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Camera Reviews

Nikon D800 - Hands-On Review

Darrell Young (DigitalDarrell) on March 4, 2013

Keywords: d800, nikon, camera, bodies, product, articles

In the olden days of pre-2002 I loved medium format cameras. You would often find me in Great Smoky Mountains National Park lugging around a heavy Mamiya RB-67 medium format camera that gave me a large 6x7 cm Provia F transparency. As film started fading away and digital photography rose supreme in most people’s eyes, true medium format went away for the everyday photographer. Sure, one could buy a nice Hasselblad digital medium format for US$20K, but few could afford that level of camera.

Now, with the release of the exciting Nikon D800 and D800E cameras, Nikon has returned medium-format resolution to the everyday photographer who wants it. No more will we have to find a lab to process our 120 film, be forced to lug around huge MF film bodies, and have to settle for standard-size digital images.

I don’t know about you but I’m very excited about these two cameras! With your being a Nikonian, like me, and having Nikon Acquisition Syndrome (NAS), I’m sure you are fully aware of my feelings. Have you ordered your D800 or D800E yet? From this point forward in the article, I will refer to both cameras by the name D800, except where specifically discussing the D800E.

For those who are not sure yet, let’s examine a few of the features found in this amazing new camera.


At 36.3 megapixel resolution the D800 moves soundly into medium-format territory. What’s the difference between the D800 and a much more expensive true medium-format camera? Although the D800 provides similar resolution, the imaging sensor on some medium format cameras can be twice the size of the D800’s at 36.7 x 46.1 mm, compared to the D800’s 24.0 x 35.9 mm CMOS (FX) sensor (figure 2).

Obviously, the larger medium-format cameras will have larger pixels, providing better light gathering capability and less noise. However, the cost entry point for most true medium-format digital cameras is around US$10K and goes up very quickly. For only about US$3K for the D800, I’m inclined to tolerate a little more noise in higher ISO shots.


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