Pixels Coming of Age

My thoughts today are all about pixels. Lots of them. I was one of the first to sign up for the new Nikon D800 and its amazing pixel count of 36 MP. That is a number that until now was only available to the medium format studio camera for $13-20,000. My 4×5 negative when scanned to 300 dpi would give me a black and white file size of around 100 mb. When opened, the Nikon files at 14 bit will probably give me a 75 mb RAW file. For a landscape photographer this is mana from heaven. I love my 4×5, but at 62 years of age I have to admit that the 30-40 pounds of gear it takes makes going to the Outback an aerobic exercise.

I know that the number of pixels does not necessarily translate into a better picture…take the scores of point and shoots that have been vying for the most pixel count in their tiny sensors. There are pixels and then there are pixels. What we all want are quality pixels. From what I’ve read, and from what images I have seen posted on the internet, I think the Nikon D800 will have both. I hope to have one in my hand within the week.

I still say, though, that the best camera you own is the one in your hand. It is, after all, about vision. So don’t leave home without one.


  1. Michael James Slatte March 26, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    You have no idea how badly I am wishing to see the long night time, low ISO and long exposure capabilities of the D800e.

    Any reason you did not want to get the D800e instead?

    • Kay March 27, 2012 at 9:53 am #

      Good question, and I have to admit that the moire problem kept me from the 800e, although Lightroom will probably offer a filter for it. I take a considerable amount of architecture shots for clients and didn’t want to add the time for development. Maybe I’ll regret it, but I think the 36MP will be great for what I want. I really enjoy using a ND filter that enables me to take pictures of time (check out the Hawaii shot) with long exposures of several minutes. The D700’s low noise was very good, and I’m hoping the 800 will give me even better detail. I’ve read that your focus is critical at 36 MP, so that might be more important than anything…

      • James Walsh April 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

        The moire problem. Hmmm. A shimmering pattern seen when two geometrically regular patterns (as two sets of parallel lines or two halftone screens) are superimposed especially at an acute angle. I have no idea what this means, But the point here is that you STILL don’t have this fancy camera!

        • Kay April 12, 2012 at 9:41 am #

          You’re right, I don’t have the camera yet. Not many people do….the demand was so extreme that Nikon can’t make enough to meet it….I’ve been told that mid to late April. I just hope that I get it by summertime. I have a solo exhibition at the Bainbridge Gallery that I’m preparing for and would love to show some pictures using it along with my 4×5 film camera. Nice duo.

          I’m learning patience, again.

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