I have a friend who has a kite. With my rented D800 and a lot of curiosity, I set out to discover how the D800 handled while shooting video and how well the video looked.
I used the D800 on a tripod, slider, and Glidecam. I used it with and without DP6 monitor. I shot for about an hour, and in that time I learned a great deal. In that time though, I learned two thing more than anything else.
Number one: The Nikon D800 is not as easy to shoot with as a Pansonic GH2. I missed the EVF a LOT. I hated having to constantly turn live view on and off. I cursed the lack of an articulating screen. I cried about the 720p output over HDMI during record. I was baffled by the lack of exposure metering in video mode. There’s no little EV scale! There’s also no Histogram. There’s no built-in slo-mo mode. I couldn’t figure out how to turn on Highlight monitoring in video mode. In short, if you’re used to shooting on the godsend that is the GH2, using a D800 is going to feel like trying to shoot video with a clay brick.
Number two: Video coming out of the Nikon D800 (at least during bright sunlight) is inches, feet, yards, acres, miles and lightyears better looking than similar footage out of a GH2. Why? Dynamic range. It’s nearly impossible to get good looking outdoors footage with a GH2 because of how contrasty it gets in sunlit situations. The Nikon on the other hand, preserved details in the shadows like a pro, and avoided blowing out highlights with aplomb. I did notice a little bit of muddiness in the widest shots, but part of that can be attributed to the very high apertures I was using (ND filtration fitting the Nikon lenses not being something I yet own). Nevertheless, in most shots, sharpness was more than satisfactory, and I didn’t notice too much rolling shutter jello, or compression artifacts. I know they’re there, but you’d have to pixel peep to find them.
So it was a bit of a love/hate relationship. Here’s the lovechild: