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Nikon D800 vs. D3s and D7000 comparison by Cary Jordan

Nikon D800 vs. D3s and D7000 by Cary Jordan (Web | Flickr | Personal FB page |The Jordan Collective’s FB Page | Twitter)

There is no question the Nikon D800/E is a spectacular camera. But just how well does the D800 stack-up against the venerable Nikon D3s? What about in DX crop mode; how well does it fare against the D7000? We now know the new Nikon D800 has a bad case of multiple personality disorder. The D800 is several different cameras, rolled-up into one very sleek and attractive body.

Let's examine just how well the D800 performs when down-sampled to 12.1 megapixels to match the un-defeated high-ISO king, the Nikon D3s. In addition to this comparison, we're also going to put the Nikon D800 against the current APS-C DX crop champion, the Nikon D7000.

Nikon D800 vs. Nikon D3s

The D800/E is capable of achieving amazing amounts of detail at its native resolution of 36.3 million pixels. This is great for studio and landscape work or anything that warrants this kind of resolution. However, the final output doesn't always need to be the native resolution of 36.3 MP. What we've found is the D800 has excellent Dynamic Range combined with excellent high-ISO noise characteristics, giving us the ability to down-sample when need-be, while retaining all of the high-frequency detail captured by the high-resolution sensor. We know that down-sampling an image helps to reduce noise (especially luminance noise), so we reap the benefits of lower noise and better detail, while retaining the D800's excellent Dynamic Range (DR) when down-sampling. A down-sampled image that has more high-frequency detail is a better candidate for noise-reduction via software (Lightroom 4, Topaz DeNoise...etc) and can handle more aggressive noise reduction, while still retaining high-frequency detail that's usually lost during aggressive noise-reduction.

For this comparison, we shot both cameras at the same respective exposure, ISO, aperture and white balance and set both cameras to the "STANDARD" Picture Control with no additional capture sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation or hue. Both cameras were shot in RAW(NEF) format and developed into a high-quality 8 bit JPEG format using Capture NX2 with zero High-ISO Noise Reduction.  The D800 shots were then opened in Photoshop and down-sampled using Photoshop's "Bicubic Sharper" algorithm to 4256 x 2840 px to match the D3s' native resolution. No other sharpening was performed (click on any image to enlarge it).

D3s vs D800 12mp ISO1600 Crop 1

D3s vs D800 12mp ISO3200 Crop 1

D3s vs D800 12mp ISO6400 Crop 1

D3s vs D800 12mp ISO12800 Crop 1

D3s vs D800 12mp ISO25600 Crop 1

As you can clearly discern, the D800 image retains much more high-frequency detail throughout the ISO range. The D3s does beat the D800 in luminance noise by about a third-stop, with chrominance noise being significantly worse in the D800's files above ISO-12800. As stated above, the D800's file can handle much more aggressive noise reduction, while retaining much of its detail, which will result in a better overall file than the D3s until about ISO-25,600. At this point, the D800's files are riddled with amp noise which is destroying most of the high-frequency detail advantage it had over the D3s, making the D3s a better option from ISO-25,600 and up (The only way the D800 can go above ISO-25600 is by "pushing" in post).

While the D800's DR is supremely impressive at base ISO (ISO-100) to about ISO-800 (about 14.3EV @ ISO-100), it falls off at higher ISOs. This is where the D3s shines; the D3s has less DR fall-off at upper ISOs, but several stops less DR at base ISO as compared to the D800.

While the D800 doesn't quite beat the D3s in high-ISO noise handling when down-sampled to 12.1 MP (without noise reduction), the D800 will clearly out-perform the D3/D700 sensor in noise, sharpness, detail and DR, at every ISO, when down-sampled to the same resolution of 12.1 MP.

Let's look at a different set of D800 vs. D3s crops, this time focusing on the high-frequency detail in the books on the bottom shelf.

D3s vs D800 12mp ISO1600 Crop 2

D3s vs D800 12mp ISO3200 Crop 2

D3s vs D800 12mp ISO6400 Crop 2

D3s vs D800 12mp ISO12800 Crop 2

D3s vs D800 12mp ISO25600 Crop 2

Once again, you can clearly see the high-frequency detail advantage the D800 has over the D3s, when down-sampled to 12.1 million pixels. Look at the dark brown book on the left side of each crop; the D800 clearly renders the detailed fabric cross-hatching @ ISO-12800 and can just barely be seen @ ISO-25600. The D800 files are sharper and retain more high-frequency details at every ISO.

Nikon D800 vs. Nikon D7000

While the D800/E is 36.3 MP in FX mode, the D800/E has a DX (1.5x crop) mode, which is 15.4 MP. The Nikon D7000 is a 16.2 MP APS-C DX format camera that currently sits atop the APS-C camera heap, having the best performing APS-C sensor in the world, based on the Sony Exmor 16.2 MP sensor (this 16.2 Sony Exmor sensor is used in several other cameras on the market). Since the D800 has a DX crop mode that's roughly the same resolution as the D7000's sensor, we wanted to see how the D800 performed in comparison to the D7000. Please keep in-mind, the D7000 does have a slightly higher resolution, although not by much.

