Nikon D800 or D800E?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by george_kronfli, Dec 27, 2012.

  1. I am undecided whether to get the D800 or the D800E, the various test reports have not convinced me that paying more for the D800E, which I am happy to do, would give me better results. In fact it seems that in some cases post editing would be required. I shoot mainly non-still subjects, sailing boats in action, aircraft, some landscape and portraits. I usually print up to A4 occassionally A3. Your advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.
  2. Get the D800. You don't need the "E" version. The "E" has the anti-aliasing filter removed to increase sharpness, but this difference is negligible to most users. The "E" version is also more prone to moire since the filter is not there.
    Save the money, or use the extra cash towards a pro lens.
  3. I went with the D800E based on the following logic: D800 + grip + extra battery + L-bracket + new computer (required) would cost about $5,300. Same package with D800E would be $5,600. So for $5,600 I could get the best Nikon sensor ever, or for $5,300 I could get second best. $5,300 seemed like a lot for second best.
    The differences certainly are small according to the online info, but the price difference was small too. As for moiré, all the online comparisons I saw showed that when the D800E had it, the D800 did too, just a bit less. In practice, it hasn't been an issue.
  4. There has been already quite some discussion on it:
    For A3 print, you can do those already perfectly fine with 12MP. 36MP might be useful if you crop a lot, or print A2 and larger, but for those sizes, I really doubt you see massive improvements with having many more pixels, or the difference between the D800 and D800E.
    If I'd spend the money on a D800, I'd get the E for the reason Kent gives. But instead, as my prints are mostly A4, with an occassional larger print, I reached the conclusion that the D700 served my purposes and needs (and wallet) better, so I got one of those at a nice price after the D800 launched.
  5. I wanted a D800 mostly for the resolution (and dynamic range); I already have a D700, which is a perfectly good general-purpose camera.
    However slight the advantage, given that the price difference was around 10%, I decided that I wanted all the resolution I could get. That
    meant getting the E a no-brainer, especially since the reports were that moiré issues were rare (I've essentially not seen any, though I don't
    shoot much architecture or fashion that contain repeated patterns) and that the plain D800 isn't entirely free of such issues.

    If I wanted a D800 as a general-use camera, if I wanted to shoot video more than occasionally or if I mostly shot JPEG and didn't want to
    rescue the occasional image in post (and if I wasn't prepared to check for problem images as I went) - essentially, if speed and convenience
    of workflow were more important to me than the last 1% of image quality - I'd have doubts about the E, but I knew what I was getting. I'd say
    the same about the D600 - so, perhaps, if you're not sure whether you wanted a D600 or D800, you may not be in the market for a D800E
    (and if you don't want a D800E, think about a D600). The difference between a D800 and a D800E is very minor (and gone by f/8), so don't
    expect much.

    Of course, I don't own both, so all I can report is that I'm a happy D800E owner...
  6. I'm with Wouter on this. The D700 is fine and I appreciate everything working on it properly from day one....and the tank-like build. If I was going for D800...the E model does not offer enough moire it was originally thought (or advert). Just saw refurbed D800 for $2300 at Adorama, but the E model hadn't dropped similar amount in price. It's up to you.
  7. "+ new computer (required)" - By my reckoning that computer cost you about $2000 Kent. Yet strangely my old pre-D800 era laptop works perfectly well for the odd 36mp image editing job, and my home-built £300 ($450 US) 4 core Athlon desktop with a "meagre" 8 gig of RAM also zips along nicely when faced with editing a D800 RAW file. I did have to splash out on an extra 1TB external drive though - cost me about the same as Nikon are asking for a spare En-EL15! So for the difference in price between a D800 and D800E you could easily upgrade your processing power and RAM.
  8. I'm always dubious about the "needing a new computer" thing. I have a moderately fast computer from sometime last year, but strangely I
    have no problem editing images on an old laptop with a single core 1GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. My tablet can display full size D800
    images, too. If you want editing with a 36MP image to be as fast as you're used to with a 12MP one, of course you need your computer to be
    faster - but there's not much special about the D800 there. Since the D3 and D90 came out, many of us have got computers that are three
    times faster; the editing experience with a D800 is no worse than that difference (though more RAM never hurts, and is often cheap).
    Patience. But I speak as a software engineer - there's always something that can make you wait for a computer.

