This Nikon D800E test report is an appendix of our Nikon D800E practice test. Measurements are carried out with the aid of Imatest. For the test method and explanation of terms, see FAQ. Conclusion and practice shots are in the test of the Nikon D800E.
Resolution of the sensor
The Nikon D800E, with a good lens such as the Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G or the Sigma 50mm macro, delivers files with the highest resolution. The resolution of Nikon D800E jpg files (pictures style: default) is an average of 3300 LW/PH and is virtually constant throughout the entire ISO range. In comparison, the standard jpg files if the Canon 5D MK3 have a resolution of 1900 LW/PH.
Look at our list of tested cameras for a comparison of these performances with those of other cameras.
With a standard processing of the RAW files in Lightroom, usually a greater sharpness impression is obtained, which translates into even more LW/PH. If we edit the Nikon D800E RAW files with the beta version of Camera RAW, it seems that this increase is not the case with the Nikon D800E. With the beta version of Camera RAW 6.7 and the same settings as those that we have also used at the other cameras, the Nikon D800E RAW files achieve the same resolution as the Nikon D800E jpg files. This is possibly due to the beta version, but it is also very possible that the Nikon D800E RAW files, because of the absence of the anti-aliasing filter, must be sharpened more than the RAW files of other cameras. We suspect that higher scores can be achieved with other processing parameters or other RAW software with the Nikon D800E RAW files. Soon, we will come back to this.
Dynamic range of the sensor
The dynamic range of a RAW file runs from 12 stops at 50 ISO up to 7 stops at ISO 25,600. The dynamic range of jpg files runs from 11 stops at 50 ISO up to 7.5 stops at ISO 25,600. These are very high values. Here you see the measurement result of the dynamic range of a Nikon D800E ISO 100 RAW file.
In the shadows, the noise becomes more visible, making the total dynamic range not a suitable indication for a beautiful, noise-free print. Therefore, we attach more value to the usable dynamic range.
The usable dynamic range starts at 7.5 (jpg) to 9 (RAW) stops at 50 ISO and gradually decreases to about 2 stops at ISO 25,600. These are also very good values.
We test the dynamic range of RAW files without using noise reduction. As a result, you maintain the highest possible detail of the shooting, while the noise, although measurable, is not visible in a print. The noise in the RAW files is so low that the RAW files without noise reduction up to ISO 400 are as good as the jpg files. If you carefully optimize contrast, sharpening and noise reduction of RAW files, it is also possible for RAW files over ISO 400 to achieve a usable dynamic range better or equal to that of the jpg files.
To illustrate what you can achieve in useful dynamic range with the Nikon D800E, we have exposed a 50 ISO RAW file as high as possible (“Expose to the right”) and applied noise reduction. The usable dynamic range of a 50 ISO RAW file is then 10.6 stops. An ISO 400 RAW file going through the same treatment provides a useful dynamic range of 7.9 stops.
Also in terms of noise, the Nikon D800E performs well. Comparison of the noise in jpg files with the measured noise in RAW files without noise reduction shows that at the jpg files, noise reduction occurs over 400 ISO. Up to 3200 ISO, the measured values correspond to the noise of Canon 5D MK3 RAW files. Over that, it seems that the Canon 5D MK3 is a bit better, but it also has larger pixels.Below are examples of a gray card photographed at different ISO settings. The image croppings show a detail from RAW files without noise reduction, if the picture was shown full size on your screen. By applying noise reduction, an even better result can be achieved for these RAW files.
Moiré or other artifacts?
The moiré effect, a kind of aliasing, occurs when too few samples are taken of a fine pattern, as is shown with the camera bag in the image above. Because the Nikon D800E has no anti-aliasing filter, the Nikon D800E may be more sensitive to moiré or color artifacts (color moiré).
A grateful test object for moiré is a Siemens star. In our test, the Nikon D800E had just as little trouble with moiré and color artifacts as other cameras with a regular anti-aliasing filter. We have seen no disturbing moiré or color artifacts in images taken with the Nikon D800E. Only at very large magnifications you see moiré and if you step up the color saturation (too) far, you see some color moiré.
In the Nikon D800E test, we show another practical example, but also in the practical test, we have not encountered really visible moiré.
If you are unexpectedly troubled with moiré while using the Nikon D800E, you can remove that with software. When you buy a Nikon D800E, you get a Capture NX2 license. With this software you can remove moiré from NEF files. Capture NX2 does it well. Here is an example of color moiré where we have made the moiré visible by extremely stepping up the color saturation.
Color reproduction @ daylight
The illustration shows the color errors of an ISO 100 color jpg image taken in daylight. The further the ideal color (square) is removed from the color reproduction of the camera (round), the greater the color difference. For the test method and explanation of terms, see FAQ.
Color reproduction @ artificial light
We have tested the color reproduction of the Nikon D800E jpg files with the standard picture style. The Nikon D800E delivers RAW and JPG files with a reasonably good color reproduction in artificial light. But in artificial light you cannot blindly rely on the auto white balance for both jpg and RAW files, as clearly shown in the results shown for a 200 ISO jpg file.
Look at our list of tested cameras for a comparison of these performances with those of other cameras or read our experiences with the Nikon D800E in practice.