Nikon D800 vs D800E

Now that both the Nikon D800 and Nikon D800E are available, many of our readers are wondering which one to get. In this Nikon D800 vs D800E article, I will explain differences between the two cameras and talk about which camera to buy for which situation. Both cameras are identical, except for one major difference, which is why there is a price difference: the Nikon D800 has an anti-aliasing filter, while the Nikon D800E does not. In short, an anti-aliasing filter effectively removes Moiré (see below on what Moiré is), so the Nikon D800 will not have any problems with it, while the Nikon D800E cannot deal with it, so you will have to deal with it in post-processing.

What is Moiré?

Moiré pattern occurs when a scene or an object that is being photographed contains repetitive details (such as lines, dots, etc) that exceed the sensor resolution. As a result, the camera produces a strange-looking wavy pattern as seen below:


(Image courtesy of

See how noticeable the moiré pattern is on the jacket? That’s moiré for you, at its worst. Moiré is almost never seen in nature, but is very common in everyday objects and items around us – you might see it in all kinds of fabric, straight hair, architecture, etc. You might have even seen it on your television. In photography, moiré happens mostly because of the way light reaches the sensor and how the sensor interprets the light through the bayer interpolation filter.

While there are methods to effectively reduce moiré, there is no easy way to completely remove it in post-processing software. Lightroom 4 will ship with a moiré reduction tool and Nikon will also ship its next version of Capture NX with built-in moiré reduction functionality, but neither one will be able to fully get rid of the worst moiré pattern occurrences.

Here is a real comparison between the Nikon D800 and D800E, which clearly shows Moiré on the Nikon D800E (Image courtesy of Nikon):
Nikon D800 vs D800E Moire

What is an anti-aliasing filter?

An anti-aliasing filter, also known as a “low-pass” or “blur” filter, was designed by camera manufacturers to eliminate the problem of moiré by blurring what actually reaches the sensor. While extreme details are lost in the process, the problem of moiré is completely resolved. Since most cameras are designed to be used for day-to-day photography, where moiré pattern is very common, most cameras on the market today use an anti-aliasing filter. While this surely benefits most photographers out there, it is a big blow on landscape photographers that never see moiré and yet end up with blurred details. Because of this problem, some companies on the market started specializing in removing the AA filter from modern DSLR cameras, specifically targeting landscape photographers. Most digital medium-format and some high-end cameras do not have an AA filter, because they want to deliver the best performance from their sensors. While those cameras are affected by moiré, manufacturers leave it up to the photographer to decide on how to avoid it or deal with it in post-processing.

Both the D800 and the D800E have low-pass filters, but they behave differently. Typical Nikon low-pass filters actually contain of 3 different layers, as shown on the top illustration below:

Nikon D800 vs D800E Low-Pass Filter

As light rays reach the first “horizontal low-pass filter”, they get split in two, horizontally. Next, they go through an infrared absorption filter (illustrated in green color). After that, the light rays go through the “second vertical low-pass filter”, which further splits the light rays vertically. This light ray conversion process essentially causes blurring of the details.

Now with the Nikon D800E model, Nikon took an interesting approach. We know that the full low-pass filter cannot be completely removed, because it would cause the focal plane to move; plus, the camera still needs to be able to reflect infrared light rays. Instead of making a single filter with one layer, Nikon decided to still use three layers, but with two layers canceling each other out. As light rays get split into two with a vertical low-pass filter, then through the IR absorption filter, those same light rays get converged back when passing through a reversed vertical low-pass filter. Hence, instead of getting blurred details as in the first illustration, we get the full resolution.

I am not sure if the above method is the best way to deal with the issue, but I suspect that Nikon decided to take this route for cost reasons. It would probably be more expensive to produce a single IR absorption filter layer coated on both sides, than continue to use the same layers, but in a different configuration.

Here is a sharpness comparison between the Nikon D800 and D800E (Image courtesy of Nikon):
Nikon D800 vs D800E Sharpness

Nikon D800 vs D800E – which one to get

Nikon is now giving us the option to choose between two versions of the Nikon D800 camera – the regular model, D800, which has an AA filter, and the D800E that has no AA filter. So, which one should you buy? If you are a portrait/fashion/studio/architectural/bird photographer, then get the Nikon D800 – you would be better off with an AA filter. If you are a landscape or a macro photographer, then you should get the Nikon D800E to get the maximum detail out of the high-quality 36.3 MP sensor.


  1. 1) William Jones
    February 6, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Which would you suggest for sports? (I am aware of the slower FPS, however may be able to live with).
    Thanks, WEJ.

    • February 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm

      William, I would get the Nikon D800E for sports, unless you will be shooting subjects from up close.

      • 1.1.1) Victor
        February 7, 2012 at 2:02 pm

        I have the same question then William Jones. Is the D800 fast enough (similar to D7000 or D300S?). Or is the D4 the ultimate Nikon for sports? Is the quality images of D4 still better then D800?


        • Ryan Smith
          February 7, 2012 at 2:42 pm

          I would definitively get a D4 for sports, I’m sure you will see a lot of sports shooters using this because of the speed and sensitivity. You can’t directly compare quality like just saying one is better than the other, one is high mp and one is high iso and probably larger dynamic range. As a wedding shooter I might prefer the D800 to D4, I haven’t decided.

          • Victor
            February 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm

            Thank you so much, it is really difficult to decide. I am shooting a lot in bad light conditions, mostly dressage(horses). This kind of sport is not very fast. Even with my 70-200 F 2.8 I need to crop images for more close up’s. But I do love also nice landscapes or architecture. So I guess I need both then :)).


          • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
            February 7, 2012 at 5:05 pm

            Ryan, I would definitely prefer the Nikon D800 over the D4 for weddings. I will post a detailed article on this a little later, but having shot weddings for a while now, I can tell you that you do not need the speed or the high ISO performance of the D4 in 90% of the cases.

            • Nicki
              February 15, 2012 at 1:06 am

              I presently have a d7000 and take mostly street shots but particularly street dance.
              The dance side is growing and I am providing shots for the use of the dancers for publicity. The action can be fast and weather conditions and light variable. I would like to invest in a full frame and have waited for the d800. It sounds amazing but I am wondering if the f p s will be fast enough? I otherwise take ‘candid’ shots. I just took up photography again in the last couple of years so I’m more enthusiastic than experienced but spending every moment learning and experimenting.
              Got into the dance stuff as one of my sons does break and hip hop. I just discovered your brilliantly helpful information and would be so grateful for any advice. Thank you in advance.
              Nicki M.

            • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
              February 15, 2012 at 11:51 pm

              Nicki, unless you spray and pray (shoot continuously), the Nikon D800 will work great for photographing street dancing.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          February 7, 2012 at 5:03 pm

          Victor, if you can afford the Nikon D4, then definitely get it instead – nothing beats it in terms of AF speed and FPS from Nikon.

          • Victor
            February 7, 2012 at 11:27 pm

            Thank you for this clear answer. I can afford me the D4 but I am only an hobby photographer :). D4 is also excelent for landscapes? Is the smaller resolution not a disadvantage?

            By the way, your website is very very helpfull! Thank you a lot and keep going…


            • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
              February 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm

              Victor, the Nikon D4 is also excellent for landscapes, if you are not planning to print anything wall-sized…

            • Where's my...
              February 15, 2012 at 4:44 am

              Based on sample images, maybe apart from specialized film, D800E seems to be the current pinnacle of F mount landscape photography, outresolving the D4 with good lenses. Then again, it’s also quite specialized as removal of the AA filter would most likely harm photography that includes clothing or man made constructions by introducing Moire pattern and aliasing.

    • May 22, 2012 at 9:04 am

      Color me stupid but I really can tell the difference between the two images. It might be caused by the low resolution of the web converted images. but as the above image…I am going blind or stupid…or you reached the limits of the web on both images.

  2. 2) Chris
    February 6, 2012 at 11:32 pm


    Thank you so much for burning the midnight oil (in your case LCD monitor) and getting this very informative article out so we could order the right camera.

    There is some confusion regarding the ability to turn AA filter on and off on 800E.
    The paragraph from manual quoted by many is confusing.

    What is your opinion?
    Is it even physically possible to turn AA filter on and off?

    • February 7, 2012 at 12:05 am

      Chris, I am 100% confident that you cannot turn AA on and off on the Nikon D800E. An AA filter is a physical object that is in front of the sensor – no software can turn it off…

      • 2.1.1) Del-Uks
        February 7, 2012 at 5:30 am

        …but nowadays, you can easily get rid of moiré with softwares & plug-ins !

        The Nikon D800E is THE WAY to go. If you get some moiré artifacts on your image, then all you need to do is to apply some mouse clicks locally… that’s it.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          February 7, 2012 at 12:42 pm

          Del, if moire is pretty bad, no software will be able to completely remove it.

          The Nikon D800E is the way to go for landscape photographers, but not for portrait/wedding photographers.

          • Del-Uks
            February 8, 2012 at 1:32 am

            Sorry to insist Nasim, but you obviously never tried a Leica S2 which is prone to produce some moiré in RAW… but practically none in JPEG ! (thanks to its in-box anti-moiré treatment).

    • 2.2) Kevin Z
      February 7, 2012 at 8:10 am

      Most digital cameras have the AA filter and the D800 will be a sharp camera regardless…..The sharpness difference in the cameras is not worth the downside of the chance getting moire in your images (you will much more likely notice that) . The D800E is for a small audience, someone who shoots f22 and smaller all day long and makes large fine art prints from them.

      • February 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm

        Kevin, you are absolutely correct that the D800E is for a smaller audience of landscape photographers.

        • george
          April 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm

          but what about skin tone? I think D800E is the way to go.

      • 2.2.2) KY
        August 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm

        Diffraction at f22 eliminates whatever sharpness advantage the 800e affords over the 800. The only way you get the added sharpness is by using a very steady tripod, wider aperture, and LiveView to prevent mirror slap.

  3. 3) Kai Sheng
    February 6, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    How bout a D700? Would you recommend getting one?

    • February 7, 2012 at 12:06 am

      Kai, D700 is still a phenomenal camera, but it is not available anywhere! I initially thought that D800 would cost $3,999, but given the attractive price of $2,999, at this point I would recommend the D800 instead.

  4. 4) David
    February 6, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    I pre-ordered D800 without “E” I don’t want to deal with moire problems in pp, just don’t want to create more pp work for myself than needed. Will save $300 in the interim. Hope to sell my D700 for about $2000 next month so the price difference is not so crazy.

    • February 7, 2012 at 12:07 am

      David, I pre-ordered the D800E :) Moire is going to be visible in LCD, so I will find a way to deal with it. Planning to use it for weddings as well!

      • 4.1.1) Andrea
        February 7, 2012 at 2:38 am

        Is it possible to remove moire from movies? Even if is it possible, it takes more time to render the movie…

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          February 7, 2012 at 12:48 pm

          Andrea, I do not believe there is an easy way to remove moire from movies…I know there are some plugins for Premiere out there, but not sure how well they work. And yes, it will take a very long time to render a movie.

          • Benjamin E
            February 14, 2012 at 4:36 am


            wouldn’t the downsampling to full HD(coupling of pixels) remove the risk of moiré in video anyway?

      • 4.1.2) javier
        February 7, 2012 at 5:02 am

        Hi Nasim,

        I might be wrong here but if I remember correctly the visible moiré pattern depends on the *visible* resolution of the image, so unless you are looking at the LCD with 100% magnification you won’t see an accurate moiré pattern: it is possible to see morié that won’t be in the full resolution image and conversely NOT to see some of the pattern that will show up in the big image.

        I am not sure I’d want to inspect the whole picture at 100% resolution in the LCD before each shot, particularly if I were to shoot during a wedding or a sports event.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          February 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm

          Javier, I would look at the main areas at 100% magnification to see if there is moire…not sure if it will be visible on an LCD thumbnail image, but I will check once I have the camera.

          I would not be looking at the whole image, but rather at areas that are prone to it (dresses, jackets, etc). If I were shooting just weddings and portraits, I would surely get the regular Nikon D800 version with the AA filter.

      • 4.1.3) J.R.
        February 7, 2012 at 5:03 am

        The question that I have for you is this: why would Nikon release such a model when they know that this unit has a “Moiré” problem? There are cameras that cost less than that which do suffer with such a severe “Moiré” problem. And yet, this is supposed to be “state of the art” camera and not to mention its price point?!
        We are talking about NIKON here!

        • Jabari
          February 7, 2012 at 7:13 am

          I don’t think you understand the nature of Moire…

          It’s something that every digital photograher has to deal with. You either deal with it in camera via an AA filter or your deal with it on the computer via software (Photoshop, NX, etc). Different photographers want to deal with it in different ways. Nature photographers rarely need to deal with it at all, they’d rather have the extra sharpness gained without the filter. Nikon is simply letting you choose for yourself.

        • DL
          February 7, 2012 at 9:19 am

          Nikon release the D800E to target medium format users who want the best out of the sensor. Most digital backs dont have AA filter and suffer from moire problem, but they produce tack sharp photos. You cant have the best of both worlds.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          February 7, 2012 at 12:54 pm

          J.R., the Nikon D800E is released for a specific audience of landscape photographers that need the highest resolution and the most details for their shots. The Nikon D800E is meant to challenge the medium format market…

          As for the price point, I already mentioned it in another post – the Nikon D800E costs $300 more.

          • Roland
            February 8, 2012 at 12:14 am

            What about all the portrait photographers that are shooting medium format?
            Simply due to the much smaller FX sensor, you will never reach the quality of medium format with a 35mm camera, but all MF shooters need to work around the moire issues.

            • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
              February 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm

              Roland, true, high end photographers do shoot with medium format cameras. 35mm will never be comparable to medium format due to the sheer size of the sensor and all implications (depth of field, diffraction, etc), but when you have so much resolution, it definitely does steal some MF market share for people that wanted to switch to MF just because of higher megapixels…

          • Roland
            February 10, 2012 at 1:52 am

            Hi Nasim, thanks for your reply!
            I completely agree with you that people thinking about switching to MF simply due to the number of pixels now have a much cheaper option in the D800/D800E.

