I went Nikon D800 around 10 days ago. I bought the 24-70 F2.8, 70-200 F2.8 VRII, 85mm and 50mm 1.8G's.
The 24-70 is excellent and better than the Canon 1 version, but not sure about the 2, as it might not be released in my lifetime, like too many Canon products lately :-)
I have photographs to take, not pre orders to wait a lifetime for. I've cut my losses and they are huge, but you do what you have to do.
The 70-200 2.8 VRII is on par with the Canon, but the 50mm and 85mm 1.8G's are definitely better, maybe by virtue of the age of Canon's non L offerings, which are very old indeed. Even their L 50mm 1.2 is knocking on now.
Who needs an L when you've got the 1.8G's or 1.4 G's?
Since then the D800 has continued to impress in IQ again and again. 5x4 modes, 1.2 crop, DX, and there's simply no question, the D800 sensor blows the Mk3 away.
Here's some test on Facebook I left public. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.387084584687378.91065.100001575187556&type=3
I keep pulling in shadow detail just to see it happen on the D800. It's such fun to see complete black turn into smooth detail, and not a green blotchy vertically banded mess like the Mk3. How they spent 3.5 years on this camera and didn't solve that, I do not know.
That was the last straw for me and Canon I'm afraid. Then they want to charge an extra $500 for it? I'm the fool, I actually paid it, in trust that they had actually done some work in 3.5 years.
Apparently they went home a lot earlier than Sony/Nikon engineers.
I had the Canon film cams, the D60, the 400D, the 5D Mk1, the Mk2, and when I got the Mk3, I was so underwhelmed with image improvements, that I started reading up on the D800, and looking at Nikon for the first time in 21 years of DSLR ownership, of which the the last 5 are as a professional.
The shadows in the D800 are on another planet, and the highlights hold their fine detail way better.
The fantastic resolution comes without an ISO penalty, and add to that 2-3 stops wider DR, and it's not if the D800 beats the Mk3, but more, how on earth did Sony/Nikon manage to triple the D3s/D700 res, increase DR, and produce clean, non blotchy shadow details with no vertical banding or sensor patterns?
Those guys have performed miracles.
In the end I gave up caring and took the plunge, laid down $9500 and made the move. 6 shoots later, I'm more impressed than ever.
Today I was asked, for the first time in ages, to shoot 5/4. No problem on the D800.
Instead of having to guess the crop, as I would on my Mk2, or Mk3, I switched to 5/4 crop, which is still a 30 meg, 14 stop DR file.
I have the 1.2 crop, and the DX crop for sports or concerts, where reach becomes important and 15 meg DX mode is fine.
It's a very flexible and logical approach, rather than the Mk3's 22 meg, no crop, you get what's in the viewfinder approach.
We have digital flexibility, let's use it. sRaw is ok, but crops are where it's at.
It took a little while to adapt to Nikon's way of doing things, and as I do, the qualities of the camera improve.
The anti clockwise mount was an odd one, and I'm getting used to the menu structure, and less than inspiring placement of the buttons.
And surprise of surprises, after thinking the rate button was useless beofre the Mk3 release, I ended up using it a lot between shoot setups to sort files for the 6 weeks I used the Mk3, and now on the Nikon, I really miss it.
My simplistic view is that Canon simply cannot develop a modern sensor, with a clean noise floor at 22 meg, let alone 36, and the lack f DR, by 2-3 stops is alarming for someone like Canon.
I waited 3.5 years for the Mk3, and barely saw much improvement, if you don't shoot at 3200 often.
A great focus system and a few button changes are really all they seemed to add. But then nikon;s have had a great focus system for 3 years on the D3/D700, and I'm tired of pretending that they didn't.
I supported Canon, but I drew the line at fanboy talk. They simply under specced the Mk2 in the focus area and patter noise, then under specced the Mk3 in IQ.
And upon researching the Nikon system, it became obvious how old the Canon glass was becoming. I had no idea been a Canon man.
They key Nikon lenses I bought are all less than 3 years old in release, and there's no doubt, where I needed L on Canon (50mm 1.2, 85mm 1.2 etc) the $250 50mm 1.8G and $500 85mm 1.8G (don't need the 1.2, but need the optical quality) are superb lenses, far superior to Canon's non L 1.8 and 1.4, and pretty much on par with the L's for most usage.
The D800 has been used on 6 shoots now, and the following is something I wrote for friends a week ago on Facebook after only one.
