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Saving Space by Cropping the D800 / D800E Sensor

The D800 / D800E (and other Nikon models) offer a crop-sensor mode (Image Area => Choose Image Area).

The crop modes are useful for cutting file sizes down when subject matter to the edges is not important. And with 36 megapixels to start with, even the DX mode crop is very respectable (15 megapixels).

Crop mode gives no more “reach”, it just crops off the sensor. However, in crop mode, when the frame is filled the same way, you effectively get more depth of field (because you move farther away to fill the frame that is cropped).


On the D800 and D800E, 3/4 choices maintain the 3:2 aspect ratio, but the 5:4 choice affords something different. Too bad there are not also 1:1 and 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio choices.

  • 1.0X at 36 X 24
  • 1.2X at 30 X 20, a good compromise if a lens is weak at the edges and corners)
  • 5:4 at 30 X 24, classic large-format aspect ratio. Could be very good for head and shoulders portraits also.
  • 1.5X at 24 X 16

Which result in the following file sizes:

  Width Height Megapixels Space savings
Full frame 7360 4912 36.1 none
5:4 crop 6144 4912 30.2 16.3%
1.2X crop 6144 4080 25.1 30.5%
DX crop 4800 3200 15.4 57.3%

It’s too bad that there are no “sRAW” (small RAW) files which are downsampled from the full sensor resolution.

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