Viewfinder specs and view

The D800's viewfinder is large and bright, as you'd expect in a full-frame DSLR. Like the D4, it has a 0.7x magnification, which is essentially the same as that on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. And, in a small, but not insignificant step up from the D700, the D800 offers 100% viewfinder coverage, enabling precise framing.

The D800's Type B BriteView Clear Matte Mark VIII screen gives good indication of focus, which is doubly important, given that Nikon currently lists no alternative focusing screens for the D800. It's also worth noting that no matter how well the OVF performs, magnified live view offers greater precision for really critical manual focus work.

Viewfinder size

One figure hidden away in every SLR's spec is the size of the viewfinder (often in a format that makes comparison between competing models impossible). The size of the viewfinder is a key factor in the usability of an SLR - the bigger it is, the easier it is to frame and focus your shots, and the more enjoyable and involving process it is.

Because of the way viewfinders are measured (using a fixed lens, rather than a lens of equivalent magnification), you also need to take the sensor size into account, so the numbers in the diagram below are the manufacturer's specified magnifications divided by the respective 'crop factors'.

The Nikon D800 has a viewfinder magnification of 0.7x, virtually the same as the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, and just a bit smaller than the top-of-the-line EOS 1D X.

Viewfinder information

The D800's viewfinder displays a comprehensive set of shooting information including exposure mode and metering pattern, alongside shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation and ISO. In AF mode, when the camera acquires focus, the AF area frame (and relevant AF points) briefly flash in red. A focus confirmation oval then appears at the far left of the row of icons below the image area.

The D800 provides 100% viewfinder coverage. Shooting information is displayed along a black border below the image area. The screen itself features the AF area brackets, with the camera offering the ability to superimpose grid lines and Virtual horizon indicators, as shown above.