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Choosing between the Nikon D800 or Nikon D800E

I think I have already addressed the technical questions about the D800 and D800E; please see my March 7 blog entry and the pages it links to for much discussion on diffraction, sharpness, moiré, etc.

The Nikon D800 and D800E are available for pre-order at B&H Photo.

The Nikon D800 is arriving as early as tomorrow, but the D800E is still some weeks off. I have ordered a D800E for myself, because I believe that the lack of an anti-aliasing filter is a plus for most of what I do. And I think that will be true for many shooters, though I can already anticipate the howls of protest when moiré shows up, which means that protesters should never consider the Leica M9 or medium format.

I know enough to know what I don’t know. While the D800E has no anti-aliasing filter, it remains to be seen if this is the same as having a sensor without the curious Nikon design with its same-thickness sensor cover glass with its (instead of a thin plain cover glass). And it remains to be seen how various lenses actually perform on the D800 and D800E, in a variety of ways.

For the D800 / D800E question to be answered, we must wait for the real cameras with real lenses on real subjects. For that reason, when someone emails to ask “D800 or D800E?”, the answer is only a best guess, and I can hardly answer without asking a host of other “how would you use it” questions.

I intend to compare the D800 to the D800E when I have both in my hands.

Shooting weddings is not the same as shooting landscape, and the choice there is clear: choose the D800 with its anti-aliasing filter for any application where moiré could invoke headaches in the workflow. Consider the D800 the “cannot reshoot the bride” choice.

How much better will the D800E will be? It will be a bit crisper, though as one reader pointed out to me (preaching to the choir here), deconvolution sharpening can greatly mitigate the blur effect of an anti-aliasing filter (see Making Sharp Images). Yet sharpening always adds a subtle change to an image, so not having to sharpen as much could be a plus in its own right. Which also means that workflow will need to sharpen D800 images more aggressively than D800E images.

Nikon D800
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