The D800 – What’s All The Fuss About?
Copyright (c) Nikon
Tools, cameras.. indeed life…. different strokes for different folks. We all value different things in life and lust after different features in our cameras. Recently Nikon announced the launch of the D800; a 36.3 Mega Pixel camera that I have heard many people say (or expect), that this will be Nikon’s finest camera. But will it really? Certainly from my point of view, I don’t think so. I really can’t see what all the fuss is about?
Sure, the camera is jam packed full of megapixels, offering a resolution now only matched by the medium and large format digital backs. But for me, you pay far too high a price for this additional resolution. Nikon are now packing 7360 x 4912 (36 million pixels) into the same real estate as the my D3s: 4256 x 2832 (12 million pixels). You get nothing in life for free, so what have they sacrificed for this? Well without having tested the camera, or indeed ever even held it, I can’t say for sure.. but I would guess:
- ISO: A significant decrease in noise performance at high ISO’s? The D3s really and truly excels in this area. I never even have to think or worry about pushing the D3s into 1600 ISO. Beyond that, it would start to come a concern, but it’s certainly possible to get clean prints above that, once you’re considered in how you approach your shot.
- SPEED: I love the high frame rate of the D3s – like REALLY love it. For ambient light shots, even portraits, I would often shoot at the max frame rate. To be honest the 9 frames per second (or 11 fps depending on your shooting mode) sometimes feels like it’s not enough. But now the D800 has to process so much more information due to the increased resolution that they can only push through 4 frames a second.
- OPTICS: Cameras in around 20 MP already place VERY high demands on the optics/lenses. Chances are, moving to 36 megapixels, peoples much loved lenses will turn into far less loved lenses.
- PC Power: I can’t wait to see people’s computers struggle with multiple layered 36 MP images. Not Nikon’s concern of course.
To be honest, I simply don’t buy into the megapixel race. I shoot a 12MP camera and can comfortably print A2 (20″ x 16″), which is larger than most enthusiasts print at the best of times. Of course, more megapixels means more freedom to crop, but the OCD in me kind of says they should have framed the shot correctly in the first place. Sure, some additional resolution would be nice, but not to the point where you have to sacrifice so much for it. Plus by the way (and this has nothing to do with image quality), I simply don’t do cameras that don’t have integrated vertical grips… YUCK
Other gripes I have: (related also to the D3x & D4)
- VIDEO: I appreciate, though don’t understand, that video appears to be the way forward, even for stills photography – with the ability to capture still frames from a moving stream. But I don’t want it and it seems pretty damn unfair that I have to pay for it. I’d much rather Nikon make a stills alternative at a reduced rate. Imagine what they could do if they invested their R&D time and money just into stills rather than “wasting” time on video.
- LOWER ISO: Sure, good noise performance at higher ISO’s is really nice and it’s a feature I avail of often, but how about designing sensors that have lower native ISO’s? As it is now, all Nikon CMOS sensors have a native ISO of 200 and a “boost” of 100. But I’d love ISO 50, or indeed 25. Imagine being able to achieve long exposure times, without the need for ND filters, at any time of day.
- A FULL SCREEN FULL OF FOCUS POINTS: My biggest gripe with the Nikon cameras I have owned (D70, D2x, D3 & D3s) – not one of them has had focus points that fill the screen. And by sods law, the point you always want to focus on, somehow falls beyond these. I’m sure there’s some good engineering reason for this (and I’ve heard a few different theories), but whatever the challenge or reason, I’m pretty sure if they didn’t work on video, they could have solved this?
What about the D4?
Copyright (c) Nikon
I’ll be honest the D4 excites me a lot more than the D800 does. Whilst I have to confess to having one on pre-order (assuming no Irish thieves decide to help themselves again), it is probably the first upgrade that doesn’t REALLY excite me. Leaving video aside (again), Nikon really haven’t made huge strides forward with the D4. They’re all small incremental steps with a pretty large increment in price point. Sadly I don’t think the boys at Nikon read my blog and somehow, I doubt they’d take any heed of my “advice” even if they did.