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'Joy Ride,' the First Nikon D800 Test Film

02.7.12 @ 9:51AM Tags : , , , , ,

Is the just-announced Nikon D800 the new Canon 5D Mark II? It’s full frame, it’s of a similar size and it’s of a similar price, but it offers a clean HDMI output, and it does 60p (at 720p). The question, I guess, is not how the D800 will fair against the 5D Mark II but how it will compare the Mark III — whenever we hear about that. Thanks to reader Paul, here’s the first (to my knowledge) short film shot on the new D800:

(Do not try any of this at home).

And here is the behind-the-scenes:

And one more short:



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  • I get the feeling it will represent something similar to the 5D mkII to most even if it has one or two upgrades.
    The reason you ask? Colored moire on 00:47 in the ground on the bridge scene. Mainly in the center.

    • You’re right Raphael. The image looks almost exactly like the 5D with what I’m seeing also. Similar resolution and all thus far.

      The advantages with this camera appear to be option to have FF or 1.6 crop and clean HDMI out. But if you’re already a Canon guy with ML, clean HDMI isn’t an issue. So…you’re left with a crop option.

      Think I’ll wait to see more from both parties, really.

      • KahL what do you mean by Clean HDMI out with Magic Lantern… I’ve been using ML for some time now, and I dodn’t know about this…? Clean HDMI out?

      • Yes, please explain your statement about clean hdmi and Magic Lantern. As far as I know it’s not a feature mentioned but if you have some kind of work around please share. I hope you’re not implying that a higher bitrate via ML is the same as a clean hdmi out signal.

        • It’s not clean. Magic Lantern clears all graphic overlay, but the HDMI signal is still a 3:2 image pillar boxed. You need to resize the image up to 120% to get rid of the borders. And it’s only 60i no matter what mode you’re in.

    • I read the Nikon D800 doesn’t have an AA filter in camera, like the high-end middle format digital cameras. It is supposed to get a better resolution this way, but you need filters in post to correct for it.

      As soon as I read this, I thought “this is not gonna be good for video…”

      • The no AA filter is on the D800E only. The D800 has an AA filter. I have also wondered what impact it will have on video, though…

  • the last video is awful…

    • O sole mio for guitar! xD

    • meh…
      low light is gonna be worse than 5d due to the amount of megapixels..36 which is a little obnoxious.
      Not sure what they were getting at with making it 36 megapixels, it might appeal to more people who don’t know what they want in the camera?
      I wouldn’t compare it to the mark III because it can barely stack up with the mark II

    • The last video is a crappy upload to youtube. I would hope the orginal was better.

  • I want this to be a great camera, and I long for a nikon DSLR so i can use my Nikkor lenses properly.
    But looking at some of the footage, I had a few observations.
    on 00.25, the candle shot, you can’t see any detail in the flame, overexposed and no filament detail..
    overall the night shots are clearly noisy, which says something about low light filming with the D800.
    at 00.46 i think there is a lot of moire in the shot, on the grid like pattern of the road.
    considering the credits into postproduction, then I need to ask myself what the original footage looked like before post, not sure about the overall colour.
    like I said, I would love to go back to nikon, for the killer combo of photo/video. but on the image here i’m not sure,

    • Regarding the comment on the detail in the candle flame. The focus point was on the hand, and the relatively shallow dof would preclude getting a lot of detail in the flame. Is this really an issue in this scene, or am I missing something?

  • Erwin (Netherlands) on 02.7.12 @ 4:50PM

    I think the Nikon D800 is a great stills camera. Impressive. It will probably the best DSLR out there for super high res still images, albeit not for low light. Regarding the video however, I have serious doubts! In the D800 video footage on the web I did not see anything that is better than the 5D Mark II, except perhaps for less rolling shutter.

    The resolution in these D800 video samples is not impressive. It looks like 720p, not 1080p. I also see moire. The 700$ Panasonic GH2 provides much better resolution and less moire, for video, even unhacked at the standard 24 MBPS. Hacked it can go up to 176 MBPS I-frame only.

    So now we have wait and see whether the uncompressed 4:2:2 HDMI out signal of the D800 will get better results. In terms of resolution it might, or it might not. If it does, it will require an external device like the Atomos Ninja or Samurai to store the video data. So that will add cost, cables and yet more equipment to carry around. I’m not sure if I will settle for that. I think I rather wait for the 4K video DSLR from Canon and stick with my GH2 in the mean time. For video that is.

    My 2 cents.

