After much speculation and probably a delay of several months due to the disaster in Japan, the D800 finally announced overnight and is available for pre-order on B&H. We didn’t get one, but actually two versions, a D800 and a D800e that eliminates the anti-aliasing filter in the camera. Mainly, that means it delivers the ultimate RAW file – 36.3 megapixels of sensor information that is as untouched by any in-camera wizardry as anything delivered previously. Folks demanding the absolute ultimate in detail will go this route for an extra $300 over the base price of $2999.95 for the standard version.
Engadget said they can’t tell the difference, and I believe them. If you’re an Enthusiast Photographer like me, you probably won’t be able to, either.
So the question is whether anyone like me should really get one. Off the top of my head and having read only the briefest of reviews, I think it is a quick “No” – I’m not tempted even one little bit. In fact, I’d take a D700 over the D800 right now if offered the choice.
Why? Easy – can you say “monstrogargantumous file size?” I’ve seen multiple statements on the web, but 70MB+ is the smallest. The strain that will put on my modest PC and storage is too much. But there is an even better reason, at least for my style of shooting.
The large pixel count means ISO is limited to 6400 on the D800. It is essentially a mini-D3x, to make a casual comparison. It would lighten Trey Ratcliff’s load a bit as a D3x shooter, but what I’d really love to have would be a D3s in a D700/D800 body. Give me that for the same $3K in an SD-card-based, 16MP-18MP package and I’m starting to look around the house for things to sell to afford one.
It will be interesting to see where Nikon goes from here in the full-frame space. It seems like the D800 leaves a gap for another full-frame camera with lower resolution and higher ISO performance (the mini-D3s described above or similar). Maybe they intend to keep the D700 around for a while, or maybe they have something really different in mind for the follow-on for the D300s – who knows? Clearly they have some new thinking about their product line going on. This wasn’t a linear evolution from the D700, which means the hypothetical-D400 could be a twist, too. It will be very interesting to see what happens to prices of used D700 cameras as well.
So what did you think of the announcement? Tempted? What camera are you waiting to be announced?