Tuesday, June 12, 2012

DPReview Posts D800/D800E Comparison

DPReview has posted its comparison of the Nikon D800 and D800E. The results are... whelming. First off, if you don't already know, the D800E is exactly like the D800 except that it has an additional layer of sensor-level light diffraction that nullifies the effects of the AA filter. This increases the resolution of the sensor. After so many experiences with cameras with increasingly light filters, I was expecting to see a big boost. I didn't get it.

That's not to say that there isn't a resolution increase, there most certainly is. It's just not very big. I'm a pixel-peeper and proud of it, but this is some truly academic pixel-peeping. What can best be said for the difference is an overall, slight-but-noticeable increase in texture. It's as though a slight haze has been removed from the image, which is exactly what has happened.

But the dreaded moire is alive and well in the shots. If you take primarily nature shots, the increased resolution will probably be desireable, but for anyone who does work with textures or urban environments, moire can be a pain in the ass. As DPReview's various resolution tests show, even with today's AA filters in place, false color can be pretty easily coaxed from cameras. In the D800E shots, it's visible in repeating patterns in the houses, but it's also visible in the clover in the center of the scene.

Moreover, as soon as you leave the tack-sharp center area of the lens, the difference disappears. Similarly, the difference fades when stopped down to f/16. Still, the extra resolution is there. It is apparent. With the AA filter negated, the D800E is undoubtedly the resolution king of anything below medium format. Given the choice, I think the D800E is worth the extra two-hundred bucks, especially if you plan on doing a lot of post production work where you'll have the time to spot and remove moire.

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