Like the D700, the Nikon D800 is sturdy, with a magnesium alloy dust-and-weather-sealed body. Nikon has boosted the shutter durability rating to 200,000 cycles, up from 150,000.
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For the most part, Nikon hasn't changed its fundamental control design in years. You select the shooting mode electronically via the mode button, and a button pad on the left shoulder provides access to white-balance, quality, ISO sensitivity, and bracketing options. The movie record button is small and I think poorly situated and hard to feel; I prefer it on the back for thumb-based operation.
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The control layout on the back of the D800 is very similar to the D700's, with a few updates. Instead of a metering switch, which has been moved up around the AE/AF lock button, there's a switch that toggles you between photo and video Live View modes. And while I've never been a big fan of the multicontroller rocker switch -- it just feels a bit too imprecise to me -- I've gotten used to it after all these years.
The camera back looks oddly compact in photos. In fact, it's quite big.
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Release mode dial
You select the drive mode -- single, continuous low, continuous high, quiet shutter, or self timer -- via Nikon's typical button-locked dial. I find this design much easier to operate single-handed than Canon's design, with the button lock in the center.
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Dual card slots
Both Canon and Nikon now offer a pair of card slots -- one UDMA 7-compatible CompactFlash slot and one SDXC slot -- in this class of camera. Yay!
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Connectors and jacks
The camera's connectors include USB 3.0 and Mini-HDMI as well as microphone and headphone jacks.
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The flash sync and remote terminals are on the front. You can also see the release mode dial lock button.
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The function and preview buttons, which you operate with the middle fingers of your right hand, can be programmed for a host of different operations, including the ability to silently operate the aperture via these buttons when shooting video.
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You select from among the various single and continuous autofocus mode and area options by pressing the button in the focus-mode switch and cycling through them using the dials.