With a high-resolution, 36.3-million-pixel sensor that virtually matches those of medium-format models, the Nikon D800 may just have raised the bar for full-frame cameras. Read our Nikon D800 review...

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Nikon D800

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Nikon D800 review


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At a glance:

  • 36.3-million-pixel, full-frame CMOS sensor
  • Expeed 3 processor
  • ISO 100-6400 (extended to ISO 50-25,600)
  • 51-point AF system
  • 3.2in LCD screen
  • CF and SD card slots
  • Street price £2,599 (body only)

The Nikon D800 has been a very eagerly awaited camera, and on release it did not disappoint, providing many points of discussion. It is the company’s second ‘enthusiast-level’ full-frame DSLR, following the release of the D700 some three and a half years ago. Smaller and with a much lower price tag than the professional-level, full-frame Nikon D4 launched earlier this year, the D800 should have wider appeal.

The specification of the D800 belies its position in the market. Several of the features found on the more expensive D4 are also present on the D800, namely the Expeed 3 processor, autofocus and metering sensors, LCD screen and video-capture capabilities.

The standout feature of the D800, though, is its 36.3-million-pixel, full-frame CMOS sensor, which is currently the highest resolution in this format by some margin – so much so, in fact, that the 24.3-million-pixel resolution of the much more expensive, professional flagship Nikon D3X pales in comparison, and its days must be limited.

Following the D800’s release, there has been much talk about just how many pixels a camera’s lens can cope with before image quality ceases to benefit from the increased resolution – are 36.3 million pixels more than is necessary for a full-frame sensor? To quote Professor Bob Newman from his article, Do sensors outresolve lenses – or vice versa?, in AP 10 March: ‘Improving either sensor or lens will always yield benefits in resolution… Purchasers of new high-resolution cameras need not fear they will fail to see a benefit, as their camera will yield sharper results with all their lenses’.

Sharp results made possible by the sensor mean that the user can get more out of a DX lens than when that same lens is used on a lower-resolution camera, so giving the optic a new lease of life. Of course, for best results the D800 should be used with a professional-level lens.

This professional-level resolution combined with responsive handling make the D800 an exciting prospect for those considering an upgrade, or those wanting to replace an existing full-frame DSLR.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. D800E
  4. 4. Build and handling
  5. 5. White balance and colour
  6. 6. Metering
  7. 7. Noise, resolution and sensitivity
  8. 8. Autofocus
  9. 9. LCD, viewfinder and video
  10. 10. Dynamic range
  11. 11. The competition
  12. 12. Our verdict
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  • Steve Krawczyk

    Superb image quality, good alternative to a DSLR when you can’t/don’t want to take a large amount of kit. Needs a filter mount to avert the need to use the fiddly lens cap. Pop-up flash is alittle weak but I use a Speedlite 270EX which is a vast improvement. Slower in operation than I would have expected but esentially a good all rounder with useful features and excellent build quality. Download the CD manual onto your smartphone for reference purposes!

  • Rod Hall

    Having previously owned a G9 which I loved, I was however becoming increasingly frustratedwith it’s rather poor low light performance and the noise that was introduced with even relatively modest hikes in ISO. The G1 Xs large CMOS sensor however has more than addressed this. Image quality is stunning and lets face it, that is the whole point of a camera is it not? On the downside it is expensive and rather bulky for a compact and the styling has echos of Soviet era construction, but it really cannot be faulted in the area of image quality output.

  • jaykay

    The one thing every review of the G1 X I have read, misses, is the fact that if you set it to shoot jpg+raw having set it up to use any of the many menu choices,the camera switches these off and only gives you a default jpg file plus raw.
    Considering Canons claimed target market is the advanced DSLR user wanting a comparable specification in a smaller package, this is a real fault and one that needs addressing with a firmware upgrade ASAP.

  • J. R. Turcotte

    Your advertisements obscure the content of your articles. Until that is fixed, your new site is useless.