Nikon D800E will ship with Capture NX 2

The Nikon D800E is generating a lot of interest among many landscape and macro photographers and one question that has been popping up a lot, is why the Nikon D800E is $300 more expensive than the Nikon D800? I received a number of comments like “why is Nikon charging extra for something the D800 does not have?” (meaning why Nikon charges extra money for a camera without an anti-aliasing / low-pass filter). In fact, both the Nikon D800 and the D800E have anti-aliasing filters (see the illustration below), it is just that the Nikon D800E has two of the filters reversed that cancel each other out. So some of the extra charge is coming from the required change in the manufacturing process. Additionally, according to DPReview’s “Nikon D800 Preview” they posted today, the Nikon D800E version will ship with the Nikon Capture NX 2 software, which costs around $129.95 retail.

Now about that low-pass filter on the Nikon D800E – 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 as well; 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.

The above information will be added to my Nikon D800 vs D800E article I posted last night.


  1. 1) Rohan
    February 7, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    I may be wrong, but IMHO, without the AA filter, the overall refraction achieved by the light rays may be different than that with the AA filter. That may change the dynamics of the camera and or need some AF adjustment. I believe in this approach, Nikon is able to achieve the same amount of refraction as that with AA filter, so that the rest of the camera stays the same.

    • February 7, 2012 at 8:14 pm

      Rohan, the low-pass filter cannot be completely removed, because it would displace the focal plane.

  2. 2) Jorge
    February 7, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Hi Nasim,
    I am having a hard time deciding “to E or not to E”, mainly because the samples I keep seeing from the non E version look fantastic and the samples that show a side by side comparison don’t show a big difference in resolution unless you magnify a very very tiny portion or the photo. Some of these examples are on Nikon’s web site, I’m sure you’ve seen them already but just in case:
    My best lenses are the 16-35 f4, the 80-200 f2.8 AF D and the macro 55mm f2.8 manual. I like to shoot landscapes, portraits, architecture, macro and wildlife. Which version I should get in your opinion? Thank you!!

    • February 7, 2012 at 10:19 pm

      Jorge, since you do many types of photography, including portraits and architecture, you would be better off with a regular version of the Nikon D800.

      • 2.1.1) Kai Sheng
        February 7, 2012 at 11:38 pm

        Hi Nasim, I understand that you do many types of photography as well. Will you be getting the D800 or D800E, and why? I remember reading somewhere that you will be ordering the D800E.


        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          February 7, 2012 at 11:44 pm

          Kai, yes, I will be ordering the Nikon D800E. My reasons are – I will need it primarily for my landscape photography. I will try it out with portraiture as well, but in case I am not too happy with moire, I can always use my Nikon D700 and D3s cameras. If I were to buy one single camera for all of my needs, I would have gotten the Nikon D800 instead…

          Hope this helps :)

          • Kai Sheng
            February 8, 2012 at 3:02 am

            Hi Nasim, thank you for all your help and advice. As per your suggestion, I will be getting the D800.
            Looking forward to your review on the D800E, with great images as usual! :)

      • 2.1.2) Jorge
        February 7, 2012 at 11:48 pm

        Thank you Nasim.

    • February 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      I have heard from a very reliable person who has shot both cameras that the difference between the two cameras in sharpness and detail is indeed, very small. I was set to jump on the D800E, but after conferring with this person he assured me that there is very little difference in sharpness. A very slight sharpen in PS or LR3/4 on the standard D800 will make the two images nearly identical.

  3. 3) Tom
    February 7, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Since the D4 is considerably more expensive it would be nice for Capture NX 2 to be included with it as well. At least the D800E will get it, just as all their high end DSLRs should. Come on Nikon!

    • 3.1) Johnniee
      February 7, 2012 at 10:16 pm

      Would it be safe to assume that NX2 will have some sort of enhanced moire elimination tool/preset that puts other products (ie Photoshop) to shame?

      • February 7, 2012 at 10:20 pm

        No, I do not think it will be that much better than what other tools have to offer…

    • February 7, 2012 at 10:20 pm

      Agreed! Kind of makes it unfair almost, especially because D4 is a high-end and expensive camera :)

  4. 4) Johnniee
    February 7, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Thanks, Nasim. That’s a great explanation and illustration of the difference between the 800 and 800E.

  5. February 8, 2012 at 4:38 am

    I Think it’s a great camera and will be powerful equipment for studio’s photographers. I wonder whether it’ll be good tool to wedding photography? I think this 36 Mpix is too much form me.
    Now I wonder witch one will be better for me D800 or D800E

    Ehh life is full of questions :)

  6. 6) George
    February 8, 2012 at 7:58 am
  7. 7) MarkL
    February 8, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    I’d go with D800 + RPP (Raw Photo Processor) to extract the maximum details, which will most likely match the fine details quality (and, obviously, exceed in all other areas) of D800E + CNX2 for post-processing.

  8. 8) Rory
    February 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Hi Nasim

    You might be jumping to conclusions stating that NX2 will be included with the D800e. DPReview says “It will be accompanied by an updated version of Nikon’s Capture NX software, which will include a moiré reduction tool.” I suspect “accompanied” means that an updated version of NX2 will be available to purchase at the same time as the D800e is available … hope I am wrong on this, although I am not much of an NX fan.

    • February 9, 2012 at 11:20 pm

      Rory, the only reason why I thought NX2 was included, was because it was only mentioned under D800E. I called a few people about this and nobody has a clue…

      • 8.1.1) Pedro
        February 10, 2012 at 1:43 am

        Hi Nasim,

        The Nikon D800 micro site says that Capture NX2 is included but also says (Optional) so my guess is that it’s not free.

  9. 9) Boyan
    February 10, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    I jumped to the same conclusion as Nasim and in fact speculated on one of the forums that this is part of the reason why the D800E is more expensive than the D800, but after reading the DPR article more carefully I came to the same conclusion as Rory – that “accompanied” means the NX2 capable of handling D800 NEFs will have a Moire tool.

  10. 10) Dan Walk
    February 11, 2012 at 5:57 am

    Nasim, (I need some clarification on a basic concept!!)

    If the sensor size of the D800 is about the same as the D4 (give or take) and the pixel size of the D800 is about half of the D4 (roughly), that makes the D800 sensor more dense (more resolution?) but what really makes the D800 an FX sensor. Is it physical size or pixel size? My question to you technically qualitied folks is that if a sensor has a certain pixel size and density… lets say per cm… then whats the difference between FX and DX?

    The fact that the D800 has a sensor with 36mp all the same physical size and you shoot it in FX mode, it is referred to as an FX sensor….but the very same sensor shot in DX mode is using the center of the sensor with the same density….just smaller. So what really determines FX and DX ? I thought it was pixel size.

    Moving on then….if the pixels are smaller on the D800 that the D4, but they’re more dense on the same size sensor, does that mean the D800 has much higher resolution with less light/detail capture, and therefore the D800 is really a DX camera? Bottom line what makes a FX a FX?

    • February 14, 2012 at 9:54 pm

      Dan, it is the physical size of the sensor that makes it FX, which is approximately 35mm (like film). See my Nikon DX vs FX article for more details.

  11. 11) Joe
    February 15, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    I know this might appear to be off topic, but you are all looking forward to getting D800 type cameras, but I have had an order placed for a D7000 for well over a month, and have no idea when it will ship. So, how soon do any of you expect to see a D800? I’m just curious. Nobody can tell me when I would get the D7000.

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