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Just posted: Nikon D800 first impressions and 'real world' samples

By dpreview staff on Mar 22, 2012 at 19:41 GMT
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We've just got hold of Nikon's 36MP D800 full-frame DSLR and have been seeing what it's like to shoot with. We've shot it alongside the D3S to see exactly what effect trebling the pixel count has. In addition we look at the handling, its video shooting controls and how it behaves with vintage lenses. To put our studio samples in context we've also included a 40-image real-world samples gallery and a look at the camera's low-light performance. You may be surprised by the outcome.

Nikon D800 first impressions

There are 40 images in this review samples gallery - a mixture of default JPEGs and processed raw files. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.

Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. Because our review images are now hosted on the 'galleries' section of dpreview.com, you can enjoy all of the new galleries functionality when browsing these samples.

Nikon D800 Preview Samples - posted 22 March 2012
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Nikon D800

Comments

Total comments: 397
123
Mtsuoka
By Mtsuoka (Mar 22, 2012)

can't wait to see samples/studio shots of 5D3..
a lot of us can make a final decision then...

0 upvotes
Reilly Diefenbach
By Reilly Diefenbach (Mar 22, 2012)

This is just phenomenal color and sharpness...

2 upvotes
Sylvain Larive
By Sylvain Larive (Mar 22, 2012)

Please, lets not get this into a D800 vs 5d MK III fanboys (on both sides...)

What value is the 5D if you're a Nikon shooter? What value is the D800 if you're a Canon shooter? Nobody is switching brands and rightfully so, if you've got 3 grand or more invested in glass. Both cameras will be fine and provide great opportunities for their respective owners.

That aside, I'm impressed by the high ISO of the D800. I was expecting the worst and while there will be better cameras for high ISO, it looks like it will be a very good high ISO camera in the end.

Worried mildly about the file size but for longer shoots it might end up being problematic. I've got the computer to handle such files.

My only beef is I'm not sure I will use the extra megapixels. I don't do large prints over 11x14 typically. Not a huge cropper either. I think I'll end up passing over this upgrade but I'll keep my options...

8 upvotes
DarkShift
By DarkShift (Mar 22, 2012)

The D800 seems to have much more DR at low ISO which is highly tempting (for a Canon user).

Simple test is to open raw studio test shots from Imaging Review and open each with -4 and +4 EV settings. The D800 has terrific range in the shadows and also more details on the highlights. 5D mkIII has a lot worse DR on low ISO, but high ISO is a different story.

Sad thing is there's no TS-E 17mm, or TS-E 24mm II for Nikon that equals in quality. That makes switching brands complicated ;)

0 upvotes
Sylvain Larive
By Sylvain Larive (Mar 22, 2012)

Darkshift,

This is typical of all the latest chips using Sony Exmor technology. The D7000, Pentax K5 also had terrific DR. I shoot 99% of my shots between ISO 100 to ISO 800 but there is value for a lot of folks for High ISO shooting and that's fine. The MK III looks like it will win the ISO war this time.

There was a rumor that the D800 would not be PC-E compatible but it has been laid to rest since.

One interesting tidbit is that Samyang will actually come out with a 24mm TS lens. It won't be typical Samyang cheap but quite affordable. Enough for me to consider purchasing one. If it follows the quality of recent Samyang releases, we may be in for a treat!

0 upvotes
DarkShift
By DarkShift (Mar 23, 2012)

Lets see how the Samyang will turn out. I hope it would have automatic aperture instead of a manual one. The latter is slow to use and awfull for pro work.

I hope Nikon would come with 17mm PC lens. The 24mm PC seems not so good on the extreme corners.

And I ment Imaging Resource, sorry.

0 upvotes
Crac1
By Crac1 (Mar 22, 2012)

I compared the treatment of D800 NEF files with Capture NX 2.3 and LR4. Good on both sides.

0 upvotes
Auke B van der Weide
By Auke B van der Weide (Mar 22, 2012)

I remember shooting velvia slides. That was expensive roll of film. Only had 36 changes of making the best of it. I really did my best to make the best of every shot, highly focused and being concentrated. The F100 was such a pleasure to work with, great viewfinder, good AF.