            So, assuming you are a professional portrait photographer, but you cannot afford an MF camera system. Would you then opt for the D800E with the idea that in most studio situations you can control the lighting and camera to subject distance to avoid moire and slightly sharper images as a result? Or would you opt for the D800 with the reasoning that you neither want to be limited in your compositions nor do you want to have to worry about moire all the time while shooting?

            • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
              February 10, 2012 at 2:30 am

              Roland, no, if I were planning to use the camera for any kind of portraiture, I would definitely get the regular Nikon D800. Nasty moire is a pain in the butt to fix, not worth the effort.

  5. 5) Bobby
    February 7, 2012 at 12:17 am

    This is very informative Nasim. I never heard of Moire before and am so glad to learn about it today. Thanks to you! Cheers! :)

  6. February 7, 2012 at 1:45 am

    Very instructive description of the moire problem, with sharper boxes new parameters come up…

    Don’t kill yourself working at night, bad for the eyes, Peter

    • February 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm

      Peter, just woke up after going to bed in the morning :) Too many news, too many comments and questions!

  7. 7) Sid
    February 7, 2012 at 1:47 am

    How come the D800E is a $1000 more expensive than the D800? There is a $1000 increase by removing the AA filter? Also is this AA filter present for D700 & D7000?

    • 7.1) carl
      February 7, 2012 at 9:13 am

      It’s only a few hundred dollars more expensive as opposed to one thousand.

    • 7.2) carl
      February 7, 2012 at 9:14 am

      It’s only a few hundred dollars more expensive as opposed to one thousand. And, yes, the D700 and D7000 have AA filters (as do all other Nikon DSLRs).

    • February 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm

      Sid, who said that it is $1K more? The Nikon D800E is only $300 more and it comes with Capture NX!

      • 7.3.1) Siddharth
        February 8, 2012 at 1:21 am

        Oh sorry … i read the $3299 as $3999 in the B&H website :(

  8. 8) Andy
    February 7, 2012 at 3:29 am

    Two thing confuse me here.

    1) How can a camera lacking a part be $300 more expensive? Surely the assembly price is comparable and even I assume that the AA filter has negligible price, I would expect the same total price for the camera. This looks like Nikon trying to make $300 a piece on marketing the lack of something present in most cameras as a feature (which it is) that makes the camera more expensive to make (which it almost certainly does not).

    2) Is it really that difficult and/or impractical to have an AA filter that can be switched on and off, by physically moving it inside the camera? Don’t some compact cameras have ND filters that can be “enabled” – put in place inside the camera from the menu? Is the reason the sensor size – no place for a fullframe-sized piece of filter inside the body?

    • 8.1) javier
      February 7, 2012 at 4:55 am

      Hi Andy,

      my guess is that they want people to think carefully about it before going the E-route, rather than just pick it and then complain about a problem that is never seen in most professional cameras. Removing moiré in pp can get really hard and degrade the image quality more than the AA filter would have. I personally wouldn’t go without the AA filter unless I wanted to use that body exclusively for landscape/wildlife work. Almost everything that is man made will produce moiré.

      About the moving filter, the AA filter is attached to the sensor with the IR/UV filters stack. You don’t want any moving parts that close to the camera sensor (even if there was room in the camera body for that, which probably isn’t) ND filters are very different as they can be placed anywhere either in front of the lens (as with screw-in SLR filters) or between the lens and the sensor (as in compact cameras).

      Hope this helps!

      • 8.1.1) Andy
        February 7, 2012 at 4:58 am

        Thanks, both make good sense, although making people think carefully about their choices by increasing the price is a little bit strange :-)

      • 8.1.2) Adele
        February 7, 2012 at 8:29 am

        Good point Javier!

        Another important aspect which influences the price tag is the quantity. Nikon expects to sell much more D800 than D800E units because the later is a specialized tool only meant for photographers who know why they need it and how to deal with it. Thats why the D800E has to be priced higher.

      • February 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm

        Javier, I fully agree with you! People should not underestimate the moire problem – nasty moire can never be removed in post-processing software.

      • 8.1.4) Eric B
        February 7, 2012 at 3:08 pm

        If you remove the AA filter you have to replace it with a clear glass filter of the same thickness in order to maintain focus.

        With IR conversions that has been done for years, but at the cost of losing the dust removal feature. The D800E will have an alternate filter without AA replacing the low pass filter with AA – and it will maintain the dust removal capability.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          February 7, 2012 at 5:07 pm

          Eric, just a quick FYI – the Nikon D800E has exactly the same filters as the D800, except it has them in a reverse order that lets the light pass through directly. This may be too technical for most people, which is why I did not write about it.

    • February 7, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      Andy, you are absolutely correct – the Nikon D800E is priced higher purely for marketing purposes. It costs no more to manufacture. One thing that is not mentioned anywhere (need to confirm this 100%), is I believe Nikon is shipping the D800E version with Capture NX software, while the regular version does not. Again, not completely sure on this, will need to verify.

      As for #2, yes, it would be very difficult to have a filter in front of the sensor that physically moves in and out.

      • 8.2.1) Andy
        February 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm

        Thanks for the clarification, Nasim.

      • 8.2.2) Roland
        February 7, 2012 at 11:57 pm

        As far as I know, it will come with an activation code for Capture NX 2.
        You will still need to download the software, but you can then use it for free.

    • 8.3) Andrea
      February 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      This link may be useful to understand the $300 more of D800E:

    • 8.4) Klix
      February 7, 2012 at 4:54 pm

      The reason it cost more is the assembly line for it is different compared to the regular line. Remember D800 is full line of assembly.

      They have to chalk out different line for D800E.

    • 8.5) AMS
      February 8, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      The reason for the price difference is obvious. The “E” comes with software for reducing moire. Software costs money.

      • 8.5.1) Andy
        February 8, 2012 at 1:50 pm

        Nasim already mentions this above and I agree that it is a contributing factor. However, Capture NX is something like $130, so the difference is certainly not made “obvious” by this. Anyway, seeing the more detailed information about the difference and Nasim’s other article, it does not look so weird anymore.

    • 8.6) Giridhar Vijay
      April 19, 2012 at 9:52 am

      The D800 or D800E cost several hundreds of millions of $ to make just one. A Replica is made henceforth in millions. These are sold at a much affordable $3000. The D800E is made in much lesser quantity and sold for $3300 to make up the cost.

    • 8.7) Rick
      April 5, 2013 at 10:45 pm

      Your comment assumes Nikon is a COST based company. The PRICE of something is not determined by it’s COST. Cost is the walkaway….ie: if you cannot make enough because cost is too high, you walk away. But the price of something should never be determined by it’s cost. That is bad business. The price should always be determined by the market. Here the market is willing to pay more to have something left out.

  9. 9) Kevin Z
    February 7, 2012 at 4:35 am

    I currently have a D300 and have been waiting for this camera in order to switch to full frame. I enjoy shooting Studio Portraits, Real Estate & Landscapes and very confused over which D800 model to purchase.

    • February 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      Kevin, let me help you with your dilemma – go to Lightroom and sort through how many portraits and real estate jobs you have done in 2011 versus landscapes. If your ratio on those is higher than landscapes, go with the Nikon D800. Otherwise, go with the Nikon D800E :)

  10. 10) Trakl
    February 7, 2012 at 4:58 am

    It seems to me that because this is an incredibly high-resolution camera already, the small boost in sharpness offered by the E model is not something I need to go out of my way and spend an extra $300 on, especially since it’s got the potential to cause headaches in post. I think the E is a very specialized tool for professionals who shoot architecture or landscape. If you ever intend to point your D800 at a person, it would be better to get the “plain” D800. And $2999! Not peanuts, but what a pleasant surprise!

    • February 7, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      Trakl, you are absolutely correct! In fact, the D800E is targeted ONLY for landscape photographers. Architecture photographers see plenty of moire, so they should avoid it as well.

  11. 11) Edgar
    February 7, 2012 at 7:19 am


    Was there a Moire pattern with the d700? or is it a new problem with the D800e.? Had the d700 AA filter?

    I have a D90 and I want to upgrade to FX, But I haven’t notice moire in my pictures..

    Edgar Guaymare

    • 11.1) carl
      February 7, 2012 at 9:10 am

      Moire is not a new problem, but the D700 and D90 have the AA filter so you don’t notice moire.

    • February 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm

      Edgar, all Nikon cameras to date had an AA filter, including the D700. Moire is only an issue on cameras without the AA filter. You would not see moire in your D90 :)

  12. 12) Edward
    February 7, 2012 at 8:13 am


    Do you think we could sharpen D800 images to reach D800E sharpness using unsharp mask instead of dealing with moire?

    I guess best way to know this is to shoot same scene on both cameras.

    I am an amateur and I take pictures of my wife and kids and when I travel I take pictures of landscapes and the architecture of places I visit.

    D800 or D800e?

    • February 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      Edward, you can get pretty close, but don’t forget that you can also add sharpening to the D800E images :)

      I will shoot very detailed scenes with both cameras and compare them in detail in my upcoming Nikon D800 Review.

  13. 13) Mike
    February 7, 2012 at 8:55 am

    If I read correctly on the B&H website, the D800E (without the filter) costs more than the D800 (with the filter). Do I read that correctly? If so, why is the model the filter less than the one without it? Thank you. Mike W

    • 13.1) Kevin Z
      February 7, 2012 at 9:01 am

      The decision to purchase a camera without this filter should be a conscious decision and not one that results from it just being cheaper…..I would imagine that if the camera without the filter was cheaper more people would purchase that one and then complain about the moire patterns in their images.

    • February 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      Mike, that’s purely a marketing decision – agree with Kevin Z as well!

      • 13.2.1) Nate
        February 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm

        I don’t think it was a pure marketing decision at all. Nikon has a 3rd party manufacture their sensors, I believe it’s Sony who makes them. Sony does not make two variations of this sensor (with filters already in place) due to high costs of re-tooling. So when Nikon’s assembly plant buys them, they all has the AA folder in place. The extra $300 for thee D800E comes into play when a worker (or machine) has to physically separate the filter from the sensor during the assembly of the D800E and replace it with a different stacked variation without the AA filter in place. Nikon is NOT dumb when it comes to how much this costs to produce and they chose to pass the costs onto the customer rather then to have it directly eat into their profit margins. This is NOT a marketing tactic simply because a $3300 DSLR isn’t in the price range where people can buy it without seriously thinking about consequences of the purchase. If your going to buy a $3000+ SLR you know what your getting before you pull the trigger. This is just the cost of modifying a well planned manufacturing strategy of the D800, nothing more.

  14. 14) Mike G
    February 7, 2012 at 9:52 am

    If you are shooting in RAW mode without the AA filter in place, could not the software remove any moire effects by doing the same job as the AA filter?

    • 14.1) Adele
      February 7, 2012 at 10:54 am

      The software can reduce the effect to some grade but it wont be able to eliminate it completely, at least not without reducing image quality (which is not the idea behind buying a D800E). It is better to try to deal with the moire effect while shooting by trying to change the distance to the subject for example. Or even better, people who don’t do landscape most of the time should just get the D800 and let the AA filter do the dirty work. I think it’ll be much easier to deal with image sharpness in post if necessary than to deal with moire.

      By the way, Nikon Germany will offer the D800E only through authorized Nikon partners, obviously because they don’t want someone to “accidentally” buy it without knowing how to deal with it.

    • February 7, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      Mike, nasty moire cannot be completely removed by post-processing software – the effect can only be reduced. I fully agree with Adele above.

  15. February 7, 2012 at 11:01 am

    I have specialized in bird photography and I would like to get the D800. But I am wondering if moiré is a problem because of the feathers?

    • 15.1) Marc
      February 7, 2012 at 11:28 am

      Simon, moire is definitely an issue with bird feathers. Anything with a repeating pattern, such as straight hair or feathers has moire. If you do close-ups of birds, and you’ll be shooting that subject as the majority of your work, you’d want to the D800, not the D800E

    • 15.2) Klix
      February 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm

      I agree with Marc,

      Bird Feathers specially if you are talking about peacock you will see moire :)

    • February 7, 2012 at 5:09 pm

      I also agree with Marc here, you want the regular Nikon D800 version instead of “E” due to repetitive patterns in feathers.

      • 15.3.1) John Wall
        February 15, 2012 at 3:20 pm

        Good to know this about feathers. I was wondering the same thing. I also wondered about sand, such as dunes and any close-up work where grains are visible.

    • 15.4) Simon
      February 8, 2012 at 12:13 am

      Thank you all for the clarification. I ordered the D800 yesterday, will be a long wait!

  16. 16) Jorge Balarin
    February 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Dear Nebil,

    Please, could you make a tutorial over the ways we could deal with “moire” in Lightroom and photoshop ?

    • February 7, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      Jorge, that’s a good idea! Will put that on my “to-do” list.

    • 16.2) Tom
      February 23, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      Lightroom 4 has a moire reduction tool, however don’t know how long it will be in beta

  17. February 7, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    What about photographers that shoot both nature and fashion? 800 OR 800E?

    • February 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      Sumit, that’s a tough call! I would get the regular version of the Nikon D800, unless you shoot a lot more landscapes than portraits.

  18. 18) Alex - London Wedding Photographer
    February 7, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Cheers for clearing that up! :-)

  19. 19) Jorge Balarin
    February 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Dear Nasim,
    I don’t understand why the camera that has not the moire filter is 1000 dollars expensier. Normally the camera that “has not” something must be cheaper. Greetings, Jorge.

    • February 7, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      Jorge, not sure where you read about the $1K difference – the difference is only $300 for the “E” version with no filter.

    • 19.2) Tim
      March 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm

      Think of the removal of the filter just like the removal of a car’s speed governor. With the governor, it’s not possible to go over a set limit such as 80mph; without it, until you blow the motor.

      The D800E is specifically designed for scenes where repeating lines are rare, such as outside in nature. The typical landscape photograph is all unique with no patterns. It’s meant for the professional who is willing to accept the trade-offs of having more defined resolution, but the trade-off is extreme such that the professional would require a different camera for any typical scene found in daily life.

