First Impressions: Using the Nikon D800

As updates go, the Nikon D800 is a pretty major one. Compared to its predecessor the D700, Nikon's newest DSLR features an impressive set of key specifications, and subtly refined ergonomics, too. After more than three years we expected the D800 to outclass its predecessor, but products don't exist in a vacuum, and it wasn't long after the 12MP D700's announcement that Canon brought out the movie-shooting EOS 5D Mark II.

Not only was the 5D II Canon's first video-equipped DSLR, but at 21MP it offered a class-leading pixel count, effectively equal in resolution to Canon's professional EOS-1 Ds Mark III. The D700 won plaudits for its versatility, low light image quality and 51-point autofocus system, but it couldn't compete with the 5D II on resolution, or of course, video. 

The D800 changes all that. Compared to the D700, the D800 is a thoroughly modern camera, boasting a highly advanced feature set for both still and video shooting. At 36.3MP the $3000 D800 comfortably eclipses its competitors in terms of pixel count and makes the $8000 Nikon D3X look distinctly irrelevant, too.

Compared to D700: Specification highlights

  • 36.3MP CMOS sensor (compared to 12.1MP)
  • 15.3MP DX-format capture mode (compared to 5MP)
  • 25MP 1.2x Crop mode
  • 51-point AF system with 15 cross-type sensors, rated to -2EV* (compared to -1EV)
  • ISO 100-6400 extendable to ISO 25,600 equiv (same as D700)
  • 1080p video at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second, up to 24Mbps, with uncompressed HDMI output and audio monitoring options*
  • 3.2", 921,000 dot LCD with anti-fog layer* (compared to 3in, 921k-dot)
  • Maximum 4fps continuous shooting in FX mode, 6fps in DX mode** (compared to 8fps in FX mode)
  • Advanced Scene Recognition System with 91,000 pixel metering sensor* (compared to 1005-pixel)
  • 'Expeed 3' Image Processing*
  • Dual-axis Virtual Horizon (on LCD screen/viewfinder)(compared to single-axis)

* Same or almost identical to Nikon D4
** Maximum frame rate in DX mode is dependant on power source

We've had a D800 in the office for a few days, and we've spent that time shooting with the camera not only in our studio but also out in the big, bad 'real world'. We're some way off being able to publish a full review, but I wanted to share with you some first impressions. You've already read our in-depth preview, and you know what the professionals think, but now that we've got a production sample to play with, I want to give you an idea of what the D800 is actually like to use.

Handling

The D700 was a generally pleasant camera to hold and use, and so is the D800. Nikon hasn't made many drastic changes to the handling experience, and those that it has made are broadly in line with Nikon's design philosophy for 2011/12. Gone is the 'traditional' MF/AF-S/AF-C focus mode switch on the lens throat, to be replaced by the same combined MF/AF switch and AF mode button control that we've seen on the D7000 and D4. This updated approach to focus mode selection is nice and neat, because it associates all of the many options with a single physical control point, but as I pointed out in my recent article about the D4, it does make switching between AF-S and AF-C less rapid than it used to be.

 In general terms, the D800 handles a lot like the D700 that it replaces. Key controls are in almost exactly the same places, but the D800 does benefit from a redesigned live view control and drive mode dial. The screen has the same 920,000-dot resolulution as the screen used in the D700, but like the D4, it features improved moisture and dust-proofing. 
Not only does the drive mode dial lose the D700's 'Lv' position, it also features firm detents, so with the dial unlocked it is possible to tell by feel when you're scrolling through the various positions. This is a small change, but a very welcome one, and one which (with a little practise) makes it possible to switch drive mode with your eye to the viewfinder. 
On the D800, just like the D7000 and D4, live view gets a dedicated control on the rear of the camera, with a physical switch for still shooting and movie shooting modes. In movie mode, the framing reflects the 16:9 aspect ratio. You must be in movie shooting live view mode to initiate video recording, via the red button on the camera's top-plate.

Of more signficance to the average D7000 user will be the D800's updated drive mode dial and dedicated live view switch. Live view mode on the D700 was very much a 'first generation' implementation and although effective and useful, setting it via the drive mode dial was a pain, especially if you needed to grab a quick high or low-angle shot.

Improved Automatic ISO Sensitivity Mode

The D800's automatic ISO mode is inherited from the D4 and is improved over the same mode in earlier Nikon DSLRs. Previously, auto ISO customization was minimal, and consisted simply of an option to set the maximum ISO and minimum shutter speed when the camera was used in auto ISO mode. The currently-set ISO counted as the minimum ISO sensitivity (and in fact still does). This system was fine for shooting with a fixed focal length lens, but less useful with zoom lenses, where a 'safe' minimum shutter speed at either end of the focal range might be several stops apart. 

