Nikon D800 vs D700

Now that the Nikon D800 is officially out, I am sure many photographers will be interested in seeing feature differences between the now obsolete Nikon D700 and the new D800. Please keep in mind that this Nikon D800 vs D700 comparison is purely based on specifications. A detailed comparison with image samples and ISO comparisons is already provided in my Nikon D800 Review.

Nikon D800 vs D700

Before the D4, Nikon had two flagship DSLRs for different photography 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 as 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 overall. 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 much about its high resolution.

Will the Nikon D800 be a good wedding photography camera? Absolutely. Expect it to perform better at all ISOs when the image is down-scaled to 12 MP. And to those that are scared of down-scaling an image: don’t be – the process is pretty straightforward and it is built right into Lightroom’s export window, as shown in my “how to resize images in Lightroom” article.

And for all Nikon landscape photographers out there – this is the camera we have been waiting for. Finally, we have a high resolution camera that will deliver outstanding images with great dynamic range at base ISO of 100. And best of all, compared to medium format and other expensive cameras out there, it won’t cost us an arm and a leg!

Nikon D800 vs D700 Specification Comparison

Camera FeatureNikon D800Nikon D700
Sensor Resolution36.3 Million12.1 Million
Sensor TypeCMOSCMOS
Sensor Size35.9x24mm36.0×23.9mm
Sensor Pixel Size4.8µ8.45µ
Dust Reduction / Sensor CleaningYesYes
Image Size7,360 x 4,9124,256 x 2,832
Image ProcessorEXPEED 3EXPEED
Viewfinder TypePentaprismPentaprism
Viewfinder Coverage100%95%
Built-in FlashYes, with flash commander modeYes, with flash commander mode
Storage Media1x Compact Flash and 1x SD1x Compact Flash
Continuous Shooting Speed4 FPS, 6 FPS in DX mode with MB-D12 battery grip5 FPS, 8 FPS with MB-D10 battery grip
Max Shutter Speed1/8000 to 30 sec1/8000 to 30 sec
Shutter Durability200,000 cycles150,000 cycles
Exposure Metering Sensor91,000-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering III1,005-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering II
Base ISOISO 100ISO 200
Native ISO SensitivityISO 100-6,400ISO 200-6,400
Boosted ISO SensitivityISO 50, ISO 12,800-25,600ISO 100, ISO 12,800-25,600
Autofocus SystemAdvanced Multi-CAM 3500FXMulti-CAM 3500FX
AF DetectionUp to f/8Up to f/5.6
Camera Lag0.012 seconds0.012 seconds
Video CapabilityYesNo
Video OutputMOV, Compressed and UncompressedN/A
Video Maximum Record Time20 min in 24p, 30 min in 30pN/A
Video Maximum Resolution1920×1080 (1080p) @ 24p, 30pN/A
Audio RecordingBuilt-in microphone
External stereo microphone (optional)
N/A
LCD Size3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD3.0″ diagonal TFT-LCD
LCD Resolution921,000 dots921,000 dots
HDR SupportYesNo
Built-in GPSNoNo
Wi-Fi FunctionalityEye-Fi Compatible, WT-4AEye-Fi Compatible, WT-4A
BatteryEN-EL15 Lithium-ion BatteryEN-EL3e Lithium-ion Battery
Battery Life850 shots (CIPA)1,000 shots (CIPA)
Battery ChargerMH-25 Quick ChargerMH-18a Quick Charger
Weather Sealed BodyYesYes
USB Version3.02.0
Weight (Body Only)31.7 oz. (900g)35 oz. (995g)
Dimensions144.78 x 121.92 x 81.28mm147 x 123 x 77mm
MSRP Price$2,999 (as introduced)$2,999 (as introduced, dropped to $2,699.95)

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 significantly reduced. For example, when you look at a 12 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 12 MP, then the 36 MP image is actually going to come out cleaner than the 12 MP image. In addition, if you had a slight focus issue on both, the 36 MP image would look sharper when down-sampled to 12 MP. What I am trying to say here, is that you should not be scared of a high resolution D800, thinking that it will be in any way 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 will 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.

Videographers should be super excited about the D800, because they can record uncompressed videos at 1080p full HD for 30 minutes straight, with full exposure control. The uncompressed video is a big deal, because it can give production-quality results for film-makers that can now record videos to external devices. There is even a dedicated live view mode for recording videos that gives quick access to exposure control, including white balance. The Nikon D700 has no capability to record videos, so that’s a huge difference there.

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

Comments

  1. February 6, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Thanks Nasim – I really like your approach to photography.
    D800E will be fantastic for studio snake shoots and the Zoo with a 300 mm. and the possibility to crop a bit. – and thats what I do :-)

  2. 2
    ) Suhaimi
    February 6, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Mr. Nasim,

    Nikon D800 expeed 3; D700 expeed. Late night typo hehe

    • February 6, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      Where do you see that? It shows EXPEED 3 on both for me :)

    • February 6, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      Oops, my bad, that’s a bad copy paste there lol!

