Nikon D800 vs. Nikon D700 high ISO comparison

This Nikon D800 vs. D700 ISO comparison was initially posted on the and my understanding is that it was later removed. I have not seen the original post and I don't know all the details, but I assume those are 100% crops. You will have to ignore the fact that all D700 samples are blurry and just pay attention to the ISO performance. Keep also in mind that the D800 was probably a pre-production version. I did not include the samples bellow ISO 3200 because there was no visible noise. You can click on the sample images for a slightly larger view:

Nikon D800 vs. Nikon D700 comparison ISO 3200

ISO 3200

Nikon D800 vs. Nikon D700 comparison ISO 6400

ISO 6400

Nikon D800 vs. Nikon D700 comparison ISO 12800

ISO 12800

Nikon D800 vs. Nikon D700 comparison ISO 25600

ISO 25600

Nikon D800 vs. Nikon D700 comparison ISO 25600

ISO 25600 (NR on)

The Nikon D800 and D700 cameras have identical ISO ranges with the only exception being that the D800 starts at ISO 100 (Lo-1 ISO 50) and the D700 starts at ISO 200 (Lo-1 ISO 100).

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  • Gav

    You know it’s not a big fight between D700 users and D800 users.

    I think it is just that the majority of people were hoping for a slightly improved D700 rather than a megapixel monster.

    Imagine if Nikon released a D800, D800e and a D800s all at the same time. Same body and technology but one with a high pixel sensor and one with cleaner high ISO but less pixels!! :-p

    • Anonee

      Then high-ISO lovers who can’t afford a D4 will have an orgasm 🙂

      • tang

        About a year from now there will be some sort of consumer FF.. D400 maybe.. They won’t want to dent D4 sales with a cheapie consumer FF.

  • Mark

    I had the opportunity to compare, handheld, my D700 against the D800, at ISO 3200, 400 and 6400.

    From what I saw on the LCD, at 100%, the D800 was about 1/2 to 1 stop better than the D700.


    • Anonymous Maximus

      Did you see similar chroma type noise on D800 like the samples here?

    • Leif

      I talked to a guy from Nikon that promotes the D4 and D800, he said D800 was about 1 stop better than D700, so it seems right.

    • Dan

      If this is true that would be fantastic!

  • Anonymous Maximus

    Here you may see full-scale high iso samples from D800:

    I applied Photoshop’s noise reduction on the ISO 3200 sample (the window & curtain). My parameters were:

    Strength: 6
    Preserve Details: 25
    Reduce Color Noise: 50
    Sharpen details: 25
    Remove JPEG Artifact: No

    And the chroma noise is mostly gone with some still left as generalized & spread color patterns, but ok for that high iso. With NR process some of the actual color density and image detail is reduced too as a side effect.

    This was a jpeg file. The best way to fight noise is at raw conversion stage. NX2 has a NR with fast or quality tabs. It’s wise to select quality option which can remove complex low frequency color noise like checkerboard pattern. ACR comes second in NR, but it’s still successful if the parameters are set right. Next version will surely support D800 nef files.

    • Anonymous Maximus

      PS: It took 15 sec. to process the file after the preview screen on my Intel Q9300 Quad Core 2.5 GHz computer. PS supports multithreading at some CPU-intensive tasks like noise reduction.

  • Jack

    I don’t quite get why do people complain about 36MP RAW size? Isn’t it 2012 where 2TB hdd is under 100$ and average PC is at least dual core and 4GB of ram? Smooth workflow in Lightroom or Photoshop shouldn’t be considered hard to achieve.

    With at least 8GB of RAM and x64 Windows Photoshop will chew D800 RAWs as crazy 🙂

    • pro

      if you do shoot a large event and you have a studio with multiple photographers, and they’re all hired, and they’re all shooting 40 to 50 meg nef files, it’s not inconceivable you’ll have a half a tb from just one job. the time it takes to download, backup, copy, sort, etc can really get out of hand. i would be all over this camera if it had a small raw option. as it stands i’m sticking with the d700. seriously! call me crazy, or whatever, btu that’s just the way it is for me.

      there’s no such thing as a perfect camera — just a perfect camera for my use. this isn’t perfect for my use. if it had a sRAW option and could boost the fps to 7 or 8 with sRAW and a grip , it would be the absolute perfect camera FOR ME.

