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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  • Guys, I was at the camera presentation in my country making few shots with D800 and my D700, and i should say that reviewed comparison is close to the true. Both Cameras have very similar ISO noise!

    • Jason

      After the blur scare from Nikon Technical guide, this ISO comparison is a relief for D800 optimists…

      • Totally! Just look at the way the D800 has kept the detail. Very exciting !This was a big concern of mine and is why I didn’t want to pre-order until I saw some noise samples.

        Thanks Admin.
        I think it”s a go-ah!

        Look out for my D700 + Grip + 3x genuine Batteries


        my rarely used Nikkor 28-300mm VR on eBay soon…

        • Tom

          When admin said “I did not include the samples bellow ISO 3200 because there was no visible noise” by beloved little D90 workhorse burst into hot salty tears.

          • Linus

            It’s not often you see quality poetry in the age of Internet. Thank you Tom for your sensitive interpretation of your cameras last feelings before being replaced.

          • Corndog

            D90 is ancient technology. Time to upgrade!

    • apple and oranges


      just compare a D7000 with a D700 on noise. the D7000 has about the same pixel size as the D800. it is getting noisy from ISO 1600 on, and get’s worse on 2000 or 2500. where the D700 is far better but of course not as good as the D3s.

      however, of course Nikon will have put every effort into getting out the best possible ISO performance from the D800, as they did with the D7000, which is a excellent ISO performer for a DX camera.

      but never ever will a D800 have the same ISO performance like a D700 or D3s / D4. and don’t tell me about downscaling D800 images to improve noise. who want’s to throw away all that 36 MP information? really?

      • Anon

        Former D700 user? Hahaha.. they are used to a smaller resolution, it makes sense to throw away some resolution in exchange for a less noisier picture.

      • sand

        Hmmm. you know that a FX sensor with same pixel pitch will have atleast 1 stop advantage over DX sensor due to its size only..And if you account for it and downsampling…you get equal or better performance than D700…D700 fanboys need to get over this fanaticism that with more MP’s you can not get same performance..

        Also, you haven’t seen anything yet…Just wait another 5 years…

      • Jason

        You know they redesign pixels right?! So what the 4 year old bigger pixels on the d700 and d3s, could possibly be done on a newer smaller pixel.

      • sirin

        just add the times three downsampling factor to your pretty little equation and there is your 3 stop better performance.

  • Pear

    Apple, meet Orange. Upsample or downsample, one of these things is not like the other.

    • +1,000

    • Looleylaylow

      Awesome comment from a guy named “Pear.”

      • PHB

        But that is the point.

        Iso noise is set according to the noise seen at maximum resolution. If instead the criteria was the noise level remaining in a 12mp downres then the D800 is clearly better by a mile.

        Higher resolution will slow the numbervof FPS you can take. But the idea it hurts low light performance is a myth.

        • chris

          From my understanding, it makes sense. I agree with what you say but i do think that cramming over 36mp into a 35mm sensor will affect the low light quality. This is not a medium format sensor.

          • Kurt

            I have a couple medium format cameras in the studio here. I can assure you that the D800 looks to have much better low light capability. The cameras I have max out at 400 or 800 ISO and they Look much worse than the 25600 ISO NR Off sample. 6400 looks about as good at 200ISO on the 39MP and 50MP medium format cameras that I have.

            • 18000px

              Sure you got it! Do you play with yourself very often?

  • Giovanna Griffo

    Your test is completely useless, the samples you show are not at 100%. One is resized, otherwise they won’t never be able to show the same portion of the image since the 2 camera have different resolution! Let’s check the example I have shown here

    • erege

      What counts is how the image looks at output size and comparing cameras with very different MP counts at 100% is ridiculous and does not reflect the actual output results achievable.

      • St.

        I agree. For me what is important is how a printed (let say 36″x 24″) image will look like from both cameras. And even bigger size images. I’m sure till 16″x 20″ they will look very similar, except that D800 will have better dynamic range.

        • Petia

          But that’s exactly what has been done, apparently. The D700 image was upscaled to be comparable to the D800 one.
          If you prefer, that’s how a huge poster-sized print would look from close, either printed from the D700 or D800 image file. Of course it’d be better to know how the D700 was upscaled (bicubic interpolation?).

          • St.

            I agree with you. To me it also logs like d700 images are upscaled and that’s why they look blurry, not that they are out of focus.
            In general I’m pleased with the noise quality of d800.

          • D400

            The d700 shots were taken approx 3X closer to the subject to account for the d800 greater pixel density. because of this, the magnification is greater, and the subject is more out of focus. D800 wins.

            • Max

              If both are 100% crops, this is the only reasonable explanation.

    • mkln

      Either you upscale D700 or you downscale D800.
      If you upscale D700 you’ll get blurry pics and less detail/larger noise patches,
      if you downscale D800 you’ll get sharp and nice pics at 12mp, which is like throwing away all that resolution advantage.
      Fair comparison does both. In either case I think the D800 has a clear advantage.
      The comparison you should not do is 100% of both without scaling of one or the other.
      If I had to choose only one method, though, I’d downscale D800.

      • anon

        you dont lose all the resolution advantages when you downscale, your noise level will decrease.

    • 100% agree.

  • Landscape Photo

    All the high-iso D800 samples have serious chroma noise (green & red grains) which looks very ugly. I hope Nikon will have it corrected in the production in-jamera jpegs & software for nef. Maybe that camera’s “high-iso noise reduction” parameter was set to “off” instead of a more sensible “low” option.

    Btw, luminance-only noise is not that much disturbing but gives a film-like impression. See, D700 images that are almost devoid of chroma noise.

    • Fortunately, Chroma noise is the easiest to take care of with the lowest impact on overall quality.

    • Sideswiped

      Most raw editing software already does this be default (at least the current version of PS & Lightroom sets color noise reduction to +25). I haven’t seen any noticeable levels of chroma noise at 1600 iso with my D300 because of this. It’s blatantly obvious without it.

    • stve

      Chroma noise is so easy to get rid of luckily for Canon whose cameras have much worse Chroma noise than Nikon’s.
      I expect jpegs will not show any if you set high iso reduction to on in camera.
      I downloaded a D800 jpeg iso 25,000 that had plenty of chroma which Lightroom removed completely & you do not not lose any detail using it.

  • Comparing Noise in a blurred Image makes no sence to me.

    • Of course, when the subject is not in focus and the light is very low, the noise is much higher than in the case the subject is in focus!

      So, this is not only an useless test, but a wrong one, to put D800 in advantage.

      • Matt

        Im glad someone said that. Im no pro, but it sure looked like the d700 was out of focus.

        • Petia

          It’s not focus, it’s upscaling!

          • No. It is not (only) upsized, but (also) out of focus.

            Take a look at ISO 3200 pictures.

            If you downsize the picture from D700 3 times, you’ll see no detail in left-bottom zone. It is completely out of focus!

  • Not only are the D700 images out of focus, but this person was using Windows XP. That tells me a lot about them. Get with the program.

    • Anonymous Maximus

      What’s wrong with using Windows XP?

      • John Richardson

        You seriously have to ask that?

        • Maybe they should have compared Windows and Mac instead.
          Oh wait, that’s unfair too. Mac has an unfair advantage…
          Because it works every time.

          • Linus

            I’m sorry, but the Mac doesn’t work every time. In fact if you used one for a while you’d know better than to tell rubbish like that.

      • mikils

        it means the guy is using a computer and as oftware 3 year old at the very minimum. not cool.

        • PeterO

          Right and the D700 is also a minimum 3 years old. not cool. (sarcasm)

        • Windows XP is now over 10 years old. That’s multiple eternities in tech.

