Question about D800 w/ 70-200 VRI

crimbfighter

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I'm planning to upgrade to FX, and have been squirreling away money for the D800. Basically, my concern is will by glass be good enough. My current FX lineup is the Nikon 50mm f/1.4, Nikon 105mm micro, and a Nikon 70-200 VRI, with plans to add the 85mm f/1.8 and a 28-70 f/2.8.

So, here's my question, I know the incredibly high resolution of the D800 means you need the best glass possible, or you'll notice it... Are my 70-200 VRI and the older 28-70 going to sufficient as far as IQ? I know they're both pro glass, but I also know the 70-200 VRI suffers a bit in the corners with sharpness and vignetting, but since I've always used it on DX, I've never noticed. Will I be disappointed with the edge to edge sharpness of the older 70-200 and 28-70 on the ultra high resolution of the D800 sensor? I'm not worried about the performance of the 50, 105, or 85, only the 70-200 and 28-70.

I guess my thoughts, since I can't afford to invest thousands more in glass, might be to go for the lower resolution of the D600, though I'd be loosing several features I really wanted in the D800, but if it means getting the best IQ out of those two lenses (since they will be the most used), I'd think be willing to compromise.

Any insight would be appreciated.
 

cgipson1

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I havent't actually used those lenses, but did research them a good bit when I was upgrading glass a ways back. That glass is not low-end glass.. it is good glass! You should be fine on the D800! Edge to edge??? Pixel peeping might show something... but I doubt that you would notice it otherwise. But wait for other feedback...
 

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Dreams are good friends, and I can only but dream of acquiring a set-up like you have. I can only offer you my perspective of your dilemma;

Firstly, your glass is first class, and you are unlikely to notice much of an improvement by upgrading either of the two lenses you mention.
Secondly, all optical instruments suffer from some imperfections; that is simply a fact of physics - some more than others and you have some of the best. No lens is perfect across all areas of the image, and these imperfections will differ at various focal lengths and at different apertures. You would also need to ensure that the camera focus is calibrated for each of the lenses, at lease as far as possible.
Thirdly, unless you are printing your images at full size, stop pixel-peeping to simply criticize your images. You have the option of using an appropriate sharpening tool (no, not a grindstone) to improve the sharpness of your images prior to printing and/or uploading for public consumption. Note that, in striving for perfection on this scale, you would have to use professional photographic printers and/or an appropriately color-calibrated monitor, to ensure consistency, and don't forget to provide such monitors to all those that may view you images online, for unless their monitors are also correctly calibrated, they too, will probably see different colors that you see on your monitor;
Finally, and on a more serious note, and IF this issue is SO important to you, look at the D800e rather than the D800. The D800e is sharper than the D800, owing to the order of the filters placed over the sensor, but it also has more chance of producing moire in your photographs. Alternatively, stay with DX and look at the D7100, which does away with these filters altogether.

Personally, in your situation, I would go with the D800e as my first choice, and delay the purchase of the mid range zoom until Nikon releases a newer version of the 24-70 with VR. What we should possibly both do is to stop pixel-peeping as much, and be a little less critical of our own images....:er:
 

sandollars

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So as not to belabor the point by being redundant, I agree whole heartedly with what ScotMac has said. You have splendid glass that will give you excellent results on a D-800.
 

Derrel

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The VR-I's corners are not good at landscape distance until WELL stopped-down. And by that I mean f/8. I shoot it on the D3x, which is 24MP, and at 3:2 or FX aspect ratio, the corners are noticeably affected. There is light fall-off, but LR's lens correction filter can minimize the fall-off, but not the loss of sharpness. When shooting the D3x in 5:4 (AKA 8x10) capture mode, the bad corners are mostly not imaged.

At closer distances, like in portraiture, the issue does not seem to be quite as noticeable. The center of the lens and the majority of the field is quite nice, but, as I said, there is noticeable fall-off and loss of image quality at the extreme corners, and coming in a ways too. It's something to take note of.
 
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crimbfighter

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I havent't actually used those lenses, but did research them a good bit when I was upgrading glass a ways back. That glass is not low-end glass.. it is good glass! You should be fine on the D800! Edge to edge??? Pixel peeping might show something... but I doubt that you would notice it otherwise. But wait for other feedback...

Thanks for the feedback. I know it's pro glass, but I also know it was designed with an older generation of standards due to the sensor capabilities of the time. I hope you're right!