      • Al

        +1. Not everyone needs 36mp.

        • Rubber Johnny

          Say that in 3 years time!

          • Hhom Togan

            Advertising and Magazine works are still spec’ed with a minimum of 12 megapixels for printed work even when the D800 and 5D MKIII have been introduced there’s no change in the specs.

            I doubt you will need 36 megapixels for net or tablet use.

            So take it as you want buddy.

      • Lukasz

        Doesn’t it say here, that you can have Large, medium and small.

        • Dan

          This is excellent news! So you’re getting better ISO performance than a D700 as well as the option of 9, 20 or 36megapixel resolution, all using FX format. That is welcome news.

    • Leif

      I totally agree. Its perfect. The only downside is the 4 shots per second. Other then that, its perfect. And if there are times I dont want or need my 36mp, well I just set it to DX mode, and then I can use my other DX lenses too 🙂

  • don castelo

    i ve downsize a 36mp photo from nikon website to 6mp the detail is incredible , i will use the camera at 20 mp about 10 MB a file

    • Anonymous Maximus

      Shoot less if possible but always have it raw !

      • lalla

        wank less if possible but always with spit!

        • KNowItAll

          Contratulations lalla,

          You’ve won the “Post of the day” award.

    • Hhom Togan

      why would you downsize a 36 megapixels shot to 6? :/

  • tengris

    I just skimmed over the last few comments and I’m not in the mood to read any further.

    What’s weird on the test besides the disabilities in correct focusing is that – once again – it starts with an ISO level where hardly usable results have to be expected.

    But what about ISO 100 to 400? Proctoscopy without additional light is not my kind of shooting. And – in my humble opinion – the noise level of the D700 at ISO 200 could need some improvement. Usable films had 25 to 100, so two steps more in digital quality would be enough technological advance. Sun is still up where it belongs and flashlight has gone crazy with prices, but the good old 80s flashgun will do it as well. I’ve learned how to use it.

    • lollo

      How many times do you wank a day?

      • Doug

        33…sometimes 34 if it’s windy.

      • tengris

        > How many times do you wank a day?
        Depends on the shooting. If the result is grainy blurry high ISO shit, none at all.

        > 33…sometimes 34 if it’s windy.
        Stormy winter this year.

  • I’m jealous
    My Dad just came back from the Vegas show and told me he held and shot the new D800. Him being more prone to Canon and me Nikon, he said it looked like an awesome camera. Out of all the cameras he’s tried it felt really good “The Best” in the hands. He doesn’t own the D700 though in fairness. He tends to collect cameras more than shooting them, Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Lumix, Leica and others.

    So as for me, I was set on the D4 but this one is looking pretty good. The only thing lacking for me is more than “4-6 FPS”. I need the ability for low light action and don’t need 36mp.

  • GQ

    The ISO Performance is Amazing!!!

  • Niktard

    I wonder how many orders will be canceled when the new 5D is announced.

    • Nikonmoaners

      probably very few.

      Most people don’t have the money or have too much sense to keep swapping brands and expensive lenses every time a new body comes out. Despite all the moaning here the majority of photographers take pictures rather than gear obsessing

    • neekone

      I might.

  • Great review.
    Question: Why do the DSLR cameras have an extended upper and lower range? Why not just include the full range in the native specs? Are the extended ranges unreliable or just not accurate?

    • Andrew

      If the camera has an upper range of ISO 6400, it means you can take a picture up to 6400 without flash. At ISO 6400, the picture will not be as clean as one taken at ISO 100. At ISO 6400, the picture will be a little grainy (that is, more noisy than at a lower ISO like 100) but it will not distract too much, so the picture will still look beautiful and clear enough so that you will notice very little graininess. So at ISO 6400, you can take a picture in a candlelit room, and you will be able to experience the mood or ambiance of the room; the faces of people in the picture will still look quite sharp and clear. But at higher ISO, anything above ISO 6400 – for example ISO 12800, you may want the flash be automatically trigger because the grain might be so much, the picture might not appear sharp and clear.

