If Sharpness Is What You Want, the D800E is What You Need

As predicted, Nikon unleashed the D800 on the hungry camera consumers last night and it is everything that the pundits had said it would be. There are some eye-popping specs associated with this ambitious release and it is sure to be the hot camera for the year (unless Canon gets off their butts and does something special with the 5D Mark III). I’m not going to get into all the features, I’ll let you do that for yourself (LINK), but I do want to bring your attention to something at the bottom of the product page. That’s where the little banner above is taken from.

If you have envied the great photos that come out of the Fuji X100 or the Leica M9 you want to pay attention to this little announcement because there’s a reason their images look so good, and it’s not what they put in to the camera. Actually, it’s what they left out – an anti-aliasing filter. Almost every camera has one of these filters infront of the sensor. Its job is to slightly blur your images. What’s that? Purposely adding blur? Yes, it’s actually necessary to remove the moiré effect that sometimes comes from taking pictures with patterns like fabric – Wiki Link. It doesn’t happen all the time but when it does, it looks awful, which is why the camera makers started putting the anti-aliasing filters in the camera (usually combined with some sort of IR/UV blocking filter). The result is a tiny bit of blur that is then corrected by the camera’s built-in software.

Getting back to Fuji and Leica, one of the whole reasons that their images look really nice is that they have left this filter out. That means their images are just that tiny bit sharper but it’s enough to make a difference. Well Nikon has taken note and is producing a limited edition of the D800 called the D800E, which includes something they are calling an Optical Low-Pass Filter (OLPF). What this means is that if you use this camera you will be getting the sharpest images possible, with no blurring to hold your images back. And what about that moiré pattern? Well wouldn’t you know it but Adobe has included a Moiré slider in the Adjustment Brush sliders. Coincidence? I think not. I didn’t give it much thought until now but that little slider is there to address that one little problem that comes from using these new crop of cameras.

I’m not sure what the release date or price (hopefully at the same $2995 as the D800) will be for the D800E but if you are a serious landscape or studio shooter, this is the camera that you should be putting on your wish list. I know it’s going on mine.

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