For full-frame DSLR enthusiasts who can't quite afford the almighty D4, Nikon is introducing the 36-megapixel D800 and D800E. This all-new DSLR succeeds the D700 as the more affordable full-frame option for professional photographers, with its E-appended model adjusting its low-pass filter so as to let more light in at the expense of some color inaccuracy. If you want it put in simple terms, the D4 is the ultimate camera, a photographer's studio on the move, whereas the D800 is the perfect studio camera, with the D800E moving even further into the comfort zone of fine adjustment micromanagers.

Physically, the D800 is typical Nikon: robust, reassuringly heavy, and thoughtfully laid out. The shutter release button (shutter has now been tested to 200,000 cycles), is slanted in exactly the same way as on the D4, while the buttons accompanying it on the camera's topside will also be familiar to anyone who's tried the company's flagship DSLR. Although the control scheme is well organized, I would have preferred to see more of the on-the-fly adjustments moved to the right side of the camera so as to facilitate single-hand operation. Nikon presumes that you'll have both hands available when shooting with the D800, which is a reasonable expectation for such a high-end shooter, but cameras from Canon, like the 60D, and Sony, like the incomparable NEX-5N, offer more flexibility. I guess this just reaffirms Nikon's positioning of the D800 as a studio camera.

The big upgrades, as with the D4, are happening under the hard shell of the D800. Nikon claims improved efficiency will let you take over 900 shots with this new camera before its battery gives up, while the noise performance is said to be comparable to that of the D700 — only the D800 can shoot at three times the resolution. Nikon used the word "astounding" a lot in describing its new baby and that is indeed a remarkable achievement. A couple of nice features trickling down from the D4 include the good looking 3.2-inch, 921k-dot LCD and the low-light-capable autofocus system. Brand new to the D800 are a USB 3.0 port plus the ability to read and write to both SD and CF memory cards. The D800 is shaping up to be a mighty fine update to the D700 and will arrive in stores in March.