Nikon D800 – D700 Replacement … Or Not?

If you haven’t noticed, the internet photography forums are abuzz regarding the question of whether the Nikon D800 should be considered a “true” successor to the D700. Many of these are civil in nature, but there are plenty of examples where passions seem to have gotten the best of some people. While there has been an enormous amount of positive commentary regarding the D800’s features, functionality, and value by many, there are others vehemently denying that the D800 can be considered an upgrade to their beloved D700. To prove their point, they even cite some Nikon representatives that reportedly claim that the D800 is a different kind of camera for a different market and not meant to replace the D700. Nikon’s announcement to continue producing the D700, with a corresponding price reduction to $2,199, has added more fuel to the arguments of those who believe the D700’s successor has yet to arrive. So who is right?

Nikon D800 vs D700

Well … they both are. How can that be? Simple – the D700 user base is not a homogenous group, but consists of users with many varied different photography interests, priorities and budgets. What they all share in common is the need for an entry level, affordable full frame Nikon camera. As such, they are evaluating the D800’s rich feature set next to that of their D700 in light of what they value most. Depending on your priorities, you could view the D800 as the perfect replacement for your D700. Or you could view it as an interesting model, but certainly not the model you have been waiting for.

When the D700 (see Nasim’s Nikon D700 Review) was announced in July of 2008, it was a breakthrough – an entry level full frame camera featuring a rugged Nikon body that looked and felt much like the extremely successful D300, and sported much of the technology of its big brother, the D3. It also included some other goodies such as a pop-up flash, the sensor cleaning system found on the D300, and an affordable grip that could help the D700 achieve 8FPS, with a 20 picture buffer for 14-bit lossless RAW files – all at a price that didn’t break the bank. So professionals and serious amateurs alike flocked to the D700, as it proved to be an excellent primary or backup camera. For $2,999 initially and then $2,699 after it had been available for a while, what was there not to like? (the price of the D700 plunged further down to $2,199 after D800 was announced)

The simple truth however, was that if you were in the market for a full frame Nikon camera, and could not justify a D3/s, you had no other option than the D700. Thus the D700’s user base encompassed a variety of photographers that covered the gamut: architecture, portraits, landscapes, sports, photojournalism, and wildlife. Now that the D800 has been announced, the differences that always existed between the various camps within the D700 user base are becoming much more obvious – and vocal!

It has been no secret that despite their love for the D700, quite a few loyal Nikon shooters focusing primarily on landscapes, architecture, fashion, and portraits, wanted to see an entry level full frame model with more megapixels. Many envied the 21 MP Canon 5D Mark II for its enhanced resolution, cropping options, and price point. Even professionals balked at the notion of paying $8,000 for Nikon’s top of the line D3x, which provided a mere 3MP increase over the 5D Mark II, at approximately 4X the cost. For these D700 users, the D800 easily surpasses the Canon 5D Mark II, the newly announced Canon 5D Mark III, and even the Nikon D3x in many respects, and represents the upgrade they were seeking.

For the fast action wildlife, sports, and photojournalist crowds seeking FPS speed, buffer, and reasonable file sizes (something less than 36MP apparently!) however, they clearly wanted to see a slimmed down D4 in a D700 body, with perhaps some improvement in high ISO capabilities. So while they may admire the D800’s feature set, they don’t see it as being the next generation of the camera they currently own. History tells us that those looking for a more economically priced “baby D4” may have to wait a year from the flagship model’s introduction. Time will tell if D700 users in this camp will have to wait as long.

The D800 also addresses the needs of those that wish to expand their use of high quality video, a market segment that Nikon has been lagging in (some would say ignoring) for some time. Many diehard photographers dismiss video, and have suggested that Nikon eliminate video altogether from the successor of the D700 to reduce cost, since it is not relevant to them. But despite the resistance from some photographers, video is opening up many new exiting opportunities for both professionals and amateurs, and Nikon would be foolish not to be competitive in this segment of the market.

Quality commercials have traditionally cost quite a bit of money to produce and been the bastion of large Madison Avenue advertising budgets. Cameras featuring high quality video now enable just about anyone with a modest budget and some creativity to compete in the advertising arena. If you have any doubts, consider that Jonathan Friedman developed a commercial (“Fluffy” the cat that disappears at the hands… er… paws of the household dog) for Doritos at a whopping cost of … $20. Friedman’s commercial was selected by Doritos to be aired during the 2012 Super Bowl. The associated 30 second airtime in the Super Bowl cost Doritos approximately $3M. The commercial was seen by over 100 million viewers. What did Friedman earn for his $20 investment and creativity? A cool $1 million. Try pulling in that kind of money taking portraits of high school seniors!

With the D800, there is no reason why creative amateurs can’t develop stunning commercials and promotions that compete with the best of the Madison Avenue’s advertising agencies. Videographers with a knack for directing will also be able to produce high quality programs or movies as evidenced by Nikon’s D800 promotional video of the bike riding physician. Some may recall that the final season’s episode of “House” was filmed entirely with a Canon 5D Mark II, a historic event that likely did not go unnoticed by Nikon. The D800 and similar technologies significantly reduce the barriers to entry for those that wish to develop their own content, and enable them to compete with major networks and studios. Nikon was simply not going to yield this potentially burgeoning market to Canon and others, so it was not hard to understand why enhanced video capabilities moved up the D800’s priority list.

I believe some D700 users may soften their stance once they better understand the D800’s 1.2X and 1.5X crop modes. As an example, if you extrapolate the numbers listed in the D800’s technical manual, you will realize that in the 1.2X crop mode, the D800 enables you to capture 25MP images in 14 bit lossless compressed RAW file format at 5FPS with a buffer limit of 23. This would equal the D700’s 5FPS speed (without battery grip) and exceed the buffer limit of the D700 (20) by 3. The D800’s AF system (inherited from the D4), crop modes, FPS, and buffer capacities may prove more than adequate for all but the most demanding situations. These numbers of course haven’t been verified by real world tests and may be influenced by the specific make/model of the CF and SD cards you employ.

Which Nikon users will upgrade to the D800? I suspect the user base will eventually consist of D3X, D3/s, D700, D300, and perhaps even some D7000 users. Along the way, Nikon will likely pick up some current full frame customers of Canon, Sony, and Pentax, and perhaps some currently shooting medium format film or digital. For those seeking high quality video, the D800 will be an extremely attractive alternative compared to the competition. This latter group may include both current DSLR owners as well as those that might have purchased more traditional video equipment.

The “is it or is it not?” debate regarding the D800 being a D700 successor will likely not be settled anytime soon. For many, they couldn’t be happier with the D800’s capabilities and believe it represents the very camera they have been hoping for. But the volume and tone of rhetoric in the photography forums also suggest that perhaps just as many believe Nikon has overlooked their needs and priorities – at least for now. That has to sting a bit, and is likely contributing to the intensity of the discussions. No doubt we will see the level of debates escalate to a new crescendo once the D800 actually hits the streets and test results begin pouring in. As this story unfolds, I will be very interested to see the customer survey data identifying who is upgrading and why. Stay tuned!

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Muddasir Javed
    March 5, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    your right about the D7000 user group. I just got it a few months ago and I am already drooling over the D800.
    Well written article. Good read.

  2. 2
    ) Muddasir Javed
    March 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    BTW, excellent work. Just went through your 500px images. Great imaging. keep up the good work.

  3. 3
    ) Marcus
    March 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Thanks for this very factual and impartial analysis of the fact and speculations at hand.
    I’d be also interested why it is that some people shed all common sense about Nikon launching the D800 (or whatever is next). Some are not only heated but appear to be personally concerned by it as if Nikon actually wanted to hurt them.
    Well, I think being photographer – whether amateur or professional – doesn’t automatically mean that one is standing “above” the things one knows or believes to know.
    Two things are sure, though: Progress will march on as long as the market supports it (think “competition”) and you can never please everybody.