The D800 has a pixel pitch of 4.88µm, while the D7000 has a pixel pitch of 4.78µm, the .10µm is almost insignificant, which means the pixel pitch is roughly the same in both cameras, with the D800 having a slightly larger pixel pitch. This also helps us come to the conclusion that the D800/E sensor is based on a Sony Exmor design, although this is still yet to be confirmed, but is widely rumored to be true.

As with the D800 vs. D3s comparison, we shot both cameras at the same respective exposure, ISO, aperture and white balance and set both cameras to the "STANDARD" Picture Control with no additional capture sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation or hue. Both cameras were shot in RAW(NEF) format and developed into a high-quality 8 bit JPEG format using Capture NX2 with zero High-ISO Noise Reduction. No other sharpening or post-production was performed.

Let's examine the D800 vs. D7000 image comparisons (click on any image to enlarge it):

D800 vs D7K ISO1600 Crop

D800 vs D7K ISO3200 Crop

D800 vs D7K ISO6400 Crop

D800 vs D7K ISO12800 Crop

D800 vs D7K ISO25600 Crop

As you can see, the D800 does out-perform the D7000 at every ISO, although in luminance noise, they are closer at lower ISOs. Where the D800 shines is sharpness, micro-contrast and chrominance noise. Even with the D7000 having slightly better resolution, the D800 has much better effective resolution, which shows as a sharper image and better high-frequency detail. Not only does the D800 out-perform the D7000 in detail, micro-contrast and luminance noise, the D800 has significantly less chrominance noise. This is exaggerated as the ISO rises. An example of this can be seen below.

The D800's sharper image and more high-frequency detail might point to a weaker OLPF (Optical Low-Pass Filter a.k.a. AA-Filter) on the D800. The D800E would reveal even more sharpness, micro-contrast and high-frequency detail as compared to the D7000, due to its Anti-Aliasing characteristics being canceled-out in the D800E's OLPF filter stack.

Example of D800 vs. D7000 chrominance noise at ISO-25600:

Nikon D800 vs. D7000 ISO-25600

I've made the full-resolution images available at the bottom of this article, I highly suggest the images to be downloaded and compared full-size, for full-effect. Looking especially at the more finely detailed writing on the book ends.

Conclusion

The D800 is an extremely versatile camera that can provide amazing 36.3 MP files in full-frame FX mode, whilst containing the ability to moon-light as the best APS-C DX format camera on the market. The D800/E has several other crop modes as well as the DX crop mode discussed here, which helps to make the D800/E one of the most versatile cameras on the market today.

A full review of the D800/D800E and D4 is coming soon as well as comparisons between the D800, D800E, D4 and D3s.

The D800 used in this particular test was sourced from Robert's Camera.

Full size Nikon D800 vs. D3s images:

Full size Nikon D800 vs. D7000 images:

This entry was posted in Nikon D3s, Nikon D7000, Nikon D800, [NR] Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • http://joelc.com.au Joel C

    The conclusion is that the D800 is versatile??? Can you put more conclusions in the conclusion section so we need not come to our conclusions.

    • darren

      If you read it the entire thing is a conclusion between the compared cameras. If you want he can dress up ‘the D800 is better (especially when comparing prices) in almost every aspect.’

      The D3s held up better with noise at 12800, but that was against a down-sampled d800 to 12 mp… What more do you need? The D800 is amazing.

  • Robert

    Comparing D800 with D7000 is like u compare apple with pears….

    “Very good comparation”

    D800 vs D3s is ok…but to compare with D7000 is mean u are not professional.

    • Arthur

      It’s interesting since the D7000 is like benchmark for DX, and if you compare it to the D800 DX output (which also is about 16MP), you can check wether the D800 has improved its sensor in the last years. So in this case both outputs are very good comparable.

      Of course, that’s just the sensor. It’s not meant as a comparison between a (semi) professional body and a consumer body.

    • http://www.laurentiuilie.ro Laurentiu Ilie

      It is indeed professional.

      His job with this post was to show comparisons not only for proffesionals but also for amateurs.

      Well done!

      Thanks Cary for this post!

      • http://www.thejordancollective.com CaryTheLabelGuy [NR]

        You’re very welcome! :)

    • http://www.allengraphy.wordpress.com allen

      I would definitely be interested to see comparisons with D7000 given that when I am travelling I plan to only bring my 18-200MM F3.5-5.6 + 24mm F2D. It wasn’t an option for D700 (low res DX mode)

      Another advantage for DX is it gives you extra reach without the need to change lenses, on DX my 70-200 becomes 300MM F2.8 and it gives me nice clean 16MP shots

      • Alex

        It doesn’t make your lens 300mm…I aM so tired of reading this! You can’t change The focal length of a lens. It just changes the field of view. Think of a DX body as a full frame camera in crop mode all the time. It’s not making your lens longer, it’s just cropping the image. If you use a 35mm lens on a dx camera, it’s not going to make it into a 50~ mm lens, it will just look like the same crop of a 50mm lens. It’s still going to be a wide picture, just cropped in.

