Nikon annonces the D800 and breaks a new resolution record

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Preview
Nikon annonces the D800 and breaks a new resolution record

Today Nikon announced the long-awaited D800 with a 36 MPix full-frame sensor. This new high-end DSLR has many promising aspects.

First of all, it should be said that there is a huge difference in the sensor compared to its predecessor, the Nikon D700 (with “only” 12 MPix). Almost 4 years later, the Nikon D800 leapfrogs the D700 but also all other DSLRs on the market with an impressive 36 MPix full-frame sensor.

This gives a pixel pitch of 4.8 µm, among the smallest for full-frame DSLRs such as the Nikon D7000, the Pentax K5, and the Sony A580. If the D800’s sensor uses the same kinds of technology as these models, it should achieve some interesting DxOMark scores.

The D700 was known for its brilliant low-light performances with a DxOMark low-light score of 2303. One of the key comparison criteria for the D800 will be its noise level at high ISO.

  D700 D800 D4
Resolution 12.20 MPix 36.15 MPix 16.16 MPix
Sensor size (mm) 24.0 x 36.0 24.0 x 36.0 23.9 x 36.0
Pixel pitch (µm) 8.4 4.8 7.3
Frame rate (fps) 5 to 8 4 to 6 up to 11
ISO latitude 50 - 25 600 50 - 25 600 50 - 204 800

One last thing about the D700 sensor: It was one of the last Nikon cameras with a dynamic range that hit a ceiling at low ISO, but we expect a much better performance from the D800 since it launched after Nikon fixed this limitation in the D700.

In term of lenses, the D800 is the first full-frame with such a high resolution, so it will definitely push lenses to their limits as the lens scores of the D7000 tend to prove. It will be interesting to see how the Nikon lenses cope with this.

With the D800, Nikon also announced the D800E. This E version comes without an anti-aliasing filter for photographers who want to take full advantage of the 36 MPix resolution, and who can deal with the potential moiré that the demosaicing creates.

We had the chance to attend Nikon’s press launch and will give you more details about our first hands-on impressions tomorrow. (Unfortunately, we were not able to obtain either a D800 or a D800E to take back to our labs, so we will have to wait a bit longer to provide full DxOMark test results.)