Nikon D800 Announcement

Nikon is releasing the much anticipated Nikon D800 DSLR on February 7th, a major update to the existing Nikon 700 camera that was released back in 2008. The Nikon D800 is designed specifically for landscape, studio, fashion, wedding and wildlife photography that need a camera with a high resolution sensor. While it does not have the speed of the Nikon D4 (which has a 16.2 MP sensor) and its amazing low-light capabilities, the Nikon D800 is currently Nikon’s highest resolution camera with a whopping 36 MP full-frame sensor. Unlike the Nikon D700, which had the same sensor as the high-end Nikon D3 (and hence ended up cannibalizing some of the D3 sales), the D800 is specifically positioned not to compete with the top of the line Nikon D4, but rather with the older high-resolution Nikon D3x line. Due to an extremely low demand on the Nikon D3x camera body, Nikon decided to eliminate the line and replace it by a product that can directly compete with the Canon 5D Mark II instead. The Nikon D800 also features most of the video capabilities of the Nikon D4, which are very attractive for video production (especially the uncompressed HDMI output).

Nikon D800

So, what does the Nikon D800 bring to the table? Here is a summary of its features:

  1. Sensor: 36.3 MP FX, 4.8µ pixel size
  2. Sensor Size: 35.9 x 24mm
  3. Resolution: 7360 x 4912
  4. DX Mode: 15.3 MP
  5. DX Mode Resolution: 4800 x 3200
  6. Native ISO Sensitivity: 100-6,400
  7. Boost Low ISO Sensitivity: 50
  8. Boost High ISO Sensitivity: 12,800-25,600
  9. Processor: EXPEED 3
  10. Metering System: 3D Color Matrix Meter III with face recognition and a database of 30,000 images
  11. Dust Reduction: Yes
  12. Weather Sealing/Protection: Yes
  13. Body Build: Full Magnesium Alloy
  14. White Balance: New White Balance System
  15. Shutter: Up to 1/8000 and 30 sec exposure
  16. Shutter Durability: 200,000 cycles, self-diagnostic shutter
  17. Camera Lag: 0.012 seconds
  18. Storage: 1x CF slot and 1x SD slot
  19. Viewfinder Coverage: 100%
  20. Speed: 4 FPS, 6 FPS in DX mode with optional MB-D12 battery pack
  21. Exposure Meter: 91,000 pixel RGB sensor
  22. Built-in Flash: Yes, with Commander Mode, full CLS compatibility
  23. Autofocus System: Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX with 51 focus points and 15 cross-type sensors
  24. AF Detection: Up to f/8 with 9 focus points (5 in the center, 2 on the left and right)
  25. LCD Screen: 3.2 inch diagonal with 921,000 dots
  26. Movie Modes: Full 1080p HD @ 30 fps max
  27. Movie Exposure Control: Full
  28. Movie Recording Limit: 30 minutes @ 30p, 20 minutes @ 24p
  29. Movie Output: MOV, Compressed and Uncompressed
  30. In-Camera HDR Capability: Yes
  31. Two Live View Modes: One for photography and one for videography
  32. Camera Editing: Lots of in-camera editing options with HDR capabilities
  33. GPS: Not built-in, requires GP-1 GPS unit
  34. Battery Type: EN-EL15
  35. Battery Life: 900 shots
  36. USB Standard: 3.0
  37. Weight: 890g
  38. Price: $2,999 MSRP

A detailed list of features will soon be available on Nikon.com. While I will provide a separate comparison between the Nikon D700 and the Nikon D800 in a separate article, I would like to talk about some of the new features on the D800.

Let’s first talk about resolution – I know that it is the first thing most people will pay attention to. The jump from a 12 MP Nikon D700 sensor to 36 MP is indeed a big one. However, does this mean that we should expect worse performance than what we already have on the Nikon D700 as many people think? As I have already explained in my “benefits of a high resolution sensor” article, a 36 MP image represents a lot of pixels. Those pixels can play a huge role when doing comparisons, because a sensor with a higher pixel count could be normalized or “down-sampled” to a smaller resolution and match or even surpass the low-light capabilities of the lower resolution camera. This is exactly the case with the Nikon D800. While on paper it has very similar characteristics as the D700 (maximum native ISO of 6400), its noise performance is in fact better when the image is down-sampled to the same 12 MP. So not only do we have a camera with better low-light capabilities, but we also have a camera with a lot more resolution (which is what many Nikonians, including myself, have been asking for). Furthermore, expect to have a much better dynamic range on the Nikon D800 – one that will most definitely top the DxOMark’s camera sensor ratings), due to the camera having a default base ISO of 100.

