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Nikon D810 Digital SLR Expert Review

Nikon D810 Digital SLR Expert Review - Read our full review of the Nikon D810, an update to the D800/D800E, with a number of improvements could this be the best DSLR Nikon has ever made?

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Category : Digital SLRs
Product : Nikon D810
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Nikon D810 (15)The Nikon D810 Digital SLR is a new 36.3 megapixel full-frame camera that replaces both the Nikon D800 and D800E and is introduced with a number of updates to make it, according to Nikon, the best Digital SLR Nikon has ever released. The D810 is available for £2699 body only.

Nikon D810 Features

Nikon D810 (12)

When announced, Nikon were keen to emphasise that the 36.3 megapixel full-frame Nikon D810 camera has four main headline features:

Superior image quality– Thanks to the wide choice of Nikkor lenses (85 million), a new 36.3 megapixel image sensor (ISO64-ISO12800 standard, extends to ISO32 to ISO51200), Expeed 4 processing engine with improved noise reduction, higher definition, support for 1080/60p video, and evolved picture control – with a new clarity setting, plus a new flat rendering video mode for the widest dynamic range possible.

High reliability- With 51 point auto focus (AF), new group area AF (as found in the Nikon D4s), an electronic front curtain shutter to capture images with minimal blur, quieter shutter and 200,000 shutter cycle rating, highlight weighted metering, 7fps continuous shooting in DX crop (15.4mp) mode, 6fps continuous shooting in 1.2x crop (25.1mp) mode, and 5fps continuous shooting in FX full-frame mode (36.3mp), along with superior dust protection and weather resistance.

Best in class handling- Improved exterior design, rubberised memory card cover, new i button for quicker access to settings, RGBW 3.2inch 1,229k dot screen, monitor colour balance adjustable, split screen zoom display, FX, 1.2x, DX, 5:4 crop modes, RAW-S format (12-bit, uncompressed, as this is quicker, and will be useful for animation / animation houses, and could be useful for timelapse as well), along with unlimited continuous JPEG shooting (useful for timelapse).

Movie recording- Supports ISO64 to ISO51200, 1080p at 50fps and 60fps, can record in camera and externally at the same time, enhanced audio control for mic and wind control, new zebra view mode, and new picture control - including flat to enable grading and processing in the video industry, with the widest dynamic range possible.

Nikon D810 (5)

Key Features

  • New 36.3mp Full-Frame FX CMOS sensor without OLPF
  • 5fps full-frame continuous shooting, upto 7fps DX cropped
  • ISO64-12800, expands to ISO32-51200
  • 51 AF points, with new group area AF (as per D4s)
  • FullHD 1080-50p-60p advanced movie recording
  • Quieter shutter, 200,000 shutter life rating
  • 100% optical viewfinder
  • 1229k dot 3.2inch RBGW screen
  • NEF-S 9mp raw recording
  • Magnesium alloy weather sealed body

Nikon D810 Handling

Nikon D810 (6)
Little has changed externally between the D800 / D800E and the D810 although those with a keen eye will notice that there is no longer a metering mode dial surrounding the AE-L button and instead this has been moved to the top left control on the camera, next to the ISO, WB and QUAL buttons. The bracket button that was here, has now been moved to the front side of the camera in between the flash release and flash settings buttons. On the top left dial is the drive mode setting, which has a release button that needs to be pressed and held when turning the dial. On here you'll find continuous shooting high speed and low speed, as well as quiet mode and quiet continuous modes, along with the mirror lock-up feature (MUP).

Like the Nikon D800 and D800E, the D810 feels good in the hand, with a weather sealed body and a good size hand grip, with the rubber texture surrounding the side of the camera, as well as featuring on the back for your thumb (now larger than on the previous camera). The memory card cover has been updated with a rubber texture, which is an improvement over the previous model. The camera feels very well built, and the weather sealed body will be re-assuring for those that like to shoot outdoors.

Nikon D810 Hands On (15)

There is also now an i button on the back that lets you quickly change settings on the rear screen of the camera, much like other Nikon DSLRs with this button. The left side ports now feature separate covers for the mic, USB, and HDMI sockets, rather than just one cover, meaning you are now less likely to expose all of the ports when accessing them.

In playback there is now a zoom display that shows you when you are viewing the image at 100% making it easy to see when an image is sharp. Another new feature added to the camera is 'Split Screen Display Zoom' that lets you view two areas of the image magnified while taking a photo in live view mode.

