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Gear & Apps

The Nikon D800 Is Here! – Full Specifications And A Brief Analysis

By Matthew Saville on February 6th 2012


(Get it HERE at Amazon, …when it becomes available!)

$2999!!!($3299 for the version without an AA filter, for extreme-detail landscape photography)

36 Megapixel CMOS sensor (Pprobably made by Sony, but perfected by Nikon.Don’t expect the Sony equivalent to come close in low-light performance, if the D3X vs A900 was any indication…)

[rewind: Learn HDR Photography from SLR Lounge]

ISO 100-6400 native, with “LO” at 50 and “HI-HI-2″ at 25,600

Same new AF design as the D4, same 51-point configuration but supposedly much improved over the previous generation. (It has face detection?)

4 FPS in FX mode without a battery grip, 6 FPS with DX crop mode with the battery pack (16 megapixels)

100% viewfinder, instead of 98% like on the D700

3.2″ LCD display (up from 3.0” in previous generations)

Built-in HDR function, like the D4 and the Canon 1DX.Cool!

200,000 click shutter life (up from 150,000 clicks from most previous “semi-pro” bodies)

Dual Card slots, CF + SD

1080p HD video at 30 FPS, 720p video at 60 FPS etc.

Slightly re-organized control buttons, including a “REC” button near the exposure mode button, and a “Still / Video” switch where the Dynamic AF selector used to be.

USB 3.0 connection(Great for tethering, for those crazy peeps who want to shoot 14-bit un-compressed 36 megapixel RAW images!)

New battery style, with a lower rating that the D700.(HOWEVER, Nikon claims that it will last LONGER in fast-paced shooting environments, even though that’s not really what the D800 is made for lol)

No word yet on a model without the AA filter, if such an option exists it will either e announced within a few minutes, or much later. (Days / Weeks / Months


…Finally, two and a half years after the release of Nikon’s highly successful D700, we have a successor….Or do we?THIRTY SIX MEGAPIXELS?To most, this isn’t so much of a D700 replacement as it is a D3X replacement.Basically Nikon has replaced, in fact totally blown away, their $8,000 D3X flagship with a $3,000 camera.Say WHAT?

Actually, Nikon has had a long history ofNOT being afraid to develop a more affordable camera that totally under-cuts it’s previous, more expensive model.First, in 2003 the D70 versus the D100. Then, the D300 versus the D2X.Then, the D700 and the D3.Now, the D800 and the D3X.This is one of the reasons why I like Nikon as a brand- they always outdo themselves, on a level that I can afford.

Either way, the difference between “upgrade” and “replacement” is becoming very clear:Yes, the D800 is an upgrade from the D700 in almost every way.But does such a quantum leap in resolution qualify as everyone’s concept of a “replacement”?I guess it depends on how you shoot.

On the one hand, anyone who shoots JPG can simply turn the resolution way down, and be happy.However for those who shoot RAW, and especially high-volume professional work, …well then the D800 will TRIPLE your workflow capacity requirements.That, and it shoots at a slightly slower speed, (the D700 can reach 8 FPS when using a battery grip) …and will probably not be much (if any) of an improvement in the high ISO / low-light department.

Simply put, the D700 is a photojournalism /sports camera, a great backup to a D3 or D3s.The D800 is a behemoth of a landscape / studio camera.Could you still use it for weddings?Certainly; I’m sure MANY will.But personally?I could go either way, since the improvements in video performance are not really important to me.I could be just as happy with a used D3, or heck just a 2nd D700 to compliment the one I’ve already got.The D800 looks like a sweet camera, and I’d love to have one.But at least half of the features are things I either don’t need to get my work done, or simply don’t care about at all.I’d rather have sheer speed, and absolute low-light capability.

So, who’s gonna buy one?It does look pretty sweet, I must say…Personally, I’m going to wait until later this month when Canon announces the 5D mk2 replacement, hopefully it gives Nikon a run for their money!!


If you’re still itching for more info on the Nikon D800, check out DP Review’s hands-on preview HERE.



Take care,

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Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joe Gunawan

    Matt, you’re forgetting one detail that the D800 shares with its big brother, the D4, that the Canon 1D-X doesn’t have: “Uncompressed full HD signal directly out of the camera via the HDMI port (8 bit, 4:2:2)”!!

    – Joe Gunawan |

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    • Matthew Saville

      Thanks for mentioning that, Joe.  As someone who doesn’t care much about video, I overlook those specs sometimes.  But yes indeed the D800 has both HDMI out, (apparently you can shoot straight to hard drive?) …and also a headphone jack out, which is apparently quite helpful.

      It’s nice to see Nikon playing the game with video.  I just feel kinda indifferent about the whole HD video thing because I feel like Canon had such a huge head start, it’s not like Canon users are going to flock in droves to Nikon.  All Nikon can hope is to regain some of the D3 / D700 users who got fed up and went to the 5D mk2 for a brief period.

      Actually come to think of it, Nikon does have one HUGE advantage when it comes to video recording-  direct manual focus lens compatibility!  Since Nikon still uses a mechanical aperture coupling, and allows the sans-adapter use of old manual focus lenses, maybe (just MAYBE) Nikon will actually gain some traction in the world of video.

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    • Joe Gunawan

      Yup, you can change aperture on the fly while recording video. The two function buttons on the front between the grip and the lens can be set to  open and close down the aperture while filming.

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