      • 11
        ) Suhaimi
        February 6, 2012 at 7:45 pm

        Hehe you’re welcome ;)

  3. 3
    ) Suhaimi
    February 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Oh yes! Yay for Nikonians!!! ;p

  4. 5
    ) Suhaimi
    February 6, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Mr. Nasim;

    I meant to correct it. D700′s has got Expeed. Not the latest Expeed 3 ;) hehe I don’t blame you for the typo. Cause I’m super excited too tho I have no money to buy it lol. Will eagerly look forward to your review on D800 soon. Yay again!

    • February 6, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      Suhaimi, thanks for letting me know, I fixed the error :)

      • 12
        ) Suhaimi
        February 6, 2012 at 7:52 pm

        You’re welcome ;)

  5. 6
    ) Mike
    February 6, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Nasim, thanks for the comparison. I’ve been waiting for over a year to go from my D5000 to a full frame. I’m not a pro, just an enthusiast with a couple things printed in magazines. I shoot a lot of landscape, but also some high speed sports, racing, downhill skateboarding, etc. I’m just concerned about the FPS limit on the D800. Plus if I bought a D700 right now, I’d have the extra money to get my 300 mm f4 with a TC 14 converter that you like so much. I guess I’m still deciding.

    • February 6, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      Mike, if you shoot a lot more landscape than anything else, then the D800 is what you want. If you want to get the Nikon D700, then it will be difficult to obtain one (all stores are out). You might want to give a call to your local store and see if they have one for you. If D800 restricts you from buying better glass, then get the D700 instead – it is still a phenomenal camera!

      • 56
        ) Mark
        February 11, 2012 at 9:09 am

        Mr Mansurov, I am in the same dilemma as I imagine a lot of people are. Would you recommend a Second hand d700 with say a 24-70 f2.8 or the d800 body ? Mainly landscapes but occasionally sports. I have a 300s and the mb 10 grip now so the switch to the 700 would be painless but the 800 is so tempting. Also, your thoughts on post processing of a huge raw file, do you think this is a problem ? Will it add significant length to processing times do you think ? Merging 3 raw files I imaging may take an age ??
        Many thanks for an outstanding website.

      • 58
        ) Mike
        February 12, 2012 at 11:25 am

        Nasim,

        Well, since the D800 came in at $2999, I bought it. Now I still have the money for the 300mm F4. I also read that the D800 will autofucus up to F8, so I wonder how the 300mm would work with a TC 1.7 converter. If you have one, please let us know after you get your D800. As always, thanks for your excellent reviews and suggestions for us to improve our technique.

  6. 7
    ) OC Mike
    February 6, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Mr. Mansurov, you are the best. I love your reviews. But a $2,700 D700 that shoots in the dark with no noise and that which is beyond the skill level for atleast 2/3rds of its owners…versus…a $4,000 D800 that anyone recommends reducing from 36M down to 12M so as to reduce noise with the same LCD screen and movies that nobody wants. So, $1,300 more to get slightly more that cannot be seen unless you pixel peep? For weddings, what is the difference? For landscape, who needs to blow it up when 90% of us view photos on our laptops? For sports, on a 300mm or a 400mm, can you see a difference?
    The only reason is market competition with Canon, who are selling megapixels. More is better. One day, some time, either one of the lesser competitors is going to put a full frame sensor on a DX/APS-C sized small camera. ..and blow the market away.

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      Mike, I apologize for the incorrect price I posted earlier. My source sent me the info in Euro currency and I converted it to USD, which is what I should not have done. The correct price is $2,999, not $3,999!

      • 36
        ) OC Mike
        February 7, 2012 at 2:32 pm

        Mr. Mansurov, that certainly places it right into the D700 price bracket. You are the best! In viewing the photos where Nikon paid the top fashion photographers to take pics last April using set designers, customers designers, makeup designers, lighting designers, computer software experts, whew! The pics are impressive. But sure would like to see all that support team doing a comparo shot between 700 & 800? What do you think?

  7. 13
    ) ravib
    February 6, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Does the d800 look like that?
    Or is that a guess?
    It sort of looks ugly from the outside but the tech specs are sweet!

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      Ravib, no that’s a real picture of the D800 and it looks great in my opinion!

  8. 14
    ) n.kondratjev
    February 6, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Sir,
    you are not right saying that noise of
    D800 cropped to 12mp like D700 will be less
    compared to D700. It’s a nonsence.
    The noise directly depends on pixel size,.or
    to be more correct the ratio signal/noise will be
    higher the more size a pixel

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      I never said that noise will look better when the image is “cropped”. I used the word “down-sampled”, which is not the same as cropping. Please see my articles on down-sizing images in Lightroom and Photoshop I posted last week.

    • 44
      ) Amit
      February 8, 2012 at 1:30 am

      >>It’s a nonsence.
      Mr. n.kondratjev, we all disagree with certain things and there is no harm in that but the disagreement can be stated in a bit more polite way. Don’t you agree?

      Also, the correct spelling is ‘nonsense’ (ends with ‘se’).

