Nikon D800 Digital Camera Review$2,999.95
The Nikon D800's high ISO performance was quite good, with perfectly usable photos up to ISO 3200 for large prints and ISO 6400 for the web. Shooting at Photokina 2012 we shot some of the darker booths handheld with the D800 and even when the auto ISO kicked up to ISO 6400, the shots came back perfectly usable without noise reduction applied.
The camera's built-in noise reduction system also does well here, as each setting of reduction (low, normal, and high) allows you to use an extra ISO step if need be. We found that noise was kept under 2% (our rough threshhold for acceptable quality) all the way to ISO 3200 with no noise reduction, ISO 6400 on low, ISO 12800 on normal, and ISO 25600 on high. There's a level of detail loss associated with each step up, however, so it's still a trade-off. More on how we test noise.
Detail loss was not very significant on the D800 with noise reduction turned off or to the low setting. We did notice that it began to impact detail at the maximum ISO speeds (12800 and 25600, seen in the camera as HI-1 and HI-2) at the "normal" noise reduction setting, however. With noise reduction increased to its maximum setting detail loss was greater, and it began to extend down to ISO 3200 and 6400 as well, but was negligible at the minimum ISO speeds.
The D800 places ISO control right at your fingertips, with a dedicated ISO button beside the optical viewfinder. If you press this button and rotate the control dial, you can move up and down the ISO scale quickly and easily without going into the menu. If you do pay a visit to the menu, you can turn on the automatic ISO and set the upper limit for sensitivity or the lower limit for shutter speed, ensuring you get a sufficiently fast exposure.