on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Nikon D800 – the landscape photographer’s Dslr?


It could be that the D800 is the end of the current MF back system



We've seen a lot of cameras come and go in the last few years and only a few have been real game changers. Typically these have been Canon, especially the 5D and the 5Dmk2.

However the crown has now changed heads and it's Nikon who have broken the mould. The D800 and the D800E at 36 megapixels are not only the highest resolution DSLR's out there but they also have one of the best high iso performances and with the Sony sensor have some of the best colour on the market too.

We're sure it won't be long until Canon catches up in some fashion but they'll have to do a serious bit of leap frogging to get past this new camera. First reports from various users have been mostly glowing (at least for landscape photography) with the few niggles being a problem with untrue sensors/lens mounts and with some firmware issues. These will undoubtedly be smoothed out and forgotten over time when people keep looking at the stunning results.

Our own Joe Cornish paired his D800 up with a Mirex tilt adapter and a few Hasselblad lenses to produce straight 'sliding back' stitched images that all but the most expensive medium format backs in terms of resolution and colour (although maybe not in general tonality).

  • Michael SA

    Hi Tim

    You may well be right. It will be interesting to see how the medium format manufacturers respond to the threat. Hopefully it will be good news for consumers all round. I’m looking forward to getting IQ 180 quality from a mirrorless pocket camera in a few years! :-)

  • Robinj

    Hi Tim!
    Michael SA might not have to wait a few years .My Sigma dp2m has just arrived and the few shots took yesterday left me shaking.

  • Michael SA

    Hi Robin – I’m glad you’re impressed so far. What really excites me is the possible improvements in colour depth and ‘tonality’ (not resolution) in smaller cameras.

  • david mantripp

    I dunno. Without a flip out screen it’s like a Lada with a Ferrari engine. My DSLR, on the other hand, is like a Ferrari with a Lada engine…. But for my own uses, where printing something the size of a barn isn’t so important, having a beautifully implemented live view with fully orientable screen gets me otherwise impossible shots which the D800 would not allow. I guess the perfect landscape camera STILL isn’t here!

  • I am not sure why non-professionals need 36 megapixels or anything even remotely near. I have a Nikon D300 with 12 mp and I produce A2 prints that my very critical eye usually is more than satisfied with. I do not even bother to use my Epson 3880 on its highest setting because, without a microscope I cannot tell the difference and the prints come out one hell of a lot faster. Also I do not take landscapes in moonlight so my lenses at f/8 and even smaller apertures at 200 ISO is more than adequate in most circumstances.

    Except for pros who use 5 x 4 or larger or digital equipment on a par to produce huge prints of contact print like quality and have the need for that for advertising and similar uses, for most landscape photography and A2 prints, such talk as above I think is nonsense. The emphasis has been diverted to equipment, the advance of science and technology which occurs at a remarkable pace and as a result what is being lost is the art and the skills to get worthy pictures, not mere photographs. Landscape photography is an art and the wise put much more stock in that and what is required to become an artist.

    The real game changer is that people have more money than sense, the media encourage them to spend it and they ignorantly do so do a lot more than they need to. You do not need the Canon 5D or 5Dmk2, the Nikon D800 or the D800E. Concentrate on developing a good eye, knowing about camera settings and when to use them and develop the skill to use imaging sofware to replace a sky etc or improve the tonal mapping overall and as needed also selectively.

    I am not accusing Tim of having a kickback from Nikon or Canon etc but what he writes is Canon fodder (pun intended) to the idiots at DP Review and elsewhere who trade up their Xnnn for the Xnnn+1 to keep mega-companies in profit while the raw materials and energy consumption of this planet are smelted to the pleasure of having ownership of the latest and best but hardly having an earthly beyond the undeniable pleasure in our consumer mad society but only for that. The Xnnn-40 would have been beyond their needs too!

    As a prospective subscriber to onlandscape I an most disappointed with this trash and if I offend by being so outspoken to actually say so, so am I offended by such blatant misinformation.

    • Do you disagree that the D800 is arguably the ‘best’ DSLR a landscape photographer could buy? We never said you needed one.. Where is the misinformation? If you don’t think it’s the best, can you suggest what you think is?

      And you’re welcome to be as forthright as you like but I would prefer you didn’t use such emotive language as calling things “trash” and if you call things “blatant disinformation” you’ll have to explain what part of the content you’re talking about.

      • The D800 is no more the ‘best’ DSLR a landscape photographer could buy than the Maserati Quattroporte is the best car to go to the supermarket for one’s food in. Even pairing the two as you do is misinformation. I thought yours was a magazine for sober and serious landscape photographers who do not have the time to waste on such specious diversions from what actual matters.

        The blatant misinformation is even raising the topic? Had you said that you do not need that sort of camera but nevertheless here is an assessement of it, fair enough but you did not. So “blatant disinformation” is precisely what this is.

        Nothing personal, onlandscape charges a fairly healthy amount for a subscription so you are in this for profit and cashing in on people’s gullibility and being economical with the truth by ommission is evidently par for the course.

        I will not be emotive any more, nor will I be dispassionate either. Regrettably I have seen all I need to satisfy my interest in onlandscape. I had thought you were not merely following the lemmings. Judging from the pictures on Flickr some of them are very talented but I was not planning on leaping in with the rest and having to avoid drowning by holding my breath.

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