With 36 megapixels, the Nikon D800 has 3 times as many pixels as the Nikon D700 and almost one and a half times as many pixels as the – in terms of megapixels – nearest cameras of the competition that are on the market in May 2012 (like the Canon 5D MK3 or Sony A77). With the Nikon D800E, Nikon goes even further. The Nikon D800E is a special edition of the Nikon D800 and is designed for photographers who want to go all out in terms of resolution. The Nikon D800E does not have an anti-aliasing filter in order to allow for even sharper images. This makes the Nikon D800E a unique SLR.
Design Nikon D800E
Design is a matter of taste, but personally, I think the Nikon D800E is beautiful with its rounded forms. What is very pleasant to work with, is that there is a button on the body for many functions (including bracketing and image quality) so that you do not have look for settings deep into menus.
The body, additionally sealed against dust and moisture, weighs just two pounds, including battery.
At the Nikon D800E, some buttons on the camera are at another place than at the Nikon D3x or a Nikon D7000. This may take some getting used to for someone who transfers from such a camera to a Nikon D800E.
On the top left on the Nikon D800E are e.g. 4 buttons, with which you can access bracketing and ISO settings among others. At the Nikon D3X, the ISO button is at the bottom left at the back and at the Nikon D7000 is a tiny bracketing button at the front of the body. In my view, the location of the buttons at the Nikon D800E is more convenient than the location at the Nikon D3X / Nikon D7000.
Measurements for this test have been carried out with the aid of Imatest. The measurement results are shown in the Nikon D800E test report. For the test method and explanation of terms, see FAQ.
Nikon D800E versus Nikon D700
- The Nikon D700 has no video, while the Nikon D800E has modern video specifications (1920 x 1080 full HD, 30p, connection for an external stereo microphone)
- The Nikon D700 has 12 megapixels, the Nikon D800E 36 megapixels
- In terms of ISO range, the Nikon D700 and Nikon D800E are alike, while the Nikon D800E has more and thus smaller pixels
- The Nikon D800E has a much more advanced AF unit with 51 AF points including 15 cross-type sensors, with which face priority AF is possible.
- The level / virtual horizon works in two directions on the Nikon D800E; on the Nikon D700 only in 1 direction. You can see on the Nikon D700 that you have the camera lopsided, but not whether the camera is tilted.
- With 8 fps, the Nikon D700 is faster than the Nikon D800E (4 fps) due to the smaller files
Nikon D800E versus Canon 5D MK3
- The viewfinder of the Nikon D800E is slightly darker than the viewfinder of the Canon 5D MK3
- In terms of specifications, there are many similarities, but:
- The Nikon D800E has 36 megapixels, the Canon 5D MK3 only 22 megapixels
- The Canon 5D MK3 is faster (6 fps) than the Nikon D800E (4 fps)
The Nikon D800E has so many settings that a demanding professional photographer will be satisfied. In this brief test, we cannot discuss all functions of the Nikon D800E. But the way that Nikon has designed the Auto ISO setting is very user friendly. The signal to noise ratio of modern cameras is so good that you can use an ISO range without being troubled with noise. Therefore, several camera manufacturers offer an auto-ISO setting, with which the camera boosts the ISO setting if there is not enough light. With that, the desired shutter speed is not sufficiently taken into account. If you want to take sharp images from the hand with a high resolution digital camera, you need at least a faster shutter speed than 1/2 times the focal length. Nikon offers the possibility to limit the longest shutter speed at the auto ISO setting. Tribute to that.
Viewfinder, display and menu
The Nikon D800E has a viewfinder magnification of 0.7 and a 100% viewfinder coverage. But the latter applies only for the FX / full-frame. The Nikon D800E automatically detects if you have a Nikon DX lens on the camera and adjusts the image size accordingly. That is very user friendly. However, the viewfinder cover when using a DX lens is less accurate (97%). Confusing for those regularly changing between DX and FX lenses. The viewfinder information of the Nikon D800E is very extensive, as we expect from Nikon. The 930,000-point screen on the back of the camera is not rotating or tilting.
Sharpness / resolution Nikon D800E
The Nikon D800E delivers, with a good lens like the Nikon 35mm 1.4G, a jpg file with a resolution in the center of more than 3000 LW/PH (at aperture 8 and ISO 800). That is one and a half times as high as the resolution of a Canon 5D MK3 jpg file.