Dreams are good friends, and I can only but dream of acquiring a set-up like you have. I can only offer you my perspective of your dilemma;

Firstly, your glass is first class, and you are unlikely to notice much of an improvement by upgrading either of the two lenses you mention.
Secondly, all optical instruments suffer from some imperfections; that is simply a fact of physics - some more than others and you have some of the best. No lens is perfect across all areas of the image, and these imperfections will differ at various focal lengths and at different apertures. You would also need to ensure that the camera focus is calibrated for each of the lenses, at lease as far as possible.
Thirdly, unless you are printing your images at full size, stop pixel-peeping to simply criticize your images. You have the option of using an appropriate sharpening tool (no, not a grindstone) to improve the sharpness of your images prior to printing and/or uploading for public consumption. Note that, in striving for perfection on this scale, you would have to use professional photographic printers and/or an appropriately color-calibrated monitor, to ensure consistency, and don't forget to provide such monitors to all those that may view you images online, for unless their monitors are also correctly calibrated, they too, will probably see different colors that you see on your monitor;
Finally, and on a more serious note, and IF this issue is SO important to you, look at the D800e rather than the D800. The D800e is sharper than the D800, owing to the order of the filters placed over the sensor, but it also has more chance of producing moire in your photographs. Alternatively, stay with DX and look at the D7100, which does away with these filters altogether.

Personally, in your situation, I would go with the D800e as my first choice, and delay the purchase of the mid range zoom until Nikon releases a newer version of the 24-70 with VR. What we should possibly both do is to stop pixel-peeping as much, and be a little less critical of our own images....:er:

So as not to belabor the point by being redundant, I agree whole heartedly with what ScotMac has said. You have splendid glass that will give you excellent results on a D-800.

ScottMac and sandollars, I understand what you both are saying, and agree with almost all of it. To clarify my point, though, I'm not unhappy with my current lenses by any means, nor do I have any plans to upgrade my 70-200. I don't have the money. So, my dilemma is more about whether or not I would be wasting my money spending the extra thousand for a D800 if the two most used lenses I have (or will have) are not capable of maximizing the resolution of the sensor. And I am certainly guilty of pixel peeping, we all are. But I don't think my persistent pixel peeping is really relevant to the issue at hand, which is whether or not the glass I have is sharp enough to maximize the sensor. And thank you for your input!

The VR-I's corners are not good at landscape distance until WELL stopped-down. And by that I mean f/8. I shoot it on the D3x, which is 24MP, and at 3:2 or FX aspect ratio, the corners are noticeably affected. There is light fall-off, but LR's lens correction filter can minimize the fall-off, but not the loss of sharpness. When shooting the D3x in 5:4 (AKA 8x10) capture mode, the bad corners are mostly not imaged.

At closer distances, like in portraiture, the issue does not seem to be quite as noticeable. The center of the lens and the majority of the field is quite nice, but, as I said, there is noticeable fall-off and loss of image quality at the extreme corners, and coming in a ways too. It's something to take note of.

This is kinda what I was worried about. In your experience with the D3X and the VRI, is there enough loss in sharpness to noticely effect the IQ, without pixel peeping? I have plans to be printing images up to maybe 12 or 18 inches on the long side, but probably not more than that. And thanks for your feedback as well.
 

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Oh, the quality loss if easy to see. Big-time vignetting. And plenty of softness in the corners at f/2.8 to 7.1. Not pixel-peeping...I mean "obviously degraded" corners. I don't have a lot of 70-200 landscapes ON this computer, but I'll make a few straight, no-lens-correction full-frame JPEGs and upload them to pBase for you. download them and look at the corners,and you can see the way the corners get soft. Here are five frames. Take a look.

http://www.pbase.com/derrel/70200_on_d3x_corners

Pay note to the first two, shot at f/5.6; the corners are rough.

The two distant looks from Cape Kiwanda, with the people seated on the beach in the lower left in one frame, and then the following frame, show the way the corners look stopped down more. Also, look at the upper left corner on _D3X1190.jpg, which is at f/6.3. The focus is GOOD, but the lens performance is not...[h=3][/h]
 
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Aloicious

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ScottMac and sandollars, I understand what you both are saying, and agree with almost all of it. To clarify my point, though, I'm not unhappy with my current lenses by any means, nor do I have any plans to upgrade my 70-200. I don't have the money. So, my dilemma is more about whether or not I would be wasting my money spending the extra thousand for a D800 if the two most used lenses I have (or will have) are not capable of maximizing the resolution of the sensor. And I am certainly guilty of pixel peeping, we all are. But I don't think my persistent pixel peeping is really relevant to the issue at hand, which is whether or not the glass I have is sharp enough to maximize the sensor. And thank you for your input!

