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Nikon D800E Review

The new camera’s 36.3 million effective pixels, which leads its class, have become one of the main topics of discussion. This may be evidence that the pixel race is still going on and that headline-grabbing figures are still important.

But may the D800’s high pixel count be its downfall? Just 12 million effective pixels separate the D700 from the D800 in the Nikon SLR lineup, and up until recently, Nikon’s guiding principle was that as long as the photographs are clear, 12 million pixels is sufficient. In addition, Nikon is well known for the noise reduction and low-light capability of its cameras. 36 million pixels might be going too far too soon.

Building and Handling Quality

The D800 and D700 differ only a little in terms of size, shape, and weight. The body is 10% lighter than the D700 and appears and feels more “contoured.” Similar to the D4, the shutter release has been moved slightly for improved ergonomics, and several controls have been adjusted.

A new switch to the right of the back screen allows you to switch between stills and video live view, and there is a new video record button next to the shutter release.

The Stills/Video switch can be used to take still pictures when it is set to video, but video recording can only begin when the switch is set to video. Since these controls are identical on the D4, pros with both cameras should find switching between the two bodies to be rather simple.

A focus mode control switch and button are located immediately to the left of the lens mount; like the D7000 in Nikon’s DX SLR lineup, these are used in conjunction with the camera’s two control dials. The front dial can be used to swap between the different AF point selection options in each mode while the rear dial is rotated to switch between Single AF (AF-S) and Continuous AF (AF-C).

Although it may come as a surprise that a camera with a strong video focus lacks an articulating screen, the D800’s fixed 3.2-inch, the 921,000-dot LCD monitor is excellent.

It has automatic display brightness control, just as the D4, and in our testing, we discovered that it offers a clear view of photos. Reflections aren’t a big problem, but they are more obvious on the D800’s screen than on the one on the Canon 5D Mark III.

The D800’s viewfinder provides a 100% view, compared to the D700’s 95% coverage, which is very helpful when there isn’t the time or a chance to edit pictures before they are published.

For outdoor photographers, a dual-axis electronic virtual horizon is a helpful feature. This is visible through the viewfinder or the LCD panel, and it is still visible when the shutter release is just partially depressed.

Anyone who is experienced with Nikon SLR cameras, particularly the D700 or D3 S/X professional series, will feel at ease using the camera’s menu system and operating it. Other than the addition of video recording choices and the switch and button modification to the focus mode button in the D7000 style, there are no other significant changes.

While the AF system is sophisticated and there are numerous AF-point selection modes available when shooting continuously, it is simple to choose the one you want because the options are made extremely apparent in the viewfinder and in the top-plate LCD. The AF points should, however, be more evenly distributed around the frame and less concentrated in the DX crop area.


According to our tests, the medium-format Pentax 645D, which has a 40Mp sensor with dimensions of 44x33mm, is not far behind the Nikon D800 when it comes to resolving a significant amount of detail. Despite being full-frame, the D800’s 35.9x24mm sensor is substantially smaller, thus this is a great accomplishment.

The need for extremely tiny photosites when there are so many pixels on a sensor poses a danger for increased image noise. Nikon has successfully balanced resolution and noise, which is wonderful news.


We shot our resolution chart as part of our image quality tests for the Nikon D800.

You can see that the D800 can resolve up to about 36 (line widths per picture height x 100) in its highest quality JPEG files at ISO 100 by viewing our cropping of the resolution chart’s center region at 100% (or Actual Pixels). It delivers some of the best full-frame SLR results we have ever seen.

Nikon D800E Specifications

MSRPUS: $3,299.95 UK: £2689.99 EU: €3171
Body typeMid-size SLR
Max resolution7360 x 4912
Other resolutions6144 x 4912, 6144 x 4080, 5520 x 3680, 4800 x 3200, 4608 x 3680, 4608 x 3056, 3680 x 2456, 3600 x 2400, 3072 x 2456, 3072 x 2040, 2400 x 1600
Image ratio w:h5:4, 3:2
Effective pixels36 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors37 megapixels
Sensor sizeFull frame (35.9 x 24 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorExpeed 3
ISO100 – 6400 in 1, 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps (50 – 25600 with boost)
Boosted ISO (minimum)50
Boosted ISO (maximum)25600
White balance presets12
Custom white balanceYes (5)
Image stabilizationNo
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsFine, Normal, Basic
AutofocusPhase DetectMulti-areaSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousFace DetectionLive View
Digital zoomNo
Manual focusYes
Number of focus points51
Lens mountNikon F
Focal length multiplier
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3.2″
Screen dots921,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeTFT Color LCD with 170 degrees wide-viewing angle
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeOptical (pentaprism)
Viewfinder coverage100%
Viewfinder magnification0.7×
Minimum shutter speed30 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/8000 sec
Aperture priorityYes
Shutter priorityYes
Manual exposure modeYes
Subject/scene modesNo
Built-in flashYes (pop-up)
Flash Range12.00 m (at ISO 100)
External flashYes (Hot-shoe, Wireless plus sync connector)
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-eye, Slow sync, Rear curtain, High-speed sync
Continuous drive4.0 fps
Self-timerYes (2 to 20 sec, 1 to 9 exposures at intervals of 0.5, 1, 2 or 3 sec)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedAverageSpot
Exposure compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 1 EV steps)
AE Bracketing(2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
WB BracketingYes (2 to 9 frames in steps of 1, 2 or 3)
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50, 30, 25 fps), 640 x 424 (24 fps)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264
Storage typesCompact Flash (Type I), SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I compliant
Storage includedNone
USBUSB 3.0 (5 GBit/sec)
HDMIYes (Mini Type C)
Remote controlYes (Optional, wired or wireless )
Environmentally sealedYes (Water and dust resistant)
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion EN-EL15 rechargeable battery & charger
Weight (inc. batteries)1000 g (2.20 lb / 35.27 oz)
Dimensions146 x 123 x 82 mm (5.75 x 4.84 x 3.23″)
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingYes
GPS notesGP-1


It’s wonderful to discover that the D800 is more than simply a victory of numbers and that the 35.3Mp sensor fulfills its promise of capturing a ton of detail. The unexpected bonus is that the dynamic range is really outstanding and that noise is actually rather well controlled.

The D800 is a wise investment for individuals looking to upgrade to a full-frame camera. Nearly all of the D4’s best features are available in a smaller, lighter form with a greater pixel count for less than half the price.

Nikon D800E Price

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • high level of detail resolution
  • excellent AF system
  • large pictures
  • broad dynamic range
Need Improvements
  • hefty file sizes
  • HDR JPEG mode
  • No rating on the camera


Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode


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The new camera's 36.3 million effective pixels, which leads its class, have become one of the main topics of discussion. This may be evidence that the pixel race is still going on and that headline-grabbing figures are still important. But may the D800's high pixel...Nikon D800E Review
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