36.3MP Full-Frame Nikon D800 DSLR Makes Official Debut (Exclusive Photos)
FEBRUARY 07, 2012
By Dan Havlik
Nikon surprised pretty much no one tonight by officially announcing the much anticipated (and much leaked) 36.3-megapixel, full-frame D800 digital SLR.
The D800, which will sell for $2,999 (body only), has been teased by rumors sites on the Internet for several months. There will also be a version without a low-pass (aka "anti-aliasing") filter, called the Nikon D800E which will sell for $3,299.The Nikon D800, the successor to the 12MP Nikon D700 from 2008, will go on sale in mid-March. The Nikon D800E, which will be available in limited quantities, will start shipping in mid-April.
Though full details about the new camera(s) have appeared on blogs and websites in the last few days, because PDN signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), we have not been permitted to write about the camera until now. Our NDA, however, did give us some hands-on time with a prototype of the D800 and we were allowed to take exclusive photos of it. Those photos accompany this article.
Overall, the camera is what many people expected: a smaller version of the recently announced Nikon D4, the more rugged and faster 16.2MP flagship DSLR in Nikon's lineup.
The Nikon D800 has the same EXPEED 3 processor, the same scene recognition system, the same autofocus system, the same LCD, and the same 1080p HD video capture feature.
Some of the big differences between the Nikon D800 and the D4 are a narrower ISO range (100-6400, with two high settings: 12,800 and 25,600) and a slower burst rate of 4 frames per second in full-frame, FX mode and five frames per second in cropped, DX mode. With a new battery pack, the Nikon D800 will be able to shoot six frames per second in DX mode.
With the whopping 36.3MP D800, Nikon is hoping to attract a different type of photographer than the D4, which is aimed at photojournalists and sports photographers.
"It's for studio and wedding photographers and landscape and fine art photographers," Steve Heiner of Nikon told us during our press briefing on the D800, adding that the lower price of the D800 compared to the D4, which will sell for $6,800, should also attract more advanced amateurs and semi-pros. "It will have a huge following in the 'weekend warrior' market."
Not likely, especially because the D800's pixel size is drastically smaller than those in bigger sensor medium-format cameras. As a budget replacement for medium-format models though, it might interest prosumers looking to start work in the studio.
More details and exclusive photos of the new Nikon D800 in the press release after the jump.
EXPECTATIONS SURPASSED: THE 36.3-MEGAPIXEL NIKON D800 IS THE MULTIMEDIA HD-SLR THAT SHATTERS CONVENTIONAL RESOLUTION BARRIERS FOR MAXIMUM FIDELITY
The New Nikon D800 Offers Unrivaled Resolution and Features
Designed for a Variety of Demanding Professional Photographic and
Multimedia Disciplines, Videographers and Filmmakers
Whether shooting high fashion, weddings or multimedia content, Nikon’s highest resolution sensor to date, a groundbreaking new 36.3-megapixel (7360 x 4912 resolution) FX-format CMOS sensor, affords flexibility and astonishing image quality to satisfy a myriad of client requests. The Nikon D800 incorporates the latest 91,000-pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering III and the Advanced Scene Recognition System, coupled with an improved 51-point AF system for images with amazing sharpness, color and clarity. With its compact, lightweight D-SLR form factor and extensive video feature set, the D800 allows photographers to transition to multimedia to create an immersive story. Professional videographers will appreciate practical features that go beyond NIKKOR lens compatibility and Full HD 1080p video, such as full manual control, uncompressed HDMI output, and incredible low-light video capability. With this innovative combination of features, the D800 celebrates resourcefulness and a dedication to the flawless execution of an epic creative vision. All of this is driven by Nikon’s latest EXPEED 3™ image processing engine, providing the necessary processing power to fuel amazing images with faithful color, a wide dynamic range and extreme resolution.
“Whatever the project, visionaries need a tool that is going to help them stay on-time and on-task. The Nikon D800 re-imagines what is possible from this level of D-SLR, to address the needs of an emerging and ever changing market; this is the camera that is going to bridge the gap for the most demanding imaging professionals, and provide never before seen levels of SLR image and video quality,” said Bo Kajiwara, director of marketing, Nikon Inc. “The D800 is the right tool for today’s creative image makers, affording photographers, filmmakers and videographers a versatile option for capturing the ultimate in still image quality or full HD content, with maximum control.”
