Nikon D800 vs Sony Alpha A7

  • Full frame
  • 36 megapixels
  • Nikon F
  • 54
    Overall
  • 34
    Imaging
  • 59
    Features
  • 69
    Size
  • 0
    Price
  • Full frame
  • 24 megapixels
  • Sony E
  • 55
    Overall
  • 31
    Imaging
  • 57
    Features
  • 77
    Size
  • 0
    Price

Nikon D800 vs Sony Alpha A7: a Complete Review and Comparison

Are you looking for the best camera to suit your needs? Due to a wide range of options, making a wise and weighted decision can be rather challenging. Which specs to keep in mind? What are the key pros and cons of each model? This comparison should give some helpful hints!

In this review, we are going to make a detailed comparison of two cameras that fall into different categories. While the first model we are looking at, Nikon D800 belongs to a Semi-Pro DSLR category, the other model, Nikon D800 is a Pro Mirrorless camera. Nikon D800 is equipped with a 36.0 MP CMOS sensor, while Sony Alpha A7 comes with a 24.0 MP CMOS sensor.

Both cameras we are going to look at in our overview fall into two different categories - DSLR and MirrorLess. Keeping in mind all the distinctive features of each category, it will be hard to make a detailed comparison of these two models. However, we will do our best to make this review as unbiased and detailed as possible.

To get started, let’s take a look at some of the key features of Nikon D800 and Sony Alpha A7 and, after this, we can go on to our detailed comparison of these models.

Nikon D800 Key Features:

  • 36.0 MP Full frame CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100 - 6400 (Expands to 25600)
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • 3.2″ Fixed Type Screen
  • ViewFinder: Yes
  • 4.0 fps Continuous Shooting
  • Video: 1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50, 30, 25 fps), 640 x 424 (24 fps)
  • Built-in Wireless: No
  • Dimensions: 146 x 123 x 82 mm
  • Weight: 900 g
  • Environmental Sealing: Yes
  • Built-in GPS: Yes
  • Replaced Nikon D700. Compare
  • Replaced by Nikon D810. Compare

Sony Alpha A7 Key Features:

  • 24.0 MP Full frame CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100 - 25600
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • 3″ Tilting Screen
  • ViewFinder: Yes
  • 5.0 fps Continuous Shooting
  • Video: 1920 x 1080 (60p, 60i, 24p), 1440 x 1080 (30p), 640 x 480 (30p)
  • Built-in Wireless: Yes
  • Dimensions: 127 x 94 x 48 mm
  • Weight: 474 g
  • Environmental Sealing: Yes
  • Built-in GPS: No

Nikon D800 was substituted by Nikon D810. Be sure to check out some of our other overviews that may also interest you:
Nikon D800 vs. D810
Nikon D810 vs. Sony Alpha A7

Nikon D800 substituted Nikon D700. Be sure to check out some of our other overviews that may also interest you:
Nikon D800 vs. D700
Nikon D700 vs. Sony Alpha A7

Why is Nikon D800 a better choice than Sony Alpha A7

Storage Slots 2 vs 1 Extra storage slot
Sensor Resolution 36.0 MP vs 24.0 MP 33.3% more pixels
Sensor Area 861.6 mm2 vs 855.62 mm2 0.7% larger pixel area
Built-In Flash Yes vs No All the lenses are stabilized
Flash Range 12 vs No 12 better flash range
Screen Size 3.2″ vs 3″ 0.2" larger screen
Battery Life 900 shots vs 340 shots 560 more frames with a single charge
Dxo Color Depth 25.3 vs 24.8 Better color depth
Dxo Dynamic Range 14.4 vs 14.2 Better dynamic range
Dxo Low Light Iso 2853 vs 2248 Better High ISO performance

