[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):

Adam Ottke's picture

Adam works mostly across California on all things photography and art. He can be found at the best local coffee shops, at home scanning film in for hours, or out and about shooting his next assignment. Want to talk about gear? Want to work on a project together? Have an idea for Fstoppers? Get in touch! And, check out FilmObjektiv.org film rentals!

Log in or register to post comments
Previous comments

I'm more wary of Nikon's current lens line-up.  Are they 36Mp-ready?

Nikon's known for having some of the best glass in its class (no rhyme intended, but it has a nice ring to it now that it's out, doesn't it?). Not exactly Zeiss or Leica, but quite good. And I think the difference between the non-AA filter D800E and the 'normal' D800 prove that there's more resolving power to have from the lens than current cameras can even provide...at least with the AA filter still in front of the sensor.

on the first video (00:48) we can see the lense. is it me or it says 24-120 f1.4 (!). If that is true we are looking an great all around video-photo lense !

Yep it is you....it's an f4 not a f1.4

It is the 24-120 f/4.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but it's the 24-120 1:4 (i.e. f/4) that's currently out. They've used that lens quite a bit alongside the D800 (likely for proportion's sake...they did the same with the D700 and the previous version of the lens).

I've been holding out on a new body for a while.  By "for a while", I mean I'm still sporting a couple of D200s with over 100k miles on each.  Come to papa!

I looked at the full res sample images over at http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/dslr/d800/sample01.htm

Suddenly I got nostalgic, being reminded how long it took to load a picture back in the day with dial up connection. :P 

I was *really* looking forward to this announcement, but I'm actually kind of disappointed. Other than some improvements in video, it's hard to see why this
would be a compelling upgrade. 36MP is just way more than I need (it's
frankly way more than most people need), and some of the specs actually seem to
be negatives: 

* Two card slots -- one CF and one SD? Why why why? Now I have to carry around two sets of cards? I really don't understand this. Don't understand it with the D4, either. Can anyone explain the benefits of this?

* 100% viewfinder coverage in FX mode but not DX?

* Dust-off reference requires proprietary Nikon software?

* Only 4fps?

So, assuming amazing ISO performance (even if it's just as good as the D700):
more pixels, slightly better video specs (still no 1080p60), and some other minor tweaks. Unless
the image quality is unbelievably better (and I didn't see much about
that mentioned) I personally (and professionally) just don't see this as a big step forward.

It's certainly not a step forward in that sense. I think the bigger draw is what  you get for the price. If it were faster in FPS, it would certainly be even more of a D4 killer at that price-point. And even still, it'll cause the D3 series (especially the D3x) and lower to just tank in resale value...people are excited about that...

But what Nikon is doing with the multi-format dual slots. Ridiculous.

This is not a megapixel race. This is a whole new standard for digital sensors. Or otherwise known - we are Nikon and we set the direction for digital cameras.