Nikon D800 Comparison Review
The Nikon D800 is a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera that was announced in February 2012 and is equipped with a full frame sensor. It offers a resolution of 36.2 megapixel.
Is the Nikon D800 a good camera? The D800 has a Camera Elo of 2020. This rating puts the D800 among the top 30 percent of all digital single lens reflex cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (full frame cameras), the D800 ranks below average. Based on its within category standings, the camera earns a 3.5-star performance rating.
|Digital single lens reflex|
|Nikon F mount lenses|
|36.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|ISO 100 - 6 400 (50 - 25 600)|
|3.2 LCD, 921k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|4 shutter flaps per second|
|900 shots per battery charge|
|146 x 123 x 82 mm, 1 000 g|
Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.
Body comparison with a credit card
An illustration of the physical dimensions of the Nikon D800 vis-à-vis a credit card is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Nikon D800 alongside a set of similar cameras. If you want to review a particular camera pair side-by-side, just move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.
|1.||Nikon D800||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999||ebay.com|
|2.||Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499||amazon.com|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499||ebay.com|
|4.||Nikon D850||146 mm||124 mm||79 mm||1005 g||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299||amazon.com|
|5.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D600||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D800E||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Nikon D800 was launched in the US market at a price of $2,999. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
The Nikon D800 features a full frame sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Nikon D800 among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of alternative cameras.
|1.||Nikon D800||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|2.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|4.||Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|5.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|6.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|7.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|8.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|9.||Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|10.||Nikon D800E||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
|11.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D800 indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the D800 can use is 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D800 has an optical viewfinder that provides a field of view of 100% and a magnification of 0.70x. The tables below summarize some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D800 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Nikon D800||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2 / 1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0/s||n||n|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||n||n|
|4.||Nikon D850||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0/s||n||n|
|5.||Nikon D810||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Nikon Df||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||n|
|7.||Nikon D610||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D4||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|9.||Nikon D600||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D800E||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D700||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One convenient feature of the D800 is the presence of an on-board flash. While this built-in flash is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light to brighten deep shadow areas.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D800 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D800||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Nikon D850||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y|
|5.||Nikon D810||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Nikon Df||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Nikon D610||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D4||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D600||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D800E||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D700||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the D800 has a microphone port. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
While the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D800. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]).
|1.||Nikon D800||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999||ebay.com|
|2.||Canon 5D Mark IV||4.5/5||+ +||4/5||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499||amazon.com|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499||ebay.com|
|4.||Nikon D850||4.5/5||+ +||5/5||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299||amazon.com|
|5.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||5/5||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D600||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D800E||..||..||..||84/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Nikon D800 FAQ
Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the D800.
What type of imaging sensor is used in the Nikon D800?
The camera features a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor.
Which image processing chip is used in the Nikon D800 to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?
Nikon equipped the D800 with the EXPEED 3 image processor.
What is the ISO sensitivity range of the Nikon D800?
The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 50-25600.
What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Nikon D800?
Nikon mentions a shutter rating of 200 000 actuations for the D800. This number represents a Mean Time before Failure, that is an average value. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust the expected shutter life of the D800 over, say, three years, one would have to take about 200 pictures each and every day.
How do I find the shutter count on my Nikon D800?
Nikon embeds the number of shutter actuations in image metadata. You can check the number of shots that your D800 has taken up to now by uploading a recent image to the free online shutter count finder app.
Do I need to purchase an external camera trigger to shoot time-lapse sequences with the Nikon D800?
No, the Nikon D800 has an intervalometer built-in, so that low frequency shooting (for example, flower blooming, sunset, moon rise) can be undertaken without the need to purchase a separate external intervalometer and related software.
Does the Nikon D800 feature an autofocus assist light?
Yes, the camera has a lamp built-in that can illuminate the subject and improve autofocus in low-light settings.
What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with the Nikon D800 for flash photography?
The D800's flash sync speed is 1/250 sec.
Does the Nikon D800 support the Ultra High Speed (UHS) bus interface for SD cards?
Yes, the camera can indeed use UHS-I cards (data transfer speed of up to 104 MB/s).
Which battery does the Nikon D800 use?
Is there a vertical grip available for the Nikon D800?
Yes, Nikon offers the MB-D12 as an optional accessory to facilitate shooting in portrait orientation and to provide additional battery power.
Camera to camera comparisons
If you would like to see a side-by-side review with another camera, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
|Camera Model||Nikon D800|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 2 999|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||862 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||36.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7 360 x 4 912 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.88 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.20 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6 400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 25 600 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 3|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||95|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.3|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2853|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|LCD Size||3.2 inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||No touchscreen|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||200 000 actuations|
|Silent Shooting||no E-Shutter|
|Time Lapse Photography||Intervalometer Built-in|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Type||EN-EL15 power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||900 shots per charge|
146 x 123 x 82 mm
(5.7 x 4.8 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||1 000 g (35.3 oz)|
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