Have you been caught between worlds on whether to go with mirrorless or DSLR? Then, this Sony a7R Vs D800 comparison article is for you.
The cameras we are comparing today are quite old, being first announced in 2013 (Sony a7R) and 2011 (Nikon D800). Interestingly, these cameras are still being sought after among photographers, not just because they are more affordable now but because they still “got it.”
Nonetheless, as usual, there are downsides to be expected on these cameras considering that the world of technology is fast-paced and it’s over five years since both were released.
For readers who do not have enough time to go through all the details in this article and need to make a snappy decision, you can head over to our overview section. It’s designed to give you the gist of the article in order to help you make a quick decision.
Now the stage is set, let us get into the Sony a7R Vs D800 comparison.
Comparison Overview — Sony a7R Vs D800
Where Both Cameras Get It Right — Sony a7R Vs D800
First off, both cameras have a viewfinder. However, the Sony a7R has an electronic viewfinder, while the D800 has an optical viewfinder.
Moving on to the exposure-related features, these cameras have auto exposure bracketing, an impressive max ISO, an external flash shoe, and a fast max shutter speed.
As for image quality, these cameras have also got you covered. They have a very high max sensor resolution, and they also support the RAW format of images.
Furthermore, for video shooting purposes, these cameras have a full High Definition display resolution, a microphone port, and a headphone port.
Other fantastic features that these cameras share are face detection focus, an environmental sealing, and continuous shooting mode.
Where The Sony a7R Does It Better — Sony a7R Vs D800
First, the Sony a7R has two very impressive wireless features – the Wi-Fi and Near Field Communication Connections. This camera also supports the use of a smartphone as a remote control device.
Unlike the screen of the D800, the Sony a7R has a tilting articulating screen.
Other features where the Sony a7R does a better job include its native ISO, LCD screen resolution, and color depth.
Finally, the Sony a7R is the lighter camera of the two.
Where The D800 Does It Better — Sony a7R Vs D800
To start with, this camera has a built-in flash. It also has a flash sync port and the timelapse recording feature built-in.
This camera also has a higher number of focus points, higher dynamic range, and longer lasting battery per single charge.
As for storage, this camera has two storage slots, and also supports UHS-I memory cards.
Finally, if you are one who is keen about the LCD display, then it would interest you to know that the D800 has a large LCD display size as well.
Where Both Cameras Get It Wrong — Sony a7R Vs D800
There is one major lacking feature in the two cameras in comparison, and that is image stabilization. So, blurry images might be a problem.
For the individual downsides on each camera, the Sony a7R doesn’t have a very impressive battery life.
For the D800, it has no wireless features. It is also a very heavyweight camera, and doesn’t have an articulated screen.
Which Has The Better Price-Value Ratio: Sony a7R or D800?
The Sony a7R will offer better value than the Nikon D800 because it’s a more modern camera. The Nikon D800 is missing out on a few key features that the average photographer of today can’t do without which would make taking photos quite a chore, even though image quality is excellent.
These cameras sell for a fair price, costing about the same price for the body alone. On some sites, though, the Nikon D800 is, significantly, more expensive. However, with the link we have provided you’d find one for a fair price.
So, for the price, we would go for the Sony a7R. It’s not the perfect camera, but at this price point, and between these two, we feel you might enjoy the a7R better than the D800.
Comparative Brand Strengths — Sony a7R Vs D800
Both Sony and Nikon are big names when it comes to optics and imaging. Nikon however, is bigger and older than Sony.
Nikon is the number one camera brand in the world, sharing the spot with Canon. When it comes to Nikon, they are known for their fantastic range of DSLRs.
For Sony, it’s the second largest camera brand in the world after Nikon and Canon. They also have the most popular line of mirrorless cameras in the world.
We can see now that both of the cameras in comparison are from gargatuan companies. So, we cannot exactly judge by brands on this as both brands are known to always dish out impressive gear.
