Many of our readers have been asking me to provide some information on how the new Nikon D800 (see our review) compares to the Nikon D700 (see our review) in terms of speed (“fps” or “frames per second”) and camera buffer. In the below video, I show the performance of both cameras side by side when shooting 14-bit Lossless Compressed RAW images with very fast SanDisk Extreme Pro 16GB compact flash memory:
As you can see, the Nikon D800 is slower than the Nikon D700 with its 4 fps speed versus 5 fps on the D700. It also lasts about half a second shorter than the D700 before its buffer gets full at around the 4 second mark. Nikon’s estimates for the D800 and D700 are 17 images for the D800 and 20 images for the D700 before memory buffer gets full and fps slows down. My tests are a little off, because the D800 should be a little faster according to Nikon – 17 / 4 fps is 4.25 and 20 / 5 fps is 4. Interestingly, the same thing happens when both cameras are set to 12-bit RAW – the D700 still lasts longer. Note how much longer it takes for the D800 to complete its write from the camera buffer into the memory card – now that’s one huge buffer! I bet it is at least 4 times larger than the one on the D700. Lastly, note that the D800 shutter sounds very different than the one on the D700.
Some people have been reporting memory compatibility issues with the D800. I have not seen any issues so far with any of the SanDisk & Lexar cards I have (I have been using SanDisk and Lexar cards for my cameras exclusively), so I believe memory card issues are happening with cheap third party memory cards only. Hopefully we will see a firmware update from Nikon soon – the D800 seems to have occasional slowdowns when writing to and reading from CF and SD memory cards, as reported in my Nikon D800 Review.