    If you want to feel the need for more memory, play with a high end medium format back, or get a 5x4 drum scanned. Those files are much
    larger than 36MP, yet I've not heard the call for supercomputers from that community.
  9. Yet strangely my old pre-D800 era laptop works perfectly well for the odd 36mp image editing job​
    My experience was the same. When I picked up the D800 earlier this summer, I thought my two year old MacBook Pro would have issues. Not a problem you, I did have to spring for a new 1TB hard drive...all of $100. So...
    D800 + grip + extra battery + L-bracket + new computer (required)​ not an accurate statement for some people, which makes the price delta from a percentage standpoint much larger.
  10. Extra battery is a good idea, and I did spring for an L plate (I upgraded my support, partly because of the D800 and partly because I want to
    get a monorail), but the grip is pretty optional since it doesn't speed the camera up any. Still, the 10% price delta on the camera alone (at the
    time) was small enough to be justifiable. Of course, factor in a fast CF card (the fastest card I had for my D700 was a Sandisk Extreme iii, at
    30MB/s; I got a Lexar 150GB/s "1000x" 16GB UDMA7 card) and a fast SD card (I had nothing worth mentioning, got a 16GB UHS-1 95MB/s
    card) and that's a chunk of the D800/D800E price difference. Because the camera locks up in live view until it's written the image - fix please,
    Nikon - fast cards help.
  11. We got a D800 not e. I understand that moire problems are rare, but difficult to remove if it happens. Since some shoots and photo opportunities are not available to repeat, made sense to me to try to avoid the (potential) problem as much as is possible.
    On a practical note, my observations are that one needs great light, PERFECT focus, and the best lenses to utilize all of the resolution that the regular D800 offers. I would be interested to hear from those that have both if they thought that the D800e would consistently produce notably better images in the real hand held world.
    Would be good to have both, I guess.
  12. We got the D800 not E a couple of weeks ago. My thinking was that there are some photo ops that are not repeatable and that the moire is supposed to be difficult to remove once present. So best to avoid as much as possible.
    From a practical standpoint, the regular D800 often seems to offer more resolution than the rest of the photo chain (including human operator) can deliver in a less than perfect real world. Some lenses that I thought were pretty good are less than perfect. It is obvious when focus is not perfect when looking at D800 (and D600) files at 100%.
  13. I can't answer your question directly, but I can offer my experience. I was on waiting list for a D800e. After many months, I cancelled the order and picked up a D800 when they became widely available. I've never compared the bodies side by side, but the D800 has been jaw-droppingly impressive when focus is on the money and when I post process the images.
    I micro-tuned my lenses carefully, and that made a difference. I prefer contrast detection AF in LV when dealing with stationary subjects. Manual focusing in LV is disappointing, however. I'm used to Canon's sharper, more high resolution LCD images. Too bad Nikon dropped the ball here. The good news is that the D800's LV is FAR superior to that of the last generation of Nikons.
    The D800 is a durable, reliable body and has worked well through months of shooting, weather, and travel. It feels comfortable in my hands even when coupled with heavy f/2.8 lenses. In terms of resolution, the D800 is considerably better than the Canon 5D2 and 3 (as expected), and those cameras are far superior in resolution to the D700. My old D700 files look dreadfully dull these days. The AA filter on the D700 was definitely on the soft side, and no amount of sharpening can make up for the resulting loss of detail. (I own or have owned every body in this comparison, so I'm not making this stuff up.)
    Would I buy a D800e? Not at this point. My shooting is generally in the f/5.6 to f/11 range, and the D800e reportedly doesn't offer much of an advantage there. The only time I shoot more wide open than f/5.6 I'm shooting portraits. How much more detail do you need in a portrait? We end up softening facial imperfections anyway. What am I going to shoot at f/1.4? Graffiti?
    I'm more likely to see what Canon comes up with next, because I like using their Tilt Shift lenses in LV with manual focus. As mentioned, I perceive MF in LV to be the D800's only weakness at this point. If Canon fails to come up with anything exciting within the next year, I might add a D800e especially if they do something to fix the live view issues. The D800 is fulfilling my needs under most circumstances, and I have Canon bodies for when critical manual focus and perspective control is required or for when I need a higher frame rate. The Canons also seem to offer a slight edge on skin tones, but I'm sure that that's a matter of personal taste.
  14. acm