        • Charlie

          If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then surely we could call it a duck?

          Which way precisely is a 35mm lens on a DX camera different (in actual use) to a 52.5mm on an FX camera?

          The only difference I can think of is that the depth of field would remain the same as a 35mm lens.

    • George

      I’m a professional, and I shoot a D7000 (primary) currently. I expect I will upgrade to a D800 when they’re more availible (detail is critical to me). The D7000 was actually a better choice for me over the D300S because of the sensor quality…

      I suppose I could claim that you aren’t a professional if you don’t have a full range of macro lenses and an R1 flash rig, or an IR converted body… but it would simply mean you aren’t MY kind of professional.

  • Duke of Edinburgh

    I do believe that the D7000 came out very well – I’m not sure that the ISO noise differences detected in the test would be that significant in use.

  • http://www.achingrover.com Achin Grover

    My first few photos from Nikon D800.
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.360526330657638.80954.137972689579671&type=1
    I will soon post some glamor pics taken at ISOs upto 3200 … I must say I am really impressed with low noise at high ISOs and amazing dynamic range for landscape shots.

  • Boing Wronkwell

    Cary. I’m confused by these tests…

    The images you have posted tell me that unless I am really pixel peeping that for DX, the D7000 at a third of the price is more or less equal of the D800. In DX mode, the 800 isn’t about a third of the price to become more or less the same as a 7000 the quality of which it seems to more or less equal.

    Obviously for FX then things are different. :-)

    So your conclusion is that the D800 is versatile and the best DX camera?

    WTF?

    • Arthur

      It’s in DX still better than the D7000, so that makes it the best DX camera. “The best” doesn’t mean “best value for the money”! ;) So I wouldn’t buy the D800 if you’re planning to use it just for DX.

      Versatile because it’s actually a FX camera, high dynamic range, many pixels, and good high ISO performance.

      • Boing Wronkwell

        “The best” doesn’t mean “best value for the money”!

        Indeed… But for 99% of peeps, is the 800 $2k or so better than a 7000?

    • catinhat

      It is all in the eye of the beholder. I bet if D7000 and D800 pics were not marked as such, most people would be hard pressed to guess which is which. You can also look at the photos in this thread for comparison purposes:

      http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1021&thread=41064359

      Now, you can’t downsample D7000 quite as much, it’s true, but, on the other hand, you can either crop D800 pics OR downsample them, but not both at the same time. So, for people who mostly want DX crop, there is no visible advantage over D7000, unless you convince yourself otherwise.

      • AnHund

        The samples I have seen from the D800 shows that it is significantly better than the output from the D7000 – there is simply no comparison. And why wouldn’t it be better when even the D700 easily outperforms the D7000?

  • Al

    Admin, do you know if the D3200 will have the same sensor as the D7000?

    • Trevor

      I’m certainly not Admin, but all the rumors I’ve read are for the D3200 having a 24mp sensor. So, I’d say no.

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

      no, it will be 24MP

  • subrep

    “un-defeated high-ISO king, the Nikon D3s”

    The “hi-ISO king” is D4. D3s is a discontinued camera. Pointless comparisson.

    (…) “the D800 will clearly out-perform the D3/D700 sensor in noise, sharpness, detail and DR, at every ISO, when down-sampled to the same resolution of 12.1 MP.”

    Pure speculation without proof in this test.

    • Marcus

      I’d say that a comparison against a known benchmark in high-iso performance (the D3s) is very relevant. Even more so than comparing it to another camera with which people have a very limited experience with (the D4).

      Regarding your second point, you may claim that its a subjective opinion, but you may not claim that it is a speculation when the basis of the opinion is presented in the post.

      From my own experience I agree with the opionion that the noise profile of the d800 when downsampled is superior to the d3/d700. The extra resolution and dynamic range simply allows for us to be more aggressive with noise reduction in post processing, while retaining enough detail to look good when downsampled.

    • catinhat

      Admin recently posted D4 vs D3 comparison. We’re talking a fraction of a stop difference above ISO 3200. I’m not looking over ISO 12800 though, I think it is meaningless in terms of “quality” on any cam these days. If “downsample” is the name of the game these days, then, yes, probably D800 is somewhere up there too. But we’re nit picking here. I think under most conditions people are likely to shoot just about every high end camera of the last generation is still very relevant, and the outcome will depend much more on the photographer’s eye and technique, and the glass used than on the differences between all these cams, unless — and this is a big deal, — the AF system throws a fit. AF performance would worry me a lot more than fraction of a stop difference at ISO 6400 and above which I can deal with in post.

    • Dan

      “The “hi-ISO king” is D4. D3s is a discontinued camera. Pointless comparisson.”

