I got my D800 on Thursday and I can tell that I really really like this new camera. I had multiple “Aha !” moments with this camera already. One being “That’s what an image taken at 24 mm actually looks like… wait, is that vignetting at the corners ?” Another good one was “There is not much noise in the image. That’s good. Now let’s try it with a higher…. oh, that image IS taken at ISO 6.400”.
One of the main reasons for upgrading to a full format camera is the improved low-light performance of large sensors. I was a little afraid that the high Megapixel count of the D800 would kill this advantage, but yesterday I got convinced that this camera has excellent low-light capabilities.
Yesterday evening I went into the city and came by a black BMW, painted in matt black. I said to myself, what better test for low-light performance and dynamic range can be made than photographing a black car at night, so I took two images. Result see below.
I did NOT alter exposure or raise the blacks in both images. I did some lights recovery (for the windows in the top right corner), inserted the watermark, blanked the number plate, inserted the meta information bottom left and resized. Both images are processed from 14-bit RAW files. Please note that ISO 6.400 is native and ISO 25.600 is extrapolated (Hi 02).
The image is actually brighter than the actual scenery. Meaning: Judging by the naked eye the street was darker than the image suggests. I am amazed that all the details on the car can be seen. And the noise performance is very good. At this size you won’t see the difference, but enhance the images above, then you will notice the difference. I also made a 100% crop of the BMW logo on the side of the car: