Nikon have announced their latest DSLR, the D800, which is clearly aimed at the Wedding, Landscape, Architectural and Portrait photographer.
Much has been said online about how this camera isn’t a proper replacement for the FOUR year old D700 and that is very true. Nikon themselves have confirmed that the D800 is aimed towards a different market. The incredible 36MP resolution is not for the snap happy press photographer who fires 8 frames in a second and worries about if they got the shot until later. The D800 is firmly a case of back to basics with composition paramount. If you’re a sports pro then stick to the D700 or look at the D4, for everyone else the D800 is the leader in resolution and, in the case of the D800E , incredible detail.
So to the headline specs… 36.3MP (Full Frame!), 4FPS, 51 point autofocus, Base ISO range 100-6400 (expandable from 50-25600), and uses the new Expeed-3 dual core image processor which is used in the Nikon 1 and D4 cameras. Given that the previous Nikon Megapixel king, the D3x, is a measily $8000 it’s truly remarkable that Nikon has essentially surpassed the reigning (Nikon) King of resolution and priced its successor at $3000 (€2799 in Ireland).
Since the camera was announced on the 7th February there has been the release of the D800 Technical Guide which details the dos and don’ts of using the camera. The first lesson, entitled “Use a Tripod”, is unfortunate as it seems to imply that hand held photography will be difficult due to the high resolution. While I’m not going to pretend I know the engineering behind the new sensor it’s pretty clear that since the pixel-pitch of the D7000 and D800 are very similar it’s not going to such a big step up between the two models for those whom are entering into the FX arena like myself. The same warnings about having to up your game due to high resolution occurred when the D2X first came out came out as well as the D3x. Film camera images have been superior to digital images right up to now in terms of resolution and dynamic range and given there was over 100 years worth of photography based on higher than digital resolution I’m pretty confident that the world will cope with 36MP! The more troublesome part will be the 70MB+ (uncompressed RAW) files will be more of an issue and will probably force a lot of photographers to upgrade their Macs/PCs sooner rather than later.
The jury is out on the D800 versus D800E choice as not enough samples are available on the internet however with the amount of warnings Nikon have made about Moiré the D800E is likely to be more trouble that its worth and will only appeal to the select few who can control the pattern and subject they are working with.
I’ll post full resolution sample images on this site as soon as I get my hands on the D800. I’m personally hoping for noise to be comparable or better than the D7000.