      Actually, it’s a very helpful comparison. People with a D3s may be wondering whether to get a D4, while those considering upgrading to a D3s or D4 will find the comparison helpful. (The D3s may be discontinued by Nikon, but there’s this thing called eBay where you can buy a used D3s, often in excellent condition.)

    • http://www.thejordancollective.com CaryTheLabelGuy [NR]

      While the D4 is a spectacular camera, it hasn’t beat the D3s in terms of noise performance. The D3s still has slightly better SnR, while the D4 has better DR and resolution. The D3s is still the king in this arena, even though it’s no longer sold by Nikon. Don’t get me wrong though, the D4 is close in SnR and is still the better overall camera. Will it cause me to sell my fantastic D3s? Probably not. We shall see.

      My Nikon D4 vs. D3s shoot-out will be published soon, so stay tuned to NikonRumors.com

    • http://www.peterbendheim.com Peter Bendheim

      I personally don’t think it matters that much if the D3s has been discontinued. There are many thousands out there that will continue to give years of good service, and it is indeed a benchmark, or rather landmark camera. I use mine professionally all the time and I dont think the D4 is revolutionary enough to trade up, evolutionary, yes – revolutionary, no. And my social documentary work doesn’t need a D800 yet..tempting as it is. It’s important to be able to make comparisons in order to place thinks in context and re-evaluate one’s personal needs.

  • William P. Ratigan

    While the 800 is an awesome unit, it is clear that for the money the 7000 is really hard to beat. Most people would not know the difference unless you told them. I am glad I purchased the 7000. It allows me the ability to make great photos and still have some money in my pocket.

    • http://www.lebenslustiger.com/ Lebenslustiger

      I have both, the d7000 and the d800 – bought some good glass for the d700 which now really comes to life with the d800. Still I love that the d800 without having to do anything (configure, etc) will utilize DX glass and switch to DX mode. Of course of can switch to DX even with FX glass, yet I fail to see the point in that – might just as well crop later in post.

  • Michael

    It´s like it is:
    D800 is in fact a D 14k (2xD7000)

    I come from D7000 and was impressed by the quality of the output this little beast delivers.

    But now I have a D800 – and feel these differences no one discusses here:
    -better metering in difficult situations (!)
    -better AF-tracking (faster, seems more intelligent, sticks to the point you want the camera to stick to)
    -FX: I simply can use my old FX-equipment in the way it was meant to be (no magnification)
    -possibility to zooooooooooom in and crop easily -> fun finding all these little details that you didn´t see when you were shooting

    The “bugs” have no importance for me: No lock-ups for me (only SD-Card, thinking about using the CF-Slot for a SD-holster), focussing to the outer focus points at wide-angles is a no-issue for me (other manufacturers simply state that this simply doesnt work straight away).

    For me it feels like F90X/N90X-times again

    Cheers

    Michael

  • http://cdsharper.zenfolio.com CSharp

    I agree stringly with the conclusions. I’ve been using my D800 for nature and I needed the flexibility to switch back and forth between DX and FX. while my D800 is saddled with long glass, my D300s is let to shot shoot flyovers with my 70-200.

    i’m extremely happy with the D800 IQ

  • John

    It’s spectacular but it’s slow.

    • Michael

      Just don´t buy it if you need a machine gun.

      For me (coming from analog) 4 fps is enough – fast AF helps to make the perfect shot right away without shooting 10 frames for the dustbin.

      • John

        That’s what I’m saying D4 rocks…D800 meh LOL.

  • Paul W

    What I cannot figure is …how important is the crop issue for macro DXers and nature togs?

    i.e

    if you have a d7000 with an fx lens you have a 1.5 crop factor.

    if you have a d800 with the same fx lens you have no crop factor ……but you have essentially the same quality file (pixel pitch) which is bigger. And its bigger than the 1.5 crop factor of the DX (16 MP x 1.5 = 24).

    So is the d800 a better camera for nature togs (i.e. DX shooters) than a D7000 because you get the same quality in the d800 file and a bigger “subject” after cropping??? (i.e 36 is bigger than 24 by 1/3rd))

    Is my maths/understanding wrong?

    • catinhat

      > Is my maths/understanding wrong?
      >

      A little. 1.5 in linear dimension is 1.5×1.5 = 2.25 in area, so 16mp * 2.25 = 36mp.

      • http://www.envirosea.com Paul W

        Many thanks for the correction on the maths – I understand it now.

        Interesting – I may now cancel my 800 order and stick with the 7000 until the next generation of DX comes out – I am just hoping there is one!

    • peterw

      yes, your mathematics are a bit to tight.
      since the 1,5 crop-factor works in both dimensions of your sensor, you would have to multiply 1,5×1,5 is 2,25 times 16 MP is uhma, well it’s about 38 or 40 or some other number very near to 36 MP.