      But that’s not too big of a trade-off to the nature photographer who is being tempted here. We’re talking about pros who are currently using really big, really heavy Medium Format cameras and welcome the change as the first real effort by 35mm camera companies to provide crystal clear high resolution imagery for their work. And these gentleman are already well accustomed to using a second camera body for typical daily life scenes.

      So my advice to you or anyone else considering the D800E is that the trade-off is going to be the following: You will get noticably sharper images, but you can’t use this camera for photo OR video in any other setting other than which it was intended or you will be forced to use miore “REDUCTION” tools. It will always be visible unless you blur it or work through the structure by cleaning and cloning the pattern or you use these reduction tools, but it will always start out unprintable and in need of work. Therefore, it will be better for you to simply retain your current camera body and ONLY use this one for which it was intended. This is especially true for video. Imagine cleaning up a handheld shoot of 8000 frames of video.
      I plan on using the camera for everything with no backup because I’m not a pro and no one is depending on me that will be crushed if it fails, and I’m not so rich that I can buy both versions. So for me, it’s the D800. And I love landscape photography most of all, but my second love is video, and my favorite subject is my baby girl. I’m also probably at the top 10% when it comes to post-processing skills. It’s not that I don’t want to deal with it, because I could probably automate most of the work. It’s because I recognize the futility of it when comes to trying to correct a whole scene of 30 frames per second video. This will be the most incredible camera I’ve ever owned, it will be enough.

  20. 20) Vicki Jones
    February 7, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Ok, for all you photo hounds out there… here’s a question for ya: If you shoot alot of very close up flowers (macro), once in awhile a building or two, and landscape. Why not go without the AA filter? will it affect closer than normal macro shots?

    • February 7, 2012 at 5:11 pm

      Vicki, I do not think you will see many repetitive patterns in macro photography (correct me if I am wrong), so you might be better off with the Nikon D800E version.

      • 20.1.1) Roman
        May 15, 2012 at 6:04 am

        Dear Nazim.I have a question regarding macro photography also. In your opinion wouldit be wise to consider E version for the intra oral photography? Thank you

  21. 21) leek
    February 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I’m a non-sports event photographer (festivals, parties, concerts, indoor architecture, etc.). I shoot both indoors and outdoors, often in low light. I already have a D3s and love it, and would not trade it for a D4 based on what I’ve seen of the D4. But for extra MPs while in decent light, and for a smaller form factor, I like the D800/D800e.

    If I did not have a D3s I would choose the D800 (not D800e), since I shoot people and indoor architecture.

    But the increased detail of the D800e is tempting. I only occasionally shoot landscape or wildlife, usually in connection with an event. Since I already have a D3s, I’m thinking of using it for the poor lighting and moire conditions, and using the D800e for landscape, macro and other situations which need high detail. But it’s still a tough call, and I don’t always want to carry both cameras around.

    I think I’ll hold off ordering a D800/D800e until I can get my hands on them and compare. Like all new products, I expect the D800/D800e to go through a “hype cycle” as people decide whether it meets their (sometimes-inflated) expectations. My D3s is more than adequate for event photography, since most of it ends up on the web, and not in large prints.

    • February 7, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      Leek, I also own the Nikon D3s and love it. The Nikon D800, as you noted, serves a different purpose.

      As for comparisons, I will surely compare the Nikon D800 and the Nikon D800E side by side, as soon as I have both in my hands!

  22. 22) Johnniee
    February 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Why would Nikon add a filter to cancel the effects of the AA instead of placing a different optical pass filter without the AA on the D800E? I’m sure cost has a lot to do with it, but wouldn’t images be even sharper if the light hitting the sensor only had to go through one filter (without AA) than two filters (one with AA and one that cancels out that AA – that is the current D800E set-up)?

    • February 7, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      Johnniee, I think they did primarily due to cost reasons. It would cost a lot more to produce a different low-pass filter altogether. As for one filter versus 4 of them – the thickness of one filter would have to match the thickness of 4, so I do not think the image would be that much sharper…

      • 22.1.1) Rafik
        February 11, 2012 at 5:14 am

        Nasim…We are from Uzbekistan. How we can get Nikon d800? ( I mean to buy).

  23. 23) Bob
    February 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    I was considering waiting until the D400 arrived, but now wondering what, apart from the lower price tag, the D400 might give me? It seems that the D800 is both an excellent DX & FX camera in one body, at a reasonable price tag, particularly considering that I can sell a few DX lenses and my D7000 and have pay for the D800. It is hard to imagine the D400 having better low ISO performance. It may have a higher frames per second rating and a 24 MP image than the D800 in DX mode, but these D400 features may not outweigh the benefits of the D800’s DX/FX duality. And considering that some of the moire may be post-processed out via Lightroom or some yet-to-be announced Photoshop plugin, the 800E might be the best option. I would have to see some sample moire patterns with it under real circumstances to get a sense of how much I should be concerned about them.

    • February 7, 2012 at 5:31 pm

      Bob, apart from lower cost, the Nikon D400 will give you a sensor size twice smaller than the D800. So yes, you would be much better off with the D800 than with the D400, unless you need faster FPS. And yes, I believe that the Nikon D800 price is very reasonable for its unbelievable features and capabilities. And lastly, no DX sensor can compare to FX…

      As for moire, if you shoot people or anything else where moire might be present, then get the regular D800 version. Nasty moire cannot be completely removed in post-processing!

      • 23.1.1) Bob
        February 7, 2012 at 7:20 pm

        Thanks again for taking the time to reply. Your site is quickly becoming one of the top “go to” sites for camera reviews, insights, and other helpful information. I admire your ability, willingness, and patience to respond to the many people that regularly comment on your site. I hope this is paying off for you financially and otherwise.
        I am indeed seriously wondering if I should move to the D800, something that I hadn’t thought too much of until I started getting into the specifics of this model. The biggest concern I had was the loss of the crop factor relative to taking wildlife shots. With the DX mode and the nearly 16MP resulting file, that takes quite a bit of the edge away from this concern. And I don’t know that I need more than 4 fps. That would seem to more than suffice for 99% of my shooting.
        BTW, you do quite a few weddings. Are you considering using the D800E for these as well? Bridal gowns can have quite a few patterns in them, so the moire might be more of a concern in such situations.

  24. 24) Ray
    February 7, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Since switching to digital (only in the last 5 years) I have been disappointed with sharpness and detail. Shoot a fair amount of landscape and that means the d800e is a good choice. However I see some of the best gemoremtry and patterns in architectur to produce image creativity. Feels like keeping my DX body as a compromise for these conditions that arise makes sense. I will just welcome getting my full Nikkor focal length back.

    • February 7, 2012 at 5:34 pm

      Ray, I can assure you that you will be amazed by what the D800 can do compared to your DX camera. You might find your DX camera sitting and collecting dust once you start using the D800. That’s what happened to me after I upgraded to FX – my D300 collected dust for a year until I finally sold it.

  25. 25) Bern
    February 7, 2012 at 10:03 pm
    Hi Nasim, The above link contain the story of D800 announcement in Bangkok Thailand Yesterday.

    • February 7, 2012 at 11:03 pm

      Bern, awesome link, thank you for sharing! :)

  26. 26) Bob
    February 7, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    I looked over the photo of the geisha girl from the Nikon D800E in Photoshop. Despite the very repetitious patterns, I don’t see any moire effects, as I see in your sample photograph of the gentleman’s beige sport coat. Would you have expected to see the more effects in this image of the geisha girl? Could it be that the moire effects are being overhyped a bit?

    • February 7, 2012 at 11:13 pm

      Bob, I updated the above article with some images from Nikon D800 and D800E – take a look at the dress example with Moire, it looks pretty nasty…

  27. 27) Bob
    February 7, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    Thanks. Take a look at the other photo of her (close up). While you still see plenty of patterned fabric, there is no accompanying moire pattern in that one.
    1 photo – moire. Another of the same model, slightly different perspective and focal length – no moire.

    • February 9, 2012 at 12:55 am

      Bob, that’s correct. Moire only happens in some rare conditions. The best way to avoid moire is to change camera to subject distance or focal length. As soon as you resolve more or less, moire is gone. See my comment #105.

  28. 28) Roland
    February 8, 2012 at 12:05 am

    Nasim, what do think of the following statement from Nikon about the improved AA filter in the D800?
    Does it sound to you like a sales pitch, or do you think Nikon might indeed have weakened the AA filter on the D800 (compared to the D700) to increase sharpness?

    Here the original excerpt:

    Optical Low-Pass Filter Optimized for Sharpness
    Reducing false color and moire is the main job of the optical low-pass filter located in front of the image sensor. However, this benefit is generally gained with a small sacrifice of sharpness. Moire occurs in scenes containing repetitive details, such as strong vertical lines in architecture. Finding the right balance between benefits and sacrifices is the key to higher image quality, and that is what the D800’s optical low-pass filter delivers. As a result, the astounding 36.3 megapixels unleash their potential through an optimized balance between sharpness and effectively prevented moiré and false color. Furthermore, the multi-layer structure of the D800 low-pass filter utilizes layers of antireflective coating that have been optimized for the camera, contributing to sharper and clearer images

    • February 9, 2012 at 12:53 am

      Roland, I believe Nikon’s statement is true. They could not just reuse the same low-pass filter on the D800, because it has a much more demanding sensor than the D700. In fact, if you search online, you will find some examples of Nikon DSLRs with and without an AA filter. The difference is astounding. If Nikon used the same crappy AA filter as in the older cameras, you would be severely disappointed with the image samples at 100%.

      • 28.1.1) Roland
        February 10, 2012 at 2:01 am

        Nasim, thanks a lot for your reply!
        This is one of the reasons I like your blog so much, you always take the time to answer questions, this is highly appreciated!


  29. 29) Jonathan
    February 8, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Hi Nasim.

    First of all, thank you for this detail articled explaining the differences between the D800 and D800E.

    If I am upgrading from a D700 which I use in a versatile manner (from event shoots to the landscape photography to catching daily life), which model would u recommend? I’ve always wanted to step at to MF photography to capture some lovely views (which is one or twice a year when I travel) but I am scared I can’t handle this AA issue or the moire problem in a general context or daily usage.

    Appreciate your advice!

    P.S: If I have a chance to show you some photos I took recently, etc to help u advice me. Let me know! : )

    • February 9, 2012 at 12:51 am

      Jonathan, the Nikon D800 is still going to be a phenomenal camera with plenty of details. Since you shoot all kinds of photography, I would recommend to get the regular version instead, unless you are ready to deal with moire (see my comment #105 for details).

    • 29.2) Jonathan
      February 9, 2012 at 1:00 am

      Hi Nasim.

      I got one more question to ask. You mention that LR4 can deal with the moire issue. How well does it deal with it? Does one lose sharpness or detail when editing is done on LR4?

      I am prepared to learn to handle the moire issue. But is it too much for one to handle?

      Pls advice.

  30. 30) Geir
    February 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    I shoot both landscape and portraits and find this decision very difficult. General statements about moire in cameras without the AA filter are helpful to a certain point, but the key question is how well or bad the D800E actually performs in terms of added sharpness and moire. I have read reports that the camera has firmware to deal with moire. Lens quality is also an issue as well as the effectiveness of post production software.I pre-ordered both versions in the hope that in the next few weeks, someone will post production model reviews, examples and side by side comparisons to help me decide. If this is a noticeable problem with the video quality, that will obviously factor in…

    • February 9, 2012 at 12:48 am

      Geir, see my comment #105, where I provide answers to your questions.

  31. 31) Sobby
    February 8, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Hey Nasim, it doesn’t seem the BH pre-order includes Capture NX2 with the D800E. It shows up as ‘optional’ under the specs. WHere did you see that both of them are being bundled together?

    • February 9, 2012 at 12:47 am

      Sobby, that’s what DPReview published on their Nikon D800 preview. See my other post, where I provide the link…

  32. February 8, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Hello Nasim,

    Thank you for adding the ‘missing’ high iso samples. They look really good.

    If you say that the 800e camera is not for portraits I think you mean because of possible moiré in the clothing, but not in the hair i suppose?
    I am doing architecture; If you do a side by side comparison of the two d800’s could you try and see if using D11 or d16 will solve any moiré problems on the d800e? thanks in advance !

    • February 9, 2012 at 12:46 am

      Pieter, if your subject is a woman with straight hair (straight pattern), then you could potentially have moire. For all other hair types, moire is definitely not a problem. Where moire is the most painful is in any type of fabric, like in the sample shot above. If a person shoots only portraits and weddings and is not ready to deal with possible moire, I would avoid the “D800E” version.

      As for small apertures – see my comment #105, where I talk about how you can avoid moire. Shooting at very small apertures causes diffraction, and diffraction essentially removes moire…not sure if you are ready to lose some sharpness to not worry about moire though.

  33. 33) Frank
    February 8, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Hi, I think if you know your lighting and subject and you know how to avoid moire, then D800E is also good for portrait just like medium format cameras, but again I wouldnt judge between them until they are availabe to test.

    • February 9, 2012 at 12:42 am

      Frank, please see my comment #105 below…

  34. 34) Bjorn
    February 9, 2012 at 12:31 am

    Hi Nasim,

    I have this dilemma on which to buy as well. I have both on pre order hoping someone before mass release will be able to compare the two and have a full detail comparison so i can make my mind up. I am mostly a landscape photographer its what i usually shoot 70% of the time so first thoughts were get the D800E for the added detail. Now im wondering will i regret it being that i do like to shoot other things as well Portrait, Wildlife, Buildings,ect? Will the moire be such a big problem or will this be something that will occasionally come in play? I hear most medium format cameras dont have a AA filter do they run across moire issues often? Will any pattern that is continuous most likely produce moire with out an AA filter? Now i also wonder if the added sharpness in resolution on the D800E really be that much better than the D800?