Comparison Table — Sony a7R Vs D800
|Number Of Focus Points||25||51|
|LCD Screen Size||3 inches||3.2 inches|
|Battery Life||340 shots||900 shots|
|Timelapse Recording||With optional app||Yes|
|Low Light ISO||2746||2853|
|Flash Sync Port||No||Yes|
|UHS Card Support||None||UHS-I|
|LCD Screen Resolution||1.230k dots||921k dots|
|Weight||465 grams||900 grams|
|Near Field Communication||Yes||No|
|Smartphone Remote Control||Yes||No|
What Situation Is Each Camera Best For? — Sony a7R Vs D800
| The truth is that the Sony a7R and D800 are pretty similar cameras when it comes to performance. Both can work in about the same environments. |
We see these two cameras doing fantastic for portraits, landscapes, in low light, and even for shooting videos.
However, the Sony a7R would appeal more to modern photographers than the D800. There’s a lot more sophistication the Sony a7R offers in comparison to the D800.
For instance, it comes with an electronic viewfinder which every photographer uses these days.
It also has a sharper LCD screen that articulates.
Let’s not forget all the wireless features that Sony a7R packs to make file transfer easier. No one uses cords anymore, by the way.
Plus, because there are no mirrors here, the Sony a7R is considerably lighter. So, it’s easy to carry around.
Equally as important, it’s much easier and more intuitive to learn than the D800.
| On the other hand, the Nikon D800 seems more like a relic. |
But hey, don’t get us wrong, this camera delivers well. Its image and video quality are fantastic and the battery practically lives forever.
However, some features which we have already learned to take for granted in cameras like built-in WiFi and articulating screens are conspicuously absent here.
This isn’t a camera you can use regularly as it will slow down your work. Not forgetting the fact that it is also pretty heavy as well. So, lugging it around would be a real problem.
Plus, this isn’t a camera that a beginner or amateur photographer wants to begin with. It requires quite a learning curve and interacting with the camera is a bit tough.
Nonetheless, we’re pretty sure veteran photographers would find some good use for this camera in a number of ways.
In summary, don’t get the D800 if you’re not an experienced photographer.
This brings us to the end of the overview section. From here on, we get into the details. So, if you’re interested, come along. Otherwise, you can check out how the Sony a7R compares with a Canon, also a semi-pro DSLR. Click here to read our comparison of the Sony a7R vs 5D Mark III.
Common Features — Sony a7R Vs D800
Here are things the Sony a7R and Nikon D800 have in common:
ii. External flash hot shoe
iii. RAW support
iv. Face detection focus
v. 36 mega pixel full frame sensors
vi. Full HD video
vii. Environmental sealing
viii. Auto exposure bracketing
ix. Average maximum ISO values
x. Shutter speed
xi. 4 frames per second burst mode speed
Let us now discuss each of them in detail…
The viewfinder is a feature on the camera that allows you get a preview of the scene before taking the shot.
There are two basic types of viewfinders. The first is the electronic viewfinder, while the second is the Optical viewfinder.
Both of the cameras in this Sony a7R Vs D800 have viewfinders. However, the Sony a7R has an electronic viewfinder while Nikon’s D800 has an optical viewfinder.
The electronic viewfinder functions like a very small LCD screen. It, electronically, projects the image of the scene as captured by the image sensor.
Many photographers find the electronic viewfinder quite beneficial as it shows you exactly how the image would turn out after the photo has been taken. Also, when shooting low-light scenes, the EVF shows brighter images as well.
The only downside to the EVF is the fact that it is known to be a battery-draining feature.
The optical viewfinder, on the other hand, functions with the mirror mechanism, which is why it can only be found on DSLR cameras.
When the camera is ready to take a shot, light from the scene enters into the camera hitting a reflex mirror, a pentaprism, and the image sensor of the camera before getting to the viewfinder. This results in the OVF displaying the exact image being seen through the camera lens.
However, unlike with electronic viewfinder, the image you see through the optical viewfinder is as the human eyes see not as the camera sees. So, in the end, the resulting image might be far removed from what the photographer saw through the optical viewfinder while taking the photo.
This is why shooting with DSLRs requires a lot of practice.
Nonetheless, there are some advantages with the OVF. Being optical, the OVF cannot suffer lag or delay. It also doesn’t use any battery power.
