Guest post: Nikon D800 criticisms refuted

This guest post was sent to me by reader and addresses some of the D800 criticisms from various websites:

Since the D800 has been introduced I have heard many individuals on podcasts and read where many blog writers were critical of Nikon for packing so many pixels on such a small sensor. The criticisms just seemed not to hold water when logically thinking about things. Also, I have heard numerous comments that lenses cannot do justice to this new sensor and that the sensor will out-resolve the lenses, therefore degrading the photograph. Again, logically it didn’t sound right. One other comment heard frequently is that focus, with this new sensor with 36mp will be so sensitive that the photographer will have to have impeccable technique or suffer out of focus photographs. Again, didn’t seem logical.

Here are some facts. I did some research and some calculations and confirmed my logic in thinking about this new chip.

Nikon D800

  • 24 X 35.9mm sensor hosting 36.3 mega pixels
  • Sensor is 861.6mm squared
  • Pixel Pitch is 4.88 microns

Nikon D800 in DX shooting mode

  • 16 X 24 sensor hosting 15.4 mega pixels
  • Sensor used is 384mm squared
  • Pixel Pitch is 4.88 microns

Nikon D7000

  • 23.6 X 15.6mm sensor hosting 16.2 mega pixels
  • Sensor is 368.16mm squared
  • Pixel Pitch is 4.78 microns

Canon 7D

  • 22.3 X 14.9mm sensor hosting 18 mega pixels
  • Sensor is 332.27mm squared
  • Pixel Pitch is 4.3 microns

Olympus EP-3 (the very popular micro 4/3rds camera which gets raves from all the pros and others who own it)

  • 13.0 X 17.3mm sensor hosting 12.3 mega pixels
  • Sensor is 224.9mm squared
  • Pixel Pitch is 4.24 microns

Olympus OM-D E-M5 (the new Micro 4/3rds camera they just introduced at the same time as the D800 and everyone is raving about)

  • 13.0 X 17.3mm sensor hosting 16.1 mega pixels
  • Sensor is 224.9mm squared
  • Pixel Pitch is (estimated) 3.22 microns (I couldn’t find a figure for this but the # of pixels/sensor size is .76X that of the EP-3 above)

After looking at the figures, the D800 has the largest pixels of the bunch. Now, people rave about how good the Canon 7D is and how great the Nikon D7000 is, and don’t complain that there is too much noise or their lenses won’t give them good results or extra care has to be taken in order for a photograph to be in sharp focus, but the D800 has larger pixels! And—we know that larger pixels are better in light gathering as well as quality in reproduction, unless my calculations and assumptions are wrong, of course. Also, there seems to be are a large number of pros/bloggers/podcasters who use the Olympus EP-3 Micro 4/3rds camera and lenses and rave about how great that camera is. Its pixels are only 86.5% of the size of the D800’s pixels. So why would anyone think the D800 wouldn’t a) have fantastic image quality and b) be any different in how the Nikon lenses reproduce the photographed scene?

If my calculations are off or my logic is flawed, you have my apologies and please correct them but it should be easy to calculate and the results should be essentially the same. I just get tired of individuals who have a voice and can influence other through the media speak with authority without maybe considering the facts.

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  • T.I.M

    It’s digital growing, remember the 4mp DSLR ?

    36mp is just an other step up, I bet we will see 100mp FX sensor by the end of the decade.

    And I thought only French people were complaining for everything.

    • KT

      “I bet we will see 100mp FX sensor by the end of the decade”
      You don’t need to wait that long, Sony is prepping a 100 MP FX sensor for this year’s Photokina.

      • Happy 2020!!!

        Do we have flying cars yet?

      • timon

        d300 5.42µm 12.48MP/Tonal Range: ISO200/8.32bits, ISO 400/7.81bits
        d7000 4.73µm 16MP/Tonal Range: ISO 100/9.01bits, ISO 400/8.06bits

        you look, the d7000 pixel pitch was less than d300, but the imaging quality improved!
        a new d800 announcement was in the d7000 launched date over 30 months. Well then the DSLR sensor gotten advancement.

        you have to notice the DSLR sensor advancement, moreover it still has a large pixel pitch 4.7μm or 4.85μm, and not a low-cost DC sensor only the pixel pitch 1.7 μm.

        5d2 and 5d3 inside the key mirror-box are plastic, only the outer skin Mg-Al, Canon did not say that. It is not a really alloying body.
        Canon 1d series have an alloying mirror-box, the lens-mount module fixed on the alloying base, but the 5d series sat on the plastic base.

        d300, d700, d800 all these are with alloying mirror-box.
        The d800e is more attractive.

    • AnoNemo

      Your cat is not moving! Is it still alive? 🙂

      My 2 cents, I think Nikon was very smart. Now we can have high res (D800/E), low res (D700), and an ultimate tank (D4). I think Nikon will keep these three for a while. I can only see one addition which would be an FX “D7000” (that would replace the D700).

      • T.I.M

        That’s not a real cat, just a picture !

        • AnoNemo

          @ T.I.M.
          I was worried, it did not move!

          • Raff

            It does not move because it is scared:
            The cat can see The Invisible Man!!!

            Low light sensitivity?? : )

    • Ross Geller

      D4 7.8 microns
      1DX 6.8 microns

      • hugoboss


  • Micke


  • juicebox81

    yeah! YOU TELL ‘EM ADMIN!

    • WoutK89

      it isnt Admin that wrote this, it is introduced as an interesting email a reader sent me…

  • Newsed1

    I have a D3s and was seriously considering a Sony A77 and 70-400mm for airshows.

    Then I read that the individual pixels on the D800 sensor are 1.57 times larger than on the A77 sensor. So I think I’ll be selling up and buying a D800.

    • PHB

      It is only the sensor size relative to the design constraints that matters.

      The f mount was designed for fx sized sensors. Dx lenses are acompromise. Particularly at the wide end.

      The pixel pitch only matters to the extent it is large enough to avoid quantum effects. The 8 mp iphone sensor is right on that limit. A 36 mp cx sensor would be. A 36 mp FX is not.

      The 12 mp crowd really are something. The have big mouths and small brains. The low light performance and dof are determined by the size of the aperture, not the sensor. If you want good shots buy expensive glass. Sensor resolution is not gping to hurt anything other than fps and shots per cf card

      • DramaMask

        The f mount was designed for fx sized sensors. Dx lenses are acompromise. Particularly at the wide end.

