Nikon D800 review
A class act across the board, but the massive resolution brings drawbacks as well as benefits
This is Nikon’s second full-frame DSLR that’s priced within reach of semi-pro and enthusiast photographers. The D700 had a tough time competing with the best Canon had to offer, but the contest between the D800 and its rivals looks set to be much closer.
The D800’s trump card is its 36.3-megapixel sensor. This is by far the highest resolution outside of medium-format cameras, and images shot on this camera at full resolution will give you A2 prints at 300dpi. We wonder how many people need such a high resolution, but the option to crop photos and still have plenty of pixels to play around with is one compelling argument.
That’s an awful lot of data to shift around, though, so it’s little surprise that the D800 is slower than the Canon EOS 5D Mark III in continuous mode. To its credit, 36 photos at 4fps equates to more pixels per second than the Canon’s 6fps mode and 22.3-megapixel resolution. However, the D800 doesn’t have the processing power to keep up this speed indefinitely, slowing after 17 frames to 1.3fps for JPEGs and 1fps for raw in our tests.
Still, 4fps for 17 frames isn’t too debilitating, and in most other respects, the D800 is extremely quick to use. There are dedicated dials for drive and metering modes, and the crop of buttons to the left of the viewfinder gives quick access to various other key settings via the dual command dials. This layout lends itself to two-handed operation, which we found particularly easy to do while using the viewfinder. It’s great to see that Auto ISO can be switched on and off using these controls – it’s an annoying omission in other Nikon DSLRs.
The D800’s autofocus is a 51-point system with 15 cross-type sensors. That’s a little behind the best we've seen, but the D800 regains ground on Canon's EOS 5D Mark III with its 3D focus tracking technology. This works in conjunction with the metering sensor to track subjects by colour and move the autofocus point accordingly.
|Camera megapixel rating||36.6mp|
|Camera screen size||3.2in|
|Camera maximum resolution||7360 x 4912|
Weight and dimensions
|Dimensions||146 x 82 x 123mm (WDH)|
|Battery type included||Lithium-ion|
|Battery life (CIPA standard)||850 shots|
|Aperture range||fUnknown - fUnknown|
|Minimum (fastest) shutter speed||1/8,000|
|Maximum (slowest) shutter speed||30s|
|Bulb exposure mode?||yes|
|RAW recording mode?||yes|
|Exposure compensation range||+/- 3EV|
|ISO range||100 - 6400|
|Selectable white balance settings?||yes|
|Manual/user preset white balane?||yes|
|Progam auto mode?||yes|
|Shutter priority mode?||yes|
|Aperture priority mode?||yes|
|Fully auto mode?||yes|
|Burst frame rate||4.0fps|
|Memory-card type||Compact Flash, SDXC|
|Secondary LCD display?||yes|
|Body construction||Magnesium Alloy|
|Tripod mounting thread?||yes|
|Data connector type||USB|
Manual, software and accessories
|Accessories supplied||LCD cover, hot shoe cover|