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Incredible 36MP CMOS sensor combined with outstanding image quality and packed with the latest features including a 3.2 inch LCD display and HD video making this a brilliant all-rounder.
Photography aficionados have had a tough task when it comes to choosing a new DSLR in recent times. So many models clutter the market that it can be difficult to know which one is really worth spending the extra money on. The search for the right model may just have been made a lot easier though, as photography and optics giant Nikon have finally done it and released the long awaited new D800 Digital SLR camera which features an unprecedented high resolution 36 Megapixel image sensor. This makes it the highest resolution, full-frame DSLR ever. Aimed squarely at the true enthusiast, the D800 has effectively narrowed the gap between DSLRs and medium format cameras, adding accessibility to high-end features at an as yet unseen price. Improved design, an outstanding feature set with HD video capture and an incredible amount of innovation make this a very interesting prospect indeed for serious amateur to professional photographers.
First impressions of the Nikon D800 SLR are nothing short of amazing. The housing is constructed of magnesium alloy with a textured surface which feels comfortable to hold. The handgrip has been slightly increased in size for improved use over long periods and rubber seals cover all exposed edges for any weather conditions. The control configuration on the front and rear of the camera closely resemble previous models which is an advantage due to Nikon’s excellent button layout which is comprehensive and user-friendly. On the top you will find all requisite options well set out and at fingers reach including a shooting mode selector and four buttons for white balance, ISO, image quality and bracketing; facilitating utmost ease of access. The LCD display via which selections can be made features a similar resolution to that of its direct predecessor (the D700) but has been improved in width at 3.2 inches, making it far easier to both view and use in general.
A real improvement has been made with the D800 in its feature accessibility. Gone are the days of rooting through on-screen options to activate the video mode (by which time the moment has often passed), replaced with a dedicated shortcut button which is conveniently situated alongside the shutter control. Supplementing this are specific buttons for HDR (High Dynamic Range), Multiple Exposure options and ‘Picture Style’ for profile selection. Further convenience and customisation is added by Nikon in their inclusion of 2 control buttons on the front of the camera which you can determine the function of. There is, of course, the possibility to save your custom settings (for enthusiasts) or four sets of pre-defined shooting preferences for the less assured or those that simply wish to save time.
The D800 packs a mighty punch with its unprecedented 36MP (Megapixel) CMOS Sony sensor. Despite many of the Nikon faithful voicing dissent at this decision, citing the possibility that too great a pixel density can result in increased image noise, Nikon went ahead: and it’s a good thing too due to the flexibility which the D800 gained as a result. Images are enormous, which means that detail levels are outstanding, resulting in images that can be enlarged for print or display with no loss of quality. One important factor worth bearing in mind is that in order to properly exploit the D800’s immense pixel count you will need a high quality, image stabilising lens. Generally anything this high-end will uncover and even highlight poor quality hardware, which is simply not worth using at this level.
The Autofocus function performed well, finding focus rapidly and accurately even under poor light conditions. It features Nikon’s Expeed 3 processor, a 91,000,000 dot RGB colour meter and the 51 point autofocus system found in previous models.
It is important to bear in mind that large images require enough memory on which to save them, and when shooting in high resolution or RAW image mode these demands can increase significantly. To this end, Nikon have again included SD and CF card readers so that you can expand your capabilities as you need them. It is unlikely that you would want to shoot such a massive image all of the time so Nikon have included a DX mode which crops your photos to a 15MP image which naturally demands far less memory. Another important point to think about is that the processing of images this size in RAW form will require a good amount of computer processing power, without which things could become rather slow.
Another introduction by Nikon is that of High Definition video capture capability, which until now was exclusively Canon territory. Now you can catch those special moments in 1080p with the D800 at 24, 25 and 30 frames per second (if you switch to 720p, you can choose 50 or 60 fps). An HDMI interface enables the transfer of unprocessed footage directly from the image sensor to a third party recording device on which the actual processing can take place (there’s even an option for the use of an external viewfinder). Sound options aren’t shabby either thanks to an input for a stereo microphone and a headphone jack: essentials for any budding film maker to fine tune and stay on top of their audio.
