Nikon D800 has the best sensor in the world

If you have pre-ordered the Nikon D800, you will have a smile on your face after you read this. Remember my first post on the Nikon D800, where I said that it will take the #1 spot at DXOMark? Well, guess what – I was right on that one. DXOMark has just released their latest data for the Nikon D800 and it took the #1 spot away from the expensive Phase One IQ180 medium format camera. With an overall score of 95, nothing comes even remotely close to its sensor performance:

DXOMark-Nikon D800

While most of us were expecting to see incredible dynamic range performance from the D800, many photographers and critics out there were complaining about small pixels on the sensor and their implication on low-light performance. When I saw the negativity about the pixel size, I published an article on the benefits of a high resolution sensor. For some, the concept of “down-sampling” was quite new, while others strongly disagreed with me and kept on repeating the same old tune on how smaller pixels negatively affect high ISO performance. Well, those who doubted me can now take a look at the data that DXOMark has published today – the Nikon D800 pretty much matches the Nikon D4 in terms of high ISO performance. Wait a second, how is that possible, you might ask? After-all, we are not only comparing two completely different cameras for different needs, but also two cameras at completely different price points – the D4 costs twice as much as the D800.

Well, let me clarify a few things. Again, I highly recommend to follow the above-mentioned links on down-sampling. In short, down-sampling magically reduces noise. At pixel level, or as some say “at 100% view”, the Nikon D4 will obviously surpass the Nikon D800 in high ISO performance. This can be seen clearly from the following graph:

DXOMark-SNR at 100 Percent

See how the Nikon D800 lags behind in high ISO at the pixel level? But what would happen if you printed an image from both the Nikon D4 and the D800 at 16 MP resolution? Take a look at this chart now:

DXOMark-SNR at Print Size

As you can see, the Nikon D800 performs almost identical to the Nikon D4. Again, this is what reduction from 36 MP to 12 MP does to the image. Some of you might disagree with this sort of testing methodology. But as I have explained before, from the two methods of sensor comparisons, which is pixel to pixel comparison and comparison at the same resolution, the latter is the fair and correct way to assess and compare sensor performance. Taking a 100% crop view from a 36 MP image and putting it against a 100% crop view from a 16 MP image with the same sensor area will surely show deficiencies with the 36 MP image. But then you are completely disregarding the much higher resolution advantage of the 36 MP image. When publishing your photos on your blog, you don’t publish them at 100% image size. You down-sample them to a much smaller image size, something like 800 to 1024 pixels wide. So why should it be fair to compare sensors at 100% view? Judging from the high ISO performance chart above, if you took images from the D800 and the D4 and down-sampled them to 16 MP at ISO 6,400, both would look more or less the same. But it does not just stop there – the D800 would have more resolution / sharpness as well. So if you slightly missed your focus on the D4 image, it would certainly be visible at 100% view and 16 MP, while the image from the D800 would appear sharper. Crazy, but it is true.

Does this mean that the Nikon D800 is better than the D4 and does it make the D4 a less of a camera? No, absolutely not. Again, we are talking about two cameras for completely different needs. The Nikon D800 has the resolution, dynamic range and colors that are very close to the medium format range, while the Nikon D4 has the speed, better weather sealing, shutter durability and many other great features that are not found on the D800. On top of that, the Nikon D800 stops at ISO 25,600, while the Nikon D4 can go all the way to ISO 204,800. So for extreme situations where light conditions are extremely poor, the Nikon D4 can still take pictures. Wildlife and sports photographers will obviously choose the D4 for these reasons.

For anyone who doubts the accuracy of the DXOMark lab tests (Canonites hate DXOMark, because it always shows Canon cameras ranking much lower than Nikon), check out my Nikon D4 vs D3s vs D3 ISO comparison and compare it to the DXOMark data. You will find that my tests very closely match those of DXOMark. While some of their very first tests might have had some flaws, they have since solidified their testing methodology and it has now become a great benchmark tool for sensor comparisons.

As for me, I will post my Nikon D800 high ISO comparisons, along with a review very soon. Comparisons will include Nikon D800, D700, D4, D3s, D3, D7000, Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 5D Mark III. It will be the most complete review I have done so far. Since it will take me a long time to get this review up on the site, I will have to publish it in pieces. I am expecting the very first part to be available as early as Tuesday of next week (03/27/2012). Stay tuned folks, I am very excited!

More images from the DXOMark site:

DXOMark-Dynamic Range

Nikon D800 vs D4 vs D3s

DXOMark-Nikon D800 First Place

DXOMark-Nikon D800 Dynamic Range Ranking

And the link to the original article on D800 performance from DXOMark.


  1. 1) Michael
    March 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Oha ;-)


    • March 23, 2012 at 12:49 pm

      OK, that means you have either pre-ordered, or already got yours? :)

    • 1.2) timon
      March 23, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      “print” quality is obviously more important than the “screen” mode, you are impossible to view and admire the photos with a screen always, with a 36MP or a 16MP.

      the 8Mpix image is not a resized from 36MP, rather it is cropped the image to get a middle 8Mpix image to the print, which is not a problem.

      if you only wanted to watch on screen, please resize from 36MP, I think that you did not need a 36MP.

      • 1.2.1) timon
        March 23, 2012 at 6:32 pm

        “Wildlife and sports photographers will obviously choose the D4 ”
        Yes, you are right.

