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Nikon D800 - Sample Images: ISO Performance

Audley Jarvis

By Audley Jarvis



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Nikon D800


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Nikon D800 ISO test

Original image @ ISO 100.

Nikon D800 ISO 100

ISO 100 shows plenty of sharpness and fine detail...

Nikon D800 ISO 200

...as does ISO 200.

Nikon D800 ISO 400

At ISO 400 and noise is still being kept at bay and the image retains plenty of detail.

Nikon D800 ISO 800

At ISO 800 the D800's sensor is still doing an admirable job of keeping noise at bay.

Nikon D800 ISO 1600

By ISO 1600 there's there merest whiff of noise, but you really need to look hard to spot it.

Nikon D800 ISO 3200

ISO 3200 is the cut-off point, after which noise becomes more prevalent - especially in processed JPEGs.

Nikon D800 ISO 6400

It's not difficult to spot noise at the maximum setting of ISO 6400, however it's still possible to make a perfectly good image.

Nikon D800 ISO 12800

The first extended setting of ISO 12,800 ('Hi1' on the dial) shows a marked deterioration from ISO 6400.

Nikon D800 ISO 25600

The top extended setting of ISO 25,600 ('Hi2') is fairly noisy, although Raw images can be normally saved - at least for use at smaller sizes.

We've re-sized the following images from their native 7360 x 4912 pixels to 3680 x 2456 pixels on account of the original file sizes (18MB ) being too individually large to upload to the TR server. But even at this reduced size we think they show pretty well how the D800 performs at high sensitivities in less than optimal light in a non-studio environment. Click on any image to open the main image viewer page, from where you can enlarge each image fully.

Nikon D800 ISO 200

ISO 200 (for comparison)

Nikon D800 ISO 1600

ISO 1600

Nikon D800 ISO 3200

ISO 3200

Nikon D800 ISO 6400

ISO 6400

Nikon D800 ISO 12800

ISO 12,800 ('Hi 1')

Nikon D800 ISO 25600

ISO 25,600 ('Hi 2')


February 9, 2012, 4:40 pm

" It'll certainly be interesting to see how Canon and Sony respond. Either way, whoever said the megapixel wars of old were over, might want to think again."

Sony will no doubt respond with the same sensor, seeing as Nikon use Sony sensors.

"Nikon has itself drawn attention to this with some bold claims about how the D800 (used in FX mode with a fast lens) is able to produce "exquisitely shallow depth of field with beautiful bokeh effects". That's something we definitely look forward to seeing for ourselves first-hand."

Why is this a bold claim? It is simply one of the benefits of using a full frame sensor. The D800 isn't unique in this regard.


February 9, 2012, 6:44 pm

Indeed, I would guess that Sony is only too happy for Nikon to go to 36MP with the D800 as it paves the way for them to offer something similar – if not identical – in the coming months. And as for Canon… well, the 5D MKIII is expected sometime soon, and although I very much doubt it'll match the D800 for resolution (rumours point more towards 22MP), you don't need to look all that far online to find spurious talk of a mega-megapixel Canon DSLR launch planned for later in the year..

As for the "bold claims" in the final paragraph, I was really just being colloquial and referring to Nikon's use of flowery marketing language more than anything else. You're absolutely right that one of the major benefits of a full-frame sensor is that it produces a shallower depth of field. I certainly wasn't claiming the D800 is unique in this respect.

Martin Daler

February 9, 2012, 8:19 pm

"one of the major benefits of a full-frame sensor is that it produces a shallower depth of field"
You would almost think that a DX sensor produced a different depth of field to an FX sensor, except of course that effectively there is a DX sensor in the centre of every FX sensor and guess what - the depth of field does not suddenly change at the margin. Just think it is important that people don't get the wrong impressions about what affects depth of field ;)


May 30, 2012, 8:04 pm

If the rumours of the Pentax finally making a full frame camera come true, I wonder if they will also use a similar sensor?

iain coghill

May 31, 2012, 4:11 pm

Not really. By using only a DX sized portion of an FX sensor you are restricting the field of view so the result should really be compared with the FX and a longer focal length lens. Since focal length does have an affect of DoF, equivalent images will show shallower DoF with the larger sensor. This affect is offset somewhat by the need to magnify the result (wrt sensor size) but not completely.


September 7, 2012, 9:36 pm

Great quality camera with some very forward thinking features, I don't however think it will make me give up my D3X with it's far superior 5FPS, ideal for my penchant for photographing Formula 1 and wildlife, I still think my D3X is future proof for a couple of years yet, great review by the way.

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