Any loss in the corners is more about the actual coverage of the FX sensors reaching closer to the edge of the image circle that is being projected by the lens, this will be seen across any FX sensor regardless of resolution. I've tried a VR1 on past FX bodies but not on my 800's, personally I don't think you'll be disappointed with it's performance on the 800 much at all, unless perhaps you're frequently doing heavy crops of the extreme corners.

crimbfighter said:
might be to go for the lower resolution of the D600, though I'd be loosing several features I really wanted in the D800

THIS says to me that you should be looking at the 800's rather than the 600's...both are excellent cameras, but if there is something on the 800 that you want that the 600 lacks, than that is what you should be looking at.
 
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crimbfighter

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Oh, the quality loss if easy to see. Big-time vignetting. And plenty of softness in the corners at f/2.8 to 7.1. Not pixel-peeping...I mean "obviously degraded" corners. I don't have a lot of 70-200 landscapes ON this computer, but I'll make a few straight, no-lens-correction full-frame JPEGs and upload them to pBase for you. download them and look at the corners,and you can see the way the corners get soft. Here are five frames. Take a look.

70-200 VR I corner issue Photo Gallery by Derrel at pbase.com

Pay note to the first two, shot at f/5.6; the corners are rough.

The two distant looks from Cape Kiwanda, with the people seated on the beach in the lower left in one frame, and then the following frame, show the way the corners look stopped down more. Also, look at the upper left corner on _D3X1190.jpg, which is at f/6.3. The focus is GOOD, but the lens performance is not...

Thanks for the upload, Darrel! I see what you were talking about with the corners. I could definitely see the vignetting, and saw the loss of sharpness you referred to. And I guess that speaks to my concern that my glass won't even take advantage of the full power of the D800. If it's not capable of resolving the corners on a 24mp sensor, then it certainly won't with an additional 12mp..

Any loss in the corners is more about the actual coverage of the FX sensors reaching closer to the edge of the image circle that is being projected by the lens, this will be seen across any FX sensor regardless of resolution. I've tried a VR1 on past FX bodies but not on my 800's, personally I don't think you'll be disappointed with it's performance on the 800 much at all, unless perhaps you're frequently doing heavy crops of the extreme corners.


THIS says to me that you should be looking at the 800's rather than the 600's...both are excellent cameras, but if there is something on the 800 that you want that the 600 lacks, than that is what you should be looking at.

I totally agree, I should be keeping my eye on the prize.. The features I'd be loosing by going to the D600 would be disappointing. The AF system, resolution, shutter speed, build, connectivity, ect. just to name a few.

I think Darrel's examples do bring up valid concerns, but I do need to make sure IQ with my lens lineup is only one of the components I'm looking at. Thanks for the replies so far, they give me some excellent food for thought.

On an additional note, does anyone have any of these same anecdotal examples or information for the older 28-70 on the higher resolution FX bodies?
 

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Could you share with us what feature(s) that you will be losing that you are concerned about. The D600 is a great camera and personally I would be sporting one instead of a D800 except for one crucial feature they missed that I absolutely needed and that was not being able to change the aperture in video mode if you are using a G lens.
 

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Thanks for the upload, Darrel! I see what you were talking about with the corners. I could definitely see the vignetting, and saw the loss of sharpness you referred to. And I guess that speaks to my concern that my glass won't even take advantage of the full power of the D800. If it's not capable of resolving the corners on a 24mp sensor, then it certainly won't with an additional 12mp..


I totally agree, I should be keeping my eye on the prize.. The features I'd be loosing by going to the D600 would be disappointing. The AF system, resolution, shutter speed, build, connectivity, ect. just to name a few.

I think Darrel's examples do bring up valid concerns, but I do need to make sure IQ with my lens lineup is only one of the components I'm looking at. Thanks for the replies so far, they give me some excellent food for thought.

On an additional note, does anyone have any of these same anecdotal examples or information for the older 28-70 on the higher resolution FX bodies?

you're correct that the IQ does degrade in the corners, that is shown in Derrel's examples, (although whether or not that will actually be an issue depends on your uses for the lens). what I'm saying though is that its not the resolution of the sensor that is causing you to be able to see the issues, its the physical size of the FX sensor showing the optical flaws in the lens, you will see the degraded corners at some degree from the VR1 on any FX sensor regardless of resolution, whether it be a 12mp D3, 24mp D600 or D3x, or 36mp D800...and so if you're going to an FX body, To me, it wouldn't be wise to get something other than what you want, solely based on thinking that lower resolution will fully hide the optical flaws in your current lens. in fact, depending on your uses, you may benefit from the added resolution and the VR1, because 1) you'll have more ability to crop those portions out (or use a different shooting format like DX or 5:4 like derrel does) while still maintaining a higher final image resolution (the D600 DX mode is still a respectable ~10mp, but the D800 DX mode is ~16mp, which is a noticeable difference), 2) with more resolution, you'll be down sampling the images more than with a lower resolution original file, and down sampling will do a better job of hiding the optical flaws than starting out with a lower resolution and using 100% or even up sampling....