  9. February 6, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Oh well, another great gizmo I cannot afford. Some folks will consider me as privileged with the D700, which is a phenomenal camera, and which sorta did a number on the $s! I look forward to your test of the actual beast. You are correct about the glass which is what the next obliteration of the budget will be!

  10. 16
    ) nnick kondrat
    February 6, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Hi there,
    It’s a wrong idea that d800 sensor
    cropped to the size of d700(12mp)
    produces the less noise than d700.
    It’s a nonsence. The bigger size of a pixel
    the higher ratio signal/noise, ie the noise of
    d800 sensor cropped to 12 mp will be more than
    d700 noise, just because the pixel size of d700
    at one and a half time more than d800 sensor has.
    rgds
    nick

    • 19
      ) Dasbose
      February 6, 2012 at 10:05 pm

      Nasim didn’t say cropping the image would produce less noise. He said down-sampling would. And yes, he is correct about down-sampling.

  11. 17
    ) Paul
    February 6, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Hi Nasim, Thanks for the quick write up in such short time.
    In terms of resizing an image to produce an image with apparently less noise, I couldn’t really comment on the technical merits. While it may help some situations, it does seem a waste to have a camera with such high resolution and then throw that resolution away just to reduce noise a bit. Of course, we will have to wait to see what the quality output is first.

    My concerns are with the photo site size, as it is roughly half that of the d700 it’s going to be far more susceptible to micro motion blur (can’t remember the exact term). Essentially, the smaller a photo site is the more sensitive it is to very small movement, images appear less sharp if a camera is subject to a small movement when the image is taken, though movement as a whole will not be apparent in the image, it just wont be as sharp. It’s just a niggle really.

    The only other thing is that the frame rate has dropped drastically. A max 6fps (dx) vs 8fps (fx) is a big difference. I am not a rapid shooter myself, so this is all theoretical for me, but I know wildlife photographers (especially for birds) like to have more fps (at 10fps a bird can go from full flight 2m from a tree to being perched on the tree in one frame, that’s fast!) every little helps.

    Before, when the D3 and D700 were originally out, they weren’t 100% comparable but they were close enough that the D700 took sales from the D3. The D800 seems to be purposefully distanced, higher res yes, but lower fps and less higher up ISO. The D4 and D800 will have their markets but there is now a technical gap between the two. I own a 5dII, not a d700, but we know that in both cases these cameras cut into the sales of the higher ups. I think that the small gap between the D3 and D700 has now grown into a huge gap between the D4 and D800. Nikon haven’t just produced a higher res camera for semi-pros, they’ve made it higher res as a marketing tool, while simultaneously making it the reason and excuse for the lower fps and non improvement in ISO.

    They have almost made enough space for a D4x – very slightly lower resolution, superior ISO performance, much faster fps (think 28mp, 8fps (10fps dx), 100-25,600 ISO native).

    Sorry, I know this is all theoretical, we’ve had no proper image samples to look at let alone had someone use the cameras in the field and give use real feedback on how they perform.

    One last thing – the D700 was US$2200 here in Japan in mid Jan, since then it has steadily climbed to US $2500 (today). I wonder if it will go back down once the D800 is out?

    I was going to write something else, but got interrupted two hours ago and forgot what is was, better get this posted and get on with some work!

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      Paul, rest assured that we will not see a Nikon D4x – Nikon eliminated the “X” line with the Nikon D800.

      As for down-sampling an image to get less noise, it truly works, as I have explained in some of my articles. Don’t forget that with a high resolution sensor, you not only have an advantage to down-sample images to reduce noise, but also get more sharpness from them when down-sampled, plus the option to have excellent dynamic range and high resolution at ISO 100 (something you do not have with the D700).

      Now as far as micro motion, it will be more visible only when you look at an image at 100%. Again, down-sampling will reduce the effect, making it no different than shooting with a lower resolution camera.

      As for FPS drop, it is expected, given that we are dealing with humongous 36MP images.

      • 47
        ) alex
        February 9, 2012 at 3:52 am

        And to make it easy : with or without any downsampling, a SAME size print will be cleaner with the D800 than with the D700.
        Pros and cons to me :
        + 36mp gives you a lot more details if used in low iso and still beat the D700 if used in high iso
        + 100% viewfinder
        + 16mp Dx mode gives you extra range if needed and you get the same IQ as with a D7000
        + better livewiew +video
        - fps
        - size of files that will require extra cards, storage and probably a new computer.

        Overall performance is better except fps, IQ possibilities for big prints is amazing, but it actually comes at a price which is not only the body but also the extra hardware to process the images. That makes it a no go to me because of these extra costs. But I would certainly prefer it to my D700.

  12. 20
    ) Gabe Co
    February 6, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    I can’t wait for the ISO comparison :D

  13. 21
    ) Roland
    February 7, 2012 at 12:05 am

    Personally, what I love the most about the D800 compared to the D700 is the 100% viewfinder (critical for tight compositions, especially when trying to exclude things from near the edges of the frame; this was always bugging me on the D700) and the increased dynamic range due to the base ISO of 100.