          …and yes, Windows 7 is absolutely fantastic and there is NO reason to upgrade. Hell, Windows 7 runs faster than XP did on my 5 year old laptop.

          • Anonee

            Yes, it can be. But does it have any effect on the image quality? He could be even using Windows 2000 as long as the software supports. Or Linux, or whatever.

            Does it have any implication on the D700-D800 comparison? Come on…

      • Windows 7 has totally supplanted Windows XP. It’s that much better. Anyone who has yet to upgrade to Windows 7 at this point is either inept or stubborn. Yeah, one of “those guys.”

        Like I said below, Windows XP is now over a decade old. In any remote stretch of your imagination… in tech, that’s forever.

        • Petia

          Yes, that’s definitely a constructive criticism.

        • Gav

          Pity Admin can’t delete irrelevant posts like this!!!

          c’mon Sean, 3 rants about Windows 7.

          What has this to do with the topic?? 🙁

          • It’s not three rants. It was one post that was a tongue-in-cheek poke at this silly test. Then it was two responses to other peoples’ statements.

            Calm down.

        • stormwatch

          Ok, If XP is obsolete then please would you kindly explain to me how it is possible that a “decade old” 32bit system handles Sony Vegas 10.0 as much as 20% faster in any task (especially AVCHD encoding) than the Win 7 64bit ultimate?

          • Anon

            I’m still using Win XP and I think I’m cool. 😛

            • SusanP

              None of you are cool because you are off- topic AND not Mac users.

            • Haha… I’m actually a Mac user now. I do have an old XPS with Windows on it that I use rarely.

  • This appears to be a pointless comparison.

  • Nikonnut

    So its official. you d700 whiners can stop looking for a d700 and buy a d800!

  • none

    LOL, “the d700 images are blurry, and the d800 was pre-production, but here ya go anyway!”

    What a joke. How many pixels would a pixel peeper peep if a pixel peeper did peep pixels?

    • WTF

      LOVE IT!

    • SusanP

      Lol that was great. I couldnt do as well with Peter but here goes…

      Peter Pixel Peeper peeped at plenty of pixelated pictures.

  • shane

    This kinda puts the d700 whingers that cant afford the d800 and knock it right down the dumps haha its obvious from these early samples that ther d800 is goning to well out perform the d700

    people gotta undertand that when I had the d90 and d700 iso eg 400/2000 arent the same on both cameras obviously one is better and in this case its obvious again


    • jodjac

      Shane, I agree, the D800 is going to outperform the D700 on many levels. I think the only argument against the D800 is too many pixels and that’s like complaining about having too much money! (insert smiley face here)

  • D900

    D800 samples look great. It is a great news for all current D300 owners — easy decision on upgrade, but not so for current D700 owners — dramatically reducing value of D700 in next couple months . That’s why so many whining about the unfair/useless/pointless comparison.

  • R!

    SO FRESH N SO CLEAN, CLEAN!!!!!!!(singing).

  • 103David

    Initially my comment was to be words to the effect of, “Interesting comparison but …”
    Now my comment would be, “This is so lacking in the most basic of scientific method that it is, in fact, not even interesting.
    Back to school, folks. Pick up that high school textbook where they explain the absolute most basic principles of objective comparison, e.g. “scientific method,” and come back when you actually have something to say.

    • stve

      Of course its not scientific the guy probably only had a couple of minutes with the camera.
      What impresses me about the various high ISO samples I have seen is the level of detail that’s retained, the D700 at ISO 25,000 has less detail to begin with & any noise reduction affects it more.

  • wait a minute. am i the only one that thinks there is something wrong here? the nikon d700 with 12mp vs the d800 with 36mp. when scaled to 100percent, the higher resolution camera should effectively look as though it is looking at a much smaller area (that is if we consider resolution to be something like 300ppi or dpi) or am i missing something?

    • Martin


      But – actually I don’t care about ISO as much as I do about dynamic range…

  • dbltax

    GUISE, you’re missing the real issue hear… Someone is still using Photoshop 7.

