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Just Posted: In-depth Nikon D800 review

By dpreview staff on May 8, 2012 at 21:09 GMT
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We've just posted our Nikon D800 review. At 36MP, the D800 is the highest resolution camera you can buy without making the step up to medium format, it's also one of the first DSLRs to offer uncompressed video output. Despite these drastic increases in capability over the D700, Nikon's latest full-frame offering will be immediately familiar to any one who's shot with one of the company's high-end cameras. So what's the D800 like to shoot with and does all that resolution render its competition redundant?

We've recently received a reviewable D800E - the more expensive variant with a self-cancelling low-pass filter, to allow the capture of even higher resolution. We've covered the camera in the review but will be extending the coverage when we've had a chance to fully test it.

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Nikon D800

Comments

Total comments: 542
1234
SpinThma
By SpinThma (May 9, 2012)

why only 82%??
I Feel 85%
/K

5 upvotes
Jonathan Lee
By Jonathan Lee (May 9, 2012)

this is simply one of the best review. good job, folks.

and i just love the clever humor liked "(but sadly it doesn't spell out '3D' in the viewfinder in real life...)"

2 upvotes
coastcontact
By coastcontact (May 9, 2012)

I am holding a 2003 brochure published by Costco and another published by Ritz Camera that says 5 megapixels will produce an acceptable 16 by 20 inch print. Even if that information is 100% off the mark a 10 megapixel camera is adequate for everyone except those displaying in a gallery. What possible purpose is a 36 megapixel camera?

4 upvotes
jamesfrmphilly
By jamesfrmphilly (May 9, 2012)

mine is bigger than yours…...

8 upvotes
IcyVeins
By IcyVeins (May 9, 2012)

Did it ever occur to you that Costco and Ritz said that because 5 MP was just about the most you could get in 2003? That's like saying 256 MB RAM was acceptable for a new computer in 2003, why would anybody need 4 GB now?

6 upvotes
Mike99999
By Mike99999 (May 9, 2012)

Incorrect. Doubling the resolution from 5 megapixels will require 20 megapixels. Images are not one-dimensional.

5 upvotes
coastcontact
By coastcontact (May 10, 2012)

So the previous model D700 (12 MP) was inadequate? Too many of you suffer with the need to have the latest gear even if there is little in the way of benefits. The camera manufacturers couldn’t be happier. See http://mansurovs.com/diseases-that-plague-photographers

2 upvotes
ddolde
By ddolde (May 9, 2012)

And furthermore, the cameras are just too damn complicated. More like a computer with a lens attached. Give me simplicity, I just bought a Mamiya RZ67 Pro Ii D and three lenses for not much more than a D800 costs.

1 upvote
ddolde
By ddolde (May 9, 2012)

Frankly I'm not that impressed with the sample. Disclosure: I've shot medium format digital (Aptus 75S) for four years.

0 upvotes
mfouks
By mfouks (May 9, 2012)

According to the review it looks like the Pentax K5 is just as good if not better than the D800 (83% vs 82%) and betters it in many categories. Is this really true?

Marsha

0 upvotes
wkay
By wkay (May 9, 2012)

actually I was thinking the exact same thing, on the comp charts even canon 7d has better high iso noise and resolution. As mentioned elsewhere, I think the real issue is that DPReview shoots themselves in the foot by slapping questionable lenses on SLR bodies and compromises the whole review. Lenses should be limited to say a 50mm fixed focal length where you stand at least some chance of evening the playing field instead of these endless apples and oranges comparisons of SLR bodies.

0 upvotes
tonywong
By tonywong (May 9, 2012)

Don't think the percentage scores apply across the 'categories.' So you cannot use the percentage score of the K-5 (crop enthusiast body?) vs. the D800 (full-frame ~$3000).

The category scores also are class dependent too I think.

7 upvotes
mfouks
By mfouks (May 9, 2012)

It looks like to me that the two cameras are in the same category of semi-professional interchangeable lens cameras. When you go to the compare button the K5 is listed as one of the competetors. So looking at each category, the K5 is better is many of them including "features" which really surprised me. It is hard to believe that a $1,000 camera from 2-3 years ago is just as good as the D800 so I would like a response from DPR review on this.

0 upvotes
Sideswiped
By Sideswiped (May 9, 2012)

You're focusing too hard on "feature" bullet points and percentages while ignoring the big differentiator: full-frame vs cropped. The price:performance ratio is better on the K5 (it needs to be to stay competative with Canikon), but none of it's many features will make it's sensor size any large.

0 upvotes
Horshack
By Horshack (May 9, 2012)

Great review. Would have liked to seen the Live View interpolated/unclear magnified view more prominently featured and discussed. Nikon themselves recommend Live View be used for maximum IQ, I believe both to avoid mirror vibration but also for precise CDAF focus, the latter of which is hindered to a degree by the interpolation artifacts.

1 upvote
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (May 9, 2012)

Nothing about viewfinder? Size comparison and info at bottom would be welcome.

2 upvotes
plasnu
By plasnu (May 9, 2012)

Why not platinum award?

5 upvotes
Nightwings
By Nightwings (May 9, 2012)

Because it doesn't say Sony or Pentax on it.

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (May 9, 2012)

As if either of them would get it. Lol.
Besides - D800 isn't as breakthrough camera as some people portrait it. It's just yet another upgraded body with new sensor. Don't be foolish to expect it getting 99/100 for that. Sensors change every now and than, in 2 years time we'll have yet new tier of better sensors and what than? 110/100 score?