The quality of video footage captured with the D800 is very good (depending naturally on which lens you opt for), bearing in mind that this is a DSLR and not a dedicated camcorder. Limitations occur when fast moving objects move through the frame at varying speeds causing a distortion of movement between them which can appear quite unnatural. This is of secondary concern however as this is not intended to be a motion picture camera and we would not recommend it as such. The main thing is that the quality is as good or better than any other DSLR we’ve encountered and is certainly no cause for complaint.
The LCD display on the rear of the camera is bright, legible and most useful for reviewing your stills with its 4:3 aspect ratio. The only shortcoming we could find here was when using it to capture video, as the actual resulting focus did not absolutely correspond with what was perceived through the screen. Once again though, we hasten to add that this is not a camcorder but a DSLR, and its features are optimised accordingly. The manufacturer was seemingly also aware of this as the HDMI interface provides further versatility here, with the option of connecting an external viewfinder or monitor.
The Nikon D800 is a staggering achievement. With 36 Megapixels at your disposal, versatility takes on a whole new meaning. Detail-levels are mesmerising, images are razor-sharp and the immense resolution which results from all of those pixels provides an unprecedented level of flexibility, including the possibility of printing stills in large sizes with no loss of quality. Video capture is good too, and a much sought after improvement on older models which did not boast the same functionality in this area. A good quality lens remains mandatory, and the D800 will punish those who endeavour to cut corners here as it will expose them with underwhelming results. That said, it is highly doubtful that beginners would be attracted to an advanced DSLR of this class (it is anything but an entry-level model) and no enthusiast would pair a camera of this stature with a cheap lens. As with the majority of high-end Nikon cameras, the D800 is an excellent all-rounder which packs the very latest in features at a sensible price point.
Excellent all-rounder, perfect for intermediate users, durable design, great picture quality, very good Auto-focusing, good battery life, two memory card slots but heavy, usage could be more comfortable, slightly expensive, lens provided in bundle inadequate.
Two years is a long time in the world of technology. In fact, when you're talking about digital SLR cameras, it's an absolute age. That ought to tell you something about the fact that the Nikon D7000 (first released in 2010) is still considered one of the most solid options out there today.
The Nikon D7000 is built for heavy use, the design is highly durable and Nikon's powerful "Expeed 2" image processor makes this a workhorse of a camera. It's tailor made for outdoor use and the 16.2 megapixel sensor ensures great picture quality in almost any light. Throw in the 39 point auto-focusing system and you've got a DSLR that is a truly excellent all-rounder. Like most current DSLRs the D7000 can also capture high definition video and its dual memory card slots (supports SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards) are ideal for storage.
Like all DSLRs, the Nikon D7000 isn't for everyone. It all depends on who you are and what you want out of your camera. The D7000 is easy enough to use, but reasonably complex to get right. In short, this isn't an entry-level camera and consumers buying it as such will likely be left frustrated. If you're amongst the DSLR initiated, however, and are looking for a mid-range upgrade (or a professional seeking a reliable second camera) to your current SLR, the D7000 could be just what you're after.
SLRs have never really been about features, preferring to leave the automatic gizmos to their smaller digital compact siblings in favour of customisable settings and superior photo quality. Recently, however, more manufacturers are upping the number of features available in DSLRs in response to the growing consumer demand for that elusive "all in one" appliance.
In keeping with this trend, Nikon has managed to maintain the integral values of a DSLR whilst offering a host of features at the same time. Nikon's Expeed 2 processor is the engine that keeps everything running smoothly. It does the job more than admirably, allowing the D7000 to operate at very fast speeds. Right from switching-on there are no annoying waiting times or hesitations as the D7000 responds instantly to your every touch. The D7000s rapidity is especially useful when using the camera in situations (e.g. live events) that require frequent mode and setting alterations. Its speediness also compliments the continuous shooting mode, which allows bursts of photos to be shot at an impressive 6 frames per second (this kind of performance is more in line with fully professional DSLRs!).