        Landscape and Portrait photographers will be rather to choose the d800.
        Besides, there are also including many high-level enthusiasts.

  2. 2) Robert
    March 23, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    This is really looking good!
    And now we’re adding in some real world images that are starting to come out that look spectacular.

    How do you think the E will fare, Nasim?


    • March 23, 2012 at 12:52 pm

      Robert, yes, I am planning some big photo shoots during the next 30 days to show what the D800 is really capable of. The Nikon D800E will also be tested separately and I will put both side by side to show differences. I suspect the D800E will have a very slight edge over the D800, something most people will not even notice. With a proper sharpening technique, the D800 image can be enhanced to look just as good in my opinion. Nevertheless, I cannot wait to get my hands on the D800E as well! Too bad Nikon is delaying that one until mid April.

      • 2.1.1) Robert
        March 23, 2012 at 12:57 pm

        And I am very much looking forward to those tests!

        I’m in for an E pre-order with Amazon, and although I feel I got in fairly early (within an hour of it being available with Amazon), I’m not crazy about my chances of receiving it anytime soon from what I’m reading….These images, your findinfs and real world results are making it very tempting to start calling local dealers/Best Buy…..

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          March 23, 2012 at 1:03 pm

          Robert, trust me, you are not the only one who is looking for a D800 at the moment. I called every single Best Buy store – the store that is closest to me had 5 units yesterday and they sold out within 1 hour. If you are an NPS member, you have very good chances of obtaining one, but if you are not – then you might have to wait for months before you get your copy :( Nikon is expecting to have severe shortages of the D800, due to the excessively high number of pre-orders.

  3. 3) andrea
    March 23, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    it’s an amazing result!

    • March 23, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      Agreed, the D800 is simply phenomenal. More to come!

  4. 4) Zoltan
    March 23, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    How would the new Sony Alpha A77’s 24MP sensor compare to these cameras, using this testing method?

    • March 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      Zoltan, see this link for a D800 vs A77 comparison. As expected, the A77 is worse in dynamic range and SNR (noise). One of the reasons is that SLT mirror that takes up 2/3 of a stop. Due to the light loss on the A77, Sony has to boost its ISO limits higher than normal. For example, to get to ISO 200, they have to take the ISO 320 level and make it look like ISO 200. That’s why its noise performance is worse than the competition and that’s why the Sony NEX-7 performs better in high ISO noise than the Sony A77… Great technology, but it comes with its own sacrifices.

  5. 5) Peter
    March 23, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Admit it. You work for the Nikon Sales Division! I have a perfectly good D700, and now you show this stuff and make me wonder about getting a D800.

    I will wait for your D700 v. D800 “real-life” comparisons. If the D800 isn’t at least 25% better,Ii will stick with the D700. Be on your toes.

    • March 23, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      Haha Peter :) Come on, I have a D700 too! In all seriousness, I already see the D800 as a breakthrough, something we have not seen from Nikon since the D3.

      On a separate note, called Adorama and B&H – they have thousands of 5D Mark III units available now. After these kinds of reviews, the Canon 5D Mark III will sit on shelves for a while until its price drops down significantly. Is the D800 the 5D Mark III killer? So far it looks that way :) But obviously I am not going to make any big claims yet, not until I put them side by side and do in-depth tests…

      • 5.1.1) XGlite015
        March 26, 2012 at 9:49 am

        Sure about this? for years Canon DSLRs are still outsell Nikon’s and most professionals still choose Canon despite Canon trailing behind Nikon when it comes high ISO performance. 5D Mark III might sell well because of the name alone, I know most pros have already upgraded their mark 2s and already posted their impressions and reviews. The 5D Mark 3 vs D800 debate will be explored soon, I’ve seen Jared Polin’s (Fro Knows Photo, a Nikon user) first D800 vs 5D Mark III video on youtube. He seem to like the 5D Mark III’s grip compared to the Nikon and said he is going to get one as his first Canon setup. Kai Wong, host of digitalrevTV, also a a longtime Nikon user, doesn’t seem to be enthusiastic about the D800(and D4, digitalrev already released both D4 and D800 reviews, recommended watch. Digitalrev videos are funny and informative.) in their D800 video review @ youtube. This is why I think the D800 won’t be a 5D Mark III killer even if it has the best sensor in the world. It’s like the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, it may have the best engine in the world that can put up the fastest top speed on a straight line, but in the racetrack, where curves and other hazards exist, it is not the best supercar.

        • David B
          March 26, 2012 at 10:53 am

          U mean the same Jared Polin who judges his cameras based on smell test? Grip is an individual thing. We all have different hands and different habits. I know many people who love how canon digital rebels feel in their hands and I hate it. U need to handle d800 with ur hand first to
          Decide if it is comfortable FOR YOU. re 5dm3. 5dm2 users hated it AF system with slow AF acquisition in low light or sometimes never at all 5dm3 Users I hear some reports has also problems with slow acquisitions in low light. But I’ll wait for first professional reviews

          • Csaba Molnar
            March 26, 2012 at 11:09 am

            His smell tests are hillarious – I love his reviews for that single stunt, but I NEVER take anything he says seriously. I haven’t seen his concert stunts, but when it comes to general advice, lots of talk and very little meat. He’s funny sometimes though ;)

          • XGlite015
            March 27, 2012 at 2:54 pm

            Yep, that’s the guy, Jared Polin sniffing both the 5D Mark 3 and D800. Kai Wong of digitalrev is funnier though. I recommend watching digitalrev’s D800 and D4 review on youtube. The format is always silly and funny but also presents the facts. Kai also commented about the D800’s grip. As for professional reviews, wedding photographer Jeff Ascough already shared his 5D mark III review.I think Ken Rockwell just posted his review(haven’t read it yet) and Ron Martinsen also made a review with real world high ISO samples.

