There is a new DxOMark king: Nikon D800E

Few weeks ago the Nikon D800 got the highest DxOMark score of 95 (Nikon D4 scored 89, D3200 scored 81). Today DxOMark released the test results for the Nikon D800E with a total overall score of 96 (1 point higher than the D800).

Here is another D800E comparison with the D3200 and the full frame 5D Mark III (click for larger view):

Nikon D800 vs. D800E ISO sensitivity:

Nikon D800 vs. D800E SNR 18%:

Nikon D800 vs. D800E dynamic range:

Nikon D800 vs. D800E tonal range:

Nikon D800 vs. D800E color sensitivity:

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  • Don

    None of this matters. The various are too small to matter. Only techno-geeks who can’t shoot are worried about this kind of data…

  • Pete Grady

    Wow, most of you need to get a point n shoot or an iPhone and just go take some pictures. All the new cameras in the world aren’t any good if you don’t have any new ideas.

  • neversink

    These tests must be wrong, because Rockwell says Canon is the best…. Rockwell is always right…. isn’t he???


    • 2cents

      While Mr. Rockwell provides a valuable service, I do not always agree with his pronouncements. For example:

      * ISO 12800 is not “Stupid High” as it allows a combination of shutter speed and fstop previously unavailable.

      * 12 mp is not anough for anything I might want to do.

      * jpeg is not prefereable to RAW.

      * Film is not better than digital.

      Now, given that Mr. Rockwell’s preferences when shooting for his own satisfaction include no need for high ISO, and using jpeg output, he is likely to weigh the convenience features he likes higher than someone who places a higher value on the sensor capabilities and RAW shooting.

      Mr. Rockwell believes most of his readers will never need the advanaced capabilities of the D800, don’t need the high ISOs, and should shoot jpegs. For his readers who fit this demographic I suspect he offers good advice.

      I feel that there are many who like to try and push their capabilities as far as they can, and that these folks may exist in greater numbers than Ken expects. They are certainly a large percentage of the folks who peruse his site and by steering them away from the D800, he may be doing his core constituency a disservice.

      What is unfortunate to me is that an individual who has made his name by helping us achieve the ultimate in image quality, has backed away from that stance. He states that if we really need that kind of quality we should shoot 4×5 film etc.

      Bill Gates once said theat 64k should be enough memory for anybody…Mr Gates has since backed away from that stance. It is my hope that in a similar fashion Mr. Rockwell can recapture his vision and recognize the potential of new technology.

      • Yup

        Everything Rockwell does is what “pros” do; everything Rockwell doesn’t do is stupid.

        His best bit of retarded bs is where he says nobody needs over ISO-6400, because he can handhold a moonlit nightsky and have it well exposed at f/1.4 and 1/4 sec exposure at 6400.

        Umm. Moving people, Ken? Event photography? If you can get a shot with the available light when everyone else in the room (usually the Canon guys and a couple of old Pentax dudes) needs their flash, you’re the one who gets out of there with the best photos, the best reputation, and the greater chance of getting paid to do it again, and that’s certainly the case with me and I’m sure hundreds of other guys who keep abreast of which is the best low-light-performing cameras. But according to Rockwell, everything everybody shoots is still, nobody shoots weddings, nobody shoots parties etc., so nobody needs ISO 6400 and everything higher is “stupid high”.

        Rockwell rolls back on occasion and says his website is for jokes, but the truth is the guy just gets a lot wrong.

        With all that said, for me, the fact that these cameras don’t even show the correct colours on their LCD keeps me away. My D3S is just fine for now. 480,000 actuations and counting…

        • Andrew


          What does LCD have to do with framing and shooting the picture? Absolutely nothing! It is the glass (i.e. lens/optics), sensor, and image processor that determines the quality of the picture you take. Use your “eyes”, they are the perfect “LCD”.

      • joseph

        Ken is most certainly correct that film (4×5 and bigger) handily beats any digital camera on the market including the D800(E). I shoot both a D800E as well as LF film, both 4×5 and 8×10, and the amount of detail and tonal depth is vastly better on film. DR on negative film is better in some ways (no hard clipping).

        So don’t dismiss that out of hand. Plus, shooting LF film and using movements is certainly simple compared to 35mm systems, especially Nikon with their stupid axis thing that only allows one axis tilt without shipping it off to be reset.

    • Softondemand

      I bet Ken Rockwell himself looks up stats on dxo mark. And for your info, dxo results are sometimes referred by photography magazines.

  • erik

    2 days handling d800 i’ve been taking sharp pictures, and my daughter too.. no special technique or whatsoever… ISO 100, mostly 24-70 and sometimes flash. aperture 2.8. ok yes i got some blur images

    d800 pictures worth each cent spent on it. My only regret is an incompatible kingtson CF card.