1 upvote
Samuel Dilworth
By Samuel Dilworth (May 9, 2012)

Plastek makes a good point. In fact, it's easy to argue the D800 is a conservative camera: essentially a D700 with a new sensor (providing higher resolution and video) and a very large price increase.

1 upvote
AnHund
By AnHund (May 9, 2012)

Price is not increased it's about the same introduction price as the D700 and with a lot of new features and better sensor, so in fact it is almost cheaper if you calculate the increase in prices the last 3.5 years.

3 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (May 9, 2012)

Not really AnHund if you count overall decrease of DSLR prices in last 3 years.

1 upvote
AnHund
By AnHund (May 11, 2012)

Hmm?

Comment edited 44 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Tom_A
By Tom_A (May 9, 2012)

Opinion from this old-fashioned photographer...

The D800 looks like one of the best cameras ever for those who like thoughtful photography.
Still, my own perfect dream camera would be something simpler: a kind of equivalent to the deliciously simple and relatively compact yet excellent Nikon FM2 or FE2, with this sensor, AF and processing build-in, and of course with a screen at the back. But functionally, in essence just diaphragm and shutter speed.
I wonder if I am the only one craving for such a combination of simplicity and quality.

Comment edited 54 seconds after posting
9 upvotes
Tonio Loewald
By Tonio Loewald (May 9, 2012)

I'd like it to be the same size as the Nikon FM/FA too.

2 upvotes
jamesfrmphilly
By jamesfrmphilly (May 9, 2012)

buy a leica

2 upvotes
cesaregal
By cesaregal (May 9, 2012)

I had a FM and I have a D700.
FM was simple and manual lenses were solid and complete.
D700 is more complex, but I can choose 1/1600 sec. and f/8, set automatic ISO and photograph birds without any problems.
New AF lenses make the rest.
You can use D700 in manual mode too with old not AF lenses.
D700 moreover is well balanced (weight and dimensions).

0 upvotes
Tom_A
By Tom_A (May 9, 2012)

@cesaregal: Oh, I know that any dslr camera allows for manual mode, however there is (to me) something liberating in having just a shutter speed and a diaphragm control; and possible an "A" setting on the shutter speed dial. It frees you from all the hassle. Again, I am speaking for myself: when I used an old Rolleiflex with separate lunasix meter, I had 3 good pictures (worth enlarging) on a film of 12. With the Nikon FM I had 3 pictures worth enlarging on a film of 36. With my digital cameras I have 3 good pictures per 300 shots. For my style of thoughtful photography, simplicity allows me to focus my thoughts better. Obviously I do not particularly care for birds or sports pictures.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Tom_A
By Tom_A (May 9, 2012)

@jamesfrmphilly
Yes, indeed, an M9 or possibly the new Fuji could be ok (I have fond memories of working with my Fuji medium format rangefinder camera) for my preferred style of picture taking, yet often I do prefer the more precise composition within an SLR viewfinder. I also had great experiences way back with a Leica R3 and R4S (not mine, borrowed), and imagine the D800 sensor and processing in one of these slim, compact bodies, how nice would that be?

1 upvote
ThePhilips
By ThePhilips (May 9, 2012)

Tom wrote:
> I wonder if I am the only one craving for such a combination of simplicity and quality.

You are not alone. But the thing is that e.g. m43 or NEX cameras already allow one to concentrate on photography and deliver good IQ on Auto. Many cameras can already successfully stay out of the way.

The "simplicity and quality" thing is totally subjective and ... well psychological. The hardest thing to most is to learn the ignorance: skill to actually ignore the camera, ignore all the information it throws at you, skill not try to adjust every possible setting to its ideal value. Because pixel quality still pales to good composition and interesting shot: all the attention you directed to the gear is the attention not paid to the scene.

Most cameras are already capable of the feat - but few people are.

4 upvotes
cesaregal
By cesaregal (May 9, 2012)

@Tom_A:
FM was W142xH90xD60 mm. D700 is W147xH123xD77 mm.
The FF sensor unit is larger than the old film unit.
The screen at the back has a thickness too.
Then : processing unit, circuits and memory cards.
I'm sure technology will produce tinner sensor units and more compact FF digital cameras. But not quickly in my opinion.

0 upvotes
MichaelKJ
By MichaelKJ (May 9, 2012)

There is a spelling error in the last paragraph in your overall conclusions section: cheif should be chief.

1 upvote
MichaelK81
By MichaelK81 (May 9, 2012)

It's amazing to see how much detail you recover with sharpening in those f/22 sample RAWs. The brick pattern and all. I thought f/22 at 36mp would produce only mush. I guess I was wrong. This is fantastic news for landscape work!

0 upvotes
MadManAce
By MadManAce (May 9, 2012)

The problem with DPReviews studio test is that the lens used (85mm 1.8) was shot at F/11. Look up this lens at photozone.de and you will notice that defraction worsens the performances substantially on a 24mp camera when shot at F/11, the effect is more noticeable on 36mp. The Canon also shot at F/11 and it too is suffering from defraction. In other words, the increase in resolution is mute because sensors are resolving mush. My D800 tests show that F/7.2 is the smallest aperture without noticeable defraction. Does this mean I never shoot F/11, no, macro and sometimes landscape require it.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
jl_smith
By jl_smith (May 9, 2012)

Increases in resolution are /always/ "mute" because they don't make a sound.