        Exactly! On the DX bodies all of the pixels are concentrated in the middle of the lens, where the lens has the best resolution. With an FX body that has a very small pixel pitch, the problems will arise from the outer edges of the lens. Especially with wide angle lenses.

      • Sean

        “The low light performance and dof are determined by the size of the aperture, not the sensor.”

        This is absolutely incorrect. Check here to read the math and see how sensor size (and pixel pitch) directly effects both low light performance and depth of field:

        • PHB

          The aperture is not the aperture ratio.

          Plug the right figures into the equations and you will find that it is actually the aperture (in mm) and the angle of view that determine the DOF. The other terms cancel out.

          If you stick the same lens on a crop sensor vs a full frame you will obviously see a difference. But a lens with a 50mm aperture and 85mm equivalent focal length yields the same results.

          Making the sensor bigger does not have the magic effect you seem to imagine. Making the sensor cells smaller means that you actually get more information net.

      • MLN

        By that rationale 8×10 cameras should have the same DOF as 35mm.

        • PHB

          The number of degrees of freedom on a view camera is so great as to make the comparison meaningless.

          You can move the focal plane backwards and forwards for a start. And you can tilt the focal plane relative to the lens.

          The effects you get with a view camera come from those capabilities, not the larger sensor size. Plus the lens is usually not that large an aperture.

    • JohnnyD

      Are you sure? D800 gets 4fps, so at an airshow are you sure you want this slow speed compared to your D3s? Also, let’s not forget how these enormous file sizes are going to choke many peoples’ computers. Pixels aren’t the only thing to think about when assessing a 36MP sensor; the resulting file sizes and workflow choke are big factors for many.

      • newsed1

        The D800 will get 6fps in DX (which I use on the D3S) with the grip which is enough. I try not to just hose a scene down and hope for the best.

      • John

        There are plenty of crappy cameras to go with your crappy computer.

        • Steven Georges

          Couldn’t have said it better myself.

      • Bryan

        With proper focus tracking, 4fps is plenty. As far as file sizes and workflow choke, maybe upgrade your computer. Computer parts are cheap these days. Especially memory, which is what gets used the most in editing.

      • peteee363

        i looked up the specs of my nikon fa the other day, it only shot 4 frames per second. for it’s day it was considered fantastic. not all of us shoot fast moving targets. buildings, and trees never seem to run out of frame on me. and when shooting portraits, the only time they run, is when i play punk rock. this camera is perfect, nothing needs to be changed.

        • Fishnose


      • jake

        Computers are evolving at an astounding pace along side storing information.

        People were astounded by the first 100GB hard drive, then by a 500GB, then a 1TB!

        IBM built a 120 petabyte hard drive in the last 12 months.

        Remember floppy disks?

        Same goes for processing power. Oh my lord! Dual core processors!

        Huawei is introducing the first quad core processor in a cell phone this year.

        Technology is evolving at a exponential pace! At some point it will be evolving faster than we can keep up with.


      • Ralph

        See, another D800 selling point. You can explain to the significant other half the reason you *need* to upgrade your PC. I’m always looking for excuses, so thankyou Nikon, your assistance in my life knows no bounds.

        • Andrew

          I thought the reason we upgrade our PCs is because all those virus protection software keep showing them down.

    • 120-300 os for Nikon

      Well reading this me too for airshows birding etc,and i am going upgrading from D200 with mb200

  • FM2Fan

    Yes and no – size matters, but is not the one and only criterion. Most of the critics are not yet backed up by practical examples (called images …). Once these become available, the discussion will be a different one.

    Yes – some precautions are necessary.
    No – the D800 is not yet hitting practical limits (10 years ago; 1600 ASA film had …)

    • MMB


  • chris

    i don’t care about the crowd and i preordered already, because i know, that the d800 will do more than fits my needs (of course the canon 5d mark III would do this too, but i don’t like canon ergonomics)

    • Agree on ergonomics. That was main reason I went with Nikon.

      • +1

        • GrumpyDiver

          Exactly why I ended up with a Nikon as well. I had been shooting with Leica Rs for years and finally gave up waiting for them to come out with a digital (crop frame or full frame) SLR, so I headed over to the local camera shop and tried 3 Canons and Nikons (bottom, middle and high end consumer level cameras). The Nikon felt better in my hands. Both companies make excellent products, but a tool has to feel right in one’s hands.

  • Doctor_EVIL (Russia)

    The admin – mega logic! The iron!

    • WoutK89

      Is not the admin writing this…

  • Dieze

    Ho yeah, Really cool! But…

    Please, don’t make a comparison between a FullFrame and an Aps-C censor…

    Make it with the Nikon D800 vs Nikon D700 and vs the Canon 5D mark II and the 5D mark III.


    • WoutK89

      no he did it correct. The complaints there are too many pixels on such a small sensor. But smaller sensors have in comparison even more pixels. So the D800 is in a safe zone still

    • People have already compared the D800 with the D3x and the D700 and found it slaughtered all 3 cameras for noise performance if you downsampled the images to their respective resolutions. If you kept the resolution at 100% (larger than the D3x and D700) it was slightly better than each which is very commendable if you think about it.

      • David

        Yup. I find this amazing

        I’d be happy with an enormous resolution up to ISO1600 or 3200

        And I’ll be more than happy to downsize to 12mp when over ISO3200, if need be

  • broxibear

    Hi Peter/admin,
    Could you just clarify something, did you write this piece or is this the email that was sent to you by a reader ?

    • no, I did not write it – I received it in an email (as I mentioned at the beginning)

      • broxibear

        Hey Peter,
        I know you mentioned it, it’s just that some posters here are under the impression that you wrote this and these are your “refuted D800 criticisms”.

        • AnoNemo

          NR Admin, better referencing would help.

          • “An interesting article sent to me by reader that addresses some of the D800 criticisms from various websites”

            I never received permission to post the real name of the author. Due to the nature of the site, I never publish names unless I get a permission to do so.

            • AnoNemo

              What I meant was in line with broxibear’s point, so don’t get me wrong. It was clear for me, but many people start reading articles from the middle.

            • Andrew

              I don’t understand how anyone can confuse the heading: “Guest Post:”

            • WoutK89

              Andrew, originally that part wasn’t there! But admin’s introduction about the e-mail was

            • Noed

              Maybe you need to italized (or use indentation) for the guest post. Just a thought.

