Nikon D4 vs D800

While the Nikon D800 has not officially been released yet, its specifications have been leaked for a while now, so our readers have been asking more and more questions about it. In this Nikon D4 vs D800 comparison, I will write about the rumored specifications of the D800 and compare it to the Nikon D4. While these cameras are for completely different needs and obviously are at difference price points, both are generating lots of interest from the Nikon community. Once the Nikon D800 is officially released and I have both cameras, I will provide much more detailed analysis of differences between these cameras, along with image samples and ISO comparisons. Please keep in mind that some of the D800 specifications below are pure speculation and might not match the actual specifications of the camera when it is released.

Nikon D4 vs D800

Before I get into the camera specifications comparison, let me first talk about these two cameras. The Nikon D4 is a high-end DSLR targeted at news, sports, wildlife and action photographers. It is Nikon’s new flagship low-light king with very impressive high ISO capabilities and extremely fast speed, both in terms of autofocus and camera frame rate. To allow for such impressive low-light performance, Nikon had to keep the pixel size large, which translates to lower resolution (by lower I mean 16.2 MP). The upcoming Nikon D800, on the other hand, is aimed at landscape, architecture and fashion photographers that need high resolution for large prints.

Before the D4, Nikon had two flagship DSLRs for these needs – the Nikon D3s for low-light and the Nikon D3x for high resolution. The lower-end D700 camera had the same sensor as the original D3 and was never updated with the D3s sensor, because Nikon did not want it to eat up the D3s sales. Looks like starting from the D800, Nikon is now reversing the game, offering a high-resolution sensor on a lower-end body and keeping the single digit line for low-light work exclusively. By doing this, Nikon is following Canon’s strategy. The Canon 5D Mark II with its high-resolution sensor has been eating up the Canon 1Ds line for a while now and those expensive 1Ds bodies are not selling well ever since the 5D Mark II came out. The same is true with the Nikon D3x – while it is quite popular among landscape, architecture and fashion photographers, it is just not selling well. The Nikon D700 sells better than the D3s and D3x combined. By introducing a lower-end high-resolution professional body like the D800, Nikon will most likely do away from its high-end “x” line, which would be a smart move on behalf of Nikon – keeping the D3x production line is expensive. At the same time, those of us that shoot sports, wildlife and various events that require good low-light capabilities and cannot afford spending $6K on the D4 will be left with only one choice of a high-resolution full-frame camera (unless Nikon releases a new product for low-light photography, which I doubt will happen anytime soon). I believe Nikon’s thought process is like this: Canon is selling their 5D Mark II as an all-in-one solution quite well, why not do the same? After-all, many wedding photographers do use the high resolution 5D Mark II and do not seem to be complaining too much.

Nikon D4 vs D800 Specification Comparison

Camera FeatureNikon D4Nikon D800
Sensor Resolution16.2 Million36.3 Million
Sensor TypeCMOSCMOS
Sensor Size36.0×23.9mm35.9x24mm
Sensor Pixel Size7.3µ4.8µ
Dust Reduction / Sensor CleaningYesYes
Image Size4,928 x 3,2807,360 x 4,912
Image ProcessorEXPEED 3EXPEED 3
Viewfinder TypePentaprismPentaprism
Viewfinder Coverage100%100%
Viewfinder Magnification0.70x Approx.0.70x Approx.
Built-in FlashNoYes, with flash commander mode
Storage Media1x Compact Flash and 1x XQD1x Compact Flash and 1x SD
Continuous Shooting Speed10 FPS, 11 FPS with AE/AF Locked4 FPS, 6 FPS in DX mode with MB-D12 grip
Max Shutter Speed1/8000 to 30 sec1/8000 to 30 sec
Shutter Durability400,000 cycles200,000 cycles
Exposure Metering Sensor91,000-pixel RGB sensor91,000-pixel RGB sensor
Base ISOISO 100ISO 100
Native ISO SensitivityISO 100-12,800ISO 100-6,400
Boosted ISO SensitivityISO 50, ISO 25,600-204,800ISO 50, ISO 12,800-25,600
Autofocus SystemAdvanced Multi-CAM 3500FXAdvanced Multi-CAM 3500FX
AF DetectionUp to f/8Up to f/8
Video OutputMOV, Compressed and UncompressedMOV, Compressed and Uncompressed
Video Maximum Record Time20 min in 24p, 30 min in 30p20 min in 24p, 30 min in 30p
Video Maximum Resolution1920×1080 (1080p) @ 24p, 30p1920×1080 (1080p) @ 24p, 30p
Audio RecordingBuilt-in microphone
External stereo microphone (optional)
Built-in microphone
External stereo microphone (optional)
LCD Size3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD
LCD Resolution921,000 dots921,000 dots
HDR SupportYesYes
Built-in GPSNoNo
Wi-Fi FunctionalityWT-5A, WT-4AEye-Fi Compatible, WT-4A
Built-in LANYesNo
Remote Shutter Release CompatibilityCorded and infra-redCorded
BatteryEN-EL18 Lithium-ion BatteryEN-EL15 Lithium-ion Battery
Battery Life2,600 shots (CIPA)900 shots (CIPA)
Battery ChargerMH-26 Quick ChargerMH-25 Quick Charger
Weather Sealed BodyYesYes
Dimensions160 x 156.5mm x 90.5mm144.78 x 121.92mm x 81.28mm
Weight (Body Only)41.6 oz. (1,180g)31.5 oz. (895g)
MSRP Price$5,999$2,999

Now here comes the big question – does a high resolution sensor mean bad low-light capabilities? If you look at a picture at 100%, then yes, a high resolution sensor always translates to more noise at higher ISOs. However, when the image is down-sampled to smaller resolution, those differences are not that big (generally at ISO levels below ISO 3200). For example, when you look at a 16 MP image at ISO 3200 at 100% and then look at a 36 MP image at the same ISO at 100%, you will surely see more noise on the latter image. However, if you down-sample the 36 MP image to 16 MP, then you might see little difference between the two. In fact, if you had a slight focus issue on both, the 36 MP image should look sharper when down-sampled to 16 MP. Now don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that the 36 MP sensor on the D800 will give you better results when down-sampled to 16 MP than what the D4 can do right out of the box. Don’t forget that the D800 won’t be able to go past ISO 6,400, with ISO 25,600 being its maximum upper limit. The Nikon D4 can do native ISO 12,800 and can be pushed all the way to ISO 204,800 without having to resize anything – something a high resolution sensor would not be able to deliver. What I am trying to say here, is that you should not be scared of a high resolution D800 when it comes out, thinking that it will be grossly inferior to your beloved D700. I will provide an in-depth analysis between the D700 and the upcoming D800 when I have it on my hands, but I can say with confidence now that the D800 should give better results than the D700 when its image is down-sampled to 12 MP. Overall, we should be getting around a full stop of advantage noise-wise with the D800 compared to the D700. Think of it this way – you will be able to get superb 36 MP images in daylight and you have the option to down-sample images to lower resolution in low-light. If you are a wedding photographer, I would set a target resolution when delivering images to your customers for consistency purposes. Otherwise you will be burning a lot of DVDs (that’s if you shoot and burn, of course)…

I am personally very excited about the Nikon D800, definitely more than the D4.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Daniel
    January 8, 2012 at 1:22 am

    I recently purchased the Nikon D700 and im very happy with the results I get. The main question for me is how Nikon will price the Nikon D800 when its released. Here in Sweden a D700 costs about 2 800 USD brand new (2 000 USD when used).