      The difference between the camera’s is in dimensions and weight, built quality, operation quality, resistence against shake, a different field of view (hence versatility as has been pointed out above), and in amount of megabytes per photo-file. Not very much in the pixels, as has been shown to us in this article.
      Both camera’s can be used for excellent macro work. If you can live with the weight, the large files and the evident financial aspect, choose the D800 for slightly better chances, and off course for the incidental wall sized prints of your creepy keepers…

  • JA

    Thanks for these noise comparisons Cary. I hope you find humor in some of these ridiculous comments :)

  • http://richardcromptonphotography.com RichM0nster

    Great comparison test. Thanks. Looks like I need a D800 more than ever! Looks like a game changing camera once again.

  • thatgermandude

    So before I spend money I don’t have for a camera I don’t need to impress people I don’t like – I’ll stick to my D7000.

    • FIXITT

      PREACH IT, BROTHER ! — I spill my hard earned cash towards big lenses. My everyday camera is a still the D40. Still, I thank all of you techies who take the time to educate us.

  • Lanskymob

    this is a great, thorough test. and i’ve been watching them all over the past few weeks. but have we just jumped the shark here? are there any real photographers out there who will be taking pictures of books… in the dark…that will be blown up or cropped out the wazoo?

    Of course we all love extra stops. Of course we don’t want noisy photos. But I’d venture to guess that even the lowest-rung DSLR in the Nikon stable is producing pictures that would have the genius photographers from the 40’s-60’s at Magnum and Life and Black Star drooling.

    Wanna know the secret to getting better pictures?

    1. remove the camera from the tripod
    2. put it around your neck
    3. walk outside and start taking actual photographs of actual subjects
    4. if you find you’re cropping too deeply, take 3 steps closer to said subjects

    • George

      Sure… technical photographers. I shoot a lot of crime scene, and I sometimes could seriously use a good high-ISO shot. Haven’t been able to get a D3s or D4 (not issued, and I can’t afford), so I was hoping for a good 24mp rig with quality shots at 24600. D800 was NOT what I wanted, but it may be the closest thing I can afford. Lit buttons should be STANDARD on high-end cameras….

  • http://www.robyfabro.com RvF

    Thanks for the post, good food for thoughts!

  • Al

    Will the D3200 be better in IQ than the 7000 at low ISO?

    • Boing Wronkwell

      Many of us are certainly waiting to see what the answer to THAT question will be!

      At least my wallet is….

  • rhlpetrus

    Cooment on RAW conversions: CNX2 tends to reduce chroma noise for D700, D3 and D3s, not as much as for D7000 and D800 (eve if one sets it to zero). It probably has to do with ADC designs and how Nikon works on the analog signal in their own sensor/ADC designs.

    If one uses ACR with chroma NR set to zero (default is 25), differences are much smaller, and I like D800 over D3s in a more definite way, using DPR RAws, for example.

  • http://nikonmacro150.smugmug.com/ Nikonmacro150

    I will have to respond to some asking about macro DXers. I own a D7000 and am happy as a clam about my purchase. I like the fact of using FX glass and getting a 1.5 crop to really get in close; it does have it advantage. But macro also involves detail and to have a bigger sensor that can grab more ranges of color and detail is far more important than crop factor. With an FX class camera with 36mp can increase photo size say with OnOne Perfect Resize and then crop or just crop to get your desired spot on the photo. But also remember that the closer you are to sensor then more your imperfections will show. I will also have to respond @robert in the very top of this forum saying:
    Robert
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Comparing D800 with D7000 is like u compare apple with pears….

    “Very good comparation”

    D800 vs D3s is ok…but to compare with D7000 is mean u are not professional.

    The fact that someone owns a D7000 shouldn’t designate the person is not a professional because even if a person owns a D4 and shoots with only Nikon Glass can still take shiteity photos. This is a known fact, photography in all its aspects takes great skill to become a professional not the gear you own. I say this because before I bought my D7000 I used a Pentax K10D while working on Canon Cameras ranging from Powershots to 1D MarkIV (while working for Canon I did check out alot of their cameras and lenses to include the 1D MarkIV). Check out my site and you will see that it isn’t the camera that makes the photo it is the person behind it that does.

  • http://www.AndrewStonePhotography.com Andrew

    You guys are really picky with the details. No review is going to be perfect. I think Cary did an amazing job and I am glad he posted this up here. The conclusion/take-away I got was that the D800 is an awesome camera. I think some people in here get caught up in the minor details. Cary’s approach was pretty scientific with a lot of effort put in to make that review happen. I am excited for the D800 to take studio pictures and landscape pictures. Here is where the 36 MP will shine. If I happen to shoot in low-light I know that it will do just fine!

  • Zen-Tao

    very innaccurated test. wen we’ll see a test with a real sharpness chart?