          • Emily Taylor
            April 28, 2014 at 9:47 pm

            No I have a 5d you stupid asshole it focuses fine, fucking whiney internet tricks and posers

  6. 6) Amit
    March 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    >> Comparisons will include Nikon D800, D700, D4, D3s, D3, D7000, Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 5D Mark III.

    Do you have all these cameras with you !!

    Anyway, D800 looks superb. It is priced very reasonably too. Nikon India has indicated the price to be slightly below INR 150000 which turns out to be $2930 ! For the first time Nikon will sell a high end camera at a cheaper price in India as compared to USA. I am eagerly waiting for this camera to become available in India.

    Я очень рад

    • March 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm

      Amit, yes, I will have access to all these cameras :)

  7. 7) William Jones
    March 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Having both a D4 and D800 on order (since day one), I can’t wait to get my hands on them. Have been shooting with a D3X for two years now, and the biggest advantage I see is the ability to shoot at a higher FPS rate at 14-bit NEF (the D3X 14-bit NEF rate is terrible).

    Nasim, it would be interesting to have comparisons done on both cameras of the quality difference between 12-bit and 14-bit NEF. Hopefully you will have the time and ability to include these in your reviews.

    To paraphrase the the song: “Please Mr. Postman, look and see, if you have a package for me.”

    • March 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      William, unfortunately, I do not have access to a D3x right now. Unless someone is willing to send their D3x for my tests, I will not be able to do a similar comparison :( But why worry about the D3x now? Unfortunately (for the D3x owners) Nikon has already buried it with the D800…

      • 7.1.1) William Jones
        March 23, 2012 at 2:20 pm

        Sorry I was not clearer. I meant a comparison of a D4 image at 12 bits to the same image on a D4 at 14 bits, and the same type of comparison for the D800. However, once I have both the D4 and D800 in hand, I might loan you the D3X, though I am not certain how many other people would be interested in comparing 12 and 14 bit images of the three.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          March 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm

          William, ah, I see now. Sure, I will post those comparisons when doing an in-depth review. If you do not see it, please remind me and I will post it.

  8. 8) mo
    March 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Let’s wait for 5dmIII ;)

    • March 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      It is coming!

      • 8.1.1) mo
        March 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm

        but it hasn’t come yet to dxo ;)

  9. 9) Amit
    March 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    >>Please Mr. Postman, look and see, if you have a package for me.

    Mr. postman laughed he he he
    by mistake he gave it to me.

    I opened the package, what a thrill
    and I slyly smiled, you poor Bill

    • 9.1) Amit
      March 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm

      Oops! I wanted to reply to William Jones.

      • March 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm

        I am sure he will read it :)

        • William Jones
          March 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm

          I did. Now say hello to my little friend.

  10. March 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    First, fantastic website. This has become a great resource for sorting out the Nikon line of lenses. Thank you.

    Second, I was able to pick up the D800 yesterday afternoon and have been thrilled with what I am seeing every time I dump a card. I really look forward to seeing large prints from this camera. Although I was not expecting iso3200 – 6400 to be anything I would use, I m pleasantly surprised. The real treat is in the shadow details and resolution at the lower iso range. Simply stunning!

    I am looking forward to a review of the 85mm 1.8G vs. the 1.4G….

    Thanks again,


    • March 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm

      Jay, I already have the 85mm f/1.8G with me right now, so a full comparison and review is coming up very soon! Did you get your D800 from Best Buy? I called every damn store in Colorado and none of them have it. The one right next to me was the only one that had three and they sold out in 1 hour :(

      • 10.1.1) Amit
        March 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm

        Nasim, please consider doing the test of 85mm 1.8G on D800. DxO gave a very low score to 50mm 1.8G stating that it didn’t resolve as good as the old 50mm 1.8D. If that is true then the difference would be clear on the high resolution sensor of D800. I know that you won’t have the time to check 50mm 1.8G again with D800 but since you are already planning to test 85mm 1.8G, I guess you will be able to test in on D800. This will give us opportunity to verify the authenticity of DxO mark tests for lenses, in case it says that 85mm 1.8G does not resolve as much as 1.8D.

        What do you think about the claim DxO for 50mm 1.8G? Can it really not resolve as much as 1.8D and the issue was perhaps not noticeable on a 12MP sensor?

        I don’t know much about these things but I know that you have pretty good idea about these.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          March 24, 2012 at 6:50 pm

          Amit, yes, a test of the 85mm f/1.8G on the D800 is coming up! As for DXO’s claim on the 50mm f/1.8G performance, I think they either got a bad copy, or simply do not have a good testing technique. But again, I would have to double test the 50mm f/1.8G on the D800…who knows how well it performs in resolving detail at such a high resolution.