    • February 9, 2012 at 12:39 am

      Bjorn, if you shoot mostly landscapes, then I would suggest keeping the D800E version, which should have a slight edge on details compared to the Nikon D800. Yes, nasty moire can be painful to deal with, but there are a few things you can do to avoid it:
      1) Change your distance to the subject (zoom in/out or physically move) to avoid tight patterns.
      2) Increase your aperture to f/11 and smaller, at which point diffraction would kick in and eliminate moire (diffraction is not always bad!)
      3) Use post-processing software like Capture NX 2 and Lightroom 4 to try to fix it.

      If you are not ready to do the above, then you should keep the D800 instead. I personally pre-ordered the D800E and I am ready to deal with moire, if necessary. Leica and MF users know how to get around the moire problem, why can’t we adapt as well? :)

  35. 35) Bjorn
    February 9, 2012 at 12:34 am

    one more thing…… I hear that the dynamic range of this camera is going to be very good compared to other SLR cameras. Does the AA filter effect Dynamic Range at all?

    • February 9, 2012 at 12:40 am

      Bjorn, no, AA filter practically has no effect on dynamic range. Also, keep in mind that both the D800 and the D800E have low-pass filters (see above).

  36. February 9, 2012 at 4:24 am

    I shoot mainly architecture, with a lot of fine texture and repetitive lines, However despite the consensus being to stick with the D800 I am still investigating the d800e as the extra sharpness could in certain situations make quite a difference and although maybe slightly naieve i cannot think that moire is going to be a regular problem that cannot be reasonably easily resolved… If i find that the D800E would be causing a problem in the majority of architectural images then, i will go wit the D800

    • February 9, 2012 at 11:18 pm

      Tom, that extra sharpness is going to be very small – see the stone image above and decide if it is worth it. For architectural photography, I would highly recommend to get the regular Nikon D800 version, not the D800E. Why add another step to your workflow to reduce moire? That costs time and money.

  37. 37) Steve
    February 9, 2012 at 6:20 am

    I shoot mainly landscape and wildlife, I would without hesitation go for the d800E but I am worried about moire on feathers and fur.
    I have read differing opinions on how these would be affected without the AA filter but I darent order now until I read a few practical reviews in use.
    What opinions do you have on wildlife photography and the d800E vs d800?

    • February 9, 2012 at 11:15 pm

      Steve, normally you should not see much moire on bird feathers, because they have different patterns and feathers of different sizes. In very rare situations you might see a little. Fur is very similar to feathers…

      If you shoot landscapes primarily, then the D800E will give you a slightly better sharpness, maybe 5% better. However, if you equally do both landscapes and wildlife, then I would suggest to get the regular version of the D800 instead. Don’t worry, the D800 is still going to resolve a lot of details – 36 MP is not a joke!

      • 37.1.1) Steve
        February 10, 2012 at 1:39 am

        Many thanks for your helpful reply. I will probably pre-order the non -E version then.


  38. 38) Geir
    February 9, 2012 at 7:35 am

    1. Some photographers claim to have methods to deal with even the worst kind of moire in post processing. The DIMA article for September 2009 (available on has a comprehensive methodology listed for how to deal with what they call “mega moire”. There are a number of steps involved but if recorded as an action in photoshop it should be a matter of a mouse click and some painting. Any experience to share regarding moire remaoval in post processing and how it affects image quality?

    2. What are your predicitions on the effect of D800E moire in video? Will you ever get moire if the camera is moving for instance?

    Thanks for taking the time to answer all these posts!

    • February 9, 2012 at 11:10 pm

      Geir, the best way to deal with moire, is to avoid it in first place. There are different ways to deal with it in post-processing, but if moire is really bad, you will have to sacrifice on details to completely get rid of it. There might be some good methods out there, but I am not aware of them…

      As for moire in video, since movies are shot at much lower resolutions than 36 MP, it won’t matter whether you are shooting with the D800 or the D800E – you might get video moire on both. Now that one is quite painful to get rid of!

  39. 39) daniel meseguer
    February 9, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Hello Nasim:

    I´m not a professional photographer, not even a very good photographer, it just happens I have the money to buy a good Camera and decided to buy the D800 (already preordered), to avoid those possible moire problems I might not be able to solve myself if I bought the D800E.

    I will use the D800 for everything and if I may, I would like to make one question: What three Nikkor Lenses would you recommend me buying for the D800, probably a 70-200, a 14-24 and ……..?. Or should I change my mind?

    I would very much appreciate your help.

    Thank you for your time.


    • February 9, 2012 at 11:05 pm

      Daniel, I will write a separate article on which lenses I recommend for the Nikon D800, but you are pretty much spot on – the Nikon trinity is what you want:
      1) Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G
      2) Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G
      3) Nikon 70-2000mm f/2.8G

      All three have enough resolution for the demanding Nikon D800!

      • 39.1.1) daniel meseguer
        February 10, 2012 at 9:20 am

        Thank you very much Nasim, for your answer and help.

        There is no problem getting those three lenses in Madrid (where I live). I have been said I´ll have my D800 end of March or soon afterwords, we´ll waite and see.

        In the meantime, I´ll be alert to read your article about recommended lenses for this Camera.

        Thank you, again

  40. 40) Adnan Khan
    February 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Thank you very much for the helpful guide ,I think I made a good decision in booking the D800E as I’m into Landscape and macros :)
    For other shots ,the D7000 is enough for me :)

    • February 9, 2012 at 11:03 pm

      Adnan, you are most welcome! I also pre-ordered the Nikon D800 for my landscape work. Can’t wait to see this monster of a camera!

  41. 41) Sytse
    February 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Hi Nasim

    If I look at the side-by-side of the stone paving, I’m having a bit of a problem in spotting the difference in terms of sharpness. I definitely do see a difference in contrast and color – the d800e seems a bit more saturated in the greens, for instance, and a bit more contrasty as well. Both also vary somewhat by looking at my lcd screen at a slightly different angle. But the amount of detail I’m seeing appears to be the same in both pictures; I’m having a hard time identifying a detail that is visible in one, but not in the other.

    Can you help me understand what I should be looking for to see a difference in sharpness?


    • February 9, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      Sytse, if you look at the green part of the stone, you will see more sharpness and punch on the D800E image. Some of the parts of that green on the D800 appear slightly washed out.

      As I have already pointed out before, most people won’t see big difference between the two cameras. Landscape and macro photographers will, because they always analyse all the little details in the image at 100% view.

  42. 42) Hedley
    February 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Thank you very much for the information. I am now able to make an informed decision!

  43. 43) john harringer
    February 10, 2012 at 1:31 am

    can you say good old film camera digital is no match for film and never will be

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      Please, let’s not get into the film vs digital debate :) It is a never-ending one…

  44. 44) gianpaolo
    February 10, 2012 at 3:56 am

    an engineer point of view:
    moire is a form of aliasing, i.e. a folding in band of frequencies higher than fsample/2.
    a digital sensor is a sampled system, just in 2 dimensions.
    aliasing is a non-linear process that cannot be inverted after acquisition.
    therefore, there are no alternatives to lowpass filtering before sampling…
    the aliased components will be in the same band of the real picture.
    i think that nikon made a very clever move! maybe we will buy both… for a much lower price than a mf camera!

  45. February 10, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Hello Nasim,
    I cannot agree with your lens-choice..
    I worked the last free years with a d3x doing architecture..

    Although the three zoom lenses mentioned are very good they are not good enough to fill the 36mp. Maybe the 70-200 at d8… at 70mm
    I think the only lenses capable of really doing the job are the new 1,4 85mm, maybe the 60mm macro and the pce lenses- and then especially the 85mmPCE. That is if you also look beyond centre sharpness. The nano coating has also done a lot to the clarity of the lenses , but i think to do the job well we need also lenses that will cost about 2000€.

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      Pieter, most of the samples presented by Nikon were shot with the 14-24mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses. You consider those shots lacking sharpness/detail? I personally think those lenses will do well on the 36 MP sensor, especially the 14-24mm and the 70-200mm (even in the extreme corners). Not sure if you had bad samples, but my 70-200mm is very sharp, across the frame from 70mm to 200mm when stopped down to f/5.6.

      While the primes, especially PC-E lenses will do very well, I have no doubt that the zoom lenses will perform well enough for most people. For crazy pixel peepers out there, fast primes and Zeiss glass will be the ultimate choice…

  46. 46) Ron
    February 10, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    A silly question (that may have already been addressed here, but since there are so many posts I haven’t been able to find it): What does the “E” stand for in “D800E”?, I just bought a Leica M9-P with Leica and Zeiss lenses, but… man, this is tempting.

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:42 pm

      Ron, I have no idea why they decided to use the letter “E”…

    • 46.2) Tom
      February 23, 2012 at 6:40 pm

      (E)xcluding the low-pass filter
      (E)xcellent resolution
      (E)xceptional image sharpness
      (E)xtra charge for this model :)

  47. 47) david
    February 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    I’ve been using deconvolution sharpening (in Photoshop using high detail settings, Raw Developer or Topaz Lab’s sharpening plugin) for a few years now. I find that this method is extremely effective in combatting the effects of a.a. filter without introducing halos or other artifacts.

    I do landscape work, but much of it is urban landscape, and I definitely get some moire and other color artifacts even with a.a. filters when I use very sharp lenses on certain subjects. (Window screens are a real bear.) My tentative conclusion is that for me it makes more sense to take advantage of well-designed a.a. filters, like that apparently found on the D800, and then compensate with good deconvolution sharpening routines. This seems to me better than trying to muck around with removing moire after the fact.

    I’ve taken Nikon’s comparisons and sharpened the D800 images using deconvolution. They look as good as those from the D800E or, where there is a moire issue, considerably better…..

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:41 pm

      David, I agree – the Nikon D800 will create stunning images with lots of detail, especially after the images are sharpened. I would never suggest the D800E version for architecture…

  48. 48) DSC-NW
    February 10, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Hi Nasim, I’ve been reading all of the posts and replies and haven’t seen anything about the D800E’s reconfigured AA filter an the effect that it will have on the movie mode. Most of the movies that people take are of other people and their clothing can be a source of possible moire. Do you think this will be an issue and are you aware of any software that will remove moire in movies? Thanks

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:40 pm

      Honestly speaking, I do not know how the “E” version will do with moire in video – will have to test and see for sure. As for post-processing video with moire, expect to spend countless hours in rendering videos frame by frame. I definitely would not want to do it…

  49. 49) Gauthier
    February 11, 2012 at 5:59 am

    I found this information on this website :

    Do you think the difference between D800 et D800E will be so huge ?

  50. 50) John Rork
    February 11, 2012 at 8:36 am

    So here is my dilemma: My primary use of the camera is to create fine art images, (or so I imagine at least), including landscape, architecture, macro, street and portraiture.

    My final target media is hand-coded palladium / platinum on Arches Platine paper, with a single gum layer (sometimes). This is done using digital negatives. My practical maximum size of a print is 13″ x 19″, though I might once in a blue moon print to 17″ x 22″.

    I had been thinking that the D800E was the way to go, but in consideration of the need to include some subjects which are more susceptible to moire, and given that the size and type of my final medium I now feel more disposed towards the D800.

    I also suspect that with the recent acquisition of PCE-24 mm lens, that I will be drawn towards more architecture.

    I may be answering my own question, but it sounds as though the D800 may be the better overall choice.

    Any input is welcome.

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:38 pm

      John, I agree – I would go with the regular version of the Nikon D800, unless you will be strictly shooting landscapes, macro and food.

  51. February 11, 2012 at 8:50 am

    The Nikon fabric comparison image seems strange to me, since the original Nikon D800E sample of the same scene viewed at 100% shows no moire whatsoever:
    of course it might be a lucky shot, but I’d say Nikon improperly downsized the comparison image on purpose to manifest the potential risks for unaware buyers.

    • 51.1) Nate
      February 13, 2012 at 11:09 am

      Moire can be mitigated by changing the angle or the composition a little bit. Most likely the original image sample was changed slightly to show that portraiture could be done with the D800E. The side by side in this original article was probably another selection from the shot that specifically showed the moire in the gold trim.

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:36 pm

      Petr, see Nate’s comment – I agree with him. The image where you do not see moire was shot at a different angle/distance.

  52. 52) Alan
    February 11, 2012 at 10:06 am

    I may have missed it, but I haven’t seen any reference to aerial photography. I use a D300 at the moment which, unless the weather is brilliant sunshine, only gives me average image quality. I can’t afford D3/D4 series and I have been waiting for this D800 spec. for a long time (haven’t we all!). Although the consensus is for a D800E for landscape photography, it is a no-no for architectural photography. My aerial work effectively is a combination of both. Any comments please?

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:36 pm

      Alan, I would get a used Nikon D3s if I were you. Looks like the D800 won’t be a good fit for your needs.

      • 52.1.1) Tom Replogle
        February 21, 2012 at 7:44 am

        Nasim, I’m curious as to why you say the D800 wouldn’t be a “good fit” for aerial photography?

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          February 21, 2012 at 11:59 am

          Tom, mainly because when you are in a shaky environment, it is best to use fast shutter speeds to avoid blur. And fast shutter speeds translate to increased ISO, which the D3s/D4 is much better at handling…

  53. 53) Alex MV
    February 11, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Great website – excellent descriptions, very useful guidance, many thanks. I think I’ll go for D800… hopefully it will be good enough for amateur landscape and watersports photography!

  54. 54) Alec Trusler
    February 11, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Hello Nasim, Great website !! I do a fair mixture of photography and i am looking at the D800,will i get a better image using the 800 dx format for wildlife than i do using my D90,i have a D700 and only use the D90 for the extra reach 420mm V 630mm, thanks Alec..

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:34 pm

      Alec, yes, you will get more resolution (15+ MP) and slightly better ISO performance. Don’t forget that you will also have the choice to shoot full images and then down-sample them later, something you cannot do with the D90 or the D700.

