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Guest post: Into the Arctic – Nikon D800E field test

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Today Jonathan Björklund (websiteFacebook) will share his experiences shooting with the Nikon D800E in the Arctic (click on image for larger view):

Have you ever felt like being alone in the world, without communications and the comfort of our daily life? Well I have a word for you, the Arctic.

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Ever since I first set my foot up at Svalbard a couple of years ago, I have been longing to go back there. It is difficult to put into words, but there’s something about being so far up north. This winter I came across an ‘explore the east coast expedition’ and I just couldn’t hold it anymore, so I took the opportunity and booked both the trip and flight tickets. A few months earlier I got a hold on the new masterpiece D800e, and this trip to the arctic wilderness would really put up a challenge for my new baby.

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Finally arriving in the town of Longyearbyen we went through our equipment, and as soon as we’ve packed our snowmobiles we drove off into the ice-covered tundra. I have never driven a snowmobile before, and now I see why people enjoy it so much. Driving through an untouched landscape as majestic mountains and blue glaciers pass by is just breathtaking. Everything is white and all you left behind you is a small track which is soon to be covered with fresh snow.

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With interesting motives all around I can insure you that the camera shutter stayed warm although we had shifting temperatures of -10 to -15 degrees Celsius. Actually I was quite surprised. For 8 days filled with photography I only used five full battery charges, I had expected much higher battery drainage.

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The goal for the trip was at finding the Polar Bear, and we were lucky. The second night we reached our main goal, the east coast. And in a couple of minutes we had our first sighting, a mother with her cubs. They kept their distance and although this night didn’t bring any photos it was a good start on the trip. Looking for polar bears requires time, a good guide and especially a pair of good binoculars. And most of the days were spent looking for these amazing creatures. We had in total ten polar bear observations and a few of them came up quite close to us.

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My equipment on this trip was the D800e along with the 14-24/2.8, 70-200/2.8, 500/4, tele converters and a Sigma 50/1.4. And I must say, the D800e regardless lens, really performs. The autofocus is precise and the image quality is top notch. With its 36 MPix I have to think about motion blur a little bit more than with my D700, but it doesn’t take too long time to develop slightly small changes in the way you are capturing your pictures. I think you have to use your brain a little more working with the D800e, it is fun really thinking through how to make the best out of every situation.

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Our best Polar Bear sighting we had our last night. We had been working with a big male for a small hour before he walked up towards a hill. And as we were about to pack the scooters for our last trip back to Longyearbyen through the night, we saw a mother with her two cub running down a steep slope. It turned out that the big male tried to track her down, most probably to kill of the cubs.

So we are standing there watching the mother with her small ones with only hundred meters between us, running away from our direction, this great photo opportunity just disappearing in a matter of seconds. Watching them running away over the fjord we started to discuss our last trip home again. And as we’re about to start the motors we see that the mothers suddenly changes direction. She stops running and she and the cubs starts walking towards us. So we are standing there again just waiting to see what will happen. What’s happening next is maybe one of my greatest wildlife experiences ever. The mother and her two cubs get up to us as close as 40 meters before she stops and lies down. The small ones looks really exhausted and in the shelter of us people the three bears decided to rest for almost half an hour. It didn’t take long for the small one to recover and only a few minutes later they were already squabbling. This short moment felt like an eternity and when they finally walked away from us again we had to drive home to catch the flight back to mainland.

Do I really have to say that it won’t be long before I go back to Svalbard again!

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If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here.

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  • Evgeny Kuzmenko

    Interesting story and great photos. Thanks!

  • HD10

    Amazing photos and experience.

  • Aldo

    I’ll let someone else be the “jerk”

    • RxGus

      And by that you mean “I am the only person who has posted who doesnt like the pictures?”

      • Aldo

        It’s easy to judge… Im sure the shooting conditions didn’t help… however I don’t know why the first two pictures are blown…personal preference perhaps

        • RxGus

          To be fair: I wouldn’t have chosen either of those to be the first two images that I showed from this gallery either. I think they both make an artistic statement (which I like), but aren’t great examples of making a photographic statement.

          However, several other pictures later in the series redeem the portfolio and show very good detail, exposure, and composition. Those are the ones that I will remember from this gallery.

  • Evangelo

    AMAZING Material from a real world … far-far away from everyone !