      • 10.1.2) Jay Stebbins
        March 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm

        Exactly, I was bumped on my pre-order and could not get a straight answer of where I stood with a shop in Boston. I knew the D800 was hitting the stores and walked across the street to the nearest Best Buy. I asked a manager if they had any, she said they were expecting 2 and checked if there were any other in the area. Another Best Buy in Boston had just logged 3 into inventory. I paid for one at that moment through the girl I was working with and then drove over to the other store. It took me 10 minutes to get there and by the time I arrived the other two were being placed on a shelf for pickup as well.

        I think it pays off to go in to a store in person to talk to at least the person managing the camera department. Heck, I would bring a box of chocolates as well. You need to find the right person who is willing to hustle a little. The first guy I talked to had no idea what I was talking about. It pays to be persistent and very kind. I think luck has a lot to do with it as well.

        I look forward to seeing the 85mm review. I really need to sort that out. I am also curious if the 24-70 will be too soft in the corners for this camera?

        Thanks again,


      • 10.1.3) Martin
        March 24, 2012 at 6:53 am

        Hello Nasim
        you are terribly busy with the tests, but indeed it is so interesting to read it and to take the valuable information for improving our skills.If Nikon could get up to a lens similar to the Canon EF 800 mm that would top it. Do you know if they have plans on new long lenses? sincerely Yours

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          March 24, 2012 at 6:52 pm

          Martin, I am sure Nikon is working on a 800mm lens…they really have to if they want to stay competitive with Canon. I just don’t know when we will have it :) Just like other lenses that desperately need to be updated like 300mm f/4, 80-400mm, etc.

  11. 11) Michael
    March 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    This might be directed to you Nasim or anyone who might know. I pre-ordered the Nikon D800E on Amazon and I’m a little worried. I’ve heard that the D800 is shipping to non NPS members sometime in late April. I would really like to be able to get my hands on it because I have an upcoming African Safari planned in June. What are the chances of this camera getting in my hands by the end of May?

    • March 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      Michael, the D800E starts to ship in April. NPS members will obviously have the priority over everyone else, which sucks for those who are not in NPS. I very much hope that we can get our units in April, but it all depends on how many pre-orders there have been for the D800E. Nobody says anything as of now, but I suspect too many…

  12. 12) Mike
    March 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I put a deposit on mine the moment I could with my local store here in Canada. Second on the list, but not sure if NPS members are ahead of me. Guess I need to wait and see. Reviews like this don’t make it easy :)

    • March 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      Mike, I agree, reviews like this make it tougher for us Nikonians to get our cameras! I very much hope that Nikon will deliver more units quickly. As of now, the D800 is ranked #1 in Amazon’s top selling cameras.

  13. March 23, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Fantastic news! Ever since it was launched, I had high expectations, but this tops all! I’m probably going to upgrade at the end of this year (or early next year) – plenty of time to hone my skills with the lovely d7000 until then :) But it’s very reassuring to see these results and to know what awaits me down the road :)

  14. 14) David B
    March 23, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    I have a smile on my face, yes. Unfortunately screwed me by promising to get me my D800 last Wed and never delivering on time. I hope to now get it early next week. I preordered within the first hour-and-6-minutes :)

    • March 24, 2012 at 6:53 pm

      David, hopefully we should be getting more shipments in less than 2 weeks…

      • 14.1.1) David B
        March 24, 2012 at 7:24 pm

        Amazon finally sent mine. Will be getting it on Monday

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          March 25, 2012 at 7:58 pm

          Congrats David, that’s definitely good news!

  15. 15) Dennis L
    March 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Thanks for the link. I am eagerly awaiting mine from Amazon to arrive before my son is born end of May. Meanwhile I will practice with my D7000.

    • March 24, 2012 at 6:54 pm

      Dennis, you should get yours before May. I think Nikon makes 30,000 units per month, so they will catch up soon.

  16. 16) George B
    March 23, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    No smile here ordered the D800 here in Canada almost as soon as it was possible and the store I ordered it from said I would be lucky if I see it in October

    • March 24, 2012 at 6:54 pm

      George, I do not think you will have to wait that long…

  17. 17) Japieson
    March 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm


    Which of the two do you think will be better for video? D4 or D800?


    • March 24, 2012 at 6:55 pm

      Technically, it should be the D4, but I cannot say for sure at the moment…

  18. 18) eduardo b.
    March 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    I love reading your blog.

    Wich camera do you think is going to be better for weddings. D800 or D4?


    • March 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm

      Eduardo, the Nikon D800 is a better fit than the D4 for weddings. It is twice cheaper, has the same high ISO performance when down-sampled and offers super high resolution the D4 does not have. Plus, you do not need the speed of the D4, so why waste the money?

  19. 19) Amitava Basu
    March 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    I want to go for the D800 but some D800 ‘real world’ samples posted by are not that impressive compared to what comes out of my D3S –
    The DxO test however gives the sensor top marks! Can’t wait for your review of pictures taken by both D800 & D800E before deciding!

    Thanks in advance!

    • 19.1) David B
      March 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm

      Well, if you look at 5DM3 samples posted today by dpreview you would be even less impressed. There is no dynamic range in these photos at all. D800 samples look better. But then Dpreview guys are no professional photogs, they are reviewers.

    • March 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm

      Amitava, don’t forget that folks at dpreview are not always good photographers (no offense). They test cameras by going out and taking some shots of the streets and other surrounding areas. None of them do professional work and hence cannot really show off the true capabilities of the cameras they test… They do a really good job with technical reviews though.