Now, if you mean "moot" , I disagree.

2 upvotes
MadManAce
By MadManAce (May 9, 2012)

You disagree to what? That I mistakenly used the wrong word (English is my 2nd Language) or that defraction degrades image quality.

See what a huge difference defraction makes. The higher MP camera is being handicapped because the lens should be opened up to get the extra resolution. The difference is not night and day, but it is bigger then what DPR studio scene shows.
http://www.photozone.de/nikon_ff/717-nikkorafs8518ff?start=1

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (May 9, 2012)

MadManAce is right.
On Full Frame you start loosing resolution from f/6.7 while at f/13.3 you essentially have 18 MPx instead of 36 MPx because each point of light in front of lens casts 2x2 pixels /circle/ at the sensor.
Learn a little bit about Airy disc guys :) 36 MPx sensor is pointless if you shoot at f/11.

1 upvote
huyzer
By huyzer (May 9, 2012)

Thanks for the review.
The HDR big images load fine now. :)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (May 9, 2012)

If only I had this camera, 70-200 f/2.8 and 200-400 f/4 three years ago.

1 upvote
cs hauser
By cs hauser (May 9, 2012)

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikon-d800-d800e/

"The D800 has an edge in flexibility, however, when it comes to the aperture required for these cross-type points to function. While the 5D Mark III requires a minimum aperture of f/4, the D800 can utilize 9 of its center cross-type points at an aperture as narrow as f/8."

That last statement is incorrect. 21 of the 61 AF points on the 5D3 remain cross type with lenses that have max apertures of f/5.6. At f/8.0 the D800 only has one cross type point according the the original preview article by dpreview.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 57 seconds after posting
1 upvote
bander
By bander (May 9, 2012)

Hmm, how does the Canon do at f/8?

0 upvotes
LSE
By LSE (May 9, 2012)

what they are getting at is that canon has 0 points at f/8 :)

2 upvotes
Ruy Penalva
By Ruy Penalva (May 9, 2012)

Should we conclude that D800 is a good studio but not an every day hand photo camera?
I did not understand why having a big sensor the image in jpeg comparison seems more cropped, bigger, than that of Canon MKIII!!! The big image gave the sensation or more detail.

0 upvotes
DMAE30
By DMAE30 (May 9, 2012)

I'm using mine as "an every day hand photo camera", mostly outdoors & certainly not in a studio, with moving subjects (dogs & cats) & I'm having no problems other than getting the WB right. But that's the fault of the operator, having never used a Nikon before, rather than the camera.

3 upvotes
LSE
By LSE (May 9, 2012)

the MKIII is far of an every day photo camera. A sony nex would be.

0 upvotes
Ruy Penalva
By Ruy Penalva (May 9, 2012)

The great problem with a so big sensor is to magnify the photo to 100%, only so we can perceive the imperferctions of the photo.

0 upvotes
DMAE30
By DMAE30 (May 9, 2012)

@ LSE - that's more of a personal call, I'd dare say, & I looked at several cameras, including the MKIII, & decided, given I do a fair amonut of indoors work, with moving subjects needing a mix of high shutter speed & thus high ISO, that the D800 was better. So far that decision has proven to be correct.

@ Ruy - of course I don't need 36mp, in what I do, & in fact I greatly reduce the photo for interent publication. However, in doing so, you can significantly gain as a result. I came from using an Oly E-5 with the SWD lenses &, although I'm still on a step learning curve with the D800, the results are already very impressive (even though I would say that the SWD Zuiko's are superior to the Nikkor/Tamron combo I've got). And given I need a camera which can handle 3 200 - 6 400 ISO, with very good results, I can state that the D800 is extremely impressive at such a high ISO.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Sam Carriere
By Sam Carriere (May 9, 2012)

Interesting that although your scoring system has changed, you appear to score this behemoth lower than the D700.
All of which is academic in any event. With Nikon's usual "lets create a buzz that boosts demand but dis-respects consumers" philosophy, the camera effectively remain unavailable and, according to my sources, will not be available until the fall. The camera, in other words, effectively does not exist and will not for many more months.
The only way to punish manufacturers who do this, is to move along and buy something else, if buying a new camera is what you wish to do.

2 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (May 9, 2012)

Unavailable? I just bought one in New York. Just took a phone call, an order, a short wait. But it was well worth it.

And many people seem to be receiving theirs as well. Read the forums, cameras are shipping, so clearly your sources may not have accurate info.

Not sure how Nikon is showing anything but respect for it's customers by offering such a superb camera at a good price. If demand is higher than supply, how is that Nikon's fault?

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Tonio Loewald
By Tonio Loewald (May 9, 2012)

Lower than the 7D also. Cough.

0 upvotes
wcy
By wcy (May 9, 2012)

Yup, it seems really that this scored lower than its older brother D700 that's why the later was omitted in the drop down of comparable models.

Now it's becoming clear that customers will be better off buying older D700 absent desire for higher pixel count.

Even against 5dM2, the quality difference in Raw and JPEG wasn't that significant hence wouldn't be noticeable at all. And although D800 seems to beat 5dM2 in low light / high ISO performance, you get that compensated on better movie/video mode on canon's older 5dM2.

One of my friend already bought new 5dM2 to take advantage of it's discounted price these days and I think people should really consider older models before jumping in to these market-hyped newer models.

