Tech articles My thoughts on the gear I use for photography

Nikon D4 vs. Nikon D800 - Resolution Test

I've seen a lot of people agonize over whether to buy a D800 or D4 for wildlife photography. While it's not an easy decision, one of the most important questions is that of resolution. Does the D800 really have that much more image data compared to the D4? The image below shows the same subject shot by the D800 (left) and D4 (right). I used the the Nikon 600mm VR (version 2) for this test, mounted on a tripod and shooting at speeds fast enough to eliminate any vibration-related blur. I didn't have a chance to do a focus calibration before this test, so please ignore the slight back focus on the D800 image...

Nikon D800 (left) and Nikon D4 (right) sample images side by side 

As you can see above, the D800 image contains significantly more data. In good light and with good technique, the D800 offers a significant cropping advantage over the D4, and this can't be disregarded for wildlife. Of course, occasions where a wildlife photographer finds good light and perfect conditions are few and far between, so the D800 won't win this fight that easily even in terms of image quality! I'll be posting more comparison articles over the next few weeks, dealing with areas like noise and ergonomics.
Links to the original images are below; I've exported them directly from the RAW files using Lightroom with no sharpening or any other changes. Please feel free to check them out and share your own thoughts at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Sample image from Nikon D4

Sample image from Nikon D800 

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