Canon 6D vs the Nikon 810A for Nightscapes: Observations

Tales of Woe: I had great luck with the Nikon 810A until I was out one night and it was really, really cold. The specs say it is good down to 0 degrees C, 32 F. I had previously used this camera down to -15 degrees C, without problems. . Anyway, the LCD stopped working, went blank. The battery said it was 1/2 charged. I could not get it to work, and I was at the end of the trip. Later in the motel it worked. I had another trip coming up and needed a reliable camera quickly. No time to fix it. I figured I would buy a new camera, get the first one fixed, and sell it when I got home. I guess I panicked. Anyway, I got a new camera, and IT DID THE SAME THING! Agggghhhhh.... I changed the battery and then it worked just fine. The problem was the battery poorly functioning in the cold and the LCD would not work without a good battery charge. They only guarantee the LCD to function within the specs, and that is down to 0 degrees C. As I stated, I earlier had used it down to -15 C. I guess I must have had a good charge on that battery. Anyway, I now have 2 of these cameras.

You just have to keep a fresh battery in the camera. The battery may not operate as well as might be expected for the stated charge apparently.

I finally found an article issued from Nikon that said the LCD may suffer from severe flickering at temperatures below freezing, so the specs just go down to 0 F. Mine flickered all the way out, lol. I think it is the same process, probably due to decrease voltage from the battery. Also it may be that the battery indicator is not accurate in the cold, or that the "effective" charge left in the battery is not accurate. I love the camera, but this cost me a few bucks.

Let me pass on more information I have discovered. I have been doing more long exposures for the foreground and the 810A makes this so, so much easier with the built in longer exposure times. At less than 30 sec., the 810A has noticeably less noise that my Canon 6D and ISO 12,800 is very useful. Have not tried higher ISOs than that. At times longer than 30-60 seconds I got more significantly more "Hot Pixels" on the 810A as compared to the 6D. It was noticeable at 5-10 minute exposures It was not a huge problem during the spring when the nights were very cool to cold (cold nights keep the sensor cool and prevent sensor overheating), but when I got into the summer and the nighttime temperatures where 80 degrees F+ (27C+), then the Hot Pixels became a real problem in the dark areas of the foreground. I was surprised how bad it was and might spend an hour or 2 cloning out hot pixels. This was not easily corrected by noise reduction, etc. This may be worse with the way I do things as I do lighten up the foreground to get detail more than some other people, but it is an issue. So my conclusion is that the 810A is considerably better at 30-60 seconds exposure times, but it suffers at exposure times above that. At greater than 60 seconds you are trading the increased dynamic range of the 810A for a lot more hot pixels. The Canon 6D is excellent with the very long exposure times, with minimal hot pixels. It functions better in this regard. This was initially a problem with the 810 but Nikon said they addressed it in later cameras. It is still an issue. I plan to use long exposure noise reduction on the Nikon 810A in the future on the long exposure foregrounds. This will slow down image acquisition, but save a lot of time later in processing.

Since I am getting into this comparison, I'll go a little further, lol. The increased dynamic range of the 810A is significantly better than Canon 6D in the dark areas of the foreground. I very much care about seeing the foreground detail, probably more than most, because in my eyes these are still landscape photos (combined with Astrophotography). So I actually purchased the 810A hoping to get more foreground detail, as opposed to just buying it for the Astro features. I wanted both, and it has really helped, at least to my eye. I can pull more detail out of the landscape. The hot pixels are the downside.

Another issue is noise. Please let me know what you think. I have never heard this discussed before in this way. It seems to me that he noise from the 810A is easier to deal with in noise reduction software than in the Canon 6D. Maybe I am imagining this, but the noise reduction software seems to more easily deal with the small noisy pixels in the 810A as opposed to the larger noisy pixels of the 6D or 5D MK3 I have used. Lots of small noisy pixels are easier to average out than a moderate number of large noisy pixels. I can get a more pleasing appearance on the 810A files without getting as much softness.

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