    • CS7

      Are you working for Adobe? Do you mean: a good photographer has to use the latest Photoshop?

    • PeterO

      What’s a “guise”?

  • Burgerman

    Ignoring the focus, just looking at background noise the D800 is very clearly much cleaner, and more detailed. Much as expected with a downsampled image.

    For those that think downsampling is wrong its the ONLY way to compare. Since otherwise you are looking at a 70 inch wide image, likely MUCH bigger than you will ever print.

    Really pleased my D700 sold for 1445 and my D800 is 7th in the que from Jessops online…

    The only difference between the D700 and D800 is the 4 year newer one does everything better, with huge resolution (or 20 million or 9 million for those that whinge about having crappy computers). AND throws in broadcast quality movies, at the same price as the D700 was at launch…

  • juicebox81
    • ken

      one used for 1350!! think you need to provide your SSN/DOB/MMN/ADD before you can purchase it though 🙂

  • Twaddler Belafonte

    Not in focus, so pointless.

  • Silvio Berlusconi

    It is like comparing eggs with fish or is that apples and oranges. In any case one of the fruits is rotten

  • knocker

    Pixel Peeper picked apart a pixelated pic;
    A pack of pixelated pics Pixel Peeper picked;
    If Pixel Peeper picked apart a pixelated pic,
    Where’s the pack of pixelated pics Pixel Peeper picked?

  • shane

    D800 finally showing its muscle against the outdated d700 come on people how can we say a camera that is around 3 years old can out perform a brand new camera with the same iso level, if anything the d800 is from what I see and hear already has better iso finer crisper and sharper images.

  • Nathan

    Now we’re talking. If it looks that good I’m ordering!

  • Jason

    Does anyone else think that the 25,600 image without NR looks better than the one with NR? Have we gotten to a point where the resolution is high enough that luminance noise is okay, like film grain? I’d still like to see better chroma NR, but I’m thinking I’d be fine with shooting at 12,800 or even 25,600 when needed.

  • I just want to say I’ve learned more about digital photography (shot film for over 20 years, moved to digital a little over a year ago) from the comments on this site than I’ve learned from any books, other forums, etc. I come here to read the comments mainly. Thanks to all of you! The comments on this thread have been fascinating.

    • kevin

      i agree. for example: i learned how to compare ISO from all the criticisms. The more picky comments , the more make me better photography skills.

      • Ren Kockwell

        I agree. I especially find all the “Where is my D800?” comments very illuminating.

        • Haha…well said. As with any forum, filtering out the signal to noise ratio is key, but I love the “geek” aspect of this forum (I’m a software developer by trade), makes it easier for me to grasp the science behind it all.

  • D400

    D800 wins. Like all sensible photogs were predicting. not that the NR wingers listened. . . . . .
    The d700 sensor is five years old. so in another five years we will have a 72 megapixel camera that will be as good or better than this.

  • The D800 shots look better to me, probably because of the equalization for higher resolution.

  • FM2Fan

    I really wonder, why this “comparison” has been published. It is useless by all means.

    • Petia

      No it’s not. It may not be perfect, but it is (seems to be) the only sensible comparison. Downscaling the D800 image would have also been possible, but this would have masked the potential of the camera. So better upscale the D700.
      Would be better with a detailed explanation of what was done, clearly.

      • ken

        traffic generator? :p

  • Don

    The person who did this “test” likely had a pre-production camera for a short period of time under very limited conditions and could not do a “scientific” test as will be done by DxOMark and all other reviews when the production model is available in a month or two. So you have to stop whining about all the “flaws” in this unscientific comparison and just deal with what you can see in the out of focus background in both images. It is all about noise at various ISO’s between the two cameras.