With processed RAW files, it is usually possible to achieve an even higher resolution. If we edit the Nikon D800E RAW files with the beta version of Camera RAW, this is not the case with the Nikon D800E. The latest Camera RAW update of Adobe (6.7) is released on May 1st. We thus come back to this quickly.
Dynamic range Nikon D800E
The Imatest results are shown in the Nikon D800E test report. For the test method and explanation of terms, see FAQ. The total dynamic range goes from 12 stops at low ISO values up to 2 stops at the highest ISO setting. In comparison, the Canon 5D MK3 only reached up 11.3 stops in our last test.
Here you see a night shot taken at 3200 ISO, at aperture 8 and a shutter speed of 5 seconds. The usable dynamic range of the Nikon D800E is good enough to carry out an HDR operation on this one raw file, without the noise being disturbingly present. Below is the result of the HDR edit on 1 RAW file. A few years ago, this was not possibly with any camera and you had to combine multiple images using bracketing and HDR to obtain the same end result.
The usable dynamic range of jpg files runs from 8 stops at low ISO settings up to 2 stops at ISO 25,600. The Nikon D800E practice image above clearly shows that in practice even at ISO 3200 you have a useful signal to noise ratio in the shadows to carry out a HDR processing on 1 RAW file.
Also, noise is strikingly absent in practice images taken with the Nikon D800E. And that applies to both jpg files and RAW files where no noise reduction is applied yet. Here is a ISO 3200 jpg practice shot. Move your mouse over the image for a 100% image cropping on the place of the red frame. Test results are in the Nikon D800E test report.
Moiré is not too bad
Moiré is a type of aliasing / interference that occurs when too few samples are taken from a fine pattern, as you can see in the camera bag shown here. Move your mouse over the image for a demonstration of moiré.
Because the Nikon D800E has no anti-aliasing filter, the Nikon D800E may be more sensitive to (color) moiré. But we failed to find visible disturbing moiré in the test period. Those who are doubtful between a Nikon D800 and a Nikon D800E because of the risk of moiré, can confidently choose a Nikon D800E.
Nikon has anticipated any moiré by adding an anti-moiré processing to the latest version of Nikon Capture. Those who buy a Nikon D800E also get a license code from Nikon Capture when purchasing.
Here you see a practice shooting at which, if you are highly magnifying the shot and greatly increasing the saturation, some color artifacts are visible. This occurs to a similar extent at cameras that do have an anti-alias filter and is negligible in practice.
Color accuracy Nikon D800E
The Nikon D800E delivers a nice, balanced color reproduction in the field in daylight. This is also confirmed by our Imatest measurement results.
In artificial light, it applies to both the jpg and raw files, that a visible color deviation occurs. Those who shoot in RAW can simply and significantly improve the white balance in artificial light compared to the automatic white balance. For further information on the color reproduction, go to the Nikon D800E test report.
The Nikon D800E has a built-in flash with a guide number of 12 and an angle of 24 mm. We have not tested the flash further in the short test period.
Autofocus speed and accuracy
The Nikon D800E contains the same AF unit as the Nikon D4. And that one is fast and accurate. The AF obtains an average of 95% of the optimum. The worst AF result was 15% less than the best results. Such a difference cannot be seen with the naked eye in practice shots.
Nikon D800E Autofocus tracking
The Nikon AF D800E contains the same unit as the Nikon D4. And that also complies with continuous autofocus of fast-moving subjects. A series of photographs of a car coming towards the camera with a speed of 80 km / h only delivers sharp images. Only the last shot, where the photographer is almost under the passing car, is no longer sharp. The maximum speed of 4 fps might be a bit on the low side for some.
Conclusion nikon D800E review
- High resolution
- Low noise
- High usable dynamic range
- User friendly buttons and menu settings (auto ISO)
- The price?
- Somewhat darker viewfinder
- Maximum 4 fps
The Nikon D800E is simply a fantastic camera, both in terms of image quality and ease of use. Compared to the Nikon D700, not only the number of megapixels is three times as high, you have also gotten modern video capabilities.
For those who hesitate between the Nikon D800 or Nikon D800E: choose the Nikon D800E; the risk of visible (color) moiré is very small. And if you come across this once, it is easy to correct with the included Capture NX2.
At the Nikon D800E site of Nikon are multiple sample jpg images (each more than 20 mb in size), taken with the Nikon D800E that you can download to see the image quality of this camera for yourself. Do it!