I have been playing with the Nikon D800 NEF raw files. Interestingly the Nikon D800 NEF files can be opened in Nikon Capture NX 2.3. I had thought Nikon would need to push out a new Capture NX version. Lightroom 3.6 and Lightroom 4 Beta cannot open the Nikon D800 NEF RAW files because the camera is not recognized. So the workflow I used is NEF->16-bit TIFF->Lightroom. One of the files I looked was the chandelier photo that has shown up in different versions on the Internet. It was probably smuggled out of Nikon D800 press event in Russia.

Nikon D800 ISO 6400 Sample

Nikon D800 ISO 6400 noise reduction off

The image appears noisy when viewed at 100% but it can be cleared up quite nicely. The built-in noise reduction in Nikon Capture NX2 is not very good. So I exported the image in 16-bit RAW format (file size 207MB!) and ran noise reduction in Lightroom 4 Beta.

Nikon D800 sample noise reduction in Lightroom 4 beta

Nikon D800 ISO 6400 noise reduction in Lightroom 4 Beta

100% crop without noise reduction.

100% crop without noise reduction.

The two jpeg files with and without noise reduction have drastically different sizes: 20.5MB vs. 36.1MB.

The following images are 100% crops showing the difference with and without noise reduction.

100% crop noise reduction using Lightroom 4 beta.

100% crop noise reduction using Lightroom 4 beta.

Nobody really should look at the images at 100% zoom level, which is equivalent to viewing a six feet wide image at a distance of ~ foot assuming the screen resolution is 100 dpi. The noise level becomes less noticeable when the zoom level is reduced. Down-sampling also helps. The image without noise reduction was down-sampled to 12 megapixel in Nikon Capture NX2.

Nikon D800 ISO 6400 down-sampled to 12MP.

Nikon D800 ISO 6400 down-sampled to 12 megapixel.

The Nikon D800 is looking better and better. The chance of me canceling my pre-order is becoming slimmer and slimmer. :-)

Posted in: Digital SLR Cameras on February 11th, 2012. Trackback URI
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