    Best,
    Roland

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      Roland, fully agree with you! When shooting landscapes with the D700, it has been a little annoying to plan ahead due to 95% frame coverage…

  14. February 7, 2012 at 2:13 am

    Thanks for the late night review, at last the beast is out. Formidable! The price is right.

    The main advance, for most of us who stay at the computer size images level, is the addition of video, which is becoming a mainstream factor for dslr owners. Am not a video fan and if needed, the V1 will do.

    This is great news for new owners but will keep my beloved D700 as long as it shoots and carry the Nikon 1, which is THE Nikon major breakthrough. Peter

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      You are most welcome Peter! I also decided to keep my Nikon D700 as a backup camera, love it too much to part with it!

      • 70
        ) Omar
        March 5, 2012 at 8:19 pm

        I agree with you Nasim, love it too much to part with it. D700 is phenomenal.

        Thank you for the great post.

  15. 23
    ) Jorge Balarin
    February 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Dear Nasim,

    Has the D700 a moire filter ?

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      Jorge, all Nikon DSLRs produced to date have AA filters.

  16. 28
    ) Beau
    February 7, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    So assuming I can find a used d3s for around $3,400, should I get that or the new D800? Also taking into consideration that I would also get the adittional battery grip for the D800, which is $616!!! So essentially same price but the D3s would be used (boooooo!!) however, a sacriface I am more than willing to make.

    I am a wedding photographer fresh out of school coming from a D80, with experience using a D700. I have been waiting and saving for a while but still have a budget of $4-5,000 after its all said and done. My biggest worry is ISO performance at receptions. I understand what you are saying about scalling the D800 images to 12mp, but how will that compare the the d3s (at low light)?

    D800 is very tempting, just making sure I am getting the camera for me. Also, the video is VERY tempting but it does not make or break my decision. More of a personal bonus, not really useful for wedding photography. Thanks!

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      Beau, who said that the grip is $616? I don’t think it will be that expensive.

      If I were you, I would get the Nikon D800, unless you find yourself shooting in low-light situations without the ability to use a speedlight / external flash.

      I have the Nikon D3s and I can tell you that I avoid high ISO shots above ISO 1600 when shooting weddings. I would rather use a speedlight and lower ISO, than shoot at high ISOs and lose the skin details.

      • 37
        ) Beau
        February 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm

        http://www.nikonusa.com/Nikon-Products/Product/Power-Packs/27040/MB-D12-Multi-Power-Battery-Pack.html

        It’s on Nikon’s website………. very expensive! thats how they got the body down to $3,000

        Yea, receptions are my biggest worry, sometime at night and outside with nothing to bounce the flash, but I make it work. I haven’t run into a situation that I couldn’t use my flash at all though, the only time that would happen is if the church does not allow flash or if my flashes were to break. Hopefully none happen, but we always need to be prepared.

        If the down sampling really works then maybe the 800 will be the better choice. I have used the D700 before for a wedding shoot and loved it. It was actually the wedding that was outside at nigh with nothing but candles in a few places and some white christmas lights strung up. I would have been screwed if I only had my D80!

        It’s all about having the best/ right tools ( that you can afford) to make sure your prepared for anything.

        • February 7, 2012 at 4:27 pm

          Oh wow, it must be made out of gold, LOL :)

          Well, if you are happy with the Nikon D700, then rest assured that you will be very happy with the Nikon D800!

          • 48
            ) ChrisVT
            February 9, 2012 at 6:12 am

            Adorama has the grip for $449. Much more reasonable, still a little high, though. The grip for the d7000 is $219!

  17. 39
    ) Oscar Solis
    February 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Thank you Mr. Mansurov, your review have been real eye-openers for me!

    And now, with this review on the Nikon D800 I feel re-assured and have no more second thoughts on having pre-ordered that camera this morning.

  18. 40
    ) David H
    February 7, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    I just want to say how cool this site is vs some of the others I watch. At least people can express an opinion without the knives coming out from all quarters. I have watched this D800 release now forever (it seems) waiting to replace my trusty but tired D-200. I almost bought a D700 like 20 times and I’m so glad I waited. This may not be a huge leap forward in ISO or FPS but the D800 looks like a perfect fit for 80% of the shots I take. When I make money on the other 20% perhaps I can get a D4 as a second body.

  19. February 7, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Is it just me or does this camera look more a replacement for 5D Mark II rather than the D700?

    • 43
      ) Jitendra
      February 8, 2012 at 12:40 am

      BTW

      Quick question – Are these AA filters a physical part that is just removed? If so, why does removing a part from a camera costing $300 more?