    I don’t know how they manipulated the images to obtain the same relative scale but I believe comparing at the same relative scale is a fair comparison. For example, if I am going to shoot weddings at high ISO’s I am not going to print one size with the D700 and a larger size with the D800. Whichever camera I use I will be printing at the same size. So we pick a size, say 20×30 inches as the largest I would ever print at or we take 11×14 as the most common size for a wall-hanging photo and we compare both cameras at the same size print to see which will produce the best image at that size print. I think this is what the author of these images was trying to do under the limitations impose on him or her.

    To me the D800 is the clear winner and I wouldn’t expect otherwise.

  • Mauro

    Noise level are not identical, impossible. The test is not true.

    You don’t say always good

    D800 is one stop or more less then D700, but it’s normal with 36 megapixel an high density sensor.

  • kevin

    canon rumors says canon 5d mark III will be announced next week. it would be very interesting to compare between mark III and d800 .

  • Teteng Tigas

    STUPID! Even a entry-level Canon will beat the crappy ISO of these cameras! Not even close to 7D’s superb ISO performance!

    • stormwatch

      Hahahaha, come on, are you being serious on this? What superb performance on a ultra crappy Canon 7D? Everything above ISO 1250 on 7D is practically unusable for anything serious while even a small Nikon D5100 pushes out completely usable ISO 5000 .

  • Freddy

    I presume that all things being equal, the D800 is rather good to say the least. What!

  • skweez

    Never believe anything you read /see unless you have proof. How do you really know its these cameras? it could be canon for all you know…foolishness. I bet you read and pass along chain emails for good luck too. 😉

  • Rajeev

    Fuji X pro 1 beats both Canon and Nikon in terms of high ISO performance!

    I had a doubt whether I should buy a D700 or a D800 … this test has definitely made me vote for the D800… as it has a very slightly better or almost the same ISO performance as that of the D700 despite the increased resolution.

  • Dan

    Clearly these are mis-labeled!! The images on the right are from the D800… That’s motion blur. 😉

  • Scott M

    Forgive me if this is a stupid question but how does one process an image from a not yet released camera? I could see this guy borrowing the camera, but did he borrow software too? I remember waiting a few weeks for Photoshop to catch up weeks after the release of D7000. Will this be the case when I get my new D800? I only use Lightroom and PS elements. Thanks.

    • Che

      Scoot, they probably where shot in JPEG …no need to process.

      • Scott M

        Thanks, tag says JPG. I did not know you could process anything on a new camera unless the software synced up. Of course, I always wanted the NEF raw and never tried. So this comparison is only JPG quality. Doesn’t that bother anyone? I’d like to see RAW vs RAW. With all the megapixels of both.

  • Che

    Just buy a Nikon D4 and who’s worrying about noise? D4 will be king if you are finicky about clean images in any shooting conditions.

  • sgts

    broxi is very quiet these days 🙂

    • PeterO

      Probably taking pictures and not worrying about all the silly business that’s getting people all riled up.

  • stormwatch

    This definitely shows that Nikon did it again! Bye bye Canon! Bye bye for good!

  • Maybe they could try resizing the 36mp images down to 12mp for a comparison too 😀

  • ken

    out of all the useless and pointless and most insulting posts on this blog, this is by far far far the #1…Kudos donkey!…

  • Thanks for posting, NR. I don’t care if it’s a botched / flawed test; if those images are indeed from the cameras they say they are at the ISO’s they claim to be, this is good news one way or another.

    People (myself included sometimes) need to get over their obsession with disproving everything they read, and just get straight to taking things at face value. The general implications have been that the D800 out-performs the D700 both natively at 100% 36 MP, and certainly down-sampled to 12 MP. If you don’t believe this, well then oh well…


    • Alan

      The problem I’m having is believing that these shots are from the cameras they claim to be if the test was botched this badly. The shots on the right aren’t lo-res because of upsampling (I downsampled the left side and re-upped it and it still looks much more crisp). If it’s focus blur, then why?

