Nikon D800 Review
As we discuss on the photographic tests page of this review, gaining access to the highest quality of which the D800 is capable of delivering means working with the camera's raw files.
The D800 comes with a software CD which contains:
- Nikon ViewNX2 (Windows / Mac OS X) - An image browser / file editor featuring Raw to JPEG conversion with adjustment of exposure compensation, white balance, Picture Control, sharpening and tonal adjustments.
- Nikon Transfer (Windows / Mac OS X) - Automated transfer of images from camera or card reader.
Nikon's ViewNX 2, while not as sophisticated as the company's Capture NX 2 (available separately at a list price of £160/$180) offers basic editing functions including the ability to crop and straighten images, and change white balance, exposure and Picture Control options in NEF files. More advanced tools include D-Lighting and highlight/shadow recovery sliders, plus lateral and axial chromatic aberration correction. Basic video editing functionality is also available. In a nice touch, many of these parameters can be built into presets using the Picture Control Utility, meaning that presets you find yourself regularly applying can be uploaded to the camera. Absent, unfortunately are any noise reduction options.
ViewNX 2 also allows you to geotag photographs using Google Maps (automatically if you use the optional GP-1 GPS unit), and to rate and label images with stars or colors for ease of organization. You can even modify the names of the color tags so that they show up as 'Work,' 'Holiday,' 'Portraits' or whatever best suits your needs.
Raw file conversion
In the sections below we'll compare the same raw file as processed by Nikon's supplied ViewNX2, pre-release versions of DxO Optics Pro 7 and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) 7.1, alongside the associated in-camera JPEG file.
- JPEG - Large/Fine, default settings
- VNX - ViewNX 2.3.1, default settings
- ACR - Adobe Camera Raw 7.1 beta, at default settings using 'Adobe Standard' profile
- DxO - DxO Optics Pro 7 beta, default settings
Sharpness and Detail
As you can see below, converting a raw file has the potential to bring out a more natural, pleasing rendition of ultra-fine detail in comparison to the more aggressive sharpening applied by the camera's JPEG engine. In our opinion though, the in-camera JPEG is actually preferable to the default settings of Nikon's ViewNX 2. Looking carefully, we place ACR's ability to describe the finest feather detail just slightly ahead of DxO Optics Pro 7. These differences are admittedly small and could certainly be minimized with subtle adjustments to sharpening in the raw converter. And keep in mind that to actually see these 100% screen view differences would require viewing extremely large prints at very close distances.
|Adobe ACR 7 (beta) Raw -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
|DxO Optics Pro 7 (beta) Raw -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
|Nikon View NX 2 Raw -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
|JPEG out of camera, High quality setting, manual WB (all other settings default)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
The resolution differences between the ACR and DxO conversions are fairly minimal, as you can see below. A larger area of distinction lies in their abilities to suppress color artifacts between the resolution lines. In both the ViewNX 2 conversion and the JPEG rendering, you can see sharpening halos along the resolution numbers. While this increased contrast can lead to the perception of improved separation between lines, this does not represent an increase in actual resolution.
|Adobe Camera RAW 7 (beta)||DxO Optics Pro 7 (beta)|
|ViewNX 2||JPEG Large/Fine|
The examples below illustrate the kind of real-world advantages you can get from shooting in raw mode. At low ISO sensitivity settings the D800 gives generally pleasing color and contrast in 'straight from camera' JPEGs. Viewed at 100%, however, there can be a lack of fine detail at the default sharpening settings. With a little careful adjustment in Adobe Camera Raw 7, more detail can be drawn out of the image.
|Camera JPEG||RAW + ACR 7.1 beta with sharpening set to Amount 55, Radius .6 and Detail 67.|
Shooting in raw mode also allows you to take control over white balance and noise reduction and provides the ability to retain highlight details that can be lost in a JPEG. The night scene below was shot at ISO 6400. The D800's metering system has done a good job of delivering a balanced exposure and noise levels are impressively low.