The D7000 also employs a very good 39 point auto-focusing system. It is easy to switch between the 39 different focus points, allowing an ease of use with the sort of customisation that enthusiasts revel in. It should be noted though that the D7000s default auto-focus selection is the so called "auto-area" setting, which lets the camera implement the focus point itself. This isn't the best of settings as it rarely gets it right, often flicking between points of focus at inopportune moments. Far more useful is the "single-point" setting which lets you use the viewfinder to select any of the 39 auto-focus sensors of your choice, resulting in far better photos. To be honest, this isn't an entry-level camera and we'd be surprised if many users relied on the "auto area" mode anyway when so many customisable options are at hand.
The D7000 has an excellent optic viewfinder that is certain to please those serious about photography. It's large, comfortable and incredibly clear, lending to a more connected feel between camera and user. The only downside of the viewfinder is that it's so good you might neglect the beautiful 3 inch LCD display on the rear of the device. The screen is beyond bright, making both picture and video viewing an absolute joy. The display also allows the user to see a "live view" (preview of the image as it is seen through the viewfinder) for easier tuning of settings, as well as the ability to zoom in on specific image areas.
As expected of a DSLR of this calibre, the D7000 can also capture full 1080 p HD video. The only complaint here is the frame rate which, at 24 frames a second, isn't quite keeping up with its competitors. It's a minor point though as few people will invest in the D7000 purely based on its video capabilities.
Arguably the most pleasing feature of the D7000 for purists is the highly functional twin memory card slot. It supports SD,SDHC or SDXC memory cards, allowing you to either boost the D7000s storage capacity or use the second card slot as a backup (were anything to happen to one memory card, the other would keep your data safe). This is a great option that matches the D7000s practical approach to photography perfectly.
Nikon's always look great. There's never anything too fancy about them, preferring to leave the frills to their competitors, concentrating instead on solid build quality and functionality. The D7000 then, is a Nikon through and through. It is made of a magnesium alloy and is covered in a moisture resistant coating to keep bad weather at bay. Rubber seals cover any openings (e.g. USB slot) to further protect your precious DSLR from the elements, making photography in any weather risk-free for your camera.
As mentioned, the D7000 is sturdy and one of the plus-sides of this is its durability. It would take a serious knock to do this well protected device much damage (note: we don't recommend you test this, just take our word for it!), but there is a price to pay for the increased security. The D7000 is heavy for a camera of its class and you'll likely be using the accompanying shoulder strap quite a lot. Added to this, the D7000s chunky frame can become uncomfortable in the hand after long periods of extended use.
The camera's controls provide excellent ease of use and are all comfortably reachable in regular use. Two thumb-wheels (one on the front, one on the rear) are used to alter the device's manual settings and, whilst this may take a little time to get used to, are very easy to manipulate. The usual rotary dial sits on the top of the camera, allowing you to easily change modes (e.g. autofocus modes). Buttons for white balance and quality adjustments are conveniently located alongside the LCD display so that the user can monitor the changes they are making.
The D7000s functional design approach is destined to please professionals and intermediate users. It puts everything needed easily within reach and the overall durability of the D7000 encourages the user to put it to frequent use.
As is usually the case with DSLRs, the photo quality rendered by the D7000 depends entirely upon the photographer and the lens that the camera is paired with. Unfortunately the lens sold as part of the D7000 kit (Nikon's D7000 can be bought without accessories or as part of a bundled kit which includes Nikon's 18-105 VR Lens) just doesn't do the overall package justice.