    • March 5, 2012 at 8:44 pm

      Marcus,
      Indeed technology will continue to march forward. We will continue to be challenged by understanding its capabilities relative to our needs, and making the best use of it. And when someone looks at our photos, apart from some on the various forums, they rarely if ever ask what equipment we used to take them! ;)

  4. 4
    ) Peter
    March 5, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Good, comprehensive article. Well written, too.

    I will continue to measure my need for a new camera based on my photo needs. I own a D300 and a D700. I do not “need” rather than “want” a D800. Sure I’d like to have a D800, but it makes no sense for me given my photo requirements.

    There is a hugh and costly difference between wanting and needing.

    • March 5, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      Peter,
      You already have two great Nikon cameras. Perhaps after reading some in-depth D800 reviews and seeing a myriad of real life photos, the “need” may transform into a “must have”? ;)
      Bob

  5. March 5, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    I’m not clear why the only options are as a D700 replacement or an interesting model. I’ve owned my D700 since 2009 and placed an order for the D800 less than a week after it was announced. I have no intention of replacing the D700, but will instead use it in situations where absolute resolution is not a priority. As a photographer of urban design subjects, I will admit to longing for higher pixel resolution, but continue to be quite satisfied with the D700’s performance. I’ve thought of semi-permanently removing the battery pack and relegating the D700 to a flash rig. Most general people subjects do not require counting skin cells; in fact, do not benefit from the ruthless detail.

    • March 5, 2012 at 8:48 pm

      Wil,
      The issue is much less about the classification of the D800, and far more about the various photographic needs (and wants!) that it addresses. Each of us must make our decision according to our needs, alternatives, and budgets.
      Bob

  6. 6
    ) William Jones
    March 5, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Having owned a D700 (sold it last week), and still owning a D3X, the camera I was hoping for would have been a D3XS (the MP of a D3X, with the ISO range and buffer capacity of a D3S, and a rate of at least 8 FPS). Canons’ new EOS 5D Mark III is approximately that, however I have no desire to switch brands (lenses ain’t cheap!) Have a D4 and D800 on order, and will sell the D3X when I have both of those in my hands.

    I never shoot video with a DSLR (have a dedicated camera for that, which does not get used much). However, if Nikon or Canon ever gets to the point of a D800 type model that shoots video in UHDTV (16 times the resolution of HDTV), then I might reconsider, IF I can pull selected frames out (prefer action photography).

    As long as Nikon and Canon keep trying to one-up each other, we benefit. It doesn’t matter if the D800 is or is not a replacement for the D700. It is one hell of a camera (at least based on preview), and the price difference between the two is minimal. If you don’t need all the MP, shoot in DX mode (15.3 MP, which is still bigger than a D700 picture). A 24mm lens becomes a 36mm, just a few steps back. The heck with pointless arguments, just have some fun shooting pictures (and maybe make a few bucks too).

    • March 5, 2012 at 8:52 pm

      William,
      It never ceases to amaze me how quickly opinions change with the advances in technology, and how today’s “nice-to-haves” become tomorrow’s “can’t live withouts”! One thing I never lose sight of – my equipment is always better than my current photography skill level can make use of.
      Bob

      • March 5, 2012 at 8:53 pm

        Totally agree. Id rather be an artist than a camera man or as some call it, gear head.

        • March 5, 2012 at 9:06 pm

          Muddasir,
          I certainly would make life easier, wouldn’t it? But alas, since DSLRs are in fact, computers in their own right, I suspect the sheer complexity of the menu systems, options, ways in which options work together, etc. will continue to require us to review and carefully consider how they can be productively used to enhance our photography. But if we are not careful, it is very easy to get far too caught up in the technology, and forget the fundamentals that make a great picture – all of which have absolutely nothing to do with the bits and bytes of our fancy equipment! ;)
          Bob

          • March 5, 2012 at 9:18 pm

            Agreed, but the technology that is there in even the most basic dslr is enough to create exceptional work. Often more than not, its the upper right brains of ours that is the limiting factor and not the machines. Even though I shoot with a D7000, i doubt it will ever be my limiting factor.

            • March 5, 2012 at 9:41 pm

              Muddasir,
              Absolutely. I also shoot with the D7000 and D90 (converted for infrared). If there is a fault in my photography (and there are plenty!) at times, it is certainly with me and not my equipment! ;)
              Bob

  7. 7
    ) Matt
    March 5, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    OF COURSE the D800 is the successor to the D700! Do you know how I know? Because the number 800 comes after the number 700!

    Look:

    D1 -> D2 -> D3 -> D4
    D40 -> D50 -> D60 -> D70 -> D80 -> D90
    D100 -> D200 -> D300
    D700 -> D800

    This isn’t rocket science. If Nikon was going to make something called a D700s or D710, they would have made a D700s or a D710.

    It’s funny how 36 MP just made people’s heads explode. If it was 24 MP nobody would have blinked. People just have a hard time believing that Nikon could have jacked the MP up that much AND improved the high ISO performance. When they realize that this is EXACTLY what Nikon has done, maybe they’ll be able to piece their shattered craniums back together. :-)

    • March 5, 2012 at 8:54 pm

      Matt,
      That seems like a very logical model progression and conclusion, and yet… we see how many arguments have ensued since the D800’s announcement. And they are just getting started. No doubt some will change their minds once Nasim and others provide a detailed review and share more photographs that show us what the D800 is capable of.
      Bob

  8. 8
    ) Tom
    March 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Excellent article Bob and welcome to the website. Very nice portfolio/gallery as well!

    • March 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks so much, Tom. This was the first of what I hope to be many articles on Mansurovs.com.
      Bob

  9. 9
    ) GP
    March 5, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Good summary.
    Would be nice to have a similar look at D3S vs. D4. I have been comparing raw files posted at DPReview and Imaging Resource. The net conclusion: There is NO difference in image quality NOR Resulotion. Which surprised me.
    Seems D4 is just a D3S with better ergonomics and of course better video. Possibly the AF is better, but then again its the same AF as on D800. If true, upgrading would be useful only for those who really need certain functions (like ethernet). Might be that an IQ upgrade under good light condiotions from D3S is now D800!

    • March 5, 2012 at 8:57 pm

      GP,
      We will likely see many of comparisons between the new and existing Nikon models. Given the size and growth rate of the DSLR market, Nikon clearly believes that the new models will attract many users to upgrade.
      Bob

  10. 10
    ) Randall
    March 5, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    The D800 is NOT the D700 replacement. How do I know? Well besides Nikon officially stating it…. Think about it for a minute. The D800 is a great camera and even though your probably going to need a Tripod your going to get some really amazing photos. But can you imagine in a year or so if they come out with a D700x or something that is a scaled down D4 (with less features of course). Do anyone not think Nikon will do that? There are many people that would buy both cameras. Nikon will not leave that money on the table. Trust me. But until that glorious day arrives they will sell the crap out of the D800 and along the way. NOW to answer Bob’s question above in a more philosophical manner. Yes it is the replacement for the D700 “for now” it also replaces the D7000 “for now”. Not only is Nikon great at making photography gear they are also just as good at selling it to us!!!

    • March 5, 2012 at 8:59 pm

      Randall,
      Therein lies the rub – many people see the D800 differently – all based on their specific needs. Nikon is likely listening carefully to those that indicate they want the next iteration of the D800 to be more of a “baby D4″ although based on previous history, one might suspect they will wait until they see how many upgraded to the D4 and the D800 before launching the next model.
      Bob

  11. 11
    ) Alan
    March 5, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    The D800 is the replacement for the D3X. 24 MP/1600 native ISO?? Where is the value at an $8000
    price point. An argument could be made for all the other full frame cameras in the line up.
    At this time they are still king of the ISO hill.

