The Nikon D800 is a new enthusiast or semi-professional full-frame model. Pocket-lint was on hand to grab the new camera as soon as it was announced, to have a quick play and show you what the camera looks like in the flesh.
It has evolved out of the popular Nikon D700, but incorporates some of the features we saw in the recent D4 launch. Importantly it doesn't replace the D700; Nikon sees the D800 very much as a camera that a D700 user might step-up to, or a D300s user might move over to, but both the D800 and D700 will be available moving forward.
As a full-frame DSLR it is fairly weighty at 1kg (without a lens), but this is close to the weight of the D700 and to be expected from this type of camera. Fortunately the body is large enough to give a nice natural grip, so it sits nicely in the hands.
The layout of controls reflects the D700 forebear, but with some adjustments. The angle of the shutter button has been altered, as it was in the D4, to give a more natural position. Elsewhere you have controls for video, specifically the video capture button just behind the shutter button.
You also have specific live-view modes for video or stills, selected using the switch on the back. Nikon is taking video seriously with the D800, looking to steal some of the limelight from the Canon EOS 5D Mk II, which has been quite the box office hit. The normal complement of Full HD 1920 x 1080 capture at 30/25/24p is present, as well as 60/50p if you step down to 1280 x 720 resolution, resulting in a MOV file.
You'll find the connections you'd expect hiding under the flap on the left-hand side. The HDMI will offer an uncompressed video output aimed at professional use and you get audio monitoring via the mic and headphone sockets. You also get USB 3.0, meaning faster data transfer for moving all those huge files off - with a typical NEF RAW file being 76MB, you can understand the need.
There are four controls sitting atop the release mode dial on the left, a new bracketing button makes an appearance, designed to make things like HDR shooting more straight forward. As a "compact" full-frame camera there is a pop-up flash, meaning you don't need accessories if you don't want them.
The viewfinder offers a 100 per cent field of view and the 3.2-inch display on the back features a light sensor like the D4, so the display will adjust to suit the conditions as best it can. The viewfinder was bright and full of rich information from the AF system and the display looked to be nice and vibrant from the time we spent with the camera.
The sloped shoulders of the Nikon D800, incorporating the new rake of the shutter button, gives the new model a slightly softer look over the D700 which looks boxy by comparison. This means the name sits sort of awkwardly, not that anyone will care too much.
But despite all the expected updates, we suspect the talking point for many will be the large 35.9 x 24mm CMOS sensor (Nikon FX format), with 36.3 effective megapixels. The sensor partners much of the redesigned architecture we saw in the Nikon D4, including the Expeed 3 processor, but the fastest frame rate you'll get is 4fps at maximum resolution, or 5fps on DX crop, so this probably isn't one for photographers who need to catch that fleeting sporting moment.
In operation the Nikon D800 felt assured and serious. It was fast to focus, a no-nonsense camera, but unfortunately we weren't able to take away any of the shots we took for closer examination. To judge the quality of that new 36-megapixel sensor, we'll have to wait for the verdict of our Nikon D800 review.
The Nikon D800 will be available from 22 March and will cost you £2399.99. The MB-D12 grip also pictured will cost you £379.99.