When using the supplied kit lens photos can look rather flat and exposure becomes hard to manage. There's also much more noise present in the images than you would hope or expect at this price. Although advanced lenses can cost a small fortune it would be advisable to drop the kit and pick up the D7000 alone, adding the lens of your choice. We suspect that if you do opt for the kit the lens will need replacing in due course anyway.
Combine the D7000 with one of Nikon's higher end lenses and the results couldn't be more different. The exposure issues found with the inferior lens go away and details take on a newfound sharpness. Colour reproduction is reassuringly authentic too, and with a little adjustment on the part of the user, the D7000 works well in most lighting. Flash photography is particularly impressive, producing good results every time without glare or unnatural brightness. The D7000s photo quality is actually outstanding, it's just a shame that the lens provided in the kit option doesn't reflect that. If you're spending this kind of money on an intermediate DSLR it has to take good photos, it's more than worth investing in a decent lens to get the true potential out of the D7000.
Nikon has put a very good interface in the D7000. It's extremely simple; menus appear on the LCD display on the camera's rear which are easily navigated using the dial alongside. There's nothing difficult here and even entry-level users would find this interface incredibly easy to use, further enhancing the functionality of the D7000.
The Nikon D7000 is an excellent DSLR for intermediate users looking to upgrade to a semi-professional model, or indeed for professionals who want something a little more manageable. Great features like the 39 point auto-focus mode are just an added bonus when a camera is this good. Paired with a decent lens the D7000 gives superb photo quality and is a pleasure to use. It is a bit heavy and to make the most out of the device you'll need to buy a good lens separately, but it's well worth it with a camera this good and you're bound to be pleased with the results.
Advanced users will likely get the most out of the D7000 as a second camera or ease of use option. Mid-level users seeking to escape the confines of automatic processes and wanting more of a connection with their camera will have a hard time beating the D7000.
Great entry level model with integrated 'guide-mode' and an array of features including 1080p HD video recording. Simply 'point and shoot' and enjoy superb results.
It can often be daunting for novice photographers looking to take the plunge into the world of digital SLRs. The bigger, more complex siblings of the digital compacts are often considered to be reserved for the more advanced photographer leaving newcomers painfully short of options. Nikon has sought to simplify this problem with the D3100. It replaced the popular, beginner friendly D3000 (according to Nikon, Europe's best selling DSLR) and has improved it no end.
In the D3100 Nikon has created what is arguably the consummate entry-level DSLR. It is light enough to take anywhere and the excellent fully integrated "guide mode" means that you need never go wrong. The D3100 allows the amateur to begin experimenting with customisable settings and attain professional looking results without the need of a detailed prior knowledge of camera technology.
Whilst it is perfect for beginners, the D3100 will likely be too limited to please professionals or more serious hobbyists. In truth though, they already have enough options out there. If you're not sure where to start, and want a DSLR that does the hard work for you, the D3100 is the obvious choice.
The Nikon D3100 is an exceptional camera, exceeding the expectations of most entry-level DSLRs whilst maintaining a simple and easy to use approach. Unlike professional grade DSLRs which tend to give the user more to do, the D3100 is filled with features that are guaranteed to make your life easier.
The D3100 offers more than adequate resolution for this category of camera at 14.2 mega pixels. Its frame rate does leave something to be desired though at an average 3 frames per second. The delayed shutter speed can be irritating, although the D3100 is such good value for money that it almost seems churlish to complain about this.
When in "auto mode", the D3100 operates on the "point and shoot" basis that users of digital compacts will be familiar with, only in this instance we're dealing with a DSLR. This will be music to the ears of the DSLR uninitiated who can't wait to get their new camera out of the box and start snapping. It's made even more efficient by Nikon's "D-lighting" system, which automatically adjusts the D3100's detail and exposure settings according to the light-level that it's being used in. At the same time though, don't feel that you have to be led by the hand if you're getting more used to the D3100. Turning off "auto mode" gives options aplenty, with modifiable picture modes such as "night-portrait", "close-up" and "landscape" to choose from.
