Nikon D800 DSLR Review

by Reads (8,099)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Image/Video Quality
      • 10
      • Features
      • 9
      • Design / Ease of Use
      • 9
      • Performance
      • 9
      • Expandability
      • 10
      • Total Score:
      • 9.40
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Excellent image quality
    • Large files that allow for cropping
    • Broad dynamic range
    • Sophisticated feature set
    • Expanded video functionality
  • Cons

    • No "small" RAW options
    • CF and SD card slots vs. dual CF slots
    • Moderate 4fps continuous shooting
    • Focus hunting in video AF

Quick Take

For $2800, the D800 is a great option for portrait and studio photographers, but will have sports photographers wishing for a faster camera.

The Nikon D800 is the highest megapixel DSLR in the Nikon line, and is a good camera for studio and portrait photographers.  The camera has a newly designed 36.3MP FX-format CMOS sensor, making it the only DSLR on the market with that high of a resolution. The D800 is an upgrade to the Nikon D700, but DigitalCameraReview found its specs to blow the previous model out of the water. While photographers with more stationary subjects may love the camera, DCR noted the slow 4 frames per second may be a deterrent for sports photographers and photojournalists.

\"NikonThe camera is 5.7 x 4.8 x 3.2 inches and weighing 31.7 ounces (body only) and DCR noted it feels surprisingly light and is comfortable to hold. The D800 also has a substantial grip. The camera is equipped with dual card slots, and can accommodate one CompactFlash card (including UDMA) and one SD/SDHC/SDXC card. The high megapixel sensor creates extremely large files, so users will want high capacity cards. DCR noted the design and control layout “provides convenience and easy operation” and is an improvement on previous Nikon models. There is a direct video record button on top of the camera, a reconfigured AF mode switch on the front of the camera and a dedicated picture control button. DCR found that overall, the D800 “offers a well-designed control layout with easy access to just about every feature and function you need.” The camera also has organized menus that can be navigated easily.

The D800 has Program, Manual, Aperture-priority and Shutter-priority modes. Users can also create a time-lapse video in the camera. There is also a two-shot HDR mode and a multiple exposure feature. DCR found the camera’s optical viewfinder to be “bright and clear” and noted the 3.2-inch high resolution LCD rear panel worked well under almost all conditions.

DCR found the performance of the D800 to be on par with other high-end DSLRs. The camera has a fast start-up and responsive autofocus system, with several AF modes. DCR noted the autofocus works well in almost all lighting conditions and found the camera’s battery life to be excellent. Video can be recorded in full HD at 30 fps or 24 fps and DCR found the video quality to be high, with crisp focus and accurate color reproduction. DCR also found the still image quality to be “stellar” with an ISO range of 100-6400, and noted the camera performs well, even at the highest ISO.

Overall, DCR found the D800’s 36 megapixel sensor, expanded feature set and high image quality to be a steal with a price of $2,800 at the time of the review. The camera isn’t very fast at 4 fps, but DCR notes it wasn’t designed for speed. It’s a great camera for studio, portrait and product photographers. Buyers will want to make sure their computer and storage systems are able to handle the large files the D800 and its 36 megapixel sensor produce.


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  1. Tim Scannell

    Great review and a really incredible camera since it can be used by both amateurs and pros.