Thats just my take on it...though, personally I think the D600 is a FANTASTIC camera. and an excellent value for what it delivers, you will likely be happy with either one....however you've already mentioned some benefits that the D800 has that you want which the D600 lacks....personally, if I were in your shoes, what I'd do is get the 800 and use the VR1 you have, if the corners really are that much of an issue, than I'd say, save up a few hundred, then sell the VR1 (you could probably get 1200-1300 out of it in the current market), and get a good used VR2 (~$1800-1900), or even a 70-200 f4 VR3, which is cheaper, and unless you NEED f2.8 frequently, is supposed to be amazing edge to edge.
 
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you're correct that the IQ does degrade in the corners, that is shown in Derrel's examples, (although whether or not that will actually be an issue depends on your uses for the lens). what I'm saying though is that its not the resolution of the sensor that is causing you to be able to see the issues, its the physical size of the FX sensor showing the optical flaws in the lens, you will see the degraded corners at some degree from the VR1 on any FX sensor regardless of resolution, whether it be a 12mp D3, 24mp D600 or D3x, or 36mp D800...and so if you're going to an FX body, To me, it wouldn't be wise to get something other than what you want, solely based on thinking that lower resolution will fully hide the optical flaws in your current lens. in fact, depending on your uses, you may benefit from the added resolution and the VR1, because 1) you'll have more ability to crop those portions out (or use a different shooting format like DX or 5:4 like derrel does) while still maintaining a higher final image resolution (the D600 DX mode is still a respectable ~10mp, but the D800 DX mode is ~16mp, which is a noticeable difference), 2) with more resolution, you'll be down sampling the images more than with a lower resolution original file, and down sampling will do a better job of hiding the optical flaws than starting out with a lower resolution and using 100% or even up sampling....

Thats just my take on it...though, personally I think the D600 is a FANTASTIC camera. and an excellent value for what it delivers, you will likely be happy with either one....however you've already mentioned some benefits that the D800 has that you want which the D600 lacks....personally, if I were in your shoes, what I'd do is get the 800 and use the VR1 you have, if the corners really are that much of an issue, than I'd say, save up a few hundred, then sell the VR1 (you could probably get 1200-1300 out of it in the current market), and get a good used VR2 (~$1800-1900), or even a 70-200 f4 VR3, which is cheaper, and unless you NEED f2.8 frequently, is supposed to be amazing edge to edge.

I completely understand what you're saying, and I think we're on the same page, but looking at it from two different angles. My thought, is not that the lower resolution of the D600 would somehow hide the corner performance, but rather if the lens is already showing it's flaws at 24mp, then there wasn't much point in adding another 12mp to the resolution. I analogize it to the lens being a 5 gallon bucket, and the camera body resolution being water. The D600 resolution would be 5 gallons of water, which fits nicely in the bucket, and the D800 resolution is 8 gallons of water. There's not point in having the 8 gallons of water, cause the extra 3 gallons just spills over the side unused.. So I understand what you're saying about the image circle, and how that is relevant to any FX body, it was simply my perspective that I didn't think the added resolution was needed if the lens was already showing it's maximum performance at 24mp.

You are right, though, about the features the D800 has that I would miss. So I think in the end, my decision needs to be a balance between this issue of resolution, and the features I want out of the D800... I think I know what the heart wants, and will probably get, I just want to thoroughly vet all my concerns before committing the funds. Thanks for your feedback, it's always appreciated!
 
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Could you share with us what feature(s) that you will be losing that you are concerned about. The D600 is a great camera and personally I would be sporting one instead of a D800 except for one crucial feature they missed that I absolutely needed and that was not being able to change the aperture in video mode if you are using a G lens.

I mentioned a few above, but IQ, AF system (which is a huge one), resolution, build quality, shutter speed, ISO performance, number of exposure brackets. Those are the big ones, but there are a few more as well.
 

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yeah, I understand, there are always a lot of different ways to look at things, there's nothing wrong with doing your research first. if I had a VR1 and 28-70 I had access to, I'd be happy to take some comparison shots against my 24-70 and VRII for you. but alas, I don't. I'm happy to provide any samples from any of my lenses/bodies if you need, but I'm sure the internet is teaming with them too :D
 

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If you can't shoot more than satisfactory pictures with a Nikon 800, Nikon 28-70mm 2.8, and a Nikon 70-200 2.8 VRI, than I don't know what to suggest. You're talking roughly $6,000.00 worth of gear. I'm no pro but I can't help but think throwing more money upgrading to a 24-70 & 70-200 2.8 VRII will only buy you marginal gains.
 

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