I went with Nikon D800 with the Anti-Aliasing Filter

I’ve had a lot of people asking which model I ordered; the regular D800 or the 800e where Nikon has removed the anti-aliasing filter (it’s supposed to create a little sharper images but without the filter you run the risk of certain photos having a moire pattern).

Well, I went with the model WITH the filter (the regular Nikon D800). I talked with a few friends that have shot the camera, and they suggested for the range of photos I take (from people, to sports, to fashion to travel), that I just stick with the regular D800 (which saved me a few hundred bucks to boot).

I’ve had to remove Moire from photos in Photoshop in the past and it is a BEAR!!!! Plus, from what I hear (and have seen at high-res) the D800 is so insanely sharp that I’m cool with leaving a few percent of sharpness on the table. After all, there is a program that adds sharpness in later, right? :)

One last thing:
I’ve had people asking:

(a) If Lightroom coming out with a Moiré removal brush is a coincidence or not? I haven’t confirmed this with anybody at Adobe or Nikon, but my guess it that’s a total coincidence (since that feature wasn’t just added to Lightroom 4 last week—-these things take a LONG time to develop, no pun intended). And…

(b) The bad thing is, all the methods for Moire removal that I’ve seen over the years all involve the slight or moderate blurring of the affected area, and I’ve yet to see any of them that do a really brilliant job of it, (including the new one in Lightroom 4, which is actually pretty decent). They reduce it to some extent, but they don’t fully remove it. The last case of Moire I had was so bad I asked our own Pete Collins to help me out, and it took him literally hours to remove it, and it included a lot of Photoshop magic, cloning, copying, and sweat.

So, in short, in the race between a few percent of extra sharpness and fear of moiré; fear won! ;-)

  1. Hey Scott! Have you tested this baby in low-light situations? I’m at odds deciding between the D800 and the soon to be announced Canon 5D MK III. My D200 does not shoot well even in broad daylight at a 400 ISO. You say you need this for sports and fashion, and I shoot fashion shows. How do you think it will fair in fashion shows and outdoor situations sensor/lighting-wise? Cheers!

      1. I am looking forward to your review once you have it in your hands. As a D300 owner, I am not sure what the logical best next step is for me.  The D4 is outside of my price range and the D800 is clearly in a league of its own covering 1/2 of what I like to shoot very well and the other half…not as well.  I wonder what else Nikon has planned for a follow up to the D300 and  D700.  I agree that the D800 is in its own category as opposed to being a follow up to the D700.

      2.  There are “rumors on the internets” that the D400 may be full frame. With the D4 chip. It would be a huge seller.

  2. Thanks Scott – these are the burning questions I have helpful to have your reasoning… Can you tell us the kind of image that has been problematic for you? I shoot landscapes/travel/natural light subjects – am I likely to have [a lot] of moire headaches? Like Vara, my D200 is old in the tooth, and that sharpness appeals to me a LOT. I’m counting on my beloved NAPP or Kelby Training to be there should this prove to be a big problem…

  3. I didn’t even know this camera came with an anti-alien filter. What does that even mean?… it won’t take picture of aliens? Scott, if you actually got the version with the anti-alien filter, doesn’t that severely limit your options to expand your photography, namely, the photographing of aliens?
    I’m terriibly disappointed that you chose the way you did. You OWE it to your loyal readers to take pictures of aliens and then write a book about how to do it, as if you were talking to friends, in the field, on a real shoot.

    whatever. chances are, you would’ve written for the ipad only anyway.
    …without a proper disclaimer that you actually work for apple, and might just be a horcrux for Steve Jobs. ;)

  4. I feel better about going with the D800 over the “e” now. Are you going to get the battery grip? I have never shot with vertical grip camera so i dont know what im missing, but im getting prety tired of reaching my hand over top .

  5. I originally ordered the D800E and then switched.  I did a fair bit of research, and decided that a little blur was not going to kill me on prints that max out at 13 x 19 typically and occasionally at 17 x 22.

  6. Like everything else steeped in technology, there is always something new with better specs.  I wish I had the where with all to jump on this bandwagon.

  7. Last year I experienced some insane moire patterns on shirts while shooting an annual report with my Leica M9 (which does not have an anti aliasing filter).  So for me, it was like that movie line… they had me at hello.  Now if the D800 would only get here in time for this years AR season…

  8. It’s an exciting time with two great new cameras.  As I only have the resources to buy one of the two I’ll be going with the D4 (concerts, event photography, some sports plus portraits, landscapes, etc.)
    Your thoughts if you had to choose.

  9. Hi

    placed the order for an AA version. I’m into bird photography and wanted to
    utilize the D4 equal AF features of D800 for BIF shots and 16 mp dx mode can offer for my tele

    concern: I do a lot of hand-held shots, sometimes from 1/30 to 1/100 (with 500mm
    + TC14E). Moreover, all of my flight shots are handheld. I have bit concern
    about the too much new talk on motion blur this 36mp camera likely to cause. I
    would like to get your expert opinion on this. Hope I didn’t make a wrong move
    in this regard.

