Poll: Nikon D800 with 36MP or with 16MP sensor?

Nikon D800 36.3MP CMOS sensor

Nikon D800 36.3MP CMOS sensor

Nikon D800 sensor unit

Nikon D800 sensor unit

Just a quick poll: do you prefer the Nikon D800 the way it is, with a 36.3MP sensor, or you would rather have the D800 with the 16.2MP sensor from the Nikon D4?

This entry was posted in Nikon D4, Nikon D800 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • Alex

    I think we need to stop comparing the D800 to the D700. The relationship of the D700 to the D3 and the D800 to the D4 are completely different.

    The D700 was introduced nearly a year after the D3/D300 announcement, and several months before the D3x. It was intended as a smaller, more economical camera that delivered the full-frame performance of the D3 with the portability and more economical D300. The question was raised then: why buy a D3? The D3 was shortly replaced by the D3s/D3x, giving Nikon a 3 flagship camera lineup: D700, D3s, D3x. Each had its own purpose and place in the photographic community.

    The D4 and the D800 were released practically together and greatly differ from the relationship to the D700/D3. While the D700 was a camera meant to implement the older technology of the D3 while the D3x and D3s took the front line, the D800 is a standalone camera. The D800 is meant to be a high-performance, high-detail capturing tool, primarily for portrait photographers. It is not a supplement to the D4.

    The D4 is a flagship camera with the ability to meet the very demanding needs of a broad base of photographers across the globe. Its ability to perform under extreme lighting conditions and deliver fast frame rates and data processing is for many, ideal. While the D4 appeals to most photographers, the D800 applies to a a selectively smaller group. Where the D4 caters to almost every photo need, the D800 provides the ability to capture meticulous detail in environments that do not require high shutter speeds, fast save times, and low light performance.
    When necessary, the D800 has the ability to shoot under harsh conditions, just does not accomplish this with the ease and strength of its partner. Both are extraordinary cameras with groundbreaking accomplishments in technology. Neither camera is meant to be better than the other; instead, each has its place in the photographic world and is designed to deliver images of the highest quality.

    • unohu

      “While the D4 appeals to most photographers, the D800 applies to a a selectively smaller group.”

      If this is true, why is Nikon manufacturing far more D800s than D4s? The D800 will appeal to more photographers than the D4. Most people will be happy with 4 fps and don’t need 10 fps. Most also prefer a smaller body.

      I suspect many will be thrilled with 36mp but rarely actually make use of it. After all, out of the tens or hundreds of thousands of images we make, how many end up as a large print on the wall? But I could say that even more of the person who shoots 10 fps — how many of those images actually end up being sold or on the wall?

      Millions of images created, few ever seen. Personally, I want the 36mp much more than 10 fps and the smaller body is a big bonus, too. If I really know in advance that I don’t need 36mp and just want to take “snapshots”, then I can switch to JPEG or DX. I fully expect to be using DX mode at least half the time.

    • josef

      alex – interesting statement, that the d800 is primarily for portrait photographers. just think about this – normally I come back from a portrait or fashion shooting with about 16 to 20 gb of data, done with the d700. how much would that be if done with the d800? you have to handle and archive it. the next point is, that I want to catch the atmosphere, so I shoot a lot with available light. what I need therefor is very good quality in the high iso-range. I don’t like the d4 because it’s bulky and heavy and 16 mpx is a little to small. I still think that more people would need a d800 with 20 to 24 mpx, instead of 36 mpx.

      • Alex

        Very good point, but when in studio, 36mpx is still a fraction of what the latest medium format cameras are putting out (think of the Hasselblad H4D-200MS at 200mpx. 200 megapixels!). But I think you’ll notice the differences pretty quickly between the two, and for most photographers, image quality comes second to price: The Hasselblad is $41,000 more than the D800.
        Let’s put that in perceptive: for the price of one Hassy you could buy a D800, a D3x, 2 Broncolor Para’s, and a complete Profoto lighting system (pack + 3 heads), and finally a Mac Pro 12 core (now that seems a bit excessive), and 3oTB of storage (420,000 D800 files).