External Flash Hot Shoe
The external flash shoe is a feature that allows you to attach an external flash to the body of the camera. The external flash is a great light enhancement tool that often comes in handy when shooting in dark scenes.
Both of these cameras have the external flash shoe. So, for shooting dark or poorly lit scenes, both the they’ve got you covered.
Another feature that the two cameras in comparison have that make them great is RAW support.
When set to save in this format, the camera saves the image exactly the way it was shot – that is with all the detail as recorded by the camera.
This feature gives you the highest quality of images the cameras can produce. Also, with this file format you have the flexibility to edit the images to your taste without losing quality.
Although, being such a great feature, images shot in RAW format are usually quite large in storage size, and not all devices support the image format.
Face Detection Focus
Face detection focus is a feature that is great for shooting portraits, here’s why. This feature, as the name implies, detects and focuses on any face or faces on the scene being shot, but that’s not all.
This feature also locks down on the faces detected, therefore, even when there is a change in position on the scene by the detected face, the camera readjusts the main focus of the image to the face.
Maximum Sensor Resolution
The sensor resolution of the camera is another feature that determines the quality of images the camera will produce. It is calculated as the number of pixels that make up the image shot by a camera.
The sensor resolution of the image majorly determines how big the screen or print size of the image can be. When an image has a lot of pixels, it is able to spread out these pixels on large screens and prints without losing its quality.
Also, the more pixels an image has, the more editing can be done to the image like cropping and downsampling.
With a high resolution, the image has enough pixels to part with, therefore, even after the cropping or downsampling has been done – which should reduce image quality – the image will still retain a relatively high image quality.
The Sony a7R and the D800 both have the exact same values for their max sensor resolution – 36 megapixels. So, they are great for photographers who have to do aggressive cropping, large print sizes, and downsampling.
Now, let us take a look at some video features that these two cameras have in common. The first is their video resolution.
The video resolution of a camera is the number of horizontal lines the video shot by the camera possesses from top to bottom. It determines how large a screen the video can be displayed on.
Both cameras have the same full high definition resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels, meaning that videos would have 1080 horizontal lines from top to bottom that are 1920 pixels. Quite impressive!
However, videos shot in this resolution cannot be used for commercial cinematic purposes. The 1080p resolution is restricted to HD televisions to retain its quality.
Next, let’s look at features that affect the audio of the video – the microphone port and the headphone port.
The microphone port allows you to connect an external microphone to the camera while the headphone port allows you to connect a headphone to the camera.
The external microphone makes sure that the camera records only the sound gotten from the direction it is pointed at.
While, the headphone allows you to monitor the audio of the video while shooting and make adjustments where necessary.
For shooting slow motion videos, the Sony a7R will do a better job. This is because it shoots its videos at a higher frame rate. The Sony a7R shots at a frame rate of 60 frames per second, while the D800 shoots at 25 frames per second.
This is another feature that can be found on both of the cameras in this Sony 7r Vs D800 comparison.
Environmental- or weather-sealing is a feature that is added to the camera body to protect it from damage caused by the entrance of weather elements.
Having this feature isn’t the same as having a water-resistant camera, however, it does a good job at keeping the moisture out.
This feature also varies in design across camera brands and models.
If you have ever shot scenes that have a lot of shadows or variation in lighting, then you’d really understand the importance of the auto-exposure bracketing feature. Such scenes usually make it a hard task to achieve perfectly exposed images.
Now, with the auto-exposure bracketing tool, the camera allows you to shoot images at automatically set exposure values.
Most cameras take, at least, 3 shots, others take more. The idea is to have a number of images with different levels of exposure. Most often, one of these photos comes out with the perfect exposure you need.
Average Max ISO Value
The ISO value of a camera is another factor that affects the exposure of the images shot by the camera. The ISO determines how sensitive the image sensor of the camera is to light from the scene. So, higher ISO values mean the sensor becomes more sensitive to light, thereby, producing brighter images.
As for these cameras, they both have average maximum ISO values for pro cameras.
Now, there is a slight difference in the two cameras when it comes to their maximum ISO values. The native ISO value of the Sony a7R is higher than that of the D800. However, the max ISO value of the D800 can be expanded, and when expanded, the maximum ISO of the of the D800 can get as high as that of the a7R.