Nikon D810 (11)

The shutter is now quieter, as we noted that the D800 shutter was quite loud when we were testing it, and the D810 also has a quiet shutter mode to further dampen the noise of the camera's shutter. The camera has 51 focus points, like the D800/D800E, however, this has been updated to include group area AF (as found in the Nikon D4s). The optical viewfinder is large and bright, and gives a good level of information in the viewfinder. The controls and menus are as you would expect if you've used other Nikon Digital SLRs, and are neatly laid out, with the 3.2inch screen giving a very clear display.

Nikon D810 (9)
Battery life - Battery life is rated at 900 shots according to Nikon / CIPA test results, which is very good, and can be extended using the optional Nikon battery grip.

Nikon D810 (10)

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response 0.05secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.2secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.2secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 0.45secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.4secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.0secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
5fps (47 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash N/A
Continuous Shooting - RAW 5fps (18 shots)


Focus and shutter response are both very fast, with the camera offering a quick switch on time, as well as shot to shot times. The camera can shoot at 5fps at full resolution (an improvement over the 4fps of the previous model), and will take up to 47 shots when shooting JPEG images.

Nikon D810 Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Nikon D810 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Exposure is generally very reliable and photos are packed full of detail, with good colour reproduction. Shooting portraits or people shots with the D810 can be a bit of a shock if coming from a lower resolution camera, as there is so much detail it may be unflattering to your subjects. Despite the lack of anti-aliasing filter on the sensor, it was very difficult to spot any signs of moire, however if any is found it is possible to remove.

Nikon D810 Lens test images

Lens Performance - Images show very good levels of detail when shooting with the NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. Dynamic range is very good, and can be expanded using the d-lighting setting, shooting raw, or using the built in HDR mode. Some purple fringing is visible when shooting subjects with high levels of contrast such as the photo above of a tree against a bright sky.

Nikon D810 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - For the lowest noise and best detail possible we would recommend using ISO32 to ISO1600/3200, as images have low levels of noise and good levels of detail. Although when using the lowest ISO setting of ISO32, dynamic range is reduced. For lower light situations ISO3200 to ISO6400 still provides good results, although noise increases and detail is reduced. At ISO12800 noise levels become strong and we would recommend avoiding this setting if possible, although results may still be useful if resized and used on the web. ISO25600 and above is best avoided as noise is extremely high, and detail is very low.Noise reduction options are: Off, Low, Medium (default), High. We tested the camera on the default setting of medium.

Nikon D810 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) gives a yellow / warm colour cast under tungsten lighting, with the tungsten preset giving a slightly better result, although with a green tint. AWB performs well under fluorescent lights, with the fluorescent preset giving a slightly better result although with a very slight magenta tint.

Nikon D810 Digital filters

Digital Filters - The camera has a number of colour modes, these let you alter sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation, hue, as well as clarity. In playback there are a number of effects available as well as raw image processing, examples of these can be seen above.

Video - The D810 offers full HD (1920x1080) video recording, at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p and 24p. The camera also features microphone and headphone sockets to enable stereo sound recording. ISO can be set from ISO64 up to ISO12800 (expandable to ISO51200 equivalent with +2 EV compensation). Quality is good, and the camera can create time-lapse videos in-camera, as well as supporting additional colour grading options, which will be useful for those producing video for cinema or TV.

Value For Money

The Nikon D810 is available for £2699 body only which makes it the same price as the D800E when it was first introduced, and more expensive than the D800 (£2399 when introduced), making it quite a sizeable investment. When the D800 and D800E were launched they were the only affordable cameras available offering such a high resolution full-frame sensor, now you also have the choice of the Sony Alpha A7R, with a 36.3 megapixel full-frame sensor, available for around £1589 body only, albeit with a much more limited range of lenses. If you wanted more resolution from a digital camera, then the next level up would be something like the Pentax 645z, with a 50 megapixel medium format sensor, and priced at £6799 body only.

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Nikon D810 Verdict

The Nikon D810 updates the already excellent Nikon D800 and D800E with improved image quality and enhanced features making it the best DSLR currently available. To get the best results, as with the D800 and D800E, you will need to use the best lenses available, and Nikon has produced a list of recommended lenses for these cameras. Build quality is very good, and the camera gives excellent handling with a solid metal body and weather sealing the camera should be suitable for almost any landscape or outdoors project.

