D800 | a quick view from my angle

Well, it’s out: the D800 and low-pass-filterless D800e are now part of our official photography landscape. Release expected in March and April respectively. I’m not going to dive into an elaborate exposé — a lot of much better informed websites are already contributing to that party. In fact, I spent the last hour reading many of the previews and/or reviews out there. Wedding photographer Cliff Mautner has some pretty impressive images (he helped shoot the brochure) but these are clearly heavily retouched pictures, so those 100% crops don’t really mean much IMHO.

Pros from my standpoint:

  • FX 36MP promises serious resolution detail
  • DX mode at 15MP. This is a huge boon if you own some DX-only glass and would be moving to FX (my case).
  • Dual-card slots (SD & CF)

Up in the air:

  • Glass performance at 36MP. This could make some lenses feel a lot less stellar.
  • Operational speed. Although I’d be surprised if this was a problem, max frame rate notwithstanding.
  • High ISO performance. The D800 boasts the same high ISO ceiling as the D700 but I’m very curious to see how it actually compares.

Cons: File size. Those 36MP NEFs clock in at 75MB. That’s a lot of drive space for a shoot and could translate in a big system performance hit.

Derek Clark has a bit of a rant about this release on his blog. I don’t disagree. If I was shooting events I’d probably feel the same way. Right now though, the D800 kinda fits with my slowing down mood and it might be what I’m looking for, barring a jump to MF (not in the cards, just dreaming).

The mystery still revolves around the D800e. I’ll be scouring the net for full-rez images and real-world tests of this model, just to see how it performs against the MF posse. But if the problems with moire are really severe, it might end up being too much of a niche camera for my current use.
I’m pleasantly surprised by the price which had been rumoured around $4500: $2999 for the D800 and $3299 for the D800e. That’s D700 prices for D3x killing resolution and video features to boot.

Still not sure what I’m going to do. But these are exciting times.