The shutter speed is a feature that plays a big role in shooting objects in motion. This feature also determines the exposure of the image shot. How?
The shutter speed refers to how fast the shutter closes to take a photo.
So, naturally, at slower shutter speed, the shutter is left open for longer, thereby, exposing the image sensor to light much longer. This results in having brighter images. Shooting at faster shutter speeds, on the other hand, will produce the opposite result.
Now, when it comes to shooting objects in motion, manipulating shutter speed can achieve two things.
At a slower shutter speed, you can introduce motion blur which gives the observer a sense of speed when looking at the photo.
On the other hand, at a faster shutter speed, you get to, literally, freeze the object in motion. No blurs whatsoever, even if the subject is a flying bird or a rushing stream.
Both cameras have a max shutter speed of 1/8000th of a second.
Continuous Shooting Mode
Continuous shooting mode, burst mode, sports mode. This feature has a lot of names.
Basically, what continuous shooting does is to allow you to capture multiple images in the space of seconds as long as your finger remains on the shutter button. This way, you never miss a moment, and you have many images to pick from afterward.
The a7R and D800 do poorly in this regard as they have only 4 frames per second for continuous shooting mode. It, definitely, cannot be used for sports, wildlife, or action photography.
Unique Features — Sony a7R Vs D800
Which comes with built-in Wi-Fi: Sony a7R or Nikon D800?
The Sony a7R has the built-in Wi-Fi connectivity feature. This is a feature that allows the camera to create a wireless connection and share files with other devices. What makes this feature so important is that, with it, you don’t have to make use of cords and wires. You also do not have to carry your computer around all the time.
Which has near field communication: Sony a7R or Nikon D800?
The Sony a7R comes with near field communication (NFC) which allows you create a wireless connection just by touching your camera and the other NFC compatible device together.
Which can be remote controlled: Sony a7R or Nikon D800?
The Sony a7R comes with the smartphone remote control tool. As the name implies, with this feature, you can use your smartphone to control the camera remotely. One of the biggest advantages of this feature is that you get a preview of the image being shot. So, with the smartphone wirelessly connected to the camera, you can access menu files, adjust settings, and trigger the shutter, all remotely.
Which is better for flexible shooting: Sony a7R or Nikon D800?
The Sony a7R has an articulated screen which moves about on an axis, tilting upwards and downwards, making it the better camera for flexible shooting. The D800, on the other hand, has a fixed LCD screen.
Which comes with a built-in flash: Sony a7R or Nikon D800?
The built-in flash is incorporated into the system of the Nikon D800. This means that when exposure-related settings are made on the camera, the settings also apply the built-in flash. Although not as powerful as an external flash, a built-in flash can be a life-saver for those moments you need casual pictures and using an external flash would be overkill.
Earlier in the article, we talked about an external light enhancement feature. The built-in flash is also a light enhancement tool, however, this tool is designed as a part of the camera body.
Which is better for flash photography: Sony a7R or Nikon D800?
With the flash sync port you get to sync your external flash with your Nikon D800 such that you can trigger it from the camera without it being attached to the camera. This way, you can test the lighting on the scene from different angles giving different effects for the shot.
Which can record time-lapse videos: Sony a7R or Nikon D800?
The Sony a7R has the time lapse recording feature built into the system while the D800 would need an external app in order to shoot time-lapse videos. Time-lapse is a creative technique of shooting video that makes activities appear to be happening faster than normal in video.
When the camera is set to shoot in this mode, it records the video at a frame rate that is more spread out than the rate at which it will be played back.
Which can you use UHS cards with: Sony a7R or Nikon D800?
The Sony a7R doesn’t support any form of UHS card. The Nikon D800, however, supports the UHS-I SD card. This is the base level of the UHS card, and it reads and writes at a rate of about 50 to 104 megabytes per second.
Unique Pros – Sony a7R Vs D800
Pros Of The Sony a7R:
Comes with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity for easy transfer of files via the internet.
Presence of an articulating screen would make shooting at odd angles easier.
