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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Build and handling

Nikon D800 top

In size and build quality, the D800 is very similar to the D700, yet it is 10% lighter.

The camera features a dust- and water-droplet-resistant magnesium-alloy body, although the inclusion of a built-in flash (GN 12m @ ISO 100, plus wireless control) means that the weatherproofing cannot be of the same standard as found on professional models like the D4 or the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. That said, the D800 suffered no ill effects when it got a little wet while shooting landscapes in the Lake District.

The redesign of the D800 (based on the D700) includes new controls to accommodate video capture, with a direct movie-record button near the shutter release and a live-view switch to the right of the LCD screen. Like the D4, the refined body of the D800 has an improved textured grip that rests comfortably in the hand, and a greater incline for the shutter-release button and flat design for the power switch. These factors make pressing the shutter release that little bit more comfortable.

Nikon has tested the shutter to 200,000 cycles, and measured a lag of 0.042secs. Start-up time is claimed to be 0.12secs, and I found the D800 almost immediately ready to go after powering up.

As a camera not primarily intended for action, the D800’s continuous drive mode high-speed burst of 4fps for up to 15 frames (raw) or 60 frames (JPEG) cannot match the 11fps for a 60-frame (raw) or 144-frame (JPEG) burst of the D4. When the 1.2x or DX (1.5x) crop factors are selected, the D800 can shoot at 5fps, which in the DX crop is for a 22-frame (raw) or 97-frame (JPEG) burst.

Those capturing high-speed sequences will find the D800’s buffer not as quick to clear once full as that of the D4, during which time the camera freezes. Those who don’t record action sequences will find 4fps sufficient for everyday use.

The D800 uses an EN-EL15 battery to give approximately 900 still shots. Battery life can be doubled via the use of the optional MB-D12 battery grip (priced around £380). Further benefits of the battery grip are that it mirrors the control layout, so it is the same whether in portrait or landscape format, and it boosts the high-speed burst rate to 6fps in DX format. The grip is not compatible with Nikon’s D700 or D300S models.

Still images and videos can be recorded onto a choice of CompactFlash (CF) or SD cards, including the latest high-speed versions, such as UDMA 7, SDXC and UHS-1. Fast file transfer is possible via USB 3.0 connectivity, which is a first for a camera, although it is also backwards compatible to USB 2.0 devices.

With such high-resolution files, any errors in the image are quite noticeable. It is therefore very important to spend a little more time on each photograph. For critically sharp results, I found that shooting landscapes with shutter speeds slower than 1/125sec not only requires the camera to be fixed to a tripod, but it also has to be also set to mirror lock-up and fired with a cable release.

Unfortunately, the camera does not offer both mirror lock-up and self-timer simultaneously.

There are lots of nice touches to aid the handling of the camera. The dual-axis virtual horizon is available in both live view and through the viewfinder. The AF switch to the left of the lens has a button to access the different AF modes, so the user need not remove his or her eye from the viewfinder.

A rubber seal over the connection ports on the left of the camera is hinged so it can remain out of the way while in use. I would, however, like to see the rubber seal split into sections so that any unused ports could stay covered. As it is, these unused ports are exposed to dust and dirt.

  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
Page 4 of 12 - Show Full List
  • 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.