    • Hhom Togan

      In this site? never, god forbids they do a decent sharpness test, even less of a chance to see a Diffraction test (DLA)…

      And even less of a chance to see non downsampled files at all, there seems to be some fear of showing how the original high ISO files look like in their natural state…

      For me though it is a win situation tons of morons will be selling their D3x and D3s cameras for cheap and I will have plenty of backup bodies ready in ebay to be bought ;)

      • http://www.thejordancollective.com CaryTheLabelGuy [NR]

        It’s called a “real-world” test for a reason, Hhom Togan. Also, if you read the article, you must have seen the part at the bottom where the full-resolution files were available for review and download. We couldn’t post the full-resolution files on the blog because of file size and loading issues.

        Take it easy on the insults. Nobody cares to see you call people “morons” and “idiots” or that people are “stupid” (in reference to your other recent posts today); it does nothing for the blog or for its readers. If you have something constructive to say, please do it with respect.

      • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

        Hhom Togan, if you have a better test, I would be happy to publish it online.

  • Teox

    I’m happy with my fantastic D3s!

    • RogerD

      I am also very happy with my D3s and looking for a second one.

  • Jason

    Thanks a bunch for the review. I bought a D7000 that I had to return last year. I’m looking to get back into a dslr, and I was interested in seeing a comparison of photos from the d800 and d7000 regardless of the rest of the features. One question I do have is about the color. Why are the colors so different between the d800 dx crop and native fx on the same scene? Is it a white balance issue due to the DX crop keying off of different colors that are available compared to the FX shot?

  • TR_T-Rex

    Why are FX photos more vibrant in terms of color than DX photos?

    Perhaps they were taken under different light/flash conditions?

  • Bill

    Thank goodness for this high quality test. I needed to see that new, professionally oriented, technology surpasses 5 year old technology and consumer technology.

  • Pablo

    Is this a fair test? I mean, I just got my D800 and Im very happy with the results.
    If is was to take my old D90 at full res iso 100 vs D3x at smallest resolution and highest iso,
    I think my d90 would win. The D800 is 36 megapixels, so why is everyone bringing it down?
    My d7000 never came close to the pictures I’ve been taking, and on this test you show that the d7000 can almost hold its own to the d800.
    I saw many people on different forums talking bad about the d800 and I don’t know why.
    They did the same thing when the d7000 came out and people who had the d90 didn’t like it.
    I guess is like people that think that records sound better than hd master audio.

    • Che Ibarra

      It’s bc lab tests are for rats. The real tests are out in the real world. Out in location when you are working under pressure with clients, etc. Those are the real tests. I’m expecting my D4 to arrive April 21th and I don’t buy reviewers like Ken Rockwell saying that my D7000 is just as good as the D4. He’s an ridiculous. I have NO DOUBT that my D4 coupled with my Nikon Trinity collection will blow away my D7000 in terms of image quality and performance. Can’t wait to jump into FX. Never shot an FX camera.

      • Pablo

        I upgraded from D7000 to D800.
        My D800 passed the toughest test know to me:
        My Wife.
        She is the biggest critic on photography I know!
        It does not matter what kind of printer I use she will
        Tell me how bad it looks!
        For my wife to say that the pictures are better takes a lot lol
        Believe me.
        I’m not a pro, this camera is for family and hobby pictures and I see huge
        Difference vs my old D7000.
        I have an Apple Cinema 30 at 2560×1600 and yes I know that it’s only a third
        Resolution of my D7000, you can still see the difference.

        Everyone I hear talking bad about it are Canon guys and guys with D700 that never tried the D800.
        Not talking bad about the D700, but the D800 is better.

  • Banksie

    What I don’t get is that while all these inordinate number of X versus Y tests keep showing up all over the place, and with gobs of technical discussions over the most trivial sort of crap, that there are still all those incredibly horrendous photographs out there.

    We’ve reached the apex of image reproduction in the technological sense but have failed at what really counts: the actual end product; i.e., the photograph. In today’s world the gear itself has become the product and the photograph has been delegated to the back row.

    It’s pure consumerism in all its glory.

    • Andrew

      In some quarters, the focus is on the art of photography; and in some other quarters, the focus is on the equipment. I think the focus on the equipment in this blog is appropriate for the following reasons: the hardware is still important in terms of its ability to capture high MP images because the size of the print in some quarters (i.e. areas of specialization) matter. Then also is ISO, because a clean image at a high ISO will allow the photographer to take natural photographs without the use of flash, for example in a wedding. Likewise, a sports photographer may want that 11 fps capability for obvious reasons. So the focus on the technical details of the camera is appropriate if such discussions are understood as not intended to mean that the hardware is the only thing of interest when one is involved with the business of photography.

  • Gilberto

    the original post discovered with the D800 what A900 users know since 2008. For a long while one of the best DR among the SLRs, but blamed for its poor ISO and that time unnecessarily 25 MP.

  • SONNY

    If 36.3 MP in D800 is good, why D4 does not have it?
    It makes me think that around 16-18 MP are the best, and cameras which closer to the point (16-18 MP) are better then those stay father. Of course I am saying about full frame cameras.