  • Anonymous Maximus

    Another D800 green (yellow) cast test:

    • burgerman

      I have both D700 and D800 here.

      Set both white balances to same temp, and shoot with same exposure, same subject, and the images in the screen are so damned identical that I cant tell one from the other.

      Try again with auto white balance, and there is a tiny difference. See either alone and you wouldnt know. Seen together, not sure which I prefer… But its certainly not a huge difference. So I dont get what the fuss is about? The PICTURES are massively better from D800!

    • Carsten

      Why should I watch a video showing a flaw? I went out with my D800e, shoot a couple hundred pictures and compared the colors on the screen with what had in front of me – learning tour, so I checked every image on the screen.

      In natural light with Auto WB screen and nature agree ( I feel that Auto WB improved a lot). Artificial lights were always off, back in Lightroom after Temp&Tint control the true colors emerge – there is only so much Auto WB can do.

      It is important to know that the ambient light influences how we see colors on a screen, therefore a screen is wrong all the time but if the ambient light matches its intended viewing condition.

      Only Ken Rockwell needs a 100% accurate color rep on the screen, the rest of us uses Lightroom, Capture NX, …

      Enough said, photographs aren’t made by watching youtube videos

  • Anonymous Maximus
  • What it really means is that the single copy of the D800E tested came out better than the single copy of the D800 tested. These results are certainly within sample variation.

  • Landscape Photo

    Anyone remembering that famous comparison page of 8-years old D2X vs. Mamiya7 drum scan? 12mp D2X wasn’t too far behind Mamiya 7.

    I used Mamiya 7 + Velvia 50 for a couple of years until I sold it to buy a D200, then D300 and finally D700. Each Nikon was a slight step-up in terms of IQ.

    Now in 2012, finally we have a 36mp FX. I think D800 with a good lens plus good field & PP technique should equal or surpass Mamiya 7 and even approach 4×5 scans. LF film has its advantage due to its sheer image size, but their lenses have inferior resolution compared to modern 35mm primes which should be taken into consideration.

    Therefore, a test can be run to see the difference. I’m almost sure we may say D800 is now the digital replacement of Mamiya 7.

  • WildLandscapes

    D800 is a great camera but one must be absolutely blind not to see that noise level is ok up about ISO 1600- definitely is worst than what can do both D4 and 5DIII. DxOMark tests are completely irrelevant – do not take them seriously. Either the number 800 (and a few others) make a magic in there eyes or they get paid by Sony and Nikon distributors.

    • burgerman


      Their tests are absolutely correct. Totally valid. Only those that do not understand them could say otherwise.

      Of course the only reason the D800E scores a tiny bit more is measurement error. In any measurement the result has a small error or variation.

      • SiliconVoid

        Don’t get me wrong burgerman, or anyone else for that matter, I am still waiting for my D800 at my local store.. However to say the DxO tests are ‘absolutely correct and totally valid’ would only be absolutely correct and valid if your image output needs do not exceed their testing method. If you do not need larger than 8mp output and under 800 ISO then you can get all the performance DxO says the D800 can do. The 8mp image size used for evaluation gives the D800 a higher sampling ratio than any other DSLR available and it is that ratio that forms the foundation of its performance and score. Heck, the smaller you go the better still (well technically there is a point of diminishing return, but that is another discussion heh) however the larger the output the closer you get to its sensor level performance where compared to 8mp output isn’t nearly as impressive, nor would it score so highly.

        I personally do a lot of macro work and landscape where I can control light and exposure due to rather static subjects. In that scope the D800 will provide a higher level of detail reproduction than I currently get from my D700. So for me I fit in that size/exposure spectrum and can take advantage of everything the D800 has to offer. Keep in mind though, Nikons own marketing says it isn’t a body that fits everyone – so the DxO score isn’t even relevant for some, much less absolutely correct or valid.. ;=)

  • Andrew

    The real winner is… the Nikon D3200. Not that it can match the D800E, but the fact that the D3200’s (costing only $700) performance holds up very well against the Canon EOS 5D Mark III ($3,500) is quite impressive. If I need to travel with an inexpensive camera, the D3200 is the camera to take. But the Nikon D600 (speculatively priced at $1,500) should make an excellent mid priced camera. The only reason for me to buy full frame will be high ISO where I expect the D600 will outclass the D3200.

    • Z

      Mate, try a 2nd hand D700 & you won’t look further. Its ergonomics, low light performance, colors, dynamic range & 3D-feel of images…

    • SiliconVoid

      Bah, you beat me to it Z.. =P

      I do not understand why people incessantly feel the need to bolster their ego’s by bashing other brands in a brand specific forum. However if you are going to compare apples to oranges, at least peel them first!

