Monday, February 6, 2012
Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:27 PM
Alright, here we go! Nikon has just announced not one, but two cameras. The D800 and its sibling, the D800E. Both D800s feature a number of changes from the D700, the main difference being that 36 megapixel FX sensor. I am not sure if that many people need all those megapixels, but I guess Nikon is trying to woo the affluent amateur in addition to the thrifty professional with this camera. The sensor has a base ISO range of 100-6400, and an extended range of 50-25,600. No super high numbers like the D4 here. Still, a number of changes do carry over from the D4, including the new 91,000 RGB matrix sensor for determining exposures, the improved CAM-3500 AF module, and the 3.2" VGA LCD screen. There is an ambient light sensor for the LCD screen to boost its brightness levels, just like a smartphone, which is a nice touch.
The D800 also inherits the D4's video capabilities. That means the D800 does 1080p videos at 30, 25 and 24 FPS, with B frame compression in h.264 codec, HDMI pass through with uncompressed video data, a microphone jack, fine control of audio levels with visual indicators, a headphone jack to monitor said audio levels, and built-in time lapse recording. Each video clip is limited to 29m 59s (in other words, a second shy of 30 minutes, presumably for tax reasons in certain countries).
Back to the stills side, the camera has a maximum frame rate for 4 FPS at FX, and 5 FPS in crop mode. With the MB-D12 battery pack using other batteries than the default EN-EL15 (which replaced the EN-EL3e), the camera can do 6 FPS in crop mode. Shifting all those megapixels has made the D800 slower than the D700 in that aspect. Improved over the D700 however, is the viewfinder. It is now a 100% affair, unlike the D700 slighty cropped 95% coverage. Other improvements include faster contrast detect autofocus for live view, faster shutter response times, the addition of a SD card slot alongside the CF card slot, dual-axis virtual horizon (great for eliminating converging vertical lines), built-in two shot HDR, and overall changes to the UI. I particularly like the new frame advance setting dial on the left side of the camera. Finally one no longer has to peer at the top of the camera to confirm that self-timer mode has not been engaged. A dedicated bracketing button also means that the right function button next to the lens mount is no longer the only way to access bracketing. I hate it when camera manufacturers make features only accessible to custom function buttons, forcing you to pretty much set the custom function button to that feature anyway. It really doesn't leave much choice in setting the custom function!
Now, on to the D800E. It is essentially the D800, but with the anti-aliasing filter removed. Sounds pretty tasty. To compensate for potential moire, Nikon has added a moire removal feature in an upcoming version of Capture NX2.
The Nikon D800 will go on sale in late March for US$3000. The D800E will go on sale in mid-April for US$3300. That is right. Take away a part, promise higher image quality, charge US$300 more. More coverage at the link. Coverage of the D800 seems a bit sparse this time; DPReview even got the battery information wrong!
Update: DPReview has a preview up! Loads more information, especially on the new features.