The Nikon D800 is now officially 10 years old – wow! I remember being one of the first batch of Nikon owners waiting to get this revolutionary camera in my hands and out in the field in 2012.
Sadly, it is very long in the tooth to modern day equivalents and was discontinued in 2014, yet I still use two D800s today and find them just as good as when they were made – and if you want to get close to using a D800 today you can still order its current successor, the D850.
Here are my new Nikon D800's in the back of my car on the day I picked them up, and some of the images I have taken with them over the years.
I remember the day well, heading off to the Calumet store in Manchester, England and picking up two Nikon D800s with battery grips, extra batteries and a rather low bank account afterwards. But as we celebrate its long life, is the D800 still a good camera? Well, 10 years on I am still using my two D800s and after picking up a few battle scars and knocks here and there from their use within the equestrian sports industry, I can say that they still perform as well as they did back in March 2012.
The D800 was revolutionary at the time, as Nikon implemented a full-frame 36.3 megapixel sensor into a compact weather-sealed body that could produce images at 4 frames per second or 5 if you selected the 1.2/DX crop modes. In today's market of 40MP+ cameras doing 20-30fps, just 4 frames per second continuous shooting seems rather poor form, but believe me, back in 2012 a lot of Nikon shooters took note of this high performance powerhouse.
What was even more remarkable at the time was its ISO range of 100-6,400. Yes, you read that right and it could even extend to ISO 25,600 – again, we are talking about a 10 year old piece of technology, but when it was launched this was a marvel of its day and it still produces remarkable images of excellent image quality and tonality, along with its ability to produce full HD 1080p video at 24p.
The D800 was the stepping stone for Nikon’s development for a professional camera that was great at stills and offered video if needed. Today, this has been greatly improved with the Z9 for example, offering amazing image quality with 8K video capabilities.
So I have sung the D800’s praises and yes, if you're thinking I am slightly biased, then you're right. I love my D800, and every time I use it I am still blown away by how well it performs today paired with a fast Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens or even with my 600mm f/4 – the images I can make are fantastic.
But, this is a 10 year old camera and to modern standards it is “obsolete”. It is a clunky DSLR with only 51-point autofocus, 1080p video at only 24p and with a 3D color matrix metering that has been around for as long as Nikon DSLRs themselves. It takes ancient CF cards and slightly newer SD cards and has a "low res" screen to modern day alternatives. The D800 is an aged tank in the pro DSLR world, but still works in my world it is still amazing as ever and in all honesty, I hope it lasts another 10 years.