Every now and then a product comes along that changes the industry in which it resides. Digital SLR cameras have seen a few of these products over that last decade or so. Canon gave us the original 5D, the first full frame camera in a non-pro body. Nikon gave us the D3, a camera which took images so clean at high ISOs that people started to wonder if they would have to buy another camera ever again.
Recently I believe we have seen another one of these game changers. The Nikon D800 is the successor to the long running but immensely popular D700. The D700 had the same 12 megapixel sensor found in the D3 but at half the price. No wonder they sold so well and used examples are rare and still worth over £1200. A tough act to follow?
We all knew the D800 was coming, rumours had been flying around for months and even images of the elusive camera had been leaked. The general assumption was that Nikon would take the 16 megapixel sensor from the recently launched D4 and follow their usual form of sharing components between bodies. They didn’t. Instead they launched a 36 megapixel monster. Three times the resolution of the D700.
Now let me get something straight, I didn’t like the whole more megapixels means better camera race that was happening a few years ago. Quality and resolution are two very separate things. Nikon proved that with the D3/D3s/D700. Other manufacturers were launching more cameras with silly figures for the amount of pixels crammed onto their sensors. Nikon’s Professional backbone was based around a megapixel count that had been the norm for six to seven years yet their cameras were loved by amateurs and professionals alike because of how the image looked.
On that basis then why am I welcoming a digital SLR with more pixels than any other that has come before it? Well it’s the way that Nikon have managed to take that resolution and make it work. Yes the D800 does not work as well in low light situations as it’s bigger brother, the D4 but its aimed at a different type of photographer. To demonstrate what I mean you need to see their sample images (see link below). The image of the library is wide and vast, it’s a big room but if you zoom in 100% you can almost read the text on the spines of the books. That is just incredible. Normally high resolution DSLRs have large pictures but the detail is poor.
Sample images from the Nikon D800. Or check our re-sized versions below.
Then there is the video. These types of camera have had HD video capability for a few years now and many have been very good, with Canon leading the way recently. The D800 is simply better, there is a short movie shot in Chicago using just this camera and Nikon lenses. If that scene had been shown in a cinema I would have been more than happy with the quality, it’s that good. Movie makers will have a great time using this camera, it has great features such as being able to transfer uncompressed HD footage to an external recorder via the built in HDMI socket.
So who is this camera for? Well it’s not for sports photographers, the huge file sizes mean the frame rate is only a maximum 4 per second but these types of shooters will be going for the D4 anyway. I expect this to be bought by and loved by Fashion, Wedding, Commercial and Editorial Photographers. The amazing quality, large file size and beautiful tones this camera can generate will be perfect for anyone aiming to use the camera for large prints, exhibitions, advertising etc. The same people who would have normally gone for something like the Nikon D3x which has 24 megapixels but this camera only costs around £2400 whereas the D3x costs in excess of £5000.
Is this a game changer? I certainly think so. Why not get me on twitter.