  55. February 12, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Hello Nasim,
    I’ve been a professional photographer and cinematographer for 18 years. I currently shoot with the JVC professional video camera that shoots 1280 x 72 at 8 bit, however, the D 800 shoots 1920 by 1080 at 10 bit and I will be able to use my 12 other Nikon lenses that I have with this camera. I’m concerned that buying the D 800e would have difficulty filming and not displaying the moire effect. If the D 800 E is having difficulty with one still image how would it do with 30 images per sec, as the camera makes its pan or zoom.

    Also would like to use the camera for fashion photography in which there are many patterns that would confuse the sensor chip. Placing the filter in front as in the D 800 is specifically designed to deal with the mirror affect in a three-dimensional manner. Even though they can be removed and post it is still not effective as a live correction.

    What are your thoughts on the above.

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:33 pm

      Dean, I am not yet 100% sure on how the “E” version will do with moire in video. I think it would be safer to go with the regular version of Nikon D800 than regret later…especially for fashion photography, where patterns are seen quite often.

  56. 56) Marc Labbe
    February 12, 2012 at 10:36 am

    wildlife including birds

    Then E or not E

  57. 57) Marc Labbe
    February 12, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Rokinon UPC 14mm
    Tokina 20-35mm
    Nikon 28-105mm
    35, 50 and 85mm
    Nikon 70-200mm
    Nikon 200-400mm
    Soligor 800mm a very underappreciated lens

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:30 pm

      Mark, looks like you do landscapes and macro quite a bit, so I would opt for the Nikon D800E version.

  58. 58) Marc Labbe
    February 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    55mm f3.5
    105mm f4
    tamron 70-210mm f3.5/4.0 wonderful lens
    reversing rings

  59. 59) Graeme chow
    February 12, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Hello Nassim!
    I am not sure if you shoot at DX mode instead of Full frame mode, will you get less noise problem compare to downsampling you have been talking?.

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:28 pm

      Graeme, why would you ever want to shoot in DX mode with this camera? It is like buying a Ferrari and driving it constantly at 20 m/h. Shoot full, then down-sample if you need to reduce noise.

      • 59.1.1) Roger Harshaw
        February 15, 2012 at 2:09 am

        Am I correct? Shooting in DX mode the viewing detail is increased by 1.5 so it helps to see what your bird or animal is doing before firing. Long shots with a 600 will appear as 900. The megapixels are decreased so you can fire more frames per second. The resolution will still be very good because the camera is 36MP and workflow will be easier dealing with smaller files.

        • Benjamin E
          February 15, 2012 at 4:59 am

          If you’re looking through the viewfinder, you will see the smaller cropped view. But in Liveview I suppose you would see the DX filling the 3.2 Inch screen, in your case it would appear as 900mm on FX.

  60. February 13, 2012 at 1:33 am

    The “E or not to E” question was a no-brainer for me. I opted for the E as I have a D3x. I do a lot of underwater work and have a housing for the D3x; I’m not planning on purchasing one for the D800E in the near future. I’ll shoot landscapes with it and will likely pair it with a 24mm/3.5 PCE, shoot the 14-24/2.8 on it as well as the 85/1.4, 105/2.8 VR, and 50/1.4. I have a sneaking suspicion my 24-70/2.8 may not measure up…

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:26 pm

      Excellent reasoning and great choice of lenses! I think your 24-70mm will do fine. It might not be superb in the extreme corners, but stop it down to f/8 and it will make some stunning images, I am sure.

  61. 61) JNSuojanen
    February 13, 2012 at 2:51 am


    I recently came across your site while researching the J/V1; excellent! I use my D7000 for macro and telephoto photography as well as the occasional flash. I use a Leica M9 for everything else (70% of the time). The M9 has no AA filter and I have had little trouble with moire even for architecture (although shingles can create problems). For me then, I will opt for the D800E. If I made a lot of portraits/fashion, I think the fine detailed patterns often present in clothing would create significant artifacts difficult to remove with software, and I would choose the D800.

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      If you have not noticed many issues with moire with your photography, then it would probably be safe to go with the Nikon D800E version. I have seen some nasty moire in architecture though…

      • 61.1.1) JNSuojanen
        February 15, 2012 at 10:32 am

        As soon as I receive my 800E, I’ll pop on my 24mm PCE and make a few photos of buildings I know can cause problems. In some situations, the higher resolution may overcome the potential for moire, but in others, it may make the situation worse. If it appears to be too much of a problem then I plan to exchange the 800E for the 800.

  62. 62) Damian
    February 13, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I’m confused – wouldn’t going with the D800E be the same as shooting with my old Nikon 20/20? Did film cameras EVER come with anti aliasing filters?

    If not, then it would be the same as shooting with film, where moire would only come up about 1-2%, and with the volume I shoot, that amount would be negligible.

    I shoot everything usually at the lowest (most wide open) f-stop available to create a very low depth of field. My subjects are as wide ranging as weddings to vast landscapes, birds, people, cars, buildings, deserts, starscape time exposures and close up macros, mostly on wide angles and fisheye, and am leaning towards the 800E, but only because of my logic above. Please agree or disagree, and then argue me out of my near decision – point out what I’ve missed.

    If we’ve been shooting without AA filters for film, why would I switch to something with AA filters for DSLR?

    Thanks for your input.

    • 62.1) Nate
      February 13, 2012 at 10:57 am

      AA filters are only needed on Digital Cameras, film cameras are not subject to the moire issues. F-Stop, ISO and shutter speed are not factors in moire appearing in the shot either. It all has to do with the digital sensor being able to decipher small and very repetitious patterns and keeping lines and whatnot separated. You need to remember that a Digital sensor is not film, and reads the scene differently then a film camera would read it.

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:22 pm

      Damian, I fully agree with Nate’s comment.

  63. February 13, 2012 at 10:50 am

    i still think the d800E is the way to go for shooting best quality architectural images that are as sharp as possible. I know medium format users who shoot architecture without a low pass filter and encounter moire only occasionally (about 1 in 1oo shots) causes a problem… i’m hoping this would not be a regular problem with the 800E but will investigate further before i order…

    • 63.1) Nate
      February 13, 2012 at 11:01 am

      It should be visible on the viewfinder image after the shot is taken. The only reason I would hesitate on the D800E would be the fact that you would have to inspect EVERY SHOT at 100%-150% zoom to make sure you weren’t having the moire problem. That wastes a whole lot of time and if you were shooting architecture with waning light, it would be difficult to go through every shot you take, and reshoot the compositions with the moire in them.

      I honestly don’t think it’s worth it unless your main purpose is to shoot images that you will blow up to 40″x60″ or bigger.

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:21 pm

      Tom, I would strongly suggest to go with the regular version of the D800 for architecture. You see a lot of repeating patterns and even 1 image out of 100 that you cannot fix could be a disaster if you are doing commercial work.

  64. 64) Mike
    February 13, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Okay, for those of us who ordered a D800 (or D800E), now the question is which memory cards? I’m thinking about the Sandisk extreme pro in 16 or 32 GB SD. What do you guys think about buying two or three of the SD cards vs. buying an SD card and a CF card? I’m not sure how the camera is setup to record to the cards, is one used for video, the other for stills? For auto backup? Thanks for any advice.

    • 64.1) Nate
      February 14, 2012 at 11:28 am

      CF Cards come in faster and higher capacities then SD cards, but SDs are gaining ground. You can configure the cards to do a number of things just like the D7000, D4 and D3 series.

      Here are a couple off the top of my head, there are probably more.

      Situation #1
      Card 1 & 2 are redundant, writing the same data to both at the same time.

      Situation #2
      Card 1 is for RAW and card 2 is for JPG files. This of this as a Mirrored RAID in a computer.

      Situation #3
      Card 1 is the primary and card 2 is used for “spill over” if card 1 gets full. Think of this as a JBOD RAID configuration in a computer.

      Situation #4
      Card 1 is for Images and card 2 is for video (this is rumored but not verified I think)

      Situation #5
      Card 1 is for data and card 2 is set as a protected backup, meaning it can’t be formatted from the camera itself.

      Situation #6
      Card 1 is the primary and for data, and card 2 can be swapped in and out to be used as a backup or an interface for the computer.

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:17 pm

      Mike, I personally have 16 GB Sandisk Extreme Pro cards that I use with my D700 and D3s today. Planning to continue using them on the D800. I also bought a few fast 16 GB SDXC cards that I am planning to use for backup when assisting my wife with her wedding business.

  65. 65) Harry
    February 14, 2012 at 8:07 am

    I enjoyed reading the conversations on the 800/800E, I have a D200 and have been salivating over the D800, its a nice price point, but a little over my threshold of a casual photographer who shoots only on vacation and trips ( maybe an occasion on and off). Having invested heavily on Nikon lenses (17-35, 28-70, 70-200 and recently 28-300) sometimes I hate the crop on the D200.

    I was really considering the 800E due to the additional sharpness but it seems its a lot more than what I was thinking , thanx to Mansurov for these pages they have been most helpful, also they have made me more confused.

    I hoping to see some real pictures and comparisons, which I am sure will lay to rest fears when you pur down 3K+ on a camera.

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:18 pm

      Harry, I recommend for most people to get the D800, not the “E” version. I consider the latter to be a specialized camera for landscapes, macro and food photography. For your needs, the regular D800 version would more than suffice.

  66. 66) Sal C
    February 14, 2012 at 11:18 am

    If one would choose the D800E, is there an AA filter available for your nens to eliminate this problem?

    • 66.1) Nate
      February 14, 2012 at 11:21 am

      No. the AA filter needs to be close to the sensor, that’s why it’s basically attached directly. If you are not absolutely sure you need the D800E definitely go with the D800.

  67. 67) Mike
    February 14, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Nasim, hope it is ok to post this. I flopped back and forth on the issue of the D800 vs D800E even going to the point of buying the E model then switching to the regular D800. I posted my reasons for getting the D800, maybe it will help someone else make the choice.

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:13 pm

      Thanks for the link Mike, I am sure others will find it useful.

  68. February 14, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. I was looking to purchase the D800/E and wasn’t quite sure of which I should drop the cash on. I do way too many portraits, and not nearly enough landscape to justify the 800E. I will say that you definitely cleared my mind of any doubt on which is for me… thanks for saving me the $300 and hours of frustration!

  69. 69) Wallace
    February 15, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Just trying to subscribe to this page.

  70. 70) Amon Mahmud
    February 15, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Great article and thread….thank you Nasim…

    Made my mind up to go for a normal D800…..I think!

    I have a question about how Moire effects black and white images. I predominately shoot portraits, usually outside…and a lot of street photography (people and some architecture). I convert a large number to greyscale…

    Your thoughts?

    • February 15, 2012 at 11:57 pm

      Amon, moire will still be visible in B&W. While the nasty yellowish rainbow colors won’t be visible, you will surely see the Luminance channel…

  71. February 16, 2012 at 3:20 am

    I have decided after much thinking about this to go with the D800. Most of my work is architectural or urban based and i do generally use Nik Sharpening software where extra punch is required. After much deliberation i feel that as my workflow generally includes post sharpening of images that i will be able to get very similar sharpness to the 800E and have peace of mind on the moire issue! Phew! Glad that decision is made.. off to pre order now!

  72. 72) Mitchell
    February 17, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Good article, NM. Thanks.

    I pre-ordered the D800E because:
    –although I shoot a lot of things, my favourite subjects are natural
    –I’d rather lose the odd image to uncorrectable moire than know for sure every steady, focused shot is slightly blurrier than it might otherwise have been
    –if I change my mind (unlikely), selling the 800E would be no problem
    –I asked my lenses (psychically) and they all definitely want the “E”, no question

  73. 73) Tonepoet
    February 19, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I don’t have any background with DLSR cameras, just happened to chance by news about the D800 while looking for a replacement for my point ‘n shoot. What I think I know about DSLRs is that they’re compatible with a lot of accessories, like different flashes, diffusers, filters, lenses and such to suit different settings.

    I’m curious as to why you can’t have something like a ring adapter that screws on underneath the lens that filters moire, rather than having a filter built into the body of the camera? Perhaps something like this thing I saw on google:

    • February 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm

      That’s because those types of tools degrade image quality on digital cameras – they are only suitable for low-definition videos.

  74. 74) Dean M.
    February 19, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    I see an apparent contradiction re moire and Fstop; one comment says no matter yet another that opening up to (re landscape) f11 vs. f22, as example, would greatly reduce the moire. Also one Q. re ISO says does not matter…shoot mostly travel and wildlife, but of course, in any travel one does see architecture.
    Thanks for any help.
    Dean M.

    • 74.1) gianpaolo
      February 20, 2012 at 12:41 am

      for engineers, moire’ (an undersampling artifact) is very easy to understand (nyquist theorem) but for the layman it can be a counterintuitive concept.
      it is a non-linear process that cannot be reversed.
      i think the reason why nikon produces the 800E is that 36MP is circa the resolution of 35mm optics, and so aliasing (folding in band, moire’) is not a serious problem.
      A fun experiment, to get a feeling of the phenomenon, is to put a sheet of metal with small holes quite close together in front of the camera, and take a shot of something with a regular pattern.
      it is equivalent to subsampling, and moire should be visible.
      in a real situation, without a low pass filter, if the spatial bandwith of the image is decreased before the sensor captures it moire can be avoided. this means diffraction, defocus.
      hope to be of some help…

  75. 75) Rusty C.
    February 20, 2012 at 4:12 am

    Hi Nasim, Just so you know I read your website habitually from Mozambique. It’s great. I have a quick question. I just sold my D300s and am looking for a replacement. I normally take landscape and portrait photos for publicity of the NGO I work for. My budget will either allow me to purchase a D7000 and the 24-70mm f/2.8 or the D800 and a much lesser expensive lens. I’m very intrigued by both options but can’t seem to settle on one. What would you recommend? Thanks.

    Rusty C.

    • February 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm

      Rusty, every time the question of cheaper camera + lens versus expensive camera no lens comes out, I always recommend to get a good lens instead of a good camera.

  76. 76) daniel meseguer
    February 20, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Hi Nasim:

    This morning I had my hands for the first time, on a Nikon D-800 (official presentation in Madrid) and I have a couple of conclusions:

    – The D-800 is not intended to be the new D-700 (most of us did expected it to be).
    – The D-800 is slower than the D-700.
    – All Nikkor Lenses can be used, but not all are appropiated for the D-800.
    – The D-800 is not for all purposes, it is more a camera for studio photography.

