REVIEW NIKON D810
Recent Nikon presented the successor of the successful D800/D800E, the D810. The D800 and the D800E were the same camera’s, the D800E only didn’t have a low pass filter. Now Nikon left this filter away on the D810 and doesn’t have a second model with it anymore. There was a lot of discussion on forums whether this made a big difference or not and if it was worth the price difference (a couple of hundred dollars) between the two models. Comparing to the D800/D800E the D810 doesn’t look like a major update. The adjustments Nikon made are maybe less striking at a first glance but they form a long list of larger and smaller improvements that were made. Nikon has listened very carefully to their professional users which are definitely the target customers for this camera.
Through my relationship with Zoom.nl, Hollands biggest photography magazine, I was able to test the Nikon D810 for a couple of days. I have tested the camera mainly with architectural photography. This a kind of photography were the capacities of this camera can excel. Momentarily I use a Nikon D700 as my main camera for all my professional work and I’m looking for my next camera. This D810 is an interesting candidate with the D750 that was introduced last week prior to the Photokina’14 in Cologne, Germany. For the specifications of the D750 look here.
After picking up the camera the first thing I noticed was the size of the camera. If you don’t have big hands like me, it feels pretty big. Bigger than the D700. After a while I got used to it. All buttons and dials are well spread and organized, as you would expect from a Nikon. You can operate them also with your gloves in colder conditions. For the bracketing they added a sweet little button. After the first push of the shutter release button my second impression was: “wow, is this camera silent”. The D810 has also a quiet mode (single shot and continue) that is even quieter. If you want to photograph and don’t want to draw a lot of attention to you, this very important. Nikon has adjusted the shutter mechanism of the camera and this results also in significantly less vibrations when you push the button. This is a great help in creating sharper images!
With one charge of the battery (capacity 1900 mAh) it is possible to make 1200 photos according to Nikon. They have improved the performance of the battery with 30 %. I have photographed two days for more than 7 hours with the camera and shot an occasional film clip with it and still the battery had lots of energy. If you are not going to film all day or shoot a lot of long exposures you will be able to photograph all day with just one battery. But it is always wise to buy a spare battery and keep that with you in case you need it!
When the D810 was presented a lot of users were disappointed it didn’t have a built in gps-module or a Wi-Fi-module. For me as a (mainly) outdoor photographer Wi-Fi has not much use. Gps would have been nice, but we all know from our mobile phones how much energy the use of a gps draws from the battery of your phone. Maybe that’s the reason Nikon left it out of the body of the D810. You can add both as an extra accessories.
RESOLUTION AND ISO
Maybe the most impressive feature of the Nikon D810 (like its predecessor) is the big resolution of 36 megapixels. Making large prints is a breeze with this resolution! The enormous amount of pixels (7360 x 4912 pixels) does give a lot of room for cropping your picture. But… in your daily use this enormous resolution isn’t always fun to work with. It is sometimes even unpractical. Nikon has added a new format, RAW-s to the D810. This is 9 megapixel format. I would have liked it if the had one more step added between the maximum resolution of 36 megapixels and this new 9 megapixels format, for example RAW-m with 18 – 20 megapixels. That would have given users more flexibility.
This enormous resolution of 36 megapixels does come with a cost. Digital storage is relatively cheap these days, but for editing these files you need a fast and very powerful computer with a lot of internal memory. (FYI: I use a Windows 8 computer with a i7 Intel processor and with 16 GB (!) internal memory). Uploading your files to your computer, editing, sending files over the internet, etc. Everything goes slower. The RAW-files (with lossless compression) that come straight out of the camera are 40 – 50 MB! These files can be stored on both SD and CF-cards (each one slot) with the highest speed standards of the moment. How the camera should do this, is all adjustable to your personal preference.
For the first time Nikon not only has added a higher ISO of 12800, but also a lower ISO of 64. These ISO values were added for filming in the first place, but are very valuable for photography too. When you photograph a lot during dusk and dawn with long shutter speeds like me, a lower ISO gives a the possibility to photograph longer with long shutter speeds as with the 200 ISO of the D700. With these longer shutter speeds your camera absorbs more colors which results in better photos! The ISO values of 6400 and 12800 are useful for photographers who want to photograph without a tripod in dark situations. With software like Lightroom you can remove most of the noise that comes with it. Personally I would use ISO 3200 as a limit and the 6400 and 12800 values only as an emergency.
RATING (1 – 5)
- Ergonomics 5
- Functions 5
- Speed 4,5
- Image quality 5
- Price/quality 4,5
- Very silent and less vibrations from the mirror slapping
- Wider ISO range
- Beautiful saturated colors
- Very robust built
- Just one smaller and too small variant of RAW
If you want read more about the specifications and a more in depth review and testing look here at the website of DPReview. Their review is not complete yet. They have a bigger team and more time to test all the new features! This article is just the impression of myself working with this camera for just two days.