  • Stefan

    Beautiful images. Outstanding work.

  • Plug

    Stunning colours!

  • Drazen B

    That’s what is all about!
    And what a better field test to put a serious tool like a D800 thru…

  • Captain Megaton

    Hey everyone, here is my photo of a polar bear in a snow storm:

    • Aldo

      I like how you got him catching that salmon. Difficult shot.

    • Snapper

      Looks like you used auto white balance on that one Captain ;-)

      Beautiful work Jonathan!

    • Captain America

      Yes, but this post isn’t about you, captain. Make your own please then post back here for all to see. Cheers.

    • callibrator

      Get a grey card Captain…don’t be tool

    • Pablo Ricasso returned

      Admin please remove this ridiculous post and slap this Captain joker on the wrist.

      • JakeB

        Noticed how he’s given a negative remark to all posts in this thread?

        What a child.

      • Aldo

        Hmmm no. It’s sarcastic but funny, yet still has a valid point. It pretty much describes the number one challenge when shooting in those conditions.

        • Mandula

          Sorry, “funny”?!
          While you may see the “funny” part in that smartarse post, the rest of us don’t. And if you believe those are the “challenges” when shooting in the wild white, then you should stick to the photography you’re used to, closer to home.

          • Aldo

            Who is the rest of you? You speak for all the nikonrumors visitors? That says it all right there.

    • Dpablo unfiltered

      It would have been sharper if you had used a longer lens and cropped it less. Get with the program…

    • Fred

      Too much moiré for my taste.

      • Art

        I’d like seconds. Could I have some moire?

    • Captain Gigaton

      I came across a black bear while out for camping one night myself once.

      Taken with my iphone:

      • Aldo

        You blew some of the highlights, but over all a good shot. The bear is so into your backpack, he didn’t even see your flash.

  • Steve Plume

    What a superb experience. I agree my D800e does take a little more thought than the D700

  • zhen

    Thanks for posting excellent guest posts. I’ve learned a lot of new things about nikon gear.

  • yayaWHOatyahoo

    nice shots, quite unusual colors too … just should have been mentioned the lens used straight next to the shot. Besides, WELL DONE

    • Jonathan Björklund

      I have chosen my own color setting in the camera. It suits me well.

      The lens used in the pictures are as follows;

      1. Sigma 50mm f/1.4
      2. Nikon 14-24 f/2.8
      3. Sigma 50mm f/1.4
      4. Sigma 50mm f/1.4
      5. Nikon 500mm f/4
      6. Sigma 50mm f/1.4
      7. Nikon 500mm f/4
      8. Nikon 500mm f/4
      9. Nikon 500mm f/4
      10. Nikon 500mm f/4
      11. Nikon 500mm f/4
      12. Sigma 50mm f/1.4
      13. Nikon 500mm f/4
      14. Nikon 500mm f/4

      Maybe Admin see this one and can add to the post :-)

      • SJKartch

        Interesting. So the 70-200 didn’t get used at all, and the workhorse was the 500mm f/4. Makes sense with those subjects. Great pics btw; thanks for sharing.

        • Jonathan Björklund

          Neopulse / SJKartch
          The main lens for the trip was of course the 500/4. The other lenses got used quite a lot to, but I didn’t chose any of those for this post :-)

          Cheers
          Jonathan

      • Neopulse

        That 14-24mm felt real lonely heh!

  • Guest

    You could gain these results with a mirrorless equipment too! Fuji X-System, Olympus OMD-EM5 or the new EM1 with aquivalent lenses 7-14 or 9-18 etc…

    The loss in details, dynamic range, resolution wouldn’t be huge until you don’t want to make a lot of cropping but you do not have to carry so much bulky, heavy and expensive equipment with you…

    For the price difference you could make another trip…heading south ;)

    I will dump my Nikon gear (DX and FX) for M43..the new Olympus EM1 … no other company is offering you a 7-14 2.8, 12-40 2.8 and a 40-150 2.8, 60 macro all dust and weathersealed relatively compact,plus beautiful primes 1.8…you could obtain beautiful and more than enough shallow DOF with Voigtländer 0.95 lenses or the 75 1.8…especoally if you do not so much portraits more than enough…iso 6400 of the em1 is enough for the majority of advanced or even pros who shooting mostly iso 100-800….

