Yesterday was the first day I actually got out to shoot with my new camera. I was finally able to get a lens, and a few other necessities to really be able to use the camera. I was totally amazed with the results. Yesterday was the typical gray, cold, cloudy day of a Washington, D.C. winter. The photographs are from the National Zoo. Unfortunately, the zoo in winter does not have a lot to photograph. Almost all of what there was to photograph was either behind screens, glass or in cages, since most animals are kept indoors over winter. Nonetheless, I was happy to be out with the new camera and the opportunity to have the first field test.
There are major differences between the D200, my old DSLR, and the D800. The first difference is the 36 megapixels, compared to the D200’s 10. The new lens for the D800 is a FX 300mm zoom, while the D200 is a DX 200 zoom. The 800, with a 300mm and the 36 megapixels meant that I could zoom out farther, and I could crop which gave me significant advantage over the D200 to get close up. The 300mm was still not quite as much as I truly needed for some shots. In comparison, the result is essentially zooms I was not able to achieve before. While at the zoo, I contemplated not taking some of the shots because the distance was still too great for my taste. Too much angle at a zoo means people, buildings, fences, and other objects that were not helping the composition at all. I am glad I decided to take the shots. If I were on my D200 with the shorter zoom, I would not have taken the shot. The D200 could be remedied with a better zoom, but the crop factor would not have been there.
The next major difference definitely was the light. I was able to shoot under 200 ISO. This was a cloudy day. A cloudy day similar to the gray cold days I had during the Alaska trip. In Alaska I was primarily shooting landscapes. At the zoo, I was zoomed all the way out. In Alaska I was shooting at speeds at or below 400 ISO. I noticed that I gained at least 2 stops of exposure. On the old lens in similar light, I would have been trapped. I did have the VR on for both lenses when shooting. The Alaska photo is ISO 160, the Panda is ISO 125.
With all of that being said, the next huge difference was in the way each captured the range, especially in the darker areas of the photograph. Both images have been adjusted in Aperture. I generally follow the same regiment when editing. I noticed when I lightened the darkest shadows that the D800 had detail. The D200 photographs generally always lost their detail in the dark areas. The one thing that I noticed that seemed odd to me was the exposure on the
800. The 800 seemed to me to be more sensitive to the light than the meter had expected. I often shoot with an exposure compensation of a third, maybe more, than what a default meter reading suggests. I always fear the strange white dot I somehow missed when viewing the subject. When dealing with clouds and skies, I increase the exposure compensation. Even though there is no sky, I noticed the image seemed light in review. I used an exposure compensation of 2/3 a stop for the panda shot and the white fur of the panda was still a bit too light for my taste, but it was able to be corrected in post processing.
In any case, below is a very small album of the photographs I was able to take of the few animals that were out and about. I am still stunned at the detail and quality. I am excited to be able to get out and shoot in some better conditions, but still extremely pleased with what I got even in the poorest of conditions.