The D800 offers a 51-point AF system, Nikon EXPEED 3 image processor, 3.2" rear LCD, and 91K pixel metering sensor. Among the unique features of the D800 are a 15.3MP DX-mode, allowing high-quality images when DX lenses are used. Sports shooters may also find the 25MP 1.2x crop mode useful for giving just a little more distance to their telephoto lenses. For continuous shooting, the D800 is capable of 4fps in FX mode and 6fps in DX mode. The button layout has gone through a slight restructuring, including the adoption of the D7000 AF mode/function control. The D800 has both CF and SDHC/XC memory card slots.
Like the D4, Nikon has included the same beefed up the video mode in the D800. It records 1080p at 24/30fps in H.264/MPEG-4 format in camera, or uncompressed 8-bit 4.2.2 footage via external recorder. The on-screen audio levels and headphone jack simplifies monitoring with 20-step increments for adjusting audio levels in-camera. Full manual adjustment of exposure settings are possible, including the 1/8th-stop power aperture mode, allowing extreme fine-tuning. For situations where external monitoring is required, the D800 allows simultaneous on-camera Live View as well.
Boy do we live in some interesting times. For several years, now, Nikon shooters have (admit it, if your interested in this camera you have) been a little defensive about the ‘other guys’ higher resolution. Oh, sure, they had better autofocus, and better flash systems, and better high ISO performance. But only the D3x could slug it out pixel-for-pixel on the resolution front. Well, payback is here, and it’s payback in spades.
The D800 outresolves any 35mm camera we’ve ever tested . It’s not close. So if you need to print, oh, say 6 feet by 9 feet, this is the camera for you. Or even if you really just want to capture amazing details you could never see otherwise. How amazing? Well, if you take a horrid picture of your dog and blow it up you can not only make out his eyelashes, you can get a nice self portrait or your reflection in his eye — amazing.
The resolution isn’t the only improvement, although that in itself would be enough. The LCD, which was charitably described as ‘adequate’ on the D700 should now be described as excellent. You can actually focus live view at maximum magnification now. There are a host of video improvements and the same autofocus updates as the D4 camera. Of course there are some gimmicky things (IMHO) like the DX crop ‘feature’. But let there be no question: this is the new king of the resolution hill. It’s what this camera is for and what it’s about.
All of that being said, I know already that between 25 and 50 people are going to email after using the camera and say their shots didn’t seem much sharper than their old camera. And I’m going to ask to see their pictures. And they’re going to send me shots taken with a nice prime lens at f/1.4. Repeat after me: there is no lens that can do justice to this camera at f/1.4. The best primes can at f/2.0, but most primes will need to be at f/2.8. Even the best zooms will be better at f/4 than f/2.8. If you need to shoot at wide open aperture, save some money and rent a D700.
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