The D3100 also features an impressive 11 point auto-focusing system, which wouldn't usually be expected of a DSLR in this price range. It continues the trend of ease of use and works wonderfully. Simply push the shutter activation button half-way and hold it there, then watch with satisfaction as the D3100 focuses in on your subject instantly.
Photos can be saved either as JPEGs, or as Nikon's NEF (Nikon's RAW format) files. Further user friendliness is found once your photos have been saved, as the built in "picture control" allows on-board image adjustments by applying filters, such as "vivid" ("vivid" mode enhances colour), which improve the quality of your snaps.
One of the most welcome features for those just getting started is sure to be Nikon's innovative "guide mode". When "guide mode" is selected on the D3100's rotary control dial a visual, step by step tutorial appears on the LCD display. The real plus here is that this mode requires you to physically follow its instructions, teaching you to use the D3100, whilst improving your photography skills simultaneously. "Guide mode" even offers an easy and advanced tutorial so that you can keep learning once more familiar with DSLR photography. This is really clever stuff, and unlike the spoon-fed systems used in rival models, the D3100's "guide mode" encourages you to get out there and use your camera.
If there weren't enough features to keep a beginner busy already, the D3100 also offers full 1080p high definition video recording. It runs at a respectable 24 frames per second, although users should note that the shutter does take an arduously long time switching to video mode. Then there's the fact that videos are battery limited to 10 minute clips, so you won't be recording full films. In all honesty though, this isn't what a DSLR's about. The fact that the D3100 can capture video at all is an added bonus that compliments the main focus: superbly manageable photography.
Nikons are always functional in their design and despite being an entry-level model, the D3100 is no different. It's unsurprisingly smaller than the professional grade equivalent and is very lightweight for a DSLR at 505 grams (including batteries). The D3100 isn't as durable as some of the bigger, weather resistant DSLRs, but it's still sturdy enough to take the occasional accidental knock in its stride. One slight down-side to the camera's relatively small size is that holding it could be more comfortable. Users with larger hands in particular will find that the D3100 can lack grip when used over longer periods. Once again though, this DSLR is geared at beginners and as such can be expected to be more compact in size.
Information is related over the LCD display, which works very well, but could be criticised as somewhat lacking in resolution in comparison to rival models. The controls are kept to the minimum and are well laid out, all easily accessible whilst shooting. The usual rotary mode-dial allows users to easily flip between settings and can comfortably be reached at all times.
Like any DSLR the D3100's photo quality depends largely on the lens that it is used with. Nikon provide an 18-55 mm lens as standard and although it works well enough, it's worth investing in something better once comfortable with how the camera works.
When paired with the provided lens, the D3100 proves its value by taking some excellent shots with good depth of colour and reasonably sharp resolution. If results appear softer than desired using the D3100's default settings, simply explore the features available and enhance the quality of the image in question. Advanced users might call it cheating, but we like to think of it as a helpful short-cut until you're ready to move on without the automatic aids. The beauty of the D3100 is that it allows anyone to achieve above-average results with the greatest of ease.
In all areas of the D3100, Nikon's goal has remained ease of use and the interface follows suit. Menus are easily read via the LCD display and the accompanying controls make navigation very straight forward. The rotary mode-dial allows easy adjustment between modes, such as fully automatic to manual mode. There isn't much to say about the interface as it really is easy to use. In the unlikely event that you do have any difficulty with it just try "guide mode", it almost certainly has the answer you're looking for and will probably help your photography skills along the way.
With small gripes like (not even that slow!) shutter speed and size being the main drawbacks, there is little to say against making the Nikon D3100 your introduction to the world of DSLRs. It's outstanding value for money and will bring you a step closer to achieving professional-like results with minimal difficulty.
The D3100 is an astoundingly good entry-level DSLR which is great for "pointing and shooting", yet possesses a wide enough array of options to allow the would-be enthusiast to really feel like they're getting their feet wet. It's a brilliant place to start and at this price, nothing else competes.
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