What do I use to capture those candid moments of infants, babies, toddlers, kids and parents at home or at play in the park? I prefer to shoot with the Nikon D800. This is a 36.3 megapixel FX-format HD-SLR that has low noise, top dynamic range and the most striking array of colours.

When my go-to Nikon D700 was in the shop last year, I had family photo sessions already booked. This gave me the opportunity to finally get my hands on the Nikon D800 for family photography. What’s my take? D800 is ideal for clearly photographing fast-moving kids.

Nikon D800 handles action well. Four frames per second is more than capable of capturing two-year-old twins at play or siblings running through the tall grass with big smiles stretched across their faces. A NZ-based family photos blogger reveals that a lightning-fast six frames per second is possible, but it requires me to shoot at 18 MP with a number of intricate changes to the complex onboard menu. Once I switch to DX mode, of course, I may have missed the shot. So I’m pleased to be able to shoot sharp, brilliantly coloured action shots at four frames per second.

This camera takes in every detail. At 36 MP, it’s capable of turning your kids’ bright, sun-shiny  portraits into a full-sized wall mural if that’s what you want. While this is quite excessive with massive file sizes, I appreciate having a camera that gets the whole picture, fast. If post-editing requires that I crop to show your child’s eyes lighting up as a butterfly dances overhead, I can do so without compromising clarity. I can’t always do that using cameras I’ve had in the past, including the D700, the D7000 or the entry-level D3200—each of which helped me get started.

While I rarely use Nikon D800 to shoot videos—and I don’t shoot videos of families because, frankly, I love aiming to shoot the big candid moment—it’s capable of recording full-HD 1080p at 30/25/24p or 720p at 60/50p in AVC format. There are a number of menus, remote shooting options and monitoring choices that make this camera an ideal go-to model for video recording.

Nikon D800 feels good in my hands, and it’s easy for me to quickly tap into what I need, such as white balance or customizable picture control. The 3.2-inch 921,000-dot LCD screen with 100% viewing, anti-glare coating and auto-brightness control makes it easy to review images with family members, even if we’re still outside at a photo shoot with relentlessly bright full sun.

While the menus are a bit much and it isn’t the most value-packed camera body for professional photographers taking candid family photos, it’s become my go-to camera for sessions at Queens Park, at Deer Lake Park or at a cake-smashing first birthday moment in your backyard.

Want to see the Nikon D800 in action without having to pay $3,000 for the camera body and having to take the time to master professional photography before your kids grow up? Contact me to book your family photo session, and save all that camera-learning time for family fun.