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Nikon D800, D800E announcement

The Nikon D800 is now officially announced:

Press release:

The New Nikon D800 Offers Unrivaled Resolution and Features Designed for a Variety of Demanding Professional Photographic and Multimedia Disciplines, Videographers and Filmmakers

MELVILLE, N.Y. (Feb 6, 2012) – Today, imaging leader Nikon Inc. announced the highly anticipated D800 HD-SLR, engineered to provide extreme resolution, astounding image quality and valuable video features optimized for professional still and multimedia photographers and videographers. A camera with an unmatched balance of accuracy, functionality and image quality, the Nikon D800 realizes innovations such as a high resolution 36.3-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor, a 91,000-pixel RGB Matrix Metering System, Advanced Scene Recognition System and many other intuitive features designed to create the preeminent device for the most demanding photo and video applications.

Whether shooting high fashion, weddings or multimedia content, Nikon’s highest resolution sensor to date, a groundbreaking new 36.3-megapixel (7360 x 4912 resolution) FX-format CMOS sensor, affords flexibility and astonishing image quality to satisfy a myriad of client requests. The Nikon D800 incorporates the latest 91,000-pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering III and the Advanced Scene Recognition System, coupled with an improved 51-point AF system for images with amazing sharpness, color and clarity. With its compact, lightweight D-SLR form factor and extensive video feature set, the D800 allows photographers to transition to multimedia to create an immersive story. Professional videographers will appreciate practical features that go beyond NIKKOR lens compatibility and Full HD 1080p video, such as full manual control, uncompressed HDMI output, and incredible low-light video capability. With this innovative combination of features, the D800 celebrates resourcefulness and a dedication to the flawless execution of an epic creative vision. All of this is driven by Nikon’s latest EXPEED 3™ image processing engine, providing the necessary processing power to fuel amazing images with faithful color, a wide dynamic range and extreme resolution.

“Whatever the project, visionaries need a tool that is going to help them stay on-time and on-task. The Nikon D800 re-imagines what is possible from this level of D-SLR, to address the needs of an emerging and ever changing market; this is the camera that is going to bridge the gap for the most demanding imaging professionals, and provide never before seen levels of SLR image and video quality,” said Bo Kajiwara, director of marketing, Nikon Inc. “The D800 is the right tool for today’s creative image makers, affording photographers, filmmakers and videographers a versatile option for capturing the ultimate in still image quality or full HD content, with maximum control.”

Extreme Image Quality
The new Nikon developed 36.3-megapixel FX-format (35.9 x 24mm) CMOS sensor realizes Nikon’s highest resolution yet, and is ideal for demanding applications such as weddings, studio portraiture and landscape, where there is no compromise to exceptional high fidelity and dynamic range. Nikon’s first priority is amazing image quality above all else, and resolution of this magnitude affords photographers the ability to portray even the smallest details, such as a strand of hair, with stunning sharpness or crop liberally with confidence. Photographers also shoot with the assurance of NIKKOR lens compatibility, because only a manufacturer with decades of optical excellence can provide the glass to resolve this kind of extreme resolution.

For shooting with minimal noise in a variety of lighting conditions, the D800 features a wide native ISO range of 100-6400, expandable to 50 (Lo-1)-25,600 (Hi-2). Nikon engineers have created innovative ways to manipulate light transmission to the sensor’s photodiodes, giving users the ability to shoot with confidence in challenging lighting conditions. Internal sensor design, an enhanced optical low pass filter (OLPF) and 14 bit A/D conversion with a high signal to noise ratio all contribute to a sensor capable of excellent low light ability despite the extreme resolution. Every aspect of this new FX-format sensor is engineered to deliver amazing low noise images through the ISO range and help create astounding tonal gradation and true colors, whether shooting JPEG or RAW. Images are further routed through a 16-bit image processing pipeline, for maximum performance. To further enhance versatility, users are also able to shoot in additional modes and aspect ratios such as 5:4 to easily frame for printed portraits or a 1.2X crop for a slight telephoto edge. For even more versatility, photographers can also take advantage of Nikon DX-format lenses for more lens options and enhanced focal range (1.5X), while still retaining sharpness and details at a high 15.4-megapixel (4800×3200) resolution.

