Nikon D800 or D800e? The Debate Continues.

Nikon D800 body

By now, most photographers have heard about the most recently announced Nikon DSLR cameras – the D800& D800e – and the debate about which one might be the correct choice for each user has begun.  There are countless websites discussing this debate, and offering opinions while showing some images.  Unfortunately, most image comparisons aren’t that great & probably won’t help make your decision easier – so far.  But, here is a link that explains the anti-aliasing filter & moire pattern in very simple terms:

By introducing both of these cameras simultaneously, Nikon has done something revolutionary.  It’s exciting stuff.  But, which will be the right choice for you? – consider these factors:

  • Price:  The D800e will be only $300 more.
  • Availability:  I am told that availability of the D800e will be tight – perhaps only 1% of all D800 cameras will be the D800e version.  We’ll have to see how that pans out.
  • Sharpness: ALL Nikon D800 cameras will provide an unprecedented level of sharpness. Sure, the D800e will be technically sharper.  However,  Nikon has been unable to quantify how much sharper it will actually be.  Are we talking 10% or 20% – or just 3% sharper?  So far, we just don’t have an answer.

Photographer Psychology plays a part in this decision, too.  Many photographers will take comfort knowing that they own the sharpest  & highest resolution camera possible within their budget.  And likewise, they’ll feel that they have an inferior camera in theD800 if the D800e provides seriously sharper images.  This is why we have seen a higher number of D800e orders than originally expected.  However, I feel that photographers need to put aside their egos, and consider the true needs for their types of photography.  Sure, the D800e will be great tool for serious designer, graphic artists, studio photographers, landscape photographers, & others who can spend time processing & perfecting individual images for ultimate sharpness.  But, is that you?  Here are a couple of quick scenarios:

Sports Photography – You need the speed – get a D4.

Studio Portrait Photography – Studio & high fashion photographers might benefit from the D800e, because they can control lighting very well.  If this is not the case, you’ll  spend too much time in the computer removing the moiré – go with the D800.

Video & More – I cannot imagine how much time it will take to edit moire’ patterns out of video.  Let’s just say it takes lots of time – and what is your time worth? The D800 should be a better choice.

Serious snapshots & casual travel photography –  The d800 will probably be your camera.  The D800e will be primarily for RAW shooters.  In order to remove the moiré patterns the RAW images will need to be processed in Photoshop or in Nikon Capture NX2.  Do you want to do this with your vacation images?  I think not.

The bottom line is this:  BOTH cameras will be fantastic!  The D800e will be the perfect camera for a small group pf photographers.  It will take time to process the D800e images, and for many photographers this extra time may not be worth it for the small, and yet to be defined, increase in sharpness.    The large percentage of photographers who choose the D800 will be well served, and will still be blown away by the sharpness & resolution.

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2 Responses to Nikon D800 or D800e? The Debate Continues.

  1. Gauthier says:

    Burke, you speak wisely. We dont know ow much sharper the D800E will be.

    But we can already appreciate what could be the benefit with a comparison of the removing of the filter on D700.

    I found this information on this website :

    Do you think the difference between D800 et D800E will be so huge ?

  2. David S, Nolan says:


    I think it would be best to stick with the D800. Just remember the Leica M9 which had no filter when it came out. That decision was very costly to Leica and their brand when they rushed this camera to market without really testing it and making sure it was the right camera to deserve the Leica name and price (?). Then they scrambled for a fix and had to bring out another product to try and undo the damaged caused by their initial mistake. It just about sunk the company. The executive who made all kinds of promises found himself without a job too. Anti-Allising filters are critical for 97%—and that is most of us. There were two other problems with Lieca, but I do not know if they are with the D800. Clothing made from polyester and colored with a black dye had a severe purple cast and outdoors there were matamerization issues with solid greys and blacks —— Not a good thing for PJ or weddings. It was a roblem in polyesters and as for as I know, not a problem with 100% wool fabris. Not so sure about the polyester satin used in goens or tuxes. Not sure if the problem exist here because there is a greater distance between the rear of the lens and the sensor plane unlike rangefinders, If it is a problem too, I am sure that everyone does not want yheir shoot of looking llikr a Ravens Banquet. a formal event of any though. suits or not, but formal dinners looked more like Ravens banquet dinners.

    I would think the D800e is mort suited for deep sky astrophotography, microscopy, scientific, or maybe 4 color seps for National Geographic, That pretty much covers the 3% who want to spend the extra $300 for this canera. Also, unlike Lieca, which had to come up with and did charge for the fix—–I doubt Nikon will offer a fix if anyone makes the wrong decision about this.

    I hope I am not costing Burke any money, but on this question, if one cannot write out a fifteen word statement on why you need the D800e, then you do not need it,

    Go with the flow and hang out with the 97% crowd, be happy and buy a D800——from Burke, of course!!!

    David S. Nolan

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