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Nikon D800 review


A class act across the board, but the massive resolution brings drawbacks as well as benefits

Review Date: 26 Oct 2012

Reviewed By: Ben Pitt

Price when reviewed: £2,082 (£2,498 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £1010
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

3 stars out of 6

Image Quality
6 stars out of 6

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.

Nikon D800

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.

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User comments

Where has Ben Pitt been this last 6 months ? This camera was released at the end of March and this two page ' review ' cannot have taken this long write. ! As a D800 user I was looking forward to a meaningful review of the camera from a real world perspective but on reading this I thought I could have been reading a review of a Canon product.

By Ajacks1 on 1 Nov 2012

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