Nikon D800

Nikon’s D800 has set a new standard in full-frame sensor technology.

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The D800, an FX-format model, offers a massive 36.3 million pixels on its CMOS sensor. At the camera’s core is superior image quality, which Nikon says is equal to that achieved with a medium-format digital camera.

These claims were put to the test recently with Joseph Michael’s ambitious 2D and 3D time-lapse series of 12 epic New Zealand landscapes, shot using five Nikon D800 cameras. The resulting videos recorded changes across dramatic landscapes as day became night, were set to individual scores and viewed on a mixture of 55 and 84-inch high definition flat-screens. Quite apart from the obvious artistic merit of the time-lapses, they are evidence of a demanding technology that has come of age.

Michael, who has worked in television, on music videos, documentaries and feature films, dedicated almost a year to shooting and editing the 24-hour time-lapse pieces. He chose the D800 for it’s high resolution. “At 36 megapixels it is amazing what you can do with the image,” he says. Combined with the sensor’s dynamic range and high sensitivity it was the ideal candidate.

“At 36 megapixels it is amazing what you can do with the image.”

The project had many challenges, including trekking up near-vertical climbs in some of New Zealand’s most remote locations with 30 kilograms of gear on his back. The ability to hot-swap CompactFlash/SD cards (even batteries using an external battery pack) enabled him to achieve the 24-hour shots without having to carry additional equipment.

The high resolution, low-noise and clarity at high ISOs that the D800 provides has won many converts since the camera’s introduction, but less well known is its native video performance. The D800 records in full HD, 1920x1080p at 30 frames per second, performance only recently found in high-end cinematic cameras worth six figures. Precise adjustment of audio can be made through the levels controls within the camera and a microphone can be mounted to the camera’s hot shoe.

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