  20. 20) Roy
    March 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Well..this is just a first round. If D800 can get that impressively high score, I belive 5dmkIII should get higher. Let’s see.

    • March 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm

      Roy, I don’t think the 5D Mark III will get anywhere close…but we’ll have to see. I will be testing both very soon.

      • 20.1.1) souvik
        March 27, 2012 at 10:29 am

        Nasim, Since photographs has to be down-sample for publishing online, people are better off with D800 as oppose to 5D Mark III right? , because even after down-sample the image you end up with better resolution.

  21. 21) Amar
    March 23, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Dear Mansurov – you have wet my (and many other persons) appetite to invest in a new body. I am looking to upgrade from my D7000. I only wish this was suitable to photograph birds! The work I do is entirely handheld at 500mm and the D4 is just a tad heavy.

    • March 24, 2012 at 7:06 pm

      Amar, I think the D800 will do just fine with birds. Will definitely do some bird photography with it and let you know how I like it.

  22. 22) Sid
    March 23, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    I like everything about the D800, except the fact that I have to buy so many other things in order to use the camera :( A new laptop, a pack of memory cards & external storage devices all to handle those humongous RAW files the camera will be producing!

    • March 24, 2012 at 7:08 pm

      Sid, don’t be scared of that. Technology is moving towards higher resolution. The iPad has more resolution than my HDTV, so if you have not already invested in a better PC and more memory, you totally should…

  23. 23) Michel
    March 24, 2012 at 2:09 am

    Thank you Nasim for your patience and the time you take to share your passion….

  24. 24) Vicki
    March 24, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Would anyone like to comment on the different sensor size for close up & macro flower shots with either the D800 or the D300s. Will I have difficultly getting in the close with the D800?

    • 24.1) Peter
      March 24, 2012 at 11:41 am

      It depends on your lens, I think.

    • March 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      Vicki, yes, getting closer depends on your lens and distance from the camera to the subject.

  25. 25) Jagan
    March 24, 2012 at 11:56 am

    With nikon off all next week and B&H off between April 6th to 15th, I am wondering if any of us who preordered at B&H will receive the D800 before the 3rd or 4th week of April. Any thoughts?

    • March 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      Jagan, I heard that another shipment should be arriving within a week. Let’s hope those will last!

  26. 26) Victor
    March 24, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    I am lucky, received my D800 body last thursday 22th :) Seems that it was a good decision to order this camera already in December 2011 :)

  27. 27) Srini
    March 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Nikon UK hiked the prices on D800 by £200 to £2599 and D4 by approx £500 on all orders inc unfilled pre-orders with immediate effect citing a “system error” in conversion. I think the US price is unaffected at this stage. Nikon camera lovers (esp those who ordered and still awaiting their cameras and those who are looking to buy) feeling cheated and ripped-off. Supply and demand at the best…..

    • March 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm

      Srini, that is very unfortunate. I hope it is an error on Nikon’s part and I hope they can reverse their decision. Europe already pays a lot more than US for electronics…

      • 27.1.1) Srini
        March 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm

        Thanks Nazim, it is indeed unfortunate. Some of the retailers have advised the unfilled pre-orders that they would have to pay £200 more on D800. Nikon camera lovers feeling let down; I do not think it would have mattered if they fixed it at £2599 at the start. Hiking the price with all purchases with unfilled pre-0rders inclusive is shocking. I hope that they put the price back to the original level. I have been allocating resources to get this piece. I am not sure if I would buy now.

        • Srini
          March 26, 2012 at 5:09 am

          Nikon UK officially confirmed the price hike citing a system error (really???) pertaining to the original price. I do not believe this error went unnoticed for such a long time. The price hike is only for the Uk market, which is dearer by £500 for the D800 alone. it is hard to justify the discriminatory price even by European standards let alone the US. I will not be buying D800 at this price. Period.

  28. 28) Anthony
    March 25, 2012 at 6:17 am

    Dear Nasim,

    Although I use my camera mostly for family gatherings and portraits and the usual weddings and parties, I cant stop thinking about the Nikon D800 instead of the D 7000. I have been using a D200 since 2007 and (as you probably guessed) its time for an upgrade.

    Two very straight forward questions:

    1) What would be the best lens to go with the D800 for the above (please consider good Bokeh).

    2) If I decided to go for the D 7000, what lens would do?

    I have enjoyed reading your website and the articles you are posting soo much I introduced a couple of ‘canon’ enthusiasts to your website. Hopefully, we can convert them to Nikonians :-)

    Thank you for all the time and effort into your wonderful website that continues to motivate us to go out and buy and capture!

    • March 25, 2012 at 7:53 pm

      Anthony, I am testing the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G and so far I am very happy with its performance & bokeh. If budget is an issue, get this lens and you will not regret. If budget is not an issue, then the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G is one of the best lenses in terms of bokeh.

      • 28.1.1) Vijay
        March 30, 2012 at 6:49 am

        Hi Nasim,

        Request you to please do post on how the new D800 handles the Manual lens. Especially third party like Zeiss etc., How would the 85mm f/1.4 work on the new D800. I currently use this lens on my D300s and am pretty much happy with its performance in low light and the creamy bokeh it gives me. I will be looking forward for the reviews from you. And i must appreciate the way you maintain your blog up to date. This is good work Sir and it helps a lot to know hands on performance of any DSLR/Lens before we invest on them.