Now let’s talk about the camera speed – the area where we are seeing a downgrade compared to the Nikon D700. Compared to the Nikon D700, which can do 5 fps and 8 fps with the MB-D10 battery pack, the Nikon D800 is limited to 4 fps and 6 fps in DX mode with the MB-D12 battery pack. Why did not we get an increase in fps? The answer is in the size of the 36 MP image that comes out of the sensor and the processing power required to handle that much throughput. The expensive Nikon D3x has a 5 fps rate and a lower resolution 24.5 MP sensor, so I would say that it is fare enough that the D800 is limited to 4 fps. Yes, the EXPEED 3 processor is much faster than the original EXPEED processor, but 36 MP is still a lot of bandwidth to handle. Do not forget that the image processor is used extensively by the image processing pipeline when analog data from the sensor is converted to digital and other corrections such as lens correction or noise reduction take place before the information is moved to the camera buffer. Speaking of which, what about the camera buffer size? Again, as expected, a 36 MP RAW image occupies a lot of memory. Hence, the D800 can handle up to 10 RAW images in continuous mode before the buffer gets full, so we are talking about 2 seconds of buffer fill time. The only way to increase the speed of the camera and shorten the buffer to card speed is to either switch to JPEG mode or DX mode, where you get 6 fps and up to 20-22 images before the buffer gets full.

The third important feature to talk about (or lack thereof), is the Nikon D800 without an anti-aliasing (AA) filter that Nikon dubbed “D800E”. While it has identical specifications as the Nikon D800, it has no AA filter installed in front of the sensor. As you may or may not know, most manufacturers use a special AA filter, also known as a “blur filter” in their DSLR cameras, because sensors have a problem with moire. Using an AA filter is an easy solution, because it essentially gets rid of moire. However, it also reduces resolution and softens/blurs many of the details in an image. Moire is a pattern problem that is seen everywhere in our day to day environment, so portrait, fashion and architecture photographers would be better off with the regular version of the D800. However, landscape photographers would greatly benefit from the Nikon D800E (because moire is almost never seen in nature) – they would get a lot more detail and sharpness from it.

And for all Nikon landscape photographers out there – this is the camera we have been waiting for. Finally, we have a high resolution camera that will deliver outstanding images with great dynamic range at base ISO of 100. And best of all, compared to medium format and other expensive cameras out there, it won’t cost us an arm and a leg!

Similar to the Nikon D4, the new Nikon D800 features the same, completely redesigned 91,000 pixel RGB metering sensor, which, compared to the 1,005 pixel RGB sensor on the D700 is supposed to deliver outstanding results in 3D Matrix mode. And I am sure it will, because that’s a huge difference in metering sensor technology! Nikon incorporated advanced face-tracking from the V1/J1 cameras into the D800 and the camera will automatically adjust its exposure when it sees a face, whether you have a strong backlight or not.

Another huge plus of the D800 is its revamped AF sensor (again, borrowed from the Nikon D4). While the number of focus points stayed the same (51 focus points), the new AF sensor is much more sensitive to light, allowing us to autofocus with f/8 lenses. This is great news for wildlife photographers, because we can now use our f/4 lenses with the TC-20E III teleconverter with fully functional autofocus. Yay to 600mm f/4 + TC-20E III! And that’s with 9 functional focus points (5 in the center, 2 on the left and 2 on the right). One more thing for wildlife photographers, there is no longer a need to use a DX body for “the reach” – the Nikon D800 has the same pixel density as the Nikon D7000. And if you have fast glass, your AF accuracy should be even better now, so event photographers will also be very happy with its low-light AF performance.

Videographers should be super excited about the D800, because they can record uncompressed videos at 1080p full HD for 30 minutes straight, with full exposure control. The uncompressed video is a big deal, because it can give production-quality results for film-makers that can now record videos to external devices. There is even a dedicated live view mode for recording videos that gives quick access to exposure control, including white balance.

There are many more features and options to talk about, including changes in body design, but I will leave that for the upcoming Nikon D800 review. Yes, I will be receiving a Nikon D800, as well as the Nikon D800E the day both become officially available. A full side-by-side comparison will be provided. I am very excited about the D800, because I believe it is yet another innovative camera from Nikon that brings a lot to the table.