What are the key reasons to pick Sony Alpha A7 over Nikon D800

Wireless Connectivity Built-In vs No Better connectivity
NFC Yes vs No Easy wireless connectivity with compatible devices
Continuous Shooting 5 fps vs 4 fps 1 fps faster
Number Of Focus Points 117 vs 51 66 more focus points
Number Of Cross Focus Points 25 vs 15 10 more cross focus points
Screen Resolution 1,230k dots vs 921k dots 25.1% higher resolution screen
Weight 474 g vs 900 g 426 g lighter
Viewfinder Magnification 0.71 vs 0.7 0.01 better magnification

Key PROs of Nikon D800 and Sony Alpha A7

Screen Size 3.2″ | 3″ Large display
Viewfinder Optical (pentaprism) | Electronic Better framing and control
Raw Support Yes | Yes Better image quality
Sensor Resolution 36.0 MP | 24.0 MP Bigger prints and more details
AutoFocus Face Detection Yes | Yes Very handy for portraits
Microphone Port Yes | Yes High quality audio recording option
Headphone Port Yes | Yes Better video control
Bracketing Yes | Yes Useful for tough lighting conditions and HDR
Flash Sync Port Yes | Yes Port for Flash Sync
Environmental Sealing Yes | Yes Shoot at tough conditions

Key CONs of Nikon D800 and Sony Alpha A7

Touch Screen No | No No touch screen
Continuous Shooting 4.0 fps | 5.0 fps Low continuous shooting
Image Stabilization No | No No image stabilization

Nikon D800 vs Sony Alpha A7: Comparing Two Models By Physical Characteristics

Before heading straight to the technical characteristics of each model, let’s start with comparing their physical specs. Let’s start with looking at the physical difference of the two products. Below are images that clearly show the sizes of Nikon D800 and Sony Alpha A7 from the front view.

Nikon D800
Sony Alpha A7
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Now, let’s go on and see how the reviewed models are different or similar by the top view.

Nikon D800
Sony Alpha A7
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After looking at these images, you should get a clear idea of each model’s dimensions and how they are different from each other. However, we are not going to stop there. The next characteristic worth looking at is the weight. Of course, not every photographer is concerned about the weight, for example, it wouldn't be a decisive point for those who shoot in a studio. However, it is still an important factor because if you happen to go on a long photo session or just love having the camera with you wherever you go, you want to be sure that the chosen model isn't too heavy.

Speaking of weight, Sony Alpha A7 is a lighter option of these two, as it weights 426g less than the Nikon D800. This difference, in fact, can become a significant disadvantage for the photographers, who prefer to have their cameras with them wherever they go.

Comparing Nikon D800 and Sony Alpha A7 by the type of Sensor and Resolution

Sensor is, without a doubt, the most significant element of every digital camera. Its type, size, and resolution are the factors that define the quality of future shots. Thus, it is barely possible to pick a suitable camera without looking at these specs.

Are Nikon D800 and Sony Alpha A7 any different in terms of sensor type?

In fact, that's exactly what makes these two models really different. Thus, it is a good point to consider if your are choosing between these two cameras. Nikon D800 features a 36.0 MP Full frame sized CMOS sensor . Sony Alpha A7, in its turn, comes with a 24.0 MP Full frame sized CMOS sensor and Bionz X processor , which makes it significantly different from the first model.

Take a look below to find the comparison of Nikon D800 and Sony Alpha A7 by the size of their sensors.

Nikon D800
Sony Alpha A7
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Nikon D800 and Sony Alpha A7 are identical by this indicator, as each feature a sensor of the same size. Thus, both cameras will provide the same level of control in terms of the depth of field if you use them with the same focal length and aperture.

For Which Fields Of Photography Are Nikon D800 and Sony Alpha A7 Suitable?

If you are interested in photography or has made a career in this field, you should know that different types of shooting actually require different camera characteristics. While one model can produce outstanding portraits, at the same time, it can be terrible for shooting landscapes, and so on. Thus, before you purchase a specific camera, it is vital to decide, which type of shooting you do most often and consider an option that suits it the most.

