Nikon D800 vs YI M1
The Nikon D800 and the YI M1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2012 and September 2016. The D800 is a DSLR, while the M1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (D800) and a Four Thirds (M1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 36.2 megapixels, whereas the YI provides 20.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D800 and the YI M1? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D800 and the YI M1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the D800 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the YI M1 is considerably smaller (59 percent) than the Nikon D800. Moreover, the M1 is substantially lighter (72 percent) than the D800. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D800 is splash and dust resistant, while the M1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D800) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (M1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the M1, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
The power pack in the M1 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D800||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999|
|2.||YI M1||114 mm||64 mm||34 mm||281 g||450||n||Sep 2016||349|
|3.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|4.||Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|5.||Canon SX420||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||195||n||Jan 2016||299|
|6.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|8.||Fujifilm X-A3||117 mm||67 mm||40 mm||339 g||410||n||Aug 2016||399|
|9.||Nikon D850||146 mm||124 mm||79 mm||1005 g||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|10.||Nikon 1 J5||98 mm||60 mm||32 mm||231 g||250||n||Apr 2015||399|
|11.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|12.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|13.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|14.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|15.||Nikon D600||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|16.||Nikon D800E||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299|
|17.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The M1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 88 percent) than the D800, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D800 features a full frame sensor and the YI M1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the M1 is 74 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.0. The sensor in the D800 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the M1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 36.2MP, the D800 offers a higher resolution than the M1 (20.2MP), but the D800 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 3.34μm for the M1) due to its larger sensor. However, the M1 is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 7 months) than the D800, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D800 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D800 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 36.8 x 24.6 inches or 93.5 x 62.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 29.4 x 19.6 inches or 74.8 x 49.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 24.5 x 16.4 inches or 62.3 x 41.6 cm. The corresponding values for the YI M1 are 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm for good quality, 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm for very good quality, and 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D800 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 50-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the YI M1 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Nikon D800||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|2.||YI M1||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|9.||Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|10.||Nikon 1 J5||1-inch||20.7||5568||3712||4K/15p||21.1||12.0||479||65|
|11.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|12.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|13.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|14.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|15.||Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|16.||Nikon D800E||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
|17.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the M1 provides a better video resolution than the D800. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the D800 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the M1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D800 and YI M1 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||Y||n|
|2.||YI M1||none||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|3.||Canon SX730||none||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/3200s||5.9||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2 / 1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n|
|5.||Canon SX420||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||0.5||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon SX710||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||6.0||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n|
|8.||Fujifilm X-A3||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D850||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0||n||n|
|10.||Nikon 1 J5||none||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||60.0||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D810||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon Df||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||n|
|13.||Nikon D610||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D4||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|15.||Nikon D600||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||Y||n|
|16.||Nikon D800E||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||Y||n|
|17.||Nikon D700||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D800 has one, while the M1 does not. While the built-in flash of the D800 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Nikon D800 and the YI M1 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The D800 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the M1 uses SDXC cards. The D800 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the M1 only has one slot. The D800 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the M1 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 YI M1 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.||YI M1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|3.||Canon SX730||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon SX420||-||mono / mono||-||-||-||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Canon SX710||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Fujifilm X-A3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D850||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y|
|10.||Nikon 1 J5||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Nikon D810||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|12.||Nikon Df||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D610||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D4||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D600||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D800E||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Nikon D700||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the D800 has a microphone port, which is missing on the M1. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D800 (unlike the M1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The M1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of YI. In contrast, the D800 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D800 was succeeded by the Nikon D810. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and YI websites.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D800 or the YI M1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Nikon D800:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (36.2 vs 20.2MP) with a 37% higher linear resolution.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (900 versus 450) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2012).
Reasons to prefer the YI M1:
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 921k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (114x64mm vs 146x123mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 719g or 72 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (88 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 7 months of technical progress since the D800 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D800 emerges as the winner of the contest (15 : 12 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D800 and the YI M1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D800 or the M1. 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 following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Nikon D800||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999|
|2.||YI M1||..||..||..||69/100||..||..||Sep 2016||349|
|3.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|4.||Canon 5D Mark IV||4.5/5||+ +||4/5||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|5.||Canon SX420||..||..||..||..||..||3/5||Jan 2016||299|
|6.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|8.||Fujifilm X-A3||..||..||..||74/100||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2016||399|
|9.||Nikon D850||4.5/5||+ +||5/5||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|10.||Nikon 1 J5||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2015||399|
|11.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||5/5||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|12.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|13.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|14.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|15.||Nikon D600||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|16.||Nikon D800E||..||..||..||84/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299|
|17.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Nikon D800 vs YI M1
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon D800||YI M1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2012||September 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 2,999||USD 349|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D800||YI M1|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 24.0 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||861.6 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||36.2 Megapixels||20.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7360 x 4912 pixels||5184 x 3888 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.88 μm||3.34 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.20 MP/cm2||8.96 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||95||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.3||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.4||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2853||..|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D800||YI M1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D800||YI M1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D800||YI M1|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D800||YI M1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||900 shots per charge||450 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
146 x 123 x 82 mm
(5.7 x 4.8 x 3.2 in)
114 x 64 x 34 mm
(4.5 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||1000 g (35.3 oz)||281 g (9.9 oz)|
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