Hands-on with the Nikon D810
I just received a new Nikon D810, which I bought from site sponsor B&H Photo. Although I’ve only had the camera in my hands for a few hours, I like it a lot. On paper, there aren’t that many discriminators between it and the D800/e. The D810 has a new sensor that dispenses with the Optical Low-Pass (OLP) filter entirely for ridiculously sharp images with amazing detail and resolution. In reality, these differences are quite small as compared to my D800e which used some technical trickery to “eliminate” the OLP filter. In this episode of The Sensor Plane, I discuss my rationale for upgrading and compare the D810 with my other cameras. Stay tuned until the end where I offer some tips for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom!
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Why did I choose to upgrade? As usual, it’s in the details. While no single feature of the D810 blows me away, it’s the sum of the parts that really makes this a solid upgrade. More importantly, it’s how this camera fits into my kit that sold me on it.For me, the D810 will not only be a great landscape camera, but it beats the D800 as a backup body to my D4. That’s because it delivers 5 fps full-frame, and 7fps in DX crop mode with my MB-D12 battery grip. 7fps is starting to approach the frame rates needed for action/wildlife shooting, and with a 15MP DX image, you still get plenty of resolution to work with (the D4 is 16MP). It’s also got better AF, metering, and video options than the D800. And one other thing, the D810 is quiet! It was the first thing I noticed upon snapping the shutter. It’s got a shutter sound that just seems soft and smooth… nothing like the machine-gun rattle of the D4!
A couple of other nice features in the D810 include expanded ISO range (64-12,800), a new “highlight-priority” metering mode, and a revised AF system that is similar to that in the flagship D4s. I find the D810 to be more “D4 like” in terms of features, and that’s a good thing.
Should you buy a D810?
I think if you’re in the market for a 36MP camera, the Nikon D810 is the hands-down winner. It delivers great files with excellent tone and dynamic range, making it perfect for landscapes and portraits. Couple it with a MB-D12 battery grip and EN-EL18 battery and you’ve got a pretty fast sports/wildlife camera in 1.2x or DX crop modes. In terms of image quality, the improvements are minor over the D800/e. Existing D800 users should really only upgrade if they need these new features. The D810 also makes getting a used D800e more attractive, as they can be had for almost $1000 less than a new D810, depending on condition.