Body & Design

While its overall dimensions are very similar to the D700, the D800 takes a lot of styling cues from its big brother, the D4. The D800 offers a slightly rounder, more streamlined body shape without losing the squat, purposeful appearance of its predecessor. The few major changes that Nikon has made to the basic formula are in line with other recent Nikon DSLRs and aim not only to provide easier access to the D800's key functions but also to accommodate the needs of video-oriented photographers. Like the D700, the D800 is weather-sealed, yet as a consequence of its flash housing it doesn't have exactly the same 'go everywhere' durability of the monolithic D3S or D4.

The D800 boasts the same degree of weather-sealing and shock-proofing as the D700, which although not in the same league as the D4, should ensure that it survives a reasonable degree of exposure to the elements. In this image, weatherproof seals are shown in yellow.
The D800 inherits Nikon's simpler 'new style' combined AF/MF switch and AF mode control. This switch has two positions - MF and AF, with AF mode and AF Area mode options selected by pressing in the button at its hub and rotating the D800's control dials.
The D800 has a dual mode live view system. You can compose still images or preview framing for video with precision. A press of the 'Lv' button at the hub of the switch activates live view mode, offering a significant usability improvement over the D700.

In addition to video-driven changes like the addition of a direct movie shooting button, the D800 brings other welcome refinements. The live view control has been revisited and is much more straightforward to operate than on the D700 and even the D3S. This control - which is shared with the D4 - now offers two live view modes with their own aspect ratio crops - 'still image' and 'video'. These are selected with a simple mechanical switch on the rear of the camera. The first-generation live view activation system of the D700 was particularly clunky, and required unlocking the frame advance mode dial, rotating it to 'Lv', then pressing the shutter release to initiate the feed.

Upgraded LCD Monitor

The D800's LCD monitor is the same as that used in the D4 and is upgraded compared to the D700's - it's a slightly larger 3.2" 921000 dot unit, but according to Nikon has a substantially expanded colour gamut that's close to sRGB. It also has a light sensor to detect ambient light levels, and adjust not only the screen brightness, but also the saturation, contrast and gamma as well, in an attempt to give optimized output. The monitor also has a gel resin layer between the LCD and the cover glass to minimise any risk of fogging when the camera is exposed to rapid changes of temperature.

USB 3.0

In a first for digital cameras, the D800 features a USB 3.0 port. USB 3.0 is the second major revision of the USB standard, and offers two-way communication (like FireWire) and a maximum data transmission speed of 5 Gbits per second with lower power consumption than USB 2.0. Although not yet widely adopted, 'Superspeed' USB 3.0 is being included in an increasing number of 'new generation' computers. Until then, the standard is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 (so you could plug the D800 into a USB 2.0 port using the supplied USB cable, and transfer files at the standard USB 2.0 speed).