Ok, so the new Nikon D800 isn’t even publicly available yet; camera shops in North America are taking pre-orders. But the ‘reviews’ of the D800 are already starting to roll in. Ok, so perhaps these aren’t really reviews, but rather, anticipated issues. Things that we’ll have to wait and see about when the D800 actually gets into people’s hands the real reviews begin to accumulate.
One thing that I hadn’t heard of before, but found on a blog, was a comment about the disappointing performance of the D800 at high ISO. Apparently the D700 performed masterfully at high ISO. Now it seems that some are criticizing Nikon for going the way of the large megapixel camera and that by doing so, they have traded off their stellar high ISO performance.
This isn’t something I can comment on directly in that I haven’t had experience with this. I’m still shooting with an old D200, which I absolutely love. But hey, it’s OLD and one thing I don’t like about it is it’s performance at ISO above 320. I refuse to shoot above 320. It’s just not worth it! And so when I heard about the image quality in the D700 under low light-high ISO, I was soooo encouraged. But now I’m hearing that this will be lost with the D800 because of the high megapixels. Is this true?
I can understand the possibility of trading off image quality at high ISO for high megapixel count. I need to get my head around this more – around the physics of sensors and pixel performance, to really understand it. But even if the tradeoff exists, is it really as bad as some are touting it to be?
Certainly in the past Nikon has taken a different tack than Canon. Canon has cranked out higher megapixel cameras than Nikon. But Nikon spent more effort in sticking with lower megapixel cameras, but improving the quality of the images with their new technologies. So where Canon went for higher MP’s, Nikon went for better pixels, I guess you could say.
How does all of this translate into performance of the new D800? It might all be a red herring. Or maybe not. It’s definitely a ‘stay tuned to this channel’ situation to see what people say once they have the D800 in hand. I know I’ll be curious to see how it pans out. But still. I’m encouraged by the D800. Even if it doesn’t have that superb performance at high ISO, how much of a tradeoff is there? Is it enough to cause disappointment in Nikon shooters used to the D700?
I guess for Nikon shooters out there, if the D800 does compromise high ISO image quality for more megapixels, then you’ll need to decide which is more important for you – more megapixels or better high ISO performance. Maybe this is a case where you can’t have your cake and eat it to. But I’m not yet convinced. I’ll save my conclusion until I hear what the masses are saying once they have the camera in hand and have pressed the shutter release enough times to really and truly compare.