(Image zoomed in via Aperture at 100% with no sharpening or other adjustments added.)
I’ve now had some time with both the Nikon D800 and the D800E – I reviewed the D800 here – https://photofocus.com/2012/04/16/nikon-d800-mini-mini-review/
My review has widely been falsely characterized as me “hating” the D800. Nothing could be further from the truth. I just don’t understand the D800 and I already know people who’ve bought the camera and now regret it given the large file sizes, slow computer processing, and massive hard drive/memory cards they needed to buy to keep up with the camera.
The D800E on the other hand – makes a bit more sense to me. I mean the only reason to buy a D800 is to get lots of detail. So if it’s detail you want, then the D800E gives it to you in spades. This may be the near perfect camera for macro shooters, or people who shoot products or architecture – even landscapes.
The D800E delivers as much detail as most medium format cameras I’ve tested. Unfortunately, the D800E has all the problems I mentioned in my original review – including noticeable autofocus problems. But this may be something Nikon can fix with a firmware update and for macro shooters, who often focus manually anyway, that’s a non-consideration.
Other problems include the famous green cast on the LCD – again no big deal since it doesn’t translate to the final image but nonetheless, a distraction. There are several CF and SD cards that don’t work with the D800/E and issues with tethered shooting.
Nikon has finally admitted that some of the D800s suffer from a lock up problem and a viewfinder bug. It has not (to my knowledge) admitted to the AF problem but I may have missed that.
All of these things are fixable. With the exception of the autofocus issue, none of them worries me too much. But there’s no denying that when it comes to detail, the D800E with Low Pass Filter w/ Anti-Aliasing Removed, is the king. You give up low-light performance at high ISOs for this and you need to do a great deal more post-processing on these images than you might have done as a D700 owner, but for some of you – none of that will matter.
While I wouldn’t upgrade from a D700 to a D800 I would upgrade to a D800E if macro was my primary focus. One more side note. If you shoot video, this is NOT the camera for you. The lack of the Low-Pass filter makes for lots of moir pattern problems.
In the end, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that Nikon fans are some of the most die-hard on the planet. This camera could suck in every way and they’d fight to the death to defend it. So if you’re in that camp, nothing I say will matter.
But if you’re on the fence, I think the D800E is worth the risk if you shoot things that constantly require medium format-quality detail. If you don’t – pass.
UPDATE: I have been contacted by one D800 user who claims that the lockup issues have been addressed by a firmware update from Nikon. I have no independent verification of this information so I am passing it on with the notion that you need to do your own due diligence on this subject.
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