Contributing to the camera’s rapid performance and amazing image quality is Nikon’s new EXPEED 3 image processing engine that helps professionals create images and HD video with amazing resolution, color and dynamic range. From image processing to transfer, the new engine is capable of processing massive amounts of data, exacting optimal color, rich tonality and minimized noise throughout the frame. Despite the immense data, the new EXPEED 3 also contributes to energy efficiency, affording the ability to shoot longer.

The D800 also features the Advanced Scene Recognition System with the 91,000-pixel 3D Color Matrix Meter III to provide unrivaled metering in even the most challenging of lighting conditions. At the system’s core is a newly designed RGB sensor that meticulously analyzes each scene, recognizes factors such as color and brightness with unprecedented precision and then compares all the data using Nikon’s exclusive 30,000 image database. Additionally, this new sensor now has the ability to detect human faces with startling accuracy, even when shooting through the optical viewfinder. This unique feature is coupled with detailed scene analysis for more accurate autofocus (AF), Auto exposure (AE), i-TTL flash control and even enhanced subject tracking. The Color Matrix Meter also emphasizes priority on exposure of the detected faces, allowing for correct exposure even when the subject is backlit. Even in the most difficult exposures the D800 excels, such as maintaining brightness on a bride’s face while retaining the dynamic range to accentuate the intricate details of a wedding dress beside a black tuxedo.

Advanced new automatic systems make it even easier to capture amazing images. The camera features a new enhanced auto white balance system that more accurately recognizes both natural and artificial light sources, and also gives the user the option to retain the warmth of ambient lighting. Users can expand dynamic range with in-camera High Dynamic Range (HDR) image capture, and enjoy the benefits of Nikon’s Active D-lighting for balanced exposure. Another new feature is direct access to Nikon’s Picture Control presets via a dedicated button on the back of the body to tweak photo and video parameters on the fly, such as sharpness, hue and saturation.

True Cinematic Experience
The Nikon D800 has a compact and lightweight form factor that’s preferable for a production environment, yet is packed with practical and functional features. The D800 is ideal whether the user is a filmmaker on location or in the studio or a documentarian in the field who requires portability and the NIKKOR lens versatility and depth of field that only a HD-SLR can offer. Filmmakers have the choice of various resolutions and frame rates, including Full HD 1080 at 30/24p and HD 720 at 60/30p. By utilizing the B-Frame data compression method, users can record H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format video with unmatched integrity for up to 29:59 minutes per clip (normal quality). This format produces higher quality video data without increasing file size for a more efficient workflow. The optimized CMOS sensor reads image data at astoundingly fast rates, which results in less instances of rolling shutter distortion. The sensor also enables incredible low-light video capability with minimal noise, letting filmmakers capture footage where previously impossible or expensive and complex lighting would otherwise be necessary. Users are also able to have full manual control of exposure, and can also adjust the camera’s power aperture setting in live view for an accurate representation of the depth of field in a scene. Whether shooting for depth of field in FX-format mode, or looking for the extra 1.5X telephoto benefits of DX mode, the high resolution sensor of the D800 allows videographers to retain full 1080p HD resolution no matter which mode they choose to best suit the scene. Users are also able to easily compose and check critical HD focus through the 921,000-dot, 3.2-inch LCD monitor with reinforced glass, automatic monitor brightness control, and wide viewing angle.

For professional and broadcast applications that call for outboard digital recorders or external monitors, users can stream an uncompressed full HD signal directly out of the camera via the HDMI port (8 bit, 4:2:2). This output signal can be ported into a display or digital recording device or routed through a monitor and then to the recording device, eliminating the need for multiple connections. This image can also be simultaneously viewed on both the camera’s LCD and an external monitor, while eliminating on-screen camera status data for streaming purposes. The D800 also includes features concentrated on audio quality, such as a dedicated headphone jack for accurate monitoring of audio levels while recording. Audio output levels can be adjusted with 30 steps for precise audio adjustment and monitoring. The D800 offers high-fidelity audio recording control with audio levels that can be set and monitored on the camera’s LCD screen. A microphone connected via the stereo mic jack can also be adjusted with up to 20 steps of sensitivity for accurate sound reproduction. What’s more, recording can be set to be activated through the shutter button, opening a world of remote applications through the 10-pin accessory terminal.