          • WoutK89

            better reading would help…

      • juicebox81

        hey admin, i was one of the people that mistakenly thought it was you that had written the article.. however it was completely out of my own idiocy!

        my bad.


  • Art

    There is only one way for Nikon to truly squelch the criticisms…. Send me and a few others our Nikon D800s so that we can tell everyone how wonderful it is….

    Other question. If you have multiple D800s, does that give you a D800S ?

  • Martin

    The problem is that people expect something different from a camera with a FACTOR THREE price tag or more. You cannot compare to a D7000.

    If I spend THAT much money, I want something worth it. And having to handle 36 megapixel raw files is absolutely no advantage for me. With the same pixel pitch I might as well stay with the D7000.

    The Mark III on the other hand seems to do it this time. Good autofocus finally, nice repetition rate and good compromise in pixel density.

    • WoutK89

      How is the AF performance proven in the Canon?

    • FM2Fan

      that is your choice – other people want it, because they want to select the crop having the 12 or 16 MP – obtaining more detail give more choice in postprocessing – choice comes at a cost (not just in imaging)

    • How can u say that?
      You didnt even had the D800 in your hands…
      The markIII ,did u see the pricetag on that piece?

      Your post doesnt make a lot of sense.
      You want me to say your D7000 will still rock??? lol
      So pixelpitch is all of the sudden the new holy grail after FPS,ISO . . .

      If I look at my I5-750 CPU…… scores 4300passmark points….
      After like 2-3 years you could buy a i7-2600K ….performing 9100 points…
      Thats more than double in processing power !
      And yet people keep complaining that a processing file grows with 20Mb in 4 years time. . .
      Stop complaining and upgrade those 6year old CPU’s ! ! ! lol

      • peteee363

        i have a i-7 now, and i never get the cpu up over 25% now. so my computer is begging me to get a d800, so it can finally do some real work.

    • Beats

      The problem is that people expect something different from a camera with a FACTOR THREE price tag or more. You cannot compare to a D7000…If I spend THAT much money, I want something worth it.

      For many of us, the single reason for which we are prepared to pay that kind of money for a camera is the big fat pixels and the attendant substantially better low-light performance than we can get with an APS-C camera.

      Similarly, it isn’t enough for anyone who owns a seriously megabuck lens or two to know that the pictures they take using those lenses together with the D800 won’t be any worse than they would be using the same lenses on a D7000. At that price level the important issue isn’t whether or not the D800 will make your cheaper lenses look BAD. The main point being made is that if you have, and plan to keep and use, cheaper lenses then it’s nearly pointless to buy the D800. Cheaper lenses won’t produce pictures any better with a D800 than they will with a D7000; the extra MP will cost you a huge amount of wasted money…that is, until you can find another few thousand dollars to invest in a lens or two which can actually use those extra MP to produce anything you’ll see in the final picture.

      Comparing an D800 to the D7000 or the 7D isn’t comparing apples and oranges. It’s comparing a costly bottle of wine to a can of grape juice. That Discovering that the wine is better than the juice should surprise no one. Stating that fact out loud is actually damning with faint praise.

      • PHB

        Today we went off to dinner at a Texas Roadhouse (they are kid friendly otherwise not my choice).

        I took the Nikon V1 and use the 10mm f/2.8 and the 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom, no flash. Had no problems whatsoever taking pictures in the restaurant level lighting which is pretty subdued.

        Taking a DSLR into that situation is just a non-starter. Too damn big – unless you want to be a dick and ruin everyone’s meal with a show-off camera.

        Now if I have no problem with an ISO 3200 rated body and sloooow lenses, I am pretty sure that the low light performance of the D800 with some fast primes will be more than adequate for 98% of shots. And for every outstanding shot you might have taken in near total darkness, there will be many more that the 36MP provide.

        If you want 12MP then enjoy the fact that the D700 is now $500 off. If all you want is 12MP you probably won’t be buying a new camera anyway.

    • Royster

      Just because Canon says the AF is improved does not mean it is up to the standard of Nikon.
      Wait until the camera is out and you can see real reviews

      • Martin

        good point. i’m looking forward to reviews. and i’ll be happy to wait for the first substantial price drops, too 🙂

    • Andrew

      Martin, it is reasonable to compare the D800 with the D7000 because if you like the image quality (IQ) of the D7000 and you are considering investing in the D800 for its substantial megapixel, you may have two concerns:

      1. More megapixel degrades the light gathering performance of a camera at a given sensor size resulting in lower ISO – this review shows that the light gathering based upon the “pixel pitch” is pretty identical between the two cameras, so a candlelit picture will look as vivid and colorful on the D800 as the D7000. This is great news, because it lets you know that the higher resolution of the D800 (i.e. 36 MP) will allow you to blowup your picture to a size that cannot be handled without distortion or noise by the D7000 because of the D7000’s lower resolution (i.e. 16 MP).

      2. Identical “pixel pitch” tells you that your DX lens for the D7000 will perform identically as far as image quality is concerned on the D800, so you will not need to invest in new lens to maintain the same image quality.

      3. The D800’s video performance is superior to that of the D7000. Plus there are other enhancements on the D800 that when taken together justifies its higher price than the D7000. In addition, if improvements have been made to the D800’s sensor technology, which the reviews and comparisons will tell us, then the D800 may result in a much better ISO performance than the D7000.

  • hexx

    it all makes sense, now can I have one? 🙂

  • Mike

    Great job Admin!

    The conclusion is: people who complain = people who don’t understand mathematics.

    • FM2Fan

      this is physics …

  • JR

    the D800 is the only revolutionary camera that has been introduced so far in 2012, first dslr to come close to medium format resolution.

  • Not Quite

    An APS-C sensor with the same pixel pitch as an FX sensor is not equivalent in the way that you are suggesting. There is more to it than that.

    Simply looking at the pixel pitch and determining that equal (or close to) pixel density and size between different size sensors means they should have the similar noise, resolving, or focus charactaristics is incorrect. Changing the size of the sensor does more than simply make the photo bigger.

  • Frank

    haha great post! I just made a thread about my worries concerning the motion blurr, because Nikon seems to put the D800 on a tripod in every promo picture during interviews with photographers they have had use it.