    • March 5, 2012 at 9:01 pm

      Alan,
      Apparently many different types of photographers owning a variety of different camera models see the D800 as the “answer” to their upgrade questions. And each likely had a different set of “questions” they were asking. It will be interesting to see the ISO match-up between the D800 and recently announced Canon 5D Mark III.
      Bob

      • 26
        ) Alan
        March 5, 2012 at 11:48 pm

        Yes but, the photographer who is looking for a bump in mega pixels will choose the D800 right off. The photographer who is an ISO maven with a full frame camera may stay put for a while or jump ship and get the Canon 5D M lll if the ISO spec is true. The only full frame camera the D8oo wipes out is the D3x. Notice the D700 is still survives.

        • March 6, 2012 at 5:59 am

          Alan,,
          No doubt if MP count is a key criteria, the D800 will be on the top of your list. I suspect however, that some that bought some of the other models did so for a variety of reasons, one of which may have been the fact that except for the D3X, 12MP was the limit of Nikon full frame cameras. Now that there is another option, we will see just how many D3, D3s, D700, etc. value the D800’s 36MP and other features, over/above what those other models provide. Clearly Nikon is counting on existing DSLR owners to upgrade. It will be interesting to see the mix of D800 owners as the sales numbers come in. As I mentioned, I suspect they will come from a variety of camera owners, but primarily from those that already own FX cameras.
          Bob

          • 38
            ) Alan
            March 6, 2012 at 8:55 am

            If the ISO in the D800 isn’t any better than the D700 (which Nikon has already implied). How many ISO mavens will be trading up from their D700, D3, and D3s. It seems to me that the
            (bite your tongue) Canon 5D M lll is the logical upgrade from the D700, if the specs prove out.
            Of course Nikon may have another model up their sleeve to fill the gap.

            • March 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm

              Alan,
              In a rather ironic twist, it does indeed seem as if Canon has announced the D700 upgrade many D700 owners have been hoping for. It just happens to be a 5D Mark III!!! :) I believe that if enough of the D700 owners upgrade, Nikon may think twice about continuing the D700 product line. On the other hand, if enough people hold out, they may release a D800 model that may be close to the 5D Mark III specs. Time will tell…
              Bob

  12. 27
    ) Mark de Vrij
    March 5, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    I think the engineers at Nikon who made the said the D800 is not the D700 replacement could have saved many an internet argument by adding the word ‘Sole’ to their statement.
    This is where I think Nikon has been very clever. The D700 has not stopped being a phenomenal camera that takes amazing pics. The D800 is even better in most areas and a lot better in the areas on landscape and wedding and even edging into Medium Format territory.
    But this is sensible, after all there is only limited benefit of making better and better all-round cameras as they are already fantastic so the opportunity to improve is limited, however taking one specific area and making more specialised cameras to really stand out is, I think, the right one.

    Hopefully sales will agree with me.

    Kind regards,
    Mark.

    • March 6, 2012 at 5:43 am

      Mark,
      Are you stating that the D700 will still function perfectly even though the D800 has been introduced? :) It is humorous how easily some use the term “obsolete” and “outdated” with the introduction of new models – as if the older products had a chip that caused them to stop working as of the first customer ship date (uh-oh – don’t want to give product companies any ideas for new “features”!).
      It will be interesting to see how long the D700 will be continue to be manufactured. Whenever companies indicate that a given model will continue to be produced, the unwritten, but clearly implied words at the end of the sentence are, “for now” or “as long as their is sufficient demand”.
      But regardless of the D700’s future, I have little doubt many people will continue to use their D700s and take extraordinary pictures for years to come.
      Bob

  13. 28
    ) John Richardson
    March 6, 2012 at 12:54 am

    Wonderful article Bob!

    Indeed it is a matter of want and need, “I want it, therefore I need it so I will buy it” —if the Wife allow it of course (cough).

    In the case of the D800, one has to consider many options and make a decision to stay (or find) a D700 or go with the D800 and always know in the back of their mind excellent video is just a button away should they want to explore video. Many do not, I do not (now), but I may later, so, I like options. The price is more than reasonable, enough so that it should deter “serial jumpers”.

    I had a D4 on order but, at Ukraine prices ($11,000) I re-preordered a D800E and will deal with my own in inadequate skills. But that is half the fun!

    However if a D700 came my way I would not hesitate to pick it up knowing that there is nothing wrong with a D700 at all. The same would go for a D3s. What a wonderful time of choices we have.

    I look forward to reading more from you!

    • March 6, 2012 at 6:07 am

      Much appreciated, John. I understand what you are saying. When I got my D7000, I made it a point to walk through 4 hours of a video presentation on Kelby Training that covered every aspect of the camera. But unless I use some of the features regularly, I am prone to forget how they work and have to reach for the manual! ;)
      I do think that some are underestimating how much the video market will take off. As I pointed out in my article, the barriers to entry for someone creating their own program/show/movie have dramatically fallen. This fact combined with the flexibility that the internet and such sites as youtube for people to distribute their productions will enable many people to compete with the major studios. Since the associated costs have come down so much, all it now takes is a bit of creativity and hard work. ;)
      Bob

  14. March 6, 2012 at 1:40 am

    I don’t get why bother if a camera is a successor or not, it is no pedigree or lineage if a family. I think the world would be better if we see every camera in its own right, and a camera should be good enough to buy if the work demands it.

    • March 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm

      Prabhakar,
      That makes good sense to me, but as we can see, some people love to debate lines of camera succession every bit as much as they do for monarchies, political parties, and move sequels! :)
      Bob

  15. March 6, 2012 at 2:28 am

    I asked the owner of the “Boutique Nikon” in Paris, an old hand at Nikon stuff, whether if was worth for an amateur, myself, to upgrade my D700 to the D800. His answer in a nutshell: yes if you need video. Peter

    • March 6, 2012 at 2:36 am

      Hi Peter, he is just doing his job i.e. sell more Nikon stuff. To me, being an amateur, the added video feature doesn’t justify the price. the net cost of owning it increases if you consider selling already owned D700 at a loss. I would buy it only if it means additional income to come.

      • March 6, 2012 at 6:11 am

        Peter,
        Indeed, no one can tell you if you “need” any particular feature, unless it relates perhaps to some compatibility with some technical standard that may be changing or being replaced. If video is not your cup of tea, don’t compelled to buy a DSLR with such capability. I suspect however, that with the competition from so many other low cost devices having video, Nikon and other manufacturers will likely not release higher end products without it, since people will make obvious comparisons between the products and wonder why video is available on a $200 smartphone, but not their $3,000 DSLR.
        Bob

        • March 6, 2012 at 11:53 am

          Good point, Bob & prabhakar. I already have video on the D300s and the Nikon1 v and, so far, am not using it much other than testing out of curiosity. Time will tell. Peter

          • March 6, 2012 at 5:59 pm

            Peter,
            So it goes with certain features – as their cost comes down and they make their way into cheaper devices, the higher end camera models will have to have them as well. There is not much getting around this reality.
            Bob

  16. 32
    ) Gary
    March 6, 2012 at 3:00 am

    With the D800’s 36mp sensor, shooting in RAW and processing files to tif will result in huge files – 8bit tif 75mb to a whopping 150mb 16bit tif.

    Working with two layers at 16bit.. Thats going to require a lightning system with 8gb ram , my point being for the vast majority of us a new computer will also have to be on the shopping list!

