Product Listing

Nikon D800 - A 36MP Revolution

By Alvin Soon - 21 Apr 2012

Image Performance III

Image Performance III - Down-sampling at Capture

We've heard that some potential owners of the D800 are thinking of shooting at a lower resolution with the camera, because they feel 36MP is more resolution than they need, and also in a bid to reduce each image's file size. What we've discovered is that more detail can be retained if users shoot at 36MP and down-sample the images to a lower resolution themselves, than to depend on the D800 to do it.

To illustrate, we have two images, shot in FX format, at the camera's 36MP (L) and 20MP (M). To do a fair comparison between the images, we're going to look at a 100% crop of the 36MP which has been down-sampled in post to 20MP, and a 100% crop of the 20MP image. Exposure settings were kept constant.

Here is the full scene, to give you an idea of what we're looking at.

Here is a 100% crop of the 36MP capture, which has been down-sampled to 20MP in post. The original 36MP JPEG is a whopping 31.5MB and after reducing the resolution to 20MP using Photoshop and saving in the best JPEG quality settings, the file weighs in at 19.8MB.

Here is a 100% crop of the 20MP capture. Even though the file size is nearly halved at 17MB, there is noticeably less detail.


Image Quality - Video

Just like with the D800's still images, we see quite a bit of sharp detail in the D800's video. While the rolling shutter effect is well-controlled and hardly appears with pans at normal speeds, the D800's video is susceptible to moiré. Here's an example (click here to see the video in Full-HD):

Multi-media journalist Dan Chung has done a comprehensive test between the Canon 5D Mark III and D800's video quality and concluded:

Essentially the output from the D800 and 5D mkIII is very close. I would give it to Nikon for sharpness and the addition of the crop mode. The Canon has a clear win in terms of moiré and low light performance. Personally I prefer the control layout and the colour rendition from the Canon (especially under mixed lighting) - others may prefer the Nikon.

To Nikon users who have been waiting for the company's response to Canon's lead on full-frame, Full-HD DSLR cameras, the D800 may be what they've finally be waiting for, at half the price of the other full-frame, Full-HD DSLR camera - the D4. Just like the D4, the D800 can shoot 1080p video at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second, up to 24Mbps, with the ability to stream uncompressed footage out to an external recording device through HDMI.

  • Performance 9.5
  • Design 9.5
  • Features 9.5
  • User-Friendliness 9.5
  • Value 9
The Good
Exceptionally detailed images
Rich dynamic range
Excellent handling
The Bad
Moiré patterns visible in some videos
Slower 4 fps shooting speed
Large image files