  • chris

    nobody likes the d800 but it seems, that everyone preordered one

    • Andrew

      It’s because they are tired of waiting for the true D700 replacement.

  • My gripe is with the number of pixels…because of the number of pixels, not because I don’t understand Physics (which I do). I just wouldn’t want to deal with 36MP files either in-camera or out-of-camera (on my computer). I don’t need 36MP, and I don’t want 36MP.

    That’s why I won’t be buying a D800. Let those who want 36MP buy one, though; it’s their money and they can justify their purchase however they want.

    That said, if I were a D700 shooter I’d be pissed off right now.

    • Frank

      There is a 20.3 MP option!!! Why dont people realize this! It doesnt change the FX format, its not the DX option just the Medium option under FX format. You dont NEED to use the 36MP’s!

      • JohnnyD

        Frank, this is a really good point. But I do think it means we have to wait for the tests to see if the Medium option really produces excellent image quality when the camera interprets and throws away information to make a smaller image. My experience with this option on Nikon cameras have been disappointing, but I sure hope they get it right this time. And I hope the frame rate improves from the very lame 5 fps with this option but the specs don’t say this.

      • Michael

        The thing I find interesting is that when you select the “medium” option in FX the camera has better low light sensitivity. I suspect the software is oversampling with the unused mega pixels. I wonder if I am correct?

        • WoutK89

          it is just because you have less megapixels it SEEMS like performance is better, however it should be exactly the same.
          @johnnyD no speed increase when using this magic (jpeg only) option.

      • It’s good they have that option, Frank, though I have no experience with Nikon’s implementation. But it does mean that it will take the camera that much longer to deal with the file because it now has to down-rez it. Ideally we’d have 60MP sensors because then you can just bin 2×2 pixels for a 15MP image; no interpolation needed, just simple math that’s performed almost instantaneously 🙂

        • Royster

          As I understand it the camera does not down rez the image it just uses a smaller part of the sensor so in fact the image will read to the flash card faster as it only has 25mp to deal with not 36

      • I have every intention of buying a D800 because I have no other choice. but i too do not wnat to deal with 36mp files. And the 20mp Does crop the image. just not as much. there will be no raw pixel binning option just like any other camera

    • chris

      why pissed off. i would take photos with the d700 then.

    • why pissed? it is low light as good as D700 is and adds ISO 100. It is improvement, but sure we wish for more.
      The canon looks more interesting for my kind of work but i will not switch for it because there will probably be lot of canon style “ehms” i wont like.
      honnestly if you would have problem with 36Mpix files now, you would die with 4MP camera in times where we paid hunderds of euro for 32MB card (MEGABYTE).
      your pc should be able to handle it by now as well. i work with MF files all the time and capture one makes it even on notebook perfectly doable.

      • jodjac

        What’s that? A voice of reason? Imagine that!

    • burgerman

      So just turn it down to 20mp like the low res D4/Canon…

      You have the CHOICE here.

      Of course if you are after the best image quality, you would want a full sized 36mp raw, though. Or you are just wasting data. Shrink it to a smaller file after you work on it for the best quality.

    • Agreed. I dont want to have to store 76MB RAW files (i only shoot in RAW) on my memory card nor do I want to save 76MB files on my RAID (computer).

      I can appreciate a 20ish megapixel sensor. Although having the the highest megapixel DSLR camera in the world is pretty cool for braggin right, least for a few months anyways 🙂

      However, I dont understand your D700 comment. Why would you be pissed?

      • Chris, Harold, burgerman and Thomas,

        I know how good a camera the D700 is and have used it a bit. If I were to need a FF camera, the D700 would have been it. That said, had I been using it for the length of time some pros have, I would be ready to update (notice I didn’t say upgrade). Having seen the D4 specs I would have assumed the D800 would have its same sensor in a D700 body, much like the D3/D700 pairing, and would have been looking forward to the D800. Then BAM!, out of the blue I’m hit with a 36MP sensor I didn’t want or need. That’s why I would’ve been pissed off.

        The D800 has pacified those Nikon shooters who had been clamouring for a D700x that never came; I don’t think it’s satisfied those who simply wanted a D700 update. There’s a marketing lesson in there somewhere that Nikon probably won’t learn.

        • anon

          Dude you’re straight up nuts. I’ve used the D700 more than ‘a bit’. I use it every day. It makes me money and makes my stuff look good. It makes my clients happy. I’m not pissed, upset or otherwise crying in my cereal over the release of the D800. I’ll step up to it in a bit and I’ll love it every bit as much as the D700. Get off this board and go make some photos, eh?

        • maawdee

          I fully agree … there’s nothing to say against the D800 as a new segment but market-wise i really think Nikon should have called it differently. This mixed messages “D700 successor” vs. “next to D700 in the line-up” was confusing people and definitely also “disappointing” some (like me). Calling it differently would have avoided all this discussions.

          Anyway … a real D700 successor would make up for this 😉 … really hoping it comes someday …

        • Royster

          I don’t think that Nikon has any marketing lessons to learn.
          They have introduced two cameras for two different markets.
          Once the initial sales start to slow down it is almost certain that they will bring in the D700 replacement

      • French Fries

        Thats pathetic.

        ONE Gigabyte of data cost you around 0,05 dollar.
        If thats too much for you to afford, then for sure D800 is not for you.

        • What are you talking about? When i shoot weddings i shoot about 1,500 – 3,000 images. A really good 128gb SD is $400 (San Disk) and a good 128GB CF (San Disk) runs $900. If you RAID it and have to buy two of each thats the same price as the camera.

          (@76MB per RAW image on your card is about 1600 images.)

      • glenn

        You dont have to store a 75Mb file ! you have to store a 40Mb file.
        If your eyes can tell the difference between a non compressed and a lossless compressed NEF file than you are really exceptional, lol.

        Bet everybody would buy a d800 if it was pricetagged around 1000$ ! ! nobody would complain about large sizes DHOH ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

        And since its priced 2900€ it is already VERY competive, me myself thoughed I would never be able to grab it under 3500€.

        • THANK YOU.

          I’ve been saying this for weeks and you’re the first *other* person to say so. Lossless compressed is indeed 41MB.

          • D

            So, what is actually the advantage of shooting lossless uncompressed RAW?

            • None that I, or anyone, is aware of. There is absolutely no final difference in quality.