Nikon D800 Pre-order links:

  1. B&H Photo Video – Nikon D800 for $2,999
  2. B&H Photo Video – Nikon D800E for $3,299
  3. Adorama – Nikon D800 for $2,999
  4. Adorama – Nikon D800E for $3,299

Official Nikon Press Release:

The New Nikon D800 Offers Unrivaled Resolution and Features Designed for a Variety of Demanding Professional Photographic and Multimedia Disciplines, Videographers and Filmmakers

MELVILLE, N.Y. (Feb 6, 2012) – Today, imaging leader Nikon Inc. announced the highly anticipated D800 HD-SLR, engineered to provide extreme resolution, astounding image quality and valuable video features optimized for professional still and multimedia photographers and videographers. A camera with an unmatched balance of accuracy, functionality and image quality, the Nikon D800 realizes innovations such as a high resolution 36.3-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor, a 91,000-pixel RGB Matrix Metering System, Advanced Scene Recognition System and many other intuitive features designed to create the preeminent device for the most demanding photo and video applications.

Whether shooting high fashion, weddings or multimedia content, Nikon’s highest resolution sensor to date, a groundbreaking new 36.3-megapixel (7360 x 4912 resolution) FX-format CMOS sensor, affords flexibility and astonishing image quality to satisfy a myriad of client requests. The Nikon D800 incorporates the latest 91,000-pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering III and the Advanced Scene Recognition System, coupled with an improved 51-point AF system for images with amazing sharpness, color and clarity. With its compact, lightweight D-SLR form factor and extensive video feature set, the D800 allows photographers to transition to multimedia to create an immersive story. Professional videographers will appreciate practical features that go beyond NIKKOR lens compatibility and Full HD 1080p video, such as full manual control, uncompressed HDMI output, and incredible low-light video capability. With this innovative combination of features, the D800 celebrates resourcefulness and a dedication to the flawless execution of an epic creative vision. All of this is driven by Nikon’s latest EXPEED 3™ image processing engine, providing the necessary processing power to fuel amazing images with faithful color, a wide dynamic range and extreme resolution.

“Whatever the project, visionaries need a tool that is going to help them stay on-time and on-task. The Nikon D800 re-imagines what is possible from this level of D-SLR, to address the needs of an emerging and ever changing market; this is the camera that is going to bridge the gap for the most demanding imaging professionals, and provide never before seen levels of SLR image and video quality,” said Bo Kajiwara, director of marketing, Nikon Inc. “The D800 is the right tool for today’s creative image makers, affording photographers, filmmakers and videographers a versatile option for capturing the ultimate in still image quality or full HD content, with maximum control.”

Extreme Image Quality
The new Nikon developed 36.3-megapixel FX-format (35.9 x 24mm) CMOS sensor realizes Nikon’s highest resolution yet, and is ideal for demanding applications such as weddings, studio portraiture and landscape, where there is no compromise to exceptional high fidelity and dynamic range. Nikon’s first priority is amazing image quality above all else, and resolution of this magnitude affords photographers the ability to portray even the smallest details, such as a strand of hair, with stunning sharpness or crop liberally with confidence. Photographers also shoot with the assurance of NIKKOR lens compatibility, because only a manufacturer with decades of optical excellence can provide the glass to resolve this kind of extreme resolution.

For shooting with minimal noise in a variety of lighting conditions, the D800 features a wide native ISO range of 100-6400, expandable to 50 (Lo-1)-25,600 (Hi-2). Nikon engineers have created innovative ways to manipulate light transmission to the sensor’s photodiodes, giving users the ability to shoot with confidence in challenging lighting conditions. Internal sensor design, an enhanced optical low pass filter (OLPF) and 14 bit A/D conversion with a high signal to noise ratio all contribute to a sensor capable of excellent low light ability despite the extreme resolution. Every aspect of this new FX-format sensor is engineered to deliver amazing low noise images through the ISO range and help create astounding tonal gradation and true colors, whether shooting JPEG or RAW. Images are further routed through a 16-bit image processing pipeline, for maximum performance. To further enhance versatility, users are also able to shoot in additional modes and aspect ratios such as 5:4 to easily frame for printed portraits or a 1.2X crop for a slight telephoto edge. For even more versatility, photographers can also take advantage of Nikon DX-format lenses for more lens options and enhanced focal range (1.5X), while still retaining sharpness and details at a high 15.4-megapixel (4800×3200) resolution.

Contributing to the camera’s rapid performance and amazing image quality is Nikon’s new EXPEED 3 image processing engine that helps professionals create images and HD video with amazing resolution, color and dynamic range. From image processing to transfer, the new engine is capable of processing massive amounts of data, exacting optimal color, rich tonality and minimized noise throughout the frame. Despite the immense data, the new EXPEED 3 also contributes to energy efficiency, affording the ability to shoot longer.