    With thanks,


    1. I got my D800 a few days ago. I haven’t done any handheld shots, but I took some bird photos (Goosander) from a Gitzo tripod with a Dietmar Nil’s head mounted. I am very impressed. The camera is perfect for birds, because you can crop or shoot in DX and still have enough pixels, even for more cropping!

  10.  Good to know your reasoning Scott, Hopefully I would have to cross that bridge too and as you said “there is a program that adds sharpness in later”! That is surely easier then dealing with moire’!

  11. I am also going with the (insane) mix of a D4 and a D800 with the AA filter. Thought being that the D4 will be the camera that I shoot 60% of the time – when I don’t know what I am getting myself into, and then the D800 will be for controlled situations: studio, portraits things with tripod, long exposure night stuff. 

    As for the vertical grip, I am also getting one (Dude, $600 for a vertical grip?!) and I might as well glue it on to the body as once they go on, I never take them off. It also helps a lot to steady the camera for slower shutter speeds. Lenses for these beasts are an entire other story and one that I don’t want to think about… because it means spending more $$$.

    1. D4 and D800, nice work :)

      For those of us not getting the D4, the grip is more like a $1000 purchase if we want to go with the D4 battery (to get the 6fps).  We need to buy the grip, cover plate, D4 battery, and D4 battery charger.  Insane.

      1. forget nikon’s batteries!  Just use AA eneloops or any other rechargeable Li ions and get 6 fps for a lot less.

  12. Nice one Scott! Did you buy it from your usual B&H Photo store in the USA? I’d LOVE a D800, but I’d be still very happy to settle for a D7000, because considering it has the cropped sensor it doesn’t have very much noise at higher ISO settings! 

  13. I am going to get a 64gb 95MB/ms   sandisk extremepro SDXC card now that they are as fast as the Compact Flash cards… what I don’t get is, if they are the same speed  and half the price as the CF version why do people still swear by Compact Flash? am i missing something? 

  14. +1 Scott. I happen to know someone who has shot both the D800 and the D800E and he did not see that big of a difference in sharpness and contrast between the two, and steered me away from the “E”. I shoot a lot of people and sports and just do not want to deal with more post processing than needed. Also I have even seen moire in pictures I have shot with the D3s, which has the AA filter.

  15. I agree with you Scott in going with the D800.  A single image pixel of the D800 when blown up to a 40×60 inch print is only .2mm.  That is about the limit of the eyes acuity when viewing an image from 10 inches. I doubt the increased sharpness of the D800E is better than 1 pixels worth.

    Moiré is best avoided and would go with the D800 just for that reason.  I too have not seen a tool that can fix all Moiré issues that can occur.  That said, if you have a color striped Moiré pattern, I posted on the NAPP forums a technique to remove both the color and luminosity component.  Here is an external link to the video for outside the NAPP forums: http://vimeo.com/23508129   It does not involve blurring of the luminosity component so it remains just as sharp to the eye.  This does not help for the Moiré artifacts that are just B&W.  This may be useful for those that do get the D800E

  16. I had read your previous post saying you would buy this camera and I totally agree with your reasons for doing it.

    But now I am going to rant.  I just can’t understand why so many people like to put the D800 or D4 into such narrow photography tracks.  One for sport, the other for studio and landscape, and so on and on.  The proof is in the pudding, as they say.  Scott, I’m sure that if you and your buddy McNally were shooting a football game and only had a D800, your photographs would be amazing.  Similarly, if both of you were shooting landscapes in Alaska with a D4, the photographs would be equally great, and the many simplistic labels being given to these cameras wouldn’t matter one bit.  Like they say, “show us your stuff,” and that is all that should matter.

      1. It’s not a D4. It’s not for action photography, just like medium format cameras are not for action photography. If you want 11 frames per second, buy the camera that’s designed for action photography. That’s how we defend that. 

      2. Well said Scott. How hard can it be to except that this is not the D3/D700 comparison. One has to see the D800 more like a mediumformat camera and use it accordingly. I own a Hassy H2 that gives me 1.2fps but I´m not complaining because the files have so much information that it floors you. Perhaps Nikon will release a D700s with some of the features in D4, Only time will tell

      3.  I certainly like the specs (not the price) of the D800, but I too need the fps.  I have the D300 and the vertical grip so I can go up to 8fps and do use it for my action sports and candid children’s portraits.  Of course, I can use 6fps also.

        The D800, evidently, will do 6fps in DX mode and still have decent sensor space.  But, I do prefer having my 8fps capability.

  17. I stumbled across the following quotes from Scott while googling regarding D3X prices, or rather the prices for used D3X’s following the announcement of the D800.  I’m just really curious, what has changed in the last four years to have you turn around completely on sensor and file sizes! 



