Nikon D800 Digital Camera Review$2,999.95
- Dynamic Range
The D800's massive 36.3-megapixel image sensor provides it with the ability to capture tones across a very wide range without letting the appearance of noise poison away detail. The D800's biggest advantage for dynamic range came at the low end of the ISO spectrum, where it gains nearly all the advantages of its high-resolution sensor while the disadvantages of smaller photosites don't yet become an issue.
At ISO 100 we found that the D800 was capable of reaching 8.5 stops of dynamic range above an RMS noise threshold of 0.1 (most other review sites put an RMS noise threshold at 1, which is a much lower benchmark for quality). That performance held strong until ISO 400, where it fell to 6.91 stops, which is still quite good. From there performance fell off more dramatically, with just 3.09 stops available at ISO 6400. More on how we test dynamic range.
Putting these numbers into context, we put the D800 up against the Canon 1D X, Nikon D4, and Canon 5D Mark III—its chief full-frame competition in the market for 2012 among the cameras we have tested to date. Putting the D800 up against these bodies, it's clear that its advantage is at the lower ISOs, while its performance falls off slightly at the higher ISOs. The other three cameras also all offer higher sensitivities, capable of reaching ISO 204,800. While we found that ISO speeds above 51200 were not really feasible for printed photography in those cameras, they do provide an advantage for those looking to do extremely low light or surveillance work.