[Gear] The Nikon D800/D800E is Finally Out! UPDATE

[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).

Pre-Order the Nikon D800E on Amazon or at B&H.
Pre-Order the Nikon D800 on Amazon or at B&H.

Images via Nikonrumors.com, specs via Mansurovs.com.

Price: $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.

Overall take:

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):




Nikon D800/D800E on Nikonimaging. Also, check out the D800/D800E microsite!

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...

Product Tour:

Nikon D800 Promo Video:

More videos (a hands-on and another sample):

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Doug Levy's picture

Disagree about your excitement completely. Who needs 36mp? This will test the resolution of lenses, show every technique, focusing, and lens flaw (and makeup!), and be slooooow on the back end. You better buy fast (expensive) cards, card readers, a new hard drive and more memory with this camera.

I'm a D3/D3s shooter, and probably won't get a D4 soon, though when my D3 dies that's the route I'll go. I've never (since I got 12), said, "If I only had more megapixels..." Faster flash sync? Yup. Better iso performance? Better AF? All those things would be great, but not more pixels.

Adam Ottke's picture

I agree. And for me, I'm there, too. But for others, I think saving $2000 might be worth dealing with 4 or 6fps... We'll see. I agree, it's slow. Too slow for me. And the files are huge! Too big for me. But compared to $6000 (for those looking to buy a new pro DSLR soon)...it's not bad. Then again, after the D3, I knew I'd never NEED anything more. So some might want to get a used D3, I suppose. Great features at a now-better-than-ever price!

Patrick Hall's picture

couldn't the same argument about makeup and flaws be made for 1080 HD video?  I personally LOVE HD video now on TV and in the movies.  I think it just means you gotta step your game up.  But if you are posting to the web only or printing "small" 8x10s then the resolution is sort of lost and the images will be comparable to any 6-12MP image printed at that size.

I just don't see how resolution could ever be a bad thing unless it comes at an expense.  Memory is cheap and video editing already requires way more than photos at this point.  The only 'expense" I might see with this camera is FPS and ISO but you do have a D4 option for that already.  I dunno, I'm excited especially once we find the details about lower megapixel RAW files for lower demand shoots.  

As a 36MP FF this body is certainly going to be a very different beast compared to the rest of the Nikon line-up, and I couldn't say it's the kind of body I'd pick if I was in the market at this level ... but I am glad to see something come available that's away from the pack, spec wise. "The right tool for the job", as my old wood-work teacher used to say - and for somebody out there, this is EXACTLY what they have been waiting for.

Thanks for your review. I found it very useful.  I think the D800 is more for landscape/portrait shooters.  Also once you add the battery pack the price differential with the D4 will be even less.

Kevin Colquhoun's picture

I was leary about buying my D700 when the D800 was so soon to be announced, but I'm glad I snagged one of the last new US models to be released when I did.

Andrew Barros's picture

I'm with you! I think the D800 would just be too much for me. Maybe in a year or two I'll pick up the D4 (unless the D4s,x isnt out alrdy). I'm in love with my D700 as it is.

I purchased my D700 a month ago and have no regrets.  I'm sure the D4 will be next for me, but the 700 is good enough to get me through the next year of weddings and portraits.

Ghislain Leduc's picture

Honestly? If Nikon would have went from 12MP to 21MP and price the D800 at 2.5k, I'm sure they would sell 4 times more D800 than what they will do now... But that's just me...

I now find the CEO of Nikon a bit odd when he said last year, we learned our lesson and we will balance the High ISO performance and the # of MP in our next cameras... Really?

I really wish I had the skills, money and expertise to start my own company and create my own body...

Spending 4k for 35MP is a lot of money... 

It is a lot better than spending 20K+ for 40MP

Different tools for different needs. High ISO noise is not something a studio photographer would be worried about... what studio photographers need is high resolution, which is why many go with medium format. If you need high ISO, Nikon has another camera for that (D4).
If you already shoot Nikon gear and you decide you need a resolution upgrade, going for the D800 and using your lenses makes a LOT more sense than getting a medium format back, body, and lenses.

No 1080p60 :/

Anybody who's going to upgrade, and wants to sell their D700? :D

Yes I will be listing mine on eBay this week end ....please feel free to make a bid.

The only way I would even consider this is if I did FAR more landscapes. And then I would have to get the D800E. At this point I'm probably going to go for a used D3s that I absolutely fell in love with while using a friends awhile back. Having the video with the D4 would be amazing but idk if i can justify spending the extra money.

