So if Moiré is not much of issue, why 800 over 800E?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by eric_m|4, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. I was just going over some of the comments in previous topic on "Nikon D800E : moire - how bad is it?" It seems like there's not an advantage either way. Why would someone choose one over the other?
  2. There is a price difference, probably enough for a spare battery in most markets.
  3. I bought the 800E as I do bird photography, wanted the extra sharpness, and had no problem with the price difference. I can't prove though that this was the right decision (meaning that I do get sharper images), I believe it is, and am very happy with the camera.
  4. All of the relatively trusted, coherent reviewers(not kr, for example) have stated that the difference is subtle.
  5. It's been said that you can only tell the difference between the D800E and plain D800 at f/5.6 and faster - by f/8, the diffraction removes the difference. The trick is finding lenses that are 36MP sharp at f/5.6. If your lenses aren't that sharp by f/5.6, or if you usually shoot slower, then the D800E is pretty superfluous. As for moire, there is a difference even though the plain D800 isn't entirely free of it, and for "wildlife with occasional architecture", for example, the plain D800 may be better. Likewise if you don't have time to try to fix up moire in fabric on a deadline. Not a problem for me, hence my E.
  6. You could just as easily phrase your question the other way round Eric - Why the D800E over the D800?
    The price difference was a factor for me. £300 UK isn't an insignificant sum, and it would buy several spare batteries, even at their current inflated price. However, I made the decision after viewing every sample image and review I could find. I came to the conclusion that the difference was either lost in translation to the web, or there basically was no visible difference and that many people were suffering from "Emperor's New Clothes" syndrome. Those tiny, tiny differences that were visible appeared to be about the same as between processing a NEF file in CaptureOne and in NX2, since CaptureOne's sharpening is slightly more aggressive. And if you only ever shoot JPEGs you'd be completely wasting your money buying a D800E anyway, IMHO.
  7. Nikon has very good personnel in the marketing department. Any slight price increase that will *perhaps* produce a better-quality image results in more profit for the company overall. [The display of Internet images will not be vastly improved if taken with a Nikon D50, a D7000, or a D800E ... just the *newer* tool makes a better-profit structure for Nikon.]
  8. When first announced, it wasn't clear if there was much resolution difference or moire difference. It seemed pretty safe that the resolution on the D800 was going to be remarkably better so I went the "safe" choice with it. I'm still getting a handle on the diffraction issue that creeps in by f8 (which was over f11 with D700). At this point I might get the 800E but I don't feel as if I have lost anything with the D800. At smaller print size it is not an issue. For those of us who want sharp landscapes from foreground to background (which is not everyone), maxing out a lens at f5.6 means about 24 mm lenses and wider. That actually is mostly ok for that application. It takes some getting used to, like any new tool.
  9. If anything, I'm surprised that more people haven't gone with the E (or that Nikon didn't expect more people to do so) - if you want a 36MP camera, why would you not want every bit of sharpness you can get, unless moire is expected to be a real issue? There are reasons, but I'm surprised that Nikon expected the E to be so much rarer.

    One issue I've had with the D800E is that I've been shooting stopped down for sharpness a bit more than with the D700 (where I was quite often wide open). That means I'm using f/5.6* a lot - and it's showing up muck on my sensor in a way that was rarely a problem on the D700 (when I was usually at f/2.8 or faster for a lot of my shots, at least of people). I've just dropped off my camera with Nikon UK for a sensor clean (I'm nearby and keep the warranty that way). The receptionist claimed to know nothing about the left autofocus problems, I was interested to find. Someone immediately after me dropped off a D800, but I didn't get the chance to ask the reason for their visit, or for their camera choice.

    (* For landscapes, which I don't shoot as much as I'd hope, I'm now planning to focus stack, at least if I don't get a better tilt-shift or finally get around to buying a 5x4 before all the useful films disappear.)
  10. lwg


    There are advantages to both. However it's not real strong in either direction from what I've seen. I have the D800E and it is very sharp with proper technique. But a D800 will look almost as sharp with proper sharpening. There is extra moire with the D800E in some situations. But the D800 still has moire issues. It's not clear to me how much more often you get issues with the D800E. For what I shoot I rarely find moire to be a problem. To me the regular D800 is the safer bet, and if I had to buy again that's probably what I would do (just to save the $300).
  11. Andrew, most people will buy the more
    affordable camera that will serve their
    needs. I bought the D800 as I wanted a
    quieter camera with good AF sensitivity
    in low light. So I bought the D800
    instead of D4 mostly because of the
    price. Also, I'm not a high fps shooter so
    the speed of the D4 was not necessary
    (though now I regret it because of the
    buffer). The good thing is that I can
    always switch as the popularity of the
    D800 will likely keep resale value high. I
    have no interest in the "E".
  12. There doesn't seem to be much support for getting the "E". It seems as if the "E" is only worth getting if you know you're going to be shooting a lot of fine detailed subjects and plan on viewing final image/print at very high magnification. Seems like you have to dig pretty deep to notice sharpness difference and moire issue.
  13. Sure, Ilkka - I guess I'm just thinking of the car extras way of thinking: once you've spent a lot, what's a little extra to make it what you want? (Which is why the two cars in my household both have the largest engine spec available.) My thought process was: I'm spending an amount of money that I can't afford to do again any time soon - there's no "buy a D800 now, think about buying a D800E later". Spending the extra 10-15% to make sure I got the best out of the other 85-90% seemed worthwhile - I'd always have wondered whether I missed out on the "better camera" by cheaping out. Hence, to me, the price difference didn't matter all that much.

