Gear Notes - Nikon D800

I'd like to show you a lot of shots from the D800.... but the camera and housing were so popular in our demo fleet that I only managed to dive it myself for one dive during the Digital Shootout. I did, however, set up the camera for diving many many times, and can tell you that it held up to the abuse we gave it exceptionally well. 

Nikon's D800 is a major upgrade from D700, and for those still shooting cameras like D200, D300 and D2X, the D800 is a whole new world. The most obvious and talked about feature is the resolution... an eye-popping 36 megapixels. For underwater use, though, the more overlooked and yet substantial feature is the unprecedented dynamic range. Combine that amazing sensor with fast and accurate focus and metering, and the result is a camera that will knock your socks off.

Nassau Grouper in a Swim-through; Nikon D800 with Sigma 15mm FE

The Nauticam NA-D800 is a marvel in itself, offering ergonomic access to all key camera controls. Even though I didn't get time to know the camera that well, I felt right at home with the Nauticam housing. The same multi-controller that I mentioned yesterday in the D4 gear notes is here on the D800 as well, offering the same easy access to focus points. D800 has a pop-up flash, so fiber optic TTL is available in addition to hard wired sync. We switched between the two for the demo; most people opted for the fiber but a couple of sync cable diehards wanted to try it with their own strobes. 

Gorgonian with Slender Filefish; D800 with 15mm. Not the best capture, but useful for showing the resolution - check out the 1:1 crop of the filefish below.

Assembling the housing is so easy - nothing to pre-align; just attached the tray, lift the release dial slightly, drop the camera in and go. I did find that the little camera strap triangle on the left side can get in the way, so I'd recommend removing it or just double checking that it is in the downward position. Some of our demo users wanted to try the 45º viewfinder and some opted for the 180º version. NA-D800 comes with the brackets to reinforce the handles, but we removed those for the demo and mounting strobes right on the handles. For my own rig, I'd opt to remove them, but it is nice to know they are available if I wanted to mount some really heavy lights. 

This is a 1:1 crop from the shot above. The resolution on this camera is astonishing.

The only downside was that we weren't able to get everyone on the D800 system that wanted to try it. (I thought there was going to be a riot when the signup sheet filled up!). I wish we would have had two more D800 systems available for demo. Not to worry, though - if you didn't get a chance to demo the D800 at the Digital Shootout, check out our Spree Demo Days for another opportunity.