[Gear] The Nikon D800/D800E is Finally Out! UPDATE
After months of waiting and following terribly teasing rumors and small photo leaks, Nikon finally announced the D800! For the full specs, details, photos, pre-order information, and to find out what that ‘E’ means, read below. And don’t forget to keep checking back for updates as they roll out when the announcement goes live tonight! (Updated!)
Seemingly, our entire little world was watching when the Nikon D4 came out. Specs were leaked…we knew what to expect. And here, yet again, we knew some of the bigger items on the list with the D800. One thing, though: what’s the noise like? Naturally, the entire appeal of the D4 rests almost solely on its insane high-ISO performance. Why else deal with the weird XQD/CF combo, $6000 price tag, and a new battery/charger combo? And do 99% of us really need to shoot practically in the dark? Perhaps an almost-as-awesome ISO performance in a 36MP, still-full-frame, compact body 2/3 of the price could be good enough (or better?). It sure would sound like it. So for your own judgement, below is everything we know about the D800/D800E (pics, updates, and more: all below).
$3999 We messed up it’s actually only $2999!
– 36MP full frame (FX) sensor (we’ve known this for a while, but it’s still quite incredible…goodbye D3x!)
– 100% viewfinder coverage
– 51-point AF w/ Face Recognition, AF up to f/8 (as with D4)
– ISO: LO 50, 100-6400, High-2 25,600
– 3.2-inch screen, 910,000 pixels
– USB 3.0
– 4fps continuous, 6fps in DX crop mode w/ optional grip (nowhere near the 7-8fps minimum that sports shooters would want these days, so not a D4 replacement for some)
– Video: 1080p @ 24/30; 720p @ 60/30/24
– Same shutter response and lag time as D4
– Shutter rated at 200,000 cycles
– 1 CF, 1 SD card slot (I’m not sure what Nikon is doing with their weird mixed-format dual slots on these new bodies unless it’s purely to save space…)
– Headphone jack, audio out
– Same HDMI out as D4
– Weather-sealed magnesium alloy body
– 850-shot battery life on EN-EL15 battery
– Weight: 895g
What’s Up with the ‘E’???:
It’s been rumored, but now it’s confirmed: the Nikon D800 comes in a second version, the D800E. The ‘E’ simply translates into a D800 with the anti-aliasing filter (AA filter) removed. Just about every digital camera has such a filter in front of its sensor in order to reduce an effect known as moire, which is a result of digital sensors’ inability to render certain patterns without creating odd lines or ‘warp’ effects.
However, the AA filter does this by essentially blurring the light before it hits the sensor. Naturally, this reduces resolution, often times even below the resolving power of many of those excellent lenses that we put on the front of our cameras. Moire only really matters, though, if your photo includes such odd patterns (i.e. bricks, checkered and plaid patterns, etc.) — and 90% of our pictures don’t have such patterns in them (as in a basic headshot).
Thus, Nikon now gives us the ability to have the AA filter removed. Granted, this will cause some horrible moire (which can’t really be fixed in Photoshop) when some patterns are in the photograph, but for most images, it will dramatically increase resolution/perceived sharpness.
If you want this filter removed, oddly enough, you’ll find yourself paying a premium — the D800E is about $300 more than the standard D800. But for increased resolution on that pixel-packed sensor, it may just be worth it, even despite the few photos that might come out…a little funky.
The Nikon D800 is a magnificent camera. No, I haven’t held it. But a veteran of everything since the D200, including the D700 and the D3, I know Nikon. And with these specs, I’m already drooling.
The D800 isn’t a $3000 camera. That would be a dream price. We all know it. But at $4000, I can’t believe I’m saying this…but it seems like a bargain (AN UPDATED TALK ON PRICE, BELOW) — especially when measured up against the D4 or Canon 1D X at 6K and 6.8K (6.8K!!!), respectively. And we all know even that price will drop slightly as time goes on.
Professional sports shooters will love the D4 for its raw speed, no question. But even for high school sports, the D800 should be plenty. Worst case, you can still get 6fps in DX crop mode, use the ‘extra’ focal length to your advantage (you’ll probably need it anyway if you’re shooting that wonderful 70-200 without a teleconverter), and get plenty of room, still, to crop in later thanks to that 36MP full-frame sensor. Unless you’re paper-macheing enlargements to the side of your house, DX mode on the D800 shouldn’t be a bad option at all!
Nikon made a more-than-small ‘error’ with the D700/D3 match-up. The D800 is by no means a D4. But at the same time, the D4 is only just so much faster (in terms of ISO and FPS) that it may very well serve as a replacement to all but the real, hard-core pros. Could Nikon have done it again, despite trying so hard not to? You can let time tell, or tell us in the comments section. And don’t forget to let us know what your next pre-order will be in the comments or in the poll (coming soon)!
Finally, the back (surprisingly minimalistic compared to what I imagined…a pleasant surprise, indeed):
Talk on price (and the issue/non-issue of a 36MP D800):
We thought earlier that the price was, in fact, $4000. However, as you may have noticed in our update, the actual price is a cool $3000. $4000 wasn’t enough to get me jumping up and down, but it was still enough to seriously be considered against a D4. Now that the price is even lower, I’m not quite jumping up and down…rather, I’m pacing back and forth endlessly, unable to decide whether I should keep my D4, or let it go and get one (or two!) of these babies!
The issue for everyone is the extreme difference in resolution and the speed. Okay, we’re settled on FPS…we know the pros and cons (4-6FPS v. 9+ FPS). But for resolution…as quickly as possible:
36MP is a lot, no question. We don’t all need it. But it’s nice to have. We can crop in for anything and edit the crap out of an image and still have a great file for print. But still, that’s a lot of space to handle… But data is cheap these days. It really is. A 3.5″ 2TB drive isn’t that expensive. And maybe this will force us to be more selective when we shoot (anyone remember that from the ‘film days…’ — actually being selective? Novel concept, really!).
Perhaps most interesting, however, is that this is perhaps the first camera for which a DX crop mode is completely relevant. It still yields a D4-like 15.3MP file that’s plenty big to print at any reasonable size. I’m still unclear on whether or not we can shoot DX crop raw, NEF files (maybe you can all help me figure that out), but either way, DX crop mode is an option — it’s no longer just a ‘digital zoom.’ And in many respects, it may be the better option in most cases.
There are some thoughts. But the $3000 price-point shouldn’t make anyone anything short of giddy. I said before that a $3000 D800 would be a dream — and here it is. Nikon REALLY pulled through, this time. Their only problem now is…my point about a D3/D700 disaster is even more relevant, despite Nikon having tried so hard to avoid it…
Nikon D800 Promo Video:
More videos (a hands-on and another sample):