Nikon D800

Nikon D800
Nikon D800

Nikon finally revealed their new lineup of cameras just the other week and the D800 does not disappoint. The camera is the highest resolution digital SLR camera currently on the market, short of a medium format system, which can easily run in the tens of thousands of dollars. By comparison the D800 is only a mere 3 grand (actually $2,999.95), of course for us average folks that is still a lot of money, but it is nonetheless a great value when you consider what was available for that price a couple of years ago. However, the two biggest obstacles with the 36.3 Megapixels resolution are going to be storage and speed.

The size means that raw files could easily reach 80 megabytes or more. Also accurate focus becomes even more critical with the higher resolution, as any errors will be all the more prominent. However, it is worth it since you will actually be able to see much greater details in your images especially when you start making tight crops.

The only other major downside is the frame rate is no better than their entry level DSLRs; it is only 4 frames per second, at full resolution, but can be improved by dropping the resolution.

If you shoot a lot of fast action situations and you really need the speed you can get it up by using the DX crop mode, which brings it up to 5 fps, and a battery pack will get you up to 6 fps. In this mode the resolution still remains a decent 15.4MP; better than almost all of the last generation of Nikon DSLR cameras, except the D3x and the D7000. Yet the D3X weighted in at $8,000, and while the D7000 is more affordable, around $1,200, it was the last camera developed of the previous generation. So it is not surprising that it remains the most relevant alternative, but it does not have the full frame sensor.

The ISO range is from 100 to 6400, and is expandable to 25600. For some this comes as a disappointment, because it is not an improvement over the last generation of Nikon cameras, but it is still as good as the D3. However, it seems they purposely held back on the ISO for two reason; one it could add a lot of noise with the higher resolution and two they probably did not want to threaten the sales of their flagship D4 and remaining D3s cameras, which are likely to remain popular among sports and media shooters, who need to get usable shots under adverse conditions fast.

Although, they pretty much killed their D3x (A 24 megapixel 5 frames per second full frame sensor camera) market, which they probably realized was a poor attempt at a medium format alternative. With the D800 they should be able to attract a larger consumer base of those weekend wedding shoots and landscape shooters instead of trying to target the fashion market, which the D3x seemed more geared towards with its high price tag.

They even created a versions for each market segment with the regular D800 for the wedding shooters and the D800E for the landscape shooters. In order to do this they made twin cameras one with a low pass filter and one without the low pass filter, but a little extra optical filter. You will pay a slight premium to get one without the low pass filter, about $300 more, and you will have to be careful to avoid patterns and textures that could cause moiré, and could see a little great noise getting in low light shooting.

A couple of other highlights are the dual card slots which allows for both SD and Compact flash cards. This is a real treat as those stepping up from lower end cameras can continue to use the SD cards (which are easier and cheaper to get, but a bit slower) and those who have the extreme high speed compact flash cards, from larger pro cameras bodies, can also take advantage of the extra speed offered by the higher end compact flash cards.

The other area of great improvement is the metering system, which Nikon increased from about a 1,000 points in their last generation to 91,000 points, which enabled greater facial tracking and helps with those mixed scenes like a person back lite by a sunset.

Lastly, they have have also made improvements to the algorithms in their propitiatory EXPEED image processing with the EXPEED 3. Many of the changes made here will remain unclear, but it is clear that they have made it faster and more accurate by introducing an automated dual processing function, and better phase detection for the auto focus modes. All this is a great camera if you got 3 grand to spare and need the best possible resolution.

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