In the D4 and D800, Nikon has (at long last) added an 'Auto' option to the minimum shutter speed options, which allows the camera to automatically set the minimum shutter speed based on its knowledge of the focal length that you're working at. This response can be biased in 5 steps, from 'slow' to 'fast' depending on whether you'd like the camera to err on the side of slower or faster shutter speeds. A small change but one that takes Auto ISO a little closer to being the 'set and forget' function that it should have been long ago.


Click here to go to page 2 of this article: First Impressions - Using the Nikon D800... 

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Comments

Total comments: 310
123
Adler1970
By Adler1970 (Mar 31, 2012)

Nikon D800 has the best sensor in the world!
This is a FACT. It is not advertising of Nikon. A fact is a fact.
Nikon D800 has the best sensor in the world(source: DxOMark Sensor Scores). Nikon D800 took the 1° spot away from the expensive Phase One IQ180 (medium format camera).
Of course, for some photographers other Cameras are closest to their needs, but this is another discourse and it is a logical banal discourse!
What now Nikon has to do, is build very sensitive good LENSES. A new GENERATION of super NIKON LENSES. Nikon can do lenses very well.

5 upvotes
WmCRoberts
By WmCRoberts (Mar 30, 2012)

very nice of you to offer the image downloads above. thanks. i am downloading them now to check them out

0 upvotes
TheJohnz
By TheJohnz (Mar 30, 2012)

There are some great reviews of the D800 by those who have actually used this camera in the field. Check out this website of Brad Hill

http://www.naturalart.ca/artist/fieldtests/fieldtest_NikonD800.html

He is a rather good nature photographer who owns some of the best Nikon lenses.

I applaud both Nikon and Canon for their new camera models. What a great time to be into photography.

5 upvotes
WmCRoberts
By WmCRoberts (Mar 30, 2012)

thanks for the URL

0 upvotes
Iamzing
By Iamzing (Apr 8, 2012)

Check out Jim Brandenburg also, who's probably one of the best Nature National Geographic photographer. Nikon gave him a D800 to play around with.

http://jimbrandenburg.blogspot.com/search?q=d800

1 upvote
marzal
By marzal (Mar 29, 2012)

Great to see Nikon has brought out another winnertwo if you count the D800E, almost like the Hasselblad Digital cameras in resolution. This will leave Canon and anything else beaten without a doubt.I own 7 Nikkor lenses, only hope they'll do the camera justice. If you need higher fps then get a video camera

5 upvotes
facedodge
By facedodge (Mar 29, 2012)

Nice camera, Nikon... Now where is Penn Camera with my 5D3 preorder?

2 upvotes
copajaus
By copajaus (Mar 28, 2012)

I am a non professional Canon guy and I have the chance of owning about 8 lenses all up most of them being L lenses and 1 Carl Zeiss lens.
I am into landscape , travel, portraits and still life. Occasionally I do wildlife and sport but not as much. I don't do videos.

I use a very simple workflow with Aperture and sometimes DXO, shoot Large JPEG mainly and sometimes RAW. I have plenty of computer power, file size is not an issue.
I feel that the Canon product line currently does not offer an outstanding products such as the Nikon D800.

I own a 1ds mk3 which has been my main camera since 2009 and yes I am considering the D800. It is to me the only camera out there which is a significant improvement on image quality compared to my 1ds mk3.

I know that the camera does not make the picture, the photographer does but one must admit that the D800 is a serious piece of gear highly worthy of consideration.

8 upvotes
Sad Joe
By Sad Joe (Apr 9, 2012)

The D800 does indeed look great - the best ever DSLR ? Maybe. I think Canon may have elected to give up on high pixel count instead trying to get the best video ....? I doubt that Canon will react over night to the D800 (even if they could) but I do think that an VERY high pixel FF is on the way - and let's not forget SONY who Nikon owe so much too. The game's a foot....

0 upvotes
philo123
By philo123 (Mar 27, 2012)

Not the camera for me. Too niche and no good for sports and wildlife with only 4fps. Canon 5DMkIII wins hands down as the better all round general camera.

2 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Mar 27, 2012)

Impossible if the 5D III doesn't have better IQ. And it doesn't.

4 upvotes
Ithackermike
By Ithackermike (Mar 28, 2012)

@philo123, "better all around"? If the 14 extra megapixels doesn't matter to you, then the 7 less megapixels of the D800s 6fps crop size shouldn't matter either. The D800 is like a Pentax 645D and a Canon 7d in one camera. While the 5d3 is like, well the 5d2 with the autofocus system of a 5 year old D300.

7 upvotes
philo123
By philo123 (Mar 28, 2012)

@marike6 So what you are saying is the 5D MkIII is better than the D4 as it has 6MP more??

@ Ithackermike .....but the Canon 7D is not exactly a new camera either. If you're an enthusiast who wants a good all round camera suitable for multiple disciplines the 5DMKIII is a better buy. You need the very best glass on the D800, which is no doubt a good camera, making it very very expensive.

0 upvotes
Adler1970
By Adler1970 (Mar 29, 2012)

The 7D's autofocus is still a revolution, for Canon.

