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Nikon D800 vs D800E Digital SLR Review

The Nikon D800 offers 36.3 megapixels in a full frame Digital SLR, the D800E does as well, but offers even more detail, find out how the two cameras differ.

|  Nikon D800E in Digital SLRs
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Nikon D800 Vs Nikon D800e (3)

Previously we've looked at the D800 and D800E, as well as published our full review of the Nikon D800... as well as publishing a Nikon D800 User Review from a Canon user's perspective. Now we've got the Nikon D800 and D800E side by side for a direct comparison of cameras and image quality.

Nikon D800 vs D800E Features

The Nikon D800 and D800E specifications are exactly the same, however, the big difference can be found right in front of the sensor, and this makes a noticeable difference in image quality and results.

Nikon explain the differences between the D800 and D800E:

"The Nikon D800E features an optical filter with anti-aliasing properties removed in order to facilitate the sharpest images possible. This is an ideal tool for photographers who can control light, distance and their subject to the degree where they can mitigate the increased risk of moiré and false colour. Aside from the optical filter, all functions and features are the same as on the D800."

"Nikon engineers have developed a unique alternative for those seeking the ultimate in definition. The D800E incorporates an optical filter with all the anti-aliasing properties removed in order to facilitate the sharpest images possible.

This is an ideal tool for photographers who can control light, distance and their subjects to the degree where they can mitigate the occurrence of moiré. Aside from the optical filter, all functions and features are the same as on the D800.

Note: The D800E carries an increased possibility that moiré and false color will appear, compared to the D800. IR cut and antireflective coating properties of the optical filter remain the same with both versions."

Nikon D800 Filter

"The original light and light separated in horizontal direction with the low-pass filter 1 are transmitted through the low-pass filter 2 with the wavelengths unchanged. The original light is transmitted as it is, and light separated with the low-pass filter 1 changes only direction vertically (two points are maintained). By converting polarized light into circularly polarized light with the wave plate, two points are divided into four points.

With the D800, light passing through the lens that is separated in four segments using a low-pass filter is received by the image sensor. Because separation pitch of the low-pass filter is much shorter than that of the image sensor, moiré and false color reduction can be achieved with minimal deterioration of resolution."

Nikon D800E Filter

"By employing the optical glass, the original light and light separated in vertical direction with the low-pass filter 1 is transmitted through the low-pass filter 2 as non-polarized light with the same optical path length. The low-pass filter 2 changes the direction of separated light to the opposite side to revert to the original optical path, and the combined light is transmitted to the image sensor as a single point.

With the D800E, the effects of the low-pass filter is removed, and the light is received by the image sensor at a single point, achieving higher-resolution images with minimal blur."

Another difference between the two cameras can be found in the box contents, with the D800E coming with a full version of Capture NX 2 as this has built in moire processing for the D800E's RAW files. The D800E also comes with the same wide camera strap as the D800, however the writing on the strap has D800E on it, instead of D800.

Nikon D800 Vs Nikon D800e (5)

Nikon D800 vs D800E Handling

We checked the D800 and D800E for lens focus problems, and found the D800E with 14-24mm fine, although the D800 with another 14-24mm lens needed the AF fine tuning adjusting due to back focus. The handling of the two cameras is identical, there are no additional settings on the D800E to be aware of, the only visible difference is the E on the end of the name.

Nikon D800e Body (3)

Nb. For more on the D800/D800E Menus, Handling, Buttons, Battery life, Speed in use etc, please see the full Nikon D800 Review.

Nikon D800e Body (1)

JPEGs can be quite large, from 12 to 22, even as large as 31mb for JPEG images from the Nikon D800E, images from the Nikon D800 are slightly smaller, roughly 11mb when the same image on the D800E is 12mb. RAW files are 74 to 77mb! This can put quite heavy demands on your computer, laptop and internet connection if uploading or downloading full size images!

