Nikon D800/D800E

Product Summary

  • Model name: Nikon D800
  • Focus Type: Autofocus / Manual
  • Format : Full Frame
  • Mounts: Nikon F
  • Purchase options: Adorama | Amazon | B&H

What’s new in the Nikon D800/800E / Key features

  • Newly developed Nikon 36.3 megapixels FX format CMOS sensor
  • 91K RGB sensor with Advanced Scene Recognition system
  • Lightest full frame DSLR made by Nikon
  • Built-in AF motor, compatible with all lenses made by Nikon since 1977
  • External stereo mic option via a 3.5mm jack
  • Built-in flash (not available on the Canon 5d Mark III)
  • Multi-CAM 3500FX autofocus sensor module driving a 51-point AF system


The D800/D800E currently enjoys the tag of being the DSLR with the highest resolution sensor. At a whopping 36.3 megapixels there is an awful amount of information that these two cameras can capture and some photographers really feel that they are what they epitome the best there can be. Are they really that good? Let’s find out. According to Nikon, the Nikon users who have DX-format lenses will be able to use them on the D800 by using the 15.4MP resolution setting as well. In DX Format Setting, the pixels that cover a DX-sized portion of the sensor will be used, allowing  the camera a 1.5x crop. The D800 will be in market in both “with” and “without” a low-pass filter. The model “without” a low-pass filter is the D800E. As a result D800E will be able to cancels anti-aliasing properties and delivered the light directly to the photodiodes. According to nikon, this will enable D800E to offer the highest possible color fidelity and dynamic range that, will deliver a medium format image quality. Color moire can be corrected though the feature available in Capture NX2.

Features explained

The 51-point auto-focusing system

The D800/D800E uses the same 51-point auto-focusing system used in the D4. At the heart is the Multi-CAM 3500FX autofocus sensor module. The center 15 AF points all serve as cross-type for any lens f/5.6 or faster. The auto-focusing speed of the D800/D800E is however slightly slower compared to the faster and speedier Canon 5d Mark III.

ISO performance

The D800/D800E has an ISO range of 100-6400. It can be expanded from 50-25600. When compared with the Canon 5d Mark III the Nikon has  a little bit more noise but, not a deal breaker really. This is however expected with all that megapixels. However one thing that the D800/D800E does have is the proper exposure in movie mode (also known as latitude).

Continuous shooting speed

At FX format and using the EN-EL15 batteries the camera has a continuous high shooting speed of 4 fps. In DX format that slightly improves at 5 fps. Using the MB-D12 vertical battery grip one can have a slightly better burst rate of 6 fps in DX format. The camera can however shoot about 15 continuous frames before it starts to stall and when it does the camera certainly over stretches its processing power. The D800 is nowhere near the D4 when it comes to continuous shooting and is not the camera as we will see time and again for sports / action photography. If this is what you want and cannot go beyond the set budget try some of Sony’s models instead.

Videos & stills

Shooting at full resolution the D800/D800E can shoot images of the size 7,360 x 4,912 pixels. In DX format it can shoot in 4,800 x 3,200 pixels. It can also shoot 12 or 14 bit RAW (NEF), TIFF and simultaneously shoot JPEG+RAW (NEF). It also shoots full HD in 30p, 25p and 24p. At 720p HD it can also shoot at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p. The format of the movies is .MOV and the user can select either H.264 or MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding for encoding the videos. One can also use an external stereo mic via the 3.5mm pin and record audio. It is also possible to set it up for shooting time lapse photography.

The viewfinder & the LCD monitor

The pentaprism viewfinder is bright and offers 100% coverage in FX mode. In DX mode it offers 97% coverage. The 3.2” LCD monitor has the same specifications as that of the flagship D4. It boasts a 921,000 dots resolution and has a wide 170˚ viewing angle. An automatic brightness adjustment system senses the ambient light and adjusts to display the images properly.


The D800/D800E use a dual memory card slot that supports SD, SDHC, SDXC and UDMA compliant CF cards. The cards can be used in several combinations such as to record pictures concurrently, using as a buffer overrun when one is full or also used to copy files from one card to another if necessary.

Other important features include Advanced Scene Recognition, which analyses the scene with Nikon’s 30,000 image database. A refined Face recognition, with the Color Matrix Meter placing emphasis on exposures of detected faces. An improved white balance to better recognize both natural and artificial light.

What are missing

For some unknown reason Nikon thought removed the quintessential AF Area mode selector button and the Focus Mode switch from the back where they were and instead made the options available from somewhere inside the camera software interface. This is a damper of sorts as earlier what could have been done with a sub-conscious flick now requires our fullest attention (psst!).