The D800 also features the Advanced Scene Recognition System with the 91,000-pixel 3D Color Matrix Meter III to provide unrivaled metering in even the most challenging of lighting conditions. At the system’s core is a newly designed RGB sensor that meticulously analyzes each scene, recognizes factors such as color and brightness with unprecedented precision and then compares all the data using Nikon’s exclusive 30,000 image database. Additionally, this new sensor now has the ability to detect human faces with startling accuracy, even when shooting through the optical viewfinder. This unique feature is coupled with detailed scene analysis for more accurate autofocus (AF), Auto exposure (AE), i-TTL flash control and even enhanced subject tracking. The Color Matrix Meter also emphasizes priority on exposure of the detected faces, allowing for correct exposure even when the subject is backlit. Even in the most difficult exposures the D800 excels, such as maintaining brightness on a bride’s face while retaining the dynamic range to accentuate the intricate details of a wedding dress beside a black tuxedo.

Advanced new automatic systems make it even easier to capture amazing images. The camera features a new enhanced auto white balance system that more accurately recognizes both natural and artificial light sources, and also gives the user the option to retain the warmth of ambient lighting. Users can expand dynamic range with in-camera High Dynamic Range (HDR) image capture, and enjoy the benefits of Nikon’s Active D-lighting for balanced exposure. Another new feature is direct access to Nikon’s Picture Control presets via a dedicated button on the back of the body to tweak photo and video parameters on the fly, such as sharpness, hue and saturation.

True Cinematic Experience
The Nikon D800 has a compact and lightweight form factor that’s preferable for a production environment, yet is packed with practical and functional features. The D800 is ideal whether the user is a filmmaker on location or in the studio or a documentarian in the field who requires portability and the NIKKOR lens versatility and depth of field that only a HD-SLR can offer. Filmmakers have the choice of various resolutions and frame rates, including Full HD 1080 at 30/24p and HD 720 at 60/30p. By utilizing the B-Frame data compression method, users can record H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format video with unmatched integrity for up to 29:59 minutes per clip (normal quality). This format produces higher quality video data without increasing file size for a more efficient workflow. The optimized CMOS sensor reads image data at astoundingly fast rates, which results in less instances of rolling shutter distortion. The sensor also enables incredible low-light video capability with minimal noise, letting filmmakers capture footage where previously impossible or expensive and complex lighting would otherwise be necessary. Users are also able to have full manual control of exposure, and can also adjust the camera’s power aperture setting in live view for an accurate representation of the depth of field in a scene. Whether shooting for depth of field in FX-format mode, or looking for the extra 1.5X telephoto benefits of DX mode, the high resolution sensor of the D800 allows videographers to retain full 1080p HD resolution no matter which mode they choose to best suit the scene. Users are also able to easily compose and check critical HD focus through the 921,000-dot, 3.2-inch LCD monitor with reinforced glass, automatic monitor brightness control, and wide viewing angle.

For professional and broadcast applications that call for outboard digital recorders or external monitors, users can stream an uncompressed full HD signal directly out of the camera via the HDMI port (8 bit, 4:2:2). This output signal can be ported into a display or digital recording device or routed through a monitor and then to the recording device, eliminating the need for multiple connections. This image can also be simultaneously viewed on both the camera’s LCD and an external monitor, while eliminating on-screen camera status data for streaming purposes. The D800 also includes features concentrated on audio quality, such as a dedicated headphone jack for accurate monitoring of audio levels while recording. Audio output levels can be adjusted with 30 steps for precise audio adjustment and monitoring. The D800 offers high-fidelity audio recording control with audio levels that can be set and monitored on the camera’s LCD screen. A microphone connected via the stereo mic jack can also be adjusted with up to 20 steps of sensitivity for accurate sound reproduction. What’s more, recording can be set to be activated through the shutter button, opening a world of remote applications through the 10-pin accessory terminal.

Wield Speed and Performance with Astonishing Accuracy
Whether shooting the runway or fast moving wildlife, the enhanced 51-point AF system of the D800 delivers blazing fast AF with tack-sharp results. Nikon has enhanced the Multi-Cam 3500-FX AF sensor module and algorithms to significantly improve low light acquisition, for precise focus to an impressive -2 exposure value (EV). The focus system utilizes 15 cross-type AF sensors for enhanced accuracy, and the system also places an emphasis on the human face, working in conjunction with the Advanced Scene Recognition System to provide accurate face detection even through the optical viewfinder. The camera also utilizes nine cross-type sensors that are fully functional when using compatible NIKKOR lenses and teleconverters with an aperture value up to f/8, which is a great advantage to those who need extreme telephoto focal lengths (single cross type sensor active with TC20E III). For maximum versatility in all shooting situations, whether photographing portraits or static subjects, users are also able to select multiple AF modes, including normal, wide area, face tracking and subject tracking to best suit the scene.