Nikon D800e Body (6)

Capture NX 2 is available from Nikon, as a free download along with a 60 day trial, although if you purchase the Nikon D800E then it comes with a code to enable the full version. The Capture NX 2 software has been updated specifically for the D800E with a new "Colour Moire Reduction" option with four settings: Off, Low, Medium and High.

Capture Nx2 Options
Capture Nx2 Options

Nikon D800e Body (7)
Another clue that you have the D800E rather than the D800 is the sticker on the bottom.

Nikon D800 vs D800E Performance

Comparison images: ISO Shots, taken with the 50mm f/1.4D lens.

Nikon D800E ISO test images

ISO50 with a 36.3 megapixel sensor and ISO settings up to ISO25600, you'd be forgiven for thinking that noise could be an issue, and it's possible to see that noise can be an issue at the higher ISO settings. The Nikon D800 and D800E give a number of options for noise control, with noise reduction settings available including: OFF (the first set of ISO images use this setting), Low (the second set are using this setting), Medium and High. There is also the option for Long Exposure NR, that is available for shots of 1 second or higher.

Nikon D800E White-balance test images

Outdoors: Landscape shots

Nikon D800 Outdoor images

Nikon D800E Outdoor images

Nikon D800 Nikon D800E
Structure | 1/200 sec | f/7.1 | 24.0 mm | ISO 50 Structure | 1/200 sec | f/7.1 | 24.0 mm | ISO 50
Structure | 1/200 sec | f/7.1 | 24.0 mm | ISO 50 Structure | 1/200 sec | f/7.1 | 24.0 mm | ISO 50
100% Actual pixels JPEG 100% Actual pixels JPEG
100% Actual pixels RAW (ACR 7.1) 100% Actual pixels RAW (ACR 7.1)

It's possible to see the higher resolution and detail available from the D800E, in the JPEG images, with further detail visible when shooting RAW.

Portrait / Studio: Using Capture NX 2 to process the RAW files, it's possible to make adjustments and changes to the photos in the same way as you would have on the camera's menus. You can choose the picture control where you can set sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation, hue.

Nikon D800E Other sample images

Nikon D800 Nikon D800E
Nikon D800 Portrait Studio F14 DSC 8225 Copy | 1/200 sec | f/14.0 | 50.0 mm | ISO 100 Portrait Studio | 1/200 sec | f/14.0 | 50.0 mm | ISO 100
Portrait Studio | 1/200 sec | f/14.0 | 50.0 mm | ISO 100 Portrait Studio | 1/200 sec | f/14.0 | 50.0 mm | ISO 100
100% Actual pixels JPEG 100% Actual pixels JPEG
100% / RAW (CaptureNX) 100% / RAW (CaptureNX)

Detail shot(s): The same shot was taken with each camera, with the same settings on both. Each photo was processed from RAW with the same settings using the latest version of Adobe Camera RAW 7.1 - processing options were: clarity/vibrance/saturation +10, sharpening +75, pixel radius 1.0, detail 50, masking 0, noise reduction 0.

Nikon D800 Nikon D800E
Boots Raw To Jpeg | 1/160 sec | f/16.0 | 50.0 mm | ISO 100
Boots Raw To Jpeg | 1/160 sec | f/16.0 | 50.0 mm | ISO 100
Boots Raw To Jpeg | 1/125 sec | f/16.0 | 50.0 mm | ISO 100
Boots Raw To Jpeg | 1/125 sec | f/16.0 | 50.0 mm | ISO 100
100% actual pixels 100% actual pixels
200% view 200% view

If you are looking to extract the maximum detail possible from a scene or subject, then the D800E pulls out more detail from the image,

Small Text: Processing RAW files:

These were opened in Adobe Camera RAW 7.1 - In this example it's possible to see where the D800E has moire problems (incorrect colours on the smallest text) whereas the D800 has been able to keep the text black and white. However, the smallest text (3 points) can be read in the D800E image, while the D800 image more of the text blurs into itself.