The camera delivers impressive image quality with improvements in noise performance, as well as an extended ISO range. Video quality has been improved, and not only does the camera offer additional colour settings for photography (including a new clarity setting), the D810 also offers advanced video colour settings for those that want to get the highest quality and dynamic range from video. With a tried and tested body design inherited from the D800/E, the camera delivers high image quality at an improved shooting speed, and is our "Editor's Choice".

Nikon D810 Pros

Improved continuous shooting speed of 5fps
Improved video recording quality (full HD 60p)
Improved image colour options (inc clarity setting)
Auto shutter speed control for auto ISO (based on lens)
Good noise performance up to ISO3200/6400
Excellent image quality
Weather-sealed body
USB3.0 socket
2 year warranty

Nikon D810 Cons

Higher price than the D800 when it was introduced
Needs the better / best lenses to get the best quality from the camera
Live view focus slow

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

The Nikon D810 updates the already excellent D800 and D800E with improved image quality and additional features making it the best DSLR currently available.

 

Nikon D810 Specifications

ManufacturerNikon
Lens
Effective Magnification1x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels36.3Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)7360
Pixels (H)4912
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeFull Frame
Sensor Size (width)39.5mm
Sensor Size (height)24mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 4:5
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3.2in
Screen resolution1,229,000
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Manual
  • AF Fine Tuning
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/8000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
Metering
  • Multi Pattern
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity32 - 51200
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Bracket
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-5
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting5fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
  • 1280x720 720p
Video FPS60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 3
Storage
Card Type
  • CF1
  • CF2
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • CF
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • TIFF
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeAA, EN-EL15, EN-EL18 and EP-B5
CIPA Rating900
Box Contents
Box ContentsEN-EL15 rechargeable Li-ion battery with terminal cover, MH-25 battery charger (AC wall adapter supplied only in countries or regions where required), Strap (AN-DC6 for D800, AN-DC6E for D800E), UC-E14 USB cable, USB cable clip, BF-1B body cap, BS-1 acces
Dimensions
Weight1000g
Width146mm
Height123mm
Depth81.5mm

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Photographs taken using the Nikon D810

upside downPictures.LabradorSpringerButtonsImpressive bird.All wrapped up yumCormorantAnglesCurvesThe LibraryWindow.Lotsa greenery!Misty sunrise.Foggy morning.
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Comments


ste_p0270 3 63 England
26 Jun 2014 3:03PM
85 million lenses? phew Wink

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DouglasMorley 4 16 1 Canada
26 Jun 2014 4:11PM
Frankly the whole thing looks so 'yesterday' to me. Only 36.3 mp. I'd have thought 72 mp would be more like it. And a top shutter speed of boring old 1/8000. Minolta had that one cracked many years ago with 1/12,000. Why stop at 30 seconds for the slow speed. Come on now - at least a minute. 64 ISO could be OK but what about 16 ISO.

No, I see nothing to shout about in this dinosaur. And it's taken Nikon an absolute age to bring it out since the D800. I'm going to wait for a D900 which hopefully should be a proper camera.

Thing is Nikon keep update or upgrade every two years maybe, if the owner of D800 or D800e would be still very good camera for another five to 10 years......I think better to save money for next new D810x or 820 if 72MB rather then 36.3MB, could be worth investment.......but but need to buy more powerful computer will be expensive, suggest buy from Chillblast...................see prices!!!!!
Check review of Phaseone V D800........................D800 still very very very good.
27 Jun 2014 10:59PM
Why on earth would anyone need 72MP? A camera with 36MP is more than what almost any photographer will ever need. A 72MP file would be almost half a GB in size! DOnt see why everyone thinks that a higher MP camera will yield much better results.
DouglasMorley 4 16 1 Canada
28 Jun 2014 1:44AM
You are spot on Andy. I was being sarcastic. I own both a D700 and a D610. at 12MP the D700 is still a much better camera than the 24MP D610. The D610 simply enables me to be a poorer less skilled photographer.

A 36MP camera just multiplies this 'flexibility' but 'dealer's delights' were falling over themselves to get the D800. Needless to say the same will apply to the D810 and, I guarantee, in a couple of years there will be 72MP cameras in the shops and the same people will be drooling over them and wondering how they ever managed with a paltry 36MP.
28 Jun 2014 7:05PM
I guessed you were DouglasWink. Dont see the need at all to have the third incarnation of a camera thats only two or three years old. It makes me laugh the people who will always say I will wait and save up for the next model....WHY??? the odds are it will just have a facelift Wink
Course that 72Mp wont be impossible but in the future????, I found somewhere in website I cannot remember which one apparently saying that Nikon D2x 12Mp is the best sharpest CMOS ever by Nikon, better then all new CMOS in nikon range.!!! Maybe I am wrong??? Find out
30 Jun 2014 11:37AM
http://snapsort.com/compare/Nikon-D610-vs-Nikon_D700??????????????????
http://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/Nikon-D610-versus-Nikon-D700___915_441???????????????
http://shotkit.com/nikon-d610/??????????????????????