      So to answer your question, the camera manufacturer determines the ISO range that your camera can automatically adjust itself to for you to take the best picture under the current lighting condition. In bright sunlight, the camera will select the lowest ISO, for example ISO 100. As it starts getting darker, the camera will automatically start increasing the ISO , for example ISO 3200. As it starts getting really dark, it will set the highest ISO, for example ISO 6400. If it gets darker still, and an ISO of 12800 is needed, if your camera’s maximum ISO is 6400, then your camera will automatically use its built-in flash. But you have the option to override your camera’s maximum ISO and set the ISO manually to 12800 if your camera has this feature. You will do this if you do not care about taking a sharp and clear picture, but you are more interested in capturing the scene accurately.


    • Astrophotographer

      As I understand it there are industry standards for ISO. The upper limit must be below a certain S/N ratio (I think it’s 10:1). The camera can increase the gain at the expense of noise higher than the standard.

      The lower limit is a matter of dynamic range. Too low an ISO and the highlights will be blown out, i.e the sensor will be saturated. So that ISO 50 comes at the risk of lost highlights.

      • Gabe

        What are you talking about? 😀 The S/N ratio is FIX for a sensor, the reason why the picture became noisy, because if you have lesser information (lesser light), you have to amplify it more, but you amplify the noise as well.

    • Jake K.

      Standard ISO ranges are the analog ranges of the sensor coupled with whatever capabilities of the PGA (programmable gain amplifier). Sensors really have only one ISO sensitivity value. That is based on the design of the sensor and rated as per ISO standard tests to a specific acceptable SNR. The sensitivity of the sensor can be increased by boosting the signal via the PGA. This of course also increases some noise. The performance of the PGA and whatever analog NR mechanisms are designed into the camera determines how high the sensitivity can go. The D800 has a PGA that can achieve up to a 36dB gain thus with the sensor’s base ISO of 100, it can boost to 6400 (6dB/f-stop). This is why the ISO range for the D800 is officially listed as 100 to 6400. These are analog ISO values.

      The extended ISO values (Hi and Lo) are digital boosted and achieved by mapping to a different quantisation table in the analog-to-digital converters (ADC). When you set the camera to Hi+2 in order to obtain an ISO 25,600 equivalent, the PGA is cranked to +36dB and the sensor’s analog sensitivity is at 6400. But when the signal is converted, everything is remapped to a higher value and the digital data represents the extended amplification. Likewise the Lo settings do something similar, only this time, the PGA is turned all the way down and the analog signal is converted into a lower quantisation table. Think of it as like what happens when you push a point-and-shoot’s zoom capabilities past optical and into digital.

  • Canon killer

    This is a tosser, and he lives in your island :!

  • Eu da

    I believe the D800 images were resized down to 12MP, which favors a lot the noise perpection. This is not a freat comparison given the quality of the samples… everyone should just disregard this comparison.

  • amazing..

  • Mrco

    IMHO isn’t a d700/d800 behavior .there are a problems in that test.
    I’m waiting for official test

  • marc

    d700 pictures are out of focus??

  • Camaman

    I don’t get how the D700 files are more “zoomed in” at 100% than D800 files?
    At 100% D800 would be more “zoomed in”… 36 vs 12MP.

    Looks like D800 is at 100% and D700 at 200%

  • Pat Mann

    This doesn’t look real.

    Pixel pitch of D800 is less than 2x D700, lens resolution is going to limit how much more detail comes out of D800. I expect a nice increase in resolution, but somebody cooked these images.

  • D800 is a very interesting thing, expansive but totally necessary

  • Len

    Thanks guys, I think I have a better idea on the extended range of the ISO issue.

  • kathrine

    heres another set of D800 images
    D800 is looking good

    • Zoomdaddy

      Actually I think the higher iso’s look not so good, and these are not even in low light.. Lots “o noise !!!

  • Nickon

    I really like the concept Nikon has come up with here for the D800 and I think it is a smart move to bring APS-C enthusiasts to the Full-frame side. This will probably help lens sales…but with all that, I am so tired of seeing these D800 posts everywhere I look! I can’t wait until this hype is over!!!!