    • Bengt Nyman

      The Nikon 36 MP D800(E) proves that there is nothing “best” about 18 MP or any other MP. The 36 MP Nikon D800(E) is a marvelous landscape and studio camera with unexpected flexibility and ISO capabilities. The MP development will continue to where individual pixel noise will be invisible at all conceivable enlargements except when pixel peaking at above 1000%.

    • burgerman

      Speed.

      D4 = FAST

      D800 = same iso noise, better image quality detail at lower iso, better max dynamic range, DX capable at 15mp, so super flexible. But slower because its shifting 2.5 times the data…

      You choose.

    • cameramm

      the better d4 would have been with the d800 sensor – and the possibility to use file size M (22mp/downsampled) with 10 fps and better ISO, and the full resolution with less fps/ISO but the best resolution. I think the D4S in the so far unknown future will have it …

    • Hhom Togan

      Because: no news media outlet needs that gigantic size at all (newspaper only need around 4 to 6 megapixels to do a full page print, magazines need only 12, news websites run really small photos, the same Ipads -or other tablets- won’t need that huge file size either) 36 megapixels for photojournalism is an overkill.

      Also it would eff up FTP transfers from photojournalist to their workplace (bigger files slower transfer), batch processing would be slower and the file size would burn faster the cards as they fill up.

      Also it would be even more expensive because the buffer and the processor would need to be ridiculously fast to achieve more than 5 fps.

      So in less words, using a D800 for PJ is like jumping to a pool with cocodrilles with tarantulas as teeth and acidic saliva: it would be STUPID.

  • Fred

    Are the D3S/D800 labels the right way around?
    or maybe my Samsung Monitor is playing up?
    Fact is that even at ISO 1600 the crops labeled D800 are worse than the D3S IRO SNR. By ISO 12,800 the D3S is miles ahead in the blacks in particular.
    The D800 loses detail as the ISO’s climb too. The Dark brown book at lower right texture just disappears below the noise floor.
    D800 shows less red channel noise than the D7000 which shows that the topology is probably the same and just the Bayer filter has been changed from the D7000 one.
    I think many are missing the point that the D800 was under design back at the same time that the D7000 was released thus the technology is not much different – and it shows – the reason for it being released in 2012 were the earthquake and floods.
    It’s also apparent that DXO’s ‘normative resampling’ which computes the same S/N as the D3S at resampling is not the correct algorithm.
    Ultimately the D800 looks like a very nice camera for low ISO studio/landscape work – which is probably why Nikon advertise it for this use – I’m sure people will be happy with it.
    Thanks for the images Gary!

    • burgerman

      Having prints here at 30 inches from d800 and d3s on my desk I can tell you that there isnt anyone here that can pick which camera took which at 25600 iso. Shot for shot they match. Both are from noise reduction OFF and sharpening default TIFF files straight from camera.

      But at lower iso the d800 shots are obviously more detailed. MUCH more detailed from 6400 iso onwards.

      For low light either camera is practically identical. D3S may JUST have the edge above 25600 if anyone ever goes there. Everywhere else I will take the D800 instead.

      So in real world prints, like for like and shot for shot, DXOmark is dead on as far as I can see. No D4 to compare too though. No “flaw” there.

      • Burgerman

        >>> MUCH more detailed from 6400 iso onwards.

        Should be DOWNWARDS!

    • Hhom Togan

      it isn’t your monitor, my Eizo Color Edge (calibrated) is showing the same stuff you are seeing.

      It seems everybody else fanboyism blinds them from seeing the noise in those photos.

  • http://www.digital-smedia.com damond

    Thanks for the comparison! I think for now I will stick with my D3s :)

  • Ren Mockwell

    http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/400x/18434101.jpg

    I will leave this image as a way to share what I think about this article :)

    • http://nikonmacro150.smugmug.com Nikonmacro150

      ROFL @ Ren Mockwell. Picture was funny. Thanks

    • Matador

      Funny picture.
      I have a tough time understanding the, Why buy this camera if you have to down sample to beat a D700 or d3s group of folks.
      1) There are a ton of folks who are buying the first FX like me, I have both D80 and D7000.
      2) Price wise it falls in the D700 range when it was sold new including inflation here.
      3) D800 kills most of the other cameras in large print category except high iso ranges and or folks who need high fps

      If you really need a fast camera and a High ISO camera go to D4.

      The point here is D800 is a versatile 3k camera that is better than other cameras in certain conditions and as good if not better in high ISO conditions when you down sample to the comparing cameras mp3s.

      The group who say why you have to down sample, you need to apply logic. You compare likewise things. You don’t compare apples and oranges.

      Finally if you believe D800 is not for you then don’t buy it – simple.

      • burgerman

        >>>

        For gods sake…
        You DONT HAVE TO DOWN SAMPLE.

        That just allows direct comparison on screen, like image for like.
        HOWEVER you view the full image the PC operating software, your image viewer, your printerr AUTOMATICALLY downsizes it just to fit in the viewing space you are using.

        I really think they should only sell cameras to people that pass an IQ test.

