Nikon D800/D800E – $200 Off, Nikon D600 Kit – $700 Off

Nikon D600 vs D800

If you thought that Black Friday was a good day to buy cameras and lenses, think again – as of midnight tonight, Nikon is giving an instant rebate of $200 on the superb Nikon D800 and D800E DSLRs (see my D800 review). And it does not stop there. You can save even more by buying Nikon lenses (up to $750!). The real icing on the cake, however, comes with the Nikon D600 + 24-85mm VR kit, which is getting a crazy $700 instant rebate! This means that the kit will have the same price as the body-only version of the D600 at $1,996. Dang it, should have waited with my D600 purchase!

Nikon D600 vs D800

If you are subscribed to us, you already know about the D800 deal, but the $700 instant rebate on the D600 is something I found out about today. Remember the initial D600 rumors, where people were speculating if the D600 would be priced at $1,500? Well, that’s exactly the price of the camera if you factor in the cost of the lens! Take that Canon and Sony, a full-frame DSLR for $1,500 – who would have thought this day would come? Just three months after the announcement! If you have not read my D600 Review along with the 24-85mm VR Review, check them out and you will see why I am excited about this.

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Lifepixel Adds Anti-Alias Filter Removal Service

D90IR vs D800

Lifepixel, perhaps best known for its high quality infrared digital camera conversions, recently added a new service to its list – removing your DSLR’s anti-aliasing filter. The price varies between $400-500 depending on your specific camera model. The notion of removing a DSLR’s anti-aliasing feature is not new. Maxmax.com has been doing this for years. Anti-alias filter removal, in the digital camera arena, has been thought of in a similar manner to overclocking your PC (before some manufacturers eliminated this capability) or perhaps souping up your car’s engine via a special engine conversion kit – a bit risky but capable of producing good effects. Why is this “risky” with respect to your DSLR? Voiding the warranty for one. Benefits? A sharper image.

With the non-stop onslaught of higher megapixel sensors and technology price reductions, I suspect many people lost interest in the idea of removing their DSLR’s anti-aliasing filter, if they ever contemplated it to begin with. As you may recall from some of the D800 articles on Photography Life, the anti-aliasing filter was introduced to reduce the effects of moire created when photographing subjects with fine, repeating patterns. The anti-aliasing filter accomplished this by slightly diffusing the image, which also slightly reduced sharpness. With the introduction of the Nikon D800E, however, Nikon once again raised this issue to the forefront by offering a camera model with the anti-aliasing filter removed as a product – not as a after-market service. Lifepixel, being one of the premier camera modification service providers, saw an opportunity to capitalize on the new-found interest and market for an anti-aliasing filter removal service. So for a mere $400-$500, you can have your DSLR’s anti-aliasing filter removed and be assured of maximizing your sensor’s resolution. Below is an example discussed by Nasim in his review of the D800 and D800E.

Nikon D800 vs D800E Low-Pass Filter

Chasing Sharpness

I know what some of you may be thinking, “Gee, that seems like a lot of money to gain a bit of sharpness.” Perhaps. But if life has taught me one lesson, it is this – never, ever underestimate people’s willingness to spend money to get a bit of an edge, however slight. That is not a criticism of my fellow man, but merely an observation regarding human nature. I recall when some of us found out about the ability to overclock our PCs. Despite the warnings about “frying” our machines, many of us marched ahead anyway. We were determined to soak up every speed advantage we could find. And while I never ended up turning my PC into a smoldering hunk of silicon and metal, quite a few of my DIY colleagues that were not so lucky!

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Nikon D600 High ISO Performance Comparison

Nikon D3S ISO 100

Here is a quick comparison of ISO performance (low ISO and high ISO) between the Nikon D600, Nikon D700, Nikon D800E and Nikon D3s. Please note that all of the images below were shot in JPEG, since Nikon D600 RAW support is not available yet. All images were also down-sampled to the Nikon D700/D3s resolution (cameras with the lowest resolution). Everything was shot in ambient light (lab results are posted in the Nikon D600 review here) with all camera corrections turned off and camera profile set to standard (default, no changes). Cropping and export was performed in Lightroom 4 and I used Photoshop to add the text on the bottom of each image.

1) Nikon D600 ISO Performance

Nikon D600 ISO 100 Nikon D600 ISO 200

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Nikon D600 has the second best sensor in the world

Nikon D600 DxOMark

When Nikon announced the Nikon D600, I knew the new sensor would not disappoint. Since the D3, Nikon has put a lot of focus on sensor technology and A/D conversion. As a result, almost every single sensor that has been released during the last few years has been ranked very highly by many reviewers and image labs. As you may already know, DxOMark has been testing most new digital cameras on the market today (including medium format) and they crowned the Nikon D800E sensor as the best in the world earlier this year. Today, DxOMark released its rating for the Nikon D600:

Nikon D600 DxOMark

In the new article that DxOMark published today, it says “the D600 is an affordable camera that places a high premium on image quality, as it ranks just behind the top performing Nikon D800 and Nikon D800E. It is also a significant improvement over the high-end professional flagship DSLRs, the Nikon D3X and the Nikon D4″. And here is an excerpt from their conclusion: “As an added bonus, the camera provides users extreme value, as noted through its DxOMark sensor score of 94, which puts it in an elite category currently occupied by two additional Nikon cameras”.

