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Christmas Gift Guide

Body

Top controls

Back controls

Release mode dial

Dual card slots

Connectors and jacks

Connectors

Programmable buttons

Focus modes

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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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!
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The camera's connectors include USB 3.0 and Mini-HDMI as well as microphone and headphone jacks.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The flash sync and remote terminals are on the front. You can also see the release mode dial lock button.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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