    • Chris, Harold, burgerman and Thomas,

      I know how good a camera the D700 is and have used it a bit. If I were to need a FF camera, the D700 would have been it. That said, had I been using it for the length of time some pros have, I would be ready to update (notice I didn’t say upgrade. Having seen the D4 specs I would have assumed the D800 would have its same sensor in a D700 body, much like the D3/D700 pairing, and would have been looking forward to the D800. Then BAM!, out of the blue I’m hit with a 36MP sensor I didn’t want or need. That’s why I would’ve been pissed off.

      The D800 has pacified those Nikon shooters who had been clamouring for a D700x that never came; I don’t think it’s satisfied those who simply wanted a D700 update. I say this after reading waaaay too many comments on message boards and hearing from some of my Nikon friends.

    • Ren Kockwell

      Why pissed? It’s the perfect time to buy a second body for $500 less. If I didn’t need video and low light was of utmost importance to my work, I would buy the D700 right now. A 4-6 MP bump is frankly so incremental, it’s not worth obsessing about.

    • Andrew

      You have a reason to gripe. The D800 satisfies one need, and that’s the folks that purchased the D3x and want to upgrade and those who could not because of the $8,000 price tag.

      But Nikon was in a bind, they needed to win the high megapixel race in the professional category, which they did. And that is not an entirely bad thing since the D800 is an awesome camera. From the response, they succeeded, since 40% of NR respondents said they preferred it over a D4 sensor in the D800 body. The only problem is that Nikon cannot release all of the different new bodies at the same time. So for the remaining 60% who want a 16 MP D800 class camera, a little bit of patience is required; maybe 12 months, maybe more. If there is any solace in this, you are one of the remaining 60%. It is clear that Nikon has heard the outcry, and my guess is that they will respond. And I suspect it will be sooner rather than later because of the demand. Now imagine the impossible if Nikon stuffs a 16 MP full frame sensor (instead of DX) in the upcoming D400 sometime this August.

  • Joust

    And where are your calculations for the lw/PH figures of Nikon lenses? Actually I meant MTF lab tests for those numbers, not calculations. I’d like to see them.

  • Baba Ganoush

    @Admin, Not that it changes any of your conclusions, but wouldn’t a better estimate of the pixel pitch for the Olympus EM-5 be: ~0.99 x square root(224.9/16.1) = 3.70 microns?

    • WoutK89

      these arent admins conclusions

      • Yes, consider this a guest post, I will label it as guest post since some are still confused.

        • Rob

          He is right. I calculated the EM-5 as having a pixel pitch somewhere between 3.70 and 3.73 (rounding error between the two different methods I calculated it).

          Here’s an outside source stating it as 3.6-3.7:

  • matt

    So this is a hypothetical thought experiment to refute other hypothetical thought experiments?

    • Frank

      Not really hypothetical, as those measurements are all fact, right? Simply put the D800 has about the same (and higher in some cases) pixel pitch as all the other listed cameras, and yet they have no problems with taking pictures.

  • Stormwatch

    It’s really funny how Canon fanboys cannot withstand the fact that Nikon is THE company and more and more entertaining is their rumble about the MP count. Do you remember than only 1 year ago they were talking how 12 Mpix is too low and too poor for the professional use and number Mpix is only thing that counts. Now Nikon has the camera with most Mpix again (and it’s not the first time….D3X….khm…) and now Canon fanboys scream how it’s outrageous to put so many Mpix on the sensor so “small”…..Wel…Nikon did it again, again and AGAIN! Bye bye Canon!

    • Jonathan

      I’m in Nikon’s corner. But to play devil’s advocate, Nikon fanboys have change their tune as well. 3 years ago, they laughed at canon for having so many mpix, and vehemently argued that less mpix was the welcome cost to get better iso performance. To be honest, fan boys of both camps are annoying, much like the extremists of our 2 party political system. What happened to being a reasonable moderate these days? Not just in politics but LIFE in general?

    • Andrew

      Actually, I believe most of the people complaining ( or grieving) are Nikon fans.

      It is well accepted that the D800 is an awesome camera. The fact that its ISO matches or beats the D7000 in such a high megapixel camera is impressive. For some photographers, a high megapixel count is a must! But the problem is that most professional photographers want a reasonably priced and sized camera that has the high ISO and frame rate performance of the D4. Unfortunately, even though they know that such a camera is coming, they would rather that it was the camera that Nikon released first, and not the D800. This is the reason for all of the emotions. These people know what they want and they are disappointed they did not get it.

  • Arthur

    Thanks for clarifying this for a some people, because I stopped reading comments and commenting myself because of these (and much more) obscure statements.

    Anyway, relying on these numbers (and they seem correct to me), the D800 should be at least as good as the D7000 on 100%. And if you add the power of the many pixels, I think it will contribute to phenomenal images.

    On the other hand, that Canon 5DIII with 22MP seems like a better all round camera (so better suited for a broad audience) which has enough pixels and good high ISO performance (on paper of course). That being said, I think it’s a rather odd move since it’s too identical to the 1DX with the 18MP and other features. So I think Nikon has done its marketing a lot smarter, it’s very appealing to have both the D800 and D4.

    As for myself, I’d love owning the D800. My D700 is still almost perfect (I’d love to have video and more pixels for bigger crops + prints), but I’m sure I’ll own a D800(e) in 1-1.5 years. For low light work, I don’t need big prints, so I estimate that the D800 will have better images when downsampled than the D700 on full size. And for normal shoots I almost never exceed ISO 1600, so those 36MP are soooo sexy!

  • Joseph

    Why do people complain about the size of the file? I’m shooting 4×5 and 8×10 for fine art and after scanning these files are in the range of 200 megapixels to 500! My 3-year-old computer that I built works fine with them. I’m not worried about the piddly 36mp files from the D800E I have on pre-order.

  • robosolo

    “After looking at the figures, the D800 has the largest pixels of the bunch.”

    Pixel pitch refers to the distance between pixels, not the size of the pixel itself. Please correct me if I have this wrong.

  • JohnD

    Damn, tested d800 today and that AF really rocks ! Wasn’t able to take pics but 36Mb IS what I want and need now!

  • Stan

    You don’t have to use it in 36 MP?
    But can the files still be RAW in the other formats?

    • WoutK89


      • WoutK89

        btw, said no to the second question.

    • Royster

      Yes. The crop features 1.2 and DX are still RAW files.

