same regardless of pixel density - I think.

Steve Smith , Feb 27, 2012; 01:48 a.m.

I think the sensitivity to motion blur is proportional to the pixel ratio at any dimension of the sensor.

I think it's only proportional to the magnification of the image. If the larger pixel count allows you to print bigger then you might see a difference.

John Farrar , Feb 27, 2012; 04:05 a.m.

The debates over the D800/800E have been fascinating. Surely Skyler is right - the improvements are exactly and simply that (though dynamic range surely remains an unknwon until serious testers get their hands on the camera). I fail to see (possibly because I'm dumb) how the image quality can possibly be worse even with handholding and 'old' lenses; it's easy to see how it can be better with big enlargement, good glass, and good technique. And there's the issue. It's made me think, is my technique good enough for a D800E? With landscapes, it's not just 'use a tripod and mirror up' - it's how well the tripod sits on the ground, wind, my ability to operate well in rain, wind and cold - so I'm the limit, not the camera. So maybe it's shoot less but better - and I'm going to work on my technique before I consider upgrading from my D700.

Mike Halliwell , Feb 27, 2012; 04:28 a.m.

As I see it, images from higher resolution sensors are never going to be worse. Maybe like using longer lenses, it starts showing 'bad technique', rather than bad tools?

Regarding Pixel Blur, if increasing the pixel count makes Camera > Subject Blur worse (it doesn't), if I down sample my D800E files, are they less blury? No. Less Noisy, probably!

I still like Focus Magic for fixing motion blur, finding a 'spot' pixel that has become a 'line' of 3 pixels @ 65 Deg and correcting it, should be so much more fun with the 800E's 'pixel perfect' images.

Ilkka Nissila , Feb 27, 2012; 04:59 a.m.

The cost of using a high-resolution camera is in the post-processing time. If you don't make good use of those pixels your time (when you copy files, save changes etc.) or alternatively the money you spent on a massive RAID system will be wasted for nothing.

In practice getting sharp files is not such a big deal if you know the basics and are careful, and shoot in bright light. As you get to dimmer light, and if your subjects move about, it becomes progressively more difficult to get pixel-level sharp images so a high MP camera will inevitably favour photography in bright light. Also photographers tend to obsess about technical quality and a D800 will lead to more obsession as no two shots of a person or another subject that will move will be equally sharp or equally in focus. People will do more insurance shots and duplicates to get one that is just right at the pixel level. They will shoot more at optimal apertures and studio lights. It all leads to more attention on fine technical quality and less on subject and content. This, IMO, is not a good thing, but it's inevitable.

the benefits, like high dynamic range, better color rendition?

Those are typically benefits of high resolution cameras at low to moderate ISO, while moderate MP cameras have been giving better DR, SNR and color at high ISO for some time. According to user reports (Cliff Mauntner) this continues with the D800 and D4 although probably not as big a difference as it was with D3X and D3s. Even though a D3s has a relatively low pixel count, to suggest that it doesn't yield excellent color and DR at base ISO is a bit silly. Anyway, once the cameras become available then people can assess them for themselves and there will be a lot more fact based discussion rather than stuff estimated or guessed from looking at someone else's images and comparing results between cameras based on measurements obtained on images of different scenes. It is much better to do this in controlled conditions with the cameras tested side by side. A lot of analysis errors will disappear in a differential comparison.

In any case any discussion online is bound to focus on the negatives because when people are happy they will be out there shooting rather than gloat about it online (while some people do that, too). When there is a problem, forums can sometimes help. I don't see what is wrong with this - problems get solved for the most part, and people can move on with their work.

Trygve Thorsen , Feb 27, 2012; 05:01 a.m.

I remember the same discussion was going when the D2X came with its 12 MP over the 4MP in D2H. You had to put the camera on a tripod and use only the best of lenses to really get the quality the camera could deliver. Seems we did all right continuing using our lenses and cameras like we used to, worrying more about the picture than absolute sharpness....

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