    If your numbers are correct and the D800 gets priced at 4 000 USD, then in Sweden that will be about 4 500 to 4 800 when imported :/ Think I will stay with the D700 for a while ;)

    • January 8, 2012 at 2:26 am

      Daniel, the MSRP price on the D700 when it came out was $2,999. Considering how much value US dollar and other currencies lost in relation to Japanese yen, it is logical for Nikon to increase the price. Don’t forget that Nikon trades its stock in Nikkei, not NY SE, so it has to convert all foreign currencies to Yen and report its financial earnings in Yen as well…

      Rest assured that the D800 price will drop in a few months after it is introduced. Will probably drop to around $3K by next year with promotions and rebates.

      • February 5, 2012 at 4:51 am

        no its in fact a really bad idea to replace the D700 with a 4000 camera. It is a move being made without looking at the market they have. the 5d mk2 is there actaul competitor and it is half the price (just went down to around 2000). there is no evidence that the average pro or high end consumer wants to pay 4000 dollars for a camera. If nikon doesnt make a full frame camera with video for well under 3000 dollars they are ignoring what appears to be the hottest market out there

  2. 2
    ) John Jensen
    January 8, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Hi Nasim.

    Great article again.

    One question: Is D4 really compatible with Eye-Fi cards? That would be great but I don´t think so.

    • January 8, 2012 at 2:28 am

      John, nice catch – I got it off NikonUSA.com. I fixed the error (found two serious copy-paste errors on NikonUSA so far). There is an SD to CF adapter that you can buy and use Eye-Fi, but the wireless signal gets extremely weak and makes the setup pretty much useless…

      It is surprising to see Nikon marketing make such stupid mistakes!

      • 138
        ) Drwillix
        September 22, 2012 at 6:06 pm

        http://forums.eye.fi/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6364&start=30

        Hi Nassim, would you know of the SD to CF adapter that can be used with D 800?

        Eye fi doesn’t work the the Nikon D800, and has been discussed extensively as a hardware issue. One possibility is to check if an alternative slot like using it in the CF slot are there SD adapters for type 1 CF?

        I have heard that older firmware versions in D800 allows the eye-fi to be used but this is certainly not the current experience

  3. January 8, 2012 at 1:36 am

    Very intelligent and to the point review, thanks. Frankly, as an amateur that shoots mostly birds and does hardly any prints, I see no point in moving up from the D300s/D700 and my beloved Nikon v1. Would rather put the money in pro glass. Peter

    • January 8, 2012 at 2:32 am

      Thank you Peter! Agreed, investing in glass is always smarter than investing in cameras. Once a new camera comes out, the old one is obsolete the same day and loses its value like crazy. Lenses I bought a few years back today are worth more than what I paid for them :)

  4. 4
    ) Martin
    January 8, 2012 at 1:45 am

    Hello Nasim, thank you very much for your timely reviews. One question comes to my mind, not directly related to your reviews:is it possible to exchange the cmos sensors ie to put the D3s sensor in the D3? Sincerely yours

    • January 8, 2012 at 2:35 am

      Martin, no, it is not. Unless you are an engineer and you are ready to kill two pro-level cameras :) Sensors in these cameras are not easily replaceable and the firmware that runs on each camera only recognizes one type of sensor. Technically, you would have to replace the sensors and then flash the firmware to the correct version (assuming that the chipset and everything else are the same).

      • 73
        ) Rickard hansson
        January 10, 2012 at 5:44 am

        I do not even thein the signal paths (pins) are the same, so it would probably be physically impossible to switch sensor. I might be wrong.

      • 74
        ) Rickard hansson
        January 10, 2012 at 5:44 am

        I do not even think the signal paths (pins) are the same, so it would probably be physically impossible to switch sensor. I might be wrong.

    • 81
      ) Tim R
      January 10, 2012 at 8:48 pm

      why even bother ? that’s a lot of dough to blow to buy both cameras and making all that effort swapping out the sensors.. after all, they’re both the same bodies and controls.. cheaper way would be to just get the D3s and blackout the letter “s” and no one will be the wiser ;-)

  5. 5
    ) David
    January 8, 2012 at 2:06 am

    Another advantage of D800 I see is that lets say you have some DX lenses left. Or you have a FX/DX camera combo and have both FX and DX lenses. Or there is a DX lens that you particularly love. Or you love the fact that many DX lenses are lighter in weight, smaller, and cheaper than their FX counterpart. Lets say you have a number of FX lenses, but you don’t use UWA that often, and instead of spending $2000 on 14-24 Nikkor F/2.8, you spend $800 on Tokina 11-16 F/2.8 DX. Another example: lets say you like Nikkor 17-55 DX because it provides you with more useful range than Nikkor 24-70 and it is 40% cheaper. Just use all your DX lenses on 36MP D800 in DX mode which will result in approximately 16MP photographs – good enough for most of us. Essentially you can use FX lenses at 36MP and DX lenses at 16MP, which is very convenient for many. Those that move up from DX camera won’t have to run and sell all trade all their DX gear for FX gear (I’ve done that conversion couple of times and it is costly), because DX lenses are perfectly useable.

    • January 8, 2012 at 2:40 am

      David, agreed – a 36 MP sensor would make DX lenses useful at half the resolution…

      • January 8, 2012 at 7:35 am

        The D700 took a better photo in DX mode than my D70, in spite of both shooting at 6MP. I started buying FX lenses and using them on my D70 before getting a D700 (and I think that was a very wise choice as it immediately made for sharper photos in lower light), but I still had a DX wideangle lens when I finally made the jump. The D700 made that wide angle look considerably better with its higher ISO, lower noise, and CA correction. I suspect birders and wildlife shooters with budget telephotos (300mm f/4 for example) will like DX mode for more reach without having to crop in post later. 16MP makes for a very nice large print.

        • 28
          ) David
          January 8, 2012 at 11:29 am

          Actually I think it is not half the resolution for DX on FX cameras, but slightly less. For example, on D700, DX lenses in DX mode do 2784 X 1848 = 5.1MP. So on 12MP sensor it is 5.1MP. On a D3X 24.5MP the crop mode is 10.5MP. Using the same formula, 36MP sensor would give you about 15.5MP in DX mode. That is why a lot of people are speculating that D800 high ISO will be exactly the same as in D7000, because the sensor pitch/density would be the same as D7000, essentially, so just imagine D7000 photos just extend the size of the photo to fill 36MP. This speculation makes total sense to me, except, since D7000 was announced in September of 2010, I also agree with Nasim that in 1 year and 4 months since some advancements in noise reduction must have been made, so I expect D800 to be slightly better than D7000 in low light high ISO. Nasim of course talks about downsampling to 12MP, but I disagree that that is a proper way of checking. The proper way of checking is at 100%. It will be like D7000, a little better. Which is fine, D7000 is excellent at ISO100 and is very good way into ISO1600 and above, but certainly nowhere near D700.

          On the other hand, some DX lenses can be used on FX in FX mode with very little or no vignetting. There are many discussions on various forums compiling the lists of these. It would be interesting if Nasim did a homework and compiled a list of all the DX lenses that can be used on FX in FX mode. I personally often use $199 35mm 1.8 DX on my D700 in FX mode. My next choice up would be $1500 35mm 1.4. There is little vignetting when you shoot wide open, but it can be fixed in Lightroom. Additionally, I often use that light combo at night, when it is dark already so vignetting does not matter. Another DX lens that can be used on FX in FX mode is Tokina 11-16 F/2.8 starting at about 15mm. Those are the ones that I had checked personally.

