The All-New Nikon D800 … Don’t Order One. At Least Not Today.

The latest and greatest (in megapixels) from Nikon.

If you are just emerging from your cave after a long winter’s sleep, blink rapidly and look for the big Nikon sign flashing overhead. Yesterday was the announcement of the D800, and it has set the photo world back on its heels (sorry, Canon, this is Nikon’s moment to shine). Following theĀ heralded D4 release, the D800 is slowing servers all over the net as camera buffs search out the latest bits of information on this marvel (D4 video, 36 megapixels, updates all around). So, first, just to satisfy all you Nikon fans who may have missed a tidbit or two yesterday, click on this link to Rob Galbraith for the best roundup of information and sites I have found so far. And also check out the latest from Nikon Rumors by clicking here. Then, let me explain why you should NOT rush out to pre-order a D800.

First, let me reiterate advice that has served me well for years (even if I am guilty of not always following it). Your camera is a convenience; your lenses are critical. If your current camera(s) lets you take the kind of photos you want and love, you do NOT need a new camera (no matter how marvelous the new model may be). You are mistaking want for need (or ignoring the fact, whichever it may be). You really need to have a long, honest conversation with yourself on whether or not you NEED a new camera. And, unfortunately, you probably do not.

Second, a D800 will cost $3,000 ($3,300 for the E version). Yes, I know … that really is a most reasonable price for a camera of this quality. But, unless you fall into the doctor/lawyer/politician category, three grand is still three grand. And that kind of money will buy you an awful lot of other goodies that you need far more than another camera (see tip #1 above).

Third, there are two versions of the D800 being released at the same time. One has the anti-aliasing filter (the moire protector, if you will) removed. So, which version would be right for you (assuming you really do need this camera)? Pre-order today and repent tomorrow … or not. That is the rub; no one out there can tell you what this filter absence would mean in real-life terms. You can read and research, but you still won’t know until you read some reviews from the hands of someone who really knows what they are talking about (click on this link to Thom Hogan for his initial opinion). Feel like betting with your $3,000 today?

Fourth, take just half of that three grand and sign up for a top-flight workshop. I guarantee you it will improve your shooting by honing or adding to your skill set far more than a new camera will. You will come home with new skills, not just a new camera to take the same old pictures with the same old techniques you usually do. What’s that old saying? Give a man a fish ……….

Fifth, if down the road you decide everything you hear and read adds up to a decision that this camera will improve your images, buy one at that time. Nikon is going to be producing the D800 for a long time to come (a looooong time to come, in my humble opinion). There is no rush, no emergency situation here. So, slow down. Take a deep breath. Do your homework. Start saving your pennies (or hundreds of pennies).

If Nikon were a baseball team I would reserve a spot for them in next season’s World Series … because every swing of the bat has been a home run lately. But you have a box seat in the stands, and there are several innings left in the game. Have a hot dog; enjoy the sunshine. The D800 isn’t going anywhere and neither are you.


  1. You are just too practical and make way to much sense….. darn you…… I have waited two years now for what I thought I needed was a full frame D700 replacement. Now it is here and I have to wait…… Just kidding, just kidding. I am like you and most of your readers. I am going to sit back and see real world results and then apply those results to what I do and see if they will improved my work. 3K for the D800 and 6K for the D4…. man that is some nice lens money to my existing system….. decisions, decisions. Great post.

  2. Jeff Schemmer |

    Jim thanks for talking me out of switching all of my equipment to Nikon!! I never thought I would hear a Nikon owner say “there is nothing wrong with your Canon equipment…” I now keep playing this mantra in my head!! :-)

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