see Douglas Morley
DouglasMorley 4 16 1 Canada
2 Jul 2014 12:55AM
Actually come to think about 36 or 72MP, these resolutions are quite tiny in comparison to the sensors that even amateur photo astronomers have been fitting to their telescopes for a good many years. I guess that it's all down to mass production really.
6 Jul 2014 6:38PM
36Mp? I used to get great results from my 5Mp COOLPIX E5700 Grin

I now have a 12 Mp D5000 which works well bough for me.
DouglasMorley 4 16 1 Canada
6 Jul 2014 6:53PM
You are so right Jump' My wife's little 2MP Canon point and shoot won her a photo competition. Her print was a faultless 10x8 though I'm positive the image could have been printed much larger. I have a D50 with absolute cracking images. All this mighty mega pixel hype is just that - hype from the camera manufacturers to sell you their latest products. I can understand the value of this D810 to a professional sports or photojournalist photographer, even a wildlife snapper, but to the average worker even if they are, for instance doing wedding work, anything beyond a very healthy 12MP is complete overkill and a considerable strain on their computer even with added external memory.
As you can now use groups of focus points again this is the go-to camera to go to. The D800 is already a whole brave new world better than a D4 or 1Dx because 16-20MP does not allow you to photograph as you would with film in scenes where there is a lot going on and a lot of detail. Yes you can take great school/group photos with a 1Ds MkII but although they are detailed the image is too small to see what the detail IS exactly and only the D800 and Sony A7R do that, but the Sony has poor response and prefocussed times (put bluntly, it takes its own pictures, not yours)

This is improved by the lack of AA filter, but are we supplied still with less than perfect colour?
Years ago I use Canon EOS1D mark 2 N 8.5MP, very low MP but very clean images and blow up to 24ins by 36ins, details are very good due to 1.3 sensor size and with professional L lenses. However I found D800 are far better in details then canon, I would say 10 times better even with old D lenses or G lenses. I found easier to adjustment in raw due to 14BITS in colour. Someone I know who use Nikon D2x, I found canon EOS1 Mark 2N is better.....
I found D800 is very very very close to meduim Format I use years ago
781969 1 1 India
8 Jul 2014 11:52AM
How the companies will survive if consumer will remain struck to his old models.I love the results of my nikkon coolpix l18 much then the my new nikkon d7100, although d7100 is a superb camera.
DouglasMorley 4 16 1 Canada
8 Jul 2014 6:27PM
The reaction to this latest Nikon is interesting. I've always thought that photography was about the image, not the equipment, valuable though that maybe. Give a Box Brownie to a true photographer and he or she would be able to produce superb images despite the limitations. Give a 6MP (D40 for instance), camera to a tech obsessed 'dealer's delight' and all he would do is moan about it's incapabilities, obsolescence and refuse to use it.
joshwa e2
4 600 United Kingdom
8 Aug 2014 1:51PM
Full review now live.
Niknut e2
4 542 60 United Kingdom
8 Aug 2014 4:06PM
Big heavy brute innit ??????.....I don't think my computer could handle those big file sizes !!

The ISO samples show impressive noise control, & the studio shots are dripping with detail.

Yet the outdoor shots of the 'conservatory' are somewhat disappointing near the edges of
the frame....I've seen much better from other, less expensive cameras ??????

Mmmmmm.....not for me I reckon !.Smile
themak 1 51 Scotland
8 Aug 2014 9:38PM
I still have the 4 pixel camera I picked up cheap in a Moroccan bazaar 15 years ago. Still takes great pictures in the right circumstances, but it's getting difficult to find lenses fuzzy enough for it
franken e2
12 3.1k 4 Wales
8 Aug 2014 10:29PM
Fine for studio work, I couldn't see myself going for long photo trips with the weight of it!