    Some of us were quite disapointed and after presentation, several of the persons asisting decided to buy the “old” D-700 and forget about the D-800. Three D-700 they had in stock at the shop (I think Nikon is not making this camera any more), were inmediately sold. Things should be of course different if video is your main interest.

    They said D-800 presentation was due to be made in October 2011 and for problems in Thailand was delayed untill now (4 months). General thought is that a new camera, the D-700 substitute, will be probably arriving very soon.


    • February 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm


      I can guarantee you that you will not see a D700-like replacement from Nikon any time soon. If you are not happy with the D800, you can still buy D700. It is not available now due to flood issues and low supply, but Nikon will continue making it, so it should get restocked soon.

  77. February 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    I am so glad to find this site since you seem to be right on target with your answers. I am strictly a landscape photographer and everything I shoot is enlarged for framing and sale. Currently I am shooting with a Nikon d3x and love the results.

    Would I see much of an advantage in my work shooting with a d800e with such a higher pixel count. I shoot only in RAW and most everything I shoot is on a tripod with a remote control. I am always looking for the best and latest in equipment and am just wondering if this would be to my benefit.

    Thank you in advance for your help in this decision

    jack mitchel

    • February 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      Jack, Nikon killed the D3X line with the D800/D800E line. If you are big into landscapes, the extra resolution and sharpness from the Nikon D800E will make a good sense for your work. I personally will be using the D800E for my landscape photography – see some recent examples of my work I posted on 500px:

  78. 78) Egami
    February 21, 2012 at 8:41 am

    this is a very informative post , thank u for sharing Nasim , I do not know why Nikon put us into this crossroads, it is a tough decision to take, I’m amateur photographer, my first passion is landscape photography and love to have the sharpness of E-version here, but at the same time i also love to photograph macro,nature,birds and people , what is the right choice for me …or may be get both looolz… technology is making our life harder :)

    • February 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      Egami, get the regular Nikon D800 version and do not look back. It is still going to be a phenomenal camera. That extra sharpness you get from D800E is not worth it if you will be photographing people and architecture. See my moire articles – why would you want to waste so much of your time in post?

      • 78.1.1) Egami
        February 24, 2012 at 6:09 am

        that is fair enough….thank a lot Nasim

  79. 79) Shankar
    February 21, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Hi Nasim,

    I discovered your work recently and am very are becoming my definitive

    I currently use a Nikon D7000, which I have had for close to a year, following an upgrade from the D90.
    Have bitten the buller and pre ordered a D800 (instead of the D800e)..

    Am not expert and will use the camera mainly for portraits (I have a 3 year old son :), some architecture for when I travel, and also landscapes…i dont intend to blow landscape pics or any other pics for that matter beyond A4 size..From my reading of the tea leaves, the D800 is the better option.
    Would you agree?

    When can we expect to see your practical comparison between the D800 and D800e?

    Really looking forward to it!



    • February 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      Shankar, you’ve made the right choice by going with the D800. As I have already pointed out, the D800E is a very specialized tool that only dedicated landscape/macro photographers should consider getting. As I have shown in my moire articles, it is too painful to deal with it in post-processing, simply not worth the time.

  80. 80) Nick
    February 21, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    To be honest I want the sharpest possible photo without any head aches or increase work flow. The fact that everyone is saying a “bit” and not saying “significantly” sharper, isn’t enough for me to want to go for the D800e. Can I assume that with all this buzz about the D800e being a “bit” sharper, that the D800 (with the filter) is still going to be sharper than any other DSLR on the market today with the exception of the D800e? If the answer to that is yes, then I’m good. We were all expecting the D800 to have 16-24 MP for $4000, so if this puppy is even 10% sharper than the D3s sensor for $3000 and no head aches, I’m happy!!!!

    • February 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      Nick, don’t be too focused on sharpness – 99% of the time sharpness is not even related to a camera. You have to have good lenses, good camera and post-processing technique to get sharp images.

      • 80.1.1) Nick
        February 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm

        Thanks Nasim. I value your comments and I’ve learned a great deal from you in the last year. Because of your recommendations I own the Nikon trinity and there are marked improvements to image sharpness and quality even on my old 6MP D70. I generally get positive comments on my photo techniques, so I can only assume I’m doing something right. I’m hoping to see another marked improvement with the D800. Thanks again, and all the best to you and your family.


  81. 81) Michael
    February 22, 2012 at 3:06 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Request if I may. As soon as you get your hands on a D800 could you test it with the latest 70-200 and the 300mm f4 afs, with and without a TC14 converter fitted.
    Your similar test was brilliant with the D700


    • February 23, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      Michael, looks like I will have to retest all lenses with the D800 going forward…

  82. 82) Ivo
    February 23, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Hello Nasim,

    you did recommend for bird photographers to get D800. Can I ask for the reason? Im landscape and wildlife (mammals) photographer. For landscape preferable camera will be D800E, but what about wildlife?

    Thank you,


    • February 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      Ivo, some bird patterns might be too detailed and might potentially result in moire, which is why it is best to get the regular D800 version.

  83. 83) Tom
    February 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm


    Currently have the D700 (very nice camera!), and tryingto decide which of the 3 new cameras to go up to – D800, D800E and D4. And, before the new D800s were released

    The problem is that I shoot pretty well everything – landscapes, weddings, portrait, cityscapes, sports and wildlife.

    Landscapes – my guess is D800E beng the best of the 3, however realistically how large would I need to be printing before I see the difference?

    If FPS is not an important consideration, in what situations would you suggest going to the D4 ahead of the D800x?


  84. February 26, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    Your site was highly recommended by B&H photo. I pre-ordered a Nikon D800E but have had some second thoughts. I am primarily a bird photographer (80% of the time) using a Nikkor 500mm and tripod. They strongly recommended that I change my order to the D800. I think you touched on this subject a few posts back but would appreciate your thoughts. Does using a good 500mm lens have any effect on moire issues ? Less moire ? Plus, I want true colors when photographing birds. I don’t mind spending a little time (occasional) dealing with the moire issue but couldn’t live with a frequent occurrence. I’m too old to spend all of my time in the “darkroom”. Your thoughts !



  85. 85) Aboud
    February 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I am curious as to what the moire issues are with architecture. I have been shooting architecture for years with MF digital with no AA filter and haven’t run into a problem yet. Can you explain this better or post some examples?

  86. 86) Aboud
    February 28, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    You do not recommend the “E” for architecture citing moire issues. I have been shooting architecture with MF digital without anti-alias filters for years and have experienced no problems. Could you kindly explain this further or post examples of the concerns you have.


  87. 87) Julian
    March 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Hi. I mostly take close up images of cacti! i started with a Penatx P50 an age ago but my current camera is a D300 with a 105mm Macro. Lots of spines although they are rarely straight and parallel to each other. Do I stick with the D800 I have on pre-order or change to the D800e? Any suggestions gratefully received. Julian

  88. March 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    It’s apparent from all the questions that Nikon has done a poor job of rolling out the D800 and D800E. If you imagine hard enough, you might be able to see a difference between those pitiful little web images. Maybe 100% crop isn’t significant enough to see the difference. Maybe we need to see a 1000% crop. Maybe then we could decide. Oh yeah, except that sometimes the picture will be completely ruined by color and moire issues. I’ve made beautiful 24×36 prints from my D200 and D300. I’ll be impressed if I can see an appreciable difference with an upgrade to a regular D800 (and sorely disappointed if I can’t). I don’t know about my hat, but I’ll eat a vegetarian hot-dog if I can see a difference between a print from a D800 and a D800E.

  89. 89) phototrope
    March 5, 2012 at 4:06 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Firstly, thank you for your great website.

    Now, on February 7, 2012 at 12:42 pm you said, “The Nikon D800E is the way to go for landscape photographers, but not for portrait/wedding photographers.”

    But on February 7, 2012 at 12:07 am “David, I pre-ordered the D800E :) Moire is going to be visible in LCD, so I will find a way to deal with it. Planning to use it for weddings as well!”

    Erm, I’m somewhat confused by your reasoning. Could you explain please. (This is not a criticism, but an attempt to understand the D800/D800E question. I have both on pre-order but will cancel one of them as soon as I understand it better. I am not primarily a landscape photographer).

    • March 5, 2012 at 11:41 am

      The reason why I said that, is because one needs to fully understand the implications of possible moire before buying a camera. If you are not ready to deal with moire, then you should get the regular D800 (see my many posts on moire) version. I primarily shoot landscapes, so my D800E will be mostly used for capturing landscapes. When I help out my wife with her weddings, then I will also use the D800E and if there is moire, I will have to worry about it on location or later in post – I am ready to deal with it when needed. If moire is too much of a pain, then I can always take the D700 or the D3s with me. So my priority is still with landscapes, which is why I chose the D800E.

      • 89.1.1) Adithia
        January 19, 2013 at 8:55 am

        Hi Nasim,

        Could you give some of the examples from the wedding pictures you’ve taken using D800E? Many thanks before.

  90. 90) Frank
    March 5, 2012 at 7:06 am


    • 90.1) Benjamin E
      March 5, 2012 at 7:43 am

      I was actually thinking the same as you Frank.. All the pros are recommending against the D800E but are buying it themselves.

      I think it’s about handling and work flow, if someone is prepared to deal with moiré to get better pictures(D800E) or not(D800).

      • March 5, 2012 at 11:48 am

        That’s exactly right! If you are not ready to deal with moire issues, then you are better off with the D800…

  91. 91) Luci
    March 5, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Nasim, the more I read the more confused I become about my next choice. Ok, the D800S is out because I am not a landscape photographer. I mostly take portraits photographs of sometimes fast moving people (dancers, musicians, people in trance – very dynamic) in very low light (I dot not like to use flash in these situations). The D700 at ISO 6400 is quite noisy. Would you suggest the D800 or D4. And thank you very much for all the great tips.

  92. 92) Breno
    March 7, 2012 at 7:48 am


    I only have one big question, using the DSLR for video production (mainly) a low-pass filter sounds like a good idea having it in. For that matter, could you explain me which model would be the best, D800 or D800E? I have always used nikon, but right before the news of the release of D800, I was thinking seriously about the Canon 5D Mark II.

    I´d really appreciate your advice, Nasim.

    thank you

  93. March 9, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Hi Nasim,

    New to your site, but impressed. I’m thinking about the 800E. I’m a working photographer, but have been wanting higher resolution for personal work (landscapes and documentary projects) involving very large prints. I use mostly Canon gear, so now I’m thinking I’ll be a “dual platform” guy – Canon and Nikon :-). An 800E as my personal project, high res camera, and continue to use my Canon 1Ds III, etc. for “normal” work. Expensive yes, will need new glass, etc. but doable. I know it sounds crazy, but the price point isn’t so crazy (compared to most of the MF digital options). Remember that most of us older working photographers use to have a “35mm system” AND a “medium format system”. In my case it was Canon and Pentax 67. Now perhaps Canon and Nikon D800E ? There is another ‘minor’ incentive. I teach a lot of workshops and my students are using Nikon gear a lot more than they did a few years ago. Having Nikon in my own stable would help me assist them more effectively. Regarding the moire issue; Yes, could definitely be a problem, but hopefully a minimal one for what I’ll be shooting. I was also under the impression that the higher the resolution, the less of an issue moire might be ?

    I have found your site VERY informative. Especially helpful info about the Nikkor glass.

    Thank you

  94. 94) Steve
    March 9, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Even thought the D800E may cause moire, it’s the model I’d probably still opt for. I shoot low light cityscapes, street and architecture, so I do want that extra detail. Come to think of it, anyone would want the extra detail.

    I suppose it depends on how likely it is for the moire to occur. If it happens at the drop of a hat, i.e. in nearly every shot with a fine pattern then okay, I’d probably go for the D800 instead but if it’s something that is only going to occur occasionally then I think it’s worth it for the extra detail gained in every other shot.

    I read an article after the announcement saying that moire is less likely to occur in the D800E than in the M9 because it has such a high resolution sensor, (can’t remember where I read that, could have been KR’s site..?). I don’t frequent M9 forums very often as I don’t own one, while that’s unfortunate, on the occasions I have browsed a Leica forum, there seems to be little mention of moire.

    Best thing for myself I think is to wait and see real world shots from both cameras, shots that are similar to what I do myself. Or if anyone would like to look at my photos and suggest either model, I’d be very grateful.

    Fantastic article as always Nasim, thanks for all the time you put into this site, it’s extremely helpful!!

  95. 95) george gao
    March 11, 2012 at 8:36 am


    Here is the full size version of the Japanese dress photo you used to show Moire effect on D800E
    (JPG : 20.39 MB)

    But I cannot see anything wrong in the 100% JPG, it’s just sheer beautiful resolution to me.

    Am I missing anything?

    Thanks and regards


    March 12, 2012 at 8:59 am

    I have been using D200 for last 5 years and found it very nice.I click macro and landscapes mostly.Do you think that i should buy D800E if i need to add one more camera to my bag.Please let me know through my e-mail.Thank you

    • March 14, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      Yes Vishu, if you want to upgrade your D200, then D800E is the way to go for you!

  97. 97) david
    March 12, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Nasim, I don’t think anyone has mentioned this excellent article:

    It is written mainly for people using DSLRs for video, but it explains very clearly what false detail is, and how it can give the false illusion of high resolution for certain subjects. (See the resolution test charts in the middle of the article.) It raises a pertinent question: are some photographers relying on false detail (aliasing) for the perceived sharpness of their non-a.a. cameras? If so, maybe it would be better to control the rendition of the finest detail through careful deconvolution sharpening technique. (Sharpening can even induce its own kind of sharp-looking artifacts, if that’s the goal!)

    • March 13, 2012 at 12:17 am

      David, that’s an excellent article indeed, thank you so much for sharing!

  98. 98) Tommy B
    March 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Very good article. Right to the point.