0 upvotes
putomax
By putomax (May 9, 2012)

pag 24

[...] We'll post our findings as an update the this review. [...]

gashô

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (May 9, 2012)

Fixed. Thanks. (Though sending a Feedback message is far more likely to be seen).

Comment edited 26 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Samuel Dilworth
By Samuel Dilworth (May 9, 2012)

The Feedback message system strips the text of formatting, which presumably renders it barely readable at your end. I sent some feedback anyway.

0 upvotes
photo nuts
By photo nuts (May 9, 2012)

Kudos to Nikon for releasing an awesome, if not flawless, camera!

5 upvotes
K_Photo_Teach
By K_Photo_Teach (May 9, 2012)

Reading the points about getting the best out of the resolution requiring tripods etc maybe it is time Nikon thought about in body image stabilization

1 upvote
DioCanon
By DioCanon (May 9, 2012)

Well, I quote the conclusion:
"In our noise comparisons with the 22MP Canon EOS 5D Mark III, the D800 arguably produces slightly better results in terms of shadow detail."

Maybe I have viewing problems but for sure I am not color blind.
But looking at Studio scene comparison (Raw) at ISO 3200 especially in shadow areas like the cube and the bottom right of the green object, the 5D is simply better.
Less grain less color artifacts.
How on earth can the reviewer see something different.

3 upvotes
AmaturFotografer
By AmaturFotografer (May 9, 2012)

No, DPR result consistent with Fred Miranda's findings - http://www.fredmiranda.com/5DIII-D800/index_controlled-tests.html

6 upvotes
Zafar Kazmi
By Zafar Kazmi (May 9, 2012)

Great! DPReview gives Nikon D800 a solid 'B-' ! What does Nikon has to do to get a B+?

Some people just can not be pleased.

1 upvote
rvtraveller
By rvtraveller (May 9, 2012)

"What does Nikon has to do to get a B+?"

Change it's name to Canon!

6 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (May 9, 2012)

Maybe stop people like you from being fanboys.

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (May 9, 2012)

He has a point. I believe the score could have been higher. I defy anyone to find any DSLR that produces better files than the D800. The combination of DR, high ISO, and resolution is unprecedented for any DSLR ever created. And Nikon really threw in everything but the kitchen sink from the D4 AF system to excellent video specification. And I didn't even mention the bold move of offering it without an AA filter.

If ever there were a situation that called for a review score in the high 90s, the D800 is it. Nikon listened to photographers needs and came through big time. That has to count for a bit more than an average score, no?

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
5 upvotes
MichaelKJ
By MichaelKJ (May 9, 2012)

Why haven't you also started a thread in D4-D1/D800 forum? This seems to be established DPR practice.

0 upvotes
jmmgarza
By jmmgarza (May 9, 2012)

Yes, I would love to see D800E test shots. Thanks.

1 upvote
Russell Proulx
By Russell Proulx (May 9, 2012)

It will be interesting to see comparative studio shots from a D800 vs a D800E. I assume that will come when you have one to test. Good review!

1 upvote
Mannypr
By Mannypr (May 9, 2012)

Some say that the picture quality is more or less as good as the D300s . The greatness of this camera is to get this kind of high Iso performance at such a high pixel count and without do distortion of detail . I believe the state of the art in camera design has just moved forward one small step .
To my eyes ( in the final event that is what really counts) Samples photos are just an eye opener . This is the type of camera that will permit you to keep it at high iso in order to get higher shutter speeds without any degrading of the image quality , and with almost 37 MP ? Nuff said.

0 upvotes
Combatmedic870
By Combatmedic870 (May 9, 2012)

Wow....i always wonder what some of that stuff was in the comparison shot...Now i know.

0 upvotes
Mannypr
By Mannypr (May 9, 2012)

Guys...I've gotta go to the doctor...I broke my jaw hitting the floor when I saw the sample images. It hurts !! My eyes just bulged out of their sockets when I saw it's high Iso capabilities. Anybody interested in a well maintained D90 and D7000 ??
You guys at Dpreview have no consideration for us working mens . Now I gonna have to buy me this camera . :(

2 upvotes
Roberto Mettifogo
By Roberto Mettifogo (May 8, 2012)

Not a word about the disturbing moirè in video mode ?? Anyway there is moirè in video mode, a lot, not much else to say...

3 upvotes
LSE
By LSE (May 9, 2012)

http://www.dslrnewsshooter.com/2012/04/22/d800-moire-solution-on-the-way-from-mosaic-engineering/

fixed. happy now. next

1 upvote
DioCanon
By DioCanon (May 9, 2012)

who cares???

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (May 9, 2012)

It produces moire in certain situations, but not an overwhelming amount. No more than the 5D II. If videographers had written off the 5D II as you seem to want to with the D800, we wouldn't have the huge body of professional quality 5D videos.

But I'd rather have a sharp, crisp video image that is actually near a true 1080p, than one that is soft that never produces moire. And the D800 video quality looks fantastic. I'm getting ready to upload my first D800 video to Vimeo, and image quality is fantastic, similar in resolution to the GH2, but with better low-light/DR and a more filmic look. And there is not one scene in it with moire.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Roberto Mettifogo
By Roberto Mettifogo (May 9, 2012)

thanks for the link LSE, that works, very good, tomorrow I'll order the D800 and a ninja

Marike6, the 5dmII does have a huge amount of moirè in movie mode, I had that camera and gave it back to my dealer in less than a week. GH2 gave me lot lot more satisfaction (hacked).