    • March 25, 2012 at 7:54 pm

      P.S. Both will work perfectly well on either body.

      • 28.2.1) Anthony
        April 2, 2012 at 3:52 pm


        If the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G or the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G is good for taking great Bokeh pictures, which lens would you suggest for everyday pictures of family get together’s, church functions children playing…etc. For the get up and go fast pictures. Any suggestions?


  29. 29) Robert
    March 25, 2012 at 11:11 am


    Sounds exciting. Yes, I did read that DXOMark article yesterday.

    And there is one tiny item in your article that is incorrect Nasim: Wildlife photographers ARE pre-ordering the D800. Check out the posts on and the “FM forum on Nikon equipment”.

    This D800 may well reach the D300’s notoriety of Camera of the Year (PopPhotog in 2007).

    I did not buy my D300 until Spring 08. I will also wait to buy my D800. But can’t wait to see the D800’s performance at High ISO’s.

    Nikon Rocks!


    • March 25, 2012 at 7:50 pm

      Robert, I know that some wildlife photographers are buying the D800 for wildlife, the same folks who have been buying the D300/D7000 for its “reach”. I am personally planning to test it with some bird photography as well. However, most wildlife pros out there will choose the D4 over the D800, simply because it is faster.

  30. 30) Juan
    March 25, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Dear Nasim,

    First congrats for your growing website, I have been reading since the begining all of your articles, which I found so interresting and also very helping. We all know that you are preparing a nice d800 review, the one of a photographer not just a reviewer (the pics you make to ilustrate your articles are amazing!)
    so as a proud owner of a d700, my dilema is…… to print big or not to print that big?….You were SO right about downsampling quality of d800, but It will be great to have a face to face d700 upscaled image with perfect picture 7 (old geniune fractals) vs d800 one, I have done myself the test with studio pics I collected from the net, and the diference was there but was quite subtle. It will be great to have also your advice about this issue, how big the print will need to be to start noticing the difference at a certain viewing distance, How close we have to be to a given picture size to notice that diference when facing a big print.. I found that Gfractals do a really nice job upscaling. I know the maths involved (dpi) but I am asking more to your eye, your trained eye !
    I am myself also considering the upgrade to d800, but to me this is the main question, so it will be great to have this in you review. Maybe I am asking you to much, but it easy to put a pic at 300% view and make silly observations, you certainly have expertice on printing big, and and I think this will give more value to your review. Thanks for reading, and keep the nice work! :)

    • March 25, 2012 at 7:48 pm

      Juan, think of it this way – if you can use Genuine Fractals to upscale the D700 image to match the D800 image, then you can upscale the D800 image to match a camera with over 100 MP of resolution – the D700 will always fall behind, no matter what.

      In terms of print size, there are too many variables involved to make a fair comparison. How large will the print be, how far will the viewer stand, how well can the viewer see, what is in the picture and etc etc etc. You could make very large prints from the D700 – I have made very nice 4×6 foot prints from it. However, if you want to sell your work commercially and want to print very large at 150+ DPI, then the D800 is what you want.

      • 30.1.1) Juan
        March 26, 2012 at 7:02 pm

        Thanks Nasim, I’ve got your point, just as an example a customer will need max 100x75cm print to hang on walls in a typical flat, in corridors or halls no bigger than 30m2 so we can easily presume that those prints (Portraits) will be seen from quite near distance, do you think the native double resolution of d800 vs upscaled one of d700 will be noticed,will really make a diference this double resolution in that particular case in your opinion? Thanks.

  31. 31) Mayur
    March 25, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    What are your thoughts on camera shake effect wrt the D800? I have had a few problems with blurred images from my D7000 due to shake. I don’t prefer to carry a tripod at all times. Wondering if D4 is a better option for me (real expensive though).

    • March 25, 2012 at 7:36 pm

      Mayur, if you have camera shake problems with your D7000, then you need to increase your shutter speed or learn to have a better camera holding technique. I have used the D7000 before and I did not have any problems with camera shake…

      Is camera shake more visible on the D800 or the D7000? Yes, but only when viewed at 100%. Don’t buy a camera with less resolution just because of a potential “camera shake” problem – just down-sample your images if it annoys you.

      • 31.1.1) Mayur
        March 25, 2012 at 8:00 pm

        Thanks Nasim. Am reading through your article on Resizing images in Lightroom. Thanks you for all the great work on this site. Do you have any recommendation on lenses for the D800? Will be selling my DX lenses shortly.

  32. 32) Mevlut Calisan
    March 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Hi Nasim,
    You always emphasize the effect of downsampling and support this by samples prepared using post processing software.
    Don’t you think that downsampling directly in camera by selecting a medium JPEG image size would bring better results ?

    • 32.1) Bernard
      March 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      D800 is a fantastic camera.
      It surpasses all my expectations.
      At first I used my best lenses: 70-200 f2.8, 300 f4 + TC-1.4, 105 f2.8

      After a long run I decided to give a try to the 18-200 DX.
      I bought this lens for my D70 but I don’t like it: I don’t use it anymore on my D300.
      Only in very rare occasions and never under f8.

      I shooted my favorite subject: the big antena on top of the montain at 200mm.
      Very strange: for the first time the image was clean, with good contrast.
      I repeated the test many times: no doubt.
      And on top of that the lens was set at full aperture and not at its best f8.
      I shooted various subjects at different throw.
      Conclusion: in any case the lens is better on D800.