The D800 delivers upon a professional’s need for maximum speed when it counts. The camera is ready to shoot in 0.12 seconds, and is ready to capture with super-fast AF and response speed. To photograph action in a burst, the camera shoots up to 4 frames per second (fps) in FX mode at full resolution, or up to a speedy 6 fps in DX mode using the optional MB-D12 Battery Pack and compatible battery. Further enhancing the speed of the camera and overall workflow, the D800 utilizes the new USB 3.0 standard for ultra fast transfer speeds.

Construction and Operability
The body of the D800 is designed to offer a compact form factor and a lightweight body for the utmost versatility. The chassis is constructed of magnesium alloy for maximum durability, and is sealed and gasketed for resistance to dirt and moisture. Users are able to easily compose through the bright optical viewfinder, which offers 100% frame coverage. For storage, the D800 has dual card slots for CF and SD cards, and offers users the ability to record backup, overflow, RAW/JPEG separation, and the additional option of shooting stills to one and video to the other. For high speed recording and transfer, data can be recorded to recent UDMA-7 and SDXC / UHS-1 cards. The shutter has been tested to withstand approximately 200,000 cycles, and the camera also employs sensor cleaning. The D800 also features a built-in flash and is compatible with Nikon’s acclaimed Creative Lighting System, including a built-in Commander mode for controlling wireless Speedlights.

D800E – Maximum Resolution Unleashed
In addition to the D800, Nikon will also be releasing a supplementary model for those professionals who demand even higher resolution and D-SLR versatility; the D800E. This model treads in medium format territory for studio work or landscape photography when there is no exception to only the highest fidelity and sharpness. This unique alternative model will effectively enhance the resolution characteristics of the 36.3-megapixel CMOS sensor by cancelling the anti-aliasing properties of the OLPF inside the camera. By doing this, light is delivered directly to the photodiodes, yielding an image resulting from the raw light gathering properties of the camera. A color moiré correction tool will also be available within Capture NX2 to enhance the D800E photographer’s workflow.

Price and Availability
The Nikon D800 will be available in late March for the suggested retail price of $2999.95.* The D800E version will be available in mid April 2012 for a suggested retail price of $3,299.95.* For more information about these models, NIKKOR lenses and other D-SLR cameras please visit http://www.nikonusa.com.

Comments

  1. February 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Waw, i’m very impress with this specifications. I barely wait to see the this camera live. :)

    • February 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm

      I should have a sample D800 in my hands very soon :)

      • February 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm

        Lucky you. :P I hope i will have one me too very soon here in Romania. :)

    • 31
      ) J.R.
      February 7, 2012 at 4:50 am

      otograf nunta Iasi,
      “very impress with this specifications..”
      Grammar Checker:
      You mean… “with these specifications..”

  2. February 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Thanks for the early info Nasim! I’m intrigued by the D800E. I wonder if there is a way in post processing to reduce or eliminate moiré?

    As a D700 owner, I’m wondering what ISO 6400 will look like. I typically go to ISO 2500 without reservation, and 3200 with localized noise reduction in post when necessary. Hopefully the D800 will raise that one stop without needing to reduce image size, but even if it requires half resolution it will still be impressive I bet!

    I have reservations about the fps. I have a vertical grip and D3 battery to get 8fps on my D700 and that is very handy for HDR brackets to cut down on subject movement. The buffer is not all that impressive on the D700 though, so it quickly drops to less than 4fps when shooting a panorama, even with Sandisk’s fastest CF card. If the buffering is better on the D800, I might not notice the slower fps as much in real world usage.

    It looks like a smaller camera. Cutting weight would be nice. Too bad I can’t use my existing vertical grip and battery. I wonder how battery life will compare with my existing setup, which gets me many thousands of photos before needing a recharge. Of course, this would mean a new RRS L-bracket too… and all that will mean something VERY nice for the wife… (and I don’t think a used D700 is going to cut it!) Hahaha!

    It will be interesting to read your full review. :-)

    • February 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      Aaron, you are most welcome! Yes, there is a way to reduce moire in post-processing. Lightroom 4 will have a built-in function just to do that.

      You can rest assured that ISO 6400 will look better on the D800 than on the D700, once the image is down-scaled to 16 MP and even better at 12 MP :) It will look slightly noisier at 100%, but that’s expected, given that the pixel density is so high. I would not expect ISO 6400 performance to be better at 100% – that would be unrealistic.

      As for HDR bracketing, the Nikon D800 will have a much higher dynamic range than the D700, so you could potentially reduce the number of brackets to 3 :) As for the buffer, the Nikon D800 will have a bigger buffer than the D700, but it will still come to a crawling speed pretty quickly once the buffer is full.