      The (only) category the D3200 shows any better performance is in dynamic range, and that is only up to ~300 ISO. In every other category and every ISO setting it falls as far behind the 5Dmk3 as it does the D800. In addition, if you are a first time DSLR buyer you aren’t going to be looking at a 5Dmk3 or D800 anyway so the performance between them and the D3200 is not relevant. As stated above, there are a considerable number of other factors one would be deciding on at the level of a 5Dmk3 or D800.

      However by your logic (assuming the buyer has decided to invest in Nikon and considering the D3200) if the D3200 is the ‘real winner’ then the real loser would be the D800 given how close the D3200 comes to its performance. I mean why would anyone need to buy a D800 when they could get so close to its DxO rated performance and other professional models in a $700 D3200..??

      • Soon a D800E owner

        “I do not understand why people incessantly feel the need to bolster their ego’s by bashing other brands in a brand specific forum.”

        It is a simple human nature. It is like politics. Politicians do not talk how good they are but instead throw mud at their opponents. With cameras,
        talking bad about the other brands makes people feel like they have a superior product and justifies to them the purchase.

    • Eric

      @Andrew – I have had the opportunity to use a D3200. While it may be the best entry level DSLR on the market, at the end of the day, it is still an entry level DSLR. It has a miniscule battery, one command dial and minimal external controls. Unlike the higher end Nikon bodies the D3200 does not “get out of the way” and let me capture the image I want. It has a great 24mp sensor but no AF fine tune. So if you want to take photos that are focused sharp enough to get the most of the 24mp sensor, you need to use MF in liveview, which is a problem with the small battery. … Don’t get me wrong, I love the camera and reccomend it to first time DSLR buyers. The D3200 is a great value and if after owning it for 3 years you only have 750 clicks on the body, you haven’t broken the bank. Certainly from a DXOMark perspective, it is a marvelous accomplishment, and if you are skilled user on a contrained budget it might make sense. However, in my opinion, most users with the skill level to get the most out of the D3200 sensor would prefer the advantages of a higher end body. The D3200 is a great entry level camera and a nice small backup or carry along. But as a primary camera for a serious enthusiast it can’t compare to the more advanced Nikon offereings… Certainly not to the D800/800E

  • Brian

    I know this is about Nikons, but it’s interesting to see that the Pentax K5 scored 82 in the DxO tests, more than any Canon, and all but the new FF Nikons.

  • Jon Bergosa

    The interesting thing in this discussion is people comparing the D800 to MF. The D800 is a new breed of DSLR not MF. Yes there may be ultimate limitations to what it can do against say a Haselblad, however for the price point it’s quite reasonable. I love how all these Canon fanboys try and make a fuss over stupid things that are wrong with the camera. I think it equates to petty jealousy. Sorry guys, the 5d mk III just tanked. Don’t take it out on Nikon.

  • Pablo Ricasso

    Yeah, if anybody should be bent it’s the medium format people. I bet some of them would make some interesting paragraphs for us…

  • Bengt Nyman

    Some of the Nikon D800(E) performance looks spectacular. I broke Canon ranks and ordered a Nikon D800E plus lenses early 2012. Nikon says the unexpected success of the D800 makes it hard to deliver. I don’t believe it. I think Nikon has problems building the product. We know that they are having focusing problems yet to be acknowledged and resolved. Heartbroken I just cancelled my order. I don’t want a lemon prematurely shaken out of the tree.

    • Pablo Ricasso

      Mmm. With a Canon you know the lemon is ripe. Time for all the trolls to take a snipe. Make sure when you’re done you wipe.

      • Bengt Nyman

        Pablo, try to add some content. Your toilet humor does not belong on this forum.
        Unfortunately the D800 does have an off center focusing problem reported by a large number of users. If you never focus off center or rely on the cameras dynamic follow focus it may not matter that much. However, Nikon needs to acknowledge the problem and announce a fix. When they do I will be back with my order.

        • Pablo Ricasso

          So, um….

          What did you do with the lenses?


    I felt like a fool checking the B&H site for the third time today to see if my “King” had any status changes. My D800E is being processed at the warehouse! I ordered from B&H at 7:12 am on February 7, the first day of pre-orders.
    Wouldn’t you think B&H could call or e-mail with great news after four months and 18 days on backorder for a ticket this size?

    • D800E

      was that 7:12 am EST.? where is your D800Em now, shipping,

  • Chuck

    Got billed for my D800E today from J&R. It was ordered on June 6th. They said they wont bill until it was shipped so im hoping it will be shipped soon.

    • I hope you do get a D800 without the left focus problem….

