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...
To offer a 36.3-million-pixel, full-frame CMOS sensor for around £2,600 and in a model of the Nikon D800’s size is nothing short of remarkable. Images can be captured as 14-bit files in FX (full-frame) format at 36.3 million pixels, as well as in 5:4 at 30.2 million pixels, 1.2x at 25.1 million pixels and DX (1.5x) at 15.4 million pixels. Although all full-frame Nikon models offer a DX-crop mode, primarily for a greater focal-length reach, given the high resolution of the D800 this function is, for the first time, a genuinely useful feature.
In fact, given the 15.4-million-pixel output in DX format, it is safe to assume that the pixel dimensions, and therefore performance in low light, is similar to that of the 16.3-million-pixel, DX-format Nikon D7000.
Raw capture is possible in any image area option. Full-resolution 7360×4912-pixel) NEF raw capture produces a 76.5MB image file (or approximately a 207MB TIFF), which rivals more expensive digital medium-format cameras. Such large files mean that, for the first time in the full-frame format, A2-sized prints are possible at 300ppi without upscaling. By using a perfectly acceptable 200ppi file resolution, A1 prints are possible, placing the prints in the realm of exhibition size.
To help cope with processing such large files, the D800 features the same Expeed 3 engine as that used in the Nikon D4. Nikon claims this also allows ‘superb noise reduction’, which gives the D800 similar noise haracteristics to the D700.
The major differences between the D800 and D4 are the imaging sensor, ISO range and high-speed burst mode, but more on these later.
Clearly, Nikon has had some catching up to do at this level to match the video capabilities of the Canon competition. The D700 does not feature video capture, but the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Mark III do. Now, so does the D800. In addition, the D800’s capabilities closely match those of the D4, making the new Nikon model extremely competitive. Full HD (1080p) video files are captured in H.264 format at 30fps, 25fps or 24fps. Video users will be pleased to see clean HDMI output at 1080p/720p for live view, without compression. Furthermore, the time-lapse function has been enhanced for playback at speeds up to 36,000x, with files encoded for immediate playback as a video file.