Our craving for more pixels is unrelenting. Answering that demand and making a statement is the 36-megapixel sensor of Nikon’s D800 digital SLR (DSLR). Such a resolution – the largest currently offered by a 35mm format DSLR – in theory allows massive poster prints – billboard sized we’d argue. It’s full frame too, meaning that any attached lens offers a like-for-like performance; so the 16-35mm wide-angle zoom supplied for our review delivers a focal range exactly that, no ‘35mm equivalent’ multiplication required. See all SLR camera reviews.

There’s full HD video with mono sound too, composed via 3.2-inch, 920k dot LCD, though here ‘movies’ feel relegated to a supporting feature via an almost apologetically tiny record button. See also Fujifilm X-Pro1 review.

While this otherwise chunky, weatherproofed camera is very much a professional’s tool, its body-only price tag of £2K puts it within enthusiasts’ reach. Additionally there’s a costlier D800E model, which does away with some of the tidying that happens during processing to retain even more picture detail, retained blemishes removable later via supplied software. Take a look at the Canon EOS 650D review too.

This slight edge might prove advantageous to commercial photographers shooting on very high-resolution (and even more expensive) medium format cameras. This Nikon therefore straddles two markets.

As expected the camera is responsive, powering up almost instantly via a flick of the power switch encircling the prominent shutter release button. Both sit atop a rugged rubberised handgrip allowing for a firm hold despite the weight and bulk with lens attached, which also means that this isn’t one for surreptitious snapping.

Indeed, twinned with the optic in question the D800 proved well suited to expansive landscape shots, via which the sharp level of detail plus punchy colours could really be appreciated. Shooting closer objects, the lens also allowed for plenty of detail to be retained in the subject, with the background sympathetically defocused.

Nikon D800: Specs

  • 36.3 megapixel FX-format (full-frame) CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100–6400
  • 4 fps consecutive shooting in FX/5
  • Multi-area D-Movie
  • Multi-CAM3500FX 51-point AF system
  • 100% viewfinder coverage and three Crop Modes
  • Quiet shooting mode
  • Storage media: CF and SD card slots
  • Wireless LAN and Ethernet support
  • 36.3 megapixel FX-format (full-frame) CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100–6400
  • 4 fps consecutive shooting in FX/5
  • Multi-area D-Movie
  • Multi-CAM3500FX 51-point AF system
  • 100% viewfinder coverage and three Crop Modes
  • Quiet shooting mode
  • Storage media: CF and SD card slots
  • Wireless LAN and Ethernet support

OUR VERDICT

With the 18MB file sizes produced by the D800’s 36MP shots providing peace of mind plus incredible realism, this is the DSLR for those wishing to future proof their photography and enable a multitude of uses.