Below you can see the Nikon Capture NX2 RAW converted versions. These show no moire, even without using the "Moire correction" option in CaptureNX2.
Nikon D800 Nikon D800E
200% Actual Pixels ACR 7.1 200% Actual Pixels ACR 7.1
200% Capture NX 2 200% Capture NX 2

Diffraction Test:

Nikon D800 Nikon D800E
f/1.4 f/1.4
f/1.4 f/1.4
f/2.8 f/2.8
f/2.8 f/2.8
f/4.0 f/4.0
f/4.0 f/4.0
f/5.6 f/5.6
f/5.6 f/5.6
f/8.0 f/8.0
f/8.0 f/8.0
f/11 f/11
f/11 f/11
f/16 f/16
f/16 f/16

Using these JPEG examples it's possible to see a slight advantage in the D800E files, with sharper, more detailed results, although at f/16 it's very slight the difference between the two cameras, and at f/11 it's possible to see the drop in quality due to diffraction.

Low light: Here we've shot our standard studio scene under lower lighting than normal, with a long exposure.

Nikon D800 Nikon D800E
AWB Low Light Tungsten | 2 sec | f/8.0 | 50.0 mm | ISO 100 AWB Low Light Tungsten | 1.6 sec | f/8.0 | 50.0 mm | ISO 100
AWB Low Light | 2 sec | f/8.0 | 50.0 mm | ISO 100 AWB Low Light | 1.6 sec | f/8.0 | 50.0 mm | ISO 100
100% Actual pixels (JPEG) 100% Actual pixels (JPEG)
100% Actual pixels (RAW) - ACR settings: Clarity/Vibrance +10, Sharpening 50, 1.0, Detail 50, 0 mask, Noise reduction off. 100% Actual pixels (RAW) - ACR settings: Clarity/Vibrance +10, Sharpening 50, 1.0, Detail 50, 0 mask, Noise reduction off.

There is very little difference between shots when comparing the JPEG images straight from the camera, with both results looking quite soft. To get the best results from each camera, shooting and processing RAW files is necessary, and here it's possible to see a slight increase in detail in the D800E image.

Night / long exposure: Converted from RAW, using CaptureNX2, this long 30 second exposure has been taken with the Nikon 135mm f/2.0 Nikkor lens.

Nikon D800 Nikon D800E
Night | 30 sec | f/16.0 | 135.0 mm | ISO 800
Night | 30 sec | f/16.0 | 135.0 mm | ISO 800
Night | 30 sec | f/16.0 | 135.0 mm | ISO 800
Night | 30 sec | f/16.0 | 135.0 mm | ISO 800
Actual Pixels 100% RAW Actual Pixels 100% RAW

For this night shot where f/16 was used, there is very little difference between the results from each camera due to the effects of diffraction.

Video: Both cameras feature the same full HD video modes, and in certain circumstances you would expect the D800E to produce moire, however, in our tests we were not able to produce any, with the D800 video of the same subject appearing practically identical. Video options include: Full HD at 30/25/24p, 720p at 60/50/30/25p FX format, DX, Full HD crop format, auto flicker reduction, microphone socket (20 levels of adjustment), headphone socket, uncompressed video output from HDMI, time-lapse photography auto video creation, live frame grab, power aperture, and time-line marking.

Value for Money

The Nikon D800 is available for £2599 body only, while the D800E is available for £2899 body only - this is £300 more, or £170 more if you include the value of Capture NX2, which the D800E includes - normally £130 on its own.

Nikon D800 vs D800E Verdict

The Nikon D800 is an excellent camera capable of taking extremely high quality, high resolution images, however this puts additional demands on the lenses used, as well as your own photographic technique, requiring you to ensure focus is accurate, you are using the optimum aperture, shutter speed etc. With the D800E it becomes even more important that your subject and technique is right to get the best results from the camera, and to attain the additional detail possible. As well, it can be quite a subtle difference between the two cameras, even when viewed at 100%. To the majority of people it may not be particularly noticeable, unless images are compared side to side, taken under exactly the same settings. However, if you have the additional money, and would like the ability to get the most resolution in your shots, then the D800E appears to be decent value for money, offering the full version of Capture NX2, which is recommended for getting the best results from RAW files. If shooting RAW files, then additional demand is placed on your memory card(s) as well as your computer, with RAW files weighing in at 70+ mb - even highly detailed JPEG images can be as large as 31mb.

