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A Few Thoughts on the Nikon D800E

See my review of the Nikon D800 and review of the Nikon D800E.

I’ve now had a few months to settle in with the Nikon D800E and Nikon D800, and I have a few thoughts to share on how I am using them.

First, I am using the D800E almost exclusively, with the D800 being a backup body and/or a body with an alternate lens. In the field I have found no negative issues with the D800E, and I like the lower level of sharpening the D800E requires, which helps keep down any noise, since less sharpening is needed.

Second, the mangled Live View display in the D800 and D800E is a continuing irritation that makes me question the competence of the engineers who designed Live View operation. In the field, it is a constant reminder that an otherwise great camera can have ugly warts that slow down efficient operation, impairing the ability to nail the focus.

Third, both Lexar SDXC and Compact Flash cards hate the D800E. All I have tried have failed, 2 of 3 permanently bricked, in the D800/D800E/Canon 5DM3, the 1000X CF card being brand-new. Is there a D800/D800E bug there? Something that destroys Lexar cards? No problems with SanDisk cards.

Fourth, the megapixel doubters are in gross error. It is my conclusion with extensive use now that the D800 / D800E cross a threshold that makes every image look better. Whether its downsampling or cropping or retouching image details or simply the lifelike results that come with more pixels (not about detail per se!), the D800/D800E images offer an unprecedented versatility and sense of realism that I have never seen before in a DSLR. This cannot be properly understood by someone still shooting a lesser DSLR. It is not something you can read about. You have to shoot the D800 or D80s0E yourself for a few weeks at least for it to really sink in.

Now what do I want? I want a real pro-grade body with right proper Live View, e.g., a D4x with the D800E sensor, preferably a 60-megapixel version. I am absolutely convinced that the future of DSLR digital is a 60-100 megapixel camera because of the image quality, e.g., oversampling for a non-digital look. The D800/D800E have whetted my appetite for what is really possible. I am also persuaded that from here on in, the anti-aliasing filter is a relic, and should not be installed in any future camera with higher resolving power.

Moon at dusk over Tioga Lake
Nikon D800E + Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon

See also Canon wishlist
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