There is room for improvement, however. Using the extra highlight 'headroom' of the raw file, you can see it is possible to regain some usable detail around the lights, although bands of solid gray are revealed (see the crop below), indicating areas where no color information was available. Using ACR it is also possible to avoid color splotches and artifacts in lower light areas of the scene and provide cleaner detail rendition as well.
|Camera JPEG||RAW + ACR 7*|
*ACR 7: Custom WB, Exposure +.05, Contrast +7, Highlights -50, Shadows -30,Whites +2, Blacks -6; Sharpening: Amount 35, Radius .6, Detail 34; Noise reduction: default settingsWithout much effort, I was able to use the settings detailed above to neutralize a warm color cast, bring back some usable highlight detail, while increasing contrast by lowering the luminance in the darkest shadows areas.
Raw files for download
Here we provide Raw files from the sample shots we've taken, so you can apply your own workflow techniques and judge the results for yourself.
As you can see below, something to bear in mind when working with raw files from the D800 is just how big the files are. The D800's JPEGs are much larger than those from the D700, and depending on scene composition and ISO sensitivity, raw files can exceed 50MB. D800 files eat up storage space on your hard drive and can place a considerable load on computer memory and processing power when editing the files, especially so if you're fond of adding image layers in Photoshop.
Given this, we are disappointed that Nikon does not follow Canon's lead and offer a 'small RAW' option in which you could enjoy the benefits of raw editing at reduced file sizes. After all, we can't imagine that even users who shoot Raw files exclusively will need 36MP files for every single image they take.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Specifications
- 3 D800E
- 4 Body & Design
- 5 Body Elements
- 6 Viewfinder
- 7 Operation & Controls
- 8 Displays
- 9 Live View
- 10 Menus: Playback & Shooting
- 11 Menus: Custom Settings
- 12 Menus: Setup, Retouch & 'My'
- 13 Handling
- 14 Performance (Speed)
- 15 Performance (Autofocus)
- 16 Features
- 17 ADL & HDR modes
- 18 Noise & Noise Reduction
- 19 Dynamic Range
- 20 Resolution (D800)
- 21 Resolution (D800E)
- 22 Raw Resolution (D800 v D800E)
- 23 Raw Mode
- 24 High ISO noise comparisons
- 25 Image Quality Tests
- 26 Image Quality Tests
- 27 Image Quality Tests (D800 v D800E)
- 28 Image Quality Tests (D800 v D800E)
- 29 Image Quality Tests (D800 v D800E)
- 30 Movie Mode
- 31 Image Q. Compared (JPEG)
- 32 Image Q. Compared (Hi ISO)
- 33 Image Q. Compared (RAW)
- 34 Conclusion
- 35 Samples Galleries
Jun 3, 2015
Apr 25, 2015
Jun 8, 2015
Jun 5, 2015
|Montréal Dépaneur Out of Business DP by MarioSS|
from Your City - Out of Business
|Wish You Were Here by Dutch Newchurch|
from Street musician playing
|Flight of a Puffin by cjf2|
TechCrunch has already posted their review of the upcoming iPhone 8 (not yet the iPhone X), and they're calling it "a look into the augmented future of photography."
Affinity Photo is a $50 photo editing software with no subscriptions. That's it – pay for it once and you're done. And we think it's actually pretty darn good.
Instagram is currently testing a major change to the app's profile layout: replacing the 3-photo across grid with a 4-photo grid... and some users are NOT taking the news well.
A report by USSRPhoto is shedding some light on the return of the famed Zenit camera brand. It seems the full-frame mirrorless camera they're working on will be made in part by Leica using components from the Leica SL.
According to a reliable Korean report, Samsung is developing a smartphone sensor that's capable of super slow motion. Translation: Samsung's next batch of Galaxy smartphones may be able to shoot 1,000fps.
This simple photograph of a seahorse and Q-tip has taken the internet by storm. We spoke to photographer Justin Hofman about how it was captured, and what it means to him.