    Sadly no Nikon D400 (or D9000) is coming with better sealing, dual af for foto and video, integrated wifi (usable with pc), gps, 10 fps, large buffer, fully movable display, etc.

    i think on the long term view dslr have only their chance for studio/ commercial work FF/MF for traveling and the adanced, enthusiastic photographers its more important to have a compact, light system with only minor loss in IQ…..

    DSLR and their have to be build more compact and lightweight as possible….to have a chance against m43…

    I am not a m43 fanboy still a nikon shooter but you cannot hide the problems and disadvantages of dslrs…

    Best regards,

    • Guest

      I wanna add/correct… I meant “DSLR and especially their lenses have to be…:” I think it is possible for dslrs to make a diet ;)…maybe using new materials e.g. carbon….but more creativity and experimental thinking is necessary for the three big players sony, canon and nikon …maybe the new sony nex ff are a sign…but the rumoured lenses are not the appropriated ones for a new leading system….sadly …so olympus still best roadmap / direction for me although the smallest sensor….

      • Arthur Nazarian

        If I get it correct, the only thing you say is “Nikon is big and heavy”? Ok, let’s jump ship all of us!

        And by the way, you know he’s shot most of these photos with a 500mm, right? So what would be the m43-equivalent, a 75-300mm?

        Good story!

        • John C

          I love my OMD, especially for things that do not move, and with the nice and small 12mm and 45mm, but it has its place and I will not be giving up any of my FX collection for it.

          The equivalent from a DOF perspective for the 500mm f/4 would be about a 250mm f/2.5 for four-thirds. The closest would be the Zuiko 300mm f/2.8 at 7.2 pounds instead of 8.5. Not much of a diet. Plus you need the adapter to fit it to the OM-D.

          Plus that just gives me 16MP instead of 36, so lets not even talk about what happens if you need to crop at all.

          And when the light starts to go away, the D800 with f/4 still has less noise than the OM-D with f/2.8 as the D800e sensor is two stops better.

          No Oly equivalent to the Nikon f/2.8 lenses.

          The Zuiko 300mm is slower to focus than the 500mm, but don’t worry about that, if the subject moves the OM-D does not do AF-C well anyway.

          • John C

            mistyped 250mm f/2.0, not 250mm/2.5.

            This would level out the difference in sensor noise, but it may be heavier than the 500mm f/4!

            Adapter for the Nikon 200mm F/2 to m43?

      • Can’t Believe It

        Break it up boys. If you want to fight, go outside.

      • http://www.naturalvolo.it/ michele perillo

        the correction/addition doesn’t add much… I am looking keenly at mirrorless, to see how they evolve, but for such a job in extreme condition I will probably pack more pounds of solid steel like my D3s or D800 (when I own one) for a looong loong time. I am mostly a wildlife shooter, even if I haven’t been in a tough place like that (yet), very often, in the wind combed highlands or in iceland glaciers I’ve seen many photographers compelled to put back their cool gear while I was still shooting like a madman.

    • m43 yay

      :) Mirrorless are great! yay! woooo! good for you SIR!!!!

      though based from your comment you still have to study more about the capabilities of the DSLR systems and why it can be favorable for some people. mirrorless are great sure, but its just a tool. and as with any other tool, use the one that works best well for you. DSLR’s have their place and Mirrorless have their own as well. Chill and no need to preach what most people know already.

      Good day sir! MIRRORLESS WOOOO yaaaaaay

    • patto01

      I’m sure that was the REAL point of his post. Thanks for summarizing for him.

    • Shack

      Let me guess, you take pictures of your children, pets and vacations. You are addicted to camera Gear forums and sites and are seaking acceptance in the world. You want to be a part of a group and that group happens to be a group that uses a certain camera. Does it really mean anything? Your photos as well as most are not that important. The Internet may make you feel special and important but it is a very large planet. If it were not for forums like this you would not have a voice. It,s a shame that our planet is so full of idiots that have no skill or meaning in life other than to belittle someone’s story and happiness. You are negative energy and are the reason our planet is going down the shitter.

      • Grant

        Best post ever

    • Shawn

      “You could gain these results with a mirrorless equipment too!”

      Actually you can’t get “THESE” results with a smaller format camera. I completely respect smaller formats (APS-C, m4/3, N1), and I don’t dispute that you can’t get GREAT results from smaller formats.

