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Nikon D800 – Is it still relevant in 2017? [Review]

Introduction

I am writing this review after having owned this camera for 5yrs and just after the release of the Nikon D850. Since the Nikon D800, there has been a few hot camera releases, technology in 2017 is moving towards mirrorless, so why did I decide to write this review?

In short, it’s because I’m now selling my Nikon D800.

This camera has seen me through many weddings, events, portrait sessions, and landscapes. So it’s somewhat a farewell to my D800.

This won’t be a full review, just more answering the question can it still hold up in 2017 and be a valid choice for a purchase with the offerings available today.

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Image Quality

Without a shadow of a doubt, the image quality is top notch! When this camera was released, there was so much speculation with regards to this sensor. How will it perform in low light? Can the lenses available even resolve the 36.3mp? Do you even need 36.3mp?

What I found over the years is that the sensor in this camera is simply stunning!

The low-light capabilities are obviously not going to outperform the specialized low-light cameras such as Nikon D4 or Nikon DF. It definitely will not outperform more modern low-light beasts such as A7S II or D5. However, at 36.3mp, when you downscale the images to something more reasonable or comparable in resolution, it’s not bad at all!

I do find I don’t like going beyond ISO3200 in this camera, however ISO6400 is still perfectly usable and everyone’s noise tolerances vary from user to user.

The Dynamic Range in this camera even by today’s standards is still up there with the best! Easily outperforming its Canon counterpart.

Autofocus

Personally I have never really had an issue with the AF system in this camera. With it being 5yrs old, with each new release you do hear of improvements being made to AF, however I have never really had any complaints with the D800’s AF system. With each new release I have just appreciated knowing it’s better, but never really feeling like “Whoa! The new camera is a whole new world!”. For context, I also shoot Nikon D750 which inherited it’s AF System from the D4S, likewise I have shot with a Nikon D4S!

Nikon D750 tracking is superior, but single point AF, nothing too drastically different and I still sometimes prefer single point AF.

Switching back and forth between my Nikon D750 and D800 I personally don’t feel too much of a difference.

Handling and Build Quality

With this being a professional body, it is naturally more rugged, beefy etc.

In my personal life, I do shoot Sony Mirrorless and whenever I go into a professional environment and start shooting with the Nikon kit in general, I do feel it’s more purpose built for work. The Nikon D800 in particular feels like a tank

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Nikon have clearly got a lot of experience with professional shooters as all the buttons and menus seem very intuitive.

This is also subjective and I have been a Nikon shooter for a while so I may just be more familiar with them.

Shall I still consider buying this camera in 2017?

My answer will appear very biased as I am looking to sell my D800, however I promise you this is from an objective stance and I say without a doubt, this camera is still worth a purchase in 2017!

However, its of course purely down to value.

I am seeing Nikon D800’s ranging from £800-£1100 depending on its condition and you do of course want one with a lower shutter actuation which may nudge you closer to the £1100 marker. But at this price, it’s definitely worth considering.

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Your alternatives at this price bracket in the used market will be Nikon D750 or Sony A7II.

Sheer image quality, D800 will win. Likewise with all the other fancy bells and whistles with AF speed etc. the D800 can keep up and for the average hobbyist, you won’t need that extra speed which you will barely notice. But the Image Quality of 36.3mp you definitely will!

As a professional wedding photography, if I had this budget I would actually opt for Nikon D750, however as a hobbyist I would probably purchase a D800 for better IQ.

Why am I selling? 

You maybe confused as to why I’m praising this camera yet I am selling it…

Reason is, I am moving to Sony Mirrorless.

Moving to Sony is a personal choice and is an article in itself, so I won’t dive too deep into those reasons.

However, if you’re in the market for a full frame DSLR, definitely worth considering the Nikon D800.

Conclusion

The Nikon D800 has been by my side for 5yrs and I am genuinely sad to see it go.

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By no means am I selling it because it’s not a capable camera. I chose not to upgrade to Nikon D810 because the D800 is very capable and despite the D850 being newly released, for most users the feature set in the D800 is more then adequate.

When purchasing a camera you have to consider the return on investment (ROI) and given the current used pricing and how little it will depreciate at this point, it would be a smart decision to purchase this camera over D810 or D850. Unless those two new cameras have specific features you require.

But otherwise… this camera will go down in the history books as one of the best which pushed the boundaries of innovation!

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