1 upvote
gigstir
By gigstir (Mar 27, 2012)

Nice review, looking to upgrade to the d800. Now I want it more...lol Too bad Christmas is so far away....

2 upvotes
Richard Kovach
By Richard Kovach (Apr 19, 2012)

Not as far as you think, they may be in stock by Christmas.

0 upvotes
Fred Beck
By Fred Beck (Mar 27, 2012)

There is obviously so much right about this camera. I must shoot D700 for wide architectural photos. I must shoot D300 for telephoto nature shots. Now, perhaps, I can have my cake and eat it, also?
We will see, but I am exicited about the possiblity of carrying a single body around. I see the noise in the high ISO shots. Not bad at all! Better than I had expected. The lower ISO shots? Amazing.

This is the future. More sensitivity. Less noise. More resolution. Less limitation between us and our shots.

Remember when we pushed TriX to 1600 and crossed our fingers? When we pushed Ektachrome to 1600 and stared at dots and high contrast?

Hooray for the future. It is now. Any one of us may not choose this camera or the next (Canon or Nikon or Sony or whatever), but this the future. We are quickly becoming limited only by ourselves. What could be better?

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
munro harrap
By munro harrap (Mar 26, 2012)

Personally I look forward to using a D800, certainly for me it is potentially a revolutionary tool in the sense that I shall be able to see the detail recorded, rather than having to squint at a 10 or 16MP image-however good. 10 megapixels was a revolution in APS-C after 6, but the big leap came with the 1Ds MkII which has the same resolution as the D4, and a weak AAfilter. I look forward to it all, but apart from the bottletops snap the detail in these pics is lacking-as though you are afraid to record any fine enough to show off what it can do! And I note everywhere the lack of f1.4 and f2 portraits and sports or action shots, indeed all optimum apertures are absent here-bizarre. I could do better with less, and considering the filesize, had better.

Could we have some more useful stuff please and RAW file downloads? Ta muchly guv!

0 upvotes
cpkuntz
By cpkuntz (Mar 26, 2012)

This camera looks like a real breakthrough! I wish I didn't have so many Canon lenses. If I were starting without a system, I'd definitely get this camera. The 5D III will likely be a great camera, too, and I'm excited to get it. However, at this point, it doesn't even come with functioning software to develop raw files. Video isn't even as sharp as 5D II. I was excited about the new Canon and tried to defend it, but these sharpness issues are just bush league. Absolutely ridiculous. Come on, Canon, time to up your game. Congratulations on what looks like a fantastic tool, Nikon users. Hopefully next time Canon won't sit on its laurels.

6 upvotes
Sad Joe
By Sad Joe (Apr 9, 2012)

I use BOTH Nikon & Canon and frankly would not give up a collection of decent expensive lenses just because a new camera has higher pixel count even if the reviews are fantastic - because digital cameras keep improving. Within a short span of time 4:3 sub format cameras will do just as well. Of course by then the D1000 (or whatever they call it) will have moved on too. The video on the D800 is a big step forward for Nikon but the 5D MK3 has better video and I feel is a better balanced all round camera. If I was offered one free tomorrow - I'd take the Canon. But wish for the Nikon as well !

0 upvotes
john camero
By john camero (Mar 26, 2012)

Opening pics with 25+ Megabytes will slow down your PC =)
Im thinking of getting D3S instead ... To be honest I dont need to see your pores to appreciate a picture =)

http://thenewcamera.com/?p=9434

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
1 upvote
ivan1973
By ivan1973 (Mar 26, 2012)

This is why the D800 is not meant for non professional. You will need a whole set of professional tools to support the work flow. Its the same as using a medium format.

4 upvotes
Alejandro del Pielago
By Alejandro del Pielago (Mar 26, 2012)

U´r welcome, Adler1970.

Yeah, the samples are awesome; nobody denies the facts, not even a Canon guy like me. But, I think 5D3 also has done the homework...

And, well, let´s see those D800E samples when appear and then let´s talk...

Best regards.

1 upvote
HeartSleeve
By HeartSleeve (Mar 25, 2012)

I can appreciate his taking the time to document his experience with the D800, but wouldnt it have been a tad more helpful if he had used some more current lenses than his antique lenses???

4 upvotes
Adler1970
By Adler1970 (Mar 25, 2012)

The best sensor analyzed on DxOMark:

"The Nikon D800: A full-frame sensor with no weak points! Returning to the sensor, the D800’s Overall score is the best that has ever been achieved, and its use case scores are equally impressive.

1: Portrait: 25.3 bits (tied for 3rd, best full-frame score, very close to the best medium-format scores)

2: Landscape: 14.4 EV (1st) Here again, the D800 achieves the best score ever measured.

3: Sport(alias Low-Light ISO score): 2853 (3rd) — a pleasant surprise - Here the D800’s sensor performance matches that of the D4’s!"
(Source: dxomark)

This Nikon D800 FF Camera is a REVOLUTION!