I've been Canon for 20 years or so, but really, I don't care about logos.
The D800 is the biggest leap forward in many a year. I simply don't think Canon even have the know how to beat it, or they prefer making cinema cameras, but for whatever reason, the D800 sensor has embarrassed Canon immensely imho.
If the tech guys at Canon have looked at he D800 output, they must be feeling pretty low right about now.
I wrote the following, as I said, a week ago, but most still stands, and if anything, I'm more impressed now than I was then.
My Facebook review from a week ago just for reference:
For anyone interested in my 5D Mk3 to D800 transition, I've just finished the first proper shoot with the D800.
The 24-70 F2.8 Nikon lens is so sharp you could cut yourself on it. Better than the Canon 24-70, but likely the same as the new Canon 24-70 ii.
The 50mm F1.8G is superb and just about the bargain of the photography world.
The D800 is not as ergonomic as the Mk3, which is a beautiful camera to use. The Nikon just doesn't 'feel' like an extension of your hands like the Mk3 does.
The image review zoom, colour rendition on the lcd screen, etc is pretty poor on the Nikon, while the Mk3 is superb.
Focus is good on the Nikon, but it can't compare to the Mk3's amazing ability to focus in almost blackness. They are a long way apart, and even more so on the non cross Nikon points, which is all of the side points, making me go back to focus and slide, which I'd stopped doing since getting the Mk3.
Custom white balance is better on the Nikon with tint options as well as colour temp.
For fun I let it do auto white balance and it seems better than the Canon, which can change from shot to shot, even when the camera hasn't moved, and nothings changed.
Again for fun I let it auto expose daylight scenes and it feels more consistent than the mk3.
Of course, for most of us, that stuff is neither there nor there, as we manual everything.
The lcd screen has a green tint, which Nikon is claiming is more accurate.
It's not, it's bloody horrible and doesn't match a calibrated screen or a print. It makes skin look ridiculous.
That's a major mess up I hope they put right in firmware.
Image quality? This is as good as it gets before Medium format, and really, it's closed the gap to MF significantly.
Certainly looks like a Pentax 645D, maybe not the 60 meg or 80 meg Phase one's but it's a major quality leap for DSLR's.
If they leap again like this in 3 years, MF will be dead in the water, and you'd really, really need MF now, to justify not going D800.
It's killed my MF desires for now.
Crop modes? Being 36 meg FF, it's like having a 7D built in, as you have 16 meg or so in cropped DX mode, if you need zoom reach, or are shooting products and want more DOF.
So a 200mm becomes a 300mm, and so forth.
Being able to shoot with a 50mm from waist to top of hair, then crop to the face, and still have 15-20 meg is something that makes the camera spectacularly flexible.
A 50mm in DX is 75mm, a 100mm is 150mm and so on, and of course you can just shoot in FX and crop later, leaving choices till later.
That flexibility becomes a very powerful tool if you use it.
ISO? People say the Mk3 and D800 are similar. They are if you scale the D800 from 36 meg to 22, which might be the fairest method.
At 1:1, the D800 has more noise, but it's not colour noise, and looks nicely film like, but in truth, by the time you've printed it, even at 20x30inch, I doubt if you'd see any noise in a print from a 3200-6400 D800 file, as it's just so fine.
Best cam? I think the Mk3 is the best all round camera out there. It can do anything, and is a jack of all trades, and master of some, but for me, and it's just me, it lacks in the specific areas I do 90% of my work.
Premium quality studio work? The D800 hands down.
IQ in highlights and shadows is simply unparallelled, but if you're shooting weddings, you likely won't care, as the ISO, focus, comfy 22 meg files, and spectacular focus system and ergonomics of the Mk3 make it a joy to use for that.
I don't shoot weddings, and I rarely go over 1600 ISO, so a lot of the excellent advantages the Mk3 has, I don't need.
The perfect 2012 camera would be:
Mk3 screen, ergonomics, focus system, hi ISO performance, video quality.
I have to say, I think the 50mm and 85mm F1.4 and F1.8 Nikon lenses kill the Canon's.
Canon need the sub $1000 lenses improving with new releases. The Nikon's push the Canon L's and cost a third of the L's.
The 70-200 F2.8's are the same on both systems, just amazing, and the 24-70 F2.8 are about the same ONCE Canon release the ii version.
Hope someone found this useful :-)