    If I was absolutely convinced that there'd be no benefit to paying a premium, I obviously wouldn't have done: some images have shown a clear benefit, so although I concede that a lot don't show the E's resolution advantage, I persuaded myself it might sometimes matter. Accepting that there's a difference, however minor, I'm not really a believer in buying the second-best thing you can afford, if there's doubt and if the difference is managable (which may explain why my credit cards aren't empty). I didn't think of it as a £300 premium - I thought of it as a percentage one, and getting more out of the other two and a half grand factored in to whether to spend the rest. In contrast, given a smaller difference between a 50mm f/1.8 AF-S and a 50mm f/1.4, I went for the f/1.8 lens - because the premium doubled the price, and to me that wasn't worth it. Separate improvements in the product range by small enough steps, and I'll talk myself into spending a lot of money; put a big gap in the way, and I'll convince myself it's not worth it.

    Still, it could be worse - given a choice of opals for my crystal anniversary with my wife, I ended up going for the one that cost more than twice what the other options did, again on the grounds of "I'll always think I should have got the other one". (I did at least ensure that it was her preferred one first...) And it's not like I paid extra for a 5D3 just because it cost more - though I maintain that for many users who aren't after a dedicated high resolution/dynamic range device, it may be a better camera than the D800.

    But my psychology may not match that of the populace as a whole. :)
  14. Eric: I think that's true. To me, the question is how many people are going to buy a 36MP camera and not want to get the best out of its resolution by printing large/cropping tightly, or pixel-peep at the results? A D4E would be pointless, to me - it's not for the pixel junky market.

    Now, it may be that a lot of people do buy D800s because they're "good" (and attention-grabbing) rather than because of the resolution, in which case the "E" would be a bad idea. But arguably, so is any D800, and a 5D3 or the mythical D600 - or a D700, or a D7000 - would be a better idea.
  15. D800E is 10% more expensive then regular D800. Are images taken with it 10% better or at least sharper?
  16. Thomas: No. (Well, it's hard to quantify, obviously - perhaps the difference is noticable in 10% of images...) Is a 10% premium small enough that I'll pay it to get the best possible photos if I can see any difference? Yes, especially if I've already spent D800 money towards that goal. I pixel peep - so sue me; this is the internet: I never claimed to be a real photographer, worried about artistic merit. :)
  17. The D800E 'anti-anti-alias' seems too elaborate to me. I wouldn't be surprised if a more elegant solution appears with the next model. I'm more than happy with the D800.
    Andrew it may be that the receptionist isn't aware of the left autofocus issue because most returns (like mine) are probably sent by post and she/he doesn't get to chat with the customers. Nikon paid for postage by the way.
  18. Hey Thomas, Probably not, but in some categories paying 10% more for only 5% improvement may be worth it if it gets you more work. On the surface your comment sounds good but you really can't dummy down the issue to bumper sticker level (have you thought of a working for one of the presidential campaigns? :) ). I make most of my photo income from events, weddings, journalism, etc... where such detail, sharpness and such is really not an issue. But I enjoy macro photography as personal projects and one day may look into studio/product photography. In those fields you're competing with MF and LF images where every little bit helps. So the percentage analogy doesn't apply. MF cameras and digital backs are way more than 10% more expensive than a D800/E but the difference is no longer as great as your percentage "new math." I'm not cutting down your point, I'm just saying it doesn't apply to everyone. The people who have either 800 seem to be happy with it, but the people who don't, like me, are a little hesitant about plunking down $3K and we'd like to get every penny's worth.
  19. To me, the question is how many people are going to buy a 36MP camera and not want to get the best out of its resolution by printing large/cropping tightly, or pixel-peep at the results?
    The 36MP is incidental. If you want the dynamic range and SNR of the D800, which you can enjoy also at small print sizes, and cannot afford the D4, then there is no camera that will match the D800. From my point of view the 36MP is an unfortunate side effect of a design which achieves superior image quality in as a whole. Pixel peep? I pixel peep to check which of the frame is in best focus, but that's about it. What interests me is the emotional impact of the image which really is visible only when one sees the whole image at the same time. What doesn't affect the image's emotional impact is just a distraction from what is really important.
    As for the D800E, from my point of view the problem is that it achieves slightly improved definition at the (mostly irrelevant) very high spatial frequencies and sacrifices the integrity of the image (at the all important low frequencies which are the foundation of the image). But it seems there are quite many people online who are not bothered by it at all, which is puzzling to me.
    Now, it may be that a lot of people do buy D800s because they're "good" (and attention-grabbing) rather than because of the resolution, in which case the "E" would be a bad idea. But arguably, so is any D800, and a 5D3 or the mythical D600 - or a D700, or a D7000 - would be a better idea.
    The 5D Mk III is of a different brand, and most people who are in the market for a camera in this class are long ago married to one system or the other, so it's rather academic to talk about comparing cameras across brands. As for the D700 or D7000, neither camera can match the D800's signal to noise ratio in the final print (neither can the 5D Mk III at the low end of the ISO range), nor has quite the same AF performance. Thus there are many reasons to buy a D800. As for the "D600", most people are best served by using real cameras today than dreaming about possible future cameras and not shooting at all.
  20. I purchased the "E" and am happy I did. While I suspect the differences are subtle, (I photograph things I enjoy, not test charts), it seemed a simple decision to get the higher quality camera. I came to the "E" from the world of medium and large format film and am an admitted detail oriented person, (otherwise why shoot 4x5). Many people, and I know some, have a D800 and shoot jpegs, and/or never print but show only on the web. For that, my old 6MP D70 would work just fine. I have seen no moire, just LOTS of lovely detail in my images, and that pleases me no end. If the "E" did not exist, or if it were twice the price rather than a 10% premium, I likely would be totally happy with the D800, even with the filter. As it is, Nikon did something quite remarkable, something that no other camera manufacturer has ever done. They offered an excellent camera both with and without an anti-aliasing filter. For that they are to be commended, and no, I do not work for Nikon, but am a happily retired bum from a totally different profession.
  21. The differences out of the camera with no post processing is subtle (everyone seems to be in agreement with this). After post processing of identical D800/D800e RAW files using DXO software [with its lens softness correction feature], it is extremely difficult if not impossible to see any differences.
  22. Simply put, two reasons for me. First, by mid-July I was becoming quite concerned that I would not receive the D800E I had placed on order prior to the vacation that I just returned from. Of course, I wound up having to return the first D800 I received, but as far as I can tell, the version I got as a replacement is fine. Second, I do intend to use the camera, at least somewhat, for video and became quite concerned that I would be impacted by moire using the D800E - I was never concerned about still images, but I did get a bit skittish about video.
  23. Alastair: You may be right. I'm just surprised, given that a relatively large proportion of D800s seem to have shipped at one point with the autofocus problem and a larger proportion of forum posters seemed to think they had it, that it wasn't a common topic. I brought it up only to ask whether they had a quick test rig set up to confirm that my camera seems to be without this problem (while they had it anyway). Maybe I'm just being unduly cynical about how Nikon treated this problem... or maybe lots of people are waiting for Nikon to do a recall.

