Why I’m not going to buy the Nikon D800

I’ve been a Nikon user for many years now. Last night I received a text message from a fellow photographer here in Goa asking me whether he should buy the D600 or the D800 in addition to his D700 body. I said I am not buying either of them. About an hour ago the photographer came over to show me his newly purchased D800 so I could have a feel of it. It does of course feel good in the hand but I’m still not going to buy it and I’ll tell you why.

I grew up in a Polish house and my mother used to tell me many stories as I was growing up. I’ll tell you a story. After the war in Europe there was a shortage of supplies in the stores. A man from a small village in Poland decided to go to the big city of Bialystok to buy a new pair of black shoes. He walked into the shoe store that was half empty and asked for a 43 size black shoes. “We are all out of size 43″, said the salesperson, “we only have size 45 left”. “Oh”, said the man, “this is too bad. How much are the 45 then?” “Only 10 złoty, same as the 43″ ” replied the sales person. “In this case I’ll take the 45″ said the man.

This is exactly the case with the new Nikon D800. It is a couple of sizes too big for my needs and will be uncomfortable and a huge waste of money for me. I have two D700 bodies that have been with me for a while now. It is time to change but I have very different needs than what Nikon thinks. I do not need, and do not want, a 36 megapixel camera. I never need more than 12mp but if you really want to give me a bigger file than please not more then 16mp. Why on earth would I need more? Such a large file means more memory cards, a lot of additional storage space and a brand new computer to handle the huge files that I do not need. I have no need for the video feature but I can live with it as another feature I do not use but what I do want is a higher iso sensitivity and low light capabilities, which are still better in the D700 than in the new D800. So it seems that five years later Nikon had produced a camera that is actually not as good as the discontinued D700 that I have. Shame.

What I fear is that this is where the world is going and there will not be a way back from the high megapixel count. My two D700 bodies that served me so well are still in good shape and I will hold on to them for another year with the hope of seeing something new that I actually need. After all, the idea of buying a new camera is to have the ability to do things that were not possible earlier. The D800 does not give me that unfortunately.


32 Responses to “Why I’m not going to buy the Nikon D800”

  1. richa kashelkar says:

    Spot on! Such a glaringly obvious reason and I still wonder why people are going gaga about it? Especially wedding photographers who have so many files in a single day of shoot..
    The D600 is really better than the 700 though, in low light focusing and dynamic range. And weight,

  2. I would argue about the D600 being ‘better’ than D700. It is honestly not a real option as a first camera body.

  3. sharik verma says:

    i had to make a choice recently as my D700 conked off… I bought a D4 only for the reason that it has less than half the pixels than D800… I wish Nikon made something similar in a more reasonable price range… :(

  4. Alwyn Smit says:

    Well said. It’s however done purposefully by both Nikon and Canon who want people to buy more expensive lenses and what better way to force them to do this than to increase the mp count. I went from a 12mp D90 to a 16mp D7000 and can already see how glaring the flaws in my lens collection are. I refuse to spend more money on these clever companies though and I can afford to do so as for me it is a hobby. Thus I don’t need to take my photography to ‘the next level’ and spend thousands to get there

  5. I agree with Richa, D600 is certainly a good option as far as wedding photography is concerned specially because of its LOW LIGHT PERFORMANCE and LIGHT WEIGHT.
    D800 is still not THE CAMERA for wedding photographers.  

  6. Revah Goa says:

    Why does any company come out with different models of cameras especially in the Pro Segment? The answer is very simple. Each model has its own flavor and dedicated for certain usage / application. D 800 is a beast which can give you 36MP resolution with files upwards of 40 MB. Do you need that kind of an output is what you need to decide depending upon your needs & application specifications. To be honest wedding photographers seldom need anything beyond 12MP. Even if they need to print albums 12MP resolution DSLR’s are more than enough to meet those needs. Somehow photographers run behind resolution MP and not behind Image Quality. Wonder how many of them really know what is their requirement.So also customer who engage professional photographers to shoot weddings feel that higher the MP more knowledgeable is the photographer and better are his skills!!!!

  7. Sudhir Damerla says:

    I have to agree with you on this, but Nikon has given us no choice. I’m sure it makes no sense to upgrade from a D700 to a D800, but if you are upgrading from DX you don’t have much of a choice.I did use the D600 for a wedding, but the AF was a bit of a let down. Used the D800 in the same shoot , and boy, was it miles ahead in terms of AF. 

    I would love to stick on to my DX for that little extra reach and DOF, but hey, where is the much awaited D400?  I hated the D800′s file size, I don’t need 55MB of a RAW file do I? No for a wedding, but would be very happy for a product shoot. Not for the print, but for the retouching ease. I have shot on a D700 and had hoardings printed upto 30 feet.

    So what is the logical upgrade from a DX now? Either the D800 at 1.35L or the D4 at over double the price? I don’t need a 10 fps so I will live with the D800 and buy more memory cards and shoot more selectively. Heck, I used to shot on a FX3 and FM2 and I managed to get what I wanted. Maybe its time to slow down. I hardly push beyond 1600 ISO on my D90.And if exposed right, the noise can be managed very easily. So i don’t need 7million ISO.