  20. 42
    ) ellery chua
    February 7, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Mr Mansurov, I understand the technical baseline you are starting from to arrive at your downsize to reduce noise position.
    I was think along the same line until I read closer some of Nikon material on the D800 -” noise levels at higher ISO may be slightly better than the D700″. It could mean that the engineers have tweak a better noise alogirithem and nor used a higher noise reduction % while keep details to give a cleaner file. You can do the same in Lightroom.
    For example the D300 has a I suspect high noise level than a D700 and D3s, this can be cleaned up with judicial use of the noise reduction function in LR. The finished file will be cleaner and also sharper than out from camera, noise after all will reduce sharpness by fuzzing things up.
    Ditto here for the D800 if they tweak it so that it will be noiser than the D4, we can try to process the files to make them better.
    My point being that the downsizing way may not be the only way out here.

  21. 45
    ) sm
    February 8, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    hi Nasim,

    Need advice on a couple of things.

    Firstly, although the D800 is very tempting, I think I will stick to d700 for now. I don’t need the 36 MP ( almost never get giant sized print outs). I like shooting landscapes and travel, for which the d700 works well. 95% viewfinder coverage is an issue, but I have made my peace with it. That being said, would d700 parts, battery, grip, etc still be available for us down the line?

    Also, I am looking for a backup. On a prior trip to Great Falls, my camera broke down and I had to get it repaired. With the d800 announcement, I think I might get a d700 back up, which may become cheaper. My questions is, is going the d700 as a back up a good option or should I go for d7000 as a backup. The body is small, the dx lenses are smaller. Its tempting. Sometimes the FX body and lenses are just a pain.

    thanks again for all the info!

    sm

  22. 46
    ) Jules
    February 8, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Dear Nasim,

    As many others have stated, your website is wonderfully comprehensive yet terrifically comprehendible! I have pre-ordered the D800, shooting with a Canon at present. Need to add lenses for wedding and portraiture work. Reviewed your list and agree with all! However, if you had to choose just two, a zoom and a fixed, what would they be? Also, do you feel the D800 (at this time) is a better choice than a D700? I believe many are more adamant over these cameras than the presidential election :)! Thank you in advance for your consideration and reply. I am a fan and will continue to be!

  23. 49
    ) Johnniee
    February 9, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Nasim -

    Thanks again for all the wonderful info about the D800 and your ability to break things down so it is easy to understand. Well thought out and intuitive website too!

    With the D800 coming out, some D700 users are getting rid of their D700. At what price does a used D700 with (20,000 – 30,000 shutter actuations is what I’ve been seeing on Craigslist in my area) tip it in its favor vs. a new D800? I’m presently shooting a D300 and good glass is not an issue as I have the 16-35/4 VR, 24-70/2.8, 105/2.8 micro, and 70-200/2.8 VR II. Spent my money on good lenses while waiting for the D800, but the prices on used D700′s is making me think twice about the D800. (no, I’m not selling my landscape photos…just a hobby)

  24. 50
    ) ravin
    February 10, 2012 at 12:35 am

    have you ordered a d800?

  25. 51
    ) gianpaolo
    February 10, 2012 at 6:47 am

    nasim… last time you persuaded me to buy a 70-200 vrii, this time i’m afraid that it will happen again…
    i have studied the high iso shots from ferra.ru, and they seem less artistic than similar shots from my d700. i mean, d700 noise at 6400 is almost luminance only, while d800 seems to have an higher chroma noise. because high iso photos are never technically perfect, i prefer a camera that has been tuned for a specific rendering of this shots, like the d3/d700, that i really like and prefer to all others (except d3s). what is your opinion? we all are wating for your hands-on review!

  26. 52
    ) Amar
    February 11, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Dear Nasim

    Appreciate you reviews. Wonder if I can ask a question that may sound stupid.
    My situation: I take pictures almost exclusively of birds. Latest equipment is Nikon D7000 with Sigma AF OS 150-500mm. I shoot exclusively handheld, usually at 500mm (DX format helps). Reasonably happy with set up, light enough, fair quality, quick. I have wanting to improve reach and/or resolution of birds but keeping handheld ability. Have looked extensively as how to upgrade. Even considered new Nikon EDG VR scopes handheld. A much heavier body is not possible. Cost not a big issue.
    Question: Do you think the D800 would be an advantage with its higher resolution (allow me to crop some smaller birds at further distance)? I recognise it is FX and has a slower fps. Any input valued.
    Thanks
    Amar

    • 53
      ) ellery chua
      February 11, 2012 at 4:35 am

      Amar,

      There is an issue – with the D800 because of the great increase in MP it is very likely that hand shake will translate into poorer image quality i.e. soft pictures to blur ones. Note that the fashion sample pictures were shot in studio using studio flashes were it is a norm that you can hand hold or if extremely fussy use a tripod to lock angles. That photographer choose to shoot every shot on tripod – yes he could have been trying to maximize the results, then again it could be that this could have an issue until you adapt to the camera. If you say came from a 7MP camera to a 12MP full frame like a D700 or D3, you will notice an initial spate of blur pictures until you learn the stabilize the camera more. I suspect the same will apply to the D800. For nature work, I seem to find that with 500mm focal length a tripod mounting seems to be the best way to go. The higher MP and resolution should give you the ability to crop in and still have details – there are some example pictures that show this fact.