    Ilkka: I sympathise - I bought the D800E partly on the basis of a dynamic range comparison with a 5D3 (not that I was considering the latter), and it's not just the silly resolution that appealed to me. I appreciate that you'd have been happier with 18MP and 16 bits of accurate dynamic range. Still, I suspect - again cynically - that dynamic range does not factor heavily into the purchasing decisions of the majority of photographers, even for the D800 category; the press has all been about the resolution. And I concur that moiré issues can affect larger areas of the image than any sharpness benefit - but the evidence is that the plain D800 isn't completely free of these (possibly Nikon over-compensating for the very strong AA filter on the D700-vintage cameras), and that it tends to be unusual for a problem to appear. I took into account a lot of reviews and my style of shooting before plumping for the E, and I don't suggest every D800 owner should have made the same decision. Still, there are a lot of medium format and Leica shooters who also seem to cope without an AA filter.

    As you say, the 5D3 is a different brand - but I switched from Canon to Nikon when the D700 came out, after months of waiting for a 5D2. For people jumping up from a crop sensor (who may need to buy new glass anyway), or for people wanting to put down a lot of money for a high-end DSLR to replace their old 35mm or medium format solution, there may still be a system choice to be made. I get the impression that Nikon are doing better with the D800 than Canon are with the 5D3, which suggests that people are actively choosing to go with the Nikon (I don't think all the Canon owners can be deciding not to bother upgrading).

    From the reviews I've read (I'm waiting for a friend to buy one so I can play with it), the 5D3 is better at high ISO, probably has a better autofocus system (except at small apertures and possibly in low light), and is definitely a little faster than the D800. It's also fixed a few of Canon's handling snafus (notably DoF preview). It's a very good, general-purpose, camera. I don't happen to want one, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to a lot of people, admittedly with a degree of "the grass is always greener on the other side" going on. It's true that, for dynamic range at low ISO, the D800 has no competition (certainly not from the 5D3) - but for many users who never go near RAW, that doesn't make so much difference. The D700 remains a very good, fast camera with a less annoying autofocus configuration, no moiré problems, a sensible RAW resolution, autofocus that is very nearly as good as the D800's (and works at the left focus point), and a currently reasonable price; for many, it's "good enough" - as is the much cheaper and more portable D7000 (or any "D400" that may turn up). No, they're not "better" than the D800, but they're much less of a waste of money if you were only buying a D800 because someone told you that more megapickles is good.

    I'm cynically (again) assuming that not every sale of a D800 went to an experienced photographer who knew what he or she was getting. I often quote dynamic range along with resolution as a reason to get a D800, but if you care about neither, I'm really not sure the D800 is a good investment. A D600 if it appears with the expected specifications may well be better (I hope it turns up, because it'll help me to recommend cameras to friends); otherwise I've listed some pretty good alternatives for the "I just want a good camera and I've got three grand to spend" brigade, and they won't fill a memory card in three shots. On the other hand, those on this forum probably did know what they were getting, and probably - like me - really wanted it (or some of it, in Ilkka's case). I claim the D800 and D800E are niche cameras - for those wanting to be in that niche, they're epic; I'm just suggesting that not everyone trying to squeeze themselves into the niche because it's cool really ought to be there.

    Eric: I'm glad you're happy, and interested to hear a 5x4 shooter coming to the fold. Much as I like large Velvia transparencies, I'm expecting the D800 to remove most of my need to shoot with my Pentax 645, especially once I save up for a 21mm Zeiss. I'm still thinking that 5x4 ought to be a sufficiently large step that it would be worth investigating, though. (I've still not entirely established whether Fuji are killing 5x4 Velvia 100, or just 50 and 100F, and whether that bothers me - the disappearance of Portra does, just to prove to Ilkka that I, too, like dynamic range.)
  24. but I did get a bit skittish about video​
    Good point, Joel - I worried about that as well, now you remind me. I eventually decided it probably wouldn't come up all that often, since I don't do much video shooting - but if you do, you're quite right that it might be a good reason to go E-less.
  25. Because I got tired of waiting for the E and bought the other one when it became available. (Both of them seem to be in
    relatively good supply now.)