3 upvotes
Russell McMahon
By Russell McMahon (Mar 25, 2012)

The D800 uses a Sony sensor. Just think what Sony's new Full Frame camera will be able to be like if they let it. Alas, the A700 took 3 firmware changes to catch up to the D300 with essentially the same sensor.What will Sony choose to do ... :-). Stay tuned.

0 upvotes
Adler1970
By Adler1970 (Mar 25, 2012)

Alejandro, THANKS for the link. The dynamic range of the Nikon D800 is exceptional. The dynamic range is so wide, that is almost close to the HDR Photo! I did not know about this dynamic range of the Nikon D800. Your link has shown, how great the dynamic range of the D800 is!
From your link:

"We were pleasantly surprised by the dynamic range of the camera in RAW, especially when retrieving information from image areas apparently burned. So much that, using the latest version of Adobe Lightroom (which just enhances this recovery function of light and shadow), you must be careful not to end up turning the image into one of those HDR".

GREAT CAMERA!

And the examples at 12800 ISO and at 25600 ISO, show also how great this camera is "into the darkness". The photographer has chosen trite and banal subjects, but these photos are pretty explanatory.
As I already said, I'll take the Nikon D800E model, the version without the annoying AA-filter.

5 upvotes
irvweiner
By irvweiner (Mar 25, 2012)

John White of aiconversions.com has been doing the AI upgrades for the last decade or 2. I had my 60's Nikon F era lens converted, charge was /~$35, workmanship was excellent. My lenses were the venerable classics--35-50-55-85--their performance on my N80,D100 and D300 was and still is superb. Get your 50mm 1.4 (same as mine) converted and enjoy a truly fine lens once again. The 55mm Micro will still sizzle your sensor, on my N80 with Microfile (Hi Contrast copy) and Microdol 1:3 resolution was limited to my focusing ability and diffraction effects. On the D100 resolution was limited by the sensor.

Excellent overview. Many thanks irv weiner

1 upvote
Alejandro del Pielago
By Alejandro del Pielago (Mar 25, 2012)

Here more RL night shots with the new baby Nikon:
http://www.quesabesde.com/noticias/nikon-d800-analisis-fotos,1_8624

Bon appetit !

1 upvote
Aysiqrk
By Aysiqrk (Mar 24, 2012)

The most impressing is focusing in darkness: the amount of pixels is not enough for dynamic street work or high level reporter shooting. And test-chart photos are needed to realize real resolution gain in studio. But first sight seems to make the camera very attractive

0 upvotes
michael1234
By michael1234 (Mar 24, 2012)

36mp wow, I never use it and I never want to get clogged my computer. Anyone who buys one may also want to buy a computer plunger.

3 upvotes
semorg
By semorg (Mar 24, 2012)

I've been considering a move to Nikon. Been a canon shooter since 1993 when I got my Canon A2e (also known as the eos 5) and have shot almost all canon digital models. The 5DII had a horrible QA issue that ruined entire images from my photo trip (canon fixed the sensor afterwards, but too late by then) and since then I wanted to find an excuse to leave Canon.

At first, I was not very happy with Nikon's choice. But now seeing the samples and the DXO rating and I think D800 (probably D800e) is the camera that I will use to jump from canon to nikon.

FYI, I have been preparing for this move so my last two lens purchases were nikon f-mounts that I use via adapters on my 5DII

4 upvotes
Adler1970
By Adler1970 (Mar 24, 2012)

I will buy the Nikon D800-E version, which is the version without stupid AA filter. I WANT this piece of technology. I want this jewel.
Too many megapixels? Lies!
The truth is that the sensors of Canon 7D and 60D(18MP on APS-C sensor) are much more dense than the sensor the D800(36.3 MP on FF sensor).
Pixels are the building blocks of digital photography.

The war of pixels, was wrong, but only because.. war is not the right motivation.
But also the peace of pixels, is a lie. Digital photography is made of pixels.
Having more pixels means you can print LARGE pictures, WITHOUT LOSING QUALITY!
Today, everything becomes bigger: monitor, TV, advertising, fotos.....!
If you want to print photos, YOU MUST HAVE PIXELS! Only if you want to print a "postage-stamp", then you don't need 36 MP.
If you have less pixels, a softwar of your computer will invent and INTERPOLATE new pixels, out of nowhere. But: "out of nowhere", is NEVER GOOD! It is better to have Pixels on your SENSOR!

6 upvotes
llopart
By llopart (Mar 24, 2012)

How big on average were the last 100 pictures you print if may I ask.
I have print most of mine in 11x14. Even I can get and advantage in terms of mp I really don't need or want those 32 mp that will tear up my hard drive.... I would also need to by more ram for my mac and a bigger screen and additional memory. Not in this year budget.

I am really happy with 23 mp and I apologies if that makes you angry or sick

Beside MP s there anything else you want in a camera?

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Alejandro del Pielago
By Alejandro del Pielago (Mar 25, 2012)

Ok, Adler 1970.

