Looking for advice/opinion replacing Nikon 5700 with Nikon 8800, Please!

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by All Things Mopar, Feb 10, 2005.

  1. Hi, All!

    I'm in love with my 6 month-old Nikon Coolpix 5700 when
    shooting my favorite subject - car pictures - in daylight.
    I am completely dissasified with its flash performance not
    only with the puny Speedlight but also with the excellent
    Sunpak 433D Nikon-compatible external. I don't need to
    belabor that here, suffice to say the 5700 is going on
    eBay and I'm in the market for a new camera.

    I really do not want a DSLR, of any make or model. There's
    lots of reasons for this but size, weight, and the lack of
    an Electronic View Finder are all show stoppers for me.

    The 5700's 5 mega pixels is more than enough, but I'm
    looking at the 8800 because it has a brand new flash
    system (apparently)called iTTL. And, this time, I'm not
    gonna be penny wise and dollar fooling - I'm gonna buy
    Nikon's SB-600.

    My requirements are the same as most peoples: clear,
    sharp, noise-free, detailed, well exposed, great color,
    great camera features. Who doesn't want that stuff? 8 MP
    is just frosting on the cake. I don't like the 8800's
    maximum ISO 400, but I do like its vibration control,
    which may compensate for lack of ISO 800.

    I'm confident that the 8800 will work superbly for me in
    daylight. I don't know about flash. My local camera store
    will let me put the camera and flash on my Visa and give
    me 10 days to test drive it, so long as I don't open the
    CD, which is OK since I have a USB reader.

    I am not at all wed to Nikon. I've already started my
    research on the web, but still have a ways to go. What I'm
    asking of all the good people here is some opinions and
    advice from people that actually own a Nikon 8800 or
    competitive camera they recommend.

    My main flash problems are in the dank light of car
    museums where there're no walls or ceilings for the flash
    to reflect off.

    I am completely open-minded on make and model. I'd say my
    budget is $1,000, which is where the 8800 is, less a $100
    rebate. I understand that there's a major photo show in a
    couple of weeks, so the 8800 and its competitors may come
    down in price by the end of the month.

    I would appreciate advice and opinions. If I have been
    unclear as to my requirements, the problems I've had with
    the 5700 or why I'm anti-DSLR, I'll be glad to
    clarify/elaborate. I just wanted to keep my OP as short as

    Thanks in advance for the help!
    All Things Mopar, Feb 10, 2005
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  2. All Things Mopar

    chrlz Guest

    I think you sort of answered your own question - you say you really
    like the 5700 in daylight, so the camera is not likely to be the issue.
    Then you say you are disappointed with the flash performance, but you
    didn't really elaborate on what the problem was. Then you say you are
    shooting in the dark light of car museums with little in the way of
    reflective surfaces to use bounce techniques. (And those bounce
    techniques are not going to give you good results on something as big
    and as shiny as a car anyway - at least not with a single flash.) I
    don't think a new camera and one flash, no matter how powerful, is
    going to help that much.

    I'm no expert on this type of photography, but having seen pro's shoot
    vehicles at car shows - they either use a tripod and rely on the car
    presenters lighting, or they go to a s#%#load of trouble with multiple
    lights, some direct, some bounced, or even *huge* lightboxes. At the
    very least, I think you will be wanting a couple of slaved flashes on
    stands, or other more complex lighting arrangements.

    So don't be too disappointed if the 8800 doesn't meet your expectations
    chrlz, Feb 10, 2005
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  3. All Things Mopar

    Ben Thomas Guest

    I'm really curious to know why you insist on an electronic viewfinder. Most info
    is availabe either in the optical viewfinder or mini LCD status screen on
    top/back of a digital SLR. The Pentax *ist DS is much smaller than the rest, and
    barely bigger than the prosumer P&Ss like the 8800. Go and have a play with one
    if you haven't already.

    Ben Thomas - Software Engineer - Melbourne, Australia

    My Digital World:
    Kodak DX6490, Canon i9950, Pioneer A05;
    Hitachi 37" HD plasma display, DGTEC 2000A,
    Denon 2800, H/K AVR4500, Whatmough Encore;
    Sony Ericsson K700i, Palm Tungsten T.