    Also, because I shoot people frequently, and I want to be able to control the amount of sharpness applied in post
    processing. Using a D800E for portraits of women, for example, was a scary proposition. More resolution is not
    necessarily better in every circumstance.
  26. Because I got tired of waiting for the E and bought the other one when it became available.​
    Fortunately, I could use the time to save up...
    More resolution is not necessarily better in every circumstance.​
    As someone whose 135 f/2 is finally about to go on ebay, I'm glad to hear that argument, but I don't agree with it. I'd much rather try to soften an image in post than try to sharpen one. Assuming you have time in your workflow to do post-processing, of course - I realise that my amateur ways aren't necessarily compatible with making money out of photography.
  27. Andrew G, you may want to read this review with regard to some of your comments about the D800 vs the 5DMKIII:
    "The D700 remains a very good, fast camera with a less annoying autofocus configuration, no moiré problems, a sensible RAW resolution, autofocus that is very nearly as good as the D800's (and works at the left focus point), and a currently reasonable price; for many, it's "good enough"

    Frankly, I am puzzled by your comments as they simply are not quite correct. I am assuming you own either a D800/D800e but simply don't understand your conclusions. The AF configuration is the same between the two cameras (D700/D800), there is no moiré problem even with the D800e (appears to show up occasionally but is certainly not a 'problem'), for a demanding photographer and even a casual one, the resolution the D800D800e cameras provide is necessary for quality prints of any size, and the AF is quite improved over the D700/D3 in many ways. All this and more, much, more more in the way of improvements/enhancements over the D700/D3 bodies, plus video, for just hundreds over the cost of a D700. The D800 is a bargain!

    I used my D3 over the weekend as my D800 is being serviced, and have come to the realization that a body that I loved and used extensively (about 350K actuations) is now of little value to me - the D800 images are so much better.
  28. Hi Elliot. From that article, I get that the D800's sensor has better dynamic range than the 5D3's, but is (very) slightly worse at high ISO - which is what I've seen from most reviews.
    The AF configuration is the same between the two cameras (D700/D800).​
    In the D800's favour, there's the new f/8 sensitivity and the improved resolution of the meter allegedly improves face detection (I've not used it enough to compare - I expect the actual improvement to be relatively negligible most of the time, since the D700's AF is already so good). In the D700's favour, there wasn't a glitch in the AF table calibration at the factory. More importantly, for me, the D800's AF mode selector is cunningly positioned where I can't reach it with big lenses, and press it accidentally the whole time (which stops the camera from responding) for medium-sized lenses. The D700's is selectable with my right thumb, which is actually on the camera when using a big lens. I don't think I'm alone in finding the D800 solution to be a negative step - I appreciate it's a matter of opinion, but I'm confused as to how Nikon are managing to ignore what I consider to be a fairly common way of holding the camera as part of their ergonomic design.
    [moiré] appears to show up occasionally but is certainly not a 'problem'​
    It's not a problem that I worry about, being a happy D800E owner. But it can happen, and get in the way of some images - and I'm talking about suggesting cameras other than the D800 to those who aren't prone to pixel-peeping and post-production.
    The D800 is a bargain!​
    I agree, I'm just not sure it's the perfect camera for everyone. The 5D3's autofocus is slightly more convenient in its layout of points, the camera is (slightly but detectably) faster, and it does have slightly better high ISO handling. Without the resolution or dynamic range, which do matter to me, the D800's improvements over the D700 are many, but each is slight - especially if you don't care about video, which many of us don't. Against the original asking price of a D700, I agree the D800 is the way to go (just in case); against a used D700 - or a cheap D600 if one appears - maybe not so much. I'm not saying that people who aren't after its unique benefits are in any way unworthy of a D800, just that there are different cameras for different projects and work flows - and the D800 is a specialist device.

    My D700 is currently not getting much use while I've got the D800E - I was expecting this to be the case, since, at least until I get a battery grip, it has few advantages other than mild ergonomic ones, and toggling between bodies is awkward (why the +/- switch!) Though I may try to use it more this week while my D800E is off getting sensor cleaned - it's nice not to resort to an Eos 300D in these circumstances. I'd still expect the handling and speed of a D3 to tempt me for some shots over a D800 (hence the battery grip lust), but I accept it's a minority case.
  29. In summary, the D800E goes to "11" but the D800 only goes to "10". Sorry, couldn't resist.
  30. "The D700 remains a very good, fast camera with a less annoying autofocus configuration, no moiré problems, a sensible RAW resolution, autofocus that is very nearly as good as the D800's..."

    This statement must have been made in the feverish haste of wanting to cast a zinger into an argument, or out of ignorance.
    A higher---let alone substantially higher---megapixel sensor, by definition, is LESS likely to generate moiré.​
  31. ", but is (very) slightly worse at high ISO - which is what I've seen from most reviews."

    Actually, it is the other way around. The 5dMKIII is rated at 2293 and the D800 is rated at 2853 (higher is better) which makes the D800 a little more than 1/2 stop better. Just out of curiosity, which articles have you read that state the Canon gives better high ISO results than the D800? Please provide a link.

    "I'm just not sure it's the perfect camera for everyone." Ahhhh, finally some common ground!!!

    I think the bottom line is that anyone using either cameras would be hard pressed to find any difference in the end result (pictures) from one to the other after post processing. But by the numbers, the D800 has a slight edge.
  32. This statement must have been made in the feverish haste of wanting to cast a zinger into an argument, or out of ignorance.​
    Them's fighting words. :) The D700 as an extremely strong low-pass filter - you could certainly argue it's too strong, in fact. Getting colour aliasing out of it is difficult. I believe (not owning one) that the D800's low-pass filter is much less strong (compared with its pixel size), and that moiré is more likely; obviously it can with the D800e, with no filter at all. Unless you actively try to shoot a repeating pattern that approximates the frequency of the pixels, it's not going to be an issue - but should you happen to do that (especially in a scenario where repeating patterns vary in frequency across the image, as often happens due to perspective) then the strength of the filter relative to the pixel size has an effect that can be seen on the macro scale. That was the basis of my argument.
    A higher---let alone substantially higher---megapixel sensor, by definition, is LESS likely to generate moiré.​
    I wonder about that adage, which I've heard before. I'm not sure that there's anything fundamental that says that high-frequency content in a scene is less likely to be repetitious than low-frequency content - if anything, I'd expect the reverse, from nature. It's certainly the case that the reduction in lens microcontrast makes it harder to capture high frequency scene data, and therefore a sensor with more pixels might be less likely to exhibit aliasing - effectively, it has a somewhat stronger low-pass filter built in than an equivalent lower-resolution sensor, due to the lens. It's also true that the area of moiré is likely to be smaller as resolution increases, because increasing the resolution decreases the depth of field (at which sharpness matches the pixel pitch) - this doesn't make moiré less likely, just less pervasive. You can, of course, get a D800E's moiré to go away by stopping down until lens diffraction gives you a low pass filter (probably by f/11), and still have more useful scene content than a D700 would - but it's simply not a concern for a D700 shooter.

