I was originally going to post a long term review of the Nikon D800 today, but seeing as my camera has been autofocus-crippled and I’ve only used it under studio conditions with manual focus, it wouldn’t be fair. Instead I’ll roll my conclusions into the D800 vs D800E review which will go up later this month, once my camera arrives – I’m told later this week.
But what I can say is that the sensor is absolutely stunning, and remains one of the best, if not the best I’ve ever used – at least in 35mm format (sorry, I haven’t had a chance to shoot with the H4D-50MS or IQ180 backs). And it definitely provides more flexibility than anything larger; you can use the high ISOs, you can shoot faster than 1fps with it, it can do video…and I’ve not run out of useable dynamic range yet. Yes, the product definitely has some early teething troubles – and I’m not for one minute saying that we should let Nikon off the hook, because it is a lot of money – but if you stop for a minute and think about what we’re actually getting, it’s pretty amazing. Ten years ago, the same money got you a D100: the output from that camera was so soft that you wouldn’t even know if you were having edge AF issues or not; in fact, nobody would think to use the edge AF points for anything other than viewfinder decoration because they were that inaccurate.
I don’t know how many more large leaps in technology we’re going to see at the advanced consumer/ pro level – look at the incremental changes to the flagship Nikon and Canons – but I honestly feel the D800 is a game changer in the sense that it’s now truly made the next step in image quality accessible at a much lower price point than before; forget the Pentax 645D. But the same caveat always remains: just because you can afford the tool, doesn’t mean you know how to use it properly. And no amount of money can replace dedication and hard work in achieving photographic results. Then again, I suppose you could just buy a large print. MT