    Q. You’re not getting a new D3x? Why not?
    That particular camera is not for me. I know there are photographers
    who need 23-megapixels for their type of work, but I don’t need it for
    what I shoot (heck I could probably get away with just 8 or 10
    megapixels), so a D3x just doesn’t make sense for me.

    A. … I just don’t want to work with images that big. 23-megapixels files are
    going to fill my memory cards twice as fast, and my hard drives twice
    as fast, and make Photoshop twice as slow, so I’m perfectly happy with
    my D3 and D300.

    1. Not to defend Scott here, but don’t things change over time?  Technology, memory, prices, type of work, all factors in.  He made that statement 4 years ago.

      1. I know a Calif. pro who shoots a D3 still today in 2013, fantastic studio/portrait images on print up to 16×20. It’s not the camera or mp, it’s the person, knowledge through practice, technique and glass most important, the latter to start with. Anybody tells you anything different is repeating bs (or trying to sell you a fancy camera).

  18. Mr. Kelby, Thank you for all your excellent books and videos. They are tremendous and have been of unbelievable help to me.  I currently have a D300 with the Nikkor DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II lens and the Tamron 60mm f/2 lens. I just purchased the D800, a Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II  lens and a Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lens.  (I have so far managed to survive my wife’s ‘stares of death’ when she found out how much it all cost.)  My question is this: Can I use the DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G on the D800 in the FX and DX crop modes or should I consider getting the NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Zoom Lens? (I think I can survive a few more ‘stares of death.)

    1. Death Stare.
      Ah, yes.  I know it also, even in the $1,800-$2,100 range and lenses as well.

      I was wondering if NAPP gives loans for Nikon cameras and lenses, at no interest , and 5 year terms?  This way we can avoid the death stare.

  19. So mister lloyd chambers over at diglloyd says the 800 is for people who need a comfy blanket. When I protested his highly-charged opinion, he responded in a shout out (letter caps). And I pay for his opinions! I agree the 800 is plenty.

  20. I ordered the D800E because I wanted the most detail this camera could deliver.  If I am concerned about moire I will shoot my D3S or D3.  I have seen images that come out of cameras without the AA filter and they seem to have another dimension … they jump off the screen.  I was considering a medium format camera to get that look, maybe the D800E can give me that look and save me a bunch of $$$.

  21. Scott, thanks for your thoughts on the matter.  I like your site and always find useful advice here.  The info seems more practical, in contrast to some sites that show you test charts at 300% magnification.  Those are fun at times, but at the end of the day I want to know how things will work in daily use.

    Like you, I have decided on the D800 though I did flip back and forth several times between the two models.  I have summarized my thoughts on the decision, maybe it will be helpful to others: http://mike.heller.ca/2012/02/why-i-chose-the-nikon-d800-over-the-d800e/


  22. I am drooling over its 36mp capacity!  For landscapes, it will do wonders.  However for me, landscapes are just a hobby, and natural light portraits are my trade, so I’ll be retiring my rusty ol’ D300 and moving to a D4. 

  23. I was talking to Nikon at the recent Focus on Imaging exhibition at Birmingham NEC (March 4 2012) and for general photography use, unless you are perhaps shooting landscapes all the time, from what they told me I think the D800 is the right choice. Also they mentioned that if you want to utilise the excellent video capabilities, there is no generally available software, that they were aware of, that would remove moire patterns in video recordings. I can’t imagine spending an hour or two on each of several hundred shots at, say, a social function such as a wedding. Unless you pay yourself 1 penny an hour, it hardly makes commercial sense. However, I accept there will be some photographers who occupy a more niche market, for whom it will make sense. Certainly not to be considered if all you want is bragging rights (sorry ….but I know some photographers like that) and if I wanted to carry on using my D300s for most of my photography, then I would keep my £2,400 in the bank.
    Happy shooting! 

  24. I have the D300.  What high ISO, without high ISO noise reduction in camera or software noise reduction used, gives decent results?

    NAPP Book Customer

  25. And to think for most of my life, I have used a film camera with manual film advance speed of just how fast can I stroke that lever! And I read comments on here about 4 frames per sec not being fast enough? Its called talent and 4 frames is plenty if you have it, but I guess some people need crutches to hold them up.
    Seriously I have a D800 and I am in awe of the entire photographic experience from the press of the release through to the glorious a2 prints. I consider myself to be very lucky to have lived through the film era of running my own dark room to the era of being able to use a computer and printer to do essentially the same thing in a fraction of the time with much more fun and comfort. I think that any camera capable of making a persons face recognisable at a kilometer with a 200mm lens remarkable. And some of my old film lenses perform as stars on this camera which has left me in shock! The photographs from this camera have a depth and appearance that is captivatingly different to any other apart from medium format yes you stick to your old camera – not me!
    Many thanks to Scott Kelby for his services to photographers with honest, down to earth advice as his work helped an old man make the leap into the modern digital age and endless pleasure. Wrte many more books for us Scott and help us on our way!

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