    Opinions, conclusions, and other information in this message that do not
    relate to the official business of my employer shall be understood as neither
    given nor endorsed by it.
    Ben Thomas, Feb 10, 2005
  4. I think you sort of answered your own question - you
    Yes, it is, I'm afraid...
    This post wasn't to diagnose my flash problems, I've been
    there done that, including posting here, where Bob Rogers
    worked with me some, not to mention a couple of weeks with
    Nikon tech support on the phone and E-mail, and a trip to
    Nikon Service.

    I can describe what's going on for you, but that isn't
    going to change how I feel about the 5700. It's history.
    I didn't say I tilted the flash head up for bounce flash,
    I just said there no close aboard walls or ceilings, as in
    a smaller room, for the flash to simply reflect back on
    the car. My 5700 works very well in small-to-moderate
    rooms, and it works quite well if I can fill the entire
    picture with the subject. The issue comes in when I want
    to include, say 30% of the picture with the background of
    the scene. Again, I'm not going to elaborate because
    that's not the point of this post, but when I allow lots
    of background into my photos, the 5700's flash sensor
    which controls the auto exposure system gets confused in
    an inconsistant manner. Enough of that...
    Please keep in mind that I've used the Sunpak with mixed
    results. It has a Guide Number of 120, which is plenty for
    30-35'. That's beyond the distance I shoot at so my flash
    is *not* the cause of the problem. And, I've proven to
    myself that I get completely correct exposures if I put
    the camera in manual and use the old GN / distance =
    f/stop at 1/125. What I want, though, is to get reliable
    auto flash exposures without having to diddle with manual
    controls on every picture.
    Again, I thank for your observations. I know all that
    stuff you said, but don't want to do it. I'm not putting
    you down, but I didn't post this request to get a lesson
    in car show photography. I posted it because I want to
    dump the 5700 and I'm asking for personal experience with
    the Nikon 8800 in museum environments, or experience with
    a competitor's camera.

    I'm trying to make a judgement on what to buy. Posting
    here will provide some data points, I'll get more by
    reading dpreview.com, more data points from talking to
    camera store sales people, etc.

    I'm hoping to be as informed as I can before I buy. But,
    since I have 3 stores locally that'll give me a 10-day no-
    questions-asked charge refund, I'm protected. That's
    plenty of time to get to the two big car museums near me -
    The Henry Ford Museum and the Walter P. Museum. This is a
    lot like asking people what car to buy. After all the
    hoopla dies down, and the arguments about features,
    reliablity, test results, etc. are over, you really have
    to get in one, see if you're comfortable, and decide
    first-hand if you *like* the car. That's what I'm trying
    to do here.

    I'll know one way or another if the 8800 is acceptable in
    about a half-hour's shooting. And, I'll be using Nikon's
    own SB-600 flash so there won't be any bullshit argument
    out of Nikon that I'm screwed up because I have a non-
    compatible flash (which isn't the case).

    Besides chiding me for possible naievte and giving me
    photography lessons I didn't ask for, can you offer me
    some perspectives on how you believe an 8800 will perform
    vs. a 5700 under similar shooting conditions with similar
    lighting? If not, I thank again, and I'll move on to the
    10 day test drive.

    All Things Mopar, Feb 10, 2005
  5. Ben Thomas commented courteously ...
    You ask fair questions, Ben. Let me try to respond...

    You cannot see what the as-taken image looks like in an
    optical viewfinder, and the itty bitty LCD on the back is
    way to small to make more than gross judgements.

    For example, I can make an instant judgement with the EVF
    of my Nikon 5700 that tells me 1) is the exposure
    reasonable? 2) is the subject in focus? 3) do I have
    enough depth of field? 4) did I pick up a bad flash glare?
    5) did I accidently cut-off part of the subject by
    carelessness? 6) are there any unwanted but unexpected
    defects in the picture that could be alleviated by moving

    Besides those reasons, which are peculiar to my perhaps
    warped thinking, I want to have a long zoom lens which is
    relatively compact, and I don't want to have to buy
    several expensive lenses and lug them around. The days of
    trekking through Yellowstone Park with my Nikon FTN and 3
    lenses is over for me.

    That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it! So, As I
    mentioned in my other reply post, I certainly respect you
    for your knowledge, but what I'm looking for are
    experienced opinions of how an 8800 might perform in the
    peculiar flash situation I need to shoot in , vs. my 5700.

