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Nikon D800 + Nikon D800E

Thanks to a generous reader, at long last I have a Nikon D800E on loan for a week or so. I am heading out to shoot, naturally!

See my extensive review of the Nikon D800, with many lens assessments.

I still have my very own D800E on order at B&H Photo, but when it will ship is up to Nikon delivering the goods to B&H. See my list of Nikon gear with in-stock status at B&H Photo.

The additional material I publish with go partly into DAP (camera specific coverage and a bit more), partly into my Guide to Zeiss ZF / ZE Lenses (Zeiss lens specific stuff) and partly into Making Sharp Images (general shooting tips applicable to any brand).


I shot extensively today at Purissima Creek Redwoods open space, enjoying nice foggy overcast lighting. I might give a photo tour here sometime; it’s a very pleasant place to shoot, very soothing.

I am forming some D800E impressions, but I wish to shoot the D800 and D800E for at least a few more days before I am comfortable making the kind of firm statements I like to make, the kind that can be used for buying decisions. Also, it is not easy comparing two cameras with such exacting focus precision needed. Actually, it’s not easy comparing a camera to itself! (in terms of getting exactly the same focus).

But in one thing the D800 and D800E are alike: both challenge even the very best lenses, and demand technical perfection to realize their potential. And even then, reality bites (e.g. hardly any depth of field, in terms of sensor potential). It is best to think of both as “oversampling” devices, and to realize that technical perfection is not what makes an image successful. This is not a bad thing. It is simply that the general limit has been reached in the sense of the entire frame, kind of like scanning the best 35mm film at 8000 dpi— grain is all you get, not more detail. When and if we see a “true color” sensor, then another leap can be made in image quality by avoiding the Bayer pattern demosaicing process.

By the way, not a lot is written or said about the Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon (seems like it falls into a focal length that is not often discussed), but it is a worthy lens, albeit one with (useful) field curvature. I will be testing the new Nikon 28/1.8G, which is likely to be “different”. And I will of course be adding lots of new material to my Guide to Zeiss ZF / ZE Lenses over the next few months, using the D800/D800E to show the lens limits like never before.

Image below is in the AdobeRGB color space.

Purissima Creek
Nikon D800E + Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon @ f/8, 2 seconds, ISO 100
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