DouglasMorley 4 16 1 Canada
8 Aug 2014 11:23PM
I know that this camera doesn't have the light gathering capabilities of the F4S but looking at it's 32 - 51200 ISO range I do wonder at the 51200 as I do all similar figures. Maybe not for a sports/journalistic approach which maybe essential, but for everything else. The magazines etc keep on about these high figures and their apparent never ending climb but who really has any real use for them. I can push to 6400 and get a reasonable image but beyond that the quality is not worth bothering with and I would guess is all for show as a gimmick. 32 could be a different kettle of fish though.
themak 1 51 Scotland
11 Aug 2014 12:44PM

Quote: Yet the outdoor shots of the 'conservatory' are somewhat disappointing

I wonder if that's due to lens limitations exposed by the resolution of the thing. On the other hand, I don't think even this resolves fine detail, foliage particularly, as well as the dreaded Foveon sensor jobs. Much more accomplished in all other ways, though, than those. As to the weight issue, I don't think it would be that much different to my old D300. It was a bit of a brick, though.
13 Aug 2014 2:03PM
I am sick of viewing same pics for every camera on test. As if U take it very casually,
joshwa e2
4 600 United Kingdom
13 Aug 2014 4:15PM

Quote: I am sick of viewing same pics for every camera on test. As if U take it very casually,

Hi prabhusinha, we try to take a variety of photographs, including a number of the same shots to help you compare results between different cameras (particularly the ISO test shots). We try and test the cameras in a wide variety of shooting conditions, to test the camera in a similar way to that in which we expect it to be used by enthusiasts, as well as professionals (particularly in the case of more expensive DSLRs such as this).

In this review of the D810, we have a variety of shots including studio portraits (a likely use of the camera), outdoor people, a night shot, indoor low light gig photography, as well as a shot of Tiger Woods at the Opens. I'm not sure there's been a review with as much variety of shots as this one, although perhaps some additional landscape photographs would be a good addition. If you have any suggestions of what you would like to see photographed, please do let us know.

Thanks

Josh
13 Aug 2014 6:54PM
I would rather accept the experience of independent individuals, who can express unbiased + ive & - ive aspect of cameras. Be cause I still believe the Man behind the Camera.
douglasR 7 54 Scotland
14 Aug 2014 4:11PM
This appears to be the madness that has got a grip since the coming of digital,no doubt neatly marketed by the manufacturers of cameras. As the owner of two Nikon d800s,one since they were introduced I am still delighted every time i open my images,yes the upgraded d810 will no doubt be a winner for Nikon again,but unless you really need the relatively small improvements why would you again subject yourself to to a substantial hit in the pocket to upgrade.
I downloaded some full size raws from the d810 to try them with my usual workflow and in my opinion the quality gains if any are negligible. As a mainly Landscape photographer with some commercial and wedding work, going no higher than 1600 iso and mostly shooting at 100 iso locked down on a tripod,mirror lock and remote release the minor gains just don't justify the expense for me. If i was shooting a lot of video maybe the improvements to that side may warrant a closer look. My second D800 is just months old,so i think i will wait for the D900
14 Aug 2014 5:04PM
I fully endorse ur view. But, Nikon loosing ground in the market place. At the entry level D 3200 was cute.But the day got my Sony alpha A 77 ,my approach to photography changed.
In fact It pains when I see a host of Nikkor lenses both manual & AF are sitting idle. When a Leica M like Nikon digital body can solve like fire through out world..
themak 1 51 Scotland
15 Aug 2014 12:15AM

Quote: This appears to be the madness that has got a grip

I think you've answered your own question. If you don't need the latest model, don't buy it, otherwise the only madness is yours. 15 years ago there were no digital cameras, and they've advanced out of all recognition as well as becoming more affordable in that time. Take advantage while you can - there are so many other things going on nowadays to be cynical and bitch about.
ElSid 6 5 United Kingdom
21 Aug 2014 3:05PM
themak 1 51 Scotland
21 Aug 2014 3:25PM
[quote][Nice camera, shame about the issues...
/quote]

Well, I won't buy that then! Only saw one issue, though.
Niknut e2
4 542 60 United Kingdom
22 Aug 2014 5:45PM
I can't agree with Prabhusinha !....the repetitive test images are perfect for comparing like
for like, with other cameras !!

I prefer the Thoresby Hall shots to the Conservatory ones....for detail, colour rendition, &
colour aberrations in the tree-branches......

The Colour-chart/Noise test shots are also valid for comparisons....

Finally, the studio set-up for the White-balance shots also shows colour renderring & detail
from whatever lens/sensor is being tested.....can't fault it !!!

For me, the existing arrangement is perfect, & extremely informative !!!!....& I've bought two
cameras on the strength of EPZ's reviews/test images, & can vouch for their accuracy !!

Long may it continue !!.Grin

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