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Do all high end Nikons have monster files?

SkipperlangeSkipperlange Member
edited September 2013 in home
A recent thread here re the D800 and its large file size had me wondering if Nikon models above the D800 also had very large (cumbersome, computer-taxing) files. Does the D4 for example, which I know Neil uses a lot? My D700 does not seem to have unwieldy files and although they are going strong I'm sure I'll be due for an upgrade soon. Should I skip over the D800 and go to a more expensive one? I'm sure there are other reasons for this move anyway but just re file size is that also a problem with those models above and beyond the D800? Thanks.


  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Yup, the Nikon D4 raw files were also surprisingly larger than the D3. More than I expected from the 12 - 16 megapixel jump.
  • Wow, so I'd really have to get a new computer too. This vintage 2006 MacBook Pro that just won't die can barely handle files from the D700. Yikes.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    What size are the RAWs Neil from the D4?
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    The Nikon D4 files (16 megapixels) vary in the 20-23 Mb size each.

    The Nikon D3 files (12 megapixels) vary around the 11-12 Mb size.

    The file size doubled!
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    The Nikon D800 file size is around 40-42 Mb each.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    That is a huge difference for 'just' an increase in 4MP between cameras.
  • So .... the files from the D800 are larger than the files from both the D3 and D4 right? And no jokes, this is a serious question, math is not my strong point.
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    Yep, most certainly are. Up to 3-4 times bigger. You will need a good system to cope with hundreds of D800 files.

    Now, you may think that 40-42Mb files are 'I can handle that easily' but, when you open a file in Photoshop the file size will triple immediately without you doing anything so your system has to work on that, but then you have to edit it and it will jump by 8+ times in size and that's what the system has to cope with.

    Here is Canon file from 5D II at 21Mp just opened in Photoshop. Jumped to 60Mb straight up.

    Then by just doing some editing on it with layers, etc. it jumped to over 500Mb and that's what you are working with.

    Obviously when you flatten and save as jpeg the file will be considerably smaller, but when working that's the actual size you are working on with the large size.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    PS: Even if you are in ACR, LightRoom, Aperture, Capture One, etc. RAW editors, the working behind the scenes will be a lot more labor intensive.
  • Thanks Trev! Really interesting. So.... why would anyone get a D800? Unless you're a billboard photographer I mean. And yes, the D3 (if it's still available) and the D4 are super pricey. But most photographers don't need the enormous file size of D800, am I right? So, why? Yikes, I'll save for D4 before I saddle myself with monster files.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    That would be up to you, I would never tell anyone not to get something that's proven to have good details, reasonably priced, etc. You just have to be aware of file sizes when working.

    There are D3s's out there somewhere but the major stores generally don't stock them anymore once they run out of stock. B&H don't have any. The smaller stockists would though and you'd need to Google it.

    But the price difference between a new D3s and D4 is only around $300+ so I would save for D4.

    However, if getting a D800, you don't have to work with the large files in full resolution, I would save them out to PSDs in a smaller Mp resolution which you can do in ACR/LR then work on them say in photoshop itself or reimport back into LR the smaller PSD files.

    A bit more time but would help if going down that path, especially with hundreds of D800 files.

    You would only need the larger size if you know you are going to create a massive canvas/poster to hang on wall.

    You can easily get smaller sizes up to say 20x30 inch no problems.

    By exporting out to smaller PSD first, you will not lose the fidelity of the details in the original files, it will just be smaller and if printing out to things like 10x8; 11x14, etc. the standard photo sizes, having the much higher resolution D800 files would be an absolute complete waste of space/time/processing power.

    If you do not know how to export out to small sizes, just ask, will post some images from ACR or LR.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Only 1 way to see if you can handle the larger sizes, download a RAW from here and test yourself.

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