      I was really confused.. until I discovered that the camera was set at Fine + MEDIUM !
      I repeated the test with some old FX lenses 28 f2.8 and 20 f3.5.
      In any case the trick is valuable and is directly usable in the field.
      OK, the size is smaller but the overall result is so much better.
      When we don’t need all the 36MP (16MP in DX) , it is a good idea to use them that way.
      Final conclusion: the image is better, not the lens ;)

      YES, downsampling directly in camera by selecting a medium JPEG image size produces better results.

      • 32.1.1) John
        November 25, 2012 at 8:45 am

        Sorry I’m a bit late to the party!

        I’m about to purchase the D800 and I already own a 18-200 DX. Can I please confirm that the 18-200 DX works well on the D800? Can you shoot RAW whilst using it?

        Thank you.

  33. 33) Peter
    March 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    I went to DXO Mark, too, and did a 3 camera comparison: Nikon D800, D700, and D300.

    I was not blown away with the D800 v. D700 comparison, as they relate to MY photographic needs.

    Yes, the Overall Score of the D800 is much higher (18.8%), but that is an “average/processed score” of 3 categories: Portrait, Landscape, and Sports. (I’m reminded of that famous statistical quote: “You lose all intelligence by averaging.”) The category that greatly impacts the overall score of the D800 is Sports – 24% greater than the D700. I don’t do Sports/low-light.

    The D800 Portraits category is 7.7% better (no big deal) and the Landscape category is 18 % better; however, I do lots of HDR photography which takes care of my dynamic range needs very nicely using Photomatix and all their options.

    So, I agree that the D800 is better than the D700 (per these tests), but not that much better…for MY needs, that is.

    My D300 will continue to serve me as a great “snap shot camera.”

    Obviously, I anxiously await your D800 V. D700 photo comparisons. Statistics are fun, but the real proof is in the pudding! For now, I’m not convinced that I NEED a D800.

    • 33.1) souvik
      March 27, 2012 at 6:37 pm

      @Peter, I don’t think anyone is trying to convince you of anything, the least of all buying a D800. I have a d300, but when I looked at the sample images, posted here

      by Nikon rumors, I was pretty impressed of the image quality this camera is capable of producing. I think the point of this forum is to have conversation of the quality of the camera.

      • 33.1.1) Peter
        March 28, 2012 at 7:29 am

        Souvik, at the top of this page of write-ins it is labeled “Comments.”

        At the top of this entry to reply is a statement: “Speak Your Mind.”

        That’s what I did.

      • 33.1.2) Peter
        March 28, 2012 at 2:09 pm

        I spoke to my son about my experiences on this blog (your comments specifically and others, too) and other blogs which I stopped contributing to. He talked about a “hive mentality” that exists on blogs where people thinking alike force out people who are different or have different opinions. Your baseless comment about what this forum is about fits neatly into that hive arena (“the point of this forum is to have conversation of the quality of the camera”) . Putting it bluntly to you: Who the hell are you to decide what this forum is about? That Nasim’s job!

        So, you have confirmed the correctness of my computer-age son’s opinion about blogs: That the blog “hives” are full of bees that think alike and can’t tolerate divergent opinions. It is not worth the irritation. You can feel satisfied that you have driven this bee out of the hive…for good, N.

        I’ll read the website, but I’m finished commenting. Not worth it.

        • souvik
          March 28, 2012 at 2:31 pm

          Peter, I agree entirely with you, that it is Nasim’s job to decide what the this forum is about. More importantly, I was not trying to force you out of the conversation in anyway, I was merely trying to point out that the conversation that ensued, following Nasim’s post on D800’s sensor, were about discussing the capabilities of D800’s sensor and comparing to other cameras that are out there in the market. It was a purely technical discussion.

  34. 34) David B
    March 27, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Don’t know where to post it, but I experienced and many users report that a lot of CF cards are not recognized by D800. There are threads on nikonrumors, dpreview, and other sites such as regarding the issue. My Duracell 16GB 600X CF card that worked perfectly fine on D700 does not work with D800. On the other hand my older Kingston 16GB 133X CF card works fine, so there is no rhyme and reason. Of course the firmware might come at one point to fix these issues, but at this point, make sure that the brand and type of CF card you will use actually works with D800.

  35. 35) Vie303
    March 28, 2012 at 9:01 am

    I’ve been reading most of your reviews and thank you for all the reviews you have done with respect to Nikon cameras and lenses. Being that the D800 is the sensor king and all the rave reviews the D800 has been getting, all older Nikon like the D700 and D3s has drop in price significantly. I’m not part of the NPS and have already placed my order for the D800 on Feb 12, but does not seems like I will be getting it until mid April. During the wait, I have been looking for other options. I would like you thorough opinion in regards to purchasing the D800 for $3000 or D3s for $2500. I’d like add that I’m an enthusiast and not yet transition to do photography professionally, but would like to someday. The type of photography that I will be doing are all over the spectrum: wedding, portrait, landscape, sports, etc..
    So for the prices I’ve mentioned, what would you do?