      I just completely disagree that you can get the same results on a smaller format, when the same results require minimizing DOF in many of the photos by using closer focus distances and longer focal lengths.

    • Dpablo unfiltered

      That’s weird. Olympus just dumped what would have been their whole line because the format wasn’t big enough to justify carrying the camera. The price of a refurb D600 is almost as low as the new Olympus and there’s no way that f2.8 on that is going to give you any kind of performance compared to what 2.8 will on the Nikon. You will get more DOF at max aperture than if you shot the same photo with an f4 lens on the Nikon. You won’t get the same sharpness at max aperture because the small sensor will exaggerate any softness that becomes apparent and this will also limit your ability to crop. In times where you actually need f2.8 because of light you will also be a couple of stops behind Nikon because the noise is at least a stop worse and because there are less pixels to start with, despite their being smaller. Oh, and then there’s your dynamic range…
      I don’t think I would sell all my stuff to buy into a system from a company like that which just dumped half of it’s lineup and left it’s customers dead end products. But it would make a great second system. I used to carry around a 5 mega pixel Samsung in my pocket because I liked the lens.
      Please, stop trolling…

    • Drazen B

      “You could gain these results with a mirrorless equipment too! Fuji X-System, Olympus OMD-EM5 or the new EM1 with aquivalent lenses 7-14 or 9-18 etc…”

      Could you really? Oh boy, you’ve got a lot to learn…

      • Paul

        agreed – take a look at the first two landscape pictures and the last two bird pictures. These really take advantage of the full frame. If you can’t see the depth and perspective in these pictures, then you should stick with your little sensor. I’m sure this is the same argument with the film medium format commenter, but guess what? “ain’t nobody got time for that!”

  • js200022

    Thanks for sharing the pictures. You did a great job.

  • peteee363

    what was the battery life like in that cold?

    • Jonathan Björklund

      If you keep the batteries in a pocket inside your jacket the battery drainage from the cold isn’t that much. I only had to charge a battery two times (+ I had three charges with me).

  • Obtusa

    Terrific Jonathan. Thanks for sharing.

  • saywhatuwill

    Truly wonderful pictures in a hostile environment. Great job.

    My only criticism, if I can be so bold, is that the vignetting in the corners of the frames (or hot spot in the middle) with the polar bears was a bit distracting. The D700 has an option to reduce or almost eliminate it in the menu. I’m sure the D800 has the same option. I’m sure it would help with the lens combo you used for the bear shots.

    Again, thanks for the photos.

    • Charlie

      I would hazard a guess that some extra creative vignetting has been added in post production, so most likely not the camera yu should be criticising. Adding extra vignetting may not to everyone’s taste, but if it were, life would be boring :)

      • Jonathan Björklund

        Not added, just didn’t remove it, see post above ;)

    • Jonathan Björklund

      It’s always ok to critize :-) As for the vignetting you are right, it comes from the 500/f4. I chose to let I be but I see your point!

      Thanks for the comment and I’m glad you like the images.

      Cheers
      Jonathan

  • jefferylewis

    Beautiful

  • Charlie

    Beautiful photos in a challenging environment. Great work. I’ve only been lucky enough to visit Svalbard in the summer, and it is beautiful even then – winter looks simply incredible.

  • Can’t Believe It

    Wow. Just wow.

  • Can’t Believe It

    The thing I always wonder is this: If you look at the specs Nikon says the operating environment is 0 to 40° centigrade/32 to 104°Fahrenheit, but obviously the cameras operate much lower than that.

    What does that mean? Is the rating conservative? Or do you have to keep them warm?

    • BlueBomberTurbo

      Battery life will significantly drop in lower temps, to the point you’d want to keep spares close to your body. Temp changes can cause condensation inside the camera or lens. Also, LCD response times will be lowered till the screen warms up. As far as heat, obviously overheating, but that probably wouldn’t be an issue unless you’re shooting video. Little stuff like that, but it can get in the way of shooting.

      • Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

        Nikons new stuff is actually great in low temps.
        Its -25C to -35C (-13F to -31F) here all winter. I shoot northern lights so I’m out for several hours at night.
        I’ve used a D7000 in the past and now I’m using a D4 and a D800.
        2 Years ago I was out for 3 hours in -32C with my D7000.
        I wanted to test the battery drainage in extreme cold, so I noted the battery level at 82% before I went out.
        3 Hours later when I got home, I’ve captured 162 images and the battery level was at 64%
        Over the past years I’ve seen about 10-20% more battery drainage in cold, in other words, a non-issue. Nikons new batteries and cameras performs flawlessly in cold.

        Neven seen any display issues. The top display slows down a bit, but the back LCD doesn’t change at all. however, it is more sensitive to physical change or how to say it. put a bit of pressure on the display or the body around it and some temporary light shitfs will occur.
        I’m just hitting buttons around the display, but it looks like push the display with alot of pressure.
        It all goes back to normal once the pressure lifts.

        Just place the camera in a camera bag and close it, and you won’t have any condensation issue.
        Some focus shifts will occur in cold aswell.
        Once the camera is out in the cold, it needs to adapt to it. Its always recommended to have the camera in a camera bag and let it slowly adapt to the cold before taking it out. Bringing ut out directly can cause some strains on the electronics I’ve heard.
        Never heard or seen any issue with this, and I’m not patient enough to sitt and wait, so I don’t do this.
        Just make sure the camera has adapted to the cold before starting a timelapse or astrophotography. Its a pain to set everything up and without knowing, after 5-10 minutes all your frames will be out of focus.

    • Hugo

      I had a Contax that just stopped at zero degrees but all my Nikons work much colder, colder than I can actually! And I have never noticed a battery drain even though there must be some sort of payback when you go outside the recommended norms.

    • Jon Ingram

      I’ve had good experience using Nikon Dsrls in hostile environments. For example, a few years ago I took my old non-weathersealed D90 to Yellowstone in the winter and shot for several days in temps that ranged from -20F to +25F and didn’t have any problems. That was the harshest scenario, and I imagine that my newer equipment would hold up at least as well. I’ve never had a single problem with Nikon slr’s because of harsh temps (that I know of). Of course, it’s a calculated risk, but I still think the equipment holds up quite well.

      Nikon won’t make an official statement for extremely low or high temperatures because then they would get blamed if a shutter failed at 0F.

    • http://lavapix.com/ Bryan Lowry / lavapix.com

      I’ve had my D800 so hot I couldn’t touch it without gloves on and its fine. Numerous times. Even my little Gopro had its housing melted several times and the camera shuts down but, comes back on and works fine too.

  • Hugo

    How do you go about charging a battery in the arctic?

    • Jonathan Björklund

      You connect a 12V -> 220V converter to the snowmobile and off you go :-)

      • Neopulse

        Not saying it’s risky to do, but charging batteries overnight in the freezing cold, wouldn’t it drain even more the snowmobile’s battery because of the harsh temperatures? Did you have a battery warmer?

        • Jonathan Björklund

          When looking for the polar bears you spend quite a lot of time on the snowmobiles, driving. You do the charging when the enigne is running :) Wouldn’t be wise to drain the snowmobile batteries ;)

          • Neopulse

            Ah ok. Thought you had somewhat of a camp most of the time and you headed out on foot more to look for them since noise from a snowmobile in the distance might startle them.

            • Jonathan Björklund

              We set up a new base camp each night. And you are right the noice does startle them. So you drive for a while. Stop and look through the binoculars. And drive and so on…. :)

            • Neopulse

              Ah ok awesome. Forgot about the good binoculars comment. Also how does it feel sleeping during the daylight :-/

            • Jonathan Björklund

              Well you get used to it :-) You can also bring a sleeping mask and so is the problem solved.

            • Neopulse

              Yeah… well glad you were able to take photos especially in such harsh conditions nonetheless and share them.