Extreme Image Quality
For shooting with minimal noise in a variety of lighting conditions, the D800 features a wide native ISO range of 100-6400, expandable to 50 (Lo-1)-25,600 (Hi-2). Nikon engineers have created innovative ways to manipulate light transmission to the sensor’s photodiodes, giving users the ability to shoot with confidence in challenging lighting conditions. Internal sensor design, an enhanced optical low pass filter (OLPF) and 14 bit A/D conversion with a high signal to noise ratio all contribute to a sensor capable of excellent low light ability despite the extreme resolution. Every aspect of this new FX-format sensor is engineered to deliver amazing low noise images through the ISO range and help create astounding tonal gradation and true colors, whether shooting JPEG or RAW. Images are further routed through a 16-bit image processing pipeline, for maximum performance. To further enhance versatility, users are also able to shoot in additional modes and aspect ratios such as 5:4 to easily frame for printed portraits or a 1.2X crop for a slight telephoto edge. For even more versatility, photographers can also take advantage of Nikon DX-format lenses for more lens options and enhanced focal range (1.5X), while still retaining sharpness and details at a high 15.4-megapixel (4800x3200) resolution.
Contributing to the camera’s rapid performance and amazing image quality is Nikon’s new EXPEED 3 image processing engine that helps professionals create images and HD video with amazing resolution, color and dynamic range. From image processing to transfer, the new engine is capable of processing massive amounts of data, exacting optimal color, rich tonality and minimized noise throughout the frame. Despite the immense data, the new EXPEED 3 also contributes to energy efficiency, affording the ability to shoot longer.
The D800 also features the Advanced Scene Recognition System with the 91,000-pixel 3D Color Matrix Meter III to provide unrivaled metering in even the most challenging of lighting conditions. At the system’s core is a newly designed RGB sensor that meticulously analyzes each scene, recognizes factors such as color and brightness with unprecedented precision and then compares all the data using Nikon’s exclusive 30,000 image database. Additionally, this new sensor now has the ability to detect human faces with startling accuracy, even when shooting through the optical viewfinder. This unique feature is coupled with detailed scene analysis for more accurate autofocus (AF), Auto exposure (AE), i-TTL flash control and even enhanced subject tracking. The Color Matrix Meter also emphasizes priority on exposure of the detected faces, allowing for correct exposure even when the subject is backlit. Even in the most difficult exposures the D800 excels, such as maintaining brightness on a bride’s face while retaining the dynamic range to accentuate the intricate details of a wedding dress beside a black tuxedo.
Advanced new automatic systems make it even easier to capture amazing images. The camera features a new enhanced auto white balance system that more accurately recognizes both natural and artificial light sources, and also gives the user the option to retain the warmth of ambient lighting. Users can expand dynamic range with in-camera High Dynamic Range (HDR) image capture, and enjoy the benefits of Nikon’s Active D-lighting for balanced exposure. Another new feature is direct access to Nikon’s Picture Control presets via a dedicated button on the back of the body to tweak photo and video parameters on the fly, such as sharpness, hue and saturation.
True Cinematic Experience
For professional and broadcast applications that call for outboard digital recorders or external monitors, users can stream an uncompressed full HD signal directly out of the camera via the HDMI port (8 bit, 4:2:2). This output signal can be ported into a display or digital recording device or routed through a monitor and then to the recording device, eliminating the need for multiple connections. This image can also be simultaneously viewed on both the camera’s LCD and an external monitor, while eliminating on-screen camera status data for streaming purposes. The D800 also includes features concentrated on audio quality, such as a dedicated headphone jack for accurate monitoring of audio levels while recording. Audio output levels can be adjusted with 30 steps for precise audio adjustment and monitoring. The D800 offers high-fidelity audio recording control with audio levels that can be set and monitored on the camera’s LCD screen. A microphone connected via the stereo mic jack can also be adjusted with up to 20 steps of sensitivity for accurate sound reproduction. What’s more, recording can be set to be activated through the shutter button, opening a world of remote applications through the 10-pin accessory terminal.
Wield Speed and Performance with Astonishing Accuracy
Construction and Operability
D800E - Maximum Resolution Unleashed
Price and Availability The Nikon D800 will be available in late March for the suggested retail price of $2999.95.1 The D800E version will be available in mid April 2012 for a suggested retail price of $3,299.95. For more information about these models, NIKKOR lenses and other D-SLR cameras please visit www.nikonusa.com.
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