The Nikon D800 is a significant step up in image quality compared to 20-ish megapixel cameras, with bags of resolution that will make viewing images at 100% a real WOW moment if you're not used to seeing this level of detail. The D800 and more so the D800E is a real challenger to medium format cameras, giving similar impact and excellent image quality at a fraction of the price you would pay for medium format. But with it comes the additional and steep learning curve that medium format shooters have been dealing with for several years, that is, your shooting technique, attention to detail, and ultimately quality is paramount to getting the results these cameras are capable of. If you want to push yourself and image quality even further, then the Nikon D800E with Capture NX 2 is well worth the money.

To get the best results: 
  • Shoot RAW
  • Use CaptureNX2 to convert RAW files (an option for the D800)
  • Confirm lenses are correctly focused
  • Shoot using the lowest ISO settings
  • Use a tripod
  • Use the self-timer
  • Use a large fast memory card
  • Use JPEG for speed (but know that you wont be getting the full quality out of the camera)
  The Nikon D800E takes image quality to the ultimate level yet seen from a Digital SLR.

Nikon D800 vs D800E Pros:

More detail visible with D800E
Excellent image quality
Extremely high resolution images
D800E includes Capture NX2
Includes printed manual
2 year warranty

Nikon D800 vs D800E Cons:

Moire can be visible with D800E (ACR)
D800 can be demanding, D800E more so to get best results
RAW shooting needed to see full benefits of D800E
Close attention needs to be paid to focusing


Read our full Nikon D800 Review

Nikon D800E Specifications

Effective Magnification1x
Image Sensor
Pixels36.3Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)7360
Pixels (H)4912
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeFull Frame
Sensor Size (width)39.5mm
Sensor Size (height)24mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 4:5
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3.2in
Screen resolution910,00
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Manual
  • AF Fine Tuning (Micro Adjustment)
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/8000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Bulb modeYes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Multi Pattern
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity50 - 25600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Bracket
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-5
MagnificationNo Data
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting4fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
Video FPS50
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Card Type
  • CF1
  • CF2
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • CF
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • TIFF
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeAA, EN-EL15, EN-EL18 and EP-B5
Battery Life (CIPA rating)900shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsEN-EL15 rechargeable Li-ion battery with terminal cover, MH-25 battery charger (AC wall adapter supplied only in countries or regions where required), Strap (AN-DC6 for D800, AN-DC6E for D800E), UC-E14 USB cable, USB cable clip, BF-1B body cap, BS-1 acces

View Full Product Details

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Photographs taken using the Nikon D800E

thanks for the danceA Victorian view.Dicentra Hearts in the evening sunEnjoying the Sunset at the LakeAged Mobile AdvertisingNew home?Landing GearErnieThe FavouriteBarn Owl RestingVinesAn interrupted mealOne Small StepGeeske

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15 Aug 2012 2:40PM
Great comparison and very useful, well done!
jennyk 14 Scotland
15 Aug 2012 8:34PM
Have to agree after using an Olympus and then shifting up to a pro Nikon I was initially a little worried about the results.

