Nikon D800 review

April 28, 2012

Overall Rating:


Nikon D800

  • Build/Handling:
  • Autofocus:
  • Noise/resolution:
  • Metering:
  • Features:
  • AWB Colour:
  • Dynamic Range:
  • LCD viewfinder:



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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Our verdict

For a camera costing around £2,600, the D800 is unrivalled in the level of detail it can resolve and is an enticing prospect, particularly for landscape photographers.

While luminance and chroma noise are gradually introduced up the ISO range, and the camera’s full-resolution files cannot quite match lower resolution competition, it performs very well up to ISO 3200 with resolved detail at this setting, matching the top full-frame and APS-C models.

It’s not just about the sensor, though. Numerous features from the much pricier D4 are also present in the D800. The LCD screen is bright, as is the viewfinder with its 100% field of view, and the AF system is accurate.

The D800’s buffer cannot handle the large volume of data in high-speed situations as effectively as the D4, but the D800 is not intended to perform in this way. Reducing the format and shooting JPEG images does, of course, enhance continuous shooting rates.

We talk about the bar being raised occasionally, and Nikon has certainly raised the bar in the full-frame market with the launch of the D800. Despite the slight increase in the camera’s price since its original launch, it remains a relatively affordable model.

Nikon D800 – Key features

Built-in flash
The built-in flash offers +1 to -3EV manual adjustment for all flash modes. In centreweighted and multi-segment metering, face detection and highlight analysis by the RGB metering sensor enhances the i-TTL-balanced fill flash to illuminate subjects according to the brightness of the scene.

In-camera editing
Enhanced retouch menus include vignette control, Active D-Lighting, straighten, distortion control, perspective control, redeye, crop, monochrome, filter effects, image overlay and resize, many of which are also available for video editing. This means some of the post-production work on images can be done in the field.

High dynamic range mode is available via the in-camera menu. It works by combining two frames: one overexposed and one underexposed, up to ±3EV. Added to the usual Active D-Lighting feature, the D800 can add extra information to the tonal range in an image.

Live view
The D800 offers live-view operation designed for still and video capture via the new live-view switch on the rear of the camera.

With the live view switch set to still capture, the screen displays any changes to exposure, and magnification up to 23x aids critical focusing. In the video-capture setting, a dedicated exposure control provides smooth exposure transition for moving subjects.

Ambient light sensor
This measures the ambient light levels for automatic control of the monitor’s brightness

The viewfinder has a 100% field of view with 0.7x magnification, 17mm eyepoint and dioptre adjustment from -3 to +1

Focus selector lock
The focus selector lock has a prominent position on the rear of the camera. When activated, the control locks the point of focus

  • 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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