Nikon D800 Review

The level of anticipation that has been building up since Nikon revealed their full-frame D800 camera is extraordinary. A comparison to the Nikon D700 has been included in the performance section of this review as part of the latest update.

The effective pixel count of the new camera, a class-leading 36.3 million, has been one of the most talked-about aspects of the device. However, this may be evidence that the pixel race is not yet finished and that numbers continue to be something that genuinely grabs people’s attention.

Nikon D800E 36.3 MP CMOS FX-Format Digital SLR Camera (Body Only) (Old Model)
C $3,999.00
6 used from C $990.00
as of June 8, 2023 10:33 am

However, with such a high pixel count, might this be the D800’s downfall? The D700 comes after the D800 in Nikon’s line of digital single-lens reflex cameras and has just 12 million effective pixels. Until recently, Nikon’s philosophy was that 12 million pixels are plenty if the photographs are unmistakable. In addition, Nikon is well regarded for their camera models’ low-light capabilities and noise control. So could a resolution of 36 million pixels be a case of going too far, too soon?

Nikon D800 Features

Although it boasts a sensor with a higher population density, Nikon’s new 36.3-megapixel D800 digital SLR camera utilizes many of the newly introduced capabilities of the company’s previously announced 16.2-megapixel D4 digital SLR camera. Still, it does so in a more compact form and at a lower cost. These include the same EXPEED 3 CPU, the same Multi-Cam 3500 FX autofocus system, which provides 51 AF points, and the same 91k-pixel metering system as the previous model.

In addition, it can focus down to -2 EV, which, when combined with the fact that it can shoot at an ISO of up to 25,600 (when set to the Hi 2 setting), should make the D800 a good camera for shooting in low-light conditions, provided that the amount of image noise is tolerable.

Because the D800 has a lower effective pixel count than the D700, it should not be as surprising that the D800 has a lower maximum continuous shooting rate than the D700. However, the D800 is still more than capable of capturing full-resolution images at a rate of 4 frames per second (while the D700 is capable of 5 frames per second) when using the standard battery and five frames per second (while the D700 can manage eight frames per second) This may be increased even more by reducing the size of the image captured in DX format.

Nikon D800 Build Quality

There isn’t much distinction between the D800 and the D700 regarding dimensions like size, shape, and weight. However, it is 10% lighter than the D700, and the body looks and feels more ‘contoured.’ In the same vein as the D4, the shutter release has been subtly moved to improve the camera’s ergonomics. Additionally, several controls have been modified.

New features include a button to record Video that is located next to the shutter release, as well as a switch that can be found to the right of the rear screen that allows you to switch between the live view for still images and Video.

Even if it is possible to take a still picture while the switch between Stills and Video is set to Video, video recording can only be initiated when the button is set to Video. The fact that these features are also included on the D4 should make it easier for professionals who own both cameras to move between the two bodies.

Nikon D800 Performance

The Nikon D800, according to our testing results, can resolve a significant amount of information. It is not too far behind the medium-format Pentax 645D, which boasts a 40-megapixel sensor that measures 44 mm by 33 mm. Although it has a full-frame format, the sensor in the D800 is only 35.9 by 24 millimeters, making this accomplishment all the more remarkable.

Because of the need to fit so many pixels onto a sensor, the photosites have to be extremely tiny; this might cause an increase in the amount of picture noise captured. The good news is that Nikon has achieved a good equilibrium between the camera’s resolution and noise level.

Nikon D800 Image Quality

The image quality of the Nikon D800 is in a league of its own compared to everything I’ve used in the past. The first time you look at your pictures on the enormous screen of your computer, your mouth will virtually drop. The incredible dynamic range and level of detail that was caught are astounding. Unfortunately, the RAW files are 77 megabytes, which is a drawback.

When I photograph, I save my images as uncompressed 14-bit RAW files at their native full resolution. Why would you acquire a camera capable of producing such excellent image quality if you shoot in a format that loses quality? Don’t. You should not purchase the camera if you cannot manage the enormous file sizes.