          • January 8, 2012 at 3:40 pm

            David, you are right – it is less than half the resolution. However, even 15.5 MP is more than the current 12 MP on the D700 :)

            As for using lenses like 35mm f/1.8G DX on the D800, you might not find it as sharp on such a high resolution sensor. Remember, high resolution means higher demand on lens optics…

            • 50
              ) David
              January 9, 2012 at 2:13 am

              Nasim re: sharpness….. since D800 pixel-pitch is essentially the same as D7000, and I’ve used 35mm 1.8DX on D7000 many many times, I venture to guess that at least the middle of the lens would be as sharp as that on D7000…..but you are probably right when it would come to the edge sharpness.

          • January 9, 2012 at 2:17 pm

            Yes, pixel pitch is the same and hence the lens will perform very similarly in the center. Corners will be softer and you will get vignetting, but that’s expected…

  6. 6
    ) Ravil Shinikulov
    January 8, 2012 at 2:19 am

    Привет Насим! За сколько сейчас заберут Д3с с пробегом 35 – 50 000 кадров ?

    • January 8, 2012 at 2:38 am

      Равиль, я бы меньше чем за 4 c половиной тысячи не отдал (если нет никаких повреждений).

      • 15
        ) Ravil Shinikulov
        January 8, 2012 at 3:30 am

        Спасибо! Буду иметь ввиду как выйдет Д4 для апгрейда. Брал в Ноябре 2010.

        • 16
          ) eyeballer
          January 8, 2012 at 3:53 am

          cdlkrogkopkgpkpkgpkeevmvmvmvgkgerkgokeofjorcnsknckw

          • 17
            ) Ravil Shinikulov
            January 8, 2012 at 4:06 am

            Seller or Trader?

      • 52
        ) Ravil Shinikulov
        January 9, 2012 at 3:30 am

        Насим, еще вопрос.
        Там батареи не как у Д3с? Д4 компактнее и легче по весу?

        • January 9, 2012 at 2:13 pm

          Не думаю что компактнее и легче, но точно хуже по сравнению с EN-EL4a…

  7. 13
    ) Ismatullo Kholov
    January 8, 2012 at 2:49 am

    in my view 24 mp would be enough for a new camera like D800 instead bulky 36 mp rumored spec

    • January 8, 2012 at 3:37 pm

      Ismatullo, I would personally favor 36 MP over 24 MP any time. Given how good Nikon is with high ISO, I am sure the 36 MP sensor won’t disappoint. As I have already pointed out, we should be seeing at least a 1 stop improvement over the D700 when the image is down-sampled.

      • 53
        ) Ismatullo Kholov
        January 9, 2012 at 4:36 am

        Nasim,
        One stop over D700 would be a big improvement… but 36 MP sure will require flagship nikon lenses.
        I am not so sure that my af 16 35 vr and af 80 200 d will produce sharp and crisp image with D800.
        Thank you.

        • January 9, 2012 at 2:15 pm

          Ismatullo, those lenses will be fine in the center, but will probably suffer in the corners. Again, that’s only when looking at images at 100% (pixel-peeping). When down-sampled to a lower resolution, the lenses will look the same way or better than they did on the D700.

  8. 14
    ) Hylton Spencer
    January 8, 2012 at 3:01 am

    I think the 36 million pixel rumoured spec of the D800 will be the worst thing Nikon could do to their SLR line up.

    You will have every user complaining about back/front focus as that many pixels will serious pixel peeping. Most users don’t have good enough lenses for this much resolution.

    For the average user, the 16 million pixels of the D4 is plenty.

    • January 8, 2012 at 3:35 pm

      Hylton, I think people should understand the consequences of a high resolution sensor before they get one. Sure, if you are sticking a crappy old lens on the D800 you will get soft images at 100% view, but you still have the option to down-size images to 12 MP or less and get the same thing you have with low resolution sensors.

      It makes sense for Nikon to release a high resolution sensor. Nikon cannot use the same D4 sensor on a lower-end body – it will compromise the sales of their flagship line. Plus, it takes a lot more effort and R&D to produce a sensor with good high ISO performance, rather than a sensor with lots of pixels. Take a look at Sony’s NEX7/A77/A65 line – they managed to put a 24 MP sensor on a much smaller APS-C sensor at a relatively low price.

      • February 5, 2012 at 3:46 pm

        But it is a rediculous thing to pah for because even top lenses wont utilize it. D800 is wag overpriced to the market. And for a pro photographer figuring out what to do with 36 Mp images will ne a nightmmare

  9. 18
    ) Sam
    January 8, 2012 at 5:08 am

    Right, 36MP is too high a resolution, IMHO. You need at least a minimum 32GB memory card and your computer will likely to stuggle for post-possessing.

    • 24
      ) Mike
      January 8, 2012 at 9:14 am

      Sam, why should your computer limit the sensor Nikon puts in a camera? My computer will easily handle 36MP RAW files and I’m sure many people will agree. I’m looking forward to the D800 and very happy they decided to bump the resolution.

    • January 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      Sam, that’s why you take less, but higher quality pictures :) Computers are so fast nowadays, with 4 core processors and loads of RAM, that post-processing 36 MP images is not going to be a problem.

  10. 19
    ) Wilson
    January 8, 2012 at 6:26 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Thanks for having this initial comparison, it’s interesting as D800 is the one I’m looking forward to having. One question: despite being more large-print and crop friendly, are there any other advantages to have high MP?

    • January 8, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      Wilson, I am writing a separate article on high resolution vs low resolution sensors, but meanwhile to give you a short answer – yes, there are advantages to high MP, the biggest one being having the option to down-sample images to reduce noise…

  11. January 8, 2012 at 7:43 am

    I wonder if 4fps will feel too slow. I’m used to 8fps now with my D700 and vertical grip. It’s very handy for shooting HDR handheld with little movement. Half the speed would mean twice the movement during the sequence, from wind, camera shake, etc. However, I could live with it if the buffer is much larger or the card writes are faster, because I often shoot from a tripod and easily hit the buffer limit on the D700 when shooting an HDR panorama. Then I have to wait 10 seconds or so before capturing the next bracketed burst. When photographing a complete 360×180 HDR panorama (a sphere) it can take several minutes of capturing images due to the buffer being full. So even half the fps may actually seem faster if the buffer is that much improved. We shall see…

    • January 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      Aaron, yes, 4 FPS will definitely feel slow compared to the fast 8 FPS you are used to…try removing the grip and you will already feel the difference. I am sure the buffer on the D800 will be larger than the one on D700, but don’t forget that 36 MP RAW images will take up a lot of that buffer space. We might be able to get only 8-10 frame bursts in 14-bit RAW, maybe even less.

  12. 22
    ) Rıfat Öktem
    January 8, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Selam Nasim,

    Çok tesekkur ederiz. Cok iyi bir inceleme olmus. D 800 ‘u uzun zamandır bekliyordum.Fiyat biraz bana beklediğimden pahallı geldi ama yine de alacağım. Makinenin 36.2 million pixsel olması , iyi lensler kullanılması gerektiğini soyluyor. En iyi sonuç alınabilecek lensler hangileridir ?

    Sevgiler,

    Rifat

    • January 8, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      Rifat, if you don’ mind, I will respond in English :)

      Yes, a 36.2 MP sensor would put some heavy load on lenses, if you want your images to look good at 100% view. That’s where lens resolution will play a key role – some lenses that looked really good on the D700 will all of a sudden look not so good on the D800. I will have to re-evaluate many of the Nikon lenses with the D800!

