Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It's Raining on Jubilee

It's been a weekend of celebrations in the United Kingdom the last few days, with it being the 60th year of Queen Elizabeth's reign. I did ponder for quite a while whether to go to London or not to capture the festivities there but in the end for various reasons I decided to stay in West Berkshire and see what I could capture here. Today's picture is the first one I am posting from my new Nikon D700 camera (more about that below). It is obviously not an HDR picture but a moment I captured of Asian tourists (I think) looking a bit bewildered by the bad ('standard' if you're British) weather above all the celebrations. Being quite drizzly as it was didn't help bring the crowds out in Newbury and without having a dig at my local town, I didn't think there was a lot going on for the jubilee. I just thought there would be more that's all. I would say to end this bit 'Here's to the next 60 years!' but forgive me for thinking that's rather improbable. Being once a history student, I am very fond of our monarchy and is one of the essences of 'Britishness'. Long may it continue!

So why the D700?

This is the bit I wanted to write the other day before the bad weather ruined any chance of getting some pictures before Sunday. After my house move, I had a bit of money left over and therefore decided to upgrade my photographic equipment. Nikon has just brought out the D800, so why did I buy the camera it is to replace, the D700? Well there are a few reasons really, so where shall I start....Of course, the price does come into it. The D800 currently costs £1000 more than the D700 and is very hard to get hold of. I could have afforded the D800 but what do you get for the extra £1000? Video recording capability - not interested (even if I was, I have that on my D90 anyway), improved image quality (I'm not sure about that but will come back to it) and the 'biggie', the 36 megapixel sensor.

One of the photographic books I own is a book called 'Transient Light' by Ian Cameron (he's a good guy by the way and signed my copy before sending it to me). He is a professional landscape photographer and he makes it very clear at the beginning of his book that he still almost entirely shoots with film. He writes "Most modern cameras far exceed my personal requirements, instead offering a huge array of features that have little relevance to the way I work, and simply constitute needless clutter on a camera" (pg. 62). Now I would apply this statement to the 36 megapixel feature. I don't need 36 megapixels and in fact do not want this. The D700 is by comparison 12.1 Megapixels, which is similar to the D90 I have shot with for the last 2 years. As most photographers know (but Curry's salesman won't tell you), megapixels are not about the quality of an image but the size of it. With my D90, I print quite standardly around 75cm x 50cm, though I have printed up to A1 size. These images still look quality with perhaps only a little softer look for the A1 print I did. Unless you are a professional billboard photographer, I don't know why you would want a 36 megapixel camera. The image size is so huge that you can't capture nearly as many photographs on memory cards and I have read more than one comment by D800 users saying that their photographic software has slowed down massively as a result. I think a 18 to 20 megapixel camera would have been much more sensible for an upgrade, as I would never want any more than that.

Image quality is always the thing I care about most and if there is no difference between the D700 and the D800 here than the £1000 extra is simply a waste. I have looked at and compared all the test shots on the Nikon simulator at their website and I can't see any difference at all. I have seen some websites point the difference out if you magnify the images and start cranking up the ISO but again this to me is so minimal it becomes a non-issue. We photographers choose to pursue an expensive hobby/career, one which we are prepared to make a few sacrifices for to afford the best equipment. But we have to come back down to earth sometimes. £1000 is a lot of money for most people and when I can't notice a difference in image quality for that amount of money, then there is no way you are going to convince me to buy it. For me the D700 is a sensible choice and I look forward to using it for the next few years. I chose to buy the Nikkor 24-700m F2.8 lens with it that set me back another wad of money but hey, I saved some money with not going for the D800.

I know if I had bought the 24-70mm lens alone for my D90, it would have been a major upgrade as it is, but I have no regrets at buying the D700. I wanted a full frame camera, which I can build my equipment around in future and also have the option to shoot with 14 bit RAW files as opposed to 12 bit. In fact, the D90 and D700 are 2 different levels of camera, so all the differences aren't worth listing here but suffice to say the D90 isn't going anywhere. I still have it and will use it as backup (though I think more likely my fiancé will use it all the time). Now if only the D700 weighed less, I could say it was better than the D90 in every way, but change for bad or good always comes with compromises....


  1. Great points made Pete. Some objectivity is necessary when you have such an expensive hobby as we do!

    The D700 is a great purchase despite being superseded by the D800. Along with the lens I look forward to more great blog posts in the future!

  2. Thanks for the comment Tim. Yes keen as always to go out and get pictures with my new camera and will hopefully get some 'winners' (like your one today!) over the next few months!

  3. I too shoot with the D700, and I bought a few months before the D800 was made available...and like you I am glad I did - at this point I don't need/want 36mp and those large files - I get great results from my d700 even printing fairly large - anyways, nice summary and great work here on your blog!

    1. Thanks for the comment Jim, great to know we are on the same wavelength with the D700! It's a great camera and I'm very happy with it.