D800 now it's perfect for me because I work with large size prints and videos, so now with this filter I will be able to have a body and not two with two sets of lenses.. I agree about the lowlight and I also like how it shows shadows, better than 5dmII imho.

0 upvotes
Roberto Mettifogo
By Roberto Mettifogo (May 9, 2012)

oh not for sale yet (the filter), then I will wait to see some results.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Roberto Mettifogo
By Roberto Mettifogo (May 18, 2012)

@DioCanon (veronese?)
Who cares ? most of the videomakers for example...

0 upvotes
Liberty555
By Liberty555 (May 8, 2012)

Man - some of you guys are so harsh and defensive - a bunch of affirmation junkies!

If you want affirmation, go out and take photos and share the results instead of getting all narky about it!

Personally I just read the reviews to see where the technology is going, not to see if my camera scores more points that yours!

Well done DPR!

11 upvotes
ryansholl
By ryansholl (May 8, 2012)

Obligatory "WHY AREN'T YOU REVIEWING THE CAMERA I WANT, DPREVIEW?!!" post. :)

2 upvotes
Damo83
By Damo83 (May 8, 2012)

Seems like a great camera, highly dependent on being in the right hands of course.

1 upvote
88SAL
By 88SAL (May 9, 2012)

So a professional tool.

1 upvote
K_Photo_Teach
By K_Photo_Teach (May 8, 2012)

Awesome camera!

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Poss
By Poss (May 8, 2012)

What I didn't quite get maybe they should clarify that:

Does D800's sensor's have greatest pixel count of any non medium format DSLR currently on the market ?

[sarcasm off]

0 upvotes
jkokich
By jkokich (May 8, 2012)

There isn't one complainer in this forum who wouldn't LOVE to get his hands on one of these!

4 upvotes
Poss
By Poss (May 8, 2012)

Yes there is.

2 upvotes
studio311
By studio311 (May 9, 2012)

Denial: Psychology failure to acknowledge an unacceptable truth or emotion or to admit it into consciousness, used as a defense mechanism: you're living in denial .

2 upvotes
Demmos
By Demmos (May 8, 2012)

Excellent review... honestly I think it should have rated higher! :-)

But the cons are definitively no built in GPS or Wifi/Bluetooth. At this point, pro-level cameras should have such support included. Both of these options lead to more creative control, especially by external software.

And before it is said, the second battery in the grip would offset the added power drain...

1 upvote
Dvlee
By Dvlee (May 9, 2012)

I can see where WiFi/bluetooth might be usefull but wouldn't say it's a 'con' not having it. Being free from the cable certainly would make one more physically unemcumbered, but I would not consider it a negative because the camera does not have it.

As far as GPS, perhaps you could explain how that would lead to more creative control. I cannot for the life of me figure out how GPS is going to have any impact on creative control.

Comment edited 22 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Combatmedic870
By Combatmedic870 (May 9, 2012)

Its not considered a pro level camera. Semi pro... FTW

0 upvotes
88SAL
By 88SAL (May 9, 2012)

I agree with the GPS gimmick. Cant deny its not handy to have, especially with professionals on the move, yet I would hate to have to sacrifice something more useful for that feature.

Wifi would be handy with pro cameras, if they could keep the streaming up to standard without affecting operation. Some form of "tether wifi stream" would be awesome.

0 upvotes
bander
By bander (May 9, 2012)

The DPR crew needs to recheck their math. I used to own the 7D and it's no D800. I shoot both systems and still use the 5D2, but the D800 is in another class.

0 upvotes
Demmos
By Demmos (May 9, 2012)

@Dvlee... this is what I was thinking, additional creative functionality that is now offered by external devices:

http://www.dpreview.com/news/2012/04/30/triggertrap-remote-release

"Distance-Lapse enables the user to set up a camera to take a photo at regular distance-intervals (every 100 meters, for example). When they are assembled into a movie, it appears as if the entire journey was conducted at exactly the same pace. When driving on a highway, for example, the app would take photos more quickly as the journey progresses at speed, and more slowly when the driver gets stuck in traffic. If you stop for a break, the Triggertrap Mobile App knows, and simply stops taking photos whilst the car is stopped."

0 upvotes
Demmos
By Demmos (May 9, 2012)

@Combatmedic870... as per Nikon themselves, FTW!!!

"Meet the Nikon D800, a 36.3 megapixel FX-format HD-SLR for professional photographers who require end results of the highest quality, who demand superior performance, speed, handling and a fully integrated imaging system."

http://www.nikonusa.com/Nikon-Products/Product/Digital-SLR-Cameras/25480/D800.html

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (May 8, 2012)

...uh, on the final "Conclusions" page DPR states:

"Relatively slow 4 fps continuous shooting in FX mode (5 fps with optional battery grip)"

This implies that you can get 5fps in FX mode with the MB-D12 and the right batteries--is this really the case? If true, this might change my opinion of the entire camera...

0 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (May 8, 2012)

Sadly, no. 4fps is max in FX mode, regardless of the power source. Reworded the conclusion to make it more clear.

2 upvotes
Maji
By Maji (May 9, 2012)

really???? 1 fps will make that much difference in your shooting style?

4 upvotes
88SAL
By 88SAL (May 9, 2012)

@ Micah - Buy D4. Think about the size of the sensor, processing, and resulting files. I think the leap in FX MP density is larger than the processing power required to make short work of the data flow.

Cant please everone.