  27. 54
    ) Amar
    February 11, 2012 at 5:15 am

    Dear Ellery

    Thank you for this response. I notice the issue you mentioned (initial spate of blur pictures) when I moved from a D90 to the D7000 but managed to adjust after 1-2 weeks. Have used tripods & monopods but birds do not like them & it limits my access & friendship with them ;) Hence have move entirely to handheld, non flash photography. Will take your comments into consideration. Thanks

  28. 55
    ) Jonathan
    February 11, 2012 at 7:09 am

    Hi Nasim.

    I have a D700. Do you think I should sell the D700 for the D800? (My 2nd D700 is valued at $2100)

    Thanks :D

  29. 57
    ) Joe
    February 12, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Hi,

    Love your site and info! After reading about downsizing d800 pics I’m wondering if at time of capture I used a lower resolution quality setting on a D800 IE jpg normal instead jpg fine what the impact would be compared to a D700 at jpg fine settings. I’m a wedding photographer and don’t feel the need for the huge files all the time. I’m wondering about using full for formals and perhaps lower res shooting reception and party.

  30. 59
    ) Francis
    February 14, 2012 at 2:39 am

    does the d800 have an option on the image sizes? Like small = 12mp, medium =24mp and large = 36mp…

    At least before you shoot, you already set the image size.

  31. February 14, 2012 at 5:00 am

    Would you recommend some buying a new D700, or a new D800 (depending on the price)?

    Is the 800 going to blow away the 700?

    Thanks

  32. 61
    ) afselkamal
    February 15, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Hi Nasim,

    first of all your reviews are awesome and very helpful. thanks a lot for your efforts.

    About this D800 buying, there is few query;
    1. higher ISO (which greater than 1200) : when compare with D700 which will be better?
    2. is build quality is better than D700 ?
    3. as we know the more reach in cropped sensor (DX mode); can we get 16 megapixel better image in D800 when compare with D7000?

  33. February 15, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Hi Nasim, great review. I’ve been trying to find a side by side comparison of the D4′s video specs compared to the D800. Any idea if the video functionality is the same or does the D4 offer anything the D800 doesn’t?

  34. 63
    ) Jens Johansson
    February 19, 2012 at 8:55 am

    My gripe is that while yes, I could probably get as good low light capabilities from a D800 as with my current D700′s by downscaling, low light shots are a good 70%+ of my images, being a wedding photographer and using natural light as much as possible. That would mean that for those 70% of my shots I would get much larger files for very small actual gains in final quality, a significant concern when a full days wedding shoot leaves me with several thousand images to manage.

    The rest of the shots will benefit from the higher resolution no doubt, but the question is if the benefit will be significant enough for me to allow me to charge my customers more? Seeing how very few of my images are ever printed larger than A3 size I would say the answer is probably no.

    So the significant conclusion is that I will probably increase my workload somewhat and need more storage to manage the files and I will be able to make some pictures with better quality which will probably only be appreciated by myself and not allow me to make any more money. That means that from a business point of view upgrading my two D700 to two D800 would be madness right now. The D4 would make a much more interesting upgrade, but that’s an even larger investment and I don’t really want to carry bigger bodies than I do right now.

    I would personally love to get one of both of the new bodies, but at least to me, spending what equals the cost of a decent used car or a sizable payment on my mortgage on camera bodies just because I want them, not because it allows my business to develop just isn’t an option.

    • 64
      ) gianpaolo
      February 19, 2012 at 9:36 am

      it seems that d800 can store reduced resolution pictures.
      the question is how it does it:
      - by decimation
      - by digital filtering
      for instance, 5d2 can save reduced resolution pictures with better quality compared to a sensor with les pixels.
      it seems that there are very few d800 around, it will be interesting to investigate these problems.
      theoretically, a sensor with more pixels is noisier than anpther of same area and less pixels, because the area efficiency is lower (pixel to pixel space is lost). however, process improvements are much more significative… at least until we approach the physical quantum efficiency. by the way, how far are we? i’m shure that some scientist is reading this, and i’m interested in reading about it.
      for the moment, i’m very satisfied with artistic quality of d700, but is difficult to deal with nas… and it really seems that nikon made their homework! pity for the absence of U1, U2 of d7000, that cannot be included in a sw revision in any way, i’m afraid.
      waiting for your review!
      ps i had too pneumonia, very painful… hope you are better now

    • 65
      ) ellery chua
      February 19, 2012 at 9:48 am

      Jens,
      I hear where you are coming from. If you read the just released Nikon Technical guide to using the D800, there is more than just the larger file size to contend with. Roughly speaking you will need to do a look through the way you work from ground up.
      I though the wedding day samples were done on an actual wedding day shoot – from some of the location shots featured in the Technical Guide I suspect that if it was more of a staged shoot. Yes it was shot hand held but in an actual day situation you have to work faster than if it was a stage shoot so until you readapt to the new requirements the camera makes on the photographer there will be a higher percentage to NG’s.

