While the choice of camera of professional reportage/ sports photographers is obvious, birds and wildlife photographers have a dilemma.
Nikon D800/D800E has the same autofocus as Nikon D4. If you add 36.3 MP, fullHD video, 6 fps (for use with the Nikon MB-D12 grip) and other available extras, D800E becomes a tempting offer for shooting birds and wildlife.
Translated by Maya Golemanova
It is a public secret that back then a Nikon with a D700 body seriously undercut the sales of Nikon D3 flagship. I believe that they “learned their lesson” and although the characteristics of the autofocus of AF D800/D800E and D4 must be the same on paper, you should probably try to read between the lines.
But these are only suggestions, so let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of Nikon D800E as compared to Nikon D4 and consider only the facts.
The financial factor is the most important one. At first glance, at a price of 3,300 USD D800E seems much cheaper camera than D4 camera that costs 6,000 USD. But is it really so? When you buy D800E, unpleasant additional costs follow.
Nikon D800E body – 3,300 USD
Nikon MB-D12 grip – 500 USD (you want 6 fps, right?)
LEXAR 1000x 32 GB CF card – 285 USD
New fast computer – 1,000 USD (You geeks with powerful machines be quiet :)
In addition it is important to point out that D800 can achieve 6 fps using Nikon MB-D12 grip in combination with the more powerful Nikon EN-EL18 battery (the standard battery of Nikon D4). Respectively, you will need the Nikon MH-26 charger to power this battery. The more powerful battery Nikon EN-EL18 not only allows you to make more frames per second when combined with the grip, but also to achieve faster and agile AF performance with the Nikon D800. Let’s also add these things to your bill:
Nikon EN-EL18 battery – 170 USD
Nikon MH-26 Battery Charger – 350 USD
Nikon BL-5 Battery Chamber Cover for MB-D12 Battery Pack – 30 USD
Total cost for Nikon D800E – 5,335 USD
On the other hand, Nikon D4 has a built-grip and with its 16 MP files, you should have no problem working with your old computer.
Nikon D4 body – 6,000 USD
LEXAR 1000x 16 GB CF card – 155 USD
Total cost for Nikon D4 – 6,155 USD
And when you do the math, it turns out that the real difference in the budget between the two cameras is only 820 USD, not the initial 2,700 USD.
High-pixel-count cameras are generally very demanding. When shooting with cameras like Canon 7D, Canon 60D, Nikon D7000 you must:
– shoot only with the best lenses.
– be very careful when choosing weather and light conditions for shooting.
– maintain double speed to ensure sharp images without unwanted motion blur – that very often leads to shooting at high ISO values.
– shoot at the lowest possible ISO values – because of the visible noise, decreased dynamic range and loss of detail.
Remember that the use of converters becomes problematic and also have in mind that the limited choice of apertures because of the early diffraction.
Each of the above factors is particularly true for the DSLR camera with the biggest “bust” – Nikon D800/D800E.
However, the new D800E has some serious advantages over Nikon D4, provided that high-quality lenses like Nikon 500mm f/4 VR and Nikon 300mm f/2.8 VR are used. The most important ones are:
– Partially eliminated AA filter, which theoretically means more detail and ability to shoot with smaller apertures.
– Under appropriate conditions, shooting from close range and shot full frame at 36.3 MP you will definitely have the highest quality picture printed on 60 x 84 cm and bigger.
– A lighter and more compact body with an integrated “teleconverter”, because of the ability to shoot in DX mode (1.5x crop factor) at 15 MP. For example, a standard Nikon 500mm f/4 lens with D800E in DX mode becomes a Nikon 800mm f/4 prime lens.
– Compensating for the noisy images by reducing the image resolution in the post process.
On the other hand, the serious advantages of Nikon D4 as compared to D800E are:
– Shooting with 10-11 fps (without loss of resolution) and a huge buffer that allows at least 10 seconds of continuous shooting.
– It is far better noise proof – you can shoot birds and animals to at least ISO 8000, with no apparent decrease in quality or dynamic range.
– Using of 1.7x converter with negligible micro-detail degradation, 2x converter with acceptable results.
– Remotely controlling the camera via a standard network cable – a very good option for shooting certain species and from an interesting viewpoint.
– 16 MP are subject to serious upsize (19 MP or even 21 MP won’t be a problem) because of the image quality.
– Much better ergonomics of the device.
These are the main advantages of the two cameras as compared to one another. Everyone should decide for themselves which is the best camera but please do not take this decision based solely on the megapixel count :-)
If you have any other concerns, I will be happy if you share them below in the feedback form. I will get my Nikon D4 in mid-March and I will publish an article as soon as I get my initial impressions of Nikon D4.
Related articles and blog posts:
First impressions of Nikon D800 and Nikon 200-400mm f/4 VR, RAW files attached
Official image gallery of the Nikon D800/ Nikon D800E camera
Official image gallery of the Nikon D4 camera
Lexar announces 1000x PRO CF card, says bye-bye to Sony XQD cards