My PC is 5 years old, not configered for shooting 10fps 36MP files.

This D800 beast will bring back to good old days of making the best of the moment. To be focused and concentrated about every shot..... The D70s/D200/D3/D700 made me lazy. The D800 will make me a hard worker again, not taking every shot for granted, making the best of the moment, and make me think and previsualize every shot before I press the shutter. The good days of the F100 are back again in the form of the ultimate beast D800. Thumbs up for Nikon! and please for photography sake, dont upgrade your PC.... slowness is good :)

3 upvotes
rhlpetrus
By rhlpetrus (Mar 22, 2012)

I once proposed the "slow photography" movement. Maybe you could write its manifesto! ;).

1 upvote
Mtsuoka
By Mtsuoka (Mar 22, 2012)

I guess you should get a m43 camera or Nikon 1 (or Pentax Q..)
they have even higher pixel density...

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Mar 22, 2012)

They already have such an aesthetic: the Ansel Adams-Edward Weston, f64 school. Front to back focus, work slow and make each shot count.

Coming from a 5D Mk II, I feel too much is being made of the D800 and file size. I mean, how do Phase One or Pentax 645D MF photographers ever manage with all those pixel? Judging by images I've seen, great! D800 has tons of file size options, compressed RAW, DX mode, JPEG Med, etc. And for important images, uncompressed RAW.

1 upvote
Auke B van der Weide
By Auke B van der Weide (Mar 22, 2012)

I think the D800 is a good machine to make you feel humble again.... It is not the succesor to the D700 and it is not designed for the poor rich man wanting speed. D3s and D700 are still widely available and it is only a matter of time when the D4 sensor arrives in a cheaper body.

0 upvotes
Crac1
By Crac1 (Mar 22, 2012)

I hesitated to change camera ... Fear of running out of capacity in low natural light ... Well your tests in the studio and the images "real" I decided. Thank you for the work you do. And more quickly in fact!
Best regards

0 upvotes
Snzkgb
By Snzkgb (Mar 22, 2012)

I cannot say that D800 is better in details than Fuji X-Pro1. In fact they are even, with better color from Fuji. I'm not speaking about high ISO, where APS-C non bayer Fuji is much better, than new ubermegapixel FF monster from Nikon.

Comment edited 37 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Faintandfuzzy
By Faintandfuzzy (Mar 22, 2012)

Not sure what you're smokin...but I've compared files between the two and the D800 resolves far more detail. Sorry.

1 upvote
Snzkgb
By Snzkgb (Mar 22, 2012)

Yeah, that's the point: I've compared this one
http://fujifilm-x.com/x-pro1/common/images/gallery/sample-images/60mm/ff_x_pro1_60_020.JPG

With that one:
http://masters.galleries.dpreview.com.s3.amazonaws.com/1829307.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=14Y3MT0G2J4Y72K3ZXR2&Expires=1332453547&Signature=6hwuAIaug4bFoZBOhHEkxb6aP3U%3d

And all I can say is "Oops, Nikon's new FF monster is actually not that good, with APS-C camera able to capture even or more detail than 36mp FF one"

0 upvotes
Nick Solares
By Nick Solares (Mar 23, 2012)

Dead link to second image. Please re-post.

0 upvotes
AnHund
By AnHund (Mar 24, 2012)

The Fuji also has a Bayer filter with a more random distribution of RGB in the grid. And the Fuji will be good, but it will not be close to D800 in IQ and high ISO performance.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 22, 2012)

But those raws were processed to jpegs, please post the actual raws for download, also for those without ACR 6.7 rc1 or a fully updated Capture NX2, post tiffs for download instead of, or in addition to, jpegs.

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Mar 22, 2012)

Working on it :)

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Mar 22, 2012)

Done - raw files now included for download from the final page of the article.

1 upvote
JLins
By JLins (Mar 23, 2012)

Barney, I just wanted to say thanks for the great job you guys at DPReview have been doing. I noticed that you all have been releasing reviews and samples very quickly after the cameras are anounced or become available for testing. This is great.