The Sony a7R has a higher native ISO than the D800.
Also has a higher LCD screen resolution.
The Sony a7R is the lighter of the two cameras in comparison.
Has a higher color depth and so will record more color details and display less banding.
Features Near Field Communication (NFC).
Finally, the Sony a7R is compatible with the smartphone remote control.
Pros Of The Nikon D800
Comes with a built-in flash.
Has more focus points than the Sony a7R.
The LCD screen of the D800 has a larger display size.
Also, this camera has a battery that lasts longer shots per single charge.
This camera also has the timelapse feature built-in.
For light enhancement flexibility, this camera has the flash sync port feature.
Contains two storage card slots and also supports UHS-I SD cards.
Unique Cons – Sony a7R Vs D800
Cons Of The Sony a7R
- The battery life of this camera doesn’t last long.
- Does not support the use of UHS memory cards, meaning that reading and writing to storage will be pretty slow with this camera.
Cons Of The Nikon D800
- Lacks wireless features.
- The LCD screen is fixed, therefore, it might be difficult and sometimes even impossible to get a preview while shooting at certain positions.
- This camera is pretty heavy.
Check out these other articles:
- Sony a7S Vs D800 – Detailed Comparison
- Sony a68 Vs Canon 760D – Which Is Better for You?
- Sony a6300 Vs Canon T6i – Which Should You Get?
- Sony a77 Mark II Vs Canon 70D – Detailed Comparison
- Sony a7RII Vs GH4 – Which Camera Should You Go For?
- Sony a7 vs Nikon D7000 – What Camera Is Better For You?
Common Pros – Sony a7R Vs D800
|External Flash Shoe||This feature allows you to attach an external flash to the body of the Sony a7R for light enhancement purposes.||Same as the Sony a7R.|
|Viewfinder||The Sony a7R has an electronic viewfinder.||The D800 has an Optical viewfinder.|
|RAW Support||This is the file format having the highest image quality the camera can produce.||Same as the Sony a7R.|
|Face Detection Focus||With this feature, the camera detects and focuses on the human faces in the scene being shot.||Same as the Sony a7R.|
|Max Sensor Resolution||The Sensor resolution of the camera determines how large the print/display size of the images can be. This camera has a 36-megapixel camera.||Same as the Sony a7R.|
|High LCD Screen Resolution||This means that the camera will produce a very high quality display on its LCD screen. This camera has an LCD screen resolution of 1.230k dots.||The D800 has an LCD screen resolution of 921k dots.|
|Microphone Port||The Sony a7R has a microphone port that allows you to connect an external microphone to the camera in order to achieve clear audio while shooting videos.||Same as the Sony a7R.|
|Headphone Port||This feature allows you to connect a headphone to the camera so you can monitor the audio of the video while shooting.||Same as the Sony a7R.|
|Environmental Sealing||This feature protects the camera form weather elements that could damage the inner components of the camera.||Same as the Sony a7R.|
|Auto Exposure Bracketing||This feature solves the exposure setting problem that comes with shooting scenes with shadows and high dynamic range.||Same as the Sony a7R.|
Common Cons – Sony a7R Vs D800
|No Image Stabilization||This Sony a7R doesn’t have any built-in image stabilization feature. This means that images will appear blurry a lot of times as a result of slight shakes.||Same as the Sony a7R.|
What Users Think About Both Cameras — Sony a7R Vs D800
| To start with, users are generally impressed with all the features of this camera. |
The first thing that gets all the glory with the camera is its image quality.
According to users, there are a lot of features this camera has all stuffed into the compact body of the size of the camera.
| With this camera, users go on and on about the image quality and high resolution. |
Users are very happy that they can crop and re-crop images shot with the D800, and still not lose image quality.
Also, users are very impressed with the battery life of this camera being able to last very long without having to charge.
Another feature of the D800 that gets a lot of applause is the body’s feel of the camera.
According to users, it is a very professional feel.
| For the features users aren’t too happy about, the autofocus system comes in first. |
A number of users complain about the autofocus system being a bit slow.
Also, users aren’t very happy with the range of lenses available for this camera.
