Nikon D800–Initial thoughts

Anyone who has listened to the podcast knows I am a loyal Nikon fan boy.  But even Nikon’s need to be replaced every now and then.  My current camera bodies are the Nikon D2x (12MP)and the Nikon D2h (4MP), both from Nikon’s pro line of cameras.  What does a “pro” camera mean?  Well it doesn’t mean only a pro can use it or you will be a pro if you get one (which is obvious since I am using them).  What it does mean is the following:

  • Built-in vertical grip with dual command dials
  • Much better weather sealing
  • Top of the line Autofocus system and autofocus drive
  • Lack of built-in flash, this is a debatable plus or minus

But as good as these cameras where at the time I bought them, and they are actually still just as good, they really show their age when compared to the new models.  The D2h is FAST at 8fps, but it’s only 4MP and anything above ISO 800 starts to get VERY noisy.  The D2x is 12MP, which is pretty good, but the images start getting nosy even before ISO 800 and in this generation o cameras, not only do they generate a lot of noise in the image, they also lose contrast pretty fast as you push the ISO.

So , my thought was I would sell one of the D2h’s (yea, I have two, don’t ask) and the D2x plus some other Sigma lenses I never use after getting the Nikon version and use the funds to help offset the cost of a used Nikon D3s or a Nikon D700

         

But then Nikon announced the D800, all 36MP of her!  Yes, that’s right, 36 megapixels, the largest amount of any DSLR currently on the market!  Now of course megapixels are not everything, and as you would expect there is a lot more to this camera than just the megapixels!

 

Short list of the key specs, from my perspective at least:

image

For a full list of the specs, check here.

Also, get the D800 Technical Shooting Guide here.

 

So does anyone really need 36MP?  How much is too much in terms of megapixel?  That’s a debate each of you can have personally.  For me, 36MP is more than I “need”, but not more than I want.  My two main subjects is landscapes and sports.  The D3s is FAR superior for the sports side and not bad for landscapes.  But the D800 and it’s humungous 36MP’s should make it an excellent camera, but we need to withhold final judgment until more samples are released.

For me, I can live with the 6FPS when shooting sports in DX mode and I will love the extra megapixels when shooting landscapes.  The video is something I have never had in a DSLR before, but also something I know I want in my next DSLR.  From what I have seen so far, the video from the D800 is incredible!

The D800 is really two camera’s in one, plus a video camera.  First, it’s a Full Frame (FX) camera with 36MP and should make a great landscape camera as well as many other types of photography that benefit from more resolution.  Second, it’s a 15MP Crop Mode (DX) camera with 6FPS shooting capability (with the grip and proper batteries), which may not be good enough for the pro sports shooter, but is good enough for a sports shooter like me, aka Dad with a Camera.

 

Below are a few sample images of the D800:

25480_D800_front25480_D800_left

25480_D800_top25480_D800_right

25480_D800_back

 

From these images there are a few things I notice:

  • Where is the focus mode selector like the one on the back of my D2x?  Looks like it is now a combination of the MF/AF button/dial near the lens and turning the command dial.  Not sure I like this.
  • I like the 2 function buttons in the front.  On my D2x only one of these was user programmable while the other was a dedicated DOF preview which I never really liked.
  • The metering mode selector seems harder to get to, but I can learn to live with it and it’s not like I need to change it on the fly all the time.

 

And check out this video from the camera;

Nikon’s D800 product page.

dpreview.com’s Preview of the D800

Here is a link to some sample images from the D800, including some High ISO images.

 

Conclusion:

As of right now, my thinking is the D800 will be my next camera.  I will sell my D2x and D2h, plus some glass to help offset the cost.  The camera is not actually going to be released until some time in March 2012, maybe, so I have some time to do more research until then.

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About geephotant

geephotant (Geek-Photographer-Accountant) (aka. Mike Howard) is the creator of Nov Studios and the jpeg2RAW podcast. Mike is an accountant by day as the Controller for a large US based corporation. By night, he is a geek and has appeared on the Home Server Show Podcast & the BYOB podcast ( both found at www.homeservershow.com). He has also appeared on the Home Tech Show podcast (www.theaverageguytv.com) and is now a regular guest on that show. Mike's true passion is photography and shoots when ever he can find time. As an amateur photographer, he is always looking to learn more about the craft.

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