      • Matador

        Before questioning the IQ of others. Are you sure you have enough?
        I guess not. This particular review is comparing 3 cameras. When you compare you look at like pictures at same control factors such as size resolution ISO settings etc.
        Because the 3 cameras Sensors are all different and their resolutions are not same, to make an effective comparison same you can up sample the lower resolution cameras or down sample the higher resolution ones.
        Because we are talking about D800 here and he is comparing them to 3Ds and D700 who low noise at high ISOs is well know, the argument is that when you down sample the D800 images at high ISOs noise will be reduced significantly and pictures compare at least in theory to the others.
        No one is talking about printing images here.

        So before you question others IQ make sure yours is greater than 0.
        Also if you want to know difference between re sizing and down sampling read this
        http://designer-info.com/Writing/image_resample.htm

        • burgerman

          But it doesent matter if you resize all to the same screen size, up, down, meet in the middle or whatever. Same result.

          And printing is relevent because thats EXACTLY what the printer driver is doing… Its resampling all images either 36, 16, or 12mp to the same output size. Just like doing it on screen. So the IQ comment was very relevant. And you failed the test.

          • Matador

            Printer Driver is also downsampling or resampling by your own admission. So Mr Zero IQ your comment of
            For gods sake…
            You DONT HAVE TO DOWN SAMPLE statement is worthless Whether you do it or the OS does it or your Image viewer does it, the process is downsampling or resampling.

          • KJ

            Burgerman, your comment regarding people with low IQ don’t need to buy high end cameras is correct. I guess you fall into that category.

            All Matador is saying is a down sampled high ISO D800 image compares well to the cameras in discussion.

            You are going into specifics of how to use a image viewer to resize and saying it is not down sampling and then insulting his IQ and showing your ignorance is laughable. Be respectful of peoples intelligence and most importantly don’t make an ass of yourself.

            http://nikonrumors.com/forum/topic.php?id=5540

            talks about downsampling how to …

  • db

    Got my D800 today, it would not start… Friday the 13th!

  • http://nikonmacro150.smugmug.com Nikonmacro150

    sorry bout your D800. There is one thing I learned from Canon when I worked on refurbished cameras. They really don’t check to see if the camera works properly on the assembly line they just put it together, do a few simple tests and ship it out. Now when you get a refurb unit they dig deep and have multiple people doing multiple tests of every function the camera has to make sure it works on the way out. But electronics are electronic and they do and will break without notice. Which is why I have no problem purchasing a refurb D800 just like I purchase a refurb D7000. Sure it is cheaper say by a few hundred but I know they went over the camera more then they did on the assembly line.

  • akshay kumar

    i already had d90,d40x and d7000 camera and now i want buy 1 more camera which is professional please help me which 1 is better one to buy please tell me

  • an nonymous

    D7000 do 6 fps, about 1,5 years later, D800 in DX mode, still 6 fps… not much of a technology evolution in this department.

    D800 (DX mode) vs D7000
    Picture quality seems pretty similar except for apparently bit more chroma noise and in particular more hot pixels in the D7000 shots

    D3s vs D800
    D3s stood up well, but in comparison to D800 and also D7000, D3s has a clearly different S-curve applied to the luminosity, because that suppress the noise in the darker shades and how we as humans perceives it with our eyes.

  • kerry33

    Well, at least cary made an honest conclusion about high iso of d800 which only beat
    D700/D3= IF DOWNSAMPLED. I have read few ‘misleading’ conclusions on other photographer websites that the d800 beat those 2 cameras hands down at high iso.

    For me, i dont mind about people downsampling, up rez or whatever for the purpose of comparison. But i just couldnt accept some reviewers make a plain statement about something that is not true.

  • Joko

    I just had to laugh at the “sleek and attractive” comment on the D800. That camera is so damn ugly only a Nikon designer could love it.

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  • http://local-movers-moving.com Local Movers N Movin

    Good ISO performance form D800.

  • ozzk

    I am a pure amateur, I cannot comment here for the pro comments so my comment is for amateurs like me..I was always interested in photoghrapy but never had a chance to spend money on a SLR and lenses in my younger ages.. As an after 50 hobby although I have always liked taking pictures with point and shoots, I have decided to buy my first DSLR, a secondhand D200… and last year I bought a D7000 instead of a D300S.. I am very happy with my D7000 now although D200 felt more robust and can go on cont. shooting without a hick up according to my home test. The comparison test here is done in a very pro manner..However, as an amateur hobbyist I do not personally see enough justification to pay the extra money to change cams for my x satisfaction although I can afford it..

  • Jari Varpenius

    Seriously, what is the poin t of comparison if you downsample D800 pictures? Who want’s to buy D800 to smaller every picture? These examples destroy’s all ideas to buy 36.3 MP camera!! Put on the table real comparison’s!

    • pookie007

      I shoot E-com and if I am doing a huge shoot for web there is absolutely no reason I would want to clog up the hard drive with a full session of files of this size which take forever to process and move around so there is every reason to downsize for the occasion.

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