    If there's another argument in play here, I'm happy to be educated about it. I certainly can't get there from "by definition", but that may be my own failing.
  33. Actually, it is the other way around.​
    Really? Because looking at the graph of dynamic range vs ISO, the 5D3 crosses over with the D800 between ISO 1600 and ISO 3200. I actually shoot in that range a lot with my D700, although I'm more prone to trying to keep my D800E at lower ISOs because I know there's more dynamic range to be had. I agree that there seems to be a disparity between this graph and the next section in the review - I don't know enough about DxO's testing.
    Just out of curiosity, which articles have you read that state the Canon gives better high ISO results than the D800? Please provide a link.​
    Hmm. I'd thought "most of them", but dpreview points out that the Canon is a bit prone to strong noise reduction (it certainly does a lot of noise processing in JPEG to get the alleged stop advantage over the 5D2, and this may or may not have thrown some of the reviews I read). Googling is being less definitive than I thought, and some of the reviews I've read are printed. My impression was that the 5D3, in RAW, is better - though not much, once you scale the image sizes to match - but I may have been led astray, or just be confused. I'll concede that, once scaled appropriately, there's very little between any of the current high-end crop (D800, 5D3, D4, 1Dx, and probably 1D3 and D3s too). I'm going to be than annoying forum poster who claims something with absolutely no evidence (other than, perhaps, that dynamic range slope); sorry.
    Ahhhh, finally some common ground!​
    Sorry if I'd failed to get my point across. The D800 has many wonderful features, but it's not class-leading in all respects, and some of its benefits come with compromises. Indeed, while I sound like a Canon fanboi, I'm if anything arguing for why a D600 might be popular - and doing so as a devil's advocate and a very happy D800E owner. I just don't believe that all the early reviews claiming that 36MP was unnecessary can have been misguided - some people, and I suggest a significant number, really would he happier with a cheaper, lower-resolution system. Hopefully a D600 will cater for them; for now, I've seen quite heavy discounts on the 5D3 that may do the same (for those not locked to a manufacturer).
    by the numbers, the D800 has a slight edge​
    In at least the majority of keeper pictures, no argument. But maybe a faster camera that more people can afford would get a few more shots. Maybe, if it's genuinely better at autofocus, the 5D3 might pull out a few more keeper shots as well. I'm very glad that Nikon produced the camera I wanted to bypass the few times my D700 has limited me - now I want them to make a camera I can recommend, without reservation, to more friends (and strangers).
  34. The graph you refer to is not the DXO rating for high ISO performance, which is what I was referring to. The 5DMKIII is rated at 2293 and the D800 is rated at 2583, about 1/2 stop better. I was responding to your comment "From the reviews I've read (I'm waiting for a friend to buy one so I can play with it), the 5D3 is better at high ISO"
    With regard to dynamic range, the D800 is better at low ISO by about 2EV and too close to call above ISO 800.
    Not sure why the 5DMKIII even came up in a D800/D800e question, but if you are going to make statements about a camera, you should be as accurate as possible.
  35. I only have about 5000 shots on my D800e but Moire hasn't been an issue in one image.
  36. >>
    ", but is (very) slightly worse at high ISO - which is what I've seen from most reviews."

    Actually, it is the other way around. The 5dMKIII is rated at 2293 and the D800 is rated at 2853 (higher is better) which
    makes the D800 a little more than 1/2 stop better. Just out of curiosity, which articles have you read that state the Canon
    gives better high ISO results than the D800? Please provide a link.

    You results may vary, but as an owner/user of both cameras, I have to disagree. The difference in high ISO performance
    is obvious. Noise is visible to the point of being problematic at ISO 1600 on the D800. On the 5D3, I don't see that much
    noise until ISO 6400. I shoot with High ISO NR off. Perhaps the 'raters' did not.