      • And no one is mentioning it, but crop modes will reduce your *effective* visual depth of field. If you like shooting wide open, this will reduce shallow depth of field look.

        • Stan

          How would it be different then shooting with a DX like a d7000 in RAW?

          • It’s not. DX cameras operate just like I said. And RAW has nothing to do with it.

            The larger the capture medium, the shallower the perceived depth of field. This is why cell phones have near infinite DoF and large format cameras have outrageously surreal and shallow DoF.

  • broxibear

    “One other comment heard frequently is that focus, with this new sensor with 36mp will be so sensitive that the photographer will have to have impeccable technique or suffer out of focus photographs. Again, didn’t seem logical.”
    It was Nikon themselves who said this, page 2 of the Nikon D800/E teccnical guide
    “”At the high resolutions offered by the D800/D800E, even the slightest camera motion can result in blur.”
    Page 9: “The superior resolution of the D800/D800E makes small amounts of motion blur more obvious. Select a shutter speed slightly faster than you would choose when photographing the same subject with other cameras.”
    Page 10: “With the D800/D800E, you will notice that photos seem to have less depth of field than other cameras under the same conditions, and that focus consequently requires more attention.”
    There’s more in the guide about focus and diffraction, but I’m bored with it now so look for yourself.

    • burgerman

      At the same OUTPUT sized image, it makes absolutely no difference. Only if you print it in a huge size, as those pixels allow, or if you crop it hugely, does the extra focus/cam shake etc become visible. Just as it does when viewed at 100 percent on screen (70 inches wide!!!)

      But you dont print 70 inches wide.

      • broxibear

        I don’t think you read what I actually posted did you burgerman ?
        Read the article, read what I’ve posted, and then perhaps you’ll understand that what you just posted isn’t connected with the point I was making.
        The discussion is about the source of the information and why other websites have posted this information.

        • WoutK89

          but motuon blur is not a focus problem.

        • Rich

          I was thinking the exact same thing Broxibear. I read the technical guide. And one of the photographers that shot samples for Nikon, mentioned this as well. And yes burgerman, the high resolution of the D800 will emphasize camera shake and out of focus images. That why most peope that shoot large medium and large format use a tripod.

        • AnoNemo


          I think it is clear that we have to improve our skills since this resolution is perhaps not as forgiving.

          I think it would be blindsided to make a judgement since the cameras are not available. I spoke with a friend of mine from Japan who had a chance to play with a D800 and he used the 24-120 VR2. He said that he expected worse results. I guess we have to be a bit more patient.

        • Ren Kockwell

          Jeez, Broxi. Don’t make him read!

  • CRB

    Please Admin, give us some D400 rumors (better not be FX…ugh)….thanks.

    • burgerman

      Theres absolutely no point in DX cameras now. D800 is already a great 15 million pixel DX camera. It happens to be able to take FX lenses as well thats all. More options…

      Whats the point of DX now?

      • Russ

        < $3000

        • Alex


      • WoutK89

        yes, because everybody has 3000 dollar ready to spend on a dx camera in an fx camera…

        • CRB


      • Yoan

        Hmm, maybe it’s cheaper?

      • CRB

        Nikon already has a great 16mp camera cheaper than 3000 usd…the D7000…the 24mp sensor from sony in a updated d300 body would be awesome….

      • Photo-Jack

        Would love if Nikon would go on in this “reverse game”: the large D3x body became a D700 size body and now the D7000 should come as DX(!) in a large D3s body (because a large body handles large tele lenses far better) and of course it comes with some pro features

    • Why don’t you want another FX body? I think a D400 with 16MP FX sensor would be wonderfull 🙂

      • Michael

        Nikon D7100
        Dx sensor without the “aa” filter and like the Fuji Pro x1 have Novel colour filter array to suppress colour moiré.

      • CRB

        I dont disagree, but i want to saty with my lenses..dont want to spend another 5000 to god knows how much more to update my camera…

  • Sly Larive

    I think most of the criticism comes from misconceptions… Misconceptions that FF equals shoot-in-total-darkness ISO. That sensors out-resolves lenses and that MPs are too much to handle on todays computers.

    Fact is, I was also swayed into this thinking until I took some time to read, both here and technical information, on what increasing MP’s do.

    First and foremost is the high ISO noise. I think it has been discussed here greatly but if I try to resume what my understanding is, in laymen’s terms. Noise is randomness added to the real signal to be acquired (the photo that is). Noise comes from over excitation, like driving your audio amplifier too hard. The amplifier “boosts” the signal, allowing you to shoot in darker scenes, but randomness, due to reference voltages, current mirrors and stuff is also amplified. Now, if you actually take a few samples and combine them into a larger one, by downsampling, you are statistically removing part of that variance, “evening out” the random part.

    The other idea is that you’ll out-resolve your lenses which is ridiculous. It may be true if you’re always bumping into the upper f-stop limit of your lenses, but shooting with a D700 at f/4 is going to use less lenses and out-resolve your lenses faster than a D800 at f/2.8. So unless you’re constantly shooting f/22, chances are you won’t out-resolve your lenses.

    The last problem are handling files with your computer, which if you’re willing to invest 150-300$, you can solve by running Photoshop off a SSD and adding RAM. I’ll concede that processing a large number of files for, say, wedding photogs will be a problem but the D800 will more than make up for it with its increased resolution.

    Just my 2 cents…

    • burgerman

      Well said. I have a fast modern machine here. The difference in time taken to edit a 12mp or 36mp image isnt even really detectable. And storage is super cheap. You can stich another 3 terabytes in for well under 100 pounds…

      Plus the cam has USB3, 10 times faster!
      And… You CAN shoot at 9 or 20mp if you want anyway. Or other cropped resolutions too.

      That argument is a little dubious…

    • Rich in TX

      I have a macbook pro with dual core and SSD and it wont have any problem.

      My desktop is homemade, and has a quad core processor and 8GB ram (RAM is SUPER cheap; you can buy a 12 gb kit for $79), and a new solid state harddrive in it.

      I scan my medium format negatives at very high resolution and save them as TIFF; they are hundreds of megabytes. Never have a problem so I agree that 36MP wont be an issue. Especially transferring them at USB 3 speeds.

      Maybe those complaining about file size need to spend a couple hundred dollars on a few PC components; it will better suit them regardless of what camera they go with.