After a massive leak last week, Profoto has officially debuted the Profoto A1: the company's first on-camera flash system that they're calling "the world's smallest studio flash."
"When the first hyperfocal distance charts were designed, someone decided that an acceptably sharp background contained some blur — enough to notice in a medium-sized print [...] After that point, nearly every other hyperfocal chart followed suit."
The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 (also known as the EOS 200D) is the company's impressively compact entry-level DSLR. Packing a 24MP APS-C sensor, DIGIC 7 processor and Dual Pixel AF, it promises a lot of bang for the buck. And while not mind-blowing, it handles most tasks very well.
Correct these four common composition mistakes and your photos will be more balanced, tell a better story, and lead your viewer's eye where you want it to go.
The rugged, compact 360° action camera Kodak unveiled at Photokina in 2016, the Kodak PixPro Orbit 360, is finally available in the United States.
iOS 11 launches tomorrow, and it'll save all of your pictures in a new high efficiency image format called HEIC. Fortunately, there's now a converter that will let you turn those photos back into JPEGs.
Photo protection company ImageRights recently released a new service that lets non-subscribers take advantage of their streamlined copyright registration system that checks for errors and fills out all the required forms for you.
What's the difference between a $200 circular polarizing filter and a $100 circular polarizing filter? Roger Cicala at Lens Rentals put six different filters through a few tests to find out.
A flurry of leaks reveal that GoPro's upcoming Hero6 will shoot 4K at 60fps, 1080p at 240fps, will cost $500, and is scheduled for announcement/release on September 28th.
Before he became the iconic director whose name we've all heard, a teenage Stanley Kubrick struck up a business relationship with New York’s Look magazine. No surprise: he was an incredibly talented photographer.
WD's new G-Technology G-Drive mobile SSD R-Series is a portable solid state option for photographers who want the reliability of an SSD in a rugged water and dust-resistant package.
Fast, stabilized and affordable is an appealing combination when it comes to lenses. With its latest 24-70mm F2.8, Tamron aims to upgrade autofocus speed and stabilization. We've got a full gallery from this updated full-frame zoom.
Photographer Clay Cook tells the story of his most ambitious photographic dream and career goal coming true: photographing A-list actress Jennifer Lawrence.
In an interview with a Chinese website, Nikon Japan's Director of Development dropped a bombshell, saying that a Nikon mirrorless camera "must be full-frame."
Here's a side-by-side spec comparison of two flagship devices with particular attention to the things that really matter – at least to people who prioritize photography features.
A month and a half after revealing the finalists of the 2017 EyeEm Awards, the photo sharing community and licensing marketplace has finally revealed the winners.
Photographer Josselin Cornou tells the breathtaking story behind two beautiful photos captured while snorkeling with humpback whales in Tonga.
The Sony RX10 IV is a fixed lens camera with a 1"-type sensor and 24-600mm equivalent lens that can shoot 4K video or stills at 24 fps, but that's not what we think is interesting about it. The addition of phase detection autofocus is pivotal to all those features.
The announcement date is set! Google will reveal their next generation Pixel phones—their response to Apple's shiny new iPhone X—on October 4th. Let the smartphone camera wars begin.
Sony just debuted three palm-style 4K camcorders that steal a bit of speedy phase detect autofocus technology from the company's RX10 IV. In fact, they kind of improve on it.
Earlier today, NASA's Cassini spacecraft plunged into Saturn's atmosphere, ending a 20 year long mission. Here are 21 of our favorite photographs captured by this incredible machine and its makers.
Fans of film photography should keep an eye out for the widespread theatrical release of Kodachrome, a movie staring Jason Sudeikis about the final days of the iconic film stock.
Photographer Manny Ortiz breaks down the pros and cons of shooting natural light vs off-camera flash, and explains why he chooses to shoot one, the other, or both in any given situation.
A leaked product page and a bunch of leaked photos shows Profoto is preparing to release its first ever speedlight: the Profoto A1 Air TTL