It felt like a long time since I held a digital SLR, as I have been shooting with mirrorless cameras recently. So when I held the D800 for the first time, it felt really big. But I like the grip design which moulds more comfortably for the hand.

I was surprised that the D800 is not much larger than the D300 despite being a full-frame camera, and just slightly heavier.

I didn’t have a lot of time to explore the D800, but here are some specs I’d like to highlight:

36.3 megapixels. When cropped to DX, you still get 15.3 megapixels, compared to 12 mp on D300.

3.2-inch LCD screen. Slightly larger than D300, the screen appears to have better colour tone and contrast.

4fps. The most disappointing aspect of the camera, my D300 can fire 6fps.

Full HD recording, 1080p 30fps. During recording, you can autofocus and adjust aperture, and the ISO varies according to the lighting conditions. I would recommend manual focus because the focusing motor will be picked up by the built-in microphone. The video output is the best I have seem among the compact and mirrorless cameras.

Auto ISO Sensitivity with Minimum Shutter Speed Settings. This allows the D800 to auto adjust shutter speed based on the focal length, or you can override with a fixed value.

91K pixel metering sensor. Compared to the miserable 1005-point sensor, the D800 ensures better metering especially when shooting portraits.

CF and SD storage slots. Allows you to choose several ways to save your images in the 2 cards. Great to increase your storage before you need to swap cards.


The better white balance, metering, faster and more accurate auto focus, larger viewfinder due to full-frame, improved body design. They all made me fell in love shooting with DSLR again.

Nikon D800, 50mm f1.4. ISO 400, 1/400s. Aperture-priority, matrix metering.
Resized with Lightroom 4. No image adjustment made.
Window light to the left of model (my daughter).

With a higher pixel count, there is higher possibility that the images turn out to be less sharp due to handshake and focus blur. However, this issue is largely exaggerated. From the images I have taken, they looked fine. Remember, the D800 captures 15.3mp with APS-C size, and that is smaller than Samsung NX20 (20.3mp) or Sony NEX-7 (24mp).

Stumble Blocks

When I brought the D800 for an assignment shoot, I was appalled that the image review freezes when the camera tries to save the RAW images. I believe a faster memory card would help but still I was disappointed. The slower fps is also a small setback but it didn’t really affect my shots as I did not require higher fps for the assignment. But for other assignments with faster actions, the D800 would not perform as nimbly as the D300.

With larger image size, the file size becomes huge. The average RAW file of D300 is about 13MB, while the D800 captures about 34MB. Requiring more processing power and time, editing D800 images would really slow down your workflow.

Will I Buy It?

If I were shooting with DSLR as often as I used to, then I would buy it without qualms. If I had spare cash, I would buy it. If someone were to give me one, I would use it. And it appears my daughter also likes the look of it. It’s been a long time since I captured pleasing candid shots of her. Nikon D800 is great for almost anything except for action photography requiring high frame rates or fast image reviews.

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