      I think Nikon has absolutely nailed it with this camera. Since when have we wanted to go backwards with technology? This time next year most camera makers will be putting out 36+ mp cameras; and sensor technology is improving, not declining. Image quality will only get better.

  • FCHW

    according to your statement: “And – we know that larger pixels are better in light gathering as well as quality in reproduction” one can say that all the 3 cameras are better in light gathering as well as quality in reproduction. right?
    D4 = 7.3 microns
    1Dx = 6,94 microns
    5Dmk3 = 6,25 microns


    • D

      And since the D4 seems to be one stop better than D3s, yet has smaller pixel pitch, that tells you something also, doesn’t it.

      The D800 is going to smoke the D700.

  • Those who see this as an issue are already having already those problems anyway. Bargain glass, carelessness in shooting. Now they’ll still suck, but just at a much higher resolution. Give them a Phase One back and a Schneider, and let them run around like an idiot for a day shooting as they normally do. They’ll tell you the camera is bad and it’s not them and the bad habits they developed.

  • Jim Webos

    As a wedding photographer I own a 5dmk2 and a Nikon D3. through the years the Canon 5dmk2 only gets used for the engagement photo and the small video that insert in a slide show seen during dinner. The D3 gets used for everything else. The reason is that the D3 will not take a bad photo. The 5dmk2 will blow out a lot of photos(especially where the range is large from white to black) the times I have used the 5dmk2 during weddings the thing I appreciate is the size of the photo which allows me to crop a lot and actually get additional shots from the same number of shutter presses. Needless to say, I have preordered the Nikon D800 and will probably also order the D4.

    As an aside when the d7000 came out I bought it with the hopes that I could use it for video for the slide shows. the video was far inferior to the 5dmk2 and two brides asked why I was using such a small camera. From that point on I used the d7000 with the 70-200 until I sold it and now I just use the 5dmk2 for video.

    Hopefully the D800 will allow me to sell the 5dmk2.

    As a photographer neither Nikon or Canon is my mother or girlfriend and I will buy and sell them at the drop of a hat depending on their quality and my need to provide the most minimal quality to my clients.


    Its al ways been the same with me,show me your pictures and then I will look at your camera.

  • It is not only the sensor that makes a great camera and we should wait till the camera is out and se how the d800 performs in real life.
    I pre-ordered a d800 and will do my own test to see if it’s the right camera for me and
    that is what really matters to me.
    For all the experts that come to conclusions before the facts (without shooting with the camera ) get a life !

  • But from an FX sensor you expect a bigger pixel size, cleaner images and less noise than from a DX D7000 camera. I’ve the D7000 and it’s a good DX camera, but if I buy an FX camera, I would like to have cleaner images. Ok, the D800 will be better than the D7000, but will it be better than the D700 if you compare the images at 20x30cm?

    • burgerman


    • burgerman

      At all ISOs.

      • Yeah I forgot that, I wanted to say at all ISOs, thanks for adding that. I don’t mind about noise, but how clean my images are at every ISO, even ISO 100.

  • Mralcibiade

    I think that the only point is that most of the d800 buyers are d700 owners. As d700 owner i was used to compare to the 5dmII of course and his i megapixels sensor. We were all waiting for the same thing, a so amazing sensitive camera. But the d800 is really different. Nikon is saying that this is not the d700 successor but what the hell is this name. Thay must call it d500 or whatever… WHen i m seeing today the 5dmiiI i m thinking: this one is a really upgrade of the mkii ( shutter, af…) . All said and done i think that i prefer to shoot in 100 iso because of the dynamic but we have only to wait to handle it.
    Someone knows about the noise of the quiet mode? The canon one seems amazing ( better speed, range sensitivity, 3 hdr images, maybe quieter, a bit more expensive but not that much because of the lenses prices…). I want to see the test. Me too i don’t like canon ergonomy but i don’t want that the only positive thing on my d800 is higher amount of pixels and 400 euros cheaper….

  • All the people arguing against the D800 are just quoting what other people are saying and have zero experience of their own to back up their claims.

    The Nex-5N I had for a while was taking stellar pictures out of it’s 16MP aps-c sensor. Pictures that were beating my full-frame 5D 12MP camera even when I put stellar glass on the DSLR. High iso noise performance. Dynamic range. Detail. These Sony Exmor sensors are frickin’ awesome and frankly Canon’s at a disadvantage because they don’t have one in their 5D Mk III.

    Look at the lack of advancement in their G1x. It’s using a sensor that performs exactly the same as the sensor in the 7D which was released how many years ago? Sony’s taking much larger leaps in sensor technology than Canon is and I think a lot of people are going to be surprised that their qualms about the D800 will be proven wrong.

  • GFonne

    My main issue about the specs is the sensor size which does make it impractical for myself and 90% of the guys I know (Can’t imagine many Press guys considering the D800!) My D700’s file size has never ever been an issue and clients have blown images up to a few meters in height with good results.
    File processing, storage etc look to be a pain with this new body.
    Frankly I feel Nikon has messed up the upgrade path a bit especially for anyone with a D700.
    I would absolutely love a “baby D4” at baby D4 price tag… that would be a no brainer (does anyone think this is in the pipeline?)
    Nikon themselves have admitted the D800 isn’t considered an upgrade from D700 (read in a post on here, that French interview)
    Next is general performance (high ISO etc) which we will have to wait and see as soon as we see some real life tests…
    I am also very much looking fwd to D4 high ISO tests

    • Jim

      I don’t like people who try to fight their problem on a different battle zone! As “press guy” the D4 and not the D800 is the right camera for you! So don’t talk the D800 down. This is like blaming a hammer for you need a screwdriver!
      Your real problem is that you don’t want to swallow the price for the tool you need. And this has nothing to do with the D800.

  • Matthew Kieffer

    Judge the pictures, not the science behind them. If I wanted to design cameras instead of shooting with them, I might have something more ineligible to say. As far as lenses, you need a darn good lens on an FX body anyway. I think any modern (pro grade) nikkor would do fine stopped down to f/4 to f/8.

  • burgerman

    >>> according to your statement: “And – we know that larger pixels are better in light gathering as well as quality in reproduction” one can say that all the 3 cameras are better in light gathering as well as quality in reproduction. right?

    Wrong. Its only half the story. MORE pixels mean that when they are resampled, shrunk to output size, only sensor AREA and output print size matters. So the D800 with twice the pixels of a D4 will have similar noise at the same OUTPUT size. But more veiwed 7 feet wide at 100 percent on screen obviously.

