Nikon unveils the highly anticipated D800 tonight with an astounding 36.3 megapixel FX sensor. Hard at work inside the D800 is a 91,000-pixel RGB metering system, EXPEED 3 processor and 51-point AF system. It’s also a capable video tool with 1080 HD, mic and headphone inputs and full-resolution recording in cropped DX mode.
The D800’s FX-format CMOS sensor (35.9 x 24mm in size) triples the resolution of its predecessor, the 12.1 megapixel D700. To date, it’s the highest resolution in any Nikon DSLR. The D800 supports a native ISO range of 100-6400, expandable on the low end to ISO 50 and up to 12,800 and 25,600 on the high end. It offers 14-bit A/D conversion, and images are processed by a new EXPEED 3 engine.
And don’t forget the new 91,000-pixel RGB 3D Color Matrixing metering system, trickling down from the recently launched D4. The D800 employs an advanced scene recognition and face detection system, the latter of which can be utilized even if the shooter is using the 100% coverage OVF. The D800 uses a 51-point AF system with 15 cross-type sensors. Of those, nine can be used up to an f/8 aperture that may be necessitated by telephoto lenses and teleconverters.
Nikon has loaded the D800 with video-friendly features. Not only is it capable of 1080 HD capture at 30 and 24p, it maintains full 1080 HD resolution in 1.5x DX crop mode. Recording at 720p is also available at either 60 or 30p. Maximum clip length is just shy of 30 minutes, and the camera utilizes H.264 compression. Users can customize movie recording controls and now have the ability to assign movie start/stop to the shutter button.
Captured images and stills can be recorded to either CF or SD/SDHC/SDXC type media thanks to dual memory card slots. An HDMI port can be utilized to stream uncompressed video, and a headphone jack will allow for monitoring of recorded audio. Burst shooting at full resolution is available at up to 4 fps; with a new optional MB-D12 battery pack the burst rate is pushed to 6 fps.
Launched alongside the D800 is a D800E counterpart. In every respect, it’s identical to the D800 except for the low pass filter – all anti-aliasing properties have been removed. This has been done to optimize fidelity for photographers who demand the highest resolution possible. Moire removal and correction will be relegated to post-processing.
Pricing and availability
Look for the D800 and D800E to become available in late March. The D800 will retail for $2999.95 and the D800E will cost $3299.95, and is expected to have a smaller distribution than its D800 sibling.