This section of our comparison is devoted to the performance of Nikon D800 and Sony Alpha A7 in different fields of photography. Here we are going to look at the five main areas and evaluate how well each of the reviewed models performs in them. This will help you choose an option that suits your needs the most depending on your interest in one or several of these fields.

Photography Type Nikon D800 Sony Alpha A7
Portrait Photography
94%
97%
Street Photography
90%
86%
Sports Photography
92%
97%
Daily Photography
58%
68%
Landscape Photography
99%
99%

Nikon D800 for Portrait Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm) sensor
  • High resolution sensor (36 MP)
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Face Detection Focusing

Disadvantages:

  • You might not like Nikon skintone
  • No Image Stabilization

Sony Alpha A7 for Portrait Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.8 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • High resolution sensor (24 MP)
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Face Detection Focusing

Disadvantages:

  • No Image Stabilization

Nikon D800 for Street Photography

Advantages:

  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Large Full frame(35.9 x 24 mm) sensor
  • Big battery life (900 shots)

Disadvantages:

  • Big size (146 x 123 x 82 mm)
  • No Image Stabilization

Sony Alpha A7 for Street Photography

Advantages:

  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Large Full frame(35.8 x 23.9 mm) sensor

Disadvantages:

  • Big size (127 x 94 x 48 mm)
  • No Image Stabilization

Nikon D800 for Sports Photography

Advantages:

  • Environmental Sealing
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Big Number of autofocus Points (51)
  • Nice Low Light ISO (2853)
  • Big size (146 x 123 x 82 mm)

Disadvantages:

  • Slow Continuous Shooting (4.0 fps)
  • Small Number of CrossFocus Points (15)
  • Bad Max Native ISO (6400)

Sony Alpha A7 for Sports Photography

Advantages:

  • Environmental Sealing
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Big Number of autofocus Points (117)
  • Big Number of CrossFocus Points (25)
  • Nice Low Light ISO (2248)

Disadvantages:

  • Slow Continuous Shooting (5.0 fps)
  • Small battery life (340 shots)

Nikon D800 for Daily Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm) sensor
  • Built-in Flash
  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Video is available

Disadvantages:

  • Big weight (900 g)
  • Big size (146 x 123 x 82 mm)

Sony Alpha A7 for Daily Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.8 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Wireless Connectivity
  • Video is available

Disadvantages:

  • Big weight (474 g)
  • Big size (127 x 94 x 48 mm)
  • No Built-in Flash

Nikon D800 for Landscape Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm) sensor
  • High resolution sensor (36 MP)
  • Good Dynamic Range (14.4)
  • Environmental Sealing
  • Live View
  • RAW Support
  • Nice Low Light ISO (2853)

Disadvantages:

  • Bad Max Native ISO (6400)

Sony Alpha A7 for Landscape Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.8 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • High resolution sensor (24 MP)
  • Good Dynamic Range (14.2)
  • Environmental Sealing
  • Live View
  • RAW Support
  • Nice Low Light ISO (2248)

Disadvantages:

No Significant Disadvantages

Comparison of Nikon D800 vs Sony Alpha A7: Final Verdict

Hopefully, our detailed overview of these models has helped you consider all the main specs, pros and cons of each cameras. Maybe, after reading this comparison, some of you have already decided which option to opt for depending on your needs and preferences. However, if you are still wondering which option is a better choice, Nikon D800 or Sony Alpha A7, below you can see what scores each of them received in five different aspects. To wrap up, we have used our unique Decision Algorithm that assesses different camera models upon 63 different factors including their price, and, if possible, DxO Mark scores. This algorithm allows us to make our verdict more consistent and objective.

What is our final verdict? Based on our comparison and the final scores of Nikon D800 and Sony Alpha A7 here is what we can say in conclusion:

According all the factors that we considered in the process of comparing these two cameras, Sony Alpha A7 deserves a higher Total Score than the Nikon D800. Thus, if you are choosing between these options, we would recommend you to choose the first model over the other one.

