Nikon D800 packs 36.3 megapixels, to rival medium format cameras

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Nikon D800 announcedAfter many months of rumours and speculation, the Nikon D800 DSLR is finally a reality.

Nikon ended the long wait, unveiling its new 36.3-megapixel FX-format professional Nikon D800, which it claims ‘delivers unprecedented levels of depth and detail’ and allows users to shoot broadcast quality video.

What’s more, Nikon claims the Nikon D800 is not a successor to its popular full frame DSLR, the Nikon D700, but instead offers a potential to rival medium format cameras.

The Nikon D800, price slated to be £2399.99, will be available from 12 April, its UK release date.

Chris George, editor of our sister magazine, N-Photo, was invited to have a hands-on with the new Nikon DSLR prior to the announcement of the Nikon D800 release date. Watch our video below to see his first impressions. Or continue to read more about the Nikon D800 specs as this story continues after the video.

The Nikon D800’s 36.3-megapixel FX-format (full-frame) CMOS sensor offers photographers what Nikon claims are unprecedented levels of detail and tonal range. To this end the new Nikon camera boasts 12-channel readout with 14-bit A/D conversion and high signal-to-noise ratio, along with an ISO range of 100–6400, which is extendable up to 25600 (equivalent) and down to 50 (equivalent).

What’s more, the camera’s intelligent noise reduction systems manage noise without sacrificing fine details, allowing superb flexibility under all lighting conditions: images are crisp and clean, even at higher ISO settings.

The Nikon D800 also comes equipped with the manufacturer’s next-generation EXPEED 3 image-processing engine, offering 16-bit image processing that Nikon says can deliver smooth gradations with abundant detail and tone all the way up the scale to pure white, even when shooting in JPEG.

Nikon also claims the D800 can meet professional demands for video, shooting full HD (1080p) movies in frame rates of 30p, 25p and 24p, with 60p, 50p and 25p options at 720p. Movie clips can be up to 29:59 minutes long. As with the recent Nikon D4, full HD recording is possible in both FX and DX based formats.

The D800 also features an external stereo microphone input for video and audio recording, as well as an audio out for external headphones so you can fine tune audio in isolation both before and during movie recording. A line input setting for PCM linear recorders is also provided.

For a great example of what the Nikon D800 is capable of in terms of video recording, the video below – Joy Ride, directed by Sandro – depicts a man travelling across Chicago on his motorcycle to attend the birth of his child. The short film was shot on a Nikon D800.

Joy Ride from Sandro on Vimeo.

Finally, the Nikon D800 offers an uncompressed HDMI output for those who need the purest video output for professional quality editing. The D800 lets users output the uncompressed live view to external recorders and monitors. As with the Nikon D4, this data is output at the designated image size and frame rate, and is clean of the information overlay that can be simultaneously displayed on the camera’s TFT monitor.

Also on board the D800 is an Advanced Scene Recognition System with a new 91,000-pixel RGB sensor that analyses scenes. This detailed scene analysis is also utilised to support more accurate autofocus, auto exposure and i-TTL flash exposure results in a diverse range of compositional and lighting situations.

The Nikon D800 also implements Nikon’s Multi-CAM 3500FX AF system — with individually selectable or configurable 9-, 21- and 51-point coverage settings.

On the new Nikon DSLR the autofocus sensor module and algorithms have been re-engineered to improve low light acquisition sensitivity capabilities down to -2 EV (ISO 100, 20°C/68°F). The overall performance is similar to the Nikon D4, the company says.

Nikon is also promising fast start-up times of just 0.12 seconds on the D800, while release time lag is minimized to approx. 0.042 seconds, with continuous approx. 4 fps capability in FX-format and crop modes, pushed to approx. 6 fps capability in DX-format Crop mode with the optional Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D12.

The D800’s glass prism optical viewfinder offers approximately 100% frame coverage and 0.7x magnification (50mm f/1.4 lens at infinity, -1.0m-1). Nikon is also launching a special edition of the D800 – the Nikon D800E, which comes with a modified optical filter.

Nikon claims the D800’s shutter unit has been tested to well over 200,000 cycles of release. For more details on this new Nikon DSLR, check out the Nikon D800 hands-on review on our sister website, TechRadar.