        This being said, very few photographers have the fortune to be able to merit spending $40,000 on a camera, but what I think what Nikon did is huge. They delivered a camera that has the high resolution demanded by studio/landscape/architecture photographers, with the image quality suffering at a very minimal extent. And with a price like that, who can resist?

  • burgerman

    >>> When necessary, the D800 has the ability to shoot under harsh conditions, just does not accomplish this with the ease and strength of its partner.


    At the same OUTPUT size, weather set to lower resolution or resized after the event there will be almost no difference, just like d3x/d3.

    The real difference is that the D4 cant do high detail, and is stronger, better pro design, faster etc.

    But if speed isnt required the D800 can do more, is more flexible, and half the cost… I suspect that shot at 9 mp, the d800 will have less noise than the D4… And thats way bigger than any magazine or news event, or even some sport stuff needs.

    • Michael

      You should be comparing D3x with D3s, the D3 just couldn’t be compared with D3X in terms of image quality. The D3x is even better than D3s in all image quality aspects like high ISO performance, color depth and dynamic range at the same output size.

    • Michael

      At 12 megapixels, the D3 low light ISO performance is ISO2300 the D3s low light ISO performance is ISO3250 but the D3x low light ISO performance is ISO4000.

  • Hom Thogan

    Most of the shooters who have used the D800 shun the high ISO noise reduction at of this camera and praise the D4 and with a reason, it isn’t on par with the standard that the D700 and D3(D3s) set when they appeared in the market (and which pretty much it is much better than the D800).

    Sad to see Nikon loose its aim in image quality with the D800, meanwhile the rumored 5D MKIII retains the 22 megapixel sensor and gains a new (and more sophisticated) AF system, I’m looking forward to see the comparisons.

    Good thing is that I’m going to be able to stock on used D700’s and D3’s for a cheap price 😀 from you hobos.

    • Michael

      The D800 will have better image quality than D700.

      • Hom Thogan

        Not at high ISO (chroma noise) nor when stopped down (diffraction), they removed the AA sensor in the D800E for a reason: to counter diffraction at the cost of moire.

        🙂 I’m waiting your cameras in e-bay 🙂

        • from the samples that have been released so far it can only be concluded that d800 will be stronger than d700 in low light

        • Michael

          Diffraction is caused by lens, not the sensor. And the AA filter have got nothing to do with diffraction.

  • paulm

    I’m a serious amateur I guess, and the D800 is perfect for me. But then I’m still using a D200 and have been waiting for a long time to see what happens with a D400 or D800. I didn’t get a D700, as I didn’t have all the FX lenses I’d have needed and have quite a few DX lenses (even though the high ISO performance had me drooling). And the D300s didn’t seem like a big enough improvement, somewhat better high iso and a few other improved bells and whistles, but still an unfinished video function. If the D800 was a 16MP full frame sensor again I’d be in the same situation, what to do with the investment in DX lenses? I’d probably go D400 instead, whatever that turns out to be. But the D800 kills several birds with one stone – 16Mp DX camera vs D200 current 10Mp, which much better sensor performance, so I still get to use all my DX lenses. And a full 36Mp sensor for the full frame lenses, sweet. Then there’s the movie function, which will be great for kids parties etc, and bigger LCD, superior autofocus, etc etc. Only minor reservation is slower FPS than D200, but I don’t see that mattering much. I’d also note the D800 is retailing at what I paid for my D200 5 years ago, so it seems like a massive bargain to me! I must admit, I wish someone would leak some D400 specs soon though, quite curious to see where that ends up, but I’d say its definitely a D800 for me now.

  • dave

    16 on the 800. If it was 16 I’d probably spring for it. For now I’m going to wait and see what the D400 looks like. Hoping it has an FX 16 consumer version of the D4 like the D200 was for the D2x, and the D700 was for the D3. The D800 32 mp thing really screwed me over.

  • Back to top