Menu Nikon D800 is Best Sensor Ever Analyzed!

May 22nd, 2012

Now that both the Nikon D800 and Canon 5D Mk III have been on the street for a while It’s beginning to look like Nikon users are the big winner., which analyzes DSLRs, sensors and lenses has given the sensor in the new Nikon D800 (see the full report here) their top ranked camera sensor, with a score higher than any preceding camera, including top medium format backs. And the D800 is $3,000 USD ($500 less than the 5D Mk III).

For contrast the rating of the 5D Mk III is here. The 5D Mk III sensor rating is only slightly (3 DxOMark points) better than the 5D Mk II whereas the D800 is rated 15 DxOMark points better than the D700. Looks like Nikon may have hit it out of the park with this one!

Of coarse sensor performance is not everything. Handling, video features, etc are all important but those reviewing the D800 and the 5D Mk III (see here, here and here) seem to be very positive about the D800.

As Michael Riechmann says in his review, “Experienced photographers know that quality lenses trump everything else in the image quality chain. A good lens can make the most of a sub-par sensor, but a poor lens on a great sensor is a waste of money. To coin a phrase – a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and this is especially true in the camera/lens equation”. So if you are going to get a D800 for real estate you’d better also spring for the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 G ED wide angle lens, if you don’t already have one, because you’ll need top notch glass to get the best out of this top sensor!

But wait, Ken Rockwell says “screw Nikon”, he likes his 5DMk III better than his D800 because of the handling. Who can you trust on these things?


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14 Responses to “ Nikon D800 is Best Sensor Ever Analyzed!”

  • Canon vs Nikon – will be an aged old battle of the features vs benefits in current models. One may be ahead with this model, but in the end – it really is the glass that counts the most – the biggest investment is in the glass and without good glass, your photos will look horrid. With the web – pixels have become moot because resolution is not important unless you are on billboards or posted up at Grand Central Station in New York City. Rather than saying one is better, one should compare up and down the line within the brand and try to migrate up as one improves his or her photography. Although Michael Reichman says a poor lens on a sensor is a waste of money – there is no waste of a $2500 lens on a Canon Mark 3. You cannot convince us that there is a better lens out there than the Canon 24 tSE for a DSLR. What he should have said was that having a one-step up from a point and shoot like a Rebel vs a Mark 3 – there is a huge difference in how the glass records the photo.
    People should get the Body and Lenses that meet the requirements of the work they specifically do. Reviews are just a guideline to help decide which are the tops from each manufacturer and why.

  • One more thing – rent before you buy – you don’t have to be the first one out there with equipment!

  • Hey gang, a very comprehensive and easy to understand review at this link. What I like is that he covers photo and video, more emphasis perhaps on video.

  • Ken Rockwell….oh please.

  • I second John’s exasperated response.

  • As a Nikon shooter, it’s pleasing to be on the Nikon side of the debate, but really… As incredibly good as these cameras are, does it really matter?

  • Realistically I have to admit that even the IQ of my Canon 10D made images that were celebrated on billboards. I made 40×60 prints that still draw admiring comment in my studio. Moreover, as a business person, I was able to get a screaming deal on an additional mint 5DmkII after the intro of the mkIII. The AF ain’t all that but I use live view on a tripod (even for portraits). My prints still look great and my architectural work goes to print at A4 or to the web.

    If I were a wedding photographer (Heaven forfend!) I would chose Nikon in an instant for its speed. As it is, I just admire them both.

  • I’m just waiting for the D600 full frame. @1500$ that will be awesome!!!

  • Yes, Sony makes excellent sensors. Congratulations to Nikon and Sony.

  • Why the resend of this article? Nothing new…

  • I think the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Wide Angle Zoom is better than the 14-24 f2.8 that you recommend. See the Mansurovs review.

    Lighter, cheaper, VR, and sharper.

  • @David- Perhaps. The article you site does not compare athe 16-35 to the 14-24. It’s not my assessment that the Nikon 14-24 is the best lens… it’s that has user ratings of lenses see:

  • Ken Rockwell, who may have now lost his marbles with his tantrum at Nikon, says:

    ‘The Nikon 16-35mm VR is the sharpest ultrawide zoom I’ve ever used. Under test conditions, it’s even slightly sharper than the old king, the beastly Nikon 14-24mm.

    This Nikon 16-35mm is so good that there isn’t much to write about. It’s ultra-sharp, it has no significant light falloff in the corners, distortion is reasonable from 20-35mm, focus and zooming are easy and perfect, and it focuses to within just inches in front of the lens.’

    I have the 16-35 and love it. With the VRII I get way more light options than I would with the difference between f/4 and f/2.8. I like that I can use a filter for protection.

  • No doubt the 14-24 is a wonderful lens.

    I find the 16-35 VRII to be excellent. The ACR Lens Profile is very good. It seems to handle flare a bit better than the three other wide zoom lenses I’ve owned. On the D700, it’s purple fringing artifacts are the lowest I’ve seen. I use the lens mostly at 20mm.

    Technically, the ACR Lens Profile doesn’t handle barrel distortion well below 20mm. The primary weakness of the 16-35 is the barrel distortion has high-order components below 20 mm. In fact, I think the lens is borders on unusable at 16 mm.

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