  • I already pre-ordered one. I shoot video and fashion photography. This is just what I need for mixed multimedia. Clean HMDI out for pro videos, and perfect for fashion photography. If the mirror stays up for an hour with the HDMI like it does with the D4 then this is a monster of a camera. Overall this is a sweet package is you do all kinds of multimedia.

    The camera leaves a lot of stuff open to the filmmaker and photographer.

    The D800 is the closest thing to a medium format camera right now. The Leica S2 is a 37 megaixel medium format camera that cost $22,000. More than a RED Scarlet. If you look at the D800E specs for $3,000 and the Leica S2 specs for $22,000. You will see how appealing the D800 is…AND It shoots good video!

    • Me too. Just showed the video to our production head and unlike most here, he thought it was the best footage from a dslr he’d ever seen. And he’s a canon dslr guy.

  • Feeling pretty good about this camera. Love the natural “Nikon” look especially in the brighter scenes. If the camera is no better than the 5D MkII that’s still pretty great. How many would take their 5D as it is with the only upgrade being uncompressed HDMI out!?! That would still be a game changer! The minimal jello-cam is just a bonus.

  • Just watched the Joy Ride Behind the Scenes full screen on my Dreamcolor – I actually think this video is probably a better representation of how good the camera is. There is clarity and resolution in so many shots that is by far the best DSLR footage I have ever seen – rivaling everything I’ve seen with the c300. I wish we could know what shots were recorded to external device and which were internal?

    • are we sure the BTS footage was shot with the D800 too?

      • Yea it confirms it at the end, I agree with Lance the BTS sold me more on the camera than short did :P

        I think I just didn’t like the story too much here… With all these cameras being so comparable in quality it’s really becoming entirely dependent on content, which is awesome.

  • Jordan Carr on 02.7.12 @ 7:01PM

    No doubt it will be a great stills camera but the video will soon be trumped by Canon. Nikon themselves admit that Canon will beat them with the 1DX – ie use of B-frame compression on the D800 and D4 to reduce file sizes. The use of B-frames will hinder motion, and reduce the post production potential of these Nikon cameras tremendously.

    Hacked GH2′s now use GOP1 and will probably have an edge over these Nikon DSLRs in bright to average lighting conditions.

    Serious filmmakers will use GH2′s at the low end or Red Scarlets / Alexa / Sony F65.

    I love the D800 but you are paying $3,000 for its Medium Format still ability.

    • Glad I’m not a “serious filmmaker”. I get to use whatever tool I feel is best for the job…

    • The D800 is photo 35mm full frame ( VistaVision 8-perf). Medium format is 120x120mm and closer to IMAX. For future reference.

      • Sorry, you don’t know what you’re talking about. To get the same or better still image quality than D800, you will have to use at least 4×5 (that inches) MF film camera. There are many more things that need to be taken into account than just resolution comparison.

  • I have to agree with you Lance…Behind the Scenes footage looks a lot better to me than the actual “Joy Ride”. It must be a mistake in post that resulted with not so perfect video in the short. It’s sharper, noise is less apparent in dark scenes. All in all, a perfect all around multimedia production tool and it will suit my needs spot on.

    I actually liked the D4 footage better, there is some “dreamy” look to it that I really liked in the “Why” short, but it is a bit out of my price range. Canon is supposably announcing something big later this month according to Canonrumors, I’ll wait and see to make my final decision.

    • Yeah the D4 looks great for sure… just waiting to see a hands-on test/review from someone like Philip Bloom to get a detailed “real world” view of the camera. The WHY short looked a little soft here and there and I need to know if that was compression getting it to the web or in camera? But for half the price, and based on the making of footage, the 800 looks like it could be a winner. And of course seeing what Canon announces will be a big factor in what I buy next.

  • What’s up with the 2 minute credits?

  • That is compensation for the size of the camera.

  • Great blog guys,

    New short action film I shot on the Canon 5D & 60D, Check it out!

  • Joy Ride was supposed to be a short film. What about the bullshit story that absolutely makes no sense at all and no one seems to complain about? So when you’re announcing it as a short film you’ll expect the images to be filmic or as close to film. But this doesn’t look like film at all. Not even close. Now people say it’s a good multimedia camera. Which is cool, but then they’ve should announced it that way. Not as a potential new dslr filmcamera, which it obviously isnt. Seems to me like they’re trying so hard but they just cant pull it off.

  • another crappy high budget short. the images are nice but the actual film is meh. advice to camera marketing teams:good director first then, the dop.