0 upvotes
MichaelEchos
By MichaelEchos (May 9, 2012)

D800 is full frame...

0 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (May 17, 2012)

Yes, one FPS makes a difference when we're talking about starting at 4fps. That's a 25% increase!

Sorta like, the difference between a 45mm and a 50mm lens is negligible. But the difference between 7mm and an 8mm is huge!

Think large group shots: even when you can command the attention of an entire group (a specialty of mine!) just try and get a single shot where twenty people have their eyes open all at once. You don't have time to make them wait and their smiles to lose their authenticity while you look at every single face on the LCD, find that the same person was blinking in every picture, and take one more picture. Or make grandpa stand up from his wheelchair for another minute.

Rattling off five shots in a second vs. four could make a big difference with a large wedding party. Or 10 shots in two, vs 8. It adds up.

That said...yeah, I'll probably still get one. I'm just in less of a hurry now.

0 upvotes
rusticus
By rusticus (May 8, 2012)

who would like Nikon is still with the D7000 as well - can save a lot of money

1 upvote
Mr Fartleberry
By Mr Fartleberry (May 8, 2012)

Great job as usual.

Cons - add no GPS.
Cons - Price-gouge grip.
Cons - yet another Nikon battery and charger standard.

6 upvotes
Octane
By Octane (May 8, 2012)

I'm actually glad DPReview call out these things as cons!

1 upvote
DioCanon
By DioCanon (May 9, 2012)

If you go to north Korea (and other countries) and the camera has GPS you ll have to leave at the airport.

do you understand why there is not GPS in seroius cameras???

5 upvotes
Mr Fartleberry
By Mr Fartleberry (May 9, 2012)

Buy a Canon then.

1 upvote
micahmedia
By micahmedia (May 17, 2012)

...I dunno. I found a bunch of gps tagged pics by gps enabled P&S cams online. Dunno that the NKs would confiscate a DSLR just because of GPS. More likely they'd just confiscate it for being a DSLR.

0 upvotes
A. Westreich
By A. Westreich (May 8, 2012)

Oh crap. Now I've got to upgrade most of my lenses . . .

2 upvotes
LSE
By LSE (May 9, 2012)

not if you own a D7000 which has the same pixel pitch. or if you own a 7D, or A77 then those have even higher pixel pitches which demand far more than the D800. remember 36MP for full frame isn't all that much.

next myth please.

3 upvotes
ovrebekk
By ovrebekk (May 9, 2012)

You don't have to.

If you buy a Ferrari, and never plan to drive it over 100 KMH, you don't need to get the most expensive tires ;)

3 upvotes
Joesiv
By Joesiv (May 8, 2012)

Good job on the review, I like the included diffraction test. Seems a lot of people talk about it as if it's a brick wall for detail at F8...

F22 with sharpening eeks out a lot of detail even at the pixel level!

With the benefits of greater depth of field also explained, I think you nailed it!

I don't know if I missed it, but compared to the D4 the D800 doesn't have a mic input which is a sad omission for video folks.

Thanks for the review!

5 upvotes
DMAE30
By DMAE30 (May 8, 2012)

Just to belay your fears, the D800 has a MIC input ;)

4 upvotes
Jokica
By Jokica (May 8, 2012)

If I am a boy, I would have picture of D800 in my room, on the wall, next to my bed.

5 upvotes
OseasMillan
By OseasMillan (May 8, 2012)

Like my D5100.

0 upvotes
Jogger
By Jogger (May 8, 2012)

The only legit Con on that list is the FPS, but, how many 36mp cameras shoot more than 4 FPS?

15 upvotes
A. Westreich
By A. Westreich (May 8, 2012)

Heh. I like that. A high speed medium format.

5 upvotes
Ariston
By Ariston (May 8, 2012)

none or not that as fast. with such resolution, I think increasing fps would do more harm than good. I think it would affect the speed or processing performance of the RAW data in the camera. unless, Nikon builds a really fast processor.

0 upvotes
Demmos
By Demmos (May 8, 2012)

Agreed. Really the D4 is there for that with a more conservative MP count, robust build, and the larger battery required for such frame rates.

0 upvotes
Five Piece
By Five Piece (May 9, 2012)

And bit-crunching power and more robust shutter... Different cameras for different requirements, choice is good!!!

1 upvote
ovrebekk
By ovrebekk (May 9, 2012)

True, but you have to view the specs indepentendly. Amateurs in particular use a single camera for everything, and don't have the luxury of getting the D4 as well (me being one of them) ;)

1 upvote
bigdaddave
By bigdaddave (May 9, 2012)

No, the omission of a smaller RAW format is a HUGE error.

Not everyone wants 36 meg all the time

1 upvote
Dianoda
By Dianoda (May 9, 2012)

What's the chance that Nikon could add a smaller RAW option (something like 16MP) through firmware update?

0 upvotes
Photographically Speaking
By Photographically Speaking (May 8, 2012)

the review makes me wonder what camera will ever get a superlative review sans lame criticisms from DPR. None, I think. 'Nough said.

Comment edited 39 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (May 8, 2012)

What you perceive as 'lame criticisms' are us raising points that potential buyers might find useful. The whole point of us explaining everything we find about a camera (good and bad), is that you can draw your own conclusions.

If you look at the D800 review - that's what a good review looks like. If you want something more gushing, I'm sure there are websites that will be more enthusiastic. But I'm not sure a superlative-laden review provides much of a service to potential buyers.