      I suggest thinking up new ways to see wall enlargements to your clients. You may need to spend on some wall hanging samples as proof of what I say to kick start this. The sparkle of the files would only start to show up I think in enlargements greater than 20 x 30 inches.

      ELse may be picking up a used D3s and letting go one of the D700 may be a better idea. The D4 has its charms but the battery issue could be a deal breaker. If you stay at what you are doing, there is little gain for getting a D4. Actually unless you plan to do extensive available light work with fast primes there is little need even for a D3s

      I am too at this cross roads. Pondering what to do. Perhaps I will just get the 85/1.8 afs g first then see what to do when the first 3 to 4 shipments come in and people start using it first then see again. No point being an early beta adopter.

      • 66
        ) Jens Johansson
        February 19, 2012 at 10:41 am

        Yes, in all honesty I am perfectly fine with the D700 for my work, at least IQ wise. But some features from the newer bodies are juicy, not least of all the claims of an even better AF and metering system, things that can always be better for the kinds of photography that requires working fast. I would have loved an upgrade to those, maybe the D4 sensor, in a D800 body, but fully understand Nikon’s business reasons for not doing that. A high MP camera is probably useful to a larger group of people including enthusiasts where a low light, fast camera is a more specialized tool.

        • 72
          ) SM
          April 6, 2012 at 5:45 am

          Nasim, I Appreciate the sensible and informed discussion you’ve allowed for here (just stumbled across 6 weeks later!).
          I’ve had a D700 for a about a year – and the decision was largely based on it’s low light capacity.
          Like you Jens, I’d love to have some of the juicy features in the D800 – especially the HD movie function….but if I’m honest, the lust for the newest and biggest resolution doesn’t rule out that the D700 does everything I’ve wanted it to – and with finesse.

  35. 67
    ) Ravil Shinikulov
    March 1, 2012 at 5:43 am

    Насим привет!
    Когда уже можно его купить?

  36. 71
    ) John
    March 29, 2012 at 3:03 am

    OMG!! D800 is so much more better that I don’t even understand how I managed to take all those outstanding pictures with my poor old D700.. OMG! What should I do now?!

  37. 73
    ) 65tbirdsteve
    May 9, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Can anyone recommend a studio plash system for the D800? I have an old Speedtron 2400ws system for my film cameras. What system do you recommend for this camera? I plan to do weddings and hope the D800 will be a good choice.

    Thx,
    Steve

  38. 74
    ) Kapitan
    June 18, 2012 at 9:03 am

    With the introduction now of the d800, the d700 comes in at a good buy for a little over 2k where i am from.. However i am reading on a lot of blogs about issues with this camera particularly with the hotshoe. Is this so much of an issue – something which can be easily fixed? Have you any personal experience owning the d700 with speedlight firing randomly? I don’t want buyers remorse spending 2k on camera which will give me headaches.

    kind regards,
    kapitan

  39. 75
    ) Marsha
    June 18, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    I have been spending a lot of time researching which camera I should buy to replace my D300. I feel (for me) that the D800 is a bit too slow and the files way too large for my needs. I am hesitant about buying the D700 as it is 4 years old and only 12+ megapixel, but at least I have 2 Nikon FX lenses along with the MBD10 battery pack, SB 800 & SB900 flashes which will work with the D700. I probably can’t go wrong, but is this the right decision, I can’t seem to make up my mind whether to just go ahead and get the D700.

  40. 76
    ) Servaas
    July 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    What should you suggest for interior and architecture photography ?
    The d700 will be more then fine I suppose ?

  41. September 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    re “now obsolete Nikon D700 and the new D800″ … I would prefer to think of the D700 as superseded, rather than obsolete. It’s still a great camera, and there are times when 12mp are perfectly adequate or fine. I do want 2 D800s though. ASAP!

    • 82
      ) Jorge Balarin
      January 31, 2013 at 5:51 am

      Yes, the D700 is more than adequate more of the time; very much more than the D800.

  42. 78
    ) suraj
    December 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    i have nikon d7000 24 70 2.8 , 50 1.8, now i have a budget for buying d800 but still cant decide weather to buy d800 or 70 200 2.8 lens, please need your openion on this. this are my savings which i keep it every 8 mths to buy lens or camera or other acc.

    Regards
    suraj

    • 79
      ) ellery
      December 17, 2012 at 3:46 pm

      suraj in all things photographic the touchstone for for buying decisions has been how will having this change your (way of doing) photography. will it enable you to produce better quality of pictures ? Increase your keeper rate ? enable you to do some area of photography that your current set of equipment does not allow you to ?
      Both the long lens (70-200) and the D800 have valid reason to be in your bag. A body allows you to get a better quality of captured/created file, the lens enables you to do that capture/creation. From a form, shape and perspective point of view the use of the correct focal length and shooting distance plus angle of shooting will produce a truer depiction of the subject form be it human or non human. Issues like your become clear once you sit down to look at how are your pictures from which ever area of photography you do (nature, landscape, macro, people). How can having this new piece of equipment help you move up in quality or being able to do more.