Now, after read your post I´m sure I just need the 5D Mark III.

Thank U.

1 upvote
Vaananen
By Vaananen (Mar 25, 2012)

I like to read Adler1970's posts in an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice.

6 upvotes
Adler1970
By Adler1970 (Mar 25, 2012)

The photos which I print, exceeding at least 70 cm. I own a gallery, not only a internet site. Many photographers are coming to me. I edit files of many cameras. In digital photography, pixels are very important.
The truth is, that you can enlarge very well photos only if you have enough pixels. This is the digital world. Digital means: digital information.

6 upvotes
philo123
By philo123 (Mar 27, 2012)

@Adler1970. If pixels were so important to you why didn't you buy a medium format camera? They've been about for quite a while now and 40M pixels is pretty common there!

1 upvote
Bluetrain048
By Bluetrain048 (Mar 29, 2012)

@Vaananen : Read in Arnie voice : "Too many megapixels? Lies! "

Brilliant!

0 upvotes
Adler1970
By Adler1970 (Mar 29, 2012)

The Nikon D800 offers an image quality close to the quality of the most popular and important medium format camera(also DxOMark says that). But, the Nikon D800 costs only 2800 euro. The medium format cost between 10.000 and 40.000 euros.
Now: not worth to pay so many euros difference. In this sense, the medium format is just a status symbol of a caste.
In reality, no picture is worth 40.000 euros.
The news of this Niokn D800, is this one: you don't need the 40.000 euro medium format to get good big pictures of that level.
A 2800 € SLR Nikon is ENOUGH! It is the FUTURE.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Craig1959
By Craig1959 (Mar 24, 2012)

Everyone has different preferences - and yes better ISO performance is great. Here are some stats from my Lightroom database that I find interesting:

Number of images: 38,632
Number cropped images: 34,202
Number images with noise reduction applied: 94
Number cropped images with more than 25% removed: 11,661

From my stats: high ISO is nice to have. Room to crop an image and still have some pixels left is essential. I am very happy to see cameras I can afford move in this direction.

The D800 will match or exceed the ISO performance of my D7000. I will take more pixels for extra cropping room over ISO improvements that are always eclipsed by the next gen camera anyway.

1 upvote
Fuji Fan
By Fuji Fan (Mar 24, 2012)

Just thought it was worth mentioning that i have just discovered something unusual? The D4 comes with a XQD memory card. This is the card that I have been using to download the images I have taken, however by accident I forgot to put the card in and thus some images I have taken went straight onto my CF card. When I took them of this, a whole load of images were on there from previous takes so it must have been set to backup.....the images on my CF are completely different from the poor quality ones I have on my XQD?? Jury is out while I investigate more but could the problem be the all new XQD card??? or reader???

0 upvotes
Fuji Fan
By Fuji Fan (Mar 24, 2012)

Focusing problems when you zoom in really close? Well I have a problem on that score with my D4 purchased on the 16th March and since then I have shot over 1000 images trying to achieve the perfect photo, something which still evades me? I swapped over from my D3x....something which at present I totally regret doing. My D3x was perfect. This D4 is flawed and I have a D800 on preorder hoping to get back what I had before. Now you say on close inspection the images seem out of focus even on the D800??? Every image I have I have had to put through LR4 and try and enhance. Not impressed really.

0 upvotes
Craig1959
By Craig1959 (Mar 24, 2012)

Many are claiming the D800 is creating a new round of unwanted pixel wars. How can that be? The D800 has roughly the same pixel density as the D7000. I don't remember anyone suggesting the D7000 had an excessive number of pixels. The D800 is simply a D7000 upscaled to FX.

After reading this review, I realize that the D800 is an "FX camera with a full resolution D7000 inside it". I have a 10.5 mm DX fisheye and 10-24mm DX wide-angle. Surprise: They will work the same on the D800 as my D7000. My 24-70 mm and 70-200 mm FX lenses will finally work as they should in FX with the option of cropping in POST down to D7000 size. I am selling my D7000 and buying a D800 to get two cameras in one. My DX lenses finally work acceptably on an FX camera and I can my use my FX lenses to their full potential. I believe the D800 is currently the only camera that can make this claim. I'm in.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 9 minutes after posting
8 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 24, 2012)

Let me here say: The D7000 has a few too many pixels and is product of the pixel quantity races. The D300s on the other hand has about the right number.

I think Nikon (or for that matter Canon, or Sony) could do well selling an APSC DSLR with about ten megapixels. In Nikon's case, and if Nikon were to their special D3s sensor tech for the APSC sensor, the resulting camera would be extraordinary in lowlight, quiet, and light to carry.

(Yes, I know that Samsung also does APSC sensors, but they've dropped the DSLR line, though perhaps Samsung could do a 10 or 12MP version of the NX cameras.)