  • larva

    I am quite sure medium format film camera will take much better pictures in the natural environment. The other day, I saw a lot of award winning printed pictures of nature taken either by film or digital, including 5D Mark III and some Nikon DSLR. Films were mostly taken with medium format. And I was able to immediately recognize which picture was taken by digital and which by film. Pictures taken with films not only have better color rendition but even resolution is much, much higher for films, which was rather surprising for I thought 5D Mark III is as good as Pentax 645n ii at least resolution-wise. In reality, the Pentax was sharper across the board. I wasn’t even sure it was as sharp as a Nikon F100. If you compare pictures from 5D Mark III with pictures taken out of any 6×9 format film camera, the former look plain miserable. I don’t think D800E, with its tiny sensor, will fare any better. I realized for the first time that the resolving capability of DSLR was significantly overrated. Lenses these days, especially with smaller digital sensor, are optimized to score highest on laboratory tests, because that’s the only quantitative measure available on site according to which everyone judges lens’ optical quality. What’s more important for landscape photography though is RESOLUTION AT INFINITY. However, with almost all current lenses, resolution at infinity is mediocre at best. That is probably one reason beside the physical limitation of the sensor size that D800E will never take as good pictures as does a medium format film camera. If I were to go to arctic and had to choose between a D800E and a 6×9 film camera, I will pick up the latter over D800E anyday.

    • patto01

      I can’t find any flaw in your logic except going to the Arctic with a 6×9 film camera. I shot the Northern Lights outside of Fairbanks, in February, last year and with everything else I had to deal with, bringing a large format camera doesn’t sound appealing. Now if I had a couple people along to carry my stuff for me…

    • groucher

      Fuji claim that a 35mm frame of Provia 100 contains approximately 28 million film grains. A film grain is a bistable that is analogous to a bit i.e. the smallest unit of information. 6×9 cm film is about 5.4 times the area of a 35mm, giving about 150 million grains per frame. This is equivalent to about 19 mpixels of 8 bits – nowhere near the resolution of a D800.

      As for resolution at infinity for 6×9 format for landscapes, I used to struggle to get all the frame in sharp focus with my Fuji GW690 even when I stopped the lens down to its minimum aperture. The best way to achieve huge resolution for landscapes is to use a D800 or similar and stitch multiple frames. This allows you to keep all of the resulting stitched frame in sharp focus by re-focussing each frame. In effect you’re boosting the size of the sensor to way beyond medium format.

      I’m a fan of film, having used it for 50 years but I’m well aware of its limitations when compared with digital.

      • Michael Sloan

        Maybe you could also comment about fast films in low light at -20 Celsius; I would like to know if it would even be feasible. Also, how big of a lens would you need on a 6×9 to shoot the equivalent of 500mm on FF, to ensure safe shooting distances for polar bears? Finally, how quickly can such a camera be readied on the fly and what about changing lenses? With your past experiences with film, I’d love to hear your wisdom!

    • nathantw

      However, if you pixel peep even a 12MP D700 is sharper and smoother than a Hasselblad V-series with the same equivalent lens and film. Since we don’t pixel peep all the time, though, prints would look awesome when printed properly.

      Here’s a link to a test that was done years ago: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathantw/4076598298/

      • Jo

        I’m sorry but the problem with this “test” is he used a piece of junk Epson scanner. Use a real dedicated film scanner and it’d be a lot different.

        And yes, any 6×9 camera/lens set at f/11 with a slow film will demolish a D700, assuming you know how to focus the camera.

        I’ve actually tested this extensively and the truth is that the D800(E) is certainly amazing. However, a fine-grained, high-resolution b&w film in 6×9 format will match or exceed it. Color film can’t quite get there. Move up to a full 4×5 negative and it’s over. LF thrashes the D800. Don’t forget about movements to increase apparent DOF!

        Also, one can get a 6×9 folder for under $300 that will fit in a pants pocket. Not that a serious expedition to the Arctic is where you’d want that (the lubricant in the shutter would likely freeze up). But implying that any 6×9 camera requires a Sherpa is kind of stupid.

        • Nathan

          Learn to focus a camera? I wasn’t aware that infinity was so hard to focus on. You’re too funny. Then you criticize the scanner that someone uses? You’re a stranger that doesn’t even know me and you have the gall to insult them. You’re a piece of work. I don’t see you stepping up to the plate to show your apparent “thrashing” photos. At least I took the time to put a presentation together.

          • Ian Dangerzone

            One of the problems with presenting information is that the way you derived your data will, and should be, questioned. That’s called “The Scientific Method” and it should be encouraged. He didn’t insult you personally, he criticized your methods, which should be welcomed if you actually care about whether your data is accurate. There’s probably other flaws medium format gurus could come up with, too.

            • Nathan

              If you clicked the link and read the text it clearly stated it was for my purposes and wasn’t a scientific test. The test was for my curiosity and I had I decided to share my findings on Flickr.