Wield Speed and Performance with Astonishing Accuracy
Whether shooting the runway or fast moving wildlife, the enhanced 51-point AF system of the D800 delivers blazing fast AF with tack-sharp results. Nikon has enhanced the Multi-Cam 3500-FX AF sensor module and algorithms to significantly improve low light acquisition, for precise focus to an impressive -2 exposure value (EV). The focus system utilizes 15 cross-type AF sensors for enhanced accuracy, and the system also places an emphasis on the human face, working in conjunction with the Advanced Scene Recognition System to provide accurate face detection even through the optical viewfinder. The camera also utilizes nine cross-type sensors that are fully functional when using compatible NIKKOR lenses and teleconverters with an aperture value up to f/8, which is a great advantage to those who need extreme telephoto focal lengths (single cross type sensor active with TC20E III). For maximum versatility in all shooting situations, whether photographing portraits or static subjects, users are also able to select multiple AF modes, including normal, wide area, face tracking and subject tracking to best suit the scene.

The D800 delivers upon a professional’s need for maximum speed when it counts. The camera is ready to shoot in 0.12 seconds, and is ready to capture with super-fast AF and response speed. To photograph action in a burst, the camera shoots up to 4 frames per second (fps) in FX mode at full resolution, or up to a speedy 6 fps in DX mode using the optional MB-D12 Battery Pack and compatible battery. Further enhancing the speed of the camera and overall workflow, the D800 utilizes the new USB 3.0 standard for ultra fast transfer speeds.

Construction and Operability
The body of the D800 is designed to offer a compact form factor and a lightweight body for the utmost versatility. The chassis is constructed of magnesium alloy for maximum durability, and is sealed and gasketed for resistance to dirt and moisture. Users are able to easily compose through the bright optical viewfinder, which offers 100% frame coverage. For storage, the D800 has dual card slots for CF and SD cards, and offers users the ability to record backup, overflow, RAW/JPEG separation, and the additional option of shooting stills to one and video to the other. For high speed recording and transfer, data can be recorded to recent UDMA-7 and SDXC / UHS-1 cards. The shutter has been tested to withstand approximately 200,000 cycles, and the camera also employs sensor cleaning. The D800 also features a built-in flash and is compatible with Nikon’s acclaimed Creative Lighting System, including a built-in Commander mode for controlling wireless Speedlights.

D800E – Maximum Resolution Unleashed
In addition to the D800, Nikon will also be releasing a supplementary model for those professionals who demand even higher resolution and D-SLR versatility; the D800E. This model treads in medium format territory for studio work or landscape photography when there is no exception to only the highest fidelity and sharpness. This unique alternative model will effectively enhance the resolution characteristics of the 36.3-megapixel CMOS sensor by cancelling the anti-aliasing properties of the OLPF inside the camera. By doing this, light is delivered directly to the photodiodes, yielding an image resulting from the raw light gathering properties of the camera. A color moiré correction tool will also be available within Capture NX2 to enhance the D800E photographer’s workflow.

Price and Availability
The Nikon D800 will be available in late March for the suggested retail price of $2999.95. The D800E version will be available in mid April 2012 for a suggested retail price of $3,299.95.

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  • an onymous

    Indeed a nice camera, but also a very new niche, this isn’t as much a successor to D700 any more than to its model name.

    I can understand Nikon’s choice to divert from the D3/D4 bloodlines, once upon a time the D700 was a totally new type of camera for Nikon so they just borrowed “old technology” from D3 which already existed and kept R&D costs at minimum while trying out a new semi segment of the market.

    Well, I will keep my D700.

  • Sam

    The sloping left hand side looks odd, even stranger than the right hand side swish that’s made its way into every new Nikon camera. It looks (I hate to say it) Canon-ish.