    I don't expect the D800 to perform as well in this area. That's not what it was designed for, and it's not why I bought it. I
    use it up to ISO 3200, but I know that I have to apply noise reduction heavily when I do. The Canon is much more
    forgiving at high ISO, but that said, it's far from perfect. Just significantly better than a D800.
  37. +LG
    The magic word is technique. If you want the ultimate resolution you need the right sensor (ie the D800E sensor), the right lens and the best technique.
    We all knew that the D800E was going to be demanding and the big effort needed to produce spectacular images. And the lens preferences are not necessarily the latest offerings either.
    I have a colleague who, amongst others, has three Nikon lenses in the 70-200 range. He has tried them all on his new D800E. He does portraits. They are as follows:
    70-200 2.8 AFS VR2
    80-200 2.8 AFD 2 Touch
    70-210 4.0 AIS 1 Touch
    Have a guess which one come up cleanest on an A1 print? The last one. All $300 of it. So with this camera we are going to need a different set of benchmarks and to get the best out of it we need to have great technique, be mindful of what lenses actually do work best on it, use a tripod and think carefully about what the genre demands.
    The D800/D800E is not a walk around camera. It certainly is not meant for sports. The D4 is that one. It will show up inferior lenses and technique brutally. But as my partner says, "its taking us back to the 90s and what we needed to do with low ISO slide film."
    It also shows us what a great camera the D700 was and what great images that camera was capable of producing.
  38. Dan, I used a 5DMKII for 1 1/2 years and discovered that like Nikon's D7000, the 5DMKII applies some NR at higher ISOs even with NR turned off. I suspect that is the case with the 5DMKIII as well but since I don't have one, I don't know for sure. The D800 does not do this. So you end up with what appears to be less noise, but you also have less detail.
    In the end, I have found that the D800 offers a slight advantage in the detail/noise department over the 5DMKII. I downloaded RAW test images from the 5DMKIII, D800 and D800e from the DPreview site all at ISO 12,800, and processed them identically with DXO software. Both platforms give excellent results. Based on what I see, the D800 bodies have a slight edge over the 5DMKIII. But the difference is minor and would probably not be visible in a print. There is certainly not anything close to a significant difference. The results are consistent with DXO's ratings.
    Unlike DPP and Nikon software (I use Nikon ViewNX2) that applies NR along with other 'enhancements', DXO shows the 'real' RAW file properties. Both Nikon and Canon exhibit a noise at higher and high ISO. But both clean up nicely and offer incredible detail compared to previous models.
    And as DXO's ratings indicate, the D800e has very slightly improved high ISO performance over the D800 based on the testing I did.
    I cannot post the results but for anyone interested, you can download comparison RAW test shots here and check them out for yourself:
  39. Adding to my post above, I opened the RAW files with CS5 with Photoshop's default settings and the D800 is noticeably better than that of the 5DMKIII - less noise, more detail. Dan, how are you comparing your shots between the two cameras? I am puzzled that you are finding a significant difference between the two, and that you find the 5DMKIII superior.
  40. The graph you refer to is not the DXO rating for high ISO performance, which is what I was referring to. The 5DMKIII is rated at 2293 and the D800 is rated at 2583, about 1/2 stop better.​
    I've been trying to make sense of these numbers in DxO's testing methodology. It appears to be defined as "the ISO you can reach before the image becomes 'unacceptable'" (for their clearly-defined, but arbitrary, definition of 'unacceptable'). Essentially, both readings are correct: the D800 is better up to about ISO 3200, and the 5D3 is better (slightly) after that - but DxO define the point at which the image becomes "unacceptable" as being within the range that the D800 still has a lead. If you're prepared to put up with a drop in image quality and really need to shoot at ISO 6400 or above in order to get the shot, it appears that the 5D3 is slightly better, according to the DxO measures. I'm interested that Dan backs this up, and also in how you two resolve the disparity.

    I admit that a lot of Canon's apparent better performance seems to be from image processing rather than the sensor (meaning, as you say, a loss of detail) - but not all of it is. Not that I much care, since I have no plans to get a 5D3!

    To recap, I brought up the 5D3 only because I was arguing that the D800 is a specialist camera, and that I expect many who might want the resolution benefits of a D800 would be in the same group who would benefit from a D800E. Those not wanting the D800's specialty, and therefore for whom a D800E may not appeal, might be better served by a more general-purpose camera, and I put the 5D3 (and D700, and probably any impending D600) in that category. I'm primarily referring to resolution, since that's the cause of many of the D800's disadvantages - I concede the dynamic range is also important, and not offered by the 5D3 (although it might be by a D600, we can hope!) The remarkable thing isn't so much that the D800 is good at what we know it's good at, it's that it's not worse in its weak points. But it's still not class-leading in every field.

    I do find it interesting that I'm happy to let my D700 use auto-ISO up to about 6400 without thinking too much, because there's not much to be gained by sticking to lower ISOs. The increased resolution (and therefore per-pixel noise) and low-ISO dynamic range of the D800 make me much more conscious of ISO. I'll have to pay attention to the new auto-ISO for aperture priority, especially since I was someone who whinged at Nikon about needing it.

    Francisco: I believe (and I could be wrong) that there's a trade-off in lens design between contrast at different frequencies, and that it's possible to design a lens that has high contrast up to the limits of a low-resolution sensor (and therefore "looks sharp"), yet has lower contrast at higher frequencies when compared with a lens that's lower contrast at lower frequencies. That is, one lens may appear sharper at 50 lp/mm and another may appear sharper at 100 lp/mm. I would love to see MTFs drawn as a surface rather than a line, showing how contrast drops off with frequency - this would let us tailor our lens choices to our camera sensors, rather than relying on an arbitrary figure.
  41. Hi Elliot, good info. I didn't know that about the 5D series. I do know that JPEG files come out much cleaner when NR is
    actually switched on. I thought that NR had no effect on raw files, but perhaps the DIGIC is adding some.

    I haven't done a side by side test - I should set one up in the near future. I was just surprised by how much noise I've
    been seeing in the D800 at ISO 1600 where both of the Canons are still quite clean. I'm not talking about shadow noise -
    Canon's Achilles' heel at all ISO values - but rather noise in the midtones. I've read that the D800 compares to the D3's
    noise levels if you sample down to the same files size, but that seems to defeat the purpose of having a 36MP sensor.
  42. I've read that the D800 compares to the D3's noise levels if you sample down to the same files size, but that seems to defeat the purpose of having a 36MP sensor.​
    Therein lies the problem. The D800 is probably significantly better than the D3/D700 for a given print size, even at high ISO, but it's certainly true that the pixel-level detail is worse. With my D700, I'd happily shoot at ISO 3200 knowing that I was losing very little detail over the best the camera could provide. With the D800E, I'm paranoid about staying at the lowest possible ISO so that I can recover more dynamic range. Likewise, with a D700, I didn't lose much by shooting wide open a lot (and it saved me getting my sensor cleaned very often); on my D800 I'm now at f/5.6, with visible splodges, a lot - and I'm going to have to pay more attention to my backgrounds again. Oh, and I actually bothered with AF fine tuning!