Being present to reply in the forum takes this site to a whole new level. This is aewsome.

I just hope you guys can filter the nasty comments people write in here :)

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 23, 2012)

Barney Britton:

Cool, thanks for the raws.

Does perhaps the latest Capture NX2 also extract D800 raw files? I don't own it, if I did I'd check with the other D800 raws that I have.

0 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Mar 22, 2012)

AWB sucks, everything else looks amazing.

0 upvotes
philo123
By philo123 (Mar 22, 2012)

Hmmmm.......not sure about this. DSC_0518 looks pretty bad if you ask me. I would be very unimpressed if I spent £3k on this. As most have said 36M pixels is too much for full frame and should be left to Medium Format cameras. Why go up to this resolution when the flagship D4, still unreleased, only uses 16Mp?? If I were buying a full frame right now it would be a D3s or even a Canon 5DMkIII based on these early samples.

1 upvote
TheD70Kid
By TheD70Kid (Mar 22, 2012)

Yeah, I agree. ISO 25,600 should be silky smooth.

4 upvotes
philo123
By philo123 (Mar 22, 2012)

You only need to check the D3S samples on flickr at ISO25600 to see the difference in quality. I certainly know which camera I'd buy if I wanted a do it all with great IQ.

1 upvote
BJL
By BJL (Mar 22, 2012)

"Why go up to this resolution when the flagship D4 ... only uses 16Mp?"
"Flagship" is misleading; all it indicates is that the D4 costs far more than the D800; hardly a defect of the D800. These two cameras are for different needs: the D4 for very high frame rates, often combined with extreme high shutter speed/low light handling ... like some sports coverage. The D800 is for users who want very high resolution ... and who would rather avoid getting that by the vastly more expensive option of MF, which would also involve accepting far worse performance in anything except fairly bright light.

By the way, 36MP is not more resolution than fine grained B&W films like TMAX 100 have been giving for some time.

0 upvotes
Petka
By Petka (Mar 22, 2012)

36 MP is a lot more resolution than any film can give from a 35mm neg or slide. Best films compare only to 12 MP. Have you not seen the tests comparing 8x10" to the best 645 size digital back, Phase One IQ 180? It sounds unbelievable, but the pictures form that 53.7x40.4mm sensor are much, much better than any 8x10" film! That means that IQ180 is over 5 times sharper than film. D800 is in the same league.

2 upvotes
Antony John
By Antony John (Mar 23, 2012)

Depends on what you want from your pictures, or rather don't want.
Choice of noise or grain.
To me, grain is more acceptable than noise.

0 upvotes
TOF guy
By TOF guy (Mar 22, 2012)

What's unexpected is how well this camera performs in low light / high ISO. It's among definitely among the top 5 dSLRs in that regard in spite of the pixel count.
36MP, That's a lot of pixels!

4 upvotes
Jeff Morris
By Jeff Morris (Mar 22, 2012)

I am sure at normal screen sizes and print sizes the files are stunning. At 100% I was overwhelmed, I must put things in perspective. :-)

1 upvote
Sdaniella
By Sdaniella (Mar 22, 2012)

i'm more interested in shots taken under -5 to -6 EV...
this is the only way we're going to know a mfr is at least trying to push the limits of sensor tech to better handle a broader range of EV shooting environments.

for now... my attention on sensors oriented towards that, rather than hi-res in good light (it is easier in good light, so it is a given)

1 upvote
Jeff Morris
By Jeff Morris (Mar 22, 2012)

Well,
Looking at DSC5828 at ISO 800 I am disappointed. I expected good clean backgrounds, I see a dithering type effect that is very uncomfortable to me. I was hoping this camera would be good out to 3200. I will keep examining these shots and wait for other more knowledgeable than myself to voice their opinions. But anyone at Nikon who says these images are as quiet as the D700 may be off base. My D800 should be in soon.

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (Mar 22, 2012)

It's already been proven that images from D800 are more "quiet" than the D700.

There is no DSC_5828, but if you mean the portrait of the girl, this is not dithering, but the texture of the actual background. Download and look at the original file full screen and it looks beautiful. Very shallow DOF from f2.8, but smooth and clean. Like the others, I can't wait until my D800 arrives.