Though upgrading from the Sony a700 that I have now ANYTHING would be an improvement.

Sounds like a fantastic piece of gear - the only thing that has me hesitant is the very high ISOs, coupled with the very high resolution. I shoot a D700, at 12MP, and it produces outstanding images at even as high as ISO1600 - I'm just wondering whether it'll be possible to achieve the same image quality, with thrice as many pixels, making each pixel a third as small (linearly). 

Anyway - right now I'm happy with my D700, but the next camera i buy will very likely be this one. 

We in photojournalism asked for blue tooth technology and Nikon ignored us. Why can't my camera talk to my computer without a wire, or why can't my camera talk to my phone? I'm competing with reporters with IPhones. They are faster than me. And yea, I can add part to the D4, and yea, it costs nearly $1k, and yea, it makes things heavier and more bulky. Nikon, listen up.
Todd, NY Daily News

Anyone know what the grip will be?

Patrick Hall's picture

yeah it's the MBd-12 with the same battery as the D7000

Chris Newman's picture

I think my next body might actually be the D7000. I was hoping the D800 would be a full-frame version of those specs for about a grand more. I can't justify $4k for features I don't need.

The D800 isn't 100% a replacement for the D700. It is also a indirect replacement for the D3x. Low Fps, Low ISO control, and high MP. It's a studio and landscape photographers dream camera. 36 mp for under 5k is a bargain. The D3x is 24mp at 7999.99. Look at MF cameras those are in the 20k range. This isn't meant to be a sports photographers camera. We have the D4. It also does have a huge buffer but you need it with 36mp. 

Yes, people will say the D4 can be used in studio too. It has a network cable connection right onto the body. Yes, the D4 can be used for both but with the Olympics this year Nikon wanted to bring something out for photographers shooting that. If you watched the superbowl notice all the Nikons that were used. 

Now, I am also upset about no 60fps @ 1080p. That probably has to do with sensor overheating. Look at the Red Epic/Scarlet. They are incased in two layers. The first one acts as a heatsink for the sensor and the outer one is the body. 

Just wait for the D400 if the D800 is out of your price range.

I'm not excited about 36mp BUT if this camera could match the ISO performance of the current D700 plus it does all the video the D4 can do, I could be sold. I bought a D4 but I'm not excited about owning a $6k camera that does a bunch of stuff I don't care about (being a wedding photographer). 

I do wonder if this camera will work with the WT-5 and I also wonder what Nikon's plan will be with their D3X series of cameras. Who would ever buy a D3x now? 

Lee, the Nikon D800 will definitely not work with the WT-5.

Why? Why wouldn't Nikon want everyone to spend an additional $900 for a wt-5 with every camera purchase. Is it some way to force people to buy their most expensive camera? The Wt-5 cannot cost that much to make, meaning their profit could be huge. Why not try to sell it to everyone. 

Chris Newman's picture

Lee, me too (I shoot weddings and concerts). I just don't get it with all the happy D700 users out there that their only real option is the D4 at almost twice the price. It's like they cut two cameras in half and glued them to each other and came up with a camera I either don't need or one that I can't afford.

Is it stupid to hope for a D700s or is that just a pipe dream?

am not excited with the new DSLR am waiting for a mirror less full frame revolution camera. I am happy with the current full frame I have (5D Mark II)

I would rather have an improved D700 at a D700 price. I photograph some sports but mainly wildlife at dusk and dawn and require high ISO and high fps but not enough to warrant paying 2 1/2 times more for the D4. Along with high ISO, having the f8 autofocusing ability of the D4 is more the type of feature upgrade that I'm looking for. The D800 36MP sensor is also needless overkill for me and I feel that sub-20MP is more than plenty for my needs especially if it doesn't sacrifice high ISO and high fps. I sincerely hope that Nikon will introduce another camera more suited for my type of shooting. Maybe the D800 would be great if I was shooting ultra-high resolution type images for enlarging to billboard size or for capturing minute detail required in micro-photography or astro-photography so I am obviously not the intended audience for that type of camera.

Adam Ottke's picture

It does have the f/8 autofocusing capability...or at least it's supposed to...just so you know.

Patrick Hall's picture

What sort of lens are you using that you have to focus at f8?  Is that like an F4 with a teleconvertor?   I agree though, a  beefed up D700 would be ideal....I guess that's the D4 for now

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