Nikon D800 – High ISO Performance against D700


Finally the D800 is here. I must give a big shout out to Camera Electronics who have pre-ordered the camera for me. Thanks Guys!

First impressions

There’s nothing much to say here. It is another high end Nikon camera that ‘feels like a Nikon’. There are few differences in the way the controls are laid out, all those details can found on official Nikon website.

Dampness of the Release Mode Dial is really cool and feels as if it has been air cushioned.


Presence of the new Movie Record Button in front of the Mode Button is another new change with the introduction of Video. Camera is bit more curvy than it’s immediate predecessor.



Image Resolution

Fine detail of the high resolution image is mind boggling.


Princess Dora to the Rescue – ISO 100

Here is a 100% crop from the above image at 600 px x 400 px

100 percent crop

100% crop from the above image – ISO 100

I can finally print at A2 size without up-sizing images. File transfer via Firewire 800 card reader was quite brisk despite the large file size. Saving converted RAW files is at least three times slower than saving D700 files

High ISO and Low Light Performance (vs D700)

Following images are cropped at 100% magnification to demonstrate the noise levels – No sharpening applied

Low ISO settings look absolutely amazing. ISO 100 easily beats Velvia 50 slides scanned at 5400 dpi. That is a frighting thought for a person who shoots slide films for nostalgic reason. Now, I have absolutely no rational reason to shoot Velvia 50 again, except to slow down the shutter by one stop!

Here is D800 at ISO 800. Note the appearance of bit of noise (This is pixel peeping at it’s best!)


D800 – ISO 800 100% Crop



Here is the D700 at ISO 800 same set up and lighting. Note the similar amount of noise level as the D800…..!!!!!


D700 – ISO 800 100% Crop



Here is the D800 ISO 800 image resampled to D700 resolution, again at a 100% crop.


D800 – ISO 800 – Re-sampled to D700 Resolution – 100% Crop



Now, let’s jump to ISO 3200,

D800, ISO 3200. Noise is bit more visible, but this is way better than ASA 400 films I used to shoot!


D800 – ISO 3200 100% Crop



D700, ISO 3200. Surprisingly I cannot see any significant difference.


D700 – ISO 3200 100% Crop



Here is D800 at ISO 6400


D800 – ISO 6400 – 100% Crop



Here is the final cropped image, D700 ISO6400


D700 – ISO 6400 – 100% Crop



Here is a sample image to illustrate the real life usage without pixel peeping.

Click on the image for the larger version.


Dora the Explorer – Nikon D800 -ISO 6400

Although these are 100% crops, fitting them to the blog has caused a slight reduction in size. As a result D800 images are bit more “re-sampled” than D700 images.

My Personal Conclusion

I bought the D800 mostly for it’s pixel density and the base ISO of 100. After the above test I’m absolutely convinced that I have made the right decision. Therefore I’m going to sell my D700, which is only 3 months old to get a D800E. I have absolutely no hesitation to push this camera to ISO 6400 if I have to!!!


  1. says

    Very well-done comparison, Dinil!
    But I wondering: is the down-scaling from 36MP to 12MP correctly let us compare the noise level?
    And the second thing: I didn’t get your conclusion, you tell us above that the oldguy D700 is surprisingly similar to the newer D800, but in the conclusion you telling us that it was a right decision to sell 3-months D700 and to buy a new D800. Only for pixel density?

    • says

      None of the 100% crops have been downsampled – so what you see is what I actually saw.

      Yes the old guy D700 is either very similar or slightly behind D800 when it comes to noise at higher ISO levels. Having said that, noise levels at higher ISO values is only one aspect of choosing a camera. D800 has a base ISO of 100, higher pixel density and a 100% viewfinder. Those three features alone make it a better choice for the kind of stuff I shoot.

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