I never expected to love this camera as much as I do, but I'm sending back my Nikon D800 and it kills me.
The Big Problem With the Nikon D800
Honestly, I never wanted a camera with 36-megapixel files. That's a lot of space to use. It takes longer to write to the card, it takes more space on my computer, and I never do any kind of printing that requires that kind of resolution. The D800 is nothing like the successor to my Nikon D700 that I expected or wanted.
Yet, I love this camera.
The frame rate is slower than my D700, so it's impractical for action. Even if the frame rate could keep up, writing the files to the card takes longer because of the absurdly large image size. It fills the buffer and you have to wait for the camera to write to the card. This camera slows you down.
Yet, I love this camera.
The image quality is spectacular. I can zoom into an eye and see such clarity that I never experienced. Here's a 100% crop of an unprocessed portrait. Click the image to expand it and look at the iris. Plenty of detail, courtesy of my Nikon D800.
I love the fine details and image quality. I love being able to zoom in several hundred percent in post processing. I also love being able to crop images after the fact to change compositions or overcome a lack of focal length, because sometimes you just can't get closer.
The huge problem with the D800 is also a problem on other Nikon DSLRs. It's the 10-pin connector.
Ancient Technology In 21st Century Products
The 10-pin connector is fraught with evil. First, it's a proprietary connection rather than an industry standard. I don't get it. The same Nikon D800 has USB 3.0 and HDMI ports on the side, but this ancient evil exists on the front to connect Nikon accessories.
Ten little pins on the accessory have to fit into the connector at a precise angle. If you get it wrong – and that's easy to do in the dark or when you're in a hurry – then you run the risk of bending some of those pins. It's a cumbersome interface from a time since past.
The other side is no better, and this is what's wrong with my Nikon D800. The piece inside the body housing that receives the connection actually got pushed inside the body, and now it's just floating around in there.
That effectively blocks me from using my GPS or any cable release with the camera. A cable release is a pretty important tool for me, both because of my HDR captures and long exposure photos.
It happened last summer in St. Lucia. I was trying to attach my Nikon GP-1 and I felt something go “crunch” as I tried to plug in the cable. That crunch was the end of my 10-pin connector. I was left to shoot with the self-timer or try to hold down the shutter by hand and hope that I didn't introduce any vibration on the longer exposures. (hint: I did).
Why in the world doesn't Nikon abandon this kind of crap? I'm OK with proprietary technology if it's simple and it works. Take the Lightning connector that Apple uses now on the iPhone and iPad. It's a small, flat piece that can insert on either side. You can't plug it in the wrong way. Take a hint, Nikon.
I Hope The Warranty Works
I bought this camera as a refurbished unit from Adorama. Since Nikon doesn't offer much of a warranty for refurbished gear, I also bought a three-year extended warranty from Mack Camera to go with it. This is my first time making a claim, so we'll see how it goes.
Mack Camera sends rather detailed instructions for shipping the camera to the repair facility. It must be insured and packed in 2-3 inches of bubble-wrap. No peanuts or styrofoam. This makes perfect sense to me.
It does not make perfect sense to UPS. They will not insure it for more than $1000 unless I use their method – styrofoam peanuts, not bubble-wrap. I had choices.
- I could forego insurance and back it as I like (use the bubble-wrap)
- I could use the UPS method and insure it, but risk the wrath of Mack Camera for failing to follow instructions
- I could leave and find another shipper
Hello, FedEx! They had no problem at all following instructions and insuring my camera. By the time they finished packing it in bubble-wrap and taping it up, you could punt it like a football without hurting it. The UPS method of using peanuts wouldn't secure anything from moving around during shipping. You know those guys who toss packages on conveyor belts don't care what's inside. They don't have the time, so it's important to have good packaging.
No doubt Mack Camera knows this from experience, which is why they offer explicit instructions of what to do and what to avoid.
Now it's just a matter of waiting. It will take a few days for my camera to get there. No doubt it will sit on a dock for a few more days before anyone does something with it. I have no idea how long it will take for them to actually repair and return it. I just hope I get it back by March.
In the mean time, it's a good idea to have a backup camera. My Nikon D700 is still here and that will be my only DSLR until the warranty repair is over. Otherwise, this would quickly turn into an iPhone photography blog.
Wish me luck.