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!
The goal of this overview is to provide a detailed comparison of two popular camera models from Semi-Pro DSLR category, introduced by Nikon. We are going to take a closer look at the technical and physical characteristics, features, and performance. The models we are going to assess and compare in this review are D90 and D800. Both products that we are going to review are equipped with the same type of sensor - CMOS. However, they have different resolution. Thus, Nikon D90 comes with a 12.0 MP CMOS sensor, while the Nikon D800 features a 36.0 MP CMOS sensor.
Now, before we can move on to our comparison, let's take a moment to look at the key characteristics of Nikon D90 and Nikon D800.
Nikon D90 Key Features:
Nikon D800 Key Features:
Since Nikon D90 has been around for some time, it was substituted by
Be sure to check out some of our other comparisons that may also interest you:
Nikon D90 vs. D7000
Nikon D7000 vs. Nikon D800
|Wireless Connectivity||Eye-Fi Connected vs No||Better connectivity|
|Continuous Shooting||4.5 fps vs 4 fps||0.5 fps faster|
|Flash Range||17 vs 12||5 better flash range|
|Weight||703 g vs 900 g||197 g lighter|
|Timelapse Recording||Yes vs No||Creative shooting|
|Storage Slots||2 vs 1||Extra storage slot|
|Sensor Resolution||36.0 MP vs 12.0 MP||66.7% more pixels|
|Sensor Area||861.6 mm2 vs 372.88 mm2||56.7% larger pixel area|
|Max Shutter Speed||1/8000 vs 1/4000||Faster shutter speed|
|Number Of Focus Points||51 vs 11||40 more focus points|
|Screen Size||3.2″ vs 3″||0.2" larger screen|
|Screen Resolution||921k dots vs 920k dots||0.1% higher resolution screen|
|Battery Life||900 shots vs 850 shots||50 more frames with a single charge|
|Environmental Sealing||Yes vs No||Shoot at tough conditions|
|Max Video Resolution||1920 x 1080 vs 1280 x 720||Higher Resolution Video|
|Microphone Port||Yes vs No||High quality audio recording option|
|Headphone Port||Yes vs No||Has headphone port|
|Dxo Color Depth||25.3 vs 22.7||Better color depth|
|Dxo Dynamic Range||14.4 vs 12.5||Better dynamic range|
|Dxo Low Light Iso||2853 vs 977||Better High ISO performance|
|Viewfinder Magnification||0.7 vs 0.64||0.06 better magnification|
|Screen Size||3″ | 3.2″||Large display|
|Viewfinder||Optical (pentaprism) | Optical (pentaprism)||Better framing and control|
|Raw Support||Yes | Yes||Better image quality|
|AutoFocus Face Detection||Yes | Yes||Very handy for portraits|
|Bracketing||Yes | Yes||Useful for tough lighting conditions and HDR|
|Built-In Flash||Yes | Yes||External flash available|
|Flash Sync Port||Yes | Yes||Port for Flash Sync|
|Battery Life||850 shots | 900 shots||Big number of frames with a single charge|
|Touch Screen||No | No||No touch screen|
|Screen Resolution||920k dots | 921k dots||Small screen resolution|
|Screen Type||Fixed Type | Fixed Type||No flexible viewing angles|
|Continuous Shooting||4.5 fps | 4.0 fps||Low continuous shooting|
|Image Stabilization||No | No||No image stabilization|
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 D90 and Nikon D800 from the front view.
Now, let’s go on and see how the reviewed models are different or similar by the top view.
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, Nikon D90 is a lighter option of these two, as it weights 197g 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.
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 D90 and Nikon D800 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 D90 features a 12.0 MP APS-C sized CMOS sensor . Nikon D800, in its turn, comes with a 36.0 MP Full frame sized CMOS sensor , which makes it significantly different from the first model.
Take a look below to find the comparison of Nikon D90 and Nikon D800 by the size of their sensors.
One more distinctive feature of compared models is the sensor size. Nikon D800 is equipped with a sensor that is 0.4x larger than the one featured in Nikon D90. Compared to the cameras with smaller sensor area, the ones with larger sensors ensure more control on the blurry background and depth of field if you shoot in the same aperture and focal length. Thus, the first model has a significant advantage here.
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 D90 and Nikon D800 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 D90||Nikon D800|
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 D90 or Nikon D800, 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 D90 and Nikon D800 here is what we can say in conclusion:
According all the factors that we considered in the process of comparing these two cameras, Nikon D800 deserves a higher Total Score than the Nikon D90. Thus, if you are choosing between these options, we would recommend you to choose the first model over the other one.
For better understanding of each model’s technical characteristics, find the detailed comparison below:
|Nikon D90||Nikon D800|
|Announced||Oct 13, 2008||Jun 11, 2012|
|Body Type||Mid-size SLR||Mid-size SLR|
|Sensor Size||APS-C||Full frame|
|Sensor Dimensions||23.6 x 15.8 mm||35.9 x 24 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.88 mm2||861.60 mm2|
|Sensor Resolution||12.0 MP||36.0 MP|
|Max Image Resolution||4288 x 2848||7360 x 4912|
|Max Native ISO||3,200||6,400|
|Max Boosted ISO||6,400||25,600|
|Min Native ISO||200||100|
|Lens Mount||Nikon F||Nikon F|
|Number of Lenses||287||287|
|Focal Length Multiplier||1.5x||1x|
|Macro Focus Range|
|AF Multi Area|
|AF Live View|
|AF Face Detection|
|AF Contrast Detection|
|AF Phase Detection|
|Number of Focus Points||11||51|
|Number of Cross Focus Points||n/a||15|
|Screen Type||Fixed Type||Fixed Type|
|Screen Resolution||920k dots||921k dots|
|ViewFinder||Optical (pentaprism)||Optical (pentaprism)|
|ViewFinder Resolution||0k dots||0k dots|
|Min Shutter Speed||30 s||30 s|
|Max Shutter Speed||1/4000 s||1/8000 s|
|Continuous Shooting||4.5 fps||4.0 fps|
|Manual Exposure Mode|
|Custom White Balance|
|Flash Modes||Auto, Front curtain, Rear curtain, Red-Eye, Slow Sync||Auto, Red-eye, Slow sync, Rear curtain, High-speed sync|
|DxO Sensor Scores|
|DxO Sensor Score||73||95|
|DxO Color Depth||22.7||25.3|
|DxO Dynamic Range||12.5||14.4|
|DxO Low Light ISO||977||2853|
|Video Resolutions||1280 x 720 (24 fps), 640 x 424 (24 fps), 320 x 216 (24 fps)||1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50, 30, 25 fps), 640 x 424 (24 fps)|
|Max Video Resolution||1280 x 720||1920 x 1080|
|Video Formats||Motion JPEG||MPEG-4, H.264|
|USB||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|Weight||703 g||900 g|
|Physical Dimensions||132 x 103 x 77 mm||146 x 123 x 82 mm|
|Battery Life||850 shots||900 shots|
|Battery Type||Battery Pack||Battery Pack|
|Storage Type||SD/SDHC||Compact Flash (Type I), SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I compliant|