  99. 99) uncle vic
    March 15, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    excellent article!! thanks also
    maybe van gogh had a bit of an aliasing issue….silly i know, but an interesting thought :)

  100. 100) david
    March 16, 2012 at 12:12 am

    more on D800 vs. D800E at Luminous Landscape:

    I recently posted this, and would like to cross-post it here:

    I know I’ll get jumped on for this, but I think removing a well-designed a.a. filter rarely results in much more real detail. Instead, it allows the generation of false detail beyond the nyquist limit, which gives the impression of sharpness. Aliasing looks very sharp. And at the resolutions we use now, nobody can tell the difference in many landscape images. But that “extra” detail just may not be in the original scene at all. This article explains the issue quite well, I think:

    Right now, even the highest resolution bayer sensors fail to fully exploit the abilities of decent lenses. Ctein has pointed out that it will take sensors with resolution in the hundreds of megapixels to actually accomplish that. In the meantime, there are two strategies people use to get the look of ultimate sharpness–both of them relying on digital artifacts and processing.

    One is to remove the a.a. filter, and accept some aliased edges and false details that look sharp. These artifacts are often indistinguishable from actual detail in, say, landscape photography. The second strategy is to cut off most detail beyond nyquist with an a.a. filter, and use advanced sharpening techniques that try to recreate what the lens saw. If pushed far enough, deconvolution sharpening not only restores sharpness, but introduces a mist of grain and other digital artifacts that make the file look super sharp. (Just being honest, here.)

    Personally, I prefer the second strategy. Deconvolution sharpening gets better all the time. And I would rather have control over the process than accept whatever artifacts the sensor gives me. Not just moire, but distorted edges and other inventions of the sensor and camera processing.

    Pretty much every digital file made without an a.a. filter has aliasing, baked in. Just check the resolution charts of your favorite lenses. They all show false color and false detail–even those taken on cameras with a weak a.a. filter. It’s fine if you like how the file looks, but we shouldn’t confuse this aliasing with actual resolution.

    I think that in ten years people will look back on the whole a.a. debate as a quaint vestige of digital growing pains. In the meantime, we should keep it real. Digital cameras without a.a. filters record a lot of false data. If we want to incorporate that into the look of our images, fine. But it’s still there. For the most part non-a.a. cameras don’t reveal more resolution. They create it.

    Now I’ll go hide in my bunker to wait for the incoming flames…

    • March 16, 2012 at 12:25 am

      David, excellent points – I agree! People are grabbing the D800E without really understanding the consequences…

    • 100.2) Glenn
      March 16, 2012 at 5:15 am

      This is one of the most pragmatic statements I’ve seen on the issue.
      I like it.

    • 100.3) Jorge Balarin
      March 16, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      Good explanation, well written and funny.

    • March 24, 2012 at 8:52 am

      I can see where you’re coming from and I’m certainly not in a position to argue the reverse. However, how do you reconcile this theory with some of the wonderful images made by photographers using MF digital? Would you say they are so detailed they are unrealistic? I love the depth and detail evident in prints from MF photographers, and indeed from drum scanned LF film – but that’s another story…

      I remember reading an article by Hans Strand a while back, accompanied by some stunning images. Of course the quality of the images is primarily down to his skill as a photographer but he did also refer to his love of Hasselblad and how he had been disappointed in the results he got when using a Canon dSLR. In particular he referred to the fact that the softening by the AA filter, followed by sharpening in PP, leads to a flatter looking image. When I looked at his work, I found it hard to disagree. Now I believe Canon’s AA filters are typically stronger than Nikon’s and, if the D800 also has a weaker AA filter than other Nikon cams, then perhaps the ideal compromise has been reached. It would be nice to see some real world comparisons between two production cameras…

  101. 101) sinoassa bombassei
    March 16, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Would the D800 work best for video (compared to the 800e)? With video I suppose is not easy to remove moirè.

    • March 23, 2012 at 12:51 am

      Sinoassa, moire in video works differently than in pictures. Both the D800 and the D800E will have the same video quality.

  102. 102) Rosie
    March 22, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    This is so useful, reading all your comments, thank you. I photograph everything, landscapes, buildings, people, lots of people. I love to have the detail, a sharp photograph, so now I am very unsure which camera to get :( I can only afford one.

    • March 23, 2012 at 12:50 am

      Rosie, get the Nikon D800 – as I have pointed out already, you only want to get the D800E if you shoot exclusively macro and landscapes.

  103. 103) Carlos
    March 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm


    I have truly enjoyed the posting on Nikon D800 vs. Nikon D800E. It has helped me substantially in my quest for a decision between purchasing a D800 or a D800E. The majority of all my photography is in landscape, with a just very little in macro, wildlife, and nature. I guess from the description of my photography style, I should be purchasing the D800E. But, I shoot in JPEG with very little RAW and I prefer very little post processing. Would my last statement tip the balance to purchase the D800. And if so, will there be that much of a difference in sharpness and resolution to tip the balance back to the D800E.

  104. 104) david
    March 24, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Lizzie, I’m no expert–I’m just trying to read everything I can about this issue. But as the article I linked to points out, there is actually false detail (as well as color) produced by current sensors without a.a. filters. This false detail can potentially add to the impression of sharpness. I don’t have a big problem with that, as long as we are straightforward about what’s going on. Removing a.a. filtration is not a “purer” or “cleaner” way to get detail and sharpness.

    I think there is sometimes a whiff of snobbery about the a.a. discussion. You know: “If you don’t understand why you need a D800e, get a D800″….

    At the higher end of image quality, photographers have been taking advantage of “tricks” of various kinds to increase perceived sharpness for years. I used to use dilute, high acutance Rodinal developer that accentuated the edges in my negatives by making the grains of silver clump there slightly. Other darkroom workers used elaborate unsharp masking techniques. Film manufacturers build in “edge effects” to increase sharpness (at the expense of slight halos on the edges). And, of course, some of us use deconvolution sharpening software in post-processing to recover/accentuate detail. Nothing “pure” about any of that either.

    I agree that digital medium format and Leica digital M images can look beautiful and very sharp. Some of that comes down to great lenses and flawless technique by serious photographers. Some of the sharpness may be helped along by aliasing artifacts, too. Careful review of digital files while on site can allow photographers with a.a.-less cameras avoid the most obvious artifacts.

    But on the other hand, some medium format photographers do add filters to their lenses to cut down aliasing. Others stop down far enough so that diffraction blur prevents moire. (Which seems kind of ironic to me. Wasn’t this supposed to be all about resolution and detail and sharpness?) And I just read a post by a studio photographer who switched from medium format to a D3X because moire was killing him with post-production headaches. Meanwhile, there are some beautiful images produced by cameras with a.a. filters.

    I remember reading posts by a well-known master printer who raved about how well M9 files can be uprezzed to make large prints. He also happened to mention that he added small quantities of grain to the files before printing–to smooth over digital artifacts. Well, okay. Whatever works. I’ve used similar measures myself.

    My bottom line is that the final result, if we work with care, can be more or less identical with either work flow. So far, I’ve never seen a comparison of a.a. and non-a.a. images where proper sharpening couldn’t equalize sharpness–without as many aliasing artifacts.

    My own preference is to control as much of the whole chain of image production as possible. So I tentatively prefer deconvolution sharpening after capture instead of up-front (often permanent) aliasing artifacts.

    Another issue that has been raised is the possibility that anti-aliasing filters may decrease micro-contrast, especially in shadows. I believe Lloyd Chambers will be testing this when he gets his D800 and D800e bodies. Here again, though, there are ways to control micro-contrast in processing. We’ll see how that discussion evolves.

    If I didn’t shoot a lot of urban landscapes, I might give more consideration to buying a D800e. But it’s not for me. In fact, recently I’ve seen some minor aliasing artifacts in sample images of cityscapes–taken with the D800! Those same scenes would most likely have been chock full of aliasing artifacts if a D800e had been used. When I sharpened and processed the samples carefully, even from jpegs, they look like…umm, medium format images? What do you think?

    (If you’re interested, in the first group of samples, look at the bright white rooftop about a third of the way from the left edge, at 100%. Definite aliasing artifacts. Only visible in a very large print, and easy to tame at that scale.)

    • March 25, 2012 at 12:35 pm

      David – thank you for your reply – some very interesting points and I’ll come back to you on a few thoughts in due course – probably tomorrow.

    • March 26, 2012 at 2:54 am

      David – time for a more considered reply now ;-)

      Firstly, I absolutely acknowledge that people are doing fantastic work with all kinds of gear. Also, it isn’t really sharpness per se that I am concerned with – more that sense of depth and detail. Of course there is a relationship between all of these things and many other factors come into play – light, colour, lens choice, DOF, etc.

      Funnily enough, I was talking to a couple of portrait photographers the other day who used to use Hasselblad film cameras but, having gone digital, found the crispness too much and are using Nikon dSLRs instead now. Then again, I’ve seen some fabulous portraits with MF digital as well.
      I looked at some of those examples in your link – yes saw the artifacts and certainly some great detail in there. I’d like to see more landscape examples than I’ve been able to find. I presume you’ve seen these examples from the prototype models?
      Image 4 has that look to which I was referring – great detail and an almost 3D like quality to my eyes; I did also try printing it and it looks amazing. That said, the image of the geisha looks horribly crunchy to me and the portraits with the D800 look far cleaner. Trouble is, we don’t really know what we are seeing!

      Do you know when the likes of Lloyd Chambers will be doing these tests? It would be really good to see just how they stand up in a variety of shooting situations. My work is primarily landscape but I do also do urban landscapes from time to time and also some interiors occasionally. Of course there is always the option for having a different body for that kind of work, if need be.

      In the meantime, it seems Nikon UK have decided we’re not paying enough of a premium on our gear over here and have upped the price which does not make me keen to rush into anything – probably just as well! ;-)

      • 104.2.1) david
        March 26, 2012 at 11:21 am

        I’m sure Chambers, Luminous Landscape and many others (Nasim???) will be doing comparative tests as soon as they can get their hands on the cameras. Hopefully weeks, not months. The launch of the D800 has been a mess as far as I can see. Here in the U.S., the biggest photo retailers like B&H and Amazon, with thousands of impatient pre-orderers, are getting hardly any cameras, while at the same time Best Buy and some local stores have been selling to walk-in customers. I feel bad about the way the sneaky price increases are happening in the UK, and wonder when that will migrate over here.

        • Jorge Balarin
          March 26, 2012 at 12:49 pm

          “I feel bad about the way the sneaky price increases are happening in the UK”. Well, I think that’s an english tradition. Did you hear about Sir Francis Drake ? : )

          • Lizzie Shepherd
            March 26, 2012 at 4:07 pm

            I could be wrong, but I think it’s happening in Scotland and Wales as well! ;-))

            • Jorge Balarin
              March 27, 2012 at 12:43 pm

              So the british set a style : )

        • Lizzie Shepherd
          March 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm

          Thanks David – I guess these launches are hard to judge – but I cannot accept that some strange systems error leads to a pricing mistake and just in the UK. At least it gives me even more time to consider my options – not as if I could get one now if I even wanted to! Perhaps this presents the ideal reason to go over to the US or Canada for a photo grip and get a camera while I’m there. The price difference would pay for one airfare anyway! In the meantime, I’ll keep an eye out for those comparisons. Thanks for all your thoughts – very interesting and food for thought here.

        • Lizzie Shepherd
          March 26, 2012 at 4:12 pm

          Thanks David – I guess these launches are hard to judge – but I cannot accept that some strange systems error leads to a pricing mistake and just in the UK. At least it gives me even more time to consider my options – not as if I could get one now if I even wanted to! Perhaps this presents the ideal reason to go over to the US or Canada for a photo trip and get a camera while I’m there. The price difference would pay for one airfare anyway! In the meantime, I’ll keep an eye out for those comparisons. Thanks for all your thoughts – very interesting and food for thought here.

  105. 105) Mauritz
    March 28, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Could you please help me out on this question?
    At what f-stop will the D800 become diffraction limited?


  106. 106) Felix
    March 29, 2012 at 3:05 am

    Thanks for the informative article and lively discussion Nasim. I read all the comments. I put a pre-order down for the 800E, despite the fact that I only shoot portraits. 80% studio lit portraits, 20% outdoor portraits. It’s going to be my first dSLR. Was shooting 6×7 and view camera 8×10 most of my life. I’m somewhat addicted to detail.

    I just want to add that people should be clear of the difference between Moire false color and Moire pattern. Nikon on their website ( ) even states in a sleight-of-hand:

    “You can alter your shooting style to accomodate for changes that may be neceessary to keep moiré/false color to a minimum. (see sidebar at end of article). Because you won’t easily be able to see the effects of moiré/false color on the camera’s LCD, you should be viewing the image at 100% magnification on a computer screen to see the artifacts in the image. Nikon Capture NX2 software provides a way to correct the false color moiré in images.”

    It’s fairly easy to remove Moire false color. PS paintbrush using a sample from surrounding fabric and set to “color.” But Moire pattern is a hellish beast in a circle of its own.

    To really illustrate what Nasim means by the tedious post production nightmare of dealing with Moire pattern, you can give the photo of the beige jacket above a whirl. Download it and apply Jane Conner-ziser’s 18 step solution (which may have been inspired by Dan Margulis)

    Final result: moire false color removed. Moire pattern still present.

    I’m re-thinking my order. Of course, I could just stay with the 800E, and pray for a anti-moire plug-in to be written and made for sale.

    Or the most elegant solution: Tell sitters to take off their clothes. :)

  107. 107) Ken
    March 29, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Nasim, I really appreciate this site. I’ve pre-ordered the 800e. I think from what I read here that’s the right call. But let me ask one more time. I shoot landscapes at F16-22, with exposures from 3 seconds to 1/60. I adjust my pics with Aperture 2 and print large (4’X3′) I snap very few pics and when I do, I spend about an hour working on it in Aperture. I was in the market for a mid-format camera and when the 800e promised near mid-format quality, I was sold. Am I thinking right with the 800e.

