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Nikon D810A DSLR Review

Nikon D810A DSLR Review - We review the Nikon D810A DSLR designed for astro photography, with examples from Astro Photographer Göran Strand.

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Category : Digital SLRs
Product