  • Oh, wow.

    Another high-budget, full-crew production with quick cuts, gobs of post-production tweaking and a vacuous plot. What a great way to demonstrate the true capabilities of this camera!

    • Yes, let’s show boring shots of brick walls and screen doors for a product launch. Your test samples will come. Don’t worry.

  • The story was pretty self explanatory. The driver is a doctor who is also a father who is on call. The whole movie is about him riding to the hospital, for a pregnancy, after a page.

    The style of the movie seems to be a tribute to “Drive”.

  • I don’t know why people are so excited about this camera…36 megapixels is pointless and hurts the video. Crop option is again pointless…there are advantages to the crop sensor but if you are upgrading to this camera you most likely already have one and should use two camera bodies anyways instead of switching out lenses during events. Full HDMI out is nice but there are work arounds..

    Well I shouldn’t say those things are pointless but I think Philip can explain better
    He already did a very nice in depth review like Koo did in his earlier post but think Philip explains the problems more.

    For once I agree with him on everything in that post.

    • You do realize that this camera is designed for Photographers first, right? And some of us know what to do with 36 megapixels, and know how to light for 36 megapixels, and plan on printing at larger sizes?

      Secondly, no one complains about the image quality of the D7000, and the pixels in the D800 are about the same size, and a newer design

      • Correct me if I’m wrong because I am not exactly a Nikon guy but the D7000 has about HALF the amount of pixels than the D800….
        What I was trying to get at is that I agree with you that it will appeal to people who are taking SPECIALIZED STILLS…I didn’t mean it was totally pointless just very unnecessary for well a lot of people. I don’t have any friends that takes stills for billboards

        • D7000 is APS-C, D800 is 35mm. Twice as many pixels, but twice the area. And remember, most people buying DSLRs are using them for Stills, not video, regardless of what the video/film maker websites state.

          • This is a DSLR video site (FYI) for those of you justifying the photo capabilities of the D800…doesn’t really make sense

  • Here is a full music video shot with the D800:

    This camera is super legit. Here is the behind the scenes:

    This is pretty amazing for a specialized STILLS camera made for photographers. I hope this shuts up the annoying film snobs who are critical. But I doubt it, I’m guessing the downsampling is very obvious, I don’t see how anyone missed the hidden Moire behind the 3 tree in the back and of course the lack of shadow detail in the dead of night behind the singer. Totally unacceptable for a DSLR…and the bad, the pace of the slider was so “video like” and the slo mo water just looks like 720p..I mean come on…this so confirms how poor this camera is in low light…Because everyone in the filmmaking community is automatically camera engineers…

    • F@#K ME!!!!

      Great post Nagato – honestly I couldn’t fault that on any level. For $3k the D800 is insane – especially considering your getting an amazing 36mp pro stills camera thrown in!!!

      Time to put all my nice nikon glass to good use :-)

      • Yeah the clarity on some of the master shots is crazy good – Eyes, face and skin detail, the drums all just so clean. Nothing like my old 7D – glad I sold my entire kit when it was still worth a lot – Nikon may be next buy…

  • Great link, they should have had a D800 to film the Behind the Scenes with! It was nice to see in the Joy Ride BTS how the camera faired in less favorable conditions.

  • Jacques E. Bouchard on 02.10.12 @ 3:27PM


    Writing is still the most important part of filmmaking.

  • I think the bottom line is, the D800 is designed as a high resolution landscape/portrait/wedding camera with a relatively low frame rate, and it has the bonus of having some good video features with quality that is good enough to satisfy most clients. It is first a camera for stills, and second a capable device for capturing video.

  • im not sure what all the fuss is about. Honestly, its not just about the camera itself, when it comes to film making. Tons of variables can hinder or help a production. The camera gives a great base layer to work with and in the end thats what really helps things. Post production workflows these days can do a lot of magic.

    ALL that being said, the uncompressed output is a GREAT feature! As far as recording codecs goes, just slap on an AJA kiPROmini and tada! You go from 422 to 422 color space with only minute compression from the prores codec. Thats just one of many possible solutions. Or straight to a D5 deck or equivalent via an hdmi to hd-sdi convertor.

    This camera may be my next purchase for a cinema dslr (keeping in mind that it is STILL a dslr, made for capturing stills first and foremost…unless canon gives me a production ready c300 to work with on my next low light film)…ill just have to see what happens in the near and distant future. nice work to Sandro and his crew, and of course to Nikkon