Some of the older (and cheaper) models such as the D7000 make use of the U1 and the U2 modes. These were basically programmable options on the mode dials where one could save a bunch of settings that could be recalled in an instant when needed. The D800/D800E does not use any of those and that is also something that does not work in favor of the camera. The D800/D800E is not as fast as the Canon 5d Mark III. For faster auto-focusing and being ready to shoot even before you can think, the D800/D800E may appear to be frustratingly slow. This is partly the reason why the camera may not appeal to wild-life photographers or journalists who live on the fact that they have to be ready when the opportunity comes their way.

An impractical top LCD design makes matter further worse. It is slow and dimly lit making them unusable in real life scenarios.

Similar products

The Canon 5d Mark III is definitely one camera that should be looked into if one is looking for a light full frame professional DSLR.

Should I buy it?

At 36.3 megapixels there is nothing else out there that can match the superior performance of the D800/D800E. For one it offers the same resolution (even more) that what a medium format camera would do and at a price that is less than one-fifteenth of what a medium format camera would cost. The superior performance and the amount of detail captured by them makes them perfect for the purpose of professional industry photography, fashion, automobiles and anything else where precision quality and detail is a must. Thanks to the amount of detail that is captured it is also possible to take a very small crop and make large prints of the same with no loss of information. Photographers looking for a sturdy camera that can serve their needs for shooting landscape, architectural and nature photography also find the D800/D800E to be perfect for them. On the other hand the D800/D800E is not the right camera if you’re into sports, fast action or night time photography. The D4 with its superior viewfinder with individual LED light system that lights each of the AF points is still the best. With the D800/800E you may find the going a bit tough and wouldn’t necessarily enjoy any significant advantage. The rival Canon 5d Mark III is also a fantastic camera. Although the 5d Mark III does lose out on megapixels it has better specs and performance when it comes to auto-focusing, low-light performance and actually is a better camera for sports and journalistic photography because of its better frame-rate and continuous shooting performance. Available at Adorama | Amazon | B&H