    D800 AA filter is said to be very "mild". So I went for D800 with telling my self to sharpen things a bit in post rather that spend 15,000/- Rupees (India) more for the D800E.
  15. I went with the D800 when it first came out, mainly because of the fuss that Nikon made about moire being possible with the e version and not really knowing at that time how likely that was to be an issue before any proper tests were online between the two versions. That and the fact that the e version was around £200 more and was going to be another month or so before it became available.
    I am very happy with the D800 in all things except the huge price drop in the UK after I had bought it! Funnily enough the price gap between the e version and the plain D800 is much more than it was at launch, looks like the e version will probably hold its value better long term and give a tiny bit more sharpness straight out of the camera than the D800. Either way I doubt that you would be unhappy, choosing again I would probably have taken the e version but the images that I am getting from my D800 are very, very sharp straight out of the camera. Most important thing is to use the best lenses that you can, a D800e with poorer lenses will produce inferior images to a D800 with better lenses, the different filter setup is only part of the story, good technique also helps.
  16. Dan: Just seeking clarification, as someone who needs to do more live view shooting with my D800: are you walking about the (apparent) line
    skipping on live view? I have to say I'd like an optional slow mode that fixes this as well (along with the exposure emulation being optional).
    But then the list of BIOS requests isn't limited to that. I always want more, though in my defence some of it is things I've been asking for since
    the D700 came out...
  17. Manual focusing in LV is disappointing, however.​
    Dan, I'm surprised to read that. IME the only way to get repeatably accurate focus with the D800 is to use magnified LV. The LCD dot density seems pretty much irrelevant to me, since the in-camera magnification goes well beyond 100%. While my experience with Canon DSLRs is limited to the now ancient, small and fuzzy LCD of a 5D, I find it difficult to believe that the 5D III's extra 10% LCD "dot" quota over the D800 really makes that much difference. The rear TFT screen of the D800 has almost the same pixel count as the laptop screen in front of me, on which I find no difficulty at all seeing the plane of best focus in my D800 images.
    I'm also puzzled by the conclusion that apertures in the range f/5.6 to f/11 are where the D800E doesn't show an advantage. Those apertures are precisely where any lens is going to give its best resolution. No general purpose camera lens works best at its maximum aperture, and certainly not at f/1.4.
    I'm not disagreeing that, at best, the E version shows a slight and almost imperceptible real-life improvement in sharpness over a plain-vanilla D800. I just can't agree with those assertions above.
  18. Dan, I'm surprised to read that. IME the only way to get repeatably accurate focus with the D800 is to use magnified LV. The LCD dot density seems pretty much irrelevant to me, since the in-camera magnification goes well beyond 100%.
    The problem is that the D800 skips lines in LV and video and doesn't display the actual detail captured by the sensor no matter how much you zoom (this is extensively discussed elsewhere). The image is also very noisy in lower light and/or at small apertures. The 5D Mk III LV image is massively superior especially in low light. I find the LV works ok but it's slow to use as one needs to open up to see the image clearly in macro work and to do this both the aperture and shutter speed need to be adjusted by many stops. Also in many cases the actual detail is very different from what I saw in live view, which is not what I experience with other cameras.
    I bought the D800 instead of the D800E simply because the D800 images already contain much more detail than I would need in most practical applications, and in the filterless case, aliased artifacts cannot be removed since the information to calculate the correct scene detail is lost when the aliasing occurs (and the aliased frequencies are the low frequencies which are the foundation of the image so also smaller prints are affected by the artifacts, not just huge prints). Yes, subtle aliasing effects can be seen with most digital cameras, including the D800, but it doesn't dominate when it occurs, rather it is very subtle and can be ignored. It's always a tradeoff, how strong a filter you implement; I think the D800 implementation is pretty good. If I'm going towards any direction in my FX camera purchases, ideally it would be back towards 24MP.
  19. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    As Wouter mentioned above, I wrote an article for comparing the D800 and D800E:
    Back in June, I had both for about 3 weeks and made a lot of side-by-side comparisons. The fact of the matter is that the difference between the two is very very minor. To make a long story short, I would say just get the plain D800 and save $300.
    For the record, I have a D800E myself because I want the little bit of extra resolution for lens testing. In real-life shooting, they are virtually the same camera, and moire is rarely an issue for the D800E.
  20. I thought the 800E still had an anti-aliasing filter but that an anti-anti aliasing filter was put over that to put back the aliasing that the anti-aliasing filter removed to achieve the same effect of having no anti-aliasing filter to begin with but at the same time minimizing the extra production costs of having two variations of the same camera. Which could explain why their is so little difference between the 800 and the 800E when comparing to a hypothetical 800E that was built with no anti-aliasing filter to begin with.
  21. I've not had major issues with the D800 live view, but there's no doubt that it has some deficiencies. I believe (based on sample images, not
    testing) that only rows are skipped, not columns, so the issue is more with horizontal edges - live view is still the most reliable means of
    focus. Outside in daylight the noise issue is immaterial, too. Still, for a camera that really benefits from using live view, it's a shame Nikon
    didn't nail it. I've always assumed that the same line skipping is behind video content from the D800 looking sharper (because it's aliased)
    than the D4. I'm prepared to believe that Canon did it better - hopefully that inspires Nikon to fix it.