      • 56
        ) Thomas
        January 9, 2012 at 12:35 pm

        With the lenses it’s the same as with noise, CA, diffraction etc.:
        It will only look bad on a pixel level. If you compare those images with identical output/print sizes you’ll see no disadvantage of the 36MP sensor at all.

        • January 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm

          Thomas, 100% agree with you. Will only look bad on a pixel level and about the same when down-sampled.

  13. 23
    ) Peter
    January 8, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Very timely article describing the “CanonNik Merry-Go-Round”, and I look forward to your comparisons of the D800 and D700. (Poor Kodak! What they must be thinking now facing Chapter 11 ?)

    I own the D300 for photojournalism work and the D700 for landscapes and portraits. I crop in the camera with zoom lenses. Most of my work gets published in newspapers or displayed on local websites, and the largest prints I make are 12×18, maybe once or twice a year. So, as you can see, while I would like to get a new camera, I can’t justify (dirty word in photography) it.

    Maybe your D700 v. D800 comparison will give me enough info to create a plausible rationalization/justification for buying the D800…and spending $4,000 US.

    Thanks for a continuous flow of very informative articles.

    • January 8, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      Peter, a comparison between D700 and D800 is coming up shortly (based on the above specs, obviously).

  14. 25
    ) Del-Uks
    January 8, 2012 at 10:47 am

    I think I will get a Nikon D800 AND a Fuji X-Pro 1 (with the XF 35mm f/1.4 R lens) instead of this Nikon D4… ;-p

    • January 8, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      That Fuji X-Pro 1 sounds awesome! Now Fuji, please release a full-frame camera…

  15. 26
    ) Del-Uks
    January 8, 2012 at 10:52 am

    N.B. The Nikon D4 body weights 1,340 [g]

  16. 27
    ) Ryan
    January 8, 2012 at 11:06 am

    The latest rumours point to the D800 having an inferior metering and auto focus to the d4, perhaps the same D3 era 1005 rgb metering sensor and the old multi-cam 3500FX. Also from the photos shown so far the d800 does not have the accessory slot for the wt-5, so no remote control over http on mobile devices like the D4. Resolution and noise aside the dynamic range of both cameras will be very interesting to find out as this has at least as great an impact for those us who like to shoot in difficult light.

    • January 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm

      Ryan, the old Multi-cam 3500FX is not optimized for things like face recognition. I still believe the D800 will have the same AF sensor and the same metering sensor as the D4. As for the WT-5a, it makes sense that Nikon keeps it only for the high-end product. Otherwise, the D800 might compromise the D4 sales :)

      I am expecting the D800 to hit the #1 slot, followed by D4 at DxOMark. If I am wrong, then it should be the other way around :)

  17. 29
    ) Peter
    January 8, 2012 at 11:49 am

    I just saw images from the D4 in the site below (Nikon brochure) . OMG. Mon Dieu. боже мой. O viešpatie.oh mio dio. Pərvərdigara.

    http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/dslr/d4/pdf/d4_12p.pdf

    • January 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      Peter, oh yeah, that Nikon D4 definitely rocks! The ultimate low-light tool for pros!

      • 38
        ) Peter
        January 8, 2012 at 3:26 pm

        Not withstanding my protestations, I am in trouble! I need help from the diety to guide me through this evil temptation.

        • January 8, 2012 at 3:41 pm

          Peter, trust me, you are not the only one :) NAS will be haunting us for a while with these announcements!

  18. 44
    ) Robert Andrews
    January 8, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    An important issue not addressed in most comments is the trend toward smaller and lighter cameras among pro users. This has been brought about by two factors: recent limitations on size and weight of carry-on luggage and the increasing pilferage of checked luggage on airlines. Another factor as to why many professional and advanced shooters chose smaller dslrs with video capabilites is that it saves time and money not having to carry a separate camcorder or hire an assistant. I think you will see far fewer large, heavy dslrs in the future in any application. The market belongs to wedding and group photographers, not to sports shooters. High-end agencies and studios are already using medium format digital capture and this jump to larger sensors is the future in this market segment. I predict 35mm sensor camera and smaller will see less and less use among serious studio and fine art specialists as medium format dslrs become more affordable.

    • January 9, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      Robert, I am writing a separate article on that as well :)

  19. January 9, 2012 at 1:06 am

    This mirrors my sentiments very closely. One correction I’d like to make, however:

    A “focus error” manifests as a blurring that extends some physical distance on the sensor. Thus, a sensor with more Mpix will simply have the blur extend over more pixels. The result will be identical when scaled down to match an identically-sized sensor with lower Mpix.

    As for bytes… My aging 10Mpix D80 pushes out ~10MB files (raw + basic-jpeg) and I’ve managed to soak up 300GB of disk space over the past 5 years. Considering the low price of 2TB drives these days, even 36Mpix images are puny.

    • January 9, 2012 at 2:09 pm

      Brian, I agree – circle of confusion is larger, but as the image is down-sampled that difference is significantly reduced. Most people end up looking at pictures at 100% though, which is what creates the problem :)

      Storage is cheap!

  20. January 9, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Thanks for all of these insightful comments.

    I have a question: how will the difference in sensors between the D4 and D800 play out in terms of dynamic range performance? Does the greater pixel density play a role in that?

    • 48
      ) David
      January 9, 2012 at 2:01 am

      It is always an interesting question. It was said by many that D7000 at ISO100 has better dynamic range that D700 at ISO200. But it was also said that it only holds true at native ISO which is ISO100 for D7000. and at higher ISOs, D7000′s advantage is lost. Since pixel density of D7000 and D800 is pretty much the same (36MP on FX is the same as 15.5MP on DX) I am speculating that D800 will have better dynamic range than D4, but only at low ISO. The advantage will be lost at higher ISOs, just like D7000 and D700.

      • January 9, 2012 at 2:06 am

        David, thank you for the informative comments. If this is the case, I have yet another reason to lean toward the D800. I shoot in a lot of very well lit environments, landscapes, underwater photography with strobes and natural light. The thing I really wish I had was better dynamic range out of my D300.

        The D800 offers this, plus relatively compact size (which makes the housing bearable for transport) and the ability to use both DX and FX lenses.

        There are increasingly times where I wish I had better ISO performance, but the D300 is starting from a pretty low bar, and those times are usually when I’m shooting urban photography and sometimes wildlife on land.

        Aagh, they make it so hard to choose!

    • January 9, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      Calvin, I agree with David – considering that D7000 sits in #2 spot above all other current FX cameras from Nikon (with base ISO of 200), the dynamic range of the D800 should be about the same, if not better. But only at base ISO. Anytime you go above ISO 100, dynamic range is lost significantly.

  21. 47
    ) Jorge Balarin
    January 9, 2012 at 1:55 am

    So, if I understood you, it would be possible to make a D700 0f a D800 -down sampling the images- when you need the low light D700′s capabilities; and then, when you want to shoot with better resolution, under the proper conditions, you can restore the original 36 Mp sensor. Sounds great !! Greetings, Jorge.

  22. 51
    ) Shay Farrelly
    January 9, 2012 at 2:38 am

    What do you mean by down sampling the image. Is this is the camera or in post production and how can this be done in say Adobe Lightroom? Many thanks

    • January 9, 2012 at 1:54 pm

      Shay, I will be publishing a tutorial on how to properly down-sample images this week.

  23. 54
    ) Paul
    January 9, 2012 at 8:16 am

    I heard one speculation that the D800 is an attempt to take a bite from the medium-format market. If so, high dynamic range is going to be very important. I’m excited to see your comparison.

