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Magic Lantern Guide to Nikon D800/D800E Review

Guide Nikon D800  800ELike many books and movies, if you’ve read the book you’ll want to see the movie.

Similarly, if you own a Nikon D800/D800E you’ll want to read this guide book. Or even more significantly, if you’re thinking about buying one of these cameras, you will definitely want to read this book.

No doubt you’ve already read my review of the remarkable Nikon D800E camera.

Now, about the book ….

Unlike some guide books that I’ve read, this one is all meat and no potatoes, no embellishments, no guff about what a wonderful camera it is, classic lineage etc.

There is however a useful intro to explain the differences between the D800 and D800E models: the only difference being the structure of the filter array covering the image sensor.

Having spent many hours poring over the Nikon manual PDF when reviewing the D800E I wish that I had seen this Magic Lantern guide first!

You get an idea of the book’s helpful approach from the first diagrammatic, explaining the camera controls: clearly laid out, using an image of the camera’s top, sides and rear. Along with explanatory text, the camera pictures and text are close by, so you are not forced (as in the Nikon manual) to thumb through hundreds of pages.

I have rarely found the manufacturer’s original manual to be 100 per cent useful so it’s gratifying to dip into a sample of this book and see how it treats an otherwise mundane function:

‘Mirror up: Locking the reflex mirror into its raised position helps to reduce the vibrations that can often occur, particularly at slow shutter speeds … once the mirror is raised, it is not possible to compose via the viewfinder, and TTL exposure metering and autofocus will not be possible.’

Although the book totals only 128 pages, there is a heap of info within them, although some may find the small six point sans serif type a bit hard to read; it gets even worse when you get to the index at the back of the book where the text shrinks to 5 point type. To be hyper critical, the pictures are also a little on the small side.

But … the info is simply written and leaves no detail unclear. Another extract: ‘Spot metering: This metering pattern is highly specific, as it covers a circle approximately 0.16 inch (4 mm) in diameter.’

For good measure there are helpful paras on peripherals such as memory cards and batteries as well as outlines on the camera’s file formats, JPEG, RAW and TIFF.

An area often skimped in makers’ manuals is the camera’s movie modes; this book answers this criticism by opening the whole subject, clarifying many topics such as shooting stills mid-movie as well as what operational info is displayed in Live View when video recording is under way.

Useful ‘freebies’ are the six quick reference cards tucked into the book’s front and rear covers, carrying concise info on auto focus, setting ISO, flash ranges, sync speeds etc. Slipped into your pocket these would be enormously helpful on a shooting safari where carrying the whole book would be a problem.

Overall, I wish that one brave manufacturer should step out of line and supply a manual such as this with the original camera … and not the pitiful publications normally tucked into the box.

On the other hand, I do feel that the type size in Simon Stafford’s book is far too minuscule. I realise larger type would call for a bigger book or more pages, leading to an increased purchase cost but it would make the book far more accessible and useful.

Details of Magic Lantern Guide to Nikon D800/D800E

Author: S Stafford.
Publisher: Pixiq.
Distributor: Capricorn Link.
Length: 128 pages.
ISBN 978 1 4547 0401 0.
Price: Get a price on Magic Lantern Guide to Nikon D800/D800E

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Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

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