Hi Dave, During the 59 years I've been shooting more than snapshots I've probably had at least thirty or forty cameras. In Korea I bought three that I can think of. In Thailand I bought and traded a couple. In Vietnam I was playing poker just about every evening and consequently was able to buy, sell and trade cameras all over the place. During that period I even had an Olympus Pen, the first half-frame camera, and similar to the E-P1 Pen I carry on the street a lot nowadays with a 25 mm Summilux on it. When I left Vietnam I was down to one Canon 7, an excellent Leica knockoff with a 50mm f/1.2 lens. Back in the States in the sixties I traded the Canon for a Leica M4, bought a Leica M2 and a IIIf, with its f/35 collapsible Summicron. I also bought a Rollei and a half-trashed Speed Graphic that I stripped down and turned into a 4 x 5 view camera. Since the beginning of digital I've had 8 different cameras of which I still have three: the E-P1, a D2X, and my favorite D3. The D800E isn't going to replace anything. I may sell the D2X, but the D3 still will be my main machine. I intend the D800E to be specifically for two things: landscape and what I'll call wabi sabi: dying prairie towns and deserted ranches and goldmines.
I know Canon tends to change things from camera to camera, its lens-mount change being the prime offender, but Nikon doesn't do that. I have a PDF copy of the D800 manual, and everything's right where it should be. The feeling's going to be a bit different from the D3, but the external controls haven't moved much at all.
You're right, new equipment often is underwhelming, but the D3 with its then incredible ISO ranges wasn't at all underwhelming. With a 50mm f/1.4 on that camera I still can walk St. George Street at night in St. Augustine and shoot black cats along the way without a flash. The D800E is going to live on a sturdy carbon fiber tripod, drive set to mirror-up, and the ten-pin cable release glued to it. From your fine work it's clear you understand all that. For anything else the D3 comes out.