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Nikon unveils D800 and D800E, 36.3 megapixels for under $3000

Nikon announced today the release of their long-awaited update to the D700, creatively titled the D800. The D800 will offer a 36.3-megapixel sensor, many of the same tricks as the high-end D4, and will be available for under $3000.

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Nikon have announced today the release of their long-rumored update to the D700, the D800. Nikon will actually release two versions of the full-frame, 36-megapixel camera, with another version—the D800E—costing $300 more with the ability to counteract the built-in anti-aliasing filter.

The Nikon D800 will come with many of the tricks that made their debut in the recently-announced Nikon D4, including a 91,000 pixel RGB metering sensor, improved 51-point autofocus system, full uncompressed HD signal output, headphone jack, and full control over aperture, shutter, and sensitivity during video output (when using uncompressed out).

The D800's sensor is a full-frame Nikon FX sensor, with a resolution of 36.3 megapixels, which can be cropped down to 15.1 megapixels when using DX lenses. The camera will offer a native ISO range of 100-6400, expanable to 25,600. The high resolution of the camera should appeal to landscape and studio photographers, especially, as a high-resolution alternative to the D4.

Nikon is clearly not aiming at sports or action photographers with the D800, as the camera will only be capable of four frames per second shooting at full resolution, though this does improve to six frames per second when shooting at the cropped DX setting (with a 1.5x crop factor) with a battery grip attached. It's certainly capable of shooting action, but the 10+ fps ratings on the new Nikon D4 and Canon 1D X models will be more appealing for subjects that move more than a meter or two per year.

When monitoring your shot you can use the optical viewfinder, which is an eye-level pentaprism with 100% coverage, in line with previous high-end Nikon efforts. Users can also opt to frame using the rear 3.2-inch, 921k-dot resolution LCD, with the option to simultaneously use the rear LCD and an external monitor via mini-HDMI output.

For memory the D800 doesn't go with the proprietary XQD memory cards of the Nikon D4, but instead opts for the more standard CompactFlash and SD/SDHC/SDXC dual memory options, with dual card slots. The camera will come with the ability to use the new, high-speed UHS-1 SD memory, however, which should speed up some workflows.

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The camera will not offer Ethernet out, which will likely be a bit of a bummer to studio photographers who like to network their cameras out for quick and easy grading, preview, and editing in-house. The camera will come with a wireless flash commander for syncing multiple flashes, however, so it's not a total loss.

The D800 is significantly smaller than those full-frame cameras, however, as it does not include a built-in battery grip (one is available separately). The camera will go it alone out of the box with a single battery, model number EN-EL15.

The D800's counterpart, the D800E, is a specialized model with one unique trick: the ability to counteract the built-in anti-aliasing filter. According to Nikon the filter hasn't been removed from the D800E, but will instead include an optical low pass filter that does not have any anti-aliasing effect. The reason for this, given by Nikon at CP+ 2012 in Japan, is that by keeping the filter in the optical path is no different from the D800, whereas simply removing the filter (as is done second-hand by some to other digital camera models) and altering the internal characteristics of the camera to match would be cost-prohibitive.

The anti-aliasing filter in cameras improves the digital reproduction of some details, especially the moire discoloration effect caused by repeating patterns such as on a carpet or on fabric. Unfortunately these filters do so at the expense of image sharpness (and often a slight bit of dynamic range), so the D800E will forego the filter and provide moire correction software along with Nikon's standard Capture NX2 software suite.

The Nikon D800 will debut at an MSRP of $2999.95 body-only, and will begin shipping in March. The D800E, with anti-alias filter correction, will ship for $3299.95 body-only around April.

For the full press announcement including full specifications, please visit Nikon's website here.

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