    Gary

    • March 6, 2012 at 5:52 am

      Gary,
      Last fall, I bought two HP computers for my sons that had 6GB of ram and 1 TB drives, with 21 inch high resolution monitors – $350/each. Those PCs can process complex graphics files that would have required a $100,000 machine 20 years ago.
      Moore’s Law will continue to increase the power of computers as the price continues to drop dramatically relative to what we get for our money. And hard drives? A mere six years ago, storage cost 10X what it costs today. In 2006, a Seagate 500GB drive cost $300. 2TB would have cost you $1,200. In 2012, that same 2TB will cost you a whopping ~ $120.
      Now if we could only see this kind the kind of price performance that Moore’s Law provides for other products! ;)
      Bob

  17. March 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Bob, I think you are absolutely correct in your article that people will welcome the D800 or not based on their own unique circumstances. No product can be the answer for everyone. I also agree that many people who have reacted somewhat negatively will soften as they learn more about the camera. I am an amateur that has been using a D200 for 6 years. I have patiently waited a long time to make this upgrade. During the last year, I found that my technique and processing skills were forced to improve to overcome the D200’s low light limitations. It probably has benefitted me by waiting in that sense. At first I was also a bit disappointed with the 36 mp output as it was more than I expected and I worried it would affect image quality or take up too much memory on my computer. However, after reading many articles, including the very good points you have made, I have definitely softened and am now eager to buy one. I can see how the camera is actually quite flexible and definitely an improvement in image quality. Frame speed is not important for what I personally do. I’m just waiting to learn a bit more about how the D800E performs before finally deciding it is not appropriate for me as I shoot a lot of everything. I suspect there are many people like me who just needed more information before judging. In fact, with the 2 different crop modes, I see it as a very attractive camera for a wide group of purchasers. Thanks for your well reasoned article.

    • March 6, 2012 at 6:05 pm

      Rick,
      Thanks so much for the feedback. The D800 represents a significant value for all that it offers – both to high end DX users and traditional FX users. I am eagerly looking forward to Nasim’s review of both the D4 and D800. I am sure that his review will help many on the fence better understand how the camera holds up in real life situations, and how it compares to the current crop of Nikon DX and FX models. I understand that many high end DX users are anxiously awaiting the rumored D400 announcement as well, although there are a myriad of opinions weather it will be a DX or FX camera. I believe a D400 based on a DX sensor makes the most sense, but Nikon has been full of surprises as of late. Hopefully we will know soon.
      Bob

  18. 41
    ) Bruce
    March 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    I’m interested to know why Nikon didn’t go down the route of allowing the RAW files to be changed in size ‘in-camera’ like the newly announced Canon 5D mark III (if I have read the literaure correctly). Is this a technical limitation, or just a development oversight. If they had I don’t believe you would have seen any complaints from any one. You could have shot at 16 or 24 mp with the relevant decrease in file size. If they could have achieved this, would the high ISO capbility have been increased through down-sampling? This would have been a killer feature.

    • March 7, 2012 at 7:23 pm

      Bruce,
      If you review page 14 of the D800 manual at the link below, you will see the various sizes and file formats associated with the 3 crop modes – full, 1.2, and 1.5. You can indeed shoot RAW and the D800 will adjust the corresponding file format. This will have an effect on the FPS and buffer capacity.
      This is one of the many reasons people are excited about this camera. It offers RAW shooters tremendous flexibility to adjust the size of their images to meet their needs in any situation. A landscape photographer can take advantage of the full 36MP full crop image, and then later switch to either the 1.2 or 1.5 crop when taking wildlife action shots, which depending on RAW file format used, will give you approximately 25 MP and 15MP.
      Bob
      http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/dslr/d800/pdf/d800_28p.pdf

      • 52
        ) Bruce
        March 8, 2012 at 12:12 am

        Hi bob,
        Yes I am aware of the crop capabilities, and this adds flexibility. But a 1.5 crop will produce a 15mp file like a d7000 not akin to a d4. I would want to still have the full image, not a cropped version, but a full frame image with a smaller raw file size, this way you get 100%viewfinder in each mode?. I believe the 5D can shoot in large, medium and small raw files. My impression is that all images are still full frame, or is this a different way of explaining they have cropped too? I think in camera down sampling, which decreases the file size, potentially ups the high ISO capability and keeps a full frame image would be beneficial. I appreciate this can be done in post but it adds another 2 steps to he workflow.
        Cheers
        Bruce

        • March 8, 2012 at 5:50 am

          Bruce,
          I believe you are correct regarding the 5D Mark III’s RAW file sizes using the full sensor instead of crop modes. This seems to be one of those differences between the D800 and 5D Mark III that will likely have to be tested to understand how it plays out in terms of practical results. It is hard for me to have an opinion on this one apart from seeing how each camera might perform in various situations. Perhaps we can add one more test to Nasim’s upcoming comparison? ;)
          Bob

          • 83
            ) Maca
            March 31, 2012 at 8:18 am

            I am a Nikon user (d700 and d7000) but have used the 5d mk II in several ocasions in photo workshops. I had noticed this raw modes in canon models and always asked myself why nikon did not used them in their cameras… For practical reasons, it is very useful to have different raw files, depending on your needs. My conclusion is that for Nikon, a raw file must be… Well, RAW!
            The canon mraw ans sraw have been downsided or compressed or whatever, so, how RAW can that be? I think this shows different ways of thinking what a raw file is. For Nikon, looks like the raw file must always have the same amount of megapixels captured by the sensor, wich makes sense… This is why you have to use crop modes if you want a smaller raw file.

  19. 42
    ) Kristi
    March 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Lots of tech. terminology going on here. Let me pose a question simply: If you wanted to upgrade from a Nikon d7000 (crop sensor) to a full frame for portraits, lifestyle photography, as well as sports photography, would you purchase a 700 or d800?

    • March 6, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      Kristi,
      Well that’s an easy one – it all depends! :) It is a tough call without knowing more about your needs. I would first want to know what you believe you are missing in the D7000 that you believe you may get in the move to an FX camera? The D7000 is a great camera. I was shooting a D300 for years, and then either upgraded or downgraded to the D7000, depending on your perspective.

      Here are some things to consider:

      The crop modes of the D800, combined with the grip can get you to 6FPS and a healthy buffer rate which will vary depending on the crop size selected. That is a bit slower than the D700 and the 8FPS it can achieve with its accessory grip. The D800 has the D4’s autofocus mechanism, so it might actually do a better job of locking onto your target and producing more “keepers” than the D700, despite the 2FPS difference between the two cameras. This is one of those specs that does indeed need to be tested under some controlled circumstances however, to understand how the specs of the D800 stack up to those of the D700 with respect to practical results. If sports are the dominant part of your photography work, I would give the edge to the D700 – for now.

      If you are doing more general photography, the FPS differences are much less of an issue. The D800 will obviously give you better detail and cropping options. Then again, unless you are printing very large pictures that have been heavily cropped however, you might not notice the difference as much.

      If some of the pundits are correct, and Nikon has a D400 on the way with 24 MP and the faster FPS and higher buffer capacity we saw in the D300, this might also provide a solid value for you. With the D800 likely being on back order for some time, you may have a bit of time to wait for the D400, rumored to be announced in April, before making a decision. In the meantime, you might want to find someone in your local ASMP chapter or other photography club that has a D700 and allow you to test it out. There are few things photographers love more than showing off their gear and sharing their opinions of it! :)

      Hope this helps a bit and didn’t cause you more confusion.
      Bob

  20. 43
    ) Jason
    March 6, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    This is a very interesting post. I wondered if the D7000 was ever a replacement for the D300s – I would argue that it isn’t. I would say that it became the replacement of the D90. In that same breath, I’m not sure Nikon is done releasing camera bodies yet. I bet there is a D400 on its way to replace the D300s. And, I bet there will be another full frame camera that will be more of what the D700 was. The D800 is a totally different animal. If you don’t do landscape/portraits/don’t want the mega high resolution, what other option is there? . . . 5D Mark III. I bet Nikon releases a full frame camera more in line with Canon’s recent offering to capitalize on that “middle” market between the D4 and the D800.