Images taken by Nikon D800on Flickr

Nikon D800 Specifications

Lens MountNikon F bayonet mount
Effective Pixels36.3 million
Image SensorCMOS sensor, 35.9 x 24 mm; Nikon FX format
Total Pixels36.8 Million
Dust-Reduction SystemImage sensor cleaning
Dust-Off Reference PhotoYes
Image Are (pixels)FX-format (L) 7,360 x 4,912 (M) 5,520 x 3,680 (S) 3,680 x 2,456
1:2 format (30 x 20) (L) 6,144 x 4,080 (M) 4,608 x 3,056
5:4 format (30 x 24) (L) 6,144 x 4,912 (M) 4,608 x 3,680 (S) 3,072 x 2,456
DX-format (L) 4,800 x 3,200 (M) 3,600 x 2,400 (S) 2,400 x 1,600
File Format – Still ImagesJPEG: JPEG-Baseline Compliant with fine (approx 1:4), Normal (approx 1:8) or Basic (approx 1:16) Compression
NEF (RAW): lossless compressed 12 or 14 bit, lossless compressed, compressed or uncompressed
JPEG: JPEG-Baseline-Compliant; can be selected from Size Priority and Optimal Quality
Picture Control SystemLandscape – Monochrome – Neutral – Portrait – Standard – User-customizable Settings Vivid –
Storage MediaCompactFlash© (CF) (Type I, compliant with UDMA) – SD – SDHC – SDXC
Card Slot1 CompactFlash (CF) card and 1 Secure Digital (SD) card
File SystemCompliant with DCF (Design Rule for Camera File System) 2.0
DPOF (Digital Print Order Format)
EXIF 2.3 (Exchangeable Image File Format for Digital Still Cameras)
ViewfinderEye-level Pentamirror Single-Lens Reflex viewfinder
Viewfinder Frame CoverageFX (36×24): 100% Horizontal and 100% Vertical Approx.
1.2x (30×20): 97% Horizontal and 97% Vertical Approx.
DX (24×16): 97% Horizontal and 97% Vertical Approx.
5:4 (30×24): 97% Horizontal and 97% Vertical Approx.
Viewfinder MagnificationApprox. 0.70x
Viewfinder Diopter AdjustmentBuilt – in (-3 to +1)
Viewfinder Eyepoint19.5 (-1.0)
Focusing ScreenType B BriteView Clear Matte Mark VIII with AF Area Brackets (grid lines can be displayed
Reflex MirrorQuick-return type
Depth-of-field PreviewYes
Lens ApertureInstant-return type
Depth-of-field ControlYes
Lens Compatibility at a GlanceAF-S or AF lenses fully compatible Metering with AI lenses
Compatible LensesAF NIKKOR other than type G or D*2: All functions supported except 3D Color Matrix Metering III
AI-P NIKKOR: All functions supported except autofocus and 3D Color Matrix Metering III
DX AF NIKKOR: All Functions Supported Except FX-format (36×24)/5:4 (30×24) Image Size
Type G or D AF NIKKOR: All Functions Supported
Non-CPU: Usable in [A] or [M] mode Center-Weighted or Spot Metering; Electronic Rangefinder can be used if Mazimum Aperture is f/5.6 or faster
Shutter TypeElectronically controlled vertical-travel focal-plane shutter
Shutter Speed1/8,000 to 30 seconds, bulb
Flash Sync SpeedUp to 1/250 sec.
Synchronizes with shutter at 1/320s or slower (flash range drops at speeds between 1/250 and 1/320s)
Shutter Release ModesContinuous low-speed [CL] mode; 1-4 frames per second
Continuous high-speed [CH] mode; 4 frames per second
Mirror-up [Mup] mode
Quiet Shutter Release
Self-timer mode
Single-frame [S] mode
Continuous Shooting SpeedFX-format: CH: Up to 4 frames per second CL: Up to 4 frames per second
FX-format CH: Up to 4 frames per second CL: Up to 4 frames per second
DX-format CH: Up to 5 frames per second CL: Up to 5 frames per second
1:2 format CH: Up to 5 frames per second CL: Up to 5 frames per second
Top Continuous Shooting Speed4 frames per second at full resolution
Self-timer2, 5, 10, 20 sec. Timer duration electronically controlled
Exposure Metering SystemTTL full-aperture exposure metering using 1,005-pixel RGB sensor
Metering MethodCenter-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 8mm circle in center of frame
Matrix: 3D color matrix metering III (type G and D lenses); color matrix metering III (other CPU lenses)
Spot: Meters 4mm circle (about 1.5% of frame) centered on selected focus point
Metering Range0 to 20 EV (3D color matrix or center-weighted metering)
0 to 20 EV (spot metering)
Exposure Meter CouplingCombined CPU and AI
Exposure ModesAperture-Priority (A)
Manual (M)
Programmed auto with flexible program (P)
Shutter-Priority (S)
Exposure Compensation±5 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV
Exposure Bracketing2 to 9 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 o
Exposure LockYes
Mirror Lock UpYes
ISO SensitivityISO 100 – 6400
Lo-1 (ISO 50)
Hi-1 (ISO 12,800)
Hi-2 (ISO 25,600)
Lowest Standard ISO Sensitivity100
Highest Standard ISO Sensitivity6400
Lowest Expanded ISO SensitivityLo-1 (ISO 50 equivalent)
Highest Expanded ISO SensitivityHI-2 (ISO 25,600 equivalent)
Expanded ISO Sensitivity OptionsLo-1 (ISO-50 equivalent), Hi-1 (ISO-12,800 equivalent), Hi-2 (ISO-25,600 equivalent)
Long Exposure Noise ReductionYes
High ISO Noise ReductionLow – Normal – High – Off
Active D-LightingAuto – Extra High – High – Normal – Low – Off
D-Lighting Bracketing2 frames using selected value for one frame
3-5 frames using preset values for all frames
Single-point AF ModeYes
Dynamic AF ModeNumber of AF points: 9, 21, 51 and 51 (3D-tracking)
Auto-area AF ModeYes
Autofocus SystemNikon Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX autofocus sensor module with TTL phase detection
AF Detection Range-1 to 19 EV (ISO 100, 68°F/20°C)
Lens ServoAutofocus (AF): Single-servo AF (AF-S); Continuous-servo AF (AF-C); auto AF-S/AF-C selection (AF-A);