    The D800 can easily match the D700's image quality, like for like. If you want to get the best it can offer, there are some compromises. None of which is unreasonable, but it's stopped the camera being quite so "fire and forget" as I found the D700 because I want to get more from it. I should probably just learn to be less picky for the majority of my shots.
  43. " ...if you sample down to the same files size, but that seems to defeat the purpose of having a 36MP sensor"
    Actually, that is the biggest advantage of the 36mp sensor. ISO 6400 and above images look like they are at ISO 200 or ISO 400 when printed at typical print sizes.
    Having noise in a RAW file is not something new. Based on all the hype over the D3 when it came out, I was shocked how much noise there was in the high ISO shots I took (with NR turned off). But I was always able to get great prints after post processing. The same is true with the D800. The end product, print quality after post processing, is what counts.
    Below are 100% crops of a fully unprocessed RAW file from the D800 at ISO 7120 and the same crop processed with DXO. The print I made looks like it was shot at very low ISO and exhibits tremendous detail BECAUSE it is downsized.
  44. Same crop after post processing.
    (Noise is not as important as how much detail you can extract from the RAW file.)
    FWIW, Canon 5DMKIII raw files have just as much (or more) noise at the same high ISOs.
    The crop (100% crop) is from a hand held shot taken at 300mm with the 28-300mm lens at f5.6 which is certainly not the best performer at 300mm. But the quality in the 8 x 10 print I made of it looks incredibly detailed considering the ISO and lens. The print looks as if it was shot with a pro lens at very low ISO.
  45. Andrew, you seem to be suggesting that because the D800 performs better at low ISO you need to stop down. There's something missing here. Surely that would mean opening up?
  46. Ok, I get it. No causality. Shoot at 5.6 with the D800 because you're getting better detail?
  47. Alastair - both. :)

    I do my best not to shoot below f/8 (certainly f/11) on my D800E because of diffraction limits, at least unless I deliberately want to remove moiré, and ideally no lower than f/5.6 to justify my "E" premium. I actually rarely shoot at such small apertures anyway, partly because I tend to be in places with ugly backgrounds and partly because I don't do as much landscape shooting as I'd like. I'm anticipating doing more with tilt/shifts (although I may need Nikon to produce a better one, especially for a wide angle, according to reports...) or focus stacking when I need more DoF. To a significant extent, I got bored removing sensor dust spots, and wider apertures let me ignore it. Shooting candids, a wide aperture means I can concentrate more on the subject and less on what's behind them.

    Most of my lenses are appreciably better stopped down a little compared with wide open. Sometimes I want the aperture anyway, but I lean towards the f/4-6.3 range depending on the lens if I want absolute quality and care less about the background. I'll be giving my 200 f/2 more of a test to find out exactly how much it loses wide open - I've not been able to give it much of a work-out yet (my D800 being a recent acquisition, and currently off for a sensor clean), but it's seemed "not bad" (especially compared with, say, my 80-200 at f/2.8). I bought it for decent performance while being able to blur the background a lot - compared with my 135 DC, which can remove the background almost as well but doesn't give the kind of image quality I want while doing it.

    In any situation, I'm now trying to balance shutter speed (more sensitivity to camera shake per pixel than before), ISO (for pixel-level noise and dynamic range - although not a bad effort, Elliot) and aperture (lens aberrations vs diffraction) - this is just good practice, but the D800 is more sensitive to it (or more visibly sensitive to it) than the D700. On the plus side, my photography will probably be improved by slowing down - but I was hoping it would be time spent composing and waiting for the moment. On my D700, I spent a lot of time in manual mode at fairly wide apertures (in lowish light), 1/focal length shutter speed, and let the auto-ISO do what it wanted without fear of much impact to the final image. Not that I wouldn't keep an eye on it and tweak things, but the D800 has my attention more - I don't leave as much to the camera as I did. I've not played with the new aperture priority auto-ISO yet, though, which may help.
  48. For indoor shooting I'm finding f4 gives beautiful images with my 50 AFS 1.4G lens, even if I have to go to ISO 800 with all the increased noise and dynamic range reduction that that might entail (it seems pretty minimal to me). I'm hoping to be able to use it wide open when the camera's left autofocus point is attended to and after I've fined tuned it. Andrew, I've noticed some dirt on the sensor with stopped down shots. I thought I might email Nikon and have the sensor cleaned while it's there. It's not too expensive is it? Sorry to go further off topic everyone.
  49. I found my 50 AF-S f/1.8G was reasonably sharp by f/2.8, and I'm sure it's better still by f/4. (It's nice to get the best contrast out of a lens, but I do occasionally care about what I'm shooting too...) The AF-D version was so soft wide open on a D800 that I pretty much decided it's a paperweight - even on my D700 it was a rare lens for me to use. I'm sure the same is true of the f/1.4 - the only reason I've steered clear of one is that I don't like the bokeh and LoCA at wide apertures, so it wasn't worth the premium over the f/1.8 to me. It's notable that Nikon don't list any 50mm primes on their "preferred lens" list for the D800, though.

    I've just checked an old receipt, and Nikon UK have historically charged me about £30 for a sensor clean, about £5 of which is shipping it back to me. They'll let you collect (I don't work far away), but you have to make sure that information stays associated with the work item - it appears that their default form tends to lose it, and I've had the camera shipped back to me before I've had the chance to say I'll come and get it on a couple of occasions. (More annoying when I'm on a deadline and there's no-one at home to sign for it, so I have to collect later from the post office.) The actual cleaning was only £21.27 + VAT - but their prices may or may not have gone up since that one, and the D700 sensor may or may not be cheaper to clean than the D800's. Inadvertently saying "clean the mirror box and finder" added significantly to the price (they dismantled everything to do it), so phrase carefully.

    They do take a while about it - normally about five days, which is a bit faster than the average repair. They're amenable to being told when an item has a deadline - I dropped mine off on Monday and I'm flying to the US next Tuesday, so they're aware that I might want to collect before they get around to it, though I'm a little nervous that I've not had a quote yet. It's not a while-you-wait job, though. I said "please check the AF if you're set up to do so easily and it won't delay things", which I'm hoping hasn't caused trouble - I'm reasonably happy that my body doesn't have the problem, but a second opinion would make me feel better.