      I don’t think focus blur invalidates the noise results– noise is a sensor phenomenon, not a lens or focus issue, so to the extent that the regions are of similar intensity the noise should be independent of focus.

      What bothers me though is that the bad focus calls the legitimacy of the test into question– why would you go through the trouble of benchmarking a pre-production camera in front of a test target and not bother focusing? Clearly this isn’t publication quality. And the D700 is a production camera– there’s no reason the D700 tests couldn’t be repeated even if they had to return the D800…

      So, while I hope these are accurate, and believe they could be, it feels a little like I’m buying a Rolex on Times Square…

      • stve

        If these were the only high ISO samples I’d be sceptical as well but having seen other samples & being familiar with the D700 at high ISO my take is they are genuine.

      • Alan, that is a fair enough concern, and exactly my suspicions as well. We’ve all seen innumerable initial reviews with terrible examples of high ISO performance, and this has at least a couple telltale signs of being a botched / fake test. Which is probably why it was pulled from the original site.

        But either way, I don’t have $3K on the line so it is easier for me to just go ahead and believe that the D800 images at least are indeed accurate. With a grain of salt, of course.

        Bottom line- would I pre-order the D800 based on these and other samples, if I wanted the megapixels but was still extremely concerned about the high ISO performance? (And if I had the $$) …Indeed, YES I would. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions, but I’ve scrutinized ISO samples from every new Canon / Nikon that has ever come out since the 20D, and this is just what my gut is telling me.


  • ken

    oh and I forgot to mention, you are typing in English and I doubt you are from England so as the pot calls the kettle, the kettle calls the pot.

  • Doug
    • harras

      LOL I really enjoyed the video! Thanks for the link

  • Doug

    Lol a 1 year+ old sensor beat the 4 year+ sensor, that’s the DRLS wars.!!

  • Disiderio

    D800 looks promising but it would have been a lot handier if they both used the same lens and same crop. Unsure as to why this wasn’t done.

    regardless, a d800 somewhere out there has my big fat anme on it. Can’t wait for delivery.

  • One More Thought

    It should surprise no one that a brand new sensor beats one that is about 4 years old. Technology marches on; look how much personal computers progress in 4 years.

    I would expect the D800 to better the D700 in virtually every respect, except for fps. Event then they could probably achieve more but it may be cost prohibitive at this point, or perhaps they wanted to save their speed for the D4.

    Good times ahead; the D800 will be a sure winner!

  • PCC

    good job nikon!

  • ActionJunky

    I’m all in on the D800. I do shoot some sports, but have never made much money doing so. Unless your sports photos are nationally publicized, I think it is very difficult to make money in that field. If you are breaking the trend, good for you. It just doesn’t seem to work for me.

    So, I sacrifice 2FPS, but I get 36 mpix. Judging by the samples, I get at least two stops of light better than the D300. Even of it is equivalent to the D700, I still get that resolution, but with 36mpix. Even if I heavily crop a photo, I still have many pixels remaining.

    I am going to bet that Nikon engineers that do this for a living and have the tools to do so, know that they are going to deliver a product at least as good as the D700. Many people on this forum continue to ask for less pixels and better ISO. Well, that’s what you have in the D4. If it’s too pricey, buy the D700 and sacrifice a few pixels for a large savings. If you are asking for just a few more pixels and better ISO, what makes 14-16 mpix the sweet spot?

    I am glad to see Nikon take this approach. If I ever become a paid sports photographer, I will buy the D4. Until then, I am all in on the D800.

  • Fredbare

    Well, to maintain the same noise as a D700 Nikon would have had to improve the efficiency of the photosites by 300% (10 MP to 30 MP).
    Now if they could have done this then Nikon would have opened a solar panel manufacturing division and forgotten all about cameras.

    • Fredbare

      Should have added that high ISO is not that important as one can always use Nikon’s extensive range of VR glass instead to achieve the same result.
      Oh, uhm, hang on a minute, did I say ‘extensive range’?

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