      And yes, it is disappointing to see a new grip and new batteries, but as I have posted in my Nikon D7000 Review, all cameras had to go through a battery change due to new regulations. The good news is that the D800 shares the same battery with the D7000 and Nikon 1 V1…

  3. 6
    ) Mike
    February 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    I have been on the wait list for months. Plan to put a deposit on mine tomorrow. Looking forward to it :)

  4. 7
    ) Nivas
    February 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Very tempting indeed. Given the credit crisis, recession and so on.. they should cut the price into half.

    • February 6, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      Nivas, that would be nice for sure! :)

      • 27
        ) Nivas
        February 7, 2012 at 1:03 am

        This is very exciting. Not sure I can afford it this year given that I recently bought 70-200 vr ii.

        The next obvious question: what would be your choice of lenses for this 36 mega pixel camera?

  5. 8
    ) Nivas
    February 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    When I post comment here, it comes with scary looking picture (red colour) on the right! LOL!

    • February 6, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      That’s because you do not have a gravatar associated with your email!

      • 23
        ) Nivas
        February 7, 2012 at 12:16 am

        Aha. Thanks Nasim!

  6. 9
    ) Jay
    February 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Nasim,

    Thanks for your initial thoughts – I look forward to your full review and field test. This is a clear winner for landscape work and may earn a place in my bag for that purpose alone. Why do you say that the D800 is designed for Wildlife? 4fps is just a bit too slow for shooting birds in flight and other wildlife action sequences. Additionally, I will miss the flexibility of those extra 1-2 stops from a higher ISO range on on my long lenses. Seems like the D4 may have the edge for wildlife shooting. Given the choice, which would you use for your bird and wildlife photography?

    • February 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm

      Jay, I said that it is also designed for wildlife, because:
      1) It can still AF with f/8 lens combinations, just like the Nikon D4
      2) It has a high resolution 36 MP sensor, which gives plenty of opportunities to get the reach + the ability to crop.
      3) Not all wildlife photography requires superb high ISO performance and crazy fast FPS speeds. Yes, birders will want to get the Nikon D4 instead, primarily because of 10 FPS (if they can afford it).

      The Nikon D4 definitely has the edge (a major one) over the D800 for birding though!

      As for me personally, I am definitely getting the Nikon D800 for my landscape work, which I might occasionally use for wildlife. I am still debating if I should sell my D3s to get the D4 for birding…

  7. 14
    ) Robert
    February 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Thanks for the info Nasim!
    Like many others I’ve been watching the rumors fly for the last few weeks in regards to the D800. As my two main areas are Landscape/Wildlife I’ve been quite excited. This would also be my first venture into a full frame body.

    What are your thoughts on lens with the D800?
    (Realizing until you can actually use it, it would be pure speculation).
    As the D7000 (my other body) caused many to re-evaluate their lens’ when it arrived….

    Strictly pro glass?

    • February 6, 2012 at 7:07 pm

      Robert, the D800 has the same pixel pitch as the D7000, so you would need higher-end lenses if you want to have lots of details at 36 MP :) Remember, D7000 chops off the corners, while the D800 will use a much bigger area of the lens.

      But again, it all depends on how big you want to print. You could still get a lot of details from old and cheaper lenses if you down-scale the image…

      • 18
        ) Robert
        February 6, 2012 at 8:01 pm

        Thanks Nasim.
        Your thoughts are what I’d felt as well.
        I’d planned/budgeted to include 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200 VRII.
        Though I am quite fond of my 70-300….

        With the newer rumors pointing to a lower retail, there may be some money left over!

  8. 16
    ) Che Ibarra
    February 6, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Robert I’m on the same boat you are. I shoot with the D7000 and recently bought some serious pro glass (Nikon’s 14-24f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8 VRII ). I been dream of going full frame since I learned the difference between DX and FX way back when I bought the D7K. I’m torn between saving up for a D4 or D800. I shoot alot of events, 10k races, a couple of weddings and Quinces, family portraits, and I like to recreate some of Joe McNally’s shots, shoot at night, etc. Can’t really decide which one fits my needs more…the price of the D4 scares me but the idea of 600 shots a race at 36mp RAW also irks me. One thing that also bothers me personally is noisey images…so I need to consider that too.

    • 19
      ) Robert
      February 6, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      Not a fun decision is it, Che ;)
      I was sold after borrowing/renting both D3s and D700.

      Sounds like the D4 may fit your needs a little more. Something I am also considering is what effect these new bodies will have on pricing and availability of a used D3s or D700. I wouldn’t be upset with either! The D4 is a hefty chunk of money, but you’ve got a good part of the battle won with your lens lineup it sounds.