1 upvote
Craig1959
By Craig1959 (Mar 24, 2012)

Everyone has different preferences. Here some stats from my Lightroom images that I find interesting:

Number of images: 38,632
Number cropped images: 34,202
Number images with noise reduction applied: 94
Number cropped images with more than 25% removed: 11,661

From me stats: high ISO is nice to have. Room to crop an image and still have some pixels left is essential.

0 upvotes
TheJohnz
By TheJohnz (Mar 31, 2012)

You got it exactly right. I also have the D7000 but will keep it as my second camera when I get the D800. The D7000 will be for those times I just do not need the special qualities of the D800 or maybe I am in a place where I do not want to be carrying $3000 around my neck!

The D800 and D7000 illustrate that there really is a lot in common with these different formats. If your lens is sharp on the D7000 it will also be sharp on the D800 (at least in the sweet spot).

0 upvotes
thlc
By thlc (Apr 5, 2012)

Very interesting idea. I have read the D800 will also expose more lens flaws unless you are packing professional quality lens. What have you heard or read regarding this?

0 upvotes
matt canon
By matt canon (Mar 24, 2012)

wow thats a lot of MP. sure glad they keep the MP war on amateur cameras and not on pro cameras.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Adler1970
By Adler1970 (Mar 25, 2012)

Today, the word "professional" means only "commercial". You may think that a Wedding Photographer is professional. But you're wrong. Professionalism is another thing.
A normal banal wedding-photographer needs a camera which takes quickly banal, common "national-popular" pictures. Those are pictures which reflect a trivial, trite, common, banal, simple, ordinary, usual TASTE.
The weddin photographers, can trivially use a second hand Canon 5D "mark1". Who cares?
That kind of photographer did not even have time to edit photos with a computer, because for him time is only money. How sad.
But, ATTENTION: professionalism and commercialism are not the same thing: when the quantity increases, the quality decreases. Professionalism is another thing, has to do with the QUALITY, and not to do with a Camera which suffers from premature ejaculation.
The Nikon D800 offers a spectacular quality of photos.
But unfortunately many commercial photographers are just interested in quantity.

3 upvotes
Lucas_
By Lucas_ (Mar 25, 2012)

Although I used to and occasionaly still photograph weddings, I have to agree with you. IMHO the term "Pro" is used in a too general way, involving almost any money-making job! Wedding photography can be an art but more usual than expected it's just... "comercial" ( mainly now with digital cameras )!

2 upvotes
cables101
By cables101 (Mar 24, 2012)

I’m very impressed with the specs of the Nikon D800 but how many photographers will use all that technology. After 30 years shooting weddings I’m concerned about weight and ease of use. Even the Canon EOS Rebel with a high quality lens feels heavy after 8 hours. I’ve run comparisons between a Canon XSi with a 12MP sensor and the T3i with a 18MP using a 70-200 F4 L Canon lens and found there is a small difference at 200%.. If you put an older lens or a soso lens on a Nikon D800 or Canon 5D III, I think I will outperform either one of these super stars up to ISO 400 with a T3i and a 70-200 F4 L lens. Put your money into the best lens money can buy.

3 upvotes
Alejandro del Pielago
By Alejandro del Pielago (Mar 24, 2012)

Very few night shots -almost nothing. Everybody desires that samples...

0 upvotes
Craig1959
By Craig1959 (Mar 24, 2012)

A safe assumption: With the same pixel density as a D7000 and 1 year newer firmware, high ISO performance will be marginally better than the D7000. Given these parameters, I can't see Nikon releasing a camera with lower performance. It will be interesting to compare high ISO on a D7000 and D800 with a DX lens too.

0 upvotes
JKP
By JKP (Mar 26, 2012)

Yes indeed. Looking at the portrait of the guy at ISO400, and there's quite a bit noise in shadows. For example on the left side of his nose. The noise has no chroma noise, however, but just luminance noise, propably due to processing.

0 upvotes
Leswick
By Leswick (Mar 23, 2012)

Thanks Barney. It was refreshing to see you use older and modern lenses. I'll continue to use D700 + 105/2.5 (a staple), but appreciate and be able to view what the D800 can do in the real world.

Leswick

0 upvotes
Hubert REYNERS
By Hubert REYNERS (Mar 23, 2012)

It is a pity that DPR does not include in its standard studio scene comparison, the possibility to compare with "relatively recent" popular equipment like the D90 or the D80 or other fine equipments of the recent past. In such a way, we would really know whether it is time for them to be replaced or not ... !

2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Mar 23, 2012)

The current 'studio box' setup post-dates our reviews of those cameras. But whenever we can. we go back and update our studio samples if and when it is relevant.

0 upvotes
William Cheng
By William Cheng (Mar 23, 2012)

Yes, I have an aging D80 and I would consider the upgrade as well especially now that I can use my DX lenses. I would love to compare the studio scene as well. What would be the most appropriate Nikon camera to chose to simulate the D80 - a Nikon D5000?

I used a friend's 5DMkII and was blown away with "smoothness" of low light images. Is this just the function of the large FX sensor - can I expect the same performance out of the D800 in DX crop mode?