  • D R

    Sorry Nikon – I likely won’t be upgrading this cycle. This is a first. Usually I’m close to first in line, but this isn’t a super upgrade from the D700 and so I”ll keep my $3k for now and spend it on a killer trip to a place where I can take jaw-dropping pix and have the experience of a lifetime (nice down payment on a trip to NZ perhaps?).

  • Landscape Photo

    To E or not to E? That is the question :)

  • RobUK

    Prices and dates in the UK:

    D800 body only: £2,399.99 inc. VAT
    Shipping 22nd March 2012

    D800E body only: £2,689.99 inc. VAT
    Shipping 12th April 2012

    It seems to be either a very specialised camera or just a tick-box exercise, depending on how cynical you are. I won’t be buying one, I will stick to my D3x for studio work and my two D3s’s and D4 for events. 36mp is overkill for me. My fashion clients already comment that my D3x images give so much detail. I would be worried about diffraction and resolving power of lenses. You already have to be careful with the D3x, it can be unforgiving. My computer also slows down when processing D3x files, and I would have to keep buying more and more storage…the price is reasonable though and the Nikon lineup is now looking interesting. This camera could be exactly what some people are looking for, but when they bring out the D300 replacement and maybe a proper D700 replacement then things will be very very interesting.

  • Guenther

    My opinion: Nikon makes everything wrong (maybe except the D4)!
    A mirrorless system with a pointandshot-sensor, a P7xx which is more a toy then a serious compact (as Canons G-Series), and now the new semipro SLR with features which only special professionals (architecture, landscape and studio photographers) can really use (Nikon explizit say that the D800E is only for pros). But no multifunctional machine like the D700!
    I ‘ve never seen a pro with a D700 but 36MP is only for pros. This camera need a pc equipment which no semipro could pay. So where’s the real successor of the D700?
    What will Nikon tell us with the new product line? FX is only for pros, DX for semipros and 1 for those who think that they’re pros when screwing up their lens?
    And where’re the big innovations? No new control-concept (who the fuck need a quality button but now we also get only one function knob), no new mirror concept (a hundred years old way to take pictures) and no new lens concept (for film use).
    Sorry Nikon, you are lightyears away from an innovative company.

    • Guenther

      …and no innovative flash concept (with led it’s possible to get variable color temperature and no exposure time limits!)

      • http://www.henrywhitehead.com Hendog

        With LED it is not possible to get anywhere near the same exposure with the same flash duration as a conventional flashbulb (between 1/500 sec and 1/16,000 sec) You would literally need several seconds exposure with LED to match the instantaneous burst of light which flashbulbs provide.

        LEDs are only good for continuous lighting for video at relatively short range, or long exposure with stills. Unless you have a hundred watts or more worth of em.

        • Guenther

          LEDs can bring for a very short time (but longer then every flashbulb) a much higher output. And for this short time it’s not a problem to get the necessary power (capacitors, same like flashbulbs). The time is ripe for this new technology and it brings us opportunities that we can only dream about in the moment.

    • Anonymous

      The canon club is calling you, please join them. I seriously doubt that you have the cameras you mentioned, because if you had them and more importantly knew how to use them properly, you wouldn’t have called Nikon to be lightyears away from being innovative. If you don’t want to buy, then don’t, but don’t bad mouth Nikon for providing different models for different users. By the way, real pros like Thom Hogan loves the Nikon 1 series.

      • Guenther

        I should go with my F100, my D700 and my bag of Nikkors to a Canon club? What a stupid idea.
        I’m very sad about the way Nikon goes and I’ve no understanding for all this marketing jokes! The Nikon1 is only a metoo product!
        Different models for different users? Ok, a D4s (exactly the D4) for sports, low light,… pros, a D4s for architecture, landscape, product,… pros and a D800 with a good balance between resolution and light sensitivity for small-town reportage, wedding, amateur-sports, lightweight travelling reportage and also for ambitious FX-amateurs. That make sense but a D800 with a built-in flash for a professional architecture photograph like Benjamin Antony Monn?