    • March 6, 2012 at 6:40 pm

      Jason,
      I am one of those odd ducks that indeed believed – for my needs – the D7000 was an upgrade for the D300. I made this decision fully understanding what I was gaining and giving up. I had both cameras for some time and thought that all things considered, I was better off with the D7000. Many others would (much in the spirit of the D800/D700 debate!), would not come to the same conclusion, but then again, each of us has to prioritize what is important for our needs and make the appropriate decision.
      I believe the D800 will attract owners from across the spectrum – including those that currently own the D300 and D7000 models. Nikon is obviously counting on quite a few current DSLR owners to upgrade with its manufacturing capacity of 30,000 D800s per month! Some frustrated D700 owners may indeed decide to move to the Canon camp, but given the investment in equipment and accessories, that may be a tough call for them to make.
      Whatever your level of interest and opinions, there is little doubt that these are exciting times for those in the photography arena! It is great to have so many great choices that are reasonably priced.
      Bob

      • 50
        ) Jason
        March 7, 2012 at 7:43 am

        I think that Nikon is definitely “channelling” their products lately. The divide seems to between video & still photography. The D7000 always struck me as more of a video geared camera while the D300s was more for stills. This is subjective of course. But I see the same thing with the D800/D700. The D700 was the all-rounder full frame camera (so good that it probably knocked more than a few D3s sales down). The D800 has a specific market in mind: landscape/macro/portrait & video. You could shoot sports with the D700, especially with the MB-D10. The D800 just isn’t geared for it (unless in the DX mode). It just seems to me that Nikon is making their new cameras for the various niches that exist, vs the great all rounder that the D700 was. I can’t see any Nikon people jumping ship for the 5D MIII. But I would wager that most Nikonians looking for the “all rounder” D700 update would be more pleased with the 5DIII offering. I think I would. All this said, your are 100% right in stating that it’s a great time to be a photographer! So many wonderful & capable products cheaper than ever before. :)

        • March 8, 2012 at 5:17 pm

          Jason,
          As more DSLR options become available, we will likely continue to see further fragmentation of those customer bases we thought were more uniform than they actually were. You are right – as stated here and elsewhere, the 5D Mark III is pretty close to what many D700 owners were looking for. Legions of D700 owners will likely stay loyal to Nikon (while grousing about the D800 not being a true D700 successor of course!), but Canon may lure a few away. Interesting to consider that SLR technology was relatively static for such a long time, and now that DSLRs are essentially specialized computers, everything has changed and continues to do so at an ever increasing rate.
          Bob

  21. 54
    ) afselkamal
    March 8, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Dear bob,
    good article…keep posting with new info….

    currently i am having D90 and planning to do an upgrade to FX. in D800;
    1. higher ISO (which greater than 1200) : when compare with D700 which will be better?. when compare with my D90 definitely the ISO will be much much better even at 1600 in D800. am i right?
    2. is build quality is better than D700 ?
    3. instead of D90 upgrade to D7000 i am planning to upgrade to D800 because of 16 mp dx mode is there is D800. so i can get the benefit of full frame and more reach in cropped with good pixel density here the question is ; can we get 16 megapixel better image in D800 when compare with D7000?

    • March 8, 2012 at 5:10 pm

      Afselkamal,
      From what I have read, most think the D800, all things considered, will deliver better high ISO performance than the D700. The D800 in 1.5 crop mode will approximate the resolution of the D7000. The real issue for me will be how the D800’s images compare to those of the D7000 relative to noise and dynamic range. I suspect the D800 will do much better than the D7000 based on what I have been able to read thus far. Nasim will likely be able to put these and other concerns to rest once he publishes his detailed D800 review.
      And you are correct – the D800 will essentially provide both a FX and a DX camera comparible to the D7000 in the same body. I suspect that this was not an “accident” on Nikon’s part. Clearly they are attempting to lure high end DX owners to the FX format with a camera that provides the best of both formats.
      Bob

  22. March 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Great read Bob! I will definitely love your articles, keep up the great work.

    As far as the cameras go, I must admit that I am very very interested in it. Right now I shoot a micro four thirds (an Olympus E-P3) and I am thinking (once budget is ready) on getting one of these to start doing some independent studio work.

    I agree about the pricing on storage, there are so many options that I do not think it will be an issue unless you do yours in the cloud and lack good broadband.

    Rafael

    • March 8, 2012 at 5:01 pm

      Rafael,
      Thank you. I was an OM-2 shooter during another time. Interesting to see their “retro” look DSLR. I miss the old classic looking styles. No doubt the Fuji-100’s popularity are causing the DSLR manufacturers to revisit their older designs.
      The E-P3 is a great camera, but the D800 will likely represent a significant upgrade for you.
      Bob

      • March 8, 2012 at 7:20 pm

        Hehehe, well I used to own a Nikon D90 before moving to the m4/3 system. Not because I didnt like it (I LOOOVED it) but because of a condition that I have (my muscles get tired way faster than most people and to carry that weight around my neck/hands most of the day got the better of me).

        I am keeping an eye on the OM-D EM-5 though, it looks fantastic!

        BTW, your 500px images…wow.

        Rafael

  23. 60
    ) vincent
    March 10, 2012 at 5:12 am

    Hello, Bob

    I am hesitating for purchasing a used D3 or brand new D800. They are at the same price level. I also want to choose 24-70 or 24120vr for my first FX camera. I will use the final combo for traveling and some life style shooting. Could you help me deal with these two questions? Thank you.

    • March 10, 2012 at 9:25 am

      Vincent,
      I would have to know a good bit more about your needs to recommend a camera for you. It could be that there are many other cameras that might make sense for you besides these two. Many people use a D300 or even a D7000 to take professional quality photos.

      I always urge people to strongly consider their real needs when buying any camera. How often will they take photos? What is their budget? Can they afford a cadre of good lenses? Will their gear be used to generate income or for your serious hobby purposes? Do they intend to print large photos? What types of photography will they use the camera for and what percentage of time? How often will they need low-light capabilities? How often will they really use the camera for high speed action shot? Etc., etc…

      I believe many people often overstate their needs and buy a lot more camera than they need, much like some convince themselves that they really need their 262 hp car despite the fact that never can go over 45 mph on the highway during their daily commute! :) If anything, I recommend saving a bit on the camera, and getting the best lenses they can, since they will likely get more value from a quality lens than every slick camera feature/capability that they may never use more than once or twice.

      Having said all of the above, I am always hesitant to advise people to buy older technology, unless there is some major feature that is lacking in the new model that the older one has. If you are wedded to an FX body and have narrowed your choice down to these two cameras, I would go with the D800 because it is the state of the art, will retain its value longer, and offers a number of features that I believe will be very useful for a variety of photographers in a variety of situations. Both the lenses you mentioned are quality lenses. The 24-70mm will give you better results, but the 24-120mm VR also provide respectable performance and the additional reach may come in handy for travel.

      Bob

  24. 62
    ) vincent
    March 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Hello, Bob

    I understand you what you said fully….I don’t need high speed action shot. Maybe I will choose D800. Thank you for your very helpful suggestions.

  25. 63
    ) Jorge
    March 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    I ordered my D800 in the first hour of Amazon per order. The 800 will supplement my D700.
    So for events, wedding etc my D700 is primary. The D800 plays second fiddle
    For my landscape, travel and stock images my D800 will be the primary with my D700 as backup as well as my D300.

