Nikon D800E vs. Pentax 645D

I was thrilled with the announcement of the Nikon D800 today. Hearing rumours on various forums and blogs for months that it would have a 36mp sensor made me consider it as a backup body for my 645D kit. I already have some Nikon lenses and the price for the body is relatively inexpensive for the published specs.

My great disappointment came when I viewed the sample images Nikon published here. I already knew that a 36mp sensor would put tremendous demands on 35mm optics but did not realize the combination would create a cell phone photo feel at 1:1.

I’m still hopeful the test images are a mistake done by the Nikon marketing department. Hopefully some skilled landscape shooters will get their hands on one of the units soon and conduct more tests using proper shooting technique and processing.

At the moment the Nikon D4 looks like a much more compelling camera to me. It would not serve as a backup to my 645D, but it would complement it for high speed and low light shooting. Resolution does not matter if you can’t get the shot to begin with.

I’m posting this non scientific comparison of images taken with the 645D at a similar vantage point to the Nikon samples. I realize that I’m risking contact with a lynch mob of Nikon loyalists or pixel theorists by posting this image, and that is all right. To me at first glance the Pentax 645D has more micro contrast and detail compared to the D800E, which is the version of the D800 without an AA filter. It’s also worth noting that the 55mm Pentax lens is not even the sharpest lens in the lineup.

I’m hoping things will get cleared up soon and the D800 proves to deliver 36Mp of resolution and the tonality to match medium format digital. It would be an incredible game changer to get medium format quality at a 3000 dollar price point. Unfortunately the samples Nikon posted seem like a step backwards, hopefully they can prove everyone wrong in the upcoming days.


Pentax 645D samples processed in ACR, default USM settings. Linked file is 16.8mb, please view at 1:1