Humpback WhaleThe long awaited Nikon D800 has finally been released on February 7th. I ordered one and am now awaiting its delivery end of March.

Today I would like to explain why I chose the D800 above the D700. And what’s that got to do with a whale ? Well, read the story 🙂

I was thinking about going to full format for a while now. Eagerly I awaited the D800, and when rumors appeared that the D800 has 36 Megapixels I started to doubt that this is the right camera for me. My D300s has 12 Megapixels and I rarely exploit this resolution. The largest print I made was 60×90 cm and the image was taken with my 6 Megapixel D70s ! If you stick your nose against that print you might see that the resolution has reached its limits but from a normal viewing distance it is a clear and crisp photo.

Now the D800 is out and it is definitely confirmed – 36 freaking million pixels. To make it short – I compared the major changes against the D700 and the D800 clearly won.

  • 36 Megapixels (D700: 12 Megapixels. More pixels usually not automatically better, but it allows one to crop the hell out of any given image)
  • Two memory card slots (I have also two slots on my D300s and I love it)
  • 100 % viewfinder coverage (D700: 95%)
  • ISO 100-6.400 (D700: 200-6.400)
  • Improved autofocus system with face detection
  • Movie recording, even 60fps in 720p mode ! (D700: No movie function)
  • 3,2″ LCD screen (D700: 3″ – ok this is not worth talking about but being a pea-counter I also list this)
  • 900 g weight (D700: 1.000 g)

On the downside we have:

  • Increased storage requirements (I will need larger memory cards and more backup harddrives due to the 36 MP files)
  • Increased processing time of the images during post production
  • Framerate of the D800 is down to 4 fps in burst mode (D700- 5 fps) (guess why – thrice the pixels have to be processed 😉
  • The battery life of the D800 is 900 images (D700: 1.000 images)
  • P-r-i-c-e. The D800 comes at a breathtaking 2.900 Euros. That’s a lot of dough. But the D700 is still priced at 2.000 Euros and above… that’s also hard money for a four year old model. My personal sound barrier would have been below 2.000 Euros for a new D700. This way I still prefer to spend considerably more money and have the latest technology.

The 36 Megapixels made me think about purchasing a D700 with 12 MP instead. But then I thought of an experience I had with my D300s. When I purchased the D300s I looked in the specs and saw that it can deliver 6 fps in burst mode. I thought “Well, that is nice but I don’t see where I should use that.”

And then I photographed whales in Iceland. The whale came out of the water and dove again. Wonderful opportunity to use the burstmode. While the guy next to me did a slow click – click – click with his Canon EOS 500D I was able to cliclicliclicliclick and capture a breathtaking sequence of that scene. Same applied a few days later when I photographed an erupting geyser. The high fps broadened my possibilities and I discovered a way of shooting I was not able of doing before.

I can imagine that it might be similiar with the 36 Megapixels. Suddenly you can crop like hell and still have large files. And even another thought came along when I was talking about the high resolution with a friend. He said: “You can take the fact having large files as an opportunity to improve your photographic behaviour. Take less pictures, think more about each image. It’s a little bit like shooting film. Once you know you only have 36 exposures, your finger hesitates to press the shutter button”.