    I left it with Nikon for warranty reasons - but Nikon UK are the only people who ever cleaned my D700 sensor (so I don't know how the prices compare), and the second time they did so they noticed that the first lot of cleaners had scratched it (but not badly enough to show in photos). I'm assuming that's a one off (a couple of years ago), and they're at least looking closely enough to notice, but you may want to bear it in mind. I'm still going back to them, not least because not many other people would be able to get me a new sensor if they sneeze at the wrong moment (and they're closer to me than most alternatives). My house is full of cat hair, so I've no intention of trying to clean it myself.

    Good luck if you try them. (I failed to register - are you in the UK, Alastair? Nikon elsewhere may be more or less efficient. If you're in the UK, I'm still interested that the receptionist didn't know there was such a thing as a D800 autofocus problem, more so if you've sent one in to fix.)
  50. Andrew, yes I'm in the UK but on the wrong side of London. I live in a village near Luton. Thanks for all the info. I won't complicate things by asking them to clean the sensor this time. I'd be only too happy to have the camera back with properly functioning AF. They have indicated that it should be ready by the 12th. If it isn't things are going to get expensive for me because I'll have to haul out the old Hasselblad.
  51. Putting the noise discussion aside for a moment, isn't it rather limiting to be forced to shoot at f/5.6 and faster? I use f/8
    and f/11 regularly for landscape work. I suppose that I could attempt to do focus stacking, but it's not always possible in
    changing light or when something moves in the frame (flowers, waves, wildlife). Plus I'd have to hire a full time staff to sit
    there and post process all of those files. ;-)

    Further, I'm not a big fan of the shallow depth of field look, even for portraits. What good is 36 MP of blurred background
    to keep one eyelash in sharp focus?

    I can understand wanting to maximize the performance of an expensive camera, but I refuse to let technology dictate the
    kind of images that I create. That would be putting the cart ahead of the horse.
  52. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Putting the noise discussion aside for a moment, isn't it rather limiting to be forced to shoot at f/5.6 and faster? I use f/8 and f/11 regularly for landscape work.​
    To be clear, you should not be limited to f5.6 or wider when you use the D800. When I shoot landscape, I use f8 and f11 regularly also, with the D800E or not. It is just that if you use f11 in conjunction with the D800/D800E, diffraction becomes an issue so that the sharpest part of your image is probably not as sharp as it would be with f8 or f5.6; however, the image can still be excellent. Moreover, at f11, any advantage the D800E may have over the plain D800 is mostly gone.
    Recently I tried a macro shot on the D800E with the 200mm/f4 AF-D macro set to f32. I am still getting great sharpness.
    I would say the need for depth of field comes first; if that also means diffraction affects a bit of sharpness, so be it. This is nothing new; I have been dealing with the same issue with the 16MP D7000 since two years ago. If you use a D5100 or D3200, a Sony NEX 7 (24MP APS-C) ..., you are also on that same boat.
    Of course focus stacking is another approach to get around this issue.
  53. Good points, Shun. Thank you. I'm sure that the D800E is an awesome body under any circumstances and that it really
    soars when shooting conditions can be optimized.

    When post processing D800E files, do you just skip the sharpening workflow?
  54. To be honest, for a lot of my (non-landscape) shooting, I've historically spent a long time at very wide apertures, and it's having to stop down for sharpness that's been bothering me - especially since it's been showing up sensor dirt. If I'd had more time for landscapes, I'd probably be more worried about the other end.

    You don't have to worry about this, and the D800E is just as good a camera as my D700 at "point and spray" - I'm just aware that I paid for 36MP and a big dynamic range, and so I concentrate more on getting the full resolution and dynamic range out of the sensor (balancing ISO, aperture and shutter) than I did with my D700. But, as Shun says, DoF requirements take priority - I'm just biased by optimizing the technical image quality. If I need f/16 for DoF or f/2 to make the background go away, I'll still use it. Although the need to shoot at larger apertures than I'm now comfortable with using my 80-200 has just made me go shopping for a 150mm Sigma. (Not quite as apochromatic as Photozone suggests, but not bad, if anyone's wondering.)
    When post processing D800E files, do you just skip the sharpening workflow?​
    I've still been selectively tuning the focal plane with FocusMagic, but I've needed to sharpen some of my images anyway - the lens is still projecting an imperfect point, however tight it is. I'll know more in a few weeks when I've had more chance to shoot, but so far I'm still sharpening - whether it's less than my D700 because of the lack of AA filter, or more because the resolution is showing up lens limitations more, has so far depended on the image.
  55. Francisco,
    The D800/D800E is not a walk around camera.​

    On a recent family vacation, I took my D800 for quick snaps and left my X100, 1Dsiii, D3s and D4 at home. Why?

    The high resolution and low iso DR may be the headline features of the D800. But it is also a smaller, lighter FX/FF camera with excellent IQ and AF.

    I do street photography, and the D4 is a better action and low light camera. But the D800 is smaller and has a built in 1.5 telextender because of its resolution. Sometimes the low iso DR comes in handy also. So, while I could never persuade myself to go slumming :) with a D700 for street photography, the D800 has things to offer a serious spray and pray practitioner (who PP's raw) that the D4 does not offer. Even though the D600 will be even lighter, 24mpx does not offer as much room for cropping, when it is needed.
    Some of us street photographers played with the idea of using an S2 for it. But the cost made the idea rather silly, for how rarely one would care about ultimate image quality. But the D800 is a very good general purpose street camera - how many cameras have better AF, better low light capability, combined with its IQ and resolution advantages, even without careful technique.
    It's really a jack of all trades camera. Is there a better DX camera?
    Some day I'll get around to putting it on a tripod for a reason besides testing the left AF points.

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