The introductions of the D800 and the D4 are driving down prices for old D3s bodies. I recently saw a like new D3s for sale on Amazon with a vendor with a 3 figure 100% positive feedback for under $3,000…
Here I will limit my discussion primarily to the D800 series vs the D7000 series.
In this comparison, what are the real differences between the D800’s and the D7000?
Let’s start by categorizing the spec variations…
D800 Specs vs D7000 Specs:
Effective Pixels36.3 million vs 16.2 million
Sensor Size35.9mm x 24mm vs 23.6mm x 15.6mm
Image SensorFX CMOS vs DX CMOS
Total Pixels36.8 million vs 16.9 million
Image Area (pixels)FX-format 7,360 x 4,912 & DX-format 4,800 x 3,200 vs DX 4,928 x 3,264
NEF RAW Bit DepthLossless compressed 12 or 14 bit, lossless compressed, compressed or uncompressed vs SAME
Storage MediaCompactFlash© (CF) (Type I, compliant with UDMA) SD SDHC SDXC vs SD SDHC SDXC
Card Slot1 CompactFlash© (CF) card and 1 Secure Digital (SD) card vs 2 Secure Digital (SD)
Viewfinder Frame CoverageFX (36×24): 100% Horizontal and 100% Vertical Approx. 1.2x (30×20): 97% Horizontal and 97% Vertical Approx. DX (24×16): 97% Horizontal and 97% Vertical Approx. 5:4 (30×24): 97% Horizontal and 97% Vertical Approx. vs 100% Approx
Viewfinder Magnification0.70x Approx. vs 0.95x Approx.
Continuous Shooting OptionsFX-format CH: Up to 4 frames per second, DX-format CH: Up to 5 frames per second vs DX-format CH: Up to 6 frames per second
Top Continuous Shooting Speed at full resolution4 frames per second vs 6 frames per second
Lowest Standard ISO Sensitivity100 vs SAME
Highest Standard ISO Sensitivity6400 vs SAME
Lowest Expanded ISO SensitivityLo-1 (ISO 50 equivalent) vs ISO 100
Highest Expanded ISO SensitivityHI-2 (ISO 25,600 equivalent) vs SAME
Dynamic AF ModeNumber of AF points: 9, 21, 51 and 51 (3D-tracking) vs Number of AF points: 9, 21, 39 and 39 (3D-tracking)
Maximum Autofocus Areas/Points51 vs 39
Autofocus Sensitivity-2 to +19 EV (ISO 100, 20°C/68°F) vs SAME
Built-in Flash Distance39 ft. (ISO 100) vs SAME
Monitor Size3.2 in. diagonal vs 3.0 in. diagonal
Monitor Resolution921,000 Dots vs SAME
Battery Life (shots per charge)900 Battery Life (shots per charge) (CIPA) vs 1,050 shots
Approx. Weight31.7 oz. (900g) camera body only vs 24.3 oz. (690g)
In DX mode, the D7000 actually has a slightly higher pixel count than the D800…
In many ways, the D800 seems like a full frame version of the D7000.
The D7000 is capable of faster burst rate shooting than the D800, 6 Frames per second (FPS) vs 5 FPS for the D800 in DX mode and 4 FPS for the D800 in FX mode.
The D800 clearly has a whole lot more pixel bandwidth in FX mode vs the D7000 does in DX mode.
Though image per pixel quality, noise, bit depth 14 bits lossless RAW for both and ISO sensitivities seem identical.
I have read that the D800E will have some fancy interpretative ways of getting more out of the available data on the camera sensor, but the sensor on the D800 series seems for all the world like just a bigger version of the D7000 sensor.
There is some scuttlebutt out there about the D800 live view focusing capabilities and abilities to focus video… I don’t shoot live view nor video… Can’t help you there my own self.
For sports, I would prefer the D7000’s higher burst rate.
For landscape, I would prefer the D800 higher pixel counts.
For portraits… I might like to be able to crop out a bit of an image using all that 36M Pixel bandwidth of the D800.
The 51 focus points of the D800 vs the 39 for the D7000 might also come in handy for portraiture… More often then you might think, I will have one of my subject’s eyes near an edge of the frame. The focus points on the D7000 do not go out past a certain point. I assume, the D800 will have wider coverage of the shooting frame with it’s focus points… though the same total number of the faster more accurate cross type points, at 9 for both D800 and D7000.
On the other hand, the file sizes of the D7000 with 16.2 Mega Pixels are already signficantly higher than those of my old D90, which was 12.3 Mega pixels… I notice this in my file sizes, and slowness of images to load in Lightroom and in slowness of editing in Photoshop, and in my hard drives getting eaten up.
So, how many mega pixels are enough?
Well, the D7000 is doing a great job for me now for glamour. I can blow up images I haven’t cropped to 36″ by 54″ in size.
If I needed to shoot a poster, or wall sized image, maybe I gotta think D800… Realistically, how many of us do large prints regularly? Though for those of us who do, the D800 sounds sweet… if you can live with the noise.
Thus, for landscape shooters, the D800 can be a very interesting camera. Though it will not have any more noise handling mojo than a D7000, so the D4 is probably still going to be the better choice.
For fast-moving event photography and portraits, the D7000 will store more images and shoot faster than the D800.
Cameras in the D3 series and the D4 will shoot faster still than the D800 and with less noise.
The D800 is not going to be a sports or event’s camera.
D800’s also will not work in the dark so well as the D3s, D3X or D4. Just comparable to the D7000 in the dark…
The D800’s ability to shoot at ISO 50 is something I miss on my D7000. Sometimes, when shooting in studio with flash, or outdoors, I would like to be able to crank up my aperture a bit and cannot turn my studio flash any lower. I would like in these circumstances to be able to shoot at ISO 50, or even ISO 25… Alas, the D7000 is a sensitive lass… ISO 100 is the lower limit there.
I am also a wide-angle fan. Currently I use the D7000 DX camera along with the Tokina 11-16mm F2.8 Zoom for my wide-angle shots (effective 16.5mm widest angle on full frame equivalent).
The D800 would be an excellent choice to use along with the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8G in FX mode for a nice wideness boost over the Tokina 11-16 on Nikon D7000 combo … One day….
IMHO, as of today, the D800’s niche for large blow ups is firmly secure. If not for going larger in blow-ups or cropping in post, the D7000 has the D800 pretty well in a dead heat, except for in FPS, Weight and Price, where the D7000 prevails.
That doesn’t mean a lot of folks will not buy the D800 who could have had just as much ‘effective camera’ with a different choice. I have seen the D3s used on Amazon for $2,600, as the D4 and D800 are knocking down prices on the D700 and D3 series.
Interestingly, the D7000 is now $1,299, this is going up in price. Why do you think?
Great body the D7000…