    • January 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      Paul, not quite, because if you had the same pixel pitch on a medium-format body, you would have much more pixels to play with. It would certainly compete with some of the old low-res medium format digital backs though. With a base ISO of 100, the dynamic range on the D800 should be phenomenal. Look at DxOMark’s D7000 dynamic range rankings – D800 will be even better :)

  24. January 9, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Hi, I found this most intriguing article. Even though I am a Canon shooter, I was interested to read your analysis of the forthcoming camera bodies.

    I would like to comment though from my experience with Canon, when the sensor size went up to 21mp, the camera body showed up which are the lenses that are not going to work with the body and which ones will. Inevitably, I could only use the very best lenses from Canon because the non L and third party lenses just showed up too much flaws in the images. I would expect the same problem to arise with the D800 but even more pronounced if the camera has a 36mp sensor (which is already going past some medium format sensors). Unless the D800 does not have the anti-alias filter and improved optics, there will be many upset owners when they view the images at 100%.

    I would like very much to know how this plays in your analysis.

    Cheers!

    • January 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      I believe Nikon will be offering an option without an anti-aliasing filter, which is good news. In fact, unless the AA filter is of super high quality, it would be dumb to keep it on the D800.

      As for lenses, we have already seen this problem with the Nikon D7000 – yes, higher resolution sensor will demand better glass when images are viewed at 100%. Focus accuracy will also play a huge role. Corners will look terrible on lenses with bad corner performance. But the good news is, with a 36 MP sensor, you can down-sample images and crop the bad stuff out. At least you have that option now.

      36 MP does not hit the lens resolution limit. We know that from current cropped sensor cameras :)

      • January 9, 2012 at 10:12 pm

        Thanks for the input. It will be interesting camera if it came out as you described.

        I would however not see the ‘good news’ side of your 36mp – being able to down sample. Maybe its glass half full v. half empty but if one had to pay a premium to get a 36mp, it would seem not logical to have to keep downsampling just to get it right. Its not an “option” by definition but a necessity if the 36mp sensor continually shows up the flaws or lack of capability of the lenses to deal with the higher resolution. In any case, I will be quite keen to find out what is going to happen with the new D800.

        • 76
          ) David
          January 10, 2012 at 11:44 am

          I tend to agree with Horolographer here. Yes of course you can downsample anything. I can downsample my Sony HX9v 16MP point-and-shoot images to 6-8MP and it is going to look great too hiding all the noise and other inherent issue. But is it a right thing to do to work around the issues just to get it right? I agree that it is not an option but a necessity. Buying a $4000 camera already knowing that you would have to downsample just does not seem right to me. On the other hand if one is a landscape photographer (which I am not) and you rarely go above ISO800, then it is a great camera. For wedding photogs that routinely shoot at high isos and need low noise, why bother?

      • 113
        ) Roland
        February 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm

        Hi Nasim,
        what would you recommend for portraiture and street photograpy,
        a standard D800 (with AA filter) or a D800E (no AA filter)?

        How high do you expect the chance of getting moire on fabrics when photographing portraits with the 36mp D800 sensor given its pixel pitch?

        Best,
        Roland

  25. January 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Until Nikon actuality releases the D800, the specs are just speculation. If in fact it is 36mp, than I goes there will be no D4x

    • January 9, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      Yes, if D800 is in fact 36 MP, then there won’t be a D4x – see my “Benefits of a high resolution sensor” article that I posted last night for details…

      • 124
        ) Pads
        February 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm

        I think that’s really the plan when it comes to sales strategy. since with the introduction of the D3x and D3s, the D3 sales was on a decline. Most users tend to go for a D700 or any of the higher D3x/s variant.

  26. 70
    ) plaz yaanwhy
    January 9, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Hi Nasim, thanks a lot all your articles are so cool, but i have a question.

    Shutter Durability relates with that the camera won’t work anymore?
    the shutter can be fixed?
    what is the symptom when the shutter doesn’t work anymore?
    the dslr are disposable?
    Digital SLRs are disposable Once the ( shutter, cmos) stops working?

    • January 15, 2012 at 7:36 am

      Shutter durability most likely refers to the nominal number of frames to expect from that shutter. There are pros who probably have exceeded the limit and shutter still performs. Its just that there is much higher chances of it failing. Of course, a shutter can still fail at much lower usage but highly unlikely. In short, there’s no ‘fail/off’ switch for the shutter at that limit.

      Shutters can be changed. If I remember right, its around $300-400 for D3S the last time I checked. But its highly unlikely to reach a number when shutter fails, unless u shoot constantly at a very high rate. Almost certainly u’d be looking for a new DSLR bcos there are new models and other improvements.

      Cheers,
      Senthil

  27. 71
    ) Douw van der Walt
    January 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Dear Nasim,

    Thank you for a very informative website. I am so confused with all the debate that is going on about pixels, FX vs. DX, that I do not know now what to buy. First off, I am not a pro, but enjoy photography tremendously, and would like to become better over time.

    I think I have followed good advice over the years, and have invested in a reasonable amount of decent lenses: Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 ED VRII, Nikkor 50mm F1.8, Sigma 80-400mm (next on the list is the Nikkor 24-70 F2.8), always with the plan to one day migrate from DX to FX.

    My trusty old D80, has finally given up the ghost, and I have been holding out for the D800, which I thought would suit my purposes: family, people, travel, some studio portraits, etc.

    Now I see old the comments on your site (and some others), debating the virtues of the D4 vs. D3S, D800 vs. D700 and throw the D7000 vs. D300s in the mix, and it becomes really confusing! My main reason for not looking at the D4, is because of size (and price!), but mainly because I saw some of the results of the D700, loved it, and thought I should buy the latest technology, hence the wait for the D800. But now I am not so sure? Help!

  28. 75
    ) Alfredo
    January 10, 2012 at 10:31 am

    The D800 won’t be as attractive to wedding photographers. At least not to me and most who shoot over 1,000 photos per event.

    The slow 4fps and (I predict) very limited buffer will kill it for me.

    Sorry but here’s a D700 user that will not “upgrade” (downgrade for me)

    • 77
      ) Paul
      January 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      I agree with Alfredo. I’m even happier that I didn’t wait for the D800 when I bought my D700 a year and a half ago (at which time the D800 was “just around the corner”). I understand Nikon’s strategy, but the D800 looks to not be the “baby D4″ (in the way that the D700 was the “baby D3″). I’m actually wondering if a better upgrade path for me (from the D700) is to get one of the D3s bodies that will be unloaded by pros moving to the D4. I can’t justify the D4 expense. I’d really like to see some article that addressed that decision (“D4 vs D3s vs D800 — why you’d choose one over the other, and what benefit do you really get in a $6000 D4 over a used $4000 D3s”).

      • 78
        ) Mike
        January 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm

        The D800 is not meant to be a baby D4. Note that the D700 came out one year after the D3. It was not a bad idea at the time to re-use the same sensor in a smaller body. This time, the D4 and D800 will be announced (most likely) within a month of each other. They are the new top bodies in the Nikon line-up. If anything the D800 will replace the D3X and not be a baby D4.

        The D4/D800 line-up will give two very different bodies for different applications.

        If you don’t need video, the D3S is likely a better buy than a D4. If money is no object, the D4 looks to be Nikon’s best.