    Ps one article I read said that you should only shoot in the mid F stop range (5.6-8) I never shoot there. That worries me.

    • 107.1) Johnniee
      March 31, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      Ken, I have the same concerns as you…the main thing with shooting above f8 is diffraction. You can still shoot closed down, but may lose some image sharpness to diffraction – which will happen to both D800 and D800E. The other option, which I will use if I want tack sharp image throughout, is focus stacking several images in Photoshop. Now if only my D800E will show up soon…

      • 107.1.1) Ken
        May 15, 2012 at 6:20 am

        Thanks Johnniee, I’ve already sold my D700 and I’m without a good camera right now. I’m seeing shots everywhere and I can nothing about it. Hurry up B & H where’s my D800e?

  108. 108) Durga
    March 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Which one is better for cinematography?

  109. 109) Shane
    March 31, 2012 at 5:33 am


    My dilemma is I shoot weddings and landscape prob 50/50 but can see why people choose d800 over ‘e’ but in my case would you consider the d800 version afterall it is better seemingly than the d700 and canon mk11@ landscape and we all know the mk11 is or was the king at this…..

  110. April 4, 2012 at 12:57 am


    Earlier in this thread you advised the D800E for sports? does that not clearly contradict to the fact that this D800E is far more prone to Moiré? Especially in the many fabrics worn by sporters the chance of being bothered by moiré is very real, so i would certainly prefer the normal 800 for this, but with speed in mind even more the D4 !

  111. 111) Marco
    April 15, 2012 at 8:13 am

    I shoot everything, from sports to portraits to street to macro… Which one should I get?

  112. 112) Casimir
    April 19, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Now I will be shooting mainly landscapes. Would I see much difference between D 80o and D 800e using my lenses (not the to top class) ?
    Nikkor AF D Macro 60mm f 2.8
    Nikkor AF 18-35mm f3.5-4,
    Nikkor AF D 24-85mm f3.5,
    Nikkor AF G Macro 105mm f2.8
    Nikkor AF-S 70- 300mm 1;4.5-5.6 G

  113. 113) Luis Hernandez
    April 22, 2012 at 2:50 am

    Hi, can you give me some advice to choose between d800 or d800E for food photography?

  114. 114) Valery
    April 26, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Hi Nasim,
    thank you for most demostrative explanation of difference between Nikon D800 and Nikon D800E and what is the moire. How I am andastood this effect can be with bouth cameras. I have Nikon D700 about 3 years and never had moire on my photos (portret is my favorite). Why is it? Thank you very much.

  115. 115) Jil
    April 30, 2012 at 7:09 am

    I want to sell my D3. I shoot mainly weddings,portraits and family’s. It is such a heavy camera add the weigh of the 70-200mm lens,WOW what a load. I inherited the D3. I’m looking at the D800 vs the D800E. Thinking the D800 is the way to go. What are yours thoughts. Thank you, Jil

  116. 116) Steve
    April 30, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Hi Nasim, A very nice article of the D800 & 800E. I have been away from wedding photography for awhile and have been thinking about starting up again. I am old school with the Hasselblads and Mamyia RB67’s. I am looking for a system to purchase but can’t decide. I do have Nikon 35mm systems which I prefer over Canon but what about the digital world? Nikon over Canon? Nikon D800? Oh and what do you recommend for a flash system? I currently have Speedtron Blackline power pack system. Will the trigger voltage be to much for the D800? sorry for all the question. I am new to the digital world.


  117. 117) John
    May 1, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    I have had a D200 since it came out and am thinking about the D800. My lenses include Nikkor 12-24 1.4 G ED, a Micro Nikkor 105mm 2.8 G ED, and a Nikkor 70-300 1.4 G ED. Would any of these lenses take advantage of the D800 capability? If I have to replace with the trio you suggest or other prime lenses am I better off sticking with the DX format and waiting for the replacement for the D7000 to appear? Nature and landscapes would be 70% of my photos. Thank you Nasim.

  118. 118) Sergio
    May 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Nasim, I understand your explanation but there’s one thing I don’t get. Fashion photographers have been using MF backs for years, and those cameras don’t have AA filters and I’ve never heard of moiré being a problem for them. So why all the concern now with the D800e?

  119. 119) BILL
    May 18, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Now that Nikon has devloped this new sensor, how likely is it that they will put it onto the D4?

  120. 120) garrie
    May 20, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    why didn’t they give the option of not doing Bayer? if the camera could be used as a 12mpx No interoperation then there is no moiré

  121. June 3, 2012 at 2:14 am

    You said that macro shooters should choose D800E, I am very tempted to follow that advice, but I am a bit worried over butterfly scales (butterflies are one of my main subjects). Could the scales on the wing not be prone to moire? I guess diffraction will often take care of that as I mostly use f/8-f/11, but occasionally I like the shallow DOF from wide open. Will that give my small friends an ugly dose of mire?

  122. 122) Susie
    June 15, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Hi Nasim
    Great discussions. I’m so confused and seem to be going around in circles! Got 800e but not sure if should swap for 800. Do mixture of work. Mainly portraits and landscapes. More portraits, esp kids and babies. Is the ‘e’ too harsh/too sharp for this? Is moire goIng to be a headache (use blankets etc for newborns). Shoot mostly daylight. Spend time retouching and currently use LR and Photoshop.
    Do I just go for 800? Downside is that I’ll then have to wait weeks before I can use it. or I stick with the ‘e’ and just deal with moire as/when it occurs.
    Any comments appreciated.

  123. June 20, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Hi everybody,

    Interesting discussion about the D800 and D800E. I have tested both cameras and went for the D800E. In nature photography I can not see any case that you would have any moiré problems, and if you would, in one case out of 1000, you can easily remove it in the post processing. I have shot everything with the D800E, portraits, cityscapes, landscapes and macro and not one single shot have shown any moiré. Regarding the difference between the cameras, it is a clear difference in the micro structure. With the D800E you have the same fine feeling as viewing a MF file in 100%, whereas with the D800 you have a coarser structure. It is not much, but it is significant and the reason why I bought the camera. I think the D800E is the best camera. Just go for it.

    Best / Hans

  124. June 22, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    i want the camera for fashion- beauty and product, and sometimes in product i do closed ups. 800 or the 800E??? which one you think will be better??? i have a bigg dilema

  125. 125) Fazeel
    June 26, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    I am looking forward to buy the new D800 or D800E. I usually like to shoot landscape, portraits, Wildlife and weddings. After reading all the reviews, i am a bit confused. Should i go for 800E or 800.
    800E is best for landscape and wildlife, however how good is 800 for landscape and wildlife? is there a much difference? please suggest thank you.

  126. 126) Jialin
    July 3, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Thank you for writing this blog, it’s very clear and convincing!

    • 126.1) 65tbirdsteve
      July 5, 2012 at 2:05 am

      Can any one recommend a good monolite? I have an old outdated Metz 60-ct1 flash and I think the trigger voltage is too high and will burn out the contacts on the D800. I plan to do weddings so any recommendations for a flash system will be great.


  127. 127) zuhair salman
    July 29, 2012 at 3:22 am


    I want cameras to photograph weddings Are d800 or d800e

  128. 128) Valery
    January 19, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    You say Nikon D800 and Nikon D800E are identical cameras and only one difference is in one moire filter.So logically Nikon D800 (with this extra filter) should be more expensive than Nikon D800E but there is opposite . Why? Valery.

    • 128.1) EricB
      January 19, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      The D800E is roughly the same, but a part of the antialiasing filter is removed and replaced with another filter of a different design to counteract the anti-aliasing filter. I would assume teh design is a modification to a D800 with a low volume custom part. The incremental cost is about 2/3 what it would cost to remove the anti-aliasing filter and replace it with optical glass at someplace like LifePixel.

  129. 129) Armando
    March 6, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    First of all I’ ll say that I admire this site, it is very helpful indeed. I’ d like you advise me about D800 vs D800E.
    I love landscape and wildlife photography, especially birds, but also more general photography when traveling with my family to visit other countries on holiday. My initial idea is shooting not only in RAW, but also in JPEG for general and holiday photography in order to save storage in the memory card.
    Resolution is higher in JPEG files in D800E (according to DPReview), but to shoot birds and their feathers specifically moire can be a problem. What camera do you think would be better if I want it to photograph birds but reaching the best resolution and save storage as well?

    Thanks for your work Nasim.

  130. 130) Frank
    March 20, 2013 at 4:20 am

    I have the Nikon D800E and love it. No moire at all! Amazing studio camera with ultimate resolution and detail. With the new Nikon D7100 with 24mp, it seems to me nikon is making more cameras with low pass filter and higher resolution. That’s what I’ve always been waiting for. Many people say you don’t need more pixels and need that low pass filter to control moire, I say, yes you do. Who wouldn’t like to have sharper images and with more resolution. big file size? I don’t care. I care about my images not memory space. I shoot portrait with D800E and haven’t had a single problem with textures and all that moire none sense. I can tell you i get moire with my nikon D7000 sometimes. Maybe they removed the anti aliasing filter on my d7000 by accident? And put the anti aliasing filter on my D800E?

  131. 131) mightyike
    May 17, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Hello…I’m a little confused. The camera shop told me the only difference between the d800e and d800 can be eliminated through photoshop, etc.

    I know they have same sensor; however, I thought the E model was more than a ‘difference in software’…..

    Tempe Camera told me the difference is that the E model processes it during the photo….to gain the ‘sharpness’ in the standard 800, one simply needs to put in some work with the correct software.

    That doesn’t make sense to me….I like macro, micro, architecture and portrait/landscape.

    • 131.1) EricB
      May 18, 2013 at 7:23 am

      I’ll give the person you spoke to at Tempe Camera the benefit of the doubt.

      There is a difference in the low pass filter between the D800 and D800E. The difference is explained in the article above. The difference makes the D800 images slightly softer – but this is difficult to see without magnification beyond a normal print.

      By sharpening more aggressively, you can take a typical image with the D800 and achieve a level of sharpness that is hard to distinguish from the D800E. There are plenty of programs that can do this. It’s just a little more sharpening.

      In the event you need maximum resolution – for a large print or to support other editing, the D800E has a little added detail. Rather than sharpening, you might be using this to crop, edit, or apply a specific effect.

      I’ll add that lens tests using tools like FoCal show a significantly difference in resolution favoring the D800E. The magnitude of this difference is much like the difference between using your sharpest aperture or focal length and another average aperture (or a good lens vs. a great lens), so it’s not a show stopper but it is measurable.

      So rather than say the two cameras are the same, its more correct to say that the difference won’t make much difference in most images and can be addressed through sharpening. But there is more detail in the D800E and there are different ways the increased resolution can be used.

      There is nothing wrong with using a D800 and it’s better in some circumstances (like video where moire is a show stopper). It’s still one of the sharpest cameras on the market. Both of these cameras perform better when you are using lenses that can resolve the added resolution, so don’t expect an average zoom to show a difference. The payoff on the D800E is highest when you want no compromises on resolution.

  132. 132) PeterK
    November 15, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    To all people who have not used camera’s without a low pass filter, I have never had an issue with my Leica or now my d800e. If you see any noticeable moire in your preview of the shot, move back or forward one step or tilt your camera(forward or back) and take the shot again and it’s gone. Moire is not that common of an occurrence is most types of photography. Unless you are taking pictures of man made fabrics with patterns up close or thru a window screen up close. In architecture and water shots if you take a raw photo it is pretty ease to remove in post processing. Also I have posted and I have seen a few great postings of pictures taken with the d800 and d800e both showing moire preprocessing and after processing of the raw d800e it has much more detail while removing the moire from the d800 has not much left to work with. Low pass filters are a catch 22 they can help if they are strong enough but also can kill your image. That is why almost no medium format camera used in fashion photography have a low pass filter. No need, move over a step and its gone. The d800 from my uses of it has a weak low pass filter and does show moire to lesser extent in every image that the d800e does. The photo of the fabric above was taken at a different angle on purpose for effect, I bet no moire was present in either at the same angle. The major difference is the d800e has some detail left when the moire is removed. I also notice the d800e has a lot more detail in shadow areas than the d800. I recently donated my d800 to a local school for their photo classes, I enjoy the d800e and look forward to more mainstream cameras removing the low pass filter. I understand it was an issue when you had only 12 megapixels in a full frame camera but with 36 crammed in there, moire creeps up a lot less. The pattern needs to be smaller and repetitive on the same plane as the lines in the sensor so with smaller pixels less moire. Good luck in your choice but I wouldn’t run away from the d800e, it even works great with just chasing around the kids in the back yard, a lot easier than my leaf credo with a 40mp back, which I think no longer has a big edge to the much cheaper d800e, about 6 times cheaper, also no low pass filter.

  133. March 3, 2014 at 9:09 am

    I got D800 mainly for my portrait photography. Because of the large files I do not want to use this camera for my wedding photography. I only get anywhere from 50 – 70 images from my family or senior session, so it’s a lot quicker to add them to my Lightroom. But I do like the idea that I an get closer with a crop without losing any details.

  134. 134) Tom B.
    June 25, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    I have owned a D800 for 2 years and this DSLR is my all time favorite but it seems photos taken with my 35mm f1.4 G and 70-200mm f2.8 VR ii look better than those taken with my former 60mm f2.8G – which was a useful focal length and my least expensive lens. I have been saving up/planning to buy a second body and maybe another lens, before the price increase and/or announcement of the discontinuation of the D800/D800e. I now ask, can I expect better results with the 60mm f2.8 G used with the D800e?

  135. 135) Ilkka H
    June 21, 2015 at 3:02 pm


    The fact that Nikon has been removing AA filter recently from many cameras (D7100, D5300, D810, etc.) seems to suggest that moire is less of an issue now.

    From that, and from the fact that Nikon put AA filter into its recent D750 seems to show that they crippled the D750 on purpose.

    It tilts me to no end that they are doing this. I was consider buying it, but I cannot now. I won’t be buying an intentionally crippled camera.

    Thanks for your test which showed that there is a dofference in sharpness so that this is an actual issue…

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