    • March 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      Jorge,
      That sounds like a sound strategy assuming you can afford a few higher end DSLRs. The D800 would also serve as a good first camera for wedding photography, assuming you don’t go with the D800E that might have an issue with the fine fabrics associated with weddings.
      Bob

  26. 64
    ) Kush
    March 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Hey Bob,

    I just ordered a D700 yesterday (haven’t paid anything yet). I am not sure if I’ve done the right thing. The only thing pulling me to the D700 (apart from its fantastic reputation) after seeing the comparisons on the internet and the one posted by Nasim was the price factor. Here in Australia the difference is about a 1000.00 dollars.

    I am a hobby photographer and have never printed any of my images. I must admit though I have lately been wanting to print some and the 12 megapixels on my current D90 (which I love) has been on my mind when I think of printing big. Most of my photography is low light kinda stuff with sunrises and sunsets. After seeing the noise comparisons posted all over the net I am now in two minds.

    My question is that is there anything going for the D700 at the moment apart from the price difference? And if I could stretch the budget to get the D800 would there be any reason what so ever to get the D700.

    PS – I must say I am leaning towards the D800 now. Just need some strong reason to justify the extra money (which is alot for a hobby photographer).

    Cheers
    Kush

    • March 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm

      Kush,
      The D700 remains a great camera, despite the introduction of the D800. The D700, with the battery grip will give you 8 FPS, but it doesn’t sound like that mean much to you when taking sunset/sunrise pictures. If you don’t crop much, a mildly used D700 is a good deal in the $1,500-$1700 range.
      That said, from what I understand, the noise handling of the D800 may be better and it provides quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to cropping. And the D800 will have quite an advantage over the D700 when it comes to large prints.
      I am always a bit cautious with respect to buying the last generation of technology (at least new) once a next generation has been announced. When in doubt, I would choose, “new”, but as you mentioned, the D800, while packed with great features, technology advances, and capabilities, is a bit steep for many serious amateurs. Good luck and let us know which you finally decide upon.
      Bob

      • 68
        ) Kush
        March 19, 2012 at 1:37 am

        Bob,

        Thanks for your reply mate. Truly appreciate your input.

        I ended up cancelling my D700 order. The reasons…well.. I’ve decided to wait for sometime before I jump to full frame. I’ll wait to see some reviews of the new beast (when it hits the shelves) by some reputed websites (like this one) and then decide. This doesn’t mean that I have shelved the D700…I just wanna make a more informed decision. And from what I’ve seen and read so far….I guess I’ll be settling for the D800.

        My only apprehension with the D800 is the number of pixels packed in the rather small sensor. I know this night be a case of half knowledge is dangerous and maybe the technology has progressed enough to handle it. Time shall tell and so I’ll wait before deciding.

        Must admit though – waiting is a very hard game and perhaps that was the reason why I jumped on the D700 yesterday :)). Was just an impulse. I knew it all the while that waiting would be the better thing to do. I was just finding reasons to make myself believe that I was making the right decision.

        Thanks once again.

        Cheers
        Kush

        • 71
          ) Kush
          March 26, 2012 at 8:41 pm

          Hey Bob,

          Ended up getting the D700. Super excited. Cannot wait to get it later this week.

          Thanks for your inputs though. The question I asked you was Apart from the 1000.00 difference is there anything going for the D700?

          Well…on the other side I asked myself.. Apart from the extra resolution is ther anything going for the D800? After alot of reading I feel it is not a revolutionary product (atleast not for me).

          And then the wise words of some great photographers rang in my ears saying save the money for a better lens. Yeah. I currently have a 16-35 which I bought last month after reading your reviews. The 24-70 is next on the wish list.

          Thanks again mate.

          Cheers

          • March 26, 2012 at 9:27 pm

            Kush,
            You can’t go wrong with either camera. As I advise people – be brutally honest with what you NEED – not simply go along with the thundering herds. If the video, enhanced resolution, and other features of the D800 don’t mean much for your style of shooting, then the D700 was the right choice.
            And I too believe that if you are going to “skrimp” on anything, let it be the camera body, since lenses can impact your photos far more than a few extra MP or other bells and whistles that you may never use. Besides – lenses hold their values better.
            I am struggling a bit with the decision as well. My “consumer” D7000 takes great pictures. The step up to FX won’t be a big hit financially given my existing cadre of lenses, but under most situations, I wonder if I will see a huge difference in my photos. I am also anxiously awaiting the D400, as it may actually be a better fit for my style of photography.
            I may not have to make any decision anytime soon however, as the D800 may be on back order for a few months, and the D400 is not rumored to be available until June.
            Good luck with your D700. Send us some links to your shots when you have had a chance to put it through its paces.
            Bob

            • 74
              ) Kush
              March 26, 2012 at 10:19 pm

              Bob,

              Thanks for a prompt reply mate.

              I use a d90 (I have 2 of those) and love it to bits. I couldn’t see a clear cut reason to jump to full frame for a long time. But the low light performance is exceptional which is what is propelling me to this whole new world of fx. Looking forwards to some astro shots with the new toy..

              You picked my need vs want theory nicely. I am sure I need fx but I am equally sure the d800 is more of a want.

              And btw.. No one ever told me a out the d400. Lol.

              You are a good gu mate. Thanks for your support.

              Cheers
              Kush

  27. 69
    ) Mike
    March 23, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Bob,

    I’m in a similar situation to Kush. I’ve been shooting a D5000 for the last two years, but planning to move to FX. I pre-ordered a D800 within 30 minutes of the announcement. Since then my ship date has been bumped twice, now it’s Apr 13-30.

    All along I’ve felt the 36 MP was more than I wanted, and I’ve been looking at a D700 or D3s. I have the 24-120 f4 and 50mm 1.4g lenses ready for FX. I shoot 40% landscape, 30% high speed sports/birds/wildlife, and 30% travel/portrait/walk-around. I only used the video on my d5000 twice, although it’s nice to have the option.

    So today I’m going to buy a D700 with 400 activations, and use that until the D400 is announced, then decide if I want to pre-order the D400.

    • 70
      ) Kush
      March 24, 2012 at 3:25 am

      Good on ya Mike. I too am leaning towards the D700 for now. But I will get a new one. Good luck with your new toy.

      • March 26, 2012 at 9:42 pm

        Mike,

        As I told Kush, there are no wrong answers on this one. Your real needs, budget, and interests should drive your decision – not what the crowds are doing. Where most people go wrong is getting caught up in the “technology leap frog game”, some even to the point where they will switch brands every few years. Who hasn’t visited some of the popular photo forums only to see people with $4,000-$8,000 camera/lens combos posting the most dreadful or simply bland photos? These people would be better off spending less on camera gear, and more on basic photography courses or Photoshop training. But when “the upgrade beast” bites, well… you know the story! ;)

        I can see myself with either the D800 (only after selling some DX lenses and my D7000!), a D400, or… simply hanging onto my D7000 for a while longer, and attempting to become a better photographer. If the D700 is a good fit for you, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Besides, you will likely be able to use it for a bit as you suggest, and recoup the majority of your investment. And there is nothing wrong with letting some of the dust settle relative to technology introductions. If/when you decide to purchase a D800, Nikon will still sell you one!