              As I said earlier, if we’re not pixel peeping (those photos in my test were 100% magnification) the photos look great. I have one b/w photo I shot at Yosemite with the Hasselblad. I printed it in a darkroom and it’s one of the nicest b/w photos I’ve shot.

          • Jo

            Nathan, I was not attacking you, but as Ian notes, your methodology and “results.”

            Regarding focusing, if you want everything from 10ft to infinity in focus, you definitely need to know something about focusing and hyperfocal, so I think it’s a valid point.

            Your reactionary response tells me maybe you have a bit of doubt about your results. I highly suggest you try a high-end scanner if you have a chance, something like a Nikon Coolscan 8000. You might see your results get turned on their head.

    • JakeB

      Hey couch expert, shush, this isn’t dpreview…

    • callibrator

      Your ‘larva’ handle is very fitting to the type you appear to be.

      Thank’s for your deep insights on …well…nothing.

      • Paul

        slug.. haha

  • Helmutk

    Absolutely Awesome. Thanks for sharing this.

    Helmut K.

  • IdahoJim

    Great post and thanks for sharing your images Jonathan. I’ve been up the east coast of Svalbard in the summer. Our trip took us as far as the northern end of Barentsoya. It truly is an amazing place.

    Thanks again.

    • Jonathan Björklund

      It truly is!

  • CamFan

    Really enjoyed this guest post and the beautiful images of the wildlife and nature.

  • http://Flickr.com/inthemist InTheMist

    Awesome post. Part review, part adventure story!

  • Global

    Does anyone have a comparison of D800 in these conditions vs. the previous generation (D700)? I’m curious how is Nikon doing on dynamic range in extremely bright conditions. Does the “contrasty”-ness of the lens factor into this? I can’t easily understand how many “shades of grey” I should be seeing. Some of the photos seem very flat — others seem quite punchy. Did the D800 have an excellent result, or just the same as previous generations? Or perhaps slightly worse (not likely)?

  • Neopulse

    Commenting on one of the posts relating to mirrorless cameras. To me, the advantage it would have is the lack of lubricants (like that of an SLR) from freezing up. Although most modern day D-SLRs are quite weather resistant like the Pentax.

  • rhlpetrus

    Fantastic stuff!

  • Matt Comerford

    Wonderful pictures, thanks for sharing!

  • Michael

    I absolutely enjoyed the photos. Thanks

  • 103David

    To Jonathan; Nice work. Pay no attention to the “captains” nor the “guest” nor the others who have clearly not made the journey. Contemplate rather Galen Rowell’s comment when he was asked what was his secret for the amazing photographs he captured. Words to the effect, “Always shoot at F8…and be there.”
    To those who think a miniature format such as APS-C, the peculiar micro 4/3, or even worse yet, the dismal Nikon 1″ format is the thing to pack, always remember, all else being equal, a full frame FX format will beat a reduced format every time. There is not, never has been, nor likely ever will be a professional quality sub-FX format.
    And please try and remember, however good sub-FX formats get, the FX size will continue to improve at least as rapidly.
    To those thinking that packing a 6×7 Mamiya or some other medium format film box to the Arctic..HEY!!! Pay attention!!! Film is dead!!! Get over it!!!
    I can just imagine trying to reload a 12 shot Hasselblad mag at point blank range of a Mama Polar Bear and cubs in Full Protect Mode. Never mind the numb fingers from the sub-zero temps, nor the fracturing film base, nor the static electricity generated internal light strikes. (Yes, been there, done that.)
    By the way, a Polar Bear would likely not know what to do with a salmon. Salmon don’t normal spawn in the arctic. You’re thinking of an Alaskan grizzly, which would be several thousand miles from Jonathan’s photos. You know, the ones he actually went there to capture.
    I can understand the amazing lack of real life experience in this fan-boy crowd, but doesn’t anybody ever even think about the practical aspects of lugging a 500mm equivalent medium format lens around the Arctic?
    The D800/D700 combination was a great choice, the Canon equivalent would have also worked well. Since they’re really the only extant professional systems these days, they would really be your only choice.
    In any case, get off your asses. Book the flight today. Get to the Arctic, or the Antarctic, or Death Valley, or wherever. And always have fun and bring back pictures.

