Nikon D800 sensor review : DxO Benchmark


Sit down before you read. I don’t want any of my readers to get hurt. What you are going to find out is way beyond your expectations. I have been anxiously waiting for DxO to receive their Nikon D800 test copy. First, they received a D4, which they have measure. I have analyzed the Nikon D4 sensor scores here. A couple of days ago, DxO warned me they finally had their D800. Today, I found out that the D800, which I was hoping to be good, actually has…the best sensor on the market !

Update : the Canon EOS 5D Mark III sensor review datas are now available !

Nikon D800 vs D4

Many photographers are a bit scared by the 36-megapixel of the Full Frame sensor of the D800 which could affect the low-light ISO performance. And this is where the major surprise stands : the Nikon D800 offers the same low-light ISO sensitivity score as its bigger, tougher, less defined bother, the D4.

  • Nikon D4 : ISO 2965
  • Nikon D800 : ISO 2853

The difference is less than 1/8EV and won’t be noticed. Thanks to the higher definition of the D800, any grain that would appear would be drawned in the resolution compared to the D4, one could think. But no, that is untrue due to the way DxO does its measures which are standardized for A4 prints. Therefore, displayed at 100% in Photoshop, the D800 images will appear noisier than the D4s. But on prints, you will get the same quality. They are even.

Nikon D800 vs D4 : I am amazed by its sensibility compared to the D4.
The curves show it very clearly : the Nikon D4 dynamic range does not improve when you dial the ISO down (ISO 200 and 100) whereas the Nikon D800 DR still improves and reaches the highest dynamic range any other DSLR can bit. Till now. Canon EOS-1D X and EOS 5D Mark III have not been tested yet.


Nikon D800 vs D7000 : dynamic range

Why the hell am I comparing a full frame DSLR to an APS-C camera ? You may ask. Simple :
– both cameras get the same sensor technology, designed by Sony.
– the Nikon D700, with a measured dynamic range  of 13.9EV is a champion and has become a reference in the field.

The result is… the Nikon D800 even beats the D7000 and the Pentax K-5 with a measured dynamic range of 14.4EV. That is huge.

Nikon D800 vs Nikon D7000 : the comparison is worth for the dynamic range.

Nikon D800 vs Nikon D700

You have a Nikon D700. You were thinking of changing your DSLR and upgrading to the D700 successor but are a bit scared by the high definition of the D800, 36-megapixel, that could logically decrease the sensibility… now you know that is not the case. Actually, the D800 sensibility is greater than the D700 and the new sensor benefit from a new generation design (D700 sensor is 5 years old, 2 generations in the digital age). Here are the areas of progress of the D800 over the D700 :

  • DxO overall score : 95 vs 80
  • Color depth : 25.3 bits vs 23.5 bits
  • Dynamic range : 14.2EV vs 12.2 (2EV more, that will be a major asset on the field)
  • Low-light ISO : ISO 2,853 vs ISO 2,303 (1/3EV better)

I don’t have any commission on Nikon’s turn over, but I think that these performance gauges just turned your purchase light to green.

Read the entire Nikon D800 test results at

Nikon D800 vs Nikon D700 : worth upgrading ? DxO just brought the answer.

Nikon D800 sensor review : podium

DxOMark Score : 

  1. Nikon D800 : 95 points
  2. Phase One IQ 180 digital back (medium format) : 91 points
  3. Nikon D4 : 89 points

Low-Light ISO : 

  1. Nikon D3s : ISO 3,253
  2. Nikon D4 : ISO 2,965
  3. Nikon D800 : ISO 2853

Dynamic Range :

  1. Nikon D800 : 14.4 EV
  2. Pentax K-5 : 14.1 EV
  3. Nikon D7000 : 13.9 EV

Color depth (among DSLR) :

  1. Nikon D800 : 25.6 bits
  2. Nikon D3x : 24.7 bits
  3. Nikon D4 : 24.7 bits

Color depth (included medium format cameras) :

  1. Phase One IQ180 : 26.6 bits
  2. Phase One P65 Plus : 26 bits
  3.  Nikon D800 : 25.3 bits

I am very enthusiastic about these datas. The nikon D800 has the best ranked sensor on the entire benchmark. It is as good as the D4 in terms of sensibility and that is a surprise. Dynamic range , resolution, color depth : the Nikon D800 is the best of all HDSLR.
 Portrait photography, landscapes, architecture, studio : the D800 is going to be a milestone. Can’t wait to have the Canon EOS-1D X and EOS 5D Mark III reviewed.
Hope to see them supported very soon by DxO Optics Pro V7 to process their RAW files with the noise reduction and sharpness management of this photography software I like using from time to time.

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