      I’m around 70% landscape 30% wildlife so I am fairly comfortable with the D800. ISO and noise are concerns with wildlife as much is shot at sunrise/sunset. I’d certainly like to see some real world results before making an order. On the other hand, I’ve a got 2 weeks in Grand Teton/Yellowstone coming the first of June so I don’t want to wait too long.

      • 21
        ) Che Ibarra
        February 6, 2012 at 8:56 pm

        Yellowstone!! Nice…I’ve get to travel there. Good luck with your decision. I’m leaning towards the D4 though bc I also do taxes…and this season has been surprisingly busier $$ :) So the sting of the price is becoming a little less.

        • 22
          ) Robert
          February 6, 2012 at 9:00 pm

          Wow…small world!
          So do we (tax returns) and yes, business has been quite nice this year.

          Envious of the D4….:)

          • 34
            ) Che Ibarra
            February 7, 2012 at 1:44 pm

            Hahaha TaxPhoto man also hu?? Why don’t I shoot you guys as you sweat while I’m working on your taxes…..LOL. That’s our pitch line. After reading and seeing images all morning long, I have decided on the Nikon D4. If I start to do more landscape, then I will consider the D800E next tax season in 2013. Best of luck Robert.

  9. 17
    ) Gaganpreet
    February 6, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Nasim,

    I always enjoy reading your reviews, openions, recomendations and honest feedback. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experirnce. This is one of my favourite photography blog.

    I am saving and waiting for D800 from last few months… and cant wait. I read on some rumor sites and blogs that builtin remote commandar for FLASH will use radio frequency/signals instead of Infrared . do you know if this is true ?

    Thanks ..

    • February 7, 2012 at 12:22 am

      I do not think that is the case…I know D4 accepts infrared, but I have not heard the same thing on the D800.

  10. 20
    ) Geir
    February 6, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Nasim

    Thanks for an excellent post. I’m torn between ordering the D800 with or without the anti aliasing filter (800E). I shoot both landscape and portrait photos, so it depends on how much of a moire problem there really is vs the added sharpness. I have seen posts on moire reduction functions in LR4 but not so much on CS5. What is your experience with post processing removal of moire in photoshop? I’d be very interested to see what you find out in a side by side comparison, and hope you address this in your upcoming review.

  11. 26
    ) Wilson
    February 7, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Hi Nasim,

    D800 is finally out there!

    Thanks for sharing the initial thoughts, and it’s a great for me to grasp the initial impression!

    I’m looking forward to seeing your full review on the D800.

    Cheers,

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:23 pm

      You are most welcome Wilson, Nikon D800 review will be published as soon as I get a hold of it!

  12. 28
    ) Prajakt
    February 7, 2012 at 2:41 am

    Hi Nasim,
    Thanks for excellent update in D800 release and its features. I have 2-3 question, if you can please help me with.

    1. If D800 is purchased, how good it would work with Nikon 16-85 VR lens in cropped mode instead of again investing huge amout in another FF landscape lens like 16-35 F4?
    2. How much noise difference would be visible if we compare D700, D800 and D3S. Just thinking from perspective of advantages of D3s over D800?

    Do reply back as your inputs will be helpful for me to decide further.
    Thanks in advance.

    Prajakt

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      Prajakt, using your 16-85mm VR on the D800 should be no different than using the same lens on a Nikon D7000 body. As for noise difference, the Nikon D800 will perform better than the D700 when the image is down-sampled to 12 MP.

      • 44
        ) Prajakt
        February 7, 2012 at 10:58 pm

        Thanks Nasim, this helps! But again another side of this question. How will be the noise levels of D800 sampled down to 12MP compared with respective ISO images from D3s. Sorry for imaginative question, but I really want to understand it before taking my decision of getting first FF :)

        Appreciate your help, as usual…

        Prajakt

    • 40
      ) Bintang
      February 7, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      Hi Prajakt,
      How about driving a Mustang GT on a racing circuit, but you are limited to use Standard Touring All-Season tires on your car? That won’t be the funniest ride for sure.
      Your 16-85 Dx lens will act like a 24-127 Fx lens in Fx mode. Unfortunaltely using this lens for landscape will elliminate all the advantages of the D800 and you will have the same aspect ratio and Mpixel with that usd 3.000 body as you can get with the much cheaper D5100 or D7000. I suggest you to do yourself a favour and buy at least a used Nikkor AF-S 16-35mm f/4 G ED VR or a Nikkor AF 20mm f/2.8 D to enjoy the benefits of this fantastic D800. I’m still not sure if they can feed the beast with enough resolution or not, but I hope, Nasim will tell about it.
      Leave the DX mode for special reasons. It is perfect as a 1,5x multiplier of your tele lenses.
      Sorry if there is any grammar mistake. English is not my mother tongue.