        • Guenther

          Sorry, “D4x” for high resolution applications

  • john

    I’m so tired about hearing how this isn’t a d700 replacement:
    Its smaller, lighter, with a better form factor.
    It focuses better.
    Specs say same ISO (How did we manage before d3s)
    More MP!!! You could sell your d7000
    Video, no, great video!
    100% viewfinder
    Bigger LCD

    Other than 1 fps, its spec sheet says it’s superior in every way at the same release price.

    I’m so sorry you guys can’t shoot your birds at night! f u!

    • Rudi

      John, you are exactly right! Don’t know why so many are complaining. I think most want everything for 500 bucks. At least the D800 is cheaper than thought.

      I’ve seen sample images and I thought wow, that’s just like opening the window and looking out.

      So guys, if D700 is better, stay with it, if you need more ISO buy a D3s or D4, same if you need a more fps (bzw. the D700 is also somewhat limited here compared to D3s for example).

      I can find nearly everything I need from Nikon. I already ordered a D4 because I need it quicker and some ISO, but I’m jealous when I see the quality of the sample images. I think I also will buy my D700 a D800 as soon as I have the money left.

      NIKON, you did everything right! Kudos.

    • Guenther

      Birds at night? Ha, ha, ha!
      But my children at home only with ambient light and not flashing them down or my sons tennis team at an indoor match, or my sister at her wedding in this nice but not very light chapel (do the D800 have a silent mode?),…
      And what is better: 36MP at 3200ISO or 18MP at 800ISO?

  • cameramm

    Sure the D4 will perform better than the D800 in low light, but what about video in low light? The promovideos show the same exellent quality with both cameras!? But they get the videosignals from different sensors!: SO how is the D800 doing it – counting 4 picture-pixels into 1 video-pixel? or what? And if they do so, couldn’t they give you the same option for pictures: 18mp instead of 36mp with better light performance changeable to the full resolution when you work with flash or daylight ….
    any ideas?

  • AndyClick

    Hi Mikils, I’m not sure what type of bird photograpy you do. In essence what I try to do is bird “action” photography as opposed to bird “portraiture”. To my mind the D3s is the perfect camera for this. You can set the ISO to automatic, use really fast shutter speeds to freeze the action and get very low noise results. When photographing action with a big lens – 500 or 600mm the shutter speed and fps do make a big difference, especially when you are moving or panning while shooting. It might well be that the “keeper” will be among those three or four extra images. When shooting bird action shots you don’t have time to change cameras, let alone lenses – nine out of ten times the action will be over. Have a look at the site I refer to in my earlier post. It’s worthwile in relation to what I say here. I’d be very interested to hear from you again once you’ve had the opportunity to work with the D3s and D800 side by side. Personally I’m not much of a landscape photographer and to take good lanscapes in the African Bush requires more effort than I am prepared to put in. I prefer to concentrate on birds and other wildlife.

  • AndyClick

    John, I’m afraid you’re seriously misguided on the “birds at night” issue. Low light is only a small part of the equation. The benefit of the D3s and, presumably the D4, is that you can shoot really high shutter speeds in a variety of light, from excellent to poor, with the ISO set to automatic, and produce images with very little noise. Maybe your comment reveals your lack of experience in this sort of photography! f u!

  • Leonardo

    @AndyClick: aren’t you satisfied with D3s? Do you need something more? Get D4. D800 is not for your purposes, so why bother? Just go outside and shoot at those birds, writing here is wasted time and you could lose those pics you pretend slower-d800-burst guarantees.

    There will never be a body with everything for everyone at a moderate price, it would be dumb to want it or even to imagine it. Sure it would be a killer (and I would buy at day one), but it’s not reasonable commercially-wise…

    Just ask all D700 owners if they miss so many birds shots (maybe it will be so).

  • Johan D

    Where are those ISO 3200, ISO 6400 and HI-mode samples? The photographers who got to use pre-release models must have shot something on higher ISO as well…

  • Nice Guy Eddie

    Hi Friends,

    I have the D800 & D800E on order but can’t decide which one to return. Most of my shooting is weddings and rock concerts – I have been reading all I can and find that the D800 would be the way to go but really need some feedback so I don’t have regrets in the long run. Anyone feel like sharing thoughts here? Thanks much and Regards, ed

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