        • 79
          ) Paul
          January 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm

          @Mike – Maybe I wasn’t clear… I guess what I meant was that if you had asked most people, oh, two years ago, the relationship between the future D800 and the D4, they would have guessed it to be simlar to that between the D700 and D3, respectively. Now that we see the actual (highly likely, but still speculated?) specs of the D800, it’s clear that the two bodies are targeted toward different audiences. In short, I was trying to communicate (in my last comment) that it’s clear the D800 isn’t a “baby D4″.

          I’m not sure where they expect the current D700 user to fit in the new lineup. The D800 doesn’t seem to be a great fit (at least for Alfredo and me ), and the D4 is overkill. I still want an FX body, so my choices seem to be: stick with what I have, or buy a used D3/D3s. Both great options for me, but not much help to Nikon’s bottom line. Did they just figure we’d pick one of two imperfect paths (D800 that doesn’t match our needs/styles, or D4 that doesn’t match our pocketbooks)?

        • 80
          ) Alfredo
          January 10, 2012 at 8:08 pm

          Exactly! The rumored D800 is not an upgrade to the D700, it’s more like a sideways move towards a different type of photography.

          A lot of D700 users got it because it is the most affordable all around performer. The D800 is rumored to be what, 4fps? That is completely UNACCEPTABLE for a lot of D700 users and with the limited buffer and huge file sizes that would make it a lot less versatile.

          It is also completely unacceptable that Nikon would pretend that D700 users buy a $6K camera when they need to update to get the current technology.

  29. January 11, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Hi,
    Regarding the new WT-5a unit, do you know if it can create its own ad-hoc network (like the Eye Fi Pro SD card) so the camera can be operated by an iphone or ipad without the need of a wifi connection, 3g link or wireless hot spot nearby?

    Thanks
    Michael

    • 83
      ) Mike
      January 11, 2012 at 8:36 am

      Not sure if you know, but the newer versions of iOS have the option to create a personal hotspot. If you do that, the WT-5a unit wouldn’t need the option.

      • January 11, 2012 at 10:21 am

        Thats true, but unfortunately I do not have a 3g device and was hoping that the WT-5a could work by creating its own ad-hoc network in the same way as the Eye Fi Pro card functions.

      • January 12, 2012 at 3:01 am

        Mike,
        If you have a moment perhaps you cou explain in simple terms how a personal hotspot would function if you were in an area without any cell towers and no chance of any form of network signal.

        • 89
          ) Mike
          January 12, 2012 at 9:53 am

          I haven’t tested this, but I’m not sure if the personal hotspot is actually dependant on any cell towers. The goal of the personal hotspot, I assume, is so that people with iphones can easily share their 3G internet connection with other devices. In the case of the D4, that is not the goal but only to establish a link between the two devices. I think it would work regardless of cell signal.

    • January 11, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      Michael, I am 100% confident that you won’t be able to create a hot spot with the WT-5a – it will only be able to join existing networks.

      • January 12, 2012 at 2:57 am

        Thank you Nasim for your prompt replies.
        That news is not so good, it means that a superb idea is restricted to wifi hotspots.
        I feel as though Nikon has stopped short on completing a perfect device.

  30. January 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    I found your site because I was looking for a comparison of the D300 vs. D300S since, as a D700 shooter, I’m looking at picking up another backup body for weddings and sports. But I’m also keenly interested in the relative advantages and drawbacks of the D800, and this entire thread has been most elucidating. I was seriously considering saving up for the D800 and keeping my D700 as a backup, but now I’m re-evaluating and will likely look for a used D3S with a moderate shutter actuation count, since a slow frame rate and not substantially better high ISO performance disqualifies the rumored D800 for me.

    I’ve found the comparisons and explanations you’ve chosen to give here to be exactly what I want to know. Fantastic work and I’ll be following your site from now on.

  31. 90
    ) daniel meseguer
    January 13, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Hi Nasim:
    I was very happy with my D700 and my f/2.8 Nikor lenses: 105mm, 14-24mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm…. untill 21st November 2011, when I was robbed in my house and lost evreything. Today I´m waiting the D800 arrival. Considering I have the money from the Insurance Company, the question I have is: Which lenses should I buy for the D800, same I had for the D700?. After reading about the 36 MP, I have doupbts.
    Thank you very much.

  32. 91
    ) Carl
    January 13, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Welcome suggestions for which one to invest in – the D4 or D 800? Photo enthusiast, NOT pro. Mostly landscapes and wildlife, some in low light conditions and often without a tripod. Seems to me the larger pixels / better low light capabilities are more important than having many more MPs. Largest prints I print myself would most likely be 18 x 24. Thoughts? Thanks.

  33. 93
    ) Imam (Dr.) Muhiyyaldin Ibn Noel
    January 18, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Dear Sir,

    Each time I consult your website for information or insight, I leave educated, inspired and ready go out and shoot. I respect your opinion. Obviously there is still much to be learned about the D4 wrt actual performance, but is reading what is currently available, my initial sense is that this camera, with a few additional perks, is a combination of the D700/D7000. Outstanding low light capability, incredible resolution and HD video. 6k is a lot to ask and less than the cost to purchase both those bodies brand new. However, I not only live in an area where you can trade in gear for either sale of the gear or to purchase new of used gear, I also own both of those bodies. I am an amateur and I intend to stay an amateur. But I enjoy this hobby like nothing else I have ever engaged in. An active duty service member, my eyes have been stained by the images of war. When I peer through the view finder of a camera, the world becomes a much more beautiful place. A serious woosah moment.

    1. Do you agree with my uninformed assessment that this is a melding of the two great 7′s? and

    2. Would you advise trading up to get it?

    I own the MB 910. I love shooting in natural light and low light. Not a studio kind of guy. Sports on occasion, but three young active daughters about to hit the sports scene. I like portraits, landscapes and micro. I own the Nikon 14mm f2.8, 16mm f2.8, 24mm f1.4, 50mm f1.8, the 105 & 135mm f2, 180mm f2.8, 200mm f2 vr, the 300mm f2.8 and the 70-180mm f4-5.6 micro.

    Again your opinion is both valued and respected by me.

    Thank you very much.

  34. 94
    ) William Jones
    January 18, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Question: Is there any rumor (or official data), about releasing a battery pack for the D800 (like the one for the D700). The pack for the D700 increases the frame rate, and might therefore do the same for the D800.

    Thank you,
    WEJ

  35. January 19, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Nasim,

    Great article. Finally someone with interesting insight. Your article made things crystal clear for me. You, my friend, have gained a faithful reader/visitor.

    One question howvwer. I kerp reading about some lenses not being good enough for cameras such as the D4 or the upcomming D800. Where do you y
    Think my 85mm 1.4g and 24-70mm 2.8 lens fall? (both fx newer models)

    Will they suffise to rip the benefits? Im a wedding photographer.

    Thanks for your insight!

  36. 96
    ) James Sim
    January 21, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    Firstly, I have always enjoyed reading your site. It has provided both great information and reviews – great job! :)

    Now, quick question. I’m sure you’ve addressed this question many times already, but I’m still going to ask anyway – do you think it’s better to purchase a D700 or wait until a D800? I’m looking to upgrade and I’m honestly stuck. The camera I choose will be the camera I will be using for the next 3 years. The only gripe is about purchasing “old technology” when there is a new D800 coming out. What are your thoughts?

    Thank you, and I appreciate any input you can provide!

  37. 97
    ) Steve F
    January 23, 2012 at 5:10 am

    I dont understand why nobody has produced a sensor or camera which can combine pixels in low light. You could have 36MP for huge pictures good light and 12MP for low light.

    Since noise is random and light is not by using a 2 out of 3 agree algorithm for clusters of 3 pixels you could easily determine the true pixel value from 3 pixels and ignore the odd little flashes of noise.