    In car terms, I might dismiss the entire genre of truck-
    based SUV, such as Chevy Tahoes, Ford Expeditions, or
    Dodge Durangos, in favor of a traditional 4-door sedan
    with good power, handling, and vehicle dynamics such as a
    HEMI 300C. That doesn't make the SUVs bad, they're not. I
    just don't want one. And, I don't want a DSLR.

    Thanks again for your observations.
    All Things Mopar, Feb 10, 2005
  6. All Things Mopar

    SteveJ Guest

    Some of the DSLRs also have the same underexposure problems.
    Go for the 8800, but its noise is higher than your 5700, that is a given.
    SteveJ, Feb 10, 2005
  7. SteveJ commented courteously ...
    Thanks for the opine, Steve! Are you basing your belief
    that the 8800 is noisier on the fact that it is an early-
    generation Nikon 8 mega pixel, and new designs are often
    noisier than follow-on designs from the same manufacturer?

    And, do you consider the noise to be a show-stopper for
    subjects requiring low noise, fine detail, and sharpness,
    such as car pictures?

    I noticed that the 8800 has ISO 50, where my 5700 was 100
    min, so that should help. The 8800 doesn't go beyond ISO
    400, which bugs me, but I'll be doing flash far more often
    than available light either hand-held of with a tripod.
    All Things Mopar, Feb 10, 2005
  8. All Things Mopar

    Harvey Guest

    Check out the Panasonic FZ20. It has a long flash range, and the lens does
    not extend forward much. Anti shake too.
    Harvey, Feb 10, 2005
  9. All Things Mopar

    chrlz Guest

    Thanks for the explanation. I can't read your mind, and if you re-read
    your post, I think you'll agree that my advice *could* have been
    correct, as you didn't mention the inconsistency issues - you just said
    you got poor results in dark venues. I did not `chide`, nor intend to,
    and I'm not sure how you read that into my post.

    As for the 'inconsistent confusion' that the 5700 encounters, I haven't
    seen or heard of this fault on that camera, so I won't try to comment
    on whether the 8800 and/or a different flash will help. I haven't
    noticed any similar issues with mine (Oly 8080), but I've only used it
    with a very ancient hammerhead flash in manual.

    (I might add that although I agree that the Panasonic DMC-FZ20
    recommended below is a very fine camera, it *does* get reported as
    occasionally having exposure issues, so maybe that might not be `the
    one` either!).
    chrlz, Feb 10, 2005
  10. Thanks for the explanation. I can't read your mind,
    I don't think you and I are at odds, maybe just on
    adjacent lanes of the same highway.
    No, you didn't chide. And, if I left you with my thinking
    of you that way, it was unintentional. Again, there're
    limits to how much is prudent to put into an OP or even a
    follow-up. Past some reasonably small amount of text,
    everyone will tune out. So, I didn't want to confuse the
    issue with people trying to figure out why I couldn't get
    good flash pictures. I just put a short paragraph in to
    say "I've fed up - need a new toy!".
    Well, as best I've been able to determine after trying for
    over 5 months, damn few people are even alleging a defect.
    I think I've read maybe three posts alluding to flash
    problems where I thought the shooting situation was even
    similar to mine. Mainly, when I've enquired before - as I
    did on this NG a couple of times - the responses I got
    were very well thought out and indicative of people
    knowing more about this stuff than I did. Unfortunately,
    in the final analysis I didn't glean anything that I could
    hang my hat on, except that my technique is universally
    considered to be sub-optimal.

    You would know that, because you and I haven't talked
    about it, but I wasn't in the past and I'm not now asking
    for help in photographic technique to get better car
    pictures, I was asking earlier for help in trying to
    figure out why *specific* circumstances - smart or not -
    were causing trouble.

    But, I'm past that now. I'm still interested in personal
    testimonials but I'm pessimistic of getting them. Its just
    that some situations aren't all that common.

    So, again, I'm spreading a wide net past this NG to gain
    as much info I can, but in the final analysis, I'll find
    out through the school of hard knocks - the 8800 (or
    whatever I buy) will either do the job or not. If it does,
    I'm golden and I sell the 5700. If it doesn't, back to the
    store for a refund it goes.