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 23, 2012)

I downloaded the first 4 raws and Adobe Bridge/ACR/Photoshop CS5 is NOT seeing an ISO 3200 sample; there is however an ISO 6400 sample--image 0381.

Thanks for the raws, please post some more for download.

0 upvotes
jenella
By jenella (Mar 23, 2012)

Nice review ..thanks! Did you have an external mic for video?

0 upvotes
cvye
By cvye (Mar 23, 2012)

No shot was taken with an f-stop > f10. Is that where resolution becomes diffraction-limited?

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Mar 23, 2012)

It's just not how I shoot, to be honest. No other reason. We'll be exploring this in depth in the review.

0 upvotes
io_bg
By io_bg (Mar 23, 2012)

Great preview indeed, however even Nikon mentioned that the D800 is NOT a successor to the D700. That's why the latter is still in production even today.

2 upvotes
caribou
By caribou (Mar 23, 2012)

Incredible photos! My favourite is the crab shot, worthy of a pulitzer.

0 upvotes
Tape5
By Tape5 (Mar 23, 2012)

Well done Barney !

Your branches over orange and a strip of black is a killer of a test shot ! Very clever indeed for more than one reason. Thank you.

0 upvotes
AlexeyD
By AlexeyD (Mar 23, 2012)

Not sure about comparison yet but the author of the photos should really tidy up his bed in the morning and not end up with it showing up in the first shots as reflection ;-)))

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Mar 23, 2012)

Laundry day.

0 upvotes
MikeCD2020
By MikeCD2020 (Mar 23, 2012)

I would of thought that doing this sort of supposed real world testing would be of better use if the lenses used tried to show results with the lenses that potential D800 users would be using... How many will be sticking a mid 1960s piece of glass on the DSLR with the, to-date, highest pixel count... I would have thought that the 14-24 G, 24-70, 70-200 G VR II, 24 1.4, 35 1.4, 85 1.4 & the 105 2.8 micro would be the glass many, many users would be more interested in seeing results from...

Next you will be shooting pictures of bloody cats & dogs !

;-)
Mike

3 upvotes
SeeRoy
By SeeRoy (Mar 23, 2012)

+1
This is an absolutely perverse decision, verging on the obfuscatory.

0 upvotes
Tape5
By Tape5 (Mar 23, 2012)

Sure Mike, but remember these are early days. The net will be flooded with photographs using your lens list soon. Patience young man, patience.

1 upvote
Guidenet
By Guidenet (Mar 23, 2012)

I disagree. I like the fact this old lens was used. We'll see hundreds of examples taken with the typical lens list. I'd bet there are a lot of photographers that are D800 intenders who own an older a 105 f/2.5. I certainly am one myself. Great choice. This lens is extremely ubiquitous in a modern portrait photographer's kit still today. It certainly would not be considered obscure by any measure.

4 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (Mar 23, 2012)

I'm another - with a shelf full of AIS lenses. I believe the best of them are a match for almost any modern lens.

2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Mar 23, 2012)

Sigh. I used: 24-70mm f/2.8, 16-35mm f/4, 24-120mm f/4, the new 85mm f/1.8 and a brace of other lenses (not all of which are represented in this samples gallery).

There is a limit to what it is possible to actually do in an article/gallery like this (and to the number of optics we can get hold of).

0 upvotes
pdcm
By pdcm (Mar 23, 2012)

The same focusing problem exists on any high pixel count camera. The new Hasselblads models have a feature which allows for automatic correction when you focus on one point (say the eyes) and then reframe for the shot. At these high pixel counts/high resolutions/large frame, coupled with wide open apertures which give a small DOF, it will make a difference. It always has; even with film. Back then I always closed down 1 click to allow for focus error. And I suggest the fix remains the same as it always did. Also note that some cameras/lens combination are not necessarily that accurate. Sigma has suggested that where the camera does not have focus correction that the lens is matched to the camera. They offer a free service to do this.

1 upvote
urix
By urix (Mar 23, 2012)

WOW! The photo at a poorly lightened bar shows a crazy exposure: -13.33 Lv, i.e. more than 1.5 hours of exposure @ iso100 and f/4! :-P
Please fix shutter speeds shown at the image subscripts. They are reciprocal (e.g. 25 sec instead of 1/25 and so on).

0 upvotes
EricHiss
By EricHiss (Mar 23, 2012)

Wonder how much crisper the 800E files will look? Some of these files look pretty mushy - at least compared to what I am used to. The ACR versions seem to have better detail, but still I was hoping these would look as good as the files from my digital backs but not yet unfortunately. The higher ISO's do look good though.

2 upvotes
tinternaut
By tinternaut (Mar 23, 2012)

I saw a side by side comparison between the two at a Nikon presentation and my impression was that at 100% the difference between the two is visible but not massive. It probably makes more of a difference in print, at larger print sizes.

2 upvotes
Taikonaut
By Taikonaut (Mar 23, 2012)

Those videos are soft, much worse than from phone cameras.

