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The Nikon D800 is a 36.3MP professional HDSLR that breaks new ground in resolution and metering technology. More than an upgrade to the just-discontinued 12MP D700, the D800 is a major overhaul. Unlike the D700, which was positioned as a "prosumer" camera, the Nikon D800 is definitely geared towards pro users especially studio, fashion, and wedding and portrait photographers. The D800 has a 91,000-pixel RGB Matrix Metering System, Advanced Scene Recognition, and what Nikon says is an improved 51-point AF system. It has a relatively small form factor for a pro camera, similar in size to the D700. For videographers, the camera can capture 1080p video at up to 30fps with manual control and uncompressed HDMI output.
Unlike the 16MP D4, Nikon's recently-announced new flagship camera that boasts an ISO range of 100-204-800, the D800's native ISO range is 100-6400, expandable to 50 and 25,600. However, Nikon says improvements in light transmission to the sensor photodiodes, changes in sensor design, an enhanced Optical Low Pass Filter (OLPF) and 14 bit A/D conversion with a high signal to noise ratio will translate into outstanding low-light, high-ISO performance. Also unlike the D4, the D800 delivers only 4fps burst rate at full resolution, 6fps in DX mode (see below).
Nikon users who have invested in DX-format lenses will be able to use them on the D800 by using the 15.4MP resolution setting. In this setting, only the pixels that cover a DX-sized portion of the sensor will be active, giving the camera a 1.5x crop.
Other features include Advanced Scene Recognition, which compares the scene with Nikon's 30,000 image database. Face recognition has been refined, with the Color Matrix Meter placing priority on exposures of detected faces. Nikon says it has also improved white balance to better recognize both natural and artificial light.
D800: Tool for serious cinematography
For videographers, the D800 is a serious tool. Able to record full HD 1080p at 30 or 25p and 720p at 60/30p, the D800 records H.264 or MPEG4 AVC format video using the B-Frame data compression method for up to 29:59-minute clips. Rolling shutter distortion a common problem for HDSLRs is said to be minimized thanks to fast data read rates at the sensor. High-ISO performance is said to allow filmmakers to capture footage where previously impossible.
The D800 will be available both with and without a low-pass filter (the model without the low-pass filter is the D800E. The D800E cancels anti-aliasing properties and allows light to be delivered directly to the photodiodes. This is said to offer the highest possible color fidelity and dynamic range that, according to Nikon, will deliver near-medium-format image quality. Color moire correction will be available within Capture NX2.
Both the D800 and D800E will use UMDA6 and UMDA7 Compact Flash cards as well as SD SDXC and UHS-1 cards in two card slots. The camera is protected from moisture and dust and is constructed of magnesium alloy. Nikon also claims up to 900 image captures and 60 minutes of HD video recording per battery charge.