    Since I'm knee deep in some pretty tall weeds, here, I'll
    dig myself in a deeper hole: My previous camera was a 2001
    FujiFilm 4900 4 mega pixel. It has an itty bitty built-in
    flash, also. Naturally, it never took anything approaching
    great pictures, but at the Detroit Auto Show, at three
    museums, at outdoor car shows where I was using flash as
    fill, and in new car dealers, the pictures might not have
    been good, but they were drop-dead consistant: light fell
    off as the square of increased distance if I tried to
    exeed that 10-12' max range of the flash.

    But, with the Fuji, I *never* got inconsistent exposures.
    And, to rule out an attack of early-onset Alzheimer's, I
    took my wife's $150 Kodak 6330 P & S to the WPC museum
    along with my 5700 and took a couple dozen identical
    situation pictures. The Nikon pics were sharper and more
    detailed, as you'd expect, but the cheapie Kodak beat the
    Nikon's brains out with highly consistent flash.

    So, I respectfully ask you (and the others), what am I
    missing here? I'm not the sharpest tool in the box, and I
    admit it, but I don't visualize myself as a drooling
    imbecile either (and, *NO*, I am *not* saying that you
    implied that!).

    I'm a retired DaimlerChrysler employee with company lease
    car priveledges, such as it is. Last fall, they gave us a
    special lease rate on base model Chrysler Crossfire
    coupes. I'm not making a political statement here, but I
    think it's a pretty good looking car. So, I went for a
    test drive.

    Turned out that it is quiet, handled well, performed
    adequately (if not spectacularly), but I *hated* it! There
    is no earthly way I could have discovered that by reading
    Motor Trend or watching Motor Trend TV or watching other
    Speed Channel shows that gushed on the car. It's a great
    car, I just didn't like if for my brand of driving.

    So, by analogy, the Nikon 5700 is a fine camera with
    excellent reviews and many happy owners, but not me. So,
    I'm gonna fix it by buying some I do like to drive.

    Thanks again for your many suggestions. As Mr. Spock used
    to say to Captain Kirk, "Sir, I shall consider it!"
    All Things Mopar, Feb 10, 2005
  11. Harvey commented courteously ...
    Thanks for the heads-up Harvey! This is exactly why I
    posted my plea for advice. I will definitely investigate
    the Panasonic.
    All Things Mopar, Feb 10, 2005
  12. All Things Mopar

    Ed Ruf Guest

    A dslr with usable high iso and a fast lens would not necessarily require a
    flash in such situations. Just a thought.
    Ed Ruf, Feb 10, 2005
  13. Ed Ruf commented courteously ...
    That is obviously correct, Ed. At a car show like the 2005
    North American Internation Auto Show in Detroit, what you
    say is entirely true - it is *very* bright. I missed it
    this year, but if I had something like a Canon 20D, I'd
    definitely shoot available light, but I'd probably also
    carry along an external flash for fill, and see if that
    helps or hinders.

    I see from your sig that you own a 5700. You really can't
    shoot available light with that (at least not mine!)
    because at ISO 800, my pictures look like beach sand
    paintings. I can tell from your suggestion that you're
    doing my kind of shooting with your D70. But, have you
    tried the 5700 with competant flash?
    The Walter P. Chrysler Museum is 15 minutes from me and I
    get in free because I'm a Chrysler retiree, so I go there
    often. Unlike many museums, lighting is "normal" most

    It has some unique challenges, though. For example, there
    are large windows on two walls on the 1st and second
    floors. They park cars in front of them. I go in late
    afternoon to shoot the back-lit cars, and change from
    "matrix" to "spot" metering.

    Other places in the WPC are pretty dark. Then, the
    basement display has a mixture of both incandescent and
    fluorescent lighting! How the dickens do you set white
    balance for that?

    The Henry Ford Museum, 45 minutes from me and $16 bucks a
    pop is so dark that it makes a beer joint bright! I could
    get by hand-held at maybe ISO 800 or 1600 at the WPC, but
    I'd definitely need a tripod at the HF.

    One last comment: I like my pictures bright and contrasty.
    I know how to do that with the camera but prefer to do it
    in Paint Shop Pro 9 so I can see the changes. The NAIAS
    car show is bright enough that contrast isn't that much of
    a problem. The WPC is marginal on contrast, but again, the
    HF is dismal. Available light pictures look flat and
    uninteresting, with color balance problems even when set
    for incandescent.