0 upvotes
Just a Photographer
By Just a Photographer (Mar 23, 2012)

Shot with lenses that date back from the 60th.

1 upvote
pwilly
By pwilly (Mar 23, 2012)

@Taikonaut You are kidding right? Oh wait it's the fanboy Taikonaut.
@Just, when you have been shooting with a lens for 40+ years it's nice to see it still is up to the task. Unlike my 40+ Canon's that are paperweights.

1 upvote
costinul_ala
By costinul_ala (Mar 23, 2012)

@Taikonaut i don't think that people are interested in the d800 are also interested in how it does against a phone camera ....

1 upvote
David Kinston
By David Kinston (Mar 23, 2012)

Can the D800 shoot in FX mode with a DX lens attached?

0 upvotes
Hugo808
By Hugo808 (Mar 23, 2012)

Read the article and see.

0 upvotes
sumospin
By sumospin (Apr 11, 2012)

I am trying to decide between buying the D800 and 5d mkiii. I have not seen much discussion about typical file sizes for stills and video. The 75 Mbyte stills for the D800 seems insanely large. All the comparisons between the D800 and 5d mkiii seem to talk to these large 75 meg files.

For the average non-professional user what file type and size would I see for the D800 and 5d mkiii? For stills and video

Also is this HDMI output of the D800 really that significant????

Thanks!!!!

0 upvotes
Taikonaut
By Taikonaut (Mar 23, 2012)

After playing with D800 video Dan Chung chose the 5DMkIII.

0 upvotes
ihv
By ihv (Mar 23, 2012)

According to the EOSHD review, at 1080p the already pretty old Panasonic GH2 has much better video quality than the 5D3. The 5D3 shines when it is about very high ISO though. Nevertheless, the codec implementation on the Canon side is no good. Overall, while there is a difference it is not a big one between the D800 & 5D3.

2 upvotes
pgphoto_ca
By pgphoto_ca (Mar 23, 2012)

Please...don't forget some D800E sample images and comparaison with the D800...if it's possible...in a near futur !

Thanks !

2 upvotes
Norm Ullock
By Norm Ullock (Mar 23, 2012)

The review makes it sound like the D800 doesn't autofocus very well.
If it can,t offer tack sharp focus what good is it?
I am referring to the comment about only a couple of shots in the portrait shoot had sharp eyes.
I hope the D800 focuses better than he suggests. I would not want to manually focus all my shots.

0 upvotes
incomplete vision
By incomplete vision (Mar 23, 2012)

He was using a manual focus lens.

3 upvotes
M-L
By M-L (Mar 23, 2012)

You are absolutely right. D800 doesn't autofocus very well with a MANUAL FOCUS 105mm lens from the 60's. :-)

Comment edited 42 seconds after posting
6 upvotes
Just a Photographer
By Just a Photographer (Mar 23, 2012)

This guy was using lenses that date back to the 60th, when no autofocus was available.

Thats over 50 years old! How do you do that with your Canon?

1 upvote
Ben Ramsey
By Ben Ramsey (Mar 23, 2012)

Put the same Nikon lens on the Canon with an adapter and get focus confirmation as well.

0 upvotes
hunk
By hunk (Mar 23, 2012)

Thanks. I own this camera two days and, coming from 20 years Canon, it's an amazing experience. I bought the camera for the megapixels in combination with the clean shadows which take some pushing around... but I'm thrilled with the other sides of the camera. It handles like a dream. AF, LOTS of buttons, the viewfinder, it's really good. Take a picture from 15 people, rotate the wheel and it shows 15 faces, one by one. Amazing stuff. One button push and it shows the pixels at the AF point in 100%... no more endless pushing the magnification button. Many buttons are customizable so you build your own ergonomics. It's all easy, even for a Canon guy.

I can't compare it to a 5DmkIII but it's a dream come true from a 5DmkII and 1DmkIII user.

9 upvotes
Sonnyphoto
By Sonnyphoto (Mar 23, 2012)

Awesome that you have it already! When will mine arrive...

1 upvote
Alejandro del Pielago
By Alejandro del Pielago (Mar 23, 2012)

"AF, LOTS of buttons, the viewfinder, it's really good..." : Tender naiveness.

And you are coming from 20 years Canon ??? Maybe you are using a 20 years old Canon gear ???

0 upvotes
ihv
By ihv (Mar 23, 2012)

How was the Nikon interface coming from Canon, easy to adjust? Looking at Canon I can't escape the feeling that they feel themselves alone in the marketplace. Time to replace my 5D2 for something modern.

0 upvotes
michael pappas
By michael pappas (Mar 23, 2012)

Thanks for sharing your first impressions on the Nikon D800 before your final review is even done. Excellent overview! Been a member for over 12 years and this site is second to none. Keep up the great work!

Pappas
http://pappasarts.wordpress.com/
http://twitter.com/pappasarts

Comment edited 36 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Total comments: 310
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