It’s only going to be for certain things that I’ll be using the D800… mostly studio-lit portraits, landscapes, and settings with a wide variety of tonal contrasts. Said this is not a camera that was designed to be used for high-volume photography daily.

Nikon D800 Specs

Body typeMid-size SLR
Body materialMagnesium alloy
Max resolution (px)7360 x 4912
Effective pixels36.3 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors36.8 megapixels
Other resolutions6144 x 4912, 6144 x 4080, 5520 x 3680, 4800 x 3200, 4608 x 3680, 4608 x 3056, 3680 x 2456, 3600 x 2400, 3072 x 2456, 3072 x 2040, 2400 x 1600
Image ratio w h5:4, 3:2
Sensor sizeFull frame (35.9 x 24 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorExpeed 3
Color spacesRGB, Adobe RGB
Color filter arrayPrimary Color Filter
ISO100 – 6400 in 1, 1/2, or 1/3 EV steps (50 – 25600 with boost)
White balance presets12
Custom white balanceYes (5)
Image stabilizationNo
Uncompressed format.NEF (RAW)
JPEG quality levelsFine, Normal, Basic
File format• NEF (RAW): 12 or 14-bit, lossless compressed, compressed, or uncompressed
Optics & Focus
Autofocus• Phase Detect
• Multi-area
• Selective single-point
• Tracking
• Single
• Continuous
• Face Detection
• Live View
Autofocus assist lampYes
Digital zoomNo
Manual focusYes
Number of focus points51
Lens mountNikon F mount
Focal length multiplier
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3.2″
Screen dots921,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeTFT Color LCD with 170 degrees wide-viewing angle
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeOptical (pentaprism)
Viewfinder coverage100 %
Viewfinder magnification0.7×
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed30 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/8000 sec
Exposure modes• Programmed auto with flexible program (P)
• Shutter-priority (S)
• Aperture priority (A)
• Manual (M)
Built-in flashYes (pop-up)
Flash Range12 m (at ISO 100)
External flashYes (Hot-shoe, Wireless plus sync connector)
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-eye, Slow sync, Rear-curtain, High-speed sync
Flash X sync speed1/250 sec
Drive modes• S (single frame)
• CL (continuous low speed)
• CH (continuous high speed)
• Q (quiet shutter-release)
• MUP (mirror up)
• Self-timer
Continuous driveYes (4 fps in FX format, max 6fps in DX)
Self-timerYes (2 to 20 sec, 1 to 9 exposures at intervals of 0.5, 1, 2,, or 3 sec)
Metering modes• Multi
• Center-weighted
• Average
• Spot
Exposure compensation±5 EV (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 1 EV steps)
AE Bracketing(2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
WB BracketingYes (2 to 9 frames in steps 1, 2,, or 3)
Videography features
Format• MPEG-4
• H.264
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50, 30, 25 fps), 640 x 424 (24 fps)
Storage typesCompact Flash (Type I), SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I compliant
Storage includedNone
USBUSB 3.0 (5 GBit/sec)
HDMIYes (Mini Type C)
Remote controlYes (Optional, wired or wireless )
Environmentally sealedYes (Water and dust resistant)
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion EN-EL15 rechargeable battery & charger
Weight (inc. batteries)900 g (1.98 lb / 31.75 oz)
Dimensions146 x 123 x 82 mm (5.75 x 4.84 x 3.23″)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingYes
GPS notesGP-1

Nikon D800 Verdict

Nikon D800E 36.3 MP CMOS FX-Format Digital SLR Camera (Body Only) (Old Model)
C $3,999.00
6 used from C $990.00
as of June 8, 2023 10:33 am

It’s reassuring to know that the Nikon D800 is more than simply a victory of numbers and that the 35.3-megapixel sensor genuinely lives up to its billing by capturing a wealth of information as advertised. The unexpected perk is that the noise is exceptionally well managed, and the dynamic range is outstanding for its breadth.

The Nikon D800 is a worthy purchase for those who are considering making the transition to full-frame cameras. You get all of the most significant features of the D4 in a more compact and lighter body, and it also has a significantly higher pixel count, all for a price of almost precisely half of what the D4 would cost you.

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