  38. January 28, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Hello Nasim,

    first of all thank you for all the valuable insights that you provide through your website – Truly great.

    i am excited about the release of D800, i have to make a choice between the D800 and the soon to come D400. Having read your article on Fx V/s Dx many times, i may mostly go for the D800.

    Question: for my landscape works, i have by Fav lens the Nikkor 10-24mm, which is a Dx lens. Now, if i buy the D800, how will the functionality and performance of that Dx lens be when fitted on the D800? Appreciate of you can elaborate on this.

    Thanks!
    best regards,
    atif peshimam

    • 101
      ) Jorge Balarin
      January 31, 2012 at 6:29 pm

      Atif,

      You can not even mount a “Dx” Nikon lens on a “FX” camera. That’s physically impossible. But you can do the opposite (mount a “FX” lens on a “Dx” camera).
      Some weeks ago I did the same question you are doing now to Nasim. So I can tell you that his favourite landscape lenses are the next:
      1) The 14-24mm f/2.8
      Nasim has a “love-hate” relationship with this legendary zoom because it can not take filters, and filters are very helpful in landscape photography. This super wide zoom is almost optically perfect. It is very sharp even in the corners, and its distortion is super low at the wide end, specially considering that it is a super wide zoom (look for Nasim review of this lens in his article about “the best landscape lenses”).
      2) The 24-70mm f/2.8
      That is a real Nasim’s favourite. It is a solid weatherproof lens that can survive very bad wheather and countless hours of work. It is very contrasty and has great color rendition. It has regular distortion at the wide end, but that is very easy to solve with a single touch in Lightroom (now I have the 24-70 f/2.8, and I have lightroom).
      3) The 16-35mm f/4
      Nasim like very much this lens for its range and general quality. This lens is super sharp, almost on pair in this chapter with the 14-24mm f/2.8, but its general optic quality is not so good as the one of the 14-24mm. However, the strong distortion and other imperfections of this wheather proof profi zoom, could be easily solved in Lightroom with a single touch. Some strong points in favor of this lens is that it can take filters, and that it is not so expensive as the other wides covered in this answer.
      4) The 24mm f/1.4
      It seems that the 24mm f/1.4 is the sharpest prime that Nikon offers. Its super big aperture makes it a perfect choice for nocturnal photography, and its classic 24mm focal lenght is very good for landscapes (Nasim loves this range). This lens is even good for portraits (not close -ups) because it delivers a very beautiful bokeh (defocus). It has some minor imperfections (some distortion), but its bigger problem is that cost you an eye of your face. It is to expensive to be a prime.

      Well, I think those are Nasim favourite lenses for landscape. I suggest you to read Nasim’s article titled “Best landscape lenses” (in this article Nasim is not talking about the 16-35 f/4, because technically this zoom is not in the same class of the 14-24mm f/2.8. However, the 16-35 is one of Nasim’s favourite lenses for landscape photograpy).

      • 102
        ) Mike
        January 31, 2012 at 6:48 pm

        “You can not even mount a “Dx” Nikon lens on a “FX” camera. That’s physically impossible. ”

        Jorge, that is not correct. You can mount a DX lens on an FX body. The body will either use ‘dx mode’ and only part of the sensor or you will just get very bad vignette. With some lenses, especially if you don’t use the widest settings, the DX lens may work just fine.

        • 105
          ) Jorge Balarin
          February 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm

          Thank you very much Mike, and sorry Atif for my bad information. Every day you learn something new : )

        • 106
          ) Jorge Balarin
          February 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm

          Thank you very much Mike for clarifying the point, and sorry Atif for my bad information. At least I didn’t say any other stupid thing….I hope : )

          • February 1, 2012 at 9:42 pm

            Thank you Jorge. Yeah we all are learning. Appreciate your inputs.

        • February 1, 2012 at 9:46 pm

          Appreciate your input Mike. Perhaps i may carry out a test using the Dx lens on a Fx body to get a realistic feel of how it works. Thanks!

  39. 99
    ) gian paolo perusini
    January 29, 2012 at 3:48 am

    in your site there is a good essay about noise written by Mike Baker. i am an engineer, and agree with mike, but real world results can be different because of the great expertise of nikon, that can fine tune a sensor better than anybody else (see sony; maybe pentax can be comparable or even better, see d7000 / k5). anyway, with simple math, if we average 4 pixels we will get a 9k sensor out of a 36k one, and we will gain 2x in s/n ratio. it would be nice if nikon will include a smart average function in the d800, of course real time…

  40. 100
    ) chris
    January 31, 2012 at 12:13 am

    rather than seeing an increase in MP, i would prefer to see improvement in other IQ areas like:-
    1) increase in focus points in the viewfinder
    2) types of focus points area – spot ( for macro), wide, etc
    3) touch screen liveview (including to focus and snap a pic)
    4) option to focus with the eye through the viewfinder
    5) option to change sensor (i.e. interchangeable sensor) body.

    These I would called a sincere product improvement. Rather than just a “marketing” improvemnt by increasing Mega Pixels. Dslr companies, wake up, please. That is not the way to go.

    • 103
      ) Mike
      January 31, 2012 at 6:53 pm

      Chris,

      I’m confused by some of your suggestions, maybe you can elaborate on your points?

      1) increase in focus points in the viewfinder
      Do you mean increase focus points in general?

      2) types of focus points area – spot ( for macro), wide, etc
      Not sure what you are getting at here.

      3) touch screen liveview (including to focus and snap a pic)
      Seems like a gimmick to me, why would you want this? I suppose if your camera is on a tripod you can use the screen to take a photo but why would you want to let go of the grip to focus/expose an image? Seems like it would use more battery power as well.

      4) option to focus with the eye through the viewfinder
      Is this even possible? What happens if you are wearing glasses?

      5) option to change sensor (i.e. interchangeable sensor) body.
      Very limited use, and likely not a good idea for camera makers as they will sell less bodies.

      Mike

      • 104
        ) gian paolo perusini
        February 1, 2012 at 12:18 am

        touch screen – there is a good professional implementation on the topo digital back from phase one
        http://www.phaseone.com/en/Digital-Backs/IQ180/IQ180-Info.aspx

        WARNING! can be dangerous for your financial health… it is an incredible true medium format sensor, see also dxo report.

        but the screen is MUCH bigger. on a 3″ lcd i think is a gimmick.
        pupil focus – canon tried something similar, but with little success.
        interchangeable sensor – Ricoh has such a camera, but it does not seem very succesful.
        focus points – more than 51? i agree that the focus sensor had been designed for d1-d2 dx sensors, and covers only a small area of fx sensors, so it should be redesigned… but macro focus sensors? nobody focuses automatically in macro!

  41. 109
    ) Charlie Ricker
    February 3, 2012 at 10:01 am

    If I mount an FX lenss, say 70-200 on a D800 in DX mode (to get the greater “reach”, how do you think the IQ would compare to the same lens on a D7000?

    • February 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      Charlie, it would be the same, if not better :)

      • 111
        ) Charlie Ricker
        February 3, 2012 at 1:48 pm

        Thanks very much, Nasim. You have one of the most useful, practical photo websites and your information and opinions are much appreciated.

  42. 115
    ) Gordon Gallagher
    February 6, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Hi Nasim
    Thank you for all of your information comparing the D4 and D800.
    Both of them fit my needs for different shooting circumstances.

    The size and lower cost of the D800 are its selling points for me. The larger size and higher cost are the D4′s negatives.