        All the best with the D700. Share some of your work with us when you have a chance!
        Bob

  28. 75
    ) J.R.
    March 28, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I am just blown away by the level of fanaticism that exits each time a new product arrives on the scene in this society.
    Rationalization or logic is never “The Theme” of thinking or reasoning for the day. Rather, it’s always “Mine is Bigger and Superior than yours” because it’s NEW. Whereas, it’s never about what the product’s application is all about OR its respective marketing and technological placement…I remember when the D700 arrived on the photography scene; photography fanatics was rooting the same way about its arrival. All of a sudden, the D700 is obsolete? As good of a device that camera is?! PLEASE!
    Imagine what the discussion is going to be like THEN; when Nikon releases another NEW DSLR…
    I wish folks would get a photographic grip on things.

    • March 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm

      J.R.,
      One has to expect a bit of hype with new product introductions. And since cameras have gone digital, Moore’s Law can be counted on to give us more for less each passing year. It doesn’t make the D700 obsolete in any respect. It is still a fine camera that, if well-cared for, will deliver great photos for years to come.
      Of course, if everyone stopped buying new cameras, Nikon and others would be hard pressed to fund their R&D initiatives responsible for new features and functionality. Everyone needs to do a realistic assessment of their needs before either jumping into, or swearing off, new product offerings.
      Bob

  29. 76
    ) Jett
    March 28, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Great read, Bob! I’m very interested and confused at the same time about the different crop modes of the D800. I would like to know if I can use my FX lenses in the 1.2 and 1.5 crop modes? Also, is there a setting in the camera that will allow one to select DX or FX within a split second and without a lens change? I realize that if you mount a DX lens, the camera automatically sets itself to the 1.5 crop mode. I would like this D800 to be a camera that I could shoot 25mp FX, as well as 16mp DX with saaaaaay, a 70-200 2.8 FX mounted….. and it’s very possible that this might just be the case the case, right?

    I’m almost certain that Nikon will bridge this MP gap with some downsized D4 goodness…… time will tell : )

    Thanks for any help, Bob!,
    Jett

  30. March 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Jett,
    Thank you for taking the time to comment. I believe the D800 will automatically switch to DX mode, but you can also do so easily via the camera’s controls relatively quickly. You can shoot 25MP RAW files by selecting the 1.2X crop mode. You can switch to the 1.5X crop mode and get a RAW file size that is a bit over 15MP. That is what makes the D800 a very attractive camera – very configurable for a variety of situations.
    Bob

  31. March 30, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Hi Bob,

    I have a little bit of a different question. I first upgraded to the Nikon d3s and really loved it and still do especially for the ISO capabilities which were great in a recent photo shoot in Alaska. However, I did end up going to the d3x because I wanted the higher pixel count since all I do is landscapes that are usually cropped and enlarged quite a bit for my business.

    Now I have an order in for the d800e but was wondering if you think that I will get enough benefit out of this upgrade. There are some improvements on this camera but are there enough to really make a difference in my business. I could care less about the video side of this camera but am always looking for the best equipment possible. Almost everything I shoot is landscapes, usually always on a tripod with a remote. Therefore, speed is not something I need , but the best quality photos are most important . I always use the best prime lenses, but my most used lenses are the nikon 14-24 and the 24-70. So do you see the new d800e as something that would be of great benefit to my work?

    Thank you in advance for your help

    jack mitchell

    • March 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      Jack,

      I suspect the D800 has killed just about any future D3X sales. There is little doubt that you will have better cropping capabilities and ability to get better large-scale prints from the D800. Some of the results I have seen have been unbelievable. I haven’t seen any head-to-head comparisons of the D800 and D3X, but suspect that the D800 would win this battle, in all but the worst light, and maybe even manage a draw on this front.

      Based on used D3X prices in the $5,000-$5,500 range, you will surely take a loss on your D3X, but still likely pocket $1,700-$2,200 in the process of selling it and buying the D800E. That may sting a bit, but I suspect the D3X prices will continue to go nowhere but down. Thus it may make the most sense to cut your losses while you can and get the most for your used D3X while D800s are pretty scarce.

      If you have any doubts about the D800, check out the detail on the full size version of this picture. Take a good look into the bird’s eye! I was amazed at the ability to see the photography in the bird’s eye! http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikonrumors/7020078867/in/faves-epochphoto/
      Good luck and let us know what you decide.
      Bob

      • March 30, 2012 at 1:29 pm

        Bob-

        One more question to the one I just asked. Since all I shoot is landscapes, I am assuming you would recommend the d800e is that correct? I have a perfectly good d3x now :>( for anything else where that might be moire issues.

        jack mitchell

        • March 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm

          Jack,
          I have been getting mixed messages on this one. The D800E is indeed supposed to be a bit sharper, but how much sharper is the issue. After seeing some of the cropped images from the D800 (standard model), I am struggling to believe the D800E can provide something noticeably better. Those that shoot slow moving wildlife, macros, and natural landscapes, however, seem to be lining up on the D800E side. Anyone that might take photos involving models, architecture, and more general photography seems to believe that the D800 will alleviate any need to deal with moire, something that can, under certain circumstances, be very difficult to extract.
          It sounds as if you might be a better candidate for the D800E, but bear in mind, if you take some portraits and other non-nature shots, you may run into moire and have to deal with it.
          Nasim is in the process of creating a detailed D800 review. Hopefully, he can address these concerns at some level.
          Bob

  32. 84
    ) MikeV
    April 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Great article… I’m one of those photographers that was disappointed that Nikon decided to get in to a MP fight with medium format cameras instead of an ISO fight against canon. Shooting weddings i was hoping that we would have d3s or d4 iso capabilities packed into a $3000 FX body (between 16, 18, or 21 MP) . That would of been a direct competitor against the 5DMK3 however now I just have to wait another couple years before we see something like that (if they ever do make something on par). I know people feel that if they made the d800 more like the d4 that it would take away sales from the d4 but I tend to disagree. Look at canon, the 5DMK3 is a scaled down version of the 1Dx (slight differences in MP, size/weight, fps, ect.) but very similar. I thought Nikon was going to go the same route but they didn’t, so now they have a hole to fill of photographers like me, where 36mp is just tooo much.

    • April 5, 2012 at 10:23 pm

      Mike,
      Thank you. I think it has been pretty well-acknowledged that the D700 indeed stole a fair amount of sales from the D3 and even D3s. The truth is that most people don’t shoot ISO shots for paid work, at least not in any significant volume. Thus in good light, the D700 could hold its own with the other camera costing $2k more. So I do think that this reality influenced Nikon’s strategy this time around.

      36MP too much? No offense, but in a few years, we will likely laugh at the fact that we were so concerned over such file sizes! How do I know? Because I have seen the same issue come up over the period of 30 years of so of working in the software industry. With every new generation of technology, there are always those that say, “too much!” In 1999, the Nikon D1’s 2.7MP image probably seemed like a big deal as well. Now? ;)
      Bob

      • 86
        ) MikeV
        April 6, 2012 at 7:07 am

        Thanks for your response. I shoot raw and 36mp is too much for my needs and many others who share the same views as me. Think about it, 36mp raw files are going to need more hard drive space and more ram for processing, as well as larger memory cards. The D800 is great for landscape, portrait, stock, and fashion photography, however I wouldn’t want to edit over 1200+ 36mp wedding shots. Not to mention most of my clients don’t go much larger then 8×12 or the occasional 20×30. I feel 18-21/22 mp is more than plenty and you can still do a heavy crop and maintain a good resolution. My D700 and D3s serve my purposes quite well, just wish I had a few more MP to play with in case I needed to do a heavy crop. Also I’ve been getting asked to do video projects which these cameras are just behind when it comes to that. If they made a camera with very similar specs to the 5dmk3 I would buy 2 of those cameras in a heart beat… Many wedding photographers I know and admire love to shoot natural light which tends to be at high ISO because churches and receptions have garbage lighting.. Obviously my bias is because I shoot a lot of low light photography so to me clean ISO is more important then MP. Even on a nikonrumors poll, over half of the followers that took it would have liked to seen a D4 16mp sensor over the 36mp sensor in the D800. To each his own i guess. Thanks for chatting with me and letting me rant lol

        • April 6, 2012 at 9:29 pm

          Mike,
          No problem. The fact that the D4 has “only” 16MP tells us that this file size is indeed adequate for many professional jobs. Each of us has to determine which features make the most sense for our style of photography and budget. I continue to be amazed by my D7000 sensor, and struggle with justifying the move to the D800. The major reasons might come down to the improved dynamic range (which looks amazing according to Nasim’s early testing) and the flexibility to shoot FX or DX (usable) with the same camera. Given the shipment delays, I and others will have some time to decide!
          Bob

  33. 88
    ) Jay
    May 21, 2012 at 10:58 am

    I’m curious how many of you guys actually shot with a d800 before. I personally have, many times… because I work for someone who owns one. Here’s the bottom line.

