Nikon D800 Review

Wednesday February 08 2012

Introduction | Nikon D800 Hands-on | Nikon D800 vs Nikon D4 | Nikon D800 vs Canon EOS 5D Mark II | Nikon D800 vs Nikon D700 | Nikon D800 Sensor performance | Conclusion

An impressive 36 MPix senor and the rest is cast in the same mould

The sensor

The true novelty of this camera is not its exterior, but what’s on the inside. So for our first photo, we aren’t going to show you the camera, but rather its sensor (which we are dying to analyze). A 36-Mpix sensor with a pixel pitch of 4.8 µm — if this sensor lives up to the promise shown by its smaller relatives (i.e., the sensors for the Pentax K5 and the Nikon D7000), then the Nikon D800 will inevitably achieve the highest DxO Mark sensor scores ever measured. To do so, it needs to follow the same road as the Nikon D7000 vs D700 in terms of dynamic range for lower ISOs, but even more, it needs to achieve a good score for low-light ISO (ideally, equivalent to or better than its predecessors — see the results for the Nikon D700 and the Nikon D3s).

A 91K-photosite RGB sensor

This isn’t really a new feature, but rather an improvement: 91,000 photosites and a more sensitive sensor should provide —

  • Better autofocus accuracy, notably in low light (making use of 51 collimators, of which 15 are in a cross-array, with the 11 in the center being the most sensitive)
  • Greater accuracy in scene estimation for all integrated image processing

The camera and its design

Nikon retains a design comparable to that of the D700, so “nikonists” will be happy to note that the grip remains the same. (Having to change one’s habits in terms of ergonomics would not have been particularly appreciated, so what changes there are in this camera nearly all have to do with the technology involved.)

DxOMark Nikon D800

So the D800 keeps the same look and feel as other Nikon semi-pro cameras, along with a magnesium build and reinforced watertight seals. Additionally, the D800 includes:

  • A video control button that of course also allows for shooting full-resolution images during video capture
  • A switch that allows for much easier accessing of the LiveView mode than before
DxOMark Nikon D800
The red button controls video capture
DxOMark Nikon D800
In the lower-right portion of the screen, the button for switching to Liveview


The interface has been redesigned to allow the acquisition of high-quality video. The Nikon D800 can deliver full HD 1080p at 30 fps; further, it allows both full-frame and DX-format framing. Also of interest is that the D800’s HDMI connectors can capture uncompressed full HD.

DxOMark Nikon D800
The HDMI connectors
DxOMark Nikon D800
Nikon D800 video capture