    Anyway, thank you for the suggestion, and you have a great
    day, hear?!
    All Things Mopar, Feb 10, 2005
  14. All Things Mopar

    Nige Guest

    Nige, Feb 10, 2005
  15. Nige commented courteously ...

    Sorry to top-post, but Huh? I'm not following what you
    All Things Mopar, Feb 10, 2005
  16. All Things Mopar

    Nige Guest


    Nige, Feb 10, 2005
  17. All Things Mopar

    Ed Ruf Guest

    I find 400 quite usable with the use of Neat Image to help filter the
    noise. For something like you are taking about you can also make use of BSS
    to cope with getting the best shot at slow shutter speeds. I've gotten
    shots down as low as 1/4 sec ( DSCN9395.JPG) in the Cradle of Aviation
    In many instances of the planes I wanted to capture the lighting as it was.
    Typically, I don't do a lot of flash photos.

    I can tell from your suggestion that you're
    No. I do a lot of low light shooting that can't be done with flash too
    well. Wildlife and indoor/night racing with long focal lengths. So for this
    I look to bump iso up and use as fast a lens as possible. I started with a
    990 and the TC-3x converter, went to the 5700 and TC1.5 and found it
    lacking. I couldn't get the shutter speeds I needed. Hence the get a fast
    lens and bump the iso. Over Christmas I shot my 7 yr old nephew's school
    Christmas pageant with no flash using my D70 and 70-200 f/2.8 stabilized
    lens. I had to push the iso on this. But I prefer that to flash, myself
    along with my other needs. I do shoot raw, admittedly a PIA with the 5700
    given the 20-22 sec it takes to write to the card.

    The 8800 is stabilized, but it's still not fast, especially if you zoom in
    at all.
    Yep, and your gonna blow out the windows probably it it's bright outside.
    The real answer for that is raw where you can then easily change the WB
    when you process it.
    See my CAV pics mentioned above, pretty slow shutter speeds. If you have a
    Nikon P&S BSS is definitely your friend in these situations. Also if
    possible shoot off the hip. I did this all the time with the swivel head
    990, not as much help with the 5700.
    Again, sounds like a call for using raw capabilities.
    Ed Ruf, Feb 10, 2005
  18. All Things Mopar

    Ed Ruf Guest

    The sensor is just to the side and below the flash. As such I would think
    it can be blocked from light coming below by the lens. Also if you look
    closely it is set back a fair amount from the surface. As such it's field
    of view is limited some by this. How much I don't know, but your problems
    with wider angle shots would seem to imply this might be a pertinent issue.
    Ed Ruf, Feb 10, 2005
  19. Ed Ruf commented courteously ...
    I haven't tried that one, but I've used PSP 9's
    outstanding DCNR, but even this impressive filter has a
    tough time.
    Ed, sometimes I think I've got the most peculiar
    requirements and personal preferences on this NG. Luckily
    for me, the cars I shoot aren't moving, so if there's
    shutter lag or other nasty stuff, it doesn't bother me.

    But, being hyper-active, I'm too damn impatient to set up
    a tripod and shoot available light. I guess you could say
    I sacrifice a lot of quality to get quantity.

    But, being neither a pro nor even an advanced amateur
    photographer, most of my pictures satisfy me. I
    characterize my pictures as "documentary" rather than
    photographically aesthetic, so I can get by with things
    like a single flash mounted on top the camera when all the
    talented people, like you, just cringe.

    The good news, though, is today's digital camera market is
    plenty deep and wide for everyone from a current user of
    1-time Kodaks to someone who makes their living with

    And, with reference to RAW, I have a rudimentary
    understanding of why it is advantageous, but the 80/20
    rule and the law of dimishing returns enters into it, and
    I don't currently visualize enough advantage to RAW to
    compensate for the big file sizes and slower graphics
    manipulation. But, my opinion on that may well change
    sometime in the future...

    Thanks for your suggestions.
    All Things Mopar, Feb 11, 2005
  20. All Things Mopar

    Ed Ruf Guest

    I've given it a try being a PSP7/8 user for a long time, but never liked it
    compared to NI and stayed with PSP8.
    You might consider the Panasonic with the stabilized fast f/2.8 lens. IIRC,
    it's only 5 mp. David Taylor of this and the zlr groups speaks of it having
    moved to it after a 5700.
    Ed Ruf, Feb 11, 2005
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