    • FCHW

      wow! good news!
      i wanted to buy a D700 but now i will go for a D5100 and shrink the pixels to 12 MP and get the same image quality.
      thank you!

  • All4Nikon

    Not that i believe for a second that the D800 sensor will be in any way less than stellar at 36Mp, but in comparing to 4/3 systems one needs to also take into account that the glass designed for those smaller sensors usually has more resolving power than glass designed for larger formats.
    So the suggestion that 36mp may reveal weakness in some of the older glass does have merit. I have seen in many interviews the Nikon engineers themselves suggesting the D800 sensor is better paired with the latest, sharpest glass.
    Medium format digital backs with their higher pixel counts are producing more detailed images than full frame 35, but it is not because the lenses are sharper. They aren’t, its just a different set of rules optically each time you change the format size

  • Oh – I have a D3 and a D7000 and the D7000 needs better lenses than the D3. I sold my AIS50mm f/1.2 – which was great with the D3 – because everything is unsharp with the D7000.

    • burgerman

      As expected. But on the D800 you use ALL the sensor and lens area. So printed or viewed at the SAME IMAGE SIZE or print it would be much sharper than on the D7000. Because you are looking at a less enlarged total image.
      Of course veiwed at 100 percent it would be 7 feet wide and as blurred as it was on the d7000… But you dont print 7 feet wide.

      • Abraham Collins

        You can print 7 feet wide if you want to. My Designjet 5500ps can print panoramas up to five feet tall.

  • Jesse

    Without saying anything about the D800, I disagree with following line and recall the oppositve being true from what I’ve read/seen on forums and reviews:

    “people rave about how good the Canon 7D is”

    • burgerman

      Dont know a lot about canon but if it has a small sensor, and less pixels, then thats bound to be the case! Because you are enlarging every image more at a given output size. With more pixels like 36m then you resample down, improving noise, as well as detail.

    • rs

      Yes the color is awful and the noise at iso 800 and above is very bad, yet all my friends who have one think its the best camera ever. It must be the Canon mindset. 5Dm2 is far better. I’ll stick to my D700.

  • Adam McKay

    My criticism mainly comes from the fact that 36mp still is probably going to mean horrible line skipping for video which in turn is going to lend itself to aliasing like a mofo… Again, who knows. We have yet to see any real video from either Nikon. Time will tell I suppose.

  • Primefan

    It is not that difficult to understand the logic of the D800 comments. If you lack the intellectual capacity to compose a photograph, and rather choose to shoot an infinite number of photos in as short time as possible, then it must be hard to understand basic physics.

  • Robert

    Back in late 2010, I put off buying my Nikon for over 6-months because I expected Nikon to present a successor to the D700 (be it a D800 or D400). Finally, I grew tired waiting and bought the D700 (May 2011) and have had a lot to learn about my first DSLR. Now the D800/D800E have been released for pre-sale and I am still waiting for real people to put them through actual use identifying both strengths and weaknesses. Yes, the file size will eat up computer storage, but isn’t that always the story with such improvements? I suspect that by this fall a D800 will be my primary and the D700 will be my secondary camera body.

    • rs

      why switch? The D700 is a fantastic camera. Wait a while, learn photography and your camera.

    • jodjac

      Make the switch and don’t look back. Video on a DSLR is awesome. The D800 has a 91k RGB sensor. That up 45x. RGB. Now, you can adjust flash compensation independent of the background exposure. This camera will actually improve your photography (if you take the time to learn it). 91k RGB sensor. That is what is going to make your exposures better than the average exposure.

      I bought the D7000, it’s been a year and I’m still learning how to use it. I pre-ordered the D800.
      I’m excited. I feel like I’m graduating and looking forward to working at my new job/career, whatever.
      Concerned about file size? What a ridiculous argument. I’d venture to say that anyone who is concerned with file size has a small penis. There I said it.

  • George

    I come to this site occasionally because I’m a part-time photographer who uses Nikon equipment, and I happen to like technology (latest/greatest, blah, blah). What I’ve always found so fascinating is how people argue and complain, go back and forth over pixel size, pixel density, frames per second, lenses that can or cannot resolve a new sensor, etc., etc. Yet nobody ever talks about taking a workshop to get better, traveling to some remote part of the world, composition, light… I guess I’m no better because I read some of the comments and felt compelled to share my own, but maybe it’s just wanting to share a friendly reminder that while equipment and technology is great, none of it will ever make you a better photographer. Your heart, brain, eyes, experience… in the end these are what matter most. I’ve seen images from iPhones that simply blow my mind – from people out there in the world MAKING photographs. Not here arguing over pixel density. We should all do ourselves a favor and step away from out computers and go see the world. Make images. Stop worrying about gear.

    • Gavlister

      Hi George. I really like your reply, we think similarly. I’ve travelled through over 120 countries, seen some amazing sights and made some beautiful photos. I just came back from several months in Burma and….my favorite place on the planet and sooo good for photography. In a month am gonna head off for a 6 month stint through India.

      One of my favorite pictures was taken by a 10 year old kid of me teaching at an orphanage in Nepal using my iphone. It has so much character. Having 36MP wouldn’t have made the picture any better.

      This whole ‘tech’ side to photography is pretty new but is now part of photographic scene. For a lot of people they get more enjoyment from analyzing gear than actually trying to take beautiful pictures. It’s not a criticism, just a different side to photography.

  • shane

    All I have heard is complaining about the 36mp I wish it was less but heh thats life. On the other hand I see the Nikon d800 is the biggest leap forward in pro camera in years and I personally think it will justify itself in the coming weeks when we see more samples.

    Well done Nikon on been bold with the 36mp 🙂
    I have mine ordered and ppl should stop moaning just because they cant afford one

  • rhlpetrus

    I think these posts at DPR are much more interesting, they show a pretty complete picture of what to expect from D4 and D800, compared to D3/D700 and D3s, in IQ/noise. They show the D4 will perform much better than the D3/D700 at all ISOs, much better at base ISO than D3s, close much better than D3s at high ISO at same print sizes.

    That D800 will outperform the D700 at same print size, up to D6400, won’t be that far from D3s/D4, all at same print size. And that it’ll be a killer camera re IQ at base ISO, especially re shadow noise and DR.

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