  43. 80
    ) scott
    January 31, 2013 at 5:13 am

    To whom it may concern,

    I have just recently acquired the Nikon D800 and noticed that there is an uneven gradation on my computer screen with blue skies when shot in FX mode with varying Nikkor VR lenses. I also see this blue sky variation in tone that appears to resemble moire, or other horizontal and concave variation in pixel formation. I am very disappointed in this regard initially. Is it my computer screen from Powerbook G4 (2005) I sent the image to my iphone and noticed it to be similar. I will endevour to use newer computers at uni with greater resolutions. I have read somewhere in a forum that this change in tone is either ‘detail’ in the blue sky, to me looks unusual compared to traditional SLR photography and dark room processes.

    I also read that this can be eliminated using photoshop…i have cs2 and it only seems to diminish it…can this be iliminated in ‘lightroom’? (which one is compatible with D800 please?)

    I was quite happy to buy d800 after looking at the reviews fro smooth gradations for blue sky, as i use it for landscape photography quite often…This does not seem to be the case.

    If i used either dx crop mode with 15 or so megapixels? would this fix my issue? or would lightroom mp downsampling give the blue sky a more natural look that i have grown to love from my days of using the darkrooms in the past. At this stage i do find an amazing resolution and detail in the foreground, objects, people etc in great light, particularly natural light and direct sunlight…and the video mode is amazing…

    That seems to be my overiding frustration with the issue of the variation in the blue sky…can anyone help please, as it is driving insane trying to find a solution as the camera store said i was pushing the envelope, but how can this be true when i get the same effect as seen in your examples? Is this therefore normal with the d800 and considered detail as already discussed? I can get nice blue skies with my $100 kodak camera and 12.2 megapixels without the blue patterns of two tones that resemble moire…thankyou in advance

    • 81
      ) Jorge Balarin
      January 31, 2013 at 5:48 am

      What you described did happen exactly to me with my beloved D700, when I did landscape photos using a polarizer filter. I didn’tn know what it was, but finally I related the phenom with moire. Time to time in some other situations I got some moire using my D700, but never so consistently as using a polarizer filter while shooting landscape.

      • 83
        ) scott
        January 31, 2013 at 6:16 am

        Thanks for the reply…sounds like an issue with the d800E rather than the d800 according to the forums…yes i believe from a recent review that the d700 seems to deal with this better, but i am now thinking that this is because of the lower megapixels and i have just come across an article thank goodness which seems to explain this partly…it states that is has something to do with Dr…not sure exactly what this is? something to do with screen resolution and pixels…apparently the older screens are not able to recognize the increase in resolution…and another person was saying they did not see an issue apart from ‘jpeg compression’

        So this is the issue with using this sort of pixel capability as it does not seem to be able to be seen appropriately with the older computer screens that do not have a compatible resolution…although this as stated by somebody else to be non existent when printed or by using a recent ipad…

        I am a little sceptical as i seem to have a similar issue on the iphone when mailing the image to myself,but this was purchased prior to the new release of the d800 and the new iphone eos…

        I am thinking like the lightroom 4 issues with d800 that they have not yet caught up with the new technology…?

        Thankyou for the input

        scott

      • 84
        ) scott
        January 31, 2013 at 6:38 am

        Hi,

        This is what i found on Flickr

        It sounds like compression artifacts in the export and that your monitor has lower DR than the source image. If you are not seeing it as easily when viewing 100%, but the banding shows up when the image is compressed, then it’s almost certainly an output interpretation issue — most monitors have far less DR capacity than most modern sensors.

        One way to confirm is to output to a printer with a very wide gamut and hi DR capacity. The problem will almost always be less on quality print than it will be on a monitor. I paid a pretty penny for a wide gamut monitor that would prevent this sort of artifact from showing up while viewing — and even it cannot do 14.4EV of DR (it seems to run out of gas around 12.5EV). Conversion to JPG will crush things of course, as it closes the channels down to 8-bit.

        Hopegully this is true, otherwise the dx mode is better for landscapes and blue…
        regards

        • 86
          ) Jorge Balarin
          January 31, 2013 at 12:41 pm

          Thank very much for your info. Sounds logic. Best wishes.

  44. 85
    ) scott
    January 31, 2013 at 6:39 am

    Hi,

    This is what i found on Flickr

    It sounds like compression artifacts in the export and that your monitor has lower DR than the source image. If you are not seeing it as easily when viewing 100%, but the banding shows up when the image is compressed, then it’s almost certainly an output interpretation issue — most monitors have far less DR capacity than most modern sensors.

    One way to confirm is to output to a printer with a very wide gamut and hi DR capacity. The problem will almost always be less on quality print than it will be on a monitor. I paid a pretty penny for a wide gamut monitor that would prevent this sort of artifact from showing up while viewing — and even it cannot do 14.4EV of DR (it seems to run out of gas around 12.5EV). Conversion to JPG will crush things of course, as it closes the channels down to 8-bit.

    Hopefully this is true, otherwise the dx mode is better for landscapes and blue…
    regards

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