By BENGT NYMAN
If some of you recognize part of what follows it’s because it has appeared on one of the Nikonian Forums, where it received mostly boos and oh-nos. I have had an idea for some time which was recently confirmed by a statement by Panasonic: “Blame the Bayer filter for your camera’s poor low light performance.”
Indeed I am very pleased with my D800E. It makes miraculous images out of just about anything. Many times you can pull out a bonus image from deep inside the image without running into the usual resolution reminder.
I also use my D800E in dark places, shooting in next-to-no-light to produce dark, saturated, ambience-dripping music and theater scenes. The high resolution again allows me to go deep into darkness before the lack of light and subsequent fine pitch noise becomes objectionable.
When I go too far I can often still salvage an intriguing scene by going to high contrast black-and-white with color and chromatic noise converted into ruff and tough graininess.
So why am I talking about a D800EM a.k.a. D800E Monochrome? I am so convinced that high resolution gives us photographers a new lease on life that I would like to take it a step further.
I am envisioning a Monochrome D800EM with no Bayer filters and of course no anti-aliasing filter.
In other words: a straight black-and-white 36.3MP D800EM with nothing in the way of any of the pixels.
Resolution and detail should be exquisite.
Light sensitivity would of course be substantially better than the color version since there are no color filters refusing entrance to photons of the wrong color.
We already have the Leica M Monochrom. However, with an 18MP CCD sensor the Leica M Monochrom lacks in both resolution and ISO.
Even though I am not personally a black-and-white fanatic, I can’t help envisioning the potential of a monochrome extrapolation of the D800E into a D800EM.
I realize that Nikon might not be interested in putting out a specialty product with an even smaller market than the D800E. However, I hope they, or somebody, will — because the photographic world would be richer for it.
We probably all remember the anxiety initially caused by the E version of the D800.
People said with a D800 it is more difficult to shoot handheld because the high resolution will highlight any camera shake. After hundreds of thousands of handheld shots with 13MP and 21MP cameras, and many thousands of handheld D800E shots with 36MP I can confidently say: nonsense.
People also said that with a D800E you run the risk of getting moiré patterns in your images. Nonsense. After many thousands of shots I still have not spotted a single moiré pattern.
I believe that a D800EM would be a terrific addition to a serious photographers arsenal.
The objections I have received so far are essentially: “Oh no, I need the color to differentiate and manipulate the tonal range of the final black-and-white image.”
I can see that. I guess I am more of a documentary photographer where composition, balance and enhancing the natural beauty of the image is of essence, as opposed to a more intrusive or artsy manipulation of the image.
If you have enough light to shoot in color and create your desired black and white from that, great.
When I do not have enough light to create a quality color image, I would like to be able to reach for my D800EM to create an amazing black and white at ISOs unthinkable behind any kind of filter including a Bayer filter.
P.S. No, you can not remove a modern Bayer filter. The Bayer pattern pixel window tinting is today an integral part of the image sensor manufacturing process.