    • Ian Dangerzone

      This is an Interesting comment(ary) that has some great truths and some profound biases. FX is probably the best for the enthusiast, but all the things you tout about the superiority of FX ignores both that the same is true in FX’s relationship to MF, and also that MF it is also a now a digital medium which, with the release of the Pentax 645, is within the reach of that same amateur or semi-pro, and there’s a reason that ‘super pros’ often use MF.

      • 103David

        All you say is true, and Pentax is a fabulous (and very underrated) system. But you forget two pertinent facts.
        A: Really getting into digital medium format, with a realistic lens/accessory selection will cost you at least 3OK out-the-door. (Lease options available.). Quite a difference from a two-lens D3200 kit from Costco for about 1K.
        B: The files generated are so large that that you’ll also have to buy a new, much faster computer and replace your now completely inadequate memory/backup system. Don’t even think about mentioning “the cloud.”
        And to what end? Unless you or your client has a Terra-Giga-Floogie-Bite viewing system, he/she won’t even be able to see, much less even access the difference.
        I can also tell you from personal experience, when photographing a 19 year old bride with a typical case of post-adolescent acne, there decidedly is such a thing as “Too-Much-Resolution.”
        Please, get real.

        • Ian Dangerzone

          Haha well, I’m not arguing that MF is a solution for someone who can get by with a 3200. I’m basically arguing that the position that dx or m43/ is infinitely interior to fx is absurd as the same augment can be made for mf. As an aside, my gaming computer could handle MF files just fine. Last time I checked, 16gb is greater than 50mb. Which is moot anyway since if someone is going to spring 10k on a body and another 10k on lenses they can sure as hell pay for a few sticks of ram and a new gpu + cpu. And if a client is hiring me for his daughters wedding and I’m able to photograph it in mf, photoshopping out acne is just part of my toolkit.

          • 103David

            Well, really the issue is not that WE need to spring for the new Hyper-Deux-Da processor/Sooperdooper Memory package but rather the (theoretical) client would need to pop the bucks to even perceive our hard work.
            I say, relax, the newlyweds will likely be working on and contending over settlements for the divorce within a (very) few years anyway.
            The good news is that once the bride hits her late-twenties-early-thirties her face has probably cleared up and she might actually call you back for the late-thirties-early-fourties marriage that actually sticks.
            Personally, my opinion is that marriage licenses should not be issued to those under the age of 35 or so anyway. And even then, all concerned (even the photographer and catering company) should sign waivers.
            (By the way, it’s a pleasure to communicate with someone in possession of a brain who’s also willing to use it. Nice (virtually) talking with you.)

    • Paul Bonnichsen

      103David… shot Mamiya RB67 over twenty years (commercial/fine art) and absolutely loved medium format. In fact, I said I would never switch from film… then two plus years ago I went with the D700 and will now purchase the D800 within the next month. Digital saves me turnaround time and got to say I’m hooked.

      For Jonathan… outstanding work and thank you for sharing.

      • 103david

        To Paul; Thanks for the comment. I said much the same thing about switching from film…and as you know, it turned out we were waiting for the D700. Late in the film game, I had almost entirely switched from 35mm (Leica/Nikon) to medium format (Hasselblad/Rolleiflex) to achieve the desired level of quality. It had taken a while for digital to achive the quality level easily available to medium format.
        In a completely retro move and recognizing the value of (particularly) film based image capture, I’ve even began bulk loading B&W film again. Just can’t give up those darned M3/M2R/M6 Leicas…not to mention my original Okinawa purchased Nikon FTN (1969…at least a year before being introduced in the US.)
        But In the (nearly 4years) of owning the D700, I’ve found the camera almost magical, especially in its ability to capture low light/no light images. The terra-cotta soldiers of X’ian and the pre-dawn approach to the Panama Canal await you, but to be fair, I’ve liked the Autumn M3 film capture of Yosemite at least as well. (The near full-moon capture over El Capitan didn’t hurt, either.)
        As Galen said, the key is to (…be there.”
        I’ve been very lucky.

  • jon

    hey Megaton,
    i only see snow but no bear in your pic, it´s all so white that i dont see anything atall ;-))

  • BernhardAS

    great article and photos. I love the Wolf!

  • Reilly Diefenbach

    A great trip and some nice pictures. I would redo the first two to get some detail back, which the D800e will happily let you do.

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