The short answer is yes indeedio – the D800 is excellent for photographing fast moving, erratic critters like my kids.
The D800e is a very capable camera for capturing action – it has the same state-of-the-art AF as the Nikon’s current flagship DSLR – the D4. The screen grab below is from my Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRii user review.
At 4 frames per second the D800 won’t be seen too much in the moshpit at the London Olympics but 4 fps is easily fast enough to document your kids harassing the neighbour’s puppy.
You can coax 6 fps @ 18MP from the D800 in DX mode if you have the inclination to go down the wormhole and dick around in its labyrinthine menu scheme. You may just be able to switch to DX mode in time to have not missed the shot. (I will share my setup secrets for changing crop formats faster next week).
Is the D800 the absolute best camera for photographing kids? No – that would be the Nikon D4 (faster frame rate – but weighs and costs a ton) or the Canon EOS 5D Mark III (faster frame rate plus C1/C2/C3 custom settings banks).
Is the Nikon D800/e the best value camera for photographing kids and family? – no way, that would be the excellent Nikon D7000 (faster frame rate plus U1&U2 custom user settings banks) or the ridiculously cheap Nikon D3200 (which spits out 24MP files at the same speed as the D800 for $700 including a lens).
It’s not all beer and skittles though, there are a couple of downsides to the D800 family wagon.
Downer #1 – Filesize
I shoot mountains of images of my kids – 36MP files are total overkill – as much as I love them, I have no intention of making 2 metre mural prints of my kids.
Downer #2 – No U1/U2 settings banks.
IMHO, the single best feature of the Canon 5d mkii/mkiii and the Nikon D7000 are their custom settings switches. These ‘hardwired’ settings banks enable me to turn around from making a tripod mounted landscape image to grabbing a low light shot of my kids trying to drown themselves in a lake as simple as flicking a switch.
On the D800e I have to individually reset filesize, WB, ISO, turn off mirror lockup delay and set my aperture to wide open – I miss shots under these circumstances. Even worse, I bugger up landscape shots when I find myself shooting on ISO6400 AWB after photographing the kids!
Again, I have setup my D800e to make these transitions easier and faster, but it is not as good as the D700o. If the D800e had a U1/U2 setting it would truly be the one camera to rule them all in my opinion.
So, yes the D800/e makes a great camera for the family guy searching for a that one camera to do it all – your better half will love you forever for buying one!
Cheers – Todd
*nope, I’m not a raging sexist – only men try to justify the purchase of a $3,000 USD camera body to their wives with lame lines such as “it’ll take incredible shots of the kids love!”