Most users would appreciate a little more variety with the lens selection.
| The first thing users point out to be a slight downside with this camera is image size. |
A lot of users advise that you carry multiple SD cards and storage devices with this camera as images and videos tend to be very large in size – especially when shot in RAW. Also, some users say that using this camera “comes with a learning curve”.
Getting accustomed with the interface of the camera might take some time.
Our Take — Sony a7R Vs D800
| We, first of all, have to say, that this camera is well-built. |
Being a pro camera and having all the fantastic features that come with it is one thing. But, having all these features in such an impressively-designed, compact, lightweight body is another.
This camera truly deserves some accolades.
| As for the D800, this camera is a joy to behold, have, and discuss. At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that it is a semi-pro level camera. |
However, moving forward, we see the fight it puts up when placed against a pro-level camera.
There are features on this camera that even some pro-level cameras do not have.
It is for this reason that we rate the D800 very highly.
| Are there areas that need improvement in this camera? Definitely! The continuous shooting feature would be a good place to start. Then maybe a touch-sensitive screen too. |
But, generally, this is a fine camera and we recommend it.
| Of course, this camera has its shortcomings, having a few missing features here and there. The absence of wireless features, for instance, is almost unforgivable in these modern times. |
Nonetheless, this camera is a great camera.
Sony a7R Vs D800 – FAQs
What is the difference between the Sony a7 and a7R?
|Sony a7||Sony a7R|
|Maximum sensor resolution||24 megapixels||36 megapixels|
|ISO range||50 – 25600||100 – 25600|
|Burst mode speed||5 frames per second||4 frames per second|
|Body weight||474 grams||465 grams|
Is the Sony a7R good for video?
The Sony a7R shoots full HD, so, you know it is good for video. But well, a camera is good for video goes beyond just the video resolution. Being able to get high audio quality is also important, and coming with an external microphone jack, the Sony a7R guarantees that you can have the best audio quality possible.
This camera also comes with a headphone jack, which means that you can use headphones to regulate audio while you record. The a7R also has a tilting screen, so, you will be able to conveniently record from different angles.
Is the Nikon D800 a professional camera?
The Nikon D800 is not a professional camera, however, it is one that can be (and is) used by professional photographers. It is what is called an advanced camera. Looking at its 36 mega pixel full frame sensor, top side LCD display, compatibility with off-camera flashes, weather sealing, and headphone jack, it is not surprising why some pros still use this camera.
Anyway, the Nikon D800 is best suited for photography enthusiasts who are not exactly pros yet, but are far from being newbies.
Is the Nikon D800 still worth buying?
The Nikon D800 is surely still worth buying. It was released in 2012, but this camera can still compete with some of the newer cameras. It may not have the latest technology, but what cannot be denied is the quality of photos is produces.
Its 36 mega pixel full frame sensor is one to be talked about. It is also designed with a pentraprism viewfinder (the more superior optical viewfinder kind). Furthermore, it is good for video, has a pretty good battery capacity, compatible with off-camera flashes, and can be used in any weather condition because it is weather sealed. Worth it, if you ask us.
Does the Nikon D800 have Wi-Fi?
The Nikon D800 does not come with built-in Wi-Fi, and unlike with many cameras these days, you also cannot achieve wireless connectivity with an Eye-Fi card. It is not a modern camera, so, this should not be very surprising.
The D800 also does not come with Bluetooth, so, basically, it is zilch on the wireless connectivity front. But well, this camera is compatible with ultra high speed memory cards, and it has 2 storage slots (which is one more than many cameras in its level offer). This, of course, will not be as fun or as convenient as transferring files over a wireless connection, but it sort of makes up for it a bit.
Is the Nikon D800 good for video?
The Nikon D800 is good for video. It has a video resolution of 1920 x 1080 (which means it shoots full HD), so, you are guaranteed good video quality with this one. You will also be able to get the best audio quality as this camera is compatible with many external microphones, so, you can get the best and record with it.
More so, you can monitor your audio while you record as this camera is compatible with headphones, too. Not to forget, also, the D800’s long lasting battery which will allow you record uninterrupted for quite a long time.