  • Raphael

    The blurry of the D700 shots makes it harder to make a conclusion, but it does seem like the D800, when producing the same size view, has a cleaner image to almost a whole stop. It is very encouraging at least. I don’t believe I need 36M pixels but won’t hate it. The only thing I want (and the D800 doesn’t have) is a tilt/swivel LCD, which allows odd angle shooting. D800 is still one of the biggest upgrade, congrats Nikon!

  • Kent

    You said ignore the fact that the D700 images are blurred. Do we know if both images were focussed optimally? If so, it seems the D800 gives nothing away to the D700 in ISO performance while blowing it away in resolution.

  • Jorge

    I rarely go over ISO 3200 on my D700. 800 on my D300. So, if I get even “the same” ISO range on my (on order) D800, I’d be happy. No. THRILLED.
    Best of both worlds as far as I’m concerned — High MP count, and very, very decent high ISO

  • Jacques V.

    Someone is trying to make the D700 look bad. If the original post was removed, there are good reasons among the first that come to mind:

    Using out of focus images from the D700 distract from the subject at hand
    Using darker frames in some instances does the same thing.

    What I see, after isolating the black areas is a very close match with one caveat: The pixel noise appear smaller but how is that possible if the image was really 1:1 ???

    Now something is fishy with the original post and echoing it here is also fishy.

  • neekone

    I wonder what people would’ve been saying if the D800 had been a 12megapixel camera with better AF, better ergonomics, 6fps, and 1 stop better ISO?

  • Delacroix

    waou, the D800 is an other world. D700 looks blury, noisy and the pictures have no details .

  • Let’s see a serious test, these pictures are useless, if the had used the same optics and all the result would maybe had me taking a closer look, but with one out of focus, come on!
    And that’s even the D700, i could understand if the pics from the prototype D800 was out of focus…

  • tom
  • DeepC

    Honestly d800 crops do not seem much better than the d7000 ones. Only difference is one is 36mp and other is 16mp. Which is self explanatory considering the sensor sizes. Getting a sharp landscape shot needs at least f16 on my 5dmark ii and f8 on my d7000. Now with d800 f16 is a problem because of diffraction. Iso does not matter. It will rock only below f8.

    Down sampling d800 images to 16mp will definitely beat any existing full frame camera. Same way you can get amazing downsampled 7mp images from d7000. Think about it if you do not want to print wall size long and want to save money.

    • Hm, I disagree. I’m a D7000 owner and pixel-peeper. From that last chinese link from Chris Ni, I think that the D800 has at least two stops, probably more over the D7000 in high-iso performance.

      That’s it, I’m pre-ordering now.

  • DeepC

    I have also per ordered d800. But from the images online I can tell ISO performance is not better at 800 crop. I could see noise at ISO 100 in Nikon website photo of the yellow flowers. Check the out of focus area.

  • Deepc

    100% crop.

  • Don’t promote a bollocks “Test” beyond its pushing point. You may — of course — pretty much publish anything you want, but including this one in the month’s overview is just too much…bollocks!

  • Mark

    Sad. D800’s HI2 ISO (25,600) is the Canon 5D iii’s native ISO

    • bert

      If you have near 4K for a 5DmkII, you might as well grab a D4.

  • Zeid

    This comparison is clearly against the D700, if you look at the subject in the pictures on the right side, they are out of focus….

    • Kamen Minkov

      They are not out of focus, they are simply with 3 times less resolution. Up-scale a shot from D700 so objects in it appear the same size as in a 1:1 shot from D800 and here you have a blurry image.

  • Maurizio

    Ma scusate!! Per cominciare le foto della D700 sono sfuocate e i toni dei neri più accesi quibdi forse più sottesposta quindi rumore più accentuato ma vabbè… ma l’errore di fondo del test è dato dal fatto che se le due macchine sono state posizionate alla stessa distanza dagli oggetti, il crop al 100% di una 36MP restituisce un’immagine molto più grande rispetto ad una 12MP e non viceversa!!! Perchè ovviamente se quelle di sinistra (D800) sono al 100% allora quelle della D700 sono oltre con una più che comprensibile decadenza dell’immagine!!!

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