predictive focus tracking activated automatically according to subject status
Manual focus (MF): Electronic rangefinder can be used
AF-Area Mode9, 21 or 51 point Dynamic-area AF
Auto-area AF
Single-point AF
3D-tracking (51 points)
Focus LockFocus can be locked by pressing AE-L/AF-L button
Focus can be locked by pressing shutter-release button halfway (single-servo AF)
Focus ModesAuto AF-S/AF-C selection (AF-A)
Continuous-servo (AF-C)
Face-Priority AF available in Live View only and D-Movie only
Full-time Servo (AF-A) available in Live View only
Manual (M) with electronic rangefinder
Normal area
Single-servo AF (AF-S)
Wide area
Maximum Autofocus Areas/Points51
Autofocus Sensitivity-2 to +19 EV (ISO 100, 20°C/68°F)
Autofocus Fine TuneYes
Built-in FlashYes
Flash Bracketing2 to 9 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, or 1 EV
Built-in Flash Distance39 ft. (ISO 100)
Flash ControlTTL: i-TTL flash control using 91,000-pixel RGB sensor are available with built-in flash and SB-910, SB-900, SB-700, or SB-400; i-TTL balanced fill-flash for digital SLR is used with matrix and center-weighting metering, standard i-TTL flash for digital SLR with spot metering
Flash Sync Modes1) Front-curtain sync (normal), 2) Slow sync, 3) Rear-curtain sync, 4) Red-eye reduction, 5) Red-eye reduction with slow sync
Flash Compensation-3 to +1 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV
Flash-ready IndicatorLights when built-in flash or optional flash unit such as SB-910, SB-900, SB-400, SB-80DX, SB-28DX or SB-50DX is fully charged
Accessory ShoeYes
Flash Sync TerminalYes
Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS)CLS Supported
White BalanceAuto (2 types) – Choose color temperature (2500K 10000K) – Cloudy – Direct Sunlight – Flash – Fluorescent (7 types) – Incandescent – Preset manual (up to 4 values can be stored) – Shade
White Balance Bracketing2 to 9 exposures in increments of 1, 2 or 3 EV
Live View ShootingLive View Shooting Photography Live View Mode
Movie Live View Mode
Live View Lens servoLive View Lens servo Autofocus (AF): Single-servo AF (AF-S); full-time-servo AF (AF-F)
Manual focus (MF)
Live View AF-area modeFace-priority AF – Wide-area AF – Normal-area AF – Subject-tracking AF
Live View AutofocusContrast-detect AF anywhere in frame (camera selects focus point automatically when face-priority AF or subject-tracking AF is selected)
Movie MeteringTTL exposure metering using main image sensor
Movie Frame size (pixels) and frame rate1280 x 720 (30p): 30 fps (29.97 fps) – 1280 x 720 (60p): 60 fps (59.94 fps) – 1920 x 1080 (24p): 24 fps (23.976 fps) – 1920 x 1080 (30p): 30 fps (29.97 fps)
Movie Maximum recording time20 minutes at highest quality
29 minutes 59 seconds at normal quality
Movie File FormatMOV
Movie Video CompressionH.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding
Movie Audio recording formatLinear PCM
Movie Audio recording DeviceBuilt-in monaural microphone – External stereo microphone (optional)
MovieHD 1,920×1,080 / 30 fps – HD 1,920×1,080 / 24 fps – HD 1,280×720 / 30 fps – HD 1,280×720 / 24 fps – HD 1,280×720 / 60 fps
Movie AudioBuilt-in microphone, monaural – External stereo microphone (optional)
Monitor Size3.2 in. diagonal
Monitor Resolution921,000 Dots
Monitor TypeWide Viewing Angle TFT-LCD
Monitor Angle of View170-degree wide-viewing angle
Monitor AdjustmentsBrightness, 5 levels
Virtual Horizon Camera IndicatorVirtual Horizon Camera Indicator Yes
Also visible in LiveView Modes
Also visible in Viewfinder
Playback FunctionsAuto Image Rotation
Full-Frame and Thumbnail (4, 9, or 72 images or calendar)
Histogram Display
Image Comment
Movie Playback
Movie Slideshow
Playback with Zoom
In-Camera Image EditingColor Outline – Color Sketch – D-Lighting – Distortion Control -Edit Movie – Filter Effects Fisheye – Image Overlay – Miniature Effect – Monochrome – NEF (RAW) Processing -Perspective Control – Quick Retouch – Red-eye Correction – Resize – Selective Color – Side-by-Side Comparison – Straighten – Trim – Color Balance
Image CommentYes
InterfaceHDMI output: Type C mini-pin HDMI connector – Headphone Connector – NTSC – Stereo Microphone Input – Super Speed USB 3.0
Wi-Fi FunctionalityEye-Fi Compatible – WT-4A
GPSGP-1 GPS unit
Save/Load Camera settingsYes
Total custom Settings54
My MenuYes with customization
Recent SettingsYes
Supported LanguagesArabic – Chinese (Simplified and Traditional) – Czech – Danish – Dutch – English – Finnish – French – German – Indonesian – Italian – Japanese – Korean – Norweigan – Polish – Portuguese – Romanian – Russian – Spanish – Swedish – Thai – Turkish – Ukrainian
Date, Time and Daylight SavingsYes
World Time SettingYes
BatteryEN-EL15 Lithium-ion Battery
Battery Life (shots per charge)900 Battery Life (shots per charge) (CIPA)
AC AdapterEH-5b AC Adapter
Requires EP-5B Power Supply Connector
Battery ChargerMH-25 Quick Charger
Tripod Socket1/4 in. (ISO 1222)
Approx. DimensionsWidth 5.7 in. (144.78mm) – Height 4.8 in. (121.92mm) – Depth 3.2 in. (81.28mm)
Approx. Weight31.7 oz (900G)
Camera Body only


Product Image


Additional Info

Purchase options

Nikon D800 available at Adorama | Amazon | B&H

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