19 upvotes
Octane
By Octane (May 8, 2012)

I agree with calling out what DPReview did and listing these things as cons. As technology progresses the demand on what a camera does get higher.

I'm glad that they called it out that yet another battery/charger really makes no sense from a buyer's side. The point of staying within one system is compatibility. Nikon it almost deliberately contradicting it.

The price for the grip is also a very legit con that I find rather off putting.

2 upvotes
ovrebekk
By ovrebekk (May 9, 2012)

Silly comment. There is no such thing as the perfect camera, even the best ones have flaws. I think it's good of dpreview to highlight any potential drawbacks, and with a gold award it's not like the camera was punished that hard for the cons it had ;)

3 upvotes
michael2011
By michael2011 (May 8, 2012)

So D800 is about same as D300S and worse than Canon 7D and Pentax 5-K which cost 1/2 to 1/3 as much? That's a head scratcher to me.

BTW, pictures in the AF review section don't show up in my browser. Links are broken?

3 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (May 8, 2012)

AF page now fixed. Sorry about that. DR and Noise pages have started misbehaving as well. We should have them back working shortly.

1 upvote
michael2011
By michael2011 (May 8, 2012)

Thanks.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (May 8, 2012)

Could you explain what you're talking about re: AF? As the review mentions, the D800 has the same AF system as the D4, can focus in -2 EV and can AF with lenses as dark as f8, excellent for TC use. How is the AF the same or worse then the D300s, 7D, K-5?

1 upvote
michael2011
By michael2011 (May 8, 2012)

Yeah I'm also curious how D800 got docked so much points in the AF & metering subscore compared to other cameras. It probably cost the top overall score. To me, 4 fps is not a real con when nobody else offers 36mp.

2 upvotes
LSE
By LSE (May 9, 2012)

uh worse at what? the cameras you mentioned are crippled cropped frames. 7D is very noisy and just 18MP with terrible DR. not even worth writing home to.

0 upvotes
ovrebekk
By ovrebekk (May 9, 2012)

Doesn't it state that the points are relative to other cameras in its class?
It's not supposed to be compared with cheaper types of cameras.

1 upvote
michael2011
By michael2011 (May 9, 2012)

@ovrebekk

Those cameras I mention ARE listed in the same class of "Semi-professional Interchangeable Lens cameras" that show up when you turn on the comparison tool.

0 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (May 9, 2012)

It means 5D3 will have a better AF system so as good as D800's, it is not getting top score. Remember, DP has a 5D3 testing along side D800.

2 upvotes
bander
By bander (May 9, 2012)

The numbers make no sense. I've used the D800 for several weeks now and the AF and meter are top drawer. Canon has never had meters to match Nikon -and I shoot lots of Canons. I'm wondering if there is a sample problem.

0 upvotes
daydreamnation
By daydreamnation (May 8, 2012)

Guys, can you see those 36MP working on sampled pictures? Personally, I can't see the difference between 21MP and 36MP, but maybe it's only me?

3 upvotes
John Clare
By John Clare (May 8, 2012)

I haven't looked through the samples, but I have this camera. Where I see the resolution difference is in photographing natural subjects like frogs, insects, and natural habitat. As an extreme example, in the following photo I am using a 105mm macro lens to photograph a salamander embryo. I'm at the limit of the 105mm lens' magnification. But the sheer number of pixels on the D800 lets me eek out more resolution than I deserve, in comparison to lower res. This is a downsized image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnclare/6988831274/in/photostream#/photos/johnclare/6988831274/in/photostream/lightbox/

3 upvotes
MadManAce
By MadManAce (May 8, 2012)

The problem with DPReviews studio test is that the lens used (85mm 1.8) was shot at F/11. Look up this lens at photozone.de and you will notice that defraction worsens the performances substantially on a 24mp camera when shot at F/11, the effect is more noticeable on 36mp. The Canon too was shot at F/11 and it too is suffering from defraction. In other words, the increase in resolution is mute because the lenses are not performing up to par and the sensors are resolving mush. From my D800 tests, F/7.2 is the smallest aperture that can be safely used before defraction sets in. Does this mean I never shoot F/11, no, certain things require it.

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
1 upvote
K_Photo_Teach
By K_Photo_Teach (May 8, 2012)

So with the D800e if you were getting moire in the shot you could remove it with diffraction. Interesting

0 upvotes
LSE
By LSE (May 9, 2012)

21MP feels like 12MP after processing those 36MP beasts. this is 2012. you can absolutely see more detail.

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (May 8, 2012)

If ever a camera deserves a Gold Award it's the D800. Nikon raised the bar really high with this camera as far as IQ and resolution. After shooting with a D800 for a week, all I can say is the files from it are beautiful, low-light is great, and it's really fits my hands perfectly, just feels right. Great job DPR, huge kudos Nikon.

21 upvotes
rusticus
By rusticus (May 8, 2012)

the Pentax K-5 is still the No. 1 !!!!
Guys - you've spent too much money . . .

2 upvotes
nicolaiecostel
By nicolaiecostel (May 9, 2012)

The pentax K-5 was never number one. It is a camera plagued by QC and AF problems and the only thing remarkable about it is the sony sensor. Too bad other cameras share that sensor too. If the K-5 would have been ever no.1 then Pentax would have been in a different place now, instead of being under the supervision of a large printer manufacturer, bought for 125 mil. And even if it was ever no.1 in IQ, it still does not offer nowhere near 36 Mp and only takes pentax lenses, sadly. I struggle to see your point, besides trolling on a nikon D800 thread, what are you on about ?

