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Nikon's original technology

Image sensor

Nikon FX-format CMOS sensor with 36.3 effective megapixels

The D800/D800E render levels of texture, nuance and detail to your photography that, until now, have been the exclusive domain of the complicated medium-format system. Define every eyelash, every line in tree bark, and every shimmer of light. Savor the exceptional depth in your still images — with the combination of an astounding 36.3 effective megapixels, the world's highest*, and the outstanding performance of NIKKOR lenses, you can. Enlarge them as big as A1 poster-sized prints (59.4 x 84.1 cm/23.4 x 33.1 in.) at 200 dpi, or crop aggressively to reach the composition you desire, all without sacrificing the detail and tonal range of the original. In order to maintain clean, high-resolution images, 14-bit A/D conversion within the sensor and a high signal-to-noise ratio deliver phenomenal images in a diverse array of situations. The image sensor's incredible potential does not stop with photography, either. For cinematographers ready to put their exceptionally sharp NIKKOR lenses into action, the D800/D800E's 36.3 effective megapixel data is efficiently processed for exquisite 1080p broadcast quality video at 30p.

  • *As of February 7, 2012, among interchangeable lens digital SLR cameras employing an image sensor of 35mm film size.

Standard ISO 100 to ISO 6400, range expandable to ISO 50 to 25600 equivalent

High-resolution, studio-quality images shouldn't be restricted to the studio. The D800/D800E set a new benchmark for high-resolution D-SLR cameras, with crisp clean images across a wide ISO range. Flexibility like this opens up new imaging opportunities for both still photographers and cinematographers alike during the "magic hour", the time just before dawn or at dusk when available light is often beautiful but scarce. Even at high ISO settings, the camera's intelligent noise reduction systems manage noise without sacrificing fine details, giving the D800/D800E the edge. The difference can even be seen in low-contrast subjects such as hair and grass textures, which are often essential elements of cinema as well as high-resolution portraits and landscape images. High image quality at higher ISOs also means that you can shoot still images handheld more confidently, knowing that fast shutter speeds will reduce blur.

ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400
ISO 800
ISO 1600
ISO 3200
ISO 6400

A strategic approach to turn light to your advantage

Combining both high-resolution performance and a wide ISO sensitivity range has finally become a reality. Nikon engineers have developed intelligent new methods to manipulate light transmission to the sensor's photodiodes: from the optical low-pass filter and on-chip gapless micro lenses to the image sensor's internal design, every measure has been taken to maximize and improve light transmission in order to deliver crisp, brilliant images with significantly less noise. All this is possible under a wide variety of lighting conditions, enabling you to get the most out of your NIKKOR lenses.

Optical low-pass filter optimized for sharpness on the D800

Reducing false color and moiré is the main job of the optical low-pass filter located in front of the image sensor. However, this benefit is generally gained with a small sacrifice of sharpness. Moiré occurs in scenes containing repetitive details, such as strong vertical lines in architecture. Finding the right balance between benefits and sacrifices is the key to higher image quality, and that is what the D800's optical low-pass filter delivers. As a result, the astounding 36.3 megapixels unleash their potential through an optimized balance between sharpness and effectively prevented moiré and false color. Furthermore, the multi-layer structure of the D800 low-pass filter utilizes layers of antireflective coating that have been optimized for the camera, contributing to sharper and clearer images.

The ultimate attention to detail — the D800E

D800E

Nikon engineers have developed a unique alternative for those seeking the ultimate in definition. The D800E incorporates an optical filter with all the anti-aliasing properties removed in order to facilitate the sharpest images possible.
This is an ideal tool for photographers who can control light, distance and their subjects to the degree where they can mitigate the occurrence of moiré. Aside from the optical filter, all functions and features are the same as on the D800.

Note: The D800E carries an increased possibility that moiré and false color will appear, compared to the D800. IR cut and antireflective coating properties of the optical filter remain the same with both versions.

-Functions of low-pass filter (OLPF)

The original light and light separated in horizontal direction with the low-pass filter 1 are transmitted through the low-pass filter 2 with the wavelengths unchanged. The original light is transmitted as it is, and light separated with the low-pass filter 1 changes only direction vertically (two points are maintained). By converting polarized light into circularly polarized light with the wave plate, two points are divided into four points.
With the D800, light passing through the lens that is separated in four segments using a low-pass filter is received by the image sensor. Because separation pitch of the low-pass filter is much shorter than that of the image sensor, moiré and false color reduction can be achieved with minimal deterioration of resolution.

By employing the optical glass, the original light and light separated in vertical direction with the low-pass filter 1 is transmitted through the low-pass filter 2 as non-polarized light with the same optical path length. The low-pass filter 2 changes the direction of separated light to the opposite side to revert to the original optical path, and the combined light is transmitted to the image sensor as a single point.
With the D800E, the effects of the low-pass filter is removed, and the light is received by the image sensor at a single point, achieving higher-resolution images with minimal blur.

-Comparison of resolution: D800/D800E have the same resolution of 36.3 megapixels

The D800E reproduces the texture of the stone pavement and twigs with higher resolution than the D800. It allows sharper rendering with depth.

Nikon Integrated Dust Reduction System that includes an Image Sensor Cleaning function

Any dust that reaches the image sensor results in unattractive spots on your images. To prevent this, the D800/D800E employ Nikon's Integrated Dust Reduction System, which includes a self-cleaning sensor unit with four different resonance frequencies to vibrate the optical low-pass filter and shake dust away from the sensor. This function can be set to operate automatically when the camera is turned on or off, or to manual.

