Part of what is heard about having to use a tripod and better hand holding technique in part comes from the D800 Tech manual in keeping blur to a minimum. But using tripods and better hand holding technique is not new. Try shooting any 35mm film camera and making a 30 inch print - If you want tack sharp, then you better have a good technique and a tripod.
Perceived image acuity is also relative to how large an image is viewed and/or print size. The larger the viewing or print size, the steadier a camera has to be to produce excellence.
Whenever I am not achieving what I think my equipment is capable of I return to the basics. Even with the D800 I am not a fan of the various metering nor focusing modes. My preferences are spot and center weighted metering, select my focus point and use AFS Single Point or AFC 9 point focusing, and my Focus Tracking is typically at 5 or off. Each depending on the situation.