  36. 36) Saad
    March 29, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Hello Nasim
    Thanks for this great review. I am about to buy a Nikon D800. Had a nikon d7000 but want to make the switch over to full frames. I am not a professional by any means. Just like taking photos on my travels. I am a professional actor and would love to take pics when i travel and on set.
    I was wondering if you could recommend two fx lenses? My primary use would be for landscapes, and pictures of people (family and friends), and animals in the wild. Oh and i will use it for video, mostly on a tripod in a studio to record myself for scenes. So i am assuming a 50mm lens would be good for video.

    Professional photographers i know recommended i buy the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8. And the Nikon 50mm f1.4G.
    I am looking to buy two lenses. I can afford the 24-70 and the 50mm f1.4g but am looking to see if there is a better combination in the same price range as these two? So under $2500 or so for both.

    Any suggestions from you would be much appreciated. Thanks for your time!

  37. 37) OC Mike
    March 29, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Nasim, I love your reviews and keep ’em coming. But alls fair in love & war, so the question is whether it’s time for a D700 full frame owner (not fair using DX) to plunk down 3 bills for a D800. I will bet a Fatboy 200mm or a 85mm AFS 1.4 or a 135mm 2.0 beats a D800 using any OTHER Nikon lens. How’s that for a fair challenge?

  38. 38) Arthur
    March 30, 2012 at 6:05 am

    Hello Nasim
    Thank you so much for sharing your passion to us. Much appreciated.
    I bought my first DSLR in 2009. At that time I didn’t even know the difference between FX and DX. All I wanted was a DSLR that was within my budget. I remembered D700 was receiving great reviews in 2008 but budget wise I ended up owning another masterpiece from Nikon, the Nikon D90. When I first read your review on D700 (“the best camera in the world” … ..) I was convinced to upgrade to D700 while rumors of Nikon D800/800E were circulating incessantly. I bought my D700 middle week of January 2012. There was already a slight price drop however the stock was scarce (but I was lucky to get one on that same day I walked into the shop) . I am impressed with what D700 has to offer and I agree why you call D700 the best camera in the world.
    I have been following your website since then. Your tutorials, articles, tests and reviews are very informative. In as much as I’m enjoying my wicked D700, the topic about D800/D800E continued until they were officially announced. I was smiling while reading your preview and when you posted those photos taken from D800. I pre-ordered couple of days after D800 was released. Now the wait is over, I already received a message from the shop I can collect my D800 anytime from today.
    Now I have a camera that is capable of 8fps (I have a battery grip for my D700 + rechargeable AA batteries) for sports and a super high MP D800. Now I call myself lucky!!!!!
    Looking forward to your real-world tests/comparison on D800/D800E and the new 85mm 1.8.
    All the best.

  39. 39) Sunil
    March 30, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Hello Nasim,
    You had mentioned on this article, that you will have first part of the review as early as Tuesday 3/27. I am eagerly for your review. I know it would take a while to thoroughly do the full review. But if you can keep posting whatever you have at least once a week, it would be great.
    Also thanks for you all your reviews and photography education. I have become a frequent visitor of your site.


  40. 40) Bare
    March 30, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    A great score from Sony sensor inside D800.

    Unfortunately DxO measurments don’t tell everything, for example they measure DR but don’t tell how much of DR is in shadows and how much is in highlits. If this sensor would follow the pattern it has a mediocre highlit recovery potential and excellent shadow recovery. On the other side Nikon designed sensors(D700/D3, D3s, D4) are better in highlit recovery and with D4 it seems they reduced tha gap to Sony for shadows recovery and clearly bettered Canon.

    One more thing is not mesured by DxO. They did not measure a true low-light capabilities, what they measure is mid grey noise with daylight color temperature. Things would be much different in the real low light conditions and D4 sensor would have a near 1Ev advantage to D800 in noise department.

  41. 41) nisan
    May 22, 2012 at 5:04 am

    Hi Nasim need your help am using D300, D300s,with Nikon 17-55mm 2.8,Nikon 50mm D 1.8, sigma 70-200mm 2.8 (non OS) Nikon 35mm,sigma 70mm macro, sigma 12-24mm, am planning to sale my d300 advice to me which Nikon body is good for my lens, what about D800 FX? But my D lens…Thanks

  42. 42) eruditionist
    July 30, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I am not sure about you all but My D800 has a green yellow tint on every image I take. I own a D80/D90/D700 and a D800. When I compare pictures taken by my other cameras in comparison to the D800, D800 produces green yellow tint to all iamges. Since when did the color of the sky produced green. My suggestion would be for anyone who is trying to or wants to buy a D800 or a D800E is to do a little more research on the web for D800 green yellow tint and you’ll find that I’m not alone.

    • 42.1) vitalishe
      May 4, 2015 at 7:50 am

      Yellow tint is typically associated with white balance bring off. Did you try song up custom white balance?

  43. 43) Nathan
    August 20, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Hey I have a question to anyone but directed to nasim. When taking photos in fx mode with the d800 in medium or small picture mode will the high ISO performance be better than the full large size? This is for those like myself who would not use all the 36 mp’s but rather smaller files. So will choosing smaller sizes in camera in fx or dx mode give better iso results or for the best results will we need to take 36mp shots and down sample everything?

  44. 44) Afraz
    December 31, 2014 at 7:16 am

    I know this comment is late but I was hoping someone could tell me the reasons for Canon continuously having low scores there. I know in the end it’s up to the photographer to take good photos regardless of equipment, but I was just curious from a purely technical perspective.

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