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By 7 February 2012 | Categories: news

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Not content with the recent unveiling of its new flagship D4, this week Nikon launched the latest camera in its FX format dSLRs, the D800. The D800 is the long awaited full-frame follow-up to the highly successful D700, adding HD video to the spec-sheet.
 
The camera, which boasts a remarkable 36.3-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor and offers up a 7360 x 4912 resolution, is primarily aimed at professional videographers, still and multimedia photographers, and it has a price tag to prove it. As it stands it has the highest resolutions 36 x 24 mm sensor on the market, comparing favourably to certain medium format cameras.
 
Onboard the $3000 camera is a 91 000-pixel RGB Matrix Metering System, Advanced Scene Recognition System and a 51-point AF system. As expected, the camera further offers full HD (1080p) video, along with full manual control, uncompressed HDMI output, and low-light video capability.
 
Why so sensitive?
 
With low light sensitivity in mind, the D800 features a native ISO range of 100 to 6400. However, this can be expanded to encompass 50 - 25 600. The company explained that it “had created innovative ways to manipulate light transmission to the sensor's photodiodes, giving users the ability to shoot with confidence in challenging lighting conditions.”
 
Additionally, an internal sensor design, an enhanced optical low pass filter (OLPF) and 14 bit A/D conversion with a high signal to noise ratio contribute to a sensor capable of “excellent low light ability” despite the extreme resolution.
 
"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," asserted Bo Kajiwara, the director of marketing for Nikon.
 
 
Front view of the D800
 
Analyse this
 
However it’s the newly designed 91 000-pixel RGB sensor that Nikon is particularly touting. This, according to the company, analyses each scene, recognises factors such as colour and brightness, then compares all the data using Nikon's 30 000 image database.
 
The new sensor apparently also has the ability to detect human faces with “startling accuracy.” This is coupled with detailed scene analysis for more accurate autofocus (AF), Auto exposure (AE), i-TTL flash control and enhanced subject tracking. The Color Matrix Meter also emphasises priority on exposure of the detected faces, allowing for correct exposure even when the subject is backlit.
 
The company added that users are 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 extension. Additionally, photographers can utilise Nikon DX-format lenses  at a 1.5x focal range and 15.4-megapixel (4800x3200) resolution.
 
Film fundi
 
Filmmakers have the choice of various resolutions and frame rates, including Full HD 1080 at 30/24p and HD 720 at 60/30p. By taking advantage of  the B-Frame data compression method, users can record H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format video for up to 29:59 minutes per clip (normal quality).
 
Users are further able to exert full manual control over their exposure, and adjust the camera's power aperture setting in live view for an accurate representation of the depth of field in a scene.

Nikon elaborated that whether shooting for depth of field in FX-format mode, or looking for the extra 1.5X telephoto benefits of DX mode, the high resolution sensor of the D800 allows videographers to retain full 1080p HD resolution no matter which mode they choose to best suit the scene.
 
Users are also able to easily compose and check critical HD focus through the 921 000-dot, 3.2” LCD monitor.
 
 
Back view of the D800
 
Other details
 
Looking at the camera’s build and additional features, we have the distinct impression that the D800 is intended to be a workhorse. While the company has touted it as being a “dream machine” for wedding, multimedia and studio photographers, one look at the build convinces us that it has been built to withstand the outdoors as well.
 
For example, the camera sports a magnesium alloy chassis, that is sealed and gasketed for resistance to dirt and moisture, a shutter that has been tested to withstand approximately 200 000 cycles and a built-in flash.
 
Storage is catered to with dual card slots for CF and SD cards (and at these kinds of resolutions, we suspect investing in the largest capacities of each are in order).
 
Additionally, Nikon announced that it will also be releasing a supplementary model for those professionals who demand even higher resolution and D-SLR versatility; the D800E. This model treads in medium format territory for studio work or landscape photography “when there is no exception to only the highest fidelity and sharpness.”
 
The company elaborated that the D800E “will effectively enhance the resolution characteristics of the 36.3-megapixel CMOS sensor by cancelling the anti-aliasing properties of the OLPF inside the camera. By doing this, light is delivered directly to the photodiodes, yielding an image resulting from the raw light gathering properties of the camera. A colour moiré correction tool will also be available within Capture NX2 to enhance the D800E photographer's workflow.”

To the point
 
As much as we may be tempted to wonder where the D800 sits with regards to the recently launched pro flagship D4, one look at the price gives an indication. At a RRP of $3000 for the D800 and $3300 for the D800E, the cameras are still half that of the D4’s considerable pricetag of $6000. Nikon SA has confirmed that the D800 will be in South Africa at the end of March, retailing for R31 999 for the body only. CORRECTION - Nikon SA now pegs the price at R34 999 (body only). 
 
“The Nikon D800 is the ultimate full-frame D-SLR with significant ramifications for the future of image making and video. The overwhelming 36.3 megapixel resolution resolves detail like never before and the comprehensive video options will captivate moviemakers of all disciplines,” commented  Romi Jacobs, chief brand officer for Nikon in South Africa.
 
“We’re really excited about what the D800 means for anyone who is serious about telling stories through still images, movies or both,” she concluded.
 
For a short introductory video on the Nikon D800 hit the play button below.
 
 
 

  

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