Nikon D800 vs Sony Alpha A7 Table Of Technical Specs

For better understanding of each model’s technical characteristics, find the detailed comparison below:

Nikon D800 Sony Alpha A7
General
Brand Nikon Sony
Model D800 Alpha A7
Announced Jun 11, 2012 Jan 22, 2014
Body Type Mid-size SLR SLR-style mirrorless
Sensor
Sensor Type CMOS CMOS
Sensor Size Full frame Full frame
Sensor Dimensions 35.9 x 24 mm 35.8 x 23.9 mm
Sensor Area 861.60 mm2 855.62 mm2
Sensor Resolution 36.0 MP 24.0 MP
Max Image Resolution 7360 x 4912 6000 x 4000
Max Native ISO 6,400 25,600
Max Boosted ISO 25,600 n/a
Min Native ISO 100 100
RAW Support Yes Yes
Lens
Manual Focus Yes Yes
Lens Mount Nikon F Sony E
Number of Lenses 287 83
Focal Length Multiplier 1x 1x
Macro Focus Range
AutoFocus
AF Touch No No
AF Continuous Yes Yes
AF Single Yes Yes
AF Tracking Yes No
AF Selective Yes Yes
AF Center No Yes
AF Multi Area Yes Yes
AF Live View Yes Yes
AF Face Detection Yes Yes
AF Contrast Detection No Yes
AF Phase Detection Yes Yes
Number of Focus Points 51 117
Number of Cross Focus Points 15 25
Screen
Screen Type Fixed Type Tilting
Screen Size 3.2″ 3″
Screen Resolution 921k dots 1,230k dots
Live View Yes Yes
Touch Screen No No
ViewFinder
ViewFinder Optical (pentaprism) Electronic
ViewFinder Resolution 0k dots 2,359k dots
ViewFinder Coverage 100% 100%
ViewFinder Magnification 0.7 0.71
Photography Features
Min Shutter Speed 30 s 30 s
Max Shutter Speed 1/8000 s 1/8000 s
Continuous Shooting 4.0 fps 5.0 fps
Shutter Priority Yes Yes
Aperture Priority Yes Yes
Manual Exposure Mode Yes Yes
Exposure Compensation Yes Yes
Custom White Balance Yes Yes
Image Stabilization No No
Built-in Flash Yes No
Flash Range 12 0
Flash Modes Auto, Red-eye, Slow sync, Rear curtain, High-speed sync no built-in flash
External Flash Yes Yes
AE Bracketing Yes Yes
WB Bracketing Yes Yes
Exposure Modes
Multi-Segment Yes Yes
Average Yes No
Spot Yes Yes
Partial No No
AF-Area No No
Center Weighted Yes Yes
DxO Sensor Scores
DxO Sensor Score 95 90
DxO Color Depth 25.3 24.8
DxO Dynamic Range 14.4 14.2
DxO Low Light ISO 2853 2248
Video Features
Video Resolutions 1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50, 30, 25 fps), 640 x 424 (24 fps) 1920 x 1080 (60p, 60i, 24p), 1440 x 1080 (30p), 640 x 480 (30p)
Max Video Resolution 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080
Video Formats MPEG-4, H.264 MPEG-4, AVCHD
Microphone Port Yes Yes
Headphone Port Yes Yes
Connectivity
Wireless Connectivity No Yes
HDMI Yes Yes
USB USB 3.0 USB 2.0
Physical
Environmental Sealing Yes Yes
Water Proof No No
Dust Proof No No
Shock Proof No No
Crush Proof No No
Freeze Proof No No
Weight 900 g 474 g
Physical Dimensions 146 x 123 x 82 mm 127 x 94 x 48 mm
Battery Life 900 shots 340 shots
Battery Type Battery Pack Battery Pack
Battery Model EN-EL15 NP-FW50
Other Features
Self Timer Yes Yes
Timelapse Recording Yes Yes
GPS Optional
Storage Type Compact Flash (Type I), SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I compliant SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Duo/Pro Duo/Pro-HG Duo
Storage Slots 2 1

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