Looks like the sensor on the Nikon D600 is almost as remarkable as the one on the Nikon D800. The overall score of the sensor was just one point below the Nikon D800 and two points below the Nikon D800E (which has the same sensor as the D800, but a different anti-aliasing filter).

Here is a comparison of the D600 with the D800 and D4:

Nikon D600 vs D800 vs D4

Very impressive! Take a look at the Low-Light ISO figures – the D600 has the highest score there. Detailed image analysis and comparisons will be provided this week.

Nikon D600 vs D800

Nikon D600 vs D800

Here is another quick specifications comparison between the new Nikon D600 and the D800 that was announced earlier in 2012. I am sure many photographers will be interested in seeing feature differences between the resolution king, the D800, and the $900 cheaper D600. Looks like both cameras are quickly becoming popular among many amateur and professional photographers, so what feature advantages does the former offer over the latter? Let’s take a look in this Nikon D600 vs D800 comparison. Please keep in mind that this comparison is purely based on specifications. A detailed comparison with image samples and ISO comparisons is provided in the Nikon D600 Review right here.

Nikon D600 vs D800

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Rocky Mountain High – Canadian Style

Canmore-To-Columbia-Icefields

My wife, Tanya, and I recently vacationed in the Canmore/Banff area of Alberta, Canada. We settled on this location after reading a variety of reviews and looking over some stunning photos of the many attractions and wildlife. We planned a series of activities that would take us to some of the most scenic, historical, and cultural locations, provide some challenging hiking expeditions, and enable us to take a “few” photographs along the way. After receiving a new Nikon D800 (review), which I tested thoroughly, I was eager to put it to work in the field. Most of the photos in this article were taken with the D800, although some were shot with my infrared D90 (converted by Lifepixel.com). For those of you reading this on an RSS feed, you may want to consider linking to the main Mansurovs site, as there are quite a few photos associated with this post.

From Calgary To Canmore

We flew into the Calgary airport, and after renting a car, began the 74 mile drive from the Calgary Airport to the town of Canmore. This trip is an interesting study in transitions. Near Calgary, everything seems to be under construction. Bulldozers, heavy earth movers, building cranes, and construction signs dot the landscape in every direction. The terrain is pretty flat apart from a gentle mountainside slope on the western side of the city. Off in the distance, we could see some purplish mountains but didn’t have a good sense of their scale. 25 miles or so outside of Calgary, the scenery changes quite a bit. Green rolling hillsides of farm land become the dominant theme, with the familiar golden yellow hay bales lining the bright green fields. The purplish mountains have risen in stature quite a bit and we quickly realize that they are far different than those we left behind in western Pennsylvania. We also unfortunately discover that there are few exits for gas or food!

At the 50 mile mark, the landscape is changing quite a bit. Those little purple mountains seem to grow larger by the minute. Green fir trees that seem to have been cloned, now begin to populate the landscape like huge blades of grass. At the 60 mile mark, we are at the base of the mountains. The term “majestic” doesn’t quite rise to the occasion in describing what we now see. The mountain peaks require you to edge closer to the car window and strain your neck in order to see them. Even in August, we can identify snow patches that never completely melt.

The road begins to roll gently as we wind toward the valley between the mountain peaks. The number of signs warning you about the local wildlife population increase, and based on the fences that line the woods along the road, we suspect that the signs are not to be taken lightly. We had taken 3 exits hoping to find a restaurant or gas station only to conclude that the notion of modern facilities next within 25 miles of the exit is a mirage. We begin to imagine that grizzly bears and wolves have posted these exit signs to lure gullible travelers, low on gas and food, off the main highway where the animals can leisurely dine on them.

Within 5 miles of Canmore, we are deep into the mountains that seem be growing larger before our eyes. I am constantly trying to keep my eyes on the road as the rocky towers on both sides of the road continue to command my attention. By now, we are seriously wondering if we have been transported to another planet, since it couldn’t possibly be part of the one which we came from. Soon we arrived at the Falcon Crest Lodge, which proved to be the excellent “base camp” for our adventures.

Falcon-Crest-Balcony-View

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Nikon D800 / D800E Asymmetric Focus Issue

Nikon D800

There has been quite a bit of buzz around the Nikon D800 / D800E focusing issues and one of the most recurring topics of discussions seems to be around the asymmetric focus issue (left AF focus issue). As I have already explained in my “how phase detection autofocus works” article, any DSLR is prone to having AF issues, simply because of the way the phase detect sensor works.

