Why Nikon D800 Could Be the Best Buy Full Frame Camera?

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It has been a busy week with Canon 5D Mark III shipping out world wide yesterday and today the Nikon D800 is also starting to ship. The Nikon D800 could be the best buy full frame camera. Why? The Nikon D800 is RRP at $2999 (B&H) which is cheaper than the $3,499 Canon 5D III (B&H). It is also half the price of Nikon’s flagship D4 (B&H). The price is very attractive and even cheaper than the Nikon D700 (B&H) when it first came out 3 years ago. The D700 is still a great camera, take brilliant photos, but it doesn’t have video and using 3 years old technology. The Nikon D800 currently costs 800 USD more than the D700, but it is packed with superior  features like 36MP, 1080p HD video, new EXPEED 3 processor, 3.2” LCD, dual CF and SD slots and many more.

If you are not familiar with the new features on the Nikon D800, check them out on this post.

If you haven’t ordered your Nikon D800 yet, B&H is still accepting orders at the moment.

Unboxing of Nikon D800

The front and the back of the D800 are still very similar to its predecessor D700, apart from some new buttons, most buttons and their placement are still the same.

Apart from the absence of vertical grip and ultra high ISO range, the D800 has most of the features of the Nikon D4. You can always get the MB-B12 battery grip if you do need a vertical grip. However, If you don’t need the nice little touch of the D4 such as illuminated buttons, 11FPS, XQD slot, gigabit LAN port, then you won’t miss much on the D800. The D800 is lighter and much cheaper.

One down side though is that the D800 creates a huge RAW file from Its 36MP sensor, but in saying that, you will have a huge file to crop as much as you want. Also in DX mode, it becomes a nice 16MP camera to give you that extra reach.

First check out a couple of samples taken with the Nikon D800.

There have been a lot of concerns about the high MP count which could degrade the ISO performance of this camera. Cliff Mautner a while ago did a couple of ISO tests at 3200 and 6400, you can check out the 1:1 crop below.

Original Image

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

Image resource also did a more scientific ISO test with the D800. Image resources provides a “comparometer” which you can compare images at different ISO with almost any kind of cameras from iPhone 4 to D800 and D4. We choose images from the D4, D3s, D800, D700 and 5D3 taken at ISO 6400 for a comparison.

Original image

We took the images and did a 1:1 crop after downsizing each image to 12MP to match the natural resolution of the D3s. After down sizing, the ISO noise on the D800 is very close to the D4, at full resolution though, the D800 will surely has more noise at 1:1 crop. The ISO performance from the five different cameras are actually very close, I can’t really tell much difference, I will let you guys judge for yourself. One thing I can probably say is the D700 is probably the worst of all, but I doubt you can tell any difference on web size images or prints.  Also check out this post for a specific D4 vs D3s ISO test.

With the ISO performance very similar to each (probably < 1 stop of difference), it could very well mean the Nikon D800 is the best bang for your buck full frame camera.

What do you think ? Leave us a comment below.

image sources: NR, Image resources, Cliff Mautner, Nikon

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About Kent Yu

Kent is a professional wedding and portrait photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand. He and his team specialise in modern and contemporary weddings. Kent has his work published in international magazines and is a regular author to a number of photographic publication. He is fascinated by photographic equipment and enjoys showcasing the gear used in creating his images. You can find him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google+
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