    The d800 no doubt is one of the absolute best camera out there today. Its details is so amazing, it will change everything. I have used it for but not limited tor portraits, landscape, urban landscape, and engagements. The results are stunning. However, when trying to shoot sports such as baseball, even though I know exactly when the pitcher is going to throw the ball, I still had trouble getting the ball into the frame when I’m shooting the batter.

    On the other hand, d700’s major selling point now is the 8fps with the battery grip. Looking at just the camera without battery grip, d800 wins, however, with the battery grip, the d700 transforms. D700 is amazing at situation where you don’t have a few tries to shoot your photo or the few min to compose your shot. I have used the D3 as well, and of all seriousness, the d700 is a very good step down from it. Get the d700 if your consist of shooting sports and perhaps journalism, where you don’t need the details of a scratch on a baseball bat from 30feet away.

    For all the people that’s saying, “D800 WINS ALL THE WAY, D700 IS OLD SCHOOL” or whatever, try both camera before saying anything, since i’m sure many unsure potential buyers can get confuse by those groundless comments. So once again, D700 for sports and journalism, since why the heck you need 36.3 megapixel for? And d800 for portraits, landscape, etc, where details is very important.

    • 89
      ) Bob
      May 21, 2012 at 7:32 pm

      Jay,
      As I and many others have said, both the D700 and D800 have their audiences. Both are fine cameras. Regarding questioning 36MP? With each advancement in technology, there are those that say, “it is overkill”, and yet, within time, people accept and expect the very improvements they have mocked. At one time, there were those that thought a 30MB hard drive was overkill as well.
      In 10 years, no sports shooter or photojournalist will consider using anything less that 36MP and even the very suggestion of it will get a few raised eyebrows… :)
      Bob

      • 90
        ) SVRK Prabhakar
        May 21, 2012 at 8:18 pm

        Yesterday I had few minutes of interaction with D800 and I should say D800 outperforms D700 (which I own) in terms of high ISO performance. I was shooting at ISO5000 and pictures I could see on its screen are far far better than what I am getting with D700, in terms of noise and details.

      • 91
        ) Jay
        May 21, 2012 at 8:29 pm

        No doubt, they each sell to their own audience, that was my point as well. On the other hand, I was not questioning the usage of the 36.3 mp, it blows my minds how much detail there is. I went for a walk around the city, and took a few photos, and the detail was amazing. However, if the print is not fine art print.. like if it’s for newspaper, do you think a d800 is necessary? It’s good to have, but it’s not a need. People just wants it. What I’m saying in this post is, it all depends on your needs, don’t just buy one because you want one, camera sets the limit, but doesn’t mean it raise your skill level.

        • 92
          ) Bob
          May 21, 2012 at 8:33 pm

          Jay,
          Absolutely not true. If you get a D800, Nikon guarantees that you will become a better photographer! ;)
          Bob

          • 93
            ) Jay
            May 21, 2012 at 8:40 pm

            Not sure if you are being sarcastic or not haha, hopefully you are.

            Personally, d700 fits my need better, (another reason is because my boss already got a d800 and d3). It’s all about needs and not want :D If anyone is looking to “upgrade” or whatever, I highly recommend reconsider what type of shots do you plan on doing the most (70-80% of the time?), what is your skill level/market and do you actually need a d800 or you just want it? There’s nothing wrong chasing your passion and getting what you want, but wasting money is a bad idea and so is wasting a good camera. Oh not to mention, I’m sure many people that look through newspaper (excluding photographers because we are picky), would pay attention to it THAT much, since it’s not a fine art print, that’s just the truth.

            • 94
              ) Bob
              May 21, 2012 at 8:46 pm

              Jay,
              Of course I am joking. For 8X10 prints and many photos uploaded to the web, 6 clean MPs captured with a good lens are probably more than enough for most people.
              Bob

            • 95
              ) Jay
              May 21, 2012 at 9:01 pm

              Yeah exactly! And the truth is, more megapixel in the same size print = more dense pixels, which is good, also depends how good your printer is. If it’s exceed the limit of the printer, then…. that makes no sense. I think we use a Epson 7700. Same thing for computer screen, or whatever, let’s use a 1920X1080 resolution as a example, that’s a total of 2,073,600 pixels, while 1 megapixel is 1,000,000 or in d800, 36,300,000 pixel.. That’s way exceeding the screen. I’m not saying don’t get a d800, it’s amazing if you look at all the details you pick up. I even tried it with a marco lens on flowers, it’s so crazy! Just consider, need or want? For me, i want it, but i don’t need it as much as the d700 haha! Nice talking to you bob, great article!

  34. 96
    ) Alan
    May 21, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    What is interesting to me is that 36MP is just about as high as nikon can go (in the 35mm format) without making significant lensing improvements. The resolution of the D800E has probably out stripped 95% of their stable of lenses and betters 100% of their best pro zooms. If the Mega Pixel war is to continue nikon’s
    next move will have to be medium format cameras and lenses.

    • 97
      ) Jay
      May 21, 2012 at 9:24 pm

      Interesting that you pointed that out! The d3200, if you calculate it (1.5 crop on APS-C sensor), 24.2 mpX1.5 is 36.3mp (Nikon d800), coincident? maybe not. Also they both use Expeed 3. What that mean is I’m guessing the d3200 might have the same sensor technology and pixel size (pretty sure) as the d800. So it could be a very interesting camera (fits right with “next move will have to be medium format cameras and lenses.”). I’m sure you guys know FX VS DX, FX wider angle, DX longer range, etc. But still, how awesome is that if the two camera really does use same sensor technology and provide similar image quality (obviously the d800 have higher quality, but the d3200 is $699.95 on Nikon site!! I have my eye on it for sure.

      • 98
        ) Mark
        May 22, 2012 at 2:49 am

        Hi Jay,

        Unfortunatly it is a co-incident that 24 x 1.5 = 36. The pixel size on the D3200 is about 3.9 microns and the D800 is approx. 4.9. (The size of the sensors is 23.2mm x 15.4mm on the D3200 and D800 is 35.9mm x 24mm), so although each side of the sensor of the D800 is 1.5 times that of the D3200 the total sesor area is 2.4 times.

        Not to say it isn’t going to be a great camera, the sample pics I’ve seen are very beautiful, but it isn’t made with a trimmed down D800 sensor (which in the crop sensor format would give approx. 15MP).
        Kind regards,
        Mark.

        • 99
          ) Jay
          May 22, 2012 at 5:26 am

          Oh duh! good point! Thank you!! I would still love to see if they made it with similar technology, the noise controlling on the d800 is amazing

Comment Policy: Although our team at Photography Life encourages all readers to actively participate in discussions, we reserve the right to delete / modify any content that does not comply with our Code of Conduct, or do not meet the high editorial standards of the published material.

Leave a Comment