Nikon D800

Folks that have been shooting with DSLRs for years and have gone through different camera bodies know very well that every camera announced to date had a small number of defective units out there. Some had rare issues that required service or replacement, others had defective components (such as battery) that had to be recalled and some units were plagued with autofocus calibration issues. In the big picture, however, the number of truly affected units was very small. The Nikon D7000 DSLR, for example, received some negative feedback specifically on its autofocus problems. After doing some extensive research and gathering lots of data from our readers, it turned out to be that most problems I looked at were user-related issues and very few units actually had manufacturing defects, as I have previously shown in my Nikon D7000 Review Follow-Up. Negative feedback is always more popular and when someone complains about a rather serious problem, it quickly gets blown up. Most people don’t even bother providing positive feedback anyway, so all the bad stuff gets surfaced rather quickly. Also, when looking through customer feedback before buying a product, have you noticed that you typically tend to look for negative feedback more than positive? There is a simple explanation for this type of behavior – people would rather read about product issues to understand limitations and potential problems, than only look at rave reviews.

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The Missing Nikon D800/D800E Press Release

NikonD800AutofocusScreen

Does anyone else believe this announcement by Nikon is long overdue?

The original post had the disclaimer located after the press release which caused some people to believe that it was a spoof – which it was not. Within a few minutes of the article being posted, I moved the disclaimer to the top to eliminate any confusion, but the RSS feed still went out with the original copy and it took some time for us to change the facebook article. What follows is my recommendation for how Nikon should handle this situation, given the number of D800/D800Es that appear to be affected, and the obvious concerns from current and potential D800/D800E customers.

Disclaimer: Nikon didn’t issue this press release – I did. And only on Mansurovs. I got tired of waiting. If Nikon is struggling with the wording, perhaps this will help them out a bit! :) Sorry – don’t mean to dash anyone’s hopes!

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Nikon-Press-Release-D800-Autofocus

July 13, 2012

Nikon Inc. is asking your cooperation in resolving an issue affecting certain D800/D800E DSLRs. This issue manifests itself when you utilize the left bank of autofocus points, resulting in slightly out of focus images. This issue has been traced to instances of the autofocus mechanism alignment being outside of the engineering specification tolerances. While there have been a number of confirmed incidents of the problem worldwide, Nikon cannot yet determine the total number of units affected. Nikon can confirm a range of D800/D800E units within certain serial number ranges that may be affected by this issue.

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Nikon D800 – Caviar, Sardines, or…Spam?

Caviar_Sardines_Spam

After reading slews of posts by others that received their D800s, I finally received my camera from B&H last week. I have to admit that my initial enthusiasm was a bit tempered by the many reports of the D800 having autofocus issues. I began to wonder, “Just what am I getting – a good D800 or a bad D800?” (think Wizard Of Oz…). Or perhaps more appropriately, did my camera fall into the Caviar, Sardines, or Spam category?

Caviar_Sardines_Spam

Here’s how I defined each, based on reports from those around the internet that have received this much lauded DSLR:
Caviar – Working perfectly, no autofocus issues
Sardines – Sharp center and right focus points, but the left bank of focus points noticeable out of focus and showing high chromatic aberrations
Spam – All autofocus points out of focus, even the center, with no amount of lens adjustments able to resolve the issue

Unfortunately, I happened to get the Sardine version of the D800. Sigh…

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Nikon DSLR Autofocus Problems

Nikon D4 vs D800

The last two weeks have been very busy for me. I am working on multiple reviews of Canon, Nikon and Fuji lenses and you will be seeing many lens reviews coming up this summer. At the same time, I have been shooting with the Nikon D3200, D4 and D800E DSLR cameras, so I will be sharing my thoughts on these fairly soon as well. One question that keeps popping up over and over again from our readers, revolves around the autofocus problems on Nikon DSLRs. Specifically, these questions are on front focus/back focus problems with lenses, the left AF focus point issue found on some Nikon D800 bodies, use of 2x teleconverters with the new Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX (on D4 and D800/D800E), etc. Since there is a lot to cover, I will be publishing articles on each topic with my findings and thoughts I have thus far.

Nikon D4 vs D800

As with any product that is manufactured, there is always a chance that it is defective. I am finding Nikon’s QA (quality assurance) controls to be rather weak lately, especially given the fact that it is manufacturing such fine tools as the Nikon D800 with lots of resolution. Yes, Nikon has had a wonderful year so far with so many great announcements and phenomenal products, but it almost seems like it is rushing its products from the manufacturing plants too quickly, without properly testing all equipment before it is sent out. As a result, we are seeing many defective DSLR cameras with lenses. I have been shooting with Nikon gear for the last 6 years and this is the first time I am seeing really badly calibrated DSLRs (D800E and D4), along with some pro lenses. I can understand when there is a problem with an entry-level camera and a kit lens, but it is unacceptable for Nikon to ship faulty professional equipment that is worth thousands of dollars.

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