EXPEED 3 image-processing engine: speed, versatility, and high performance

High-megapixel still images are detail-rich but data-heavy. With the D800/D800E, however, you don't have to sacrifice speed for this privilege. Dedicated to understanding speed and its role in image making, Nikon engineers designed a powerful EXPEED 3 image-processing engine exclusively for digital SLRs. From image processing and card recording to image playback and image transfer, EXPEED 3 manages massive amounts of data at faster speeds than EXPEED 2. Even with specialized processing features like Active D-Lighting and high ISO noise reduction, capture speed is not affected. EXPEED 3 is so powerful that it handles data-intensive tasks such as Full HD video recording at 30p with ease. You'll also notice the difference in your still images and videos through minimized noise and even richer colors and tones. In addition to these fundamental advantages, the D800/D800E reduce the kind of color phase shift that some cameras have difficulty with in similar situations.

14-bit A/D conversion and 16-bit image processing for rich tones and natural colors

Tonal gradation is where an image transforms from simply representing life to taking on a life of its own. The D800/D800E do exactly that, with cutting-edge image processing that injects vital energy into your images. Black is rendered as pitch black, and shadow details are subtle and rich. Even under harsh, high-contrast light, where some cameras can fail, the D800/D800E's gradation remains smooth with abundant detail and tone all the way up the scale to pure white.

Lateral chromatic aberration reduction: Take full advantage of your NIKKOR lens collection

High-megapixel sensors can really test the quality of your lenses, but you can be confident that the combination of brilliant NIKKOR lenses and Nikon's intelligent processing measures will significantly reduce lateral chromatic aberration to give you incredibly natural-looking results. Unlike other correction methods that simply eliminate chromatic aberration, Nikon's method compensates for these color differences in a resolving index for each color, making it particularly effective in producing images with stunning edge-to-edge sharpness. Moreover, because these corrections are made regardless of the NIKKOR lens used, this feature contributes substantially to achieving the sharpest images possible.

Advanced Scene Recognition System with 91K-pixel RGB sensor

Nikon's revolutionary Advanced Scene Recognition System, introduced with the flagship D4 camera, is also employed in the D800/D800E. At its core is a 91K-pixel RGB sensor that meticulously analyzes each scene with the fine resolution. The RGB sensor can recognize your scene's colors and brightness with unprecedented precision, then use that information to implement various automatic controls and give you more natural-looking results. The real breakthrough, however, is that the sensor can detect human faces with startling accuracy when shooting through the optical viewfinder. Along with face detection, detailed scene analysis is utilized to support more accurate autofocus, auto exposure and i-TTL flash exposure results in a diverse range of compositional and lighting situations. The improved subject tracking is most noticeable when using 3D-tracking, which can maintain a focus on moving subjects smaller in size than with previous generations.

More accurate face detection in auto-area AF and subject tracking in 3D-tracking

Auto-area AF and 3D-tracking are AF-area modes unique to Nikon that use your subject's color and brightness information to detect focus. With the D800/D800E and their more precise information and subject recognition advancements, expect big steps forward for both AF-area modes when taking high-quality still images. In auto-area AF, the camera can genuinely detect human faces and focuses on them immediately — useful when faces are a priority and there's no time to choose focus points. When using 3D-tracking, the sensor's fine resolution combines with a specifically optimized AF algorithm to realize unprecedented subject tracking precision, recognizing detailed patterns to keep your subject in sharp focus.

3D color matrix metering III for more accurate exposures

3D color matrix metering III

Professional photographers who shoot still images know that Nikon's metering system delivers supremely well-balanced exposures. Thanks to the 91K-pixel RGB sensor, the D800/D800E have far more detailed scene information at its disposal — including detected face information. This data helps the 3D color matrix metering III deliver more desirable auto exposures, especially when there are human faces present. When the D800/D800E detect a human face in a backlit situation, the camera determines the overall exposure while prioritizing the facial exposure, which might otherwise be underexposed. When a face is lit from the front and appears much brighter than the background, the camera recognizes the situation and avoids blowing out the facial details.

More balanced results in i-TTL balanced fill-flash and Active D-Lighting

i-TTL balanced fill-flash

Nikon's i-TTL system has long been considered the most accurate flash control system in photography, but now face detection and highlight analysis by the 91K-pixel RGB sensor pushes performance even further. With the D800/D800E's enhanced i-TTL balanced fill-flash, you can more precisely illuminate people's faces in relation to their surrounding brightness using either the built-in flash or an external hot-shoed Nikon Speedlight. For weddings and fashion shoots, or any photography that relies on the highest-quality still images, this new standard redefines what a flash system should be. Face detection also makes a difference when Active D-Lighting is used to retain highlights and shadows in high-contrast lighting situations. Faces will be optimally exposed both in the sun and in the shade.

Light source identification for auto white balance in still images

The D800/D800E's auto white balance is incredibly accurate in a diverse range of shooting situations, aided by unique Nikon technology that effectively identifies your light sources, both natural and artificial. With the 91K-pixel RGB sensor and the image sensor working together, the camera renders white as white with supreme accuracy. Or if you prefer, the auto white balance can be set to reflect the warmth of ambient, incandescent lighting.

Auto 1 (Normal)
Auto 2 (Keep warm lighting colors)

Contribution to D-Movie shooting

The D800/D800E's Advanced Scene Recognition System enhances not only still image shooting but also various controls used in movie shooting. It identifies light sources and human faces finely, utilizing the high resolution of the image sensor to deliver accurate auto white balance and exposure control during movie shooting, and improves the precision of subject-tracking AF. Furthermore, it automatically detects flicker effects, and controls the exposure to reduce them.

Direct access to Picture Control that enables quick setting

Customize the look of your stills and videos through Picture Controls by fine-tuning parameters such as sharpening, saturation, and hue. The D800/D800E now allow you to access Picture Control instantly and directly from a dedicated button rather than entering the menu. When live view shooting, you can visually confirm how customized Picture Control settings will look and easily adjust the parameters.