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- Nikon D800
- We go hands-on and in-depth with Nikon’s 36.3-megapixel monster at CP+ in Japan.
Nikon D800 First Impressions Review$2,999.95
It seems every six months as the rumor mills heat up about another impending Nikon DSLR announcement, more and more people clamored for a Nikon D800 that houses every "wow" feature they've seen over the last few years: incredible high ISO range, video capability, ultra high-speed shooting, all in an affordable package and a full-frame sensor.
Instead, Nikon took the D800 as an opportunity to create a low native ISO, ultra high resolution, comparably affordable full-frame camera that is as much an update to their D3x flagship as it is the aging D700. Talk about turning the narrative right on its head.
Thus there are two ways to look at the Nikon D800: affordable high-resolution camera that brings many of the D4 and D3x's best features to a sub-$3000 price point, or a camera with more resolution than an advanced amateur needs, less speed then they want, and an ISO range too limited to amaze their friends anymore.
For landscape, architectural, and studio photographers, however, the Nikon D800 (or really, the Nikon D800E) is a rather revolutionary camera. The level of precision and detail that you can achieve with 36.3 megapixels is just what they're after, and they rarely require (or desperately avoid, anyway) ISO settings above 200. A camera with nearly as much resolution as the medium format $10,000 Pentax 645D and more than the 24.5-megapixel Nikon D3x with a few thousand dollars in change left over? Sign them right up.
The D800 will also appeal to those looking to do high-quality DSLR video but don't want to shell out the $6000+ for a Canon 1D X or Nikon D4. It still remains to be seen what Canon's 5D Mark III looks like (or costs), but we expect the D800's uncompressed HD signal out, headphone jack, and live aperture control to appeal greatly to them if the 5D Mark III fails to impress. Regardless, how effectively the camera downsamples from 36.3 megapixels to the paltry 2-megapixel signal of 1080p video will be a major factor.
With many enthusiasts shouting down megapixels as a useless metric for measuring camera performance, the Nikon D800 is surely to hit the wrong notes on forums and in comment sections. That's a shame, because the Nikon D800 isn't meant for the Facebook and Flickr crowd; Sadder still, in terms of its abilities and price relative to its competitors, the D800 is a far more revolutionary camera than the Nikon D4 or Canon 1D X even tried to be.
We'll have to get the camera back to our imaging labs in Boston to see how well its performance really stacks up, but in the right hands the D800 has every chance to be the game-changing DSLR you didn't ask for, but have been waiting for all along.