The portrait of the gentleman looks with the 85mm looks sharp and clean with excellent detail. This camera is a home run! Thanks DPR.

1 upvote
Jeff Morris
By Jeff Morris (Mar 22, 2012)

Hi Marcus,
Yes it is file 8528 not 5828, but you were sharp enough to catch my mistake, I am in your gratitude!

I was not talking about the backdrop texture, I was talking about the noise levels at ISO 800 in the background itself. Look at her hair then move off to the background. That "dithering" I speak of is sensor noise at ISO800. But with that said, my camera is in and I will pick it up tomorrow.

Yes the file looks very good!

0 upvotes
a9000rpm
By a9000rpm (Mar 22, 2012)

very noisy!!!

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 22, 2012)

really, you have the raws?

0 upvotes
photoman555
By photoman555 (Mar 23, 2012)

Any motor spinning @ 9000 rpm is going to be a bit noisy!!!LOL

0 upvotes
BeanyPic
By BeanyPic (Mar 22, 2012)

As expected Great in Normal, Bright situations. Below average in Low light. Good try Nikon. Demonstrates that more MP's are not needed as most photographers know. Better luck next time Nikon.

3 upvotes
Anfy
By Anfy (Mar 22, 2012)

Of course you have not read, or are deliberately ignoring, what Dpreview B. Britton in this first impression review says:
"I wasn't really expecting much above ISO 6400, but from my shooting so far I'm very impressed by how useable the D800's high ISO files are.
Even at ISO 25,600, in light too low to properly see through the camera's viewfinder, I've captured images which are in focus, well-exposed, and display very little banding."

8 upvotes
photo nuts
By photo nuts (Mar 22, 2012)

The last comment in this preview is a big hint:

"I have one other issue with the D800, but it's hardly fair to call it a criticism, since it is a natural consequence of the massive pixel count. On a 36.3MP sensor, accurate focus is essential, since there is less margin for error than you'd expect from a 12, 16 or even 24MP sensor. When viewed at 100%, even minor focussing errors are visible in files from the D800 where they might go unnoticed in cameras with a smaller pixel count, and although I've been impressed by AF accuracy on Nikon's prime and zoom lenses (so far) if you're shooting at wide apertures - especially on longer lenses - accurate focussing is a must."

Looks like Nikon´s AF cannot really keep up with the pixel count of the camera. AF is great I am sure, just not great enough for a megapixel monster.

2 upvotes
tcphoto
By tcphoto (Mar 22, 2012)

You realize he was referring to his experience with his older manual focus lenses, not the camera's AF performance earlier in his review.

Comment edited 46 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
samhain
By samhain (Mar 22, 2012)

@photo nuts
That's a really good point I haven't seen mentioned yet.
AF accuracy is extremely important on a 36mp sensor. Surely Nikon is aware of this and improved AF accuracy...

0 upvotes
Sal Baker
By Sal Baker (Mar 22, 2012)

So, he sees more shooting errors when the image is magnified dramatically, and thinks its an issue with the high mp sensor. I'll be taking this review with a huge grain of salt now.

2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Mar 22, 2012)

@ Sal Baker - you're missing the point, and misreading what I wrote.

1 upvote
rhlpetrus
By rhlpetrus (Mar 22, 2012)

People seem not to understand what high pixel count means. It's just that you can print larger w/o need to upres, which is a good thing. That diffraction, camera shake, oof and less dof would be more evident is so obvious it should not require any saying. The extra pixels only add flexibility, you use it or you don't. At each printing size one chooses it will show more detail, better color and higher DR than any other dslr camera, if done properly. DPR should be clear abou that.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
AnHund
By AnHund (Mar 24, 2012)

@BeanyPig: Again a comment with no substance.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
marbo uk
By marbo uk (Mar 22, 2012)

Looks great, i just wish i could afford all those pixels.

1 upvote
isfint
By isfint (Mar 22, 2012)

Nice!!!!

0 upvotes
Total comments: 397
123