Thursday, April 26, 2012

Nikon on a roll?

Nikon's latest DSLR offerings are fascinating, as they have brought the highest resolution to the DSLR market at a very attractive price, the D800 sporting 36mp for less than half the price of their 24mp flagship, the D3x.

For the first time they are also offering the camera in 2 versions, the D800E has the anti-aliasing filter removed, promising even greater sharpness at the risk of moire when shooting subjects with regular repeating patterns.

So, as the owner of a D3x and D7000, will I be getting a D800? Quite possibly, as the idea of trading my current cameras for 2 D800E's at first seems attractive. Having 2 identical cameras using the same batteries, and only losing out a little in DX resolution (15 vs 16mp for the D7000). I use DX with shift lenses a bit so this would be important to me.

But there are downsides: file sizes. Whilst my current workstation (64 bit, 2 dual-core 3GHz Xeon processors, 12GB of quad-channel RAM and solid state disk for OS and applications) is well up to scratch, even this slows noticeably with stitched images from my current cameras (32-108mp equivalents).

However, at the other end of the price scale, the forthcoming D3200 is an intriguing proposition to. From my perspective there's quite a lot not to like: RAW is only 12 bit and compressed; not 100% viewfinder; no autofocus with non AF-S lenses and clunky operation with AI lenses.

But, at the price, the D3200 seems like a great option for lugging up mountains and composing easy 48mp panoramics with a shift lens (using Liveview for the 100% view). Of course we'll just have to see how usable the PC-E lenses are on this compact body, if at all! That compact 'consumer' body saves almost 300g over the D7000, but no doubt the build will be lighter to.

Also the D3200 plus 50mm & 35mm f/1.8 AF-S, plus a Voigtlander 20mm would form a very compact outfit. Even substituting the 50 for the new 85 mm AF-S still keeps it small. But why are Nikon still not offering a compact wideangle prime for DX? Personally I would rather have seen this than the largely irrelevant 40mm DX macro. The Voigtlander is the only prime wide option that works with the exposure system but is manual focus, not that wide and comparatively expensive. I'd would love to see a prime 14mm f/4 AF-S DX (VR not required!) lens at a reasonable price (sub-£300?) and around 250-300g, and I'm sure a lot of other people would to.

I don't normally make predictions, but anyone can see the D3200 should sell extremely well, because of that headline-grabbing resolution. Unfortunately I can also foresee a lot of moaning on Internet fora, as I don't believe the 18-55mm kit lens will be up to the job, unless stopped down, and shot discipline at these resolutions needs to be very good.

There's some D3200 samples on DPReview here. The one of the glass house shows particularly good details.

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