  • Jon

    I’m wondering when Nikon will bring out a 24-105 f/2.8 VR II pro glass? With that range, it would surely suffice for most pros needs and Nikon has the technology to make it as good if. It better than their current 24-70 zoom. Maybe I’m going out on a limb but if they had that focal length, I would gladly pay the big money for it as i would only need to carry that lens with me for most situations. Anyone else think Nikon should make their zoom range a little larger?

    • Pablo Ricasso

      Bad things tend to happen when someone makes slow glass get fast and when someone takes a short zoom and makes it into a long one. Why would you think that someone could extend the range of the 24 – 70 to 105 and improve the quality when the 24-70 is already more than most people can afford? Possibly Nikon could rethink the beginning and ending lengths of their zooms, but the public would have to be accepting of the new lengths or it would be a waste of time. As far as I’m concerned, the 24 – 70 already has too much range.

    • Pablo Ricasso

      But you might give the old Tamron 35-105 a try for a couple hundred bucks. It is said to be sharp at everything but wide open, much better than their newer 28- 105, has good colors, and the filter is only 67mm. Stick an old 20 or 24 in your pocket or use the Tamron 20-40, which is really sharp, to go with it if you can find one. I never tried the 35-105 as the results from most wide to telephoto zooms I’ve tried have given me a mental block. The thought of using one sort of sends shock waves through my stomach. I suppose the old Tamron got acceptable results sometimes because it’s actual focal length is only to 100, making the range nearly identical to the 24-70, slightly less than 3x.
      If you have the 24-70 you might keep it and a 105 macro. The new one with VR is sharper than almost anything, so you could take great crops from it if you wanted longer, and it is fast enough and sharp enough wide open to use for portraits if you can take some light fall off. You can also use it for macro because it’s a macro lens. Really, you could expect to do none of that with a zoom, or at least not as well. You could also save a lot of money and buy an older version of the 105 and still be better than if you were zooming. The only downside is that the 24-70 probably doesn’t really go past 65 in real life, which leaves a big gap for someone used to zooming…

  • Jon

    I was just thinking of the useful nature of that focal range. Nikon has made a 24-120 f/4 however it pales in comparison to the 24-70 f/2.8. If they made a 24-120 f/2.8 that would help the majority of event/wedding photographers immensely. I was just wondering why Nikon hasn’t chosen to make that lens since there’s probably a fair amount of pros and amateurs who would jump at having an all in one walk around zoom. Of course without the wild CA and softness of the super zooms in the market.

    • Pablo Ricasso

      The first line, two posts prior. I don’t know that they COULD give that range to a 2.8 lens without CA, softness, and distortion. Additionally, I don’t know what suck a lens would weigh… The best approach is probably a modest f4 with the latest VR and the latest greatest sensor. I would much rather have an f4 that worked at f4 than a 2.8 that needed to be set at 5.6 to provide a satisfactory image. People usually don’t run much when inside a church.

  • Jon

    Your probably right there. Of course with the amazing low light/ low noise performance of most pro bodies, as well as the advent of VR larger apertures really shouldn’t matter. Guess I get lazy sometimes not wanting to carry 2 bodies around so I don’t have to change lens’ during quick action. I agree with u that the weight of such a lens would probably be extreme ie. at least 4 or 5 lbs with the addition of VR. Yeah, not very practical for everyday use. I guess I’m just hoping mostly for a slight update of the 24-70 with VR at least. Perhaps a 24-85 f/2.8 to match the current new 3.5-4.5 one.

  • NikonGuy

    How could the following fact be true: DxO states that the D800 has a ISO performance about 2900 and at the time the D4 has only an equal ISO performance about 2900???
    There is definitly a large difference in terms of the pixel density and therefore the D4 should have much better ISO performance than a D800. In my Opionen the D800 has to be in the range of a D7000 concerning the ISO performance… Reason: D7000 and D800 have nearly the same pixel density…

    What is your opinion on that issue?

    • Eric

      The DXOMark tests assumes a specific output size in pixels. Data from sensors that have more pixels than the output size are processesed down to that fixed output size. This downsizing of the pixel data improves the signal to noise ratio. What the test is actually measuring then is the noise that may be expected when using the sensor; not the noise at the pixel level. Think of the test as determining how well each camera tested can produce an 11 x 17 print.

      If you were to compare raw data and equal number of pixels between the D4 and the D800, the D800 would look noisier. But when the pixel data is used to produce an equivalently sized image, they look the same.

      IMHO this is the best way of comparing sensors with different numbers of pixels. By focusing on a standardized output size, the data has been normalized so that comparisons are valid.

      • NikonGuy

        Thanks for your excellent explanation!!!
        I tried to find out something in this way on their homepage, but i wasn’t succesful…

  • Vin

    I just had a call from Pro Photo Oregon. in Portland they are getting D800’s and D800E in, i had to pass because i just got my E already. not sure if they are all spoken for?

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