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on Feb 8, 2012 in Camera Tech

D4 or D800?

(photos courtesy of Nikon)

Understandably, the emails are arriving asking the question which body to buy. Rather then just putting up the link for the post from the last time I answered this question (D3 or D3x?) because the way to the answer hasn’t changed, I thought I would just write a little something here. First and foremost, it is quite possible the best body for you is the one you own right now! No one feels the pressure of having a new body like me as the emails arrive asking questions I don’t have answers to until I have that body in my hands. Then there is that, “It’s new and I’ve gotta have it” feeling. Seriously, there is nothing better then the smell of new gear and the thrill of taking it out for the first time. But that new body doesn’t guarantee you better photographs, it just don’t work that way. My recent piece pretty much spells out my belief that photography is a marriage of photographer AND gear. Now if you’ve settled on buying a new body (and LOTS of your have which is so cool for so many reasons) which one of these should you buy?

The only way I can help is trying to explain how I go about it. I ask myself, “What problems do I have with my current gear that the new gear might solve?” And since I am a business, that solution must include not only the photograph but also making money on the investment. The D4 vs. the D3s to me is a pretty much a slam dunk between the faster FPS, better High ISO and 1080p, the D4 solves a problem I’ll have in about 35days I know the D3s won’t. I know because last year, the D3s didn’t get the photo. Now what about the D4 vs. the D800/800E? In this one scenario, the D4 still wins out but what if we change things up a little, lets say D3x vs. D800/D800E? Now you have my attention because the D800E (which honestly, like the D3x is only right for about 10% of the shooters out there) produces bigger files more then twice as fast at less than half the price. Just like I rely on the D3x / D3s right now (and BTW, they still produce gorgeous images even with the introduction of the D4/D800), I can see the D4 / D800E serving the same roll in the future.

Here’s the hardest part of making this work for you as I see it. You’ve gotta have the experience to know the problems and the imagination to think of how those specs on a page can solve them. To be honest with you, most of you know the specs for the D4 & D800 better then I and that’s cool. The advantage I have though is even without knowing all those specs, shooting everyday I run into more problems I need solutions to. When I watched Scott Kelby’s Google+ presentation with the NPS guys, I heard enough then to order the D4. I remember all to well when the F5 came out and we didn’t have the web to share all of this information wondering how a camera body with a faster FPS was worth the investment. If you’ve never shot with a D3x, how would you know if the D800 is worth the extra pixels? Many don’t even know they are shooting using an anti-aliasing filter to know if shooting without one would be a benefit (without, you do run into the real possiblity of moire issues).

I am incredibly encouraged to hear all who have pre-ordered either body. Not only is it a sign that things are getting a little bit better out there, it also means photographers are still willing to push their photography further. None of these bodies by themselves will make you a better photographer. Sticking with the camera body you have now until you “learn” it won’t necessarily make you a better photographer either. It is the combination of photographer and gear that pushes the photographic envelope. Give yourself the time and you will see the rewards no matter which way you go. You gotta remember above all else, photography has to be fun! And on that note, take a look at this…now we’re talking fun!

D800 3D