    Unfortunately the D800′s 4FPS is going to eliminate hand held multi shot bracketing for HDR. Any idea if the battery grip will increase the FPS to an acceptable 6FPS?

    Gordon

    • 116
      ) Mike
      February 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm

      Why would 4fps be insufficient for handheld HDR? I do hand held HDR with my D90 all the time and it’s only 4.5fps.

  43. February 6, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    To all subscribed commenters, the Nikon D800 details are here: http://photographylife.com/nikon-d800-announcement

  44. 118
    ) Gunnar
    February 7, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    @NM – THANK you for all the great work.

    I have a question — I a lot of the discussions around pros & cons are a tad geared towards the pro – are you a news/sports guy or a fashion/lanscape guy seems to be the question, and then you know what you should want.

    How about us enthusiasts? I currently have a D3S and I very much like the low light capabilities and the speed of the autofocus, but would like to upgrade to better video and even more dyn range/better focus. I have little kids and they move fast, so that helps a lot in terms of getting a shot.
    At the same time, I would love great detail of the typical vacation picture which often is more landscape and architecture.
    The reality is most of us never will make HUGE prints and do little photobooks and look at pics on the screen, but then again you crop and its just kind of nice to see real detail.

    Do I now need to justify buying two cameras or is there a clear winner given the typical mixed use?

    • 121
      ) Photo
      February 13, 2012 at 11:23 am

      If you’re just an enthusiast you don’t need cameras like that at all. Of course his comments are geared toward the pros, these are professional cameras. If you’re just taking pictures of you’re kids and on vacation you don’t need a $6000 camera because you won’t even be using the professional features they offer. You only need a D4 if you’re shooting fast in low light and a D800 if you’re planning on making huge prints of landscapes or portraits, otherwise you’re just wasting your money. If you want better video get a D7000 it shoots great video and stills as well.

  45. 119
    ) Egon
    February 8, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Very nice informative site you have Nasim.
    I am using a sony a-700 now and want to switch to Nikon.At the moment two camera’s have my interest.
    The D800 or the D3s (D4 is too expensive).Which one would you recommend for someone who likes all kind of photography, from weddings to sports,stock-,macro and portraits.

    Greetings from Holland,

    Egon

    • 120
      ) Lindsay
      February 13, 2012 at 7:33 am

      I am wondering the same thing. I’m a photojournalist at a newspaper and need to upgrade. I have a D300 right now and I want something with video and better low-light capabilities. I can’t afford the D4 but will the D800 be better than the D3s for low-light? The D3s still gets higher FPS and if it still does better in low-light the only advantage I can see to the D800 is the full HD.

      • 126
        ) Pads
        February 17, 2012 at 4:12 pm

        I’m guessing that the D3s will still top it off on ISO performance. I hope :)

  46. 122
    ) Carl
    February 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    So, if I understand what I’ve been reading: D4 advantages – better low light capability and less noise (but how often do you use ISO’s above 6400?), 10 frames per second (vs 4fps but who really needs that anyway?), longer battery life +, built for heavier and longer term use +, some additional info in viewfinder. D800 advantages – higher resolution, 40% smaller +, 10 oz lighter +, built in flash +, $3,000 less. +++ So WHY is the D4 $3k more? What is it that they’re asking us to pay for? Unless there is something about the D800′s output that is a weakness compared to the D4? Someone please explain?

    • 125
      ) Pads
      February 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      Well, based on the specs I read – the wireless capability is a plus for the more demanding pro users. The xQD or whatever that is (personally, this is really a downer move) memory helps in faster and greater buffer. I would think that the D4/3 body form factor (with ‘built-in’ vertical grip) is much tougher than the D800 body. Higher ISO is very usable for events and photojournalism – you’ll never know when you need to pull out the camera. I’m not sure of what I’m hearing is correct that the D4 sensor is different (better different i guess) from the D800 sensor.
      And I guess, overall those items could be factored in for the price difference.

  47. 123
    ) D O C
    February 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    I see it like you, Nasim: I am very excited about the D800 and cancelled the pre-odering of a D4 . Using a D3x , the D800 is the pretty daughter…

    By the way I sold my old D3x at the right moment last month for nearly double price of the better successor…. at the moment my back-up D2x is re-activated…

  48. 127
    ) Majed
    February 25, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    I wanna buy one of D4 or D800,and i really confused which one sholud buy.price doesn’t matter.
    so what do you think?
    Thanks
    Majed

    • 128
      ) Mike
      February 26, 2012 at 1:31 am

      Why don’t you tell us what you are shooting, maybe we can help.

    • 129
      ) Tim R
      February 26, 2012 at 4:23 am

      Those 2 cameras are made for professionals for high quality photography… if you’re a pro, then you should be able to know which camera fits your needs. If you’re into low-light or fast action sport photography, go for the D4. If you’re into studio portrait, landscape or architectural photography, then spring for a D800. :)

  49. 130
    ) Luci
    March 9, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Nasim, the more I read the more confused I become. I have a D700 which I love for portrait etc but I also do a lot of work in low light with fast moving subjects (dances mostly). The more I think about it the more I tend to go the D4 way also in terms of investment. Please help me make up my mind and thank you for all the good advice

  50. 131
    ) Laurent
    March 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Hello Nasim, reading your article confirm me in my choice to get a D800,I’m shooting mostly flowers (not macro but proxi) landscape,
    I use mainly very fast lenses, and shoot with aperture like 1.2, 1.4, 1.8 (except for landscape obviously)
    I’m wondering witch one to choose between the D800 and D800E ? Can you help me make up my mind and thank you for this good review
    Laurent

    • 132
      ) Laurent
      March 28, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      I forgot to mention that I never use high iso more than 2400 and mainly at 100

  51. 133
    ) B!
    April 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    “I am personally very excited about the Nikon D800, definitely more than the D4″

    Is this because you already own a D3s?

  52. 134
    ) Andre
    April 10, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Does anyone know how well the D800 face recognition auto focus works in optical mode? In other words, does it acquire correct focus as fast as say the Olympus / Sony or Panasonic digi cams ?
    Can you just shoot (like a P&S) and get pinpoint focus on the eyes of a person in front of you?

  53. 135
    ) Mustafa
    May 25, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Thanks for all reviews i learned a lot from you.
    In some post above you answer Rifat in English but if you speaks or understand Turkish to unbelievable how many languages you speaks .
    and again thanks for your articles i m going for d800e to but i think its gonna take long time to get it ?

  54. 136
    ) William Jones
    June 1, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Nasim; any progress yet on your D4 review? I have shipping confirmation on mine, and should receive early next week (Jun 4th or 5th). Have already been shooting with the D800 as a sports camera (could not get a D4 earlier), and plan to run my own comparisons ASAP.

    Thanks,
    WEJ

  55. 137
    ) john
    July 22, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Did anyone expierenced problem with DSC file numbers? After around 600 shots I,m on 3016.

  56. 139
    ) Dan
    November 20, 2012 at 8:39 am

    My main Reasons for the D4:
    1)Speed of focus – I can’t use my 85 f/1.4 or 24 f/1.4 on my D3 or on a D800 and have it focus fast enough to get in focus shots of toddlers or other erratically moving things.
    2)Ethernet port ethernet tethering- I use a Netgear WNCE2001 and Mophie Powerstation Gen 2 which works quite well.
    D4 Wireless Tethering
    Dan at Vigorotaku

  57. 140
    ) Phoenix
    March 2, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Hi. Thanks for this review. While D800 is exciting in many ways, for sports and birds its shutter speed is just impractically slow. What are your findings?

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