Still persevering however the sharpness and quality is ten to none and as long as you take time to get focus and get used to the rather awkward controls it really is a brilliant camera
Davepphoto 11 1
15 Aug 2012 9:08PM
Just got my hands on a D800 having updated from a D80 - the old D80 was good but the results from the D800 are just a world apart - stunning camera, well done Nikon
Davesumner 15 28 300 Australia
16 Aug 2012 1:46AM
Glad I shoot Canon, Nikon takes OUT a filter and charges more for the camera, go figure!!!!!
davey_griffo 13 213 165 England
16 Aug 2012 12:44PM
I was thinking the same as Dave. & I can only see the difference (very VERY slight) at 200%, & who does that? Smile
I use a Nikon D700 and D800, I have confidence in both cameras. In past I used Hasselblad and Sina 5x4 with film. Both Nikon cameras are amazing. There comes a time when equipment is so good that a little difference here or there really makes no practical difference to the end result. Creativity does make a huge difference to the final image and Nikon can only do their bit, the rest it up to us the photographer. If you want D800E or Canon this or that, great!
17 Aug 2012 11:57AM
Just want to point this out. On the homepage for this it's says 'Ultrimate', does that mean it's three times as good as ultimate?
LenShepherd 14 4.5k United Kingdom
17 Aug 2012 1:21PM
A detail in the comparison "We checked the D800 and D800E for lens focus problems, and found the D800E with 14-24mm fine, although the D800 with another 14-24mm lens needed the AF fine tuning adjusting due to back focus" ideally needs further explanation.
Whether or not there was a back focus problem, or instead an often overlooked AF subject failure issue is not possible for readers to deduce from the limited information provided.
It is fair to assume even if exactly the same test target was used the framing might not be identical as the 14-24 has no tripod ring. Also the mention of different lenses implies tests on different dates.
The 14-24 lens instructions (page 110 and 111) include a particular caution that at the wider zoom settings AF may not be accurate with either small or fine detail subjects. There is a similar caution in the 16-35 instructions. Small or fine detail subjects are illustrated by way of examples on page 100 of the D800 instructions or at
Another Nikon link goes into more detail as to why AF is not always accurate some subjects
It would be better if phase detect AF was 100% accurate with 100% of subjects - but it is not Sad
What the reader cannot do is determine whether one camera had back focus, or whether whoever tested did not appreciate the occasional accuracy limitation of AF with some types of subject; especially with a 14-24 as a test lens.
Either way the 14-24 and 16-35 can be the least satisfactory lens choices to check for focus issues in view of Nikonís AF accuracy caution when using them.
Including an image of the test target for the possible back focus body would help readers decide for themselves if the body needed fine tune with any target, or if the tester did not appreciate with this lens combination focus inaccuracy with some targets is a limitation of the AF system.
I can "induce" back focus with my D3s or D800 and 14-24 with targets similar to those Nikon caution may produce poor focus accuracy that is not present with other targets.
One reason for my comparing the D3s and D800 is I own both cameras. Another reason is both cameras in single point AF use shorter AF detection lines (to just outside the viewfinder AF marks) than previous Nikon's.
Thank you LenSheperd,

This is a really interesting issue as I have the D800 and 16-35 lens. I have done the tests based on the links you suggested. I can confirm my D800 does back focus and the fine tune adjustment in the menu does not rectify the problem. I also own a 80-200mm F2.8 zoom and the back focus is really bad on that. Manual focus is fine with both lenses. I ran the test with a 50mm F1.8 and though it did back focus I was able to rectify the problem with fine tune.
Now I have to say that in practice my photos are sharp even with this problem. It does raise the question,how sharp would my photos be if everything was perfectly alined. I have read Nikon do have a software update that could help but there is nothing on the Nikon UK site that I could find.

If anyone knows something I don't, please let me know.
12 Sep 2012 2:27PM
Does the lack of a beam splitter on the D800E have any influence on the selection of a polarising filter? My understanding is that circular polarisers are required for DSLR cameras because they have a beam splitter.... is this correct?
rom 9 Singapore
31 Jan 2013 4:31AM

Quote:I was thinking the same as Dave. & I can only see the difference (very VERY slight) at 200%, & who does that? Smile

I don't think the shots here are very well done.
10 Feb 2013 5:30PM
I posted my D800 settings along with a link to download the config here:

If anyone has a Nikon D800 or D800E, especially someone who recently picked one up, this may be useful for you.
hashem 12
16 Mar 2013 8:35PM
thanks for your complet guied

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