D800 – a few million pixels too far?

February 13, 2012  •  Leave a Comment
There’s lots of Internet speculation right now about the feature set of the Nikon D800
 
This is (supposedly) the long-awaited replacement for the D700. I’ve been using a D700 more or less since it first appeared (in 2008) and it’s still going strong. It remains to be seen whether the D800 will have any killer features that make upgrading essential.
 
One feature that’s been widely predicted is a 36 megapixel sensor. That’s three times as many little pixies as the D700. Lots of people on web forums are getting very excited about this but no-one has yet given me a convincing reason why it’s a good thing. One comment even said it would be great for HD video. I think a lot of people need reminding that an HD picture is not quite 2 megapixels. Yes, 2, not 20.
 
What a 36mp sensor undoubtedly will do is make most of our hardware and software for handling images struggle. Memory cards will look smaller, so will our hard drives, and most software will take longer to handle these images. 
 
It remains to be seen, but I’d be very surprised if this 36mp sensor can match the dynamic range and ISO range of the D4, which has just been released. The D4 has a 16 megapixel sensor.
 
There’s no question of me buying a D4 because I can’t afford it and anyway for most of my shooting the lower weight and bulk of the D700 is a great advantage.
 
The D700 is essentially “D3 Lite” – same sensor, same phenomenal image quality, less weight and bulk. What I was hoping for in the D800 was an equivalent “D4 Lite”, with the same 16mp sensor. Here's a good link explaining why the D4 has "only" 16mp: 
 
No doubt I’ll get my chance to put the D800 through its paces for an Expanded Guide. But if it really is a 36mp camera, I’m pretty sure I’ll be returning it at the end of the loan period and not feeling too much temptation to splash the cash.
 
As I haven't got a D800 to play with, here are a couple of recent shots taken on the D700.
 
Queenstown Bike Park, New Zealand
Town Croft Wood – a bit closer to home!
 

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