    RJ: my understanding is that f/5.6 is where diffraction starts making the advantage of a D800e over a D800 disappear. Depending in the lens,
    I try to stick between f/4 and f/5.6 if I'm after sharpness - it's why I'm a bit miffed that my 14-24 isn't better at apertures above f/8. The old
    "lenses are sharpest at f/8" adage doesn't cut it with the D800 (and presumably not with the D3200 either). Of course, a lens that's sharp at
    f/8 is still just as sharp, it just won't out resolve the sensor. It's been obvious to me for some time in magazines that (35mm) landscape
    shooters who use f/16-f/22 aren't getting the best from their sensors - the D800 takes it up a notch. So I'm suddenly happier about my 200
    f/2, less so about my 80-200, I bought a 50 f/1.8 AF-S and a 150mm Sigma macro, and I'm looking increasingly longingly at the 400 f/2.8 and
    the new Zeiss normal prime. Not being good by f/4 matters to me far more than with my D700, and I'm resigned that there'll be no D800
    equivalent of what my 28-200 did for my D700.

    ...not that resolution is everything, but I want to make the most of my camera at least for some shots.

    John: the D800 and D800E both have a two-part low-pass filter (I believe), each part of which spreads light in one direction. On the D800, the
    halves combine to spread light in both directions across the sensor; on the E the orientation is different and the two halves cancel out. The filter is
    already weak on the D800 (the D700's is unusually strong), hence the difference is small.
  22. lwg


    I have a D800E and have seen no issues with moire or other color artifacts. I also use liveview and find it works very well for static subjects. I only shoot raw, so I was able to crank the sharpness and contrast up in the picture controls (ugly JPGs, but makes the LV image easier to use). You can also program the center button on the control pad to zoom to 100% on a single push. It's very easy to judge focus when setup this way. Sure the Canon may make this easier, but the image quality of the D800 is still better for the pictures I take.
  23. So I would and a comparison with the D800E as well.
  24. Andrew, Joe:

    Ilkka graciously answered the Live View manual focus issue better than I could have. It seems that the Live View image has a lot of the
    detail removed making critical focus decisions all but impossible in some cases. Perhaps the live view image is based on video
    resolution specs rather than the full photographic resolution of the camera. The Canons show much more detail in Live View despite
    having lower resolution sensors.

    I almost sold the D800 over this issue, because ideally I want to be able to use perspective control lenses to their fullest effect.

    Then I made a happy discovery. In Live View mode, AUTO focus is amazingly accurate. I switched to Live View AF whenever it was
    feasible (non moving subjects) and started enjoying the full impressive resolution of this fine camera. The A/B comparisons versus
    normal AF with micro tuning showed a clear advantage for Live View. On a recent trip to Italy, I used Live View AF as often as possible,
    and I really like the results.

    The bottom line is that the D800 and e aren't perfect cameras. But it you can find ways to maximize what they do well and avoid their one
    apparent weakness, the payoff in resolution is outstanding.
  25. Many thanks to all for your highly informative and very helpful responses. I am certainly glad I asked as I was wavering between the two. One day it was the 800E, next day it was the 800. Of course real life experience by people who actually use the camera compared to just testing it is invaluable. Based on all your comments and recomendations and on also on the test results by Shun and others including DPE but mainly because of your actual experiences, I have opted for the D800 which I think will be more than sufficient from the quality point of view as I really will never need the massive magnifications that will show the slight edge of the D800E. Also the D800 seems to be more suited to my style of photography than the D800E. Here in the UK the price differential between the two is about £350 (USD$565) and although this really was not a deciding factor, I don't think spending the extra funds would have achieved better results in my case. By the way, I am upgrading from a Nikon D90 so I hope to see some significant improvements especially with better rendition of the contrast and detail in the highlights etc. Thanks again.
  26. I had a D800e on order and opted for the D800 because of the potential (although small) of moire. Once would be too much for a photo that could not be recreated/reshot.
    Prior to my purchase, I compared identical D800 and D800e images, processing both with DXO software. After processing using DXO's lens correction option, it was virtually impossible to see any difference (even pixel peepingat 400%). Keep in mind that as you stop down to f5.6 and beyond, differences are all but impossible to tell even out of the camera.
  27. duplicate post deleted.
  28. Another thought is that the D800 is designed by Nikon to be a general purpose camera.