Shoot what you have and be happy with it, instead of trying to justify your choice. We are quite happy with Nikon here.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
8 upvotes
garyknrd
By garyknrd (May 9, 2012)

I own a Pentax K-5. You are exactly right nicklaiecostel. The only thing good is the sensor. The rest is junk.

5 upvotes
Alex Sarbu
By Alex Sarbu (May 9, 2012)

Junk? Don't be ridiculous. There are many things to like about the little Pentax, including the lenses.
Anyway, I have it (the K-5) and the D800 is using a bigger version of the same sensor. So I already had an idea about how it would behave - the results can only be impressive.
Now back to reading the review, let's see if I was correct :)

nicolaiecostel, breathe! No need to bash poor Pentax in response to some flame bait... and of course there lots of incorrect things in your message - I would say you're reciting things you read about on the internet, however the subject is quite off-topic.

1 upvote
John Clare
By John Clare (May 8, 2012)

I'm a part-time professional nature photographer (not a wannabe).

I take issue with this quote from the conclusion: "Not so good for Professional sports/action photographers or Nikon users who do not own top of the line lenses."

Please! Who in their right mind buys a $3000 camera and skimps on the lenses?

Your only legitimate gripe is FPS - 4 is distinctly poor for a prol camera. The focus mode button is a blind person's joy. I can _feel_ exactly where I am with that button. And it's the same as the D7000, my backup body. As is the battery. And they both take SD.

One very important omission from your review is that this camera comes with a built-in flash. This is why I never switched to a Canon 5D, 5D II, or 5D III, despite their beautiful images. This allows the D800 to take advantage of Nikon's unrivaled Creative Lighting System. My mind boggles at how this camera can get 82% compared to its class, according to dpreview. Please, have some journalistic integrity!

6 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (May 8, 2012)

How have we omitted the flash in the review? It's specs are mentioned, with a product shot, and a sample image that was taken using it.
If you really want a full 'picture' of our take on the D800 you do have to read beyond the conclusion page and scoring percentage.

19 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (May 8, 2012)

It's in a class with very few other cameras and has got one of the highest scores we've ever given. And apparently that's a reflection of our integrity?

Wouldn't it have been more of a problem if we'd tried to manipulate our scoring system to get whatever score you've arbitrarily decided it should get?

Comment edited 41 seconds after posting
23 upvotes
John Clare
By John Clare (May 8, 2012)

Amadou: By making a point that you are rating it against its rivals (really, the 5D III), but not highlighting just how important a difference it is to have a commander flash built-in to the D800 and not in its main rival, you are making a grave omission.

1 upvote
John Clare
By John Clare (May 8, 2012)

R Butler: my point on journalistic integrity is that your conclusion is written as if the primary buyer of this camera owns one of the bottom cameras in Nikon's line-up, or a Canon Rebel. If someone can come up with $3000 for this camera, they likely realize that a $200 zoom lens likely won't do it justice.

4 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (May 8, 2012)

With files as large as the D800, 4 fps is fine. If Nikon had used Dual Expeed processors required to move that much data, you'd be looking at a $6000 camera instead of it's current price.

Lenses: you do need good lenses, but you don't need the top-of-the-line Nikkors. You can do well IQ-wise with a 28 1.8G, 50 1.8G, and 85 1.8G (poor man's holy trinity) which is what I have, but with a Tokina 16-28 2.8, instead of the 28 1.8G which I'm waiting for. And I use a Sigma 105 2.8 Macro. All the lenses perform great, without any major corner issues.

Just don't want people to feel they must buy top level Nikon glass, as the prices other a D800 and 3 pro lenses can be a barrier for some. It doesn't have to be.

6 upvotes
Louis_Dobson
By Louis_Dobson (May 8, 2012)

I'm not sure it is so much 200 dollar zooms as older primes. Personally, I tried the 14mm f2.8, the 105 f2DC, and the 35mm f2.

I was pleasantly surprised by the 14mm. The 105 was excellent. The 35 was so bad I wonder if I did something stupid.

0 upvotes
John Clare
By John Clare (May 8, 2012)

Given the huge depth to the scientific evaluations carried out by the dpreview staff, I think I'm failing to understand how the 82% at the bottom actually has scientific meaning. I started reading this site in 1999, and I've been a member of the site since 2001, longer than all (Simon here longer maybe?) of the people working for it, or indeed who post? This is the first time in over 11 years that I've felt strongly enough to take you to task for one of your reviews. I suppose I am used to such a high standard that when a couple of glaring faults are presented to me, I wheeled out the "journalistic integrity" mallet. I apologize for that.

1 upvote
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (May 8, 2012)

John,
We updated the 'pros' list. You make a fair point. But note that we had mentioned this capability on page 5.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Samuel Dilworth
By Samuel Dilworth (May 9, 2012)

Although I take no offence at the built-in flash now being included in the Pros list, for me it actually belongs under Cons: I never use it, and it adds weight, bulk, cost, complexity, incompatibility with some lenses, and a potential weakness in terms of environmental sealing. Not a big deal, of course.

0 upvotes
delete
By delete (May 9, 2012)

According to dpreview the D800 is not a pro but only a semi-pro, as written in the review: "Semi-professional Interchangeable Lens camera / DSLR".

Nikon apparently sees this differently.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Total comments: 542
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