    Now, is anyone selling a used D700 with low shutter count for cheap.Please let me know. :-)

  8. Rithwik Virunnukandi says:

    Nice read about the D800. Mega pixel war Continues

  9. Ryan Brenizer’s Review [http://www.ryanbrenizer.com/2012/06/d800-review/] is the one that really got me thinking seriously about the D800. it really is a nice camera wrapped around a fantastic sensor. Having said that, his review of the 600[http://www.ryanbrenizer.com/2012/12/nikon-d600-review/] is more of a cautionary tale for me, though I use the D7000 all day every day and haven’t had any issues with it and the 600 uses an embiggened version of the same shell. 

  10. Sahil Vohra says:

    So you’re saying the 700 is a better first/primary body than the 600? Why is that? Very curious :)

  11. Sahil, the D700 is more robust than the D600 and feels better in my hand. We all make our personal choices so this is of course only my opinion :-) Cheers

  12. The file size is way too big for me – love the D800 shots (great to work with) but just to big. I just switched back to canon and got the 5D mark 3!

  13. Clair, I think that if I was just looking for my first camera I would have probably made the same decision and gone for a Canon. Nikon are giving a very bad choice for me at the moment but I’ll drag my D700 bodies another year and see what comes next. Cheers

  14. AJVarma says:

    I am wedding photg in Virginia USA and i can tell you that the D800 is a fantastic camera. I know most people say you dont ‘need’ it. But its just like an iPhone…..you dont really need it….but its good to have it. Its definitely better than the D700 IF and only IF you are not scared of the huge file sizes

    The low light performance is amazing and works for me…. to my tastes, its even better than the 5DM3 :)

  15. Thanks for the info AJ. It’s good to hear this first hand from someone who’s used the D700. However, I am still very unhappy about the huge file size and hope that my two D700 bodies will live to see a new camera better suited to my needs as mentioned above. Cheers

  16. Josh Sailor says:

    Sephi my good friend! Thanks for this writeup. I just rented the D800 for 2 weeks to give it a whirl, so thought I’d weigh in. I am in the same boat as you, in that I own a D3 that I’m satisfied with — great in low-light, strong as a tank, produces magnificent images whether in the studio or a dim room — but need to upgrade soon to stay current. But for me the D800 is a fantastic tool! I’ve had quite a few instances where the 12MP file of the D3 was insufficient for the task — billboards, architectural renderings, 24-foot-long banner, art reproductions, etc, and normally have to rent a medium format camera to do the trick. The last one was a $56,000 Hasselblad rig that cost me $650 a day. The D800 solved the problem for me, by giving me a capture of 36MP for under $3000. I might be a handful of pixels light of the medium format digital, but I can buy the D800 for the price of a few days rental of one. PLUS, I get video… and as many commercial gigs want a bit of video thrown in, this makes the D800 a steal. As to the large files… yes, this is hard to swallow on a regular basis, but will not remain so forever, as it is certainly the trend. Here is a recent capture of Elite’s Lisa Ramos from the D800 rental; in a 10-light studio shot that could easily strain any cameras abilities. As you can see, it flew through it with ease. So, for me, the D800 hits the mark exactly.

  17. We all are on the same boat. I too use D700s for weddings and very happy with it so far. However, as it’s already said that D600 doesn’t feel good in my hands and I don’t want to spend money on a camera with dust and oil splitting problem. All my friends who has bought the D600 complains about the same. The huge file sizes of D800 turns me off big time. I too hope Nikon will come up with something soon else I will seriously think of going to Canon stable.

  18. And lets not forget about the dust and oil splitting problem in the sensor that most of my known D600 users are complaining about.

  19. Alan Lawson says:

    Check out this article. Not all wedding photographers agree with you…


  20. Dear Alan, thanks for this comment. Not everyone has the same view and even after reading your article I see no reason to go for the D800 for the reasons mentioned in my post. No doubt that it is a good camera but so what? The 36mp is way too much for me, as well all the other ‘upgrades’. My opinion against it remains. cheers

  21. Alan Lawson says:

    I’m sorry if my post may have given the impression that I thought you should ‘go for the D800..’ I certainly don’t think that. It was more in response to Inderjeet’s comment that the “D800 is still not THE CAMERA for wedding photographers.” It is for some, it is not for others. Which is, I think, how it should be…

    Also check out http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/microsite/d800/wedding/

  22. OK. I didn’t get you the first time :-) Yes, everyone with their camera of preference. Cheers

  23. Sandip Kumar says:

    Bang on, regarding the megapixel issue. I hired the D800 recently for a really long wedding. Towards the end I had to change to shooting Jpegs instead of Raw and Im having a tough time in post production!

  24. Nikon are on their way to loosing me completely. I’m shooting Fujifilm X100S now and getting the XE-1 tomorrow. It seems like such a nice option.

  25. Sandip Kumar says:

    Wow you’re taking off on a different tangent altogether! Adopt me :D
    Doesn’t it come with a huge expense of changing your entire repertoire though?

  26. Well, Fujifilm are very generous with me and have given me some gear to play with. This only makes it easier but I think it is a good option anyway.

  27. Sandip Kumar says:

    Awesome.. considering you’re an influencer in the indian market, it makes sense for them. The rest of us shall keep dreaming till we get there ;-)
    Researching fujifilm meanwhile.. Would want to give it a shot soon

  28. The X100S is most probably the best camera I’ve ever had, and I’m not the only photographer saying this.

  29. Geeknizer says:

    Gosh, “files are big” is such a lame excuse to dislike D800. You can always shoot in lower resolutions say 24mp of 16mp if thats what fits the shoot.
    Godsake, be logical.

  30. lame or not, you are free to have your own opinion and I mine. This was not the only reason but certainly an important one. Thanks

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