Nikon D800 review

April 28, 2012

Overall Rating:


Nikon D800

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Price as Reviewed:


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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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.

  • Built-in Flash: Yes
  • Dioptre Adjustment: -3 to +1 dioptre
  • White Balance: 2 auto, 6 presets (with fine-tuning), plus 3 custom and Kelvin adjustment settings
  • Shutter Type: Electronically controlled focal-plane shutter
  • Memory Card: 1x CompactFlash slot compatible with UDMA 7, 1x SD slot
  • Viewfinder Type: Pentaprism single-lens reflex viewfinder
  • LCD: 3.2in TFT with 921,000 dots
  • Output Size: 7360 x 4912 pixels
  • Field of View: Approx 100%
  • White Balance Bracket: 2-9 exposures in increments of 1, 2 or 3
  • AF Points: 51 points, selectable manually or automatically
  • Sensor: FX-format (full-frame 35.9 x 24 mm) CMOS device with 36.3 million effective pixels
  • Focal Length Mag: 1x (1.5x in DX-format crop mode)
  • Max Flash Sync: 1/250sec
  • Exposure Modes: PASM
  • Weight: 1,000g (with battery and card/s)
  • Shutter Speeds: 30-1/8000sec in 1⁄3 steps, plus B
  • File Format: NEF (raw), JPEG, raw+JPEG simultaneously
  • Power: Rechargeable EN-EL15 Li-Ion battery (supplied)
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Drive Mode: Single, continuous (Hi/Lo selectable, up to 4fps with AF), self-timer, quiet, mirror-up
  • Exposure Comp: ±5EV in 1⁄3, 1/2 or 1EV steps
  • ISO: 100-6400 in 1/3EV steps and Lo1, Hi1, Hi2 (ISO 50-25,600)
  • Lens Mount: Nikon F
  • RRP: £2,599.99 (body only)
  • DoF Preview: Yes
  • Focusing Modes: Manual, single-shot AF, continuous AF with AF fine-tuning
  • Dimensions: 146 x 123 x 81.5mm
  • Metering System: 91,000-pixel RGB 3D matrix metering, centreweighted (adjustable), spot (1.5%)
  • Connectivity / Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed, HDMI
  • Compression: 3-stage JPEG, 3-stage NEF
  • Tested as: Enthusiast DSLR

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