      • 45
        ) Prajakt
        February 7, 2012 at 11:03 pm

        No problem with spelling at all. I understand what are you trying to say Bintang :) The only intention is knowing all alternatives before making big investments and to keep cost of ownership as low as possible :-D

  13. 29
    ) Aaron
    February 7, 2012 at 4:17 am

    Hello Nasim
    I was so happy with the release of D800. Everything looked perfect until I read about 4 fps buffer. I thought this is going to be my first ever DSLR, but I’m not sure after knowing about the 4 fps. Now I want to know if it will affect an average customer in following situations? Will I get trails in my photographs like we get in point and shoot camera in these situations.
    Taking pictures while they are dancing, playing, running etc.
    Taking pictures from running vehicles.
    Taking pictures of objects, humans and animals in motion.

    Please help.
    Thanks and regards

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      Aaron, do not worry about the FPS for your type of photography. Faster FPS is needed only for fast-action photography like sports, birding, etc. The speed of the capture and the ability to blur or freeze motion is controlled by the camera shutter speed, not the FPS speed.

  14. 30
    ) kev
    February 7, 2012 at 4:44 am

    I’d like you advice. I’ve a d90 but I’d wanted to switch to FX. I thought about the d700 first but I heard d800 so I waited. Finally when I heard rumours about 36mpx and 4fps I was a little dissapointed.
    My kind of photo is wildlife (birding a lot) mainly (macro second, landscapes, and portraits rarely). I thought about the d3s bargain which I can afford at the same price as the d800.
    Now I see d800 have big improvements about af (f8 sensibility) same process like d4 and I doubt a little.
    Should I go for the d3s or d800 ? Because as I’ve a 70-200 vrii+tc20eiii I know for better sharpness you have to up at f7.1 or f8 but if the AF of d3s can’t ‘follow’. Anyway with my d90 I do it in static subject, or with some lucks and big light it works well, or a pre-manually before af.
    Thank you very much for your feedback.
    Nice site with a lot useful info. :)

    • February 7, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      Kev, if your main photography is birding, then you would be better off with the Nikon D3s, due to its much faster fps speed that you need for fast-moving birds. As for f/8 AF, if you have f/4 lenses that you want to use with the TC-20E III, then the D800 or the D4 are definitely worth considering. No matter what you get, it will be a world better than your D90 :)

  15. 32
    ) J.R.
    February 7, 2012 at 4:54 am

    “number of focus points stayed the same (51 focus points)…”
    Does anyone know how to make these 51 AF Points light up either in the Viewfinder or from the LCD?
    TIA

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:27 pm

      J.R., what do you mean by “making the 51 points light up”? If you want to be able to choose between the 51 focus points, then switch to Single Focus mode instead of dynamic and move the focus points with the big round button…

  16. 33
    ) Gaganpreet
    February 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    FYI .. booked one this morning. Looks like B&H have better shiping price options for faster shipment . like $1.90 for 3 day shipping ;)

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      That’s a pretty sweet price! I paid $25 USD for ground shipping.

      • 42
        ) Gaganpreet
        February 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm

        good deal at XXX. This is part of their daily deal “Deal for Today” .. not bad.

        • February 7, 2012 at 4:59 pm

          Removed your link, because it is scam. NikonUSA.com will never allow that sort of thing to happen.

          • 46
            ) Gaganpreet
            February 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm

            Thanks Nasim,

            They work with Adorama (confirmed with their customer service department) and not from NikonUSA. I do not get any discount or commision from them, i just wanted to share the deal ($100 + shipping cost) with other group members.

  17. 47
    ) George
    February 20, 2012 at 6:35 am

    I enjoy your website Nasim. I have a question about the challenge of taking sharp pictures with the 36MP D800. From various comments on the internet and from Nikon’s recent relase of a document about proper shooting technique to avoid camer shake adversely affecting the image, it appears that the large number of mega pixels means the D800 is very sensitive to the slightest handshake. Although I use a tripod on occasion, the majority of my photography is street shooting without a tripod. I relish the resolution and high dynamic range the D800 will offer, but not if it means the loss of spontaneous free lance shooting that a tripod would entail. Also, I am not a big fan of spending lots of time in post processing. Will the D800 require more time in PP? Finally, will you be purchasing a D4? Besides speed and low light, do you see any other advantgesnto the D4?

    • 48
      ) Ray
      April 7, 2012 at 4:43 am

      Yes, i am very apprehensive about this same issue…i shoot weddings and natural light portraits, almost always sans-tripod, so am worried that the high pixel density might show more camera shake and ruin lots of shots…is this true?
      thanks, nasim!

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