    So, if you're only going to carry one
    body, and it has to work in all situations, including video, HDR, time sequences, portraits, flash, reflective subjects, challenging light, etc., it might
    be wise to carry the general purpose body. If you can carry the pair, then the D800e will open up some other possibilities.
    But using a D800e only might present some risk. I would hate to have to explain (or process) moire in the dress of the girl
    who catches the bouquet, when I only had that one shot.
  29. The Live View issue with the D800/e is a shame as it doesn't take much magnification in Live View for the whole image to become very blurry indeed. Saying that, using it carefully, I have managed some remarkable macro images using Live View, that would not have been possible without that technology. Think back to 35mm film days when Velvia was King, look through a small viewfinder focus as well as you can using your eyesight stop down a bit, use a cable release, get the film developed and hope for the best. I did manage good macro images then but Live View makes such images achievable virtually all the time if you take a bit of time over it. The only issue being how quickly diffraction kicks in with the D800, I think I will need to learn focus stacking to get the best out of the camera for macro shots, stopping down too much will definitely lose some resolution and image quality.
    Thinking about the Live View issue, when I first got my D800 I used it virtually all the first week taking macro images because we were having some unusually late frosts combined with a good amount of wild flowers coming into bloom. Battery life was as low as 150 shots on one occasion when I used Live View for every image. I thought at first that my camera was faulty as there was no information out there on how much battery life you should get using the camera in that way. Assuming that Nikon have deliberately reduced the resolution of the screen image for Live View, might that be to increase potential battery life over what it would be if the D800 gave us a full resolution view without any interpolation? Because like it or not using Live View a lot will dramatically reduce battery life, if a "perfect" Live View could be achieved with the D800 but reduced battery life to 100 or less images would people accept that or start moaning about poor battery life instead. It would be nice to have the option to test a D800 with Live View similar to that used in the Canon 5DIII and I dare say that newer models will address this issue, not sure if a software upgrade or hack can make Live View work without any interpolation but there must be a reason why Nikon made Live View on the D800 work the way that it does at present.
  30. I suspect the line skipping in live view is simply a function of frame rate (though it may affect the battery life too) - the screen can update
    faster if not all the sensor data is read. I'm sure that some of this restriction is due to the hardware, though it ought to be able to get the full
    resolution by dropping to a slower refresh. If Nikon did more BIOS updates, it would be nice if they offered this as an option - add it to my "if I
    ever hack thge BIOS..." list. My impression is that Canon have some dedicated interpolation hardware which probably reads the whole
    sensor somewhat faster - they made a point of the image scaling for video during the 5D3 launch, which suggests a capability that the live
    view could use. I'll take the D800's dynamic range as a trade, though.

    Just to clarify, I believe we're only talking about every other scan line being skipped in live view (and that may have been a decision to avoid
    full debayering for speed) - that's still between 8 and 18MP of detail depending on whether there's column skipping too. Remember that
    Nikons let you zoom until one image pixel is more than one screen pixel (which makes focus easier to see if you have bad eyesight or
    viewing conditions) whereas Canons only go to 1:1. This seems to cause a lot of confusion. There is no "it doesn't take much magnification
    for the image to become very blurry" - it's that you can get a blurry image by zooming past 100%, and the zoom steps are quite large.
  31. Joseph, based on his review and the feather example (which he states shows a mere .2% of the frame) which clearly illustrates the minimal sharpness improvement (would not be visible in a print other than a 6' wide one) and added moire, I think the choice to get the D800 over the D800e is obvious.
    And while even serious moire can be totally or mostly corrected successfully in programs like DXO (I specifically sought out moire images prior to my purchase and DXO's moire correction feature works!), IF shooting video, you cannot remove moire. As I stated previous, DXO software's lens softness correction feature easily levels the playing field between the two bodies - it does not appear the AA filter is all that strong.
    While the choice between the two bodies can be a tough one, it is definitely a win-win situation regardless of which choice you make.
  32. Joseph, thanks for your input especially the excellent test report by Peiker, one of the most comprehensive I have seen, really appreciated. However, based on that and other reports and my own requirements, I still think I will stick to me original decision and get the D800, which is already on order. I think Elliot Bernstein has a point when he said "sharpness improvement (would not be visible in a print other than a 6' wide one)". I was particularly impressed by Peiker's assertion that the D800/E can cope very well with a wide contrast range, something I miss constantly on my D90.
  33. I think you will be immensely pleased with the D800. I am 2000+ frames into my D800 and I am in love with it. I can see myself using this camera for 10 years+.
    Be warned though, it will make a lot of PCs out there groan in displeasure. The RAW files are insane.

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