I will start with "I really wanted to hate this camera" cliche and I will describe the reasons for that below. At the moment of the announcement I actually "forgot" everything bad and I really think that Nikon did a great job with this camera. I'm looking forward to have one of those "miracles" in my hands as soon as they are available on the market. I already pre-order mine. Meanwhile you should hurry up and if you still didn't pre-order yours - DO IT RIGHT NOW!!! Soon there will be a huge demand for this camera and if you don't want to wait endlessly to see it in stock - better pre-order it now. You can do that at Amazon - for D800 here and D800E here.
Official specifications can be found here. And here are some pictures from different angles.
As I said above, I wanted to hate this camera, well, Ok - to "dislike" it. Why? Well, as many other photographers I waited for replacement of D700. As you may know D700 is amazing camera with 12MPx sensor and it is famous with it's extremely good performance in low light. When the rumors for 36Mp D800 started to look as it will be true, the logical reaction was WHY??? Who really needs that amount of MPx??? The more pixels means they will have smaller size. Smaller size means they will capture less light. Capturing less light means the image contains more noise. At the same time I was asking myself the contra-question: why Nikon would release something worse than what they have so far? The people are waiting 4 years for this replacement camera and Nikon wouldn't screw it for them. I decided to compare the pixel sizes - may be there I'll find the answer of my question. So here what I found:
D7000 (16MP) - 4.78µm
D4 (16MP) - 7.3µm
D3x (24MP) – 5.9µm
D3s (12MP) – 8.4µm
D700 (12MP) - 8.45µm
D800 (36MP) – ? (prediction is for 4.8µm)
Sony A77 (24MP) – 3.89µm
Phase One p40+ (40MP) – 5.95µm
Canon 7D - 4.3µm
Canon 5DMII - 6.4µm
Canon 1Dx - 6.95µm
Sure the D800 came out and it has pixel size of 4.88µm - just above the D7000. Btw D800's crop mode of 15.4MPx speaks about that itself.
I was impatient to see the first full resolution pictures so I can compare the IQ, and I have to admit - I'm impressed. With similar pixel size of the D7000 the image quality in high ISO is significantly better. Compared to D700, the noise from D800 (when the image is cropped to 12MPx) is somehow cleaner, without artifacts and it's quite pleasant to the eye. For those, shooting black and white - it will be even more welcomed.
See some sample images - 100% crops. First one is the original image and the second one is downsampled to 12MPx:
Keep in mind that all images are not processed and no NR has been applied. You can download the full size images here. All images copyright Ferra.ru. You can also see the full size downsampled images here.
As you can see - the images are almost noise free up to ISO3200 and the downsampled images at ISO6400 are still very good looking at 100%. It you decide to re-size the image, even the highest ISO will give you good quality to share images online, etc.
And this is just about the IQ.
The second "big" issue was the speed of shooting. But for such a big resolution camera it's relatively ok. D800 can shoot at 4fps (FX mode), 5fps (DX mode) and 6fps (DX mode with attached battery grip). Besides these two (initially thought as downfall) features, everything else excels in times both D7000 and D700. I'm also looking forward to see the official DXoMark score and I will update the information after it is released.
The video in this new camera is also amazing. It is comparable with the one from D4. The key differences (beside the sensor size and noise profile) are the lack of Ethernet port and incompatibility with the new WT-5A Wireless Transmitter. Also the second card slot (besides the CF one) is not for the new XQD card, but uses CD cards. In exchange - D800 is the first camera with USB 3.0 port.
I still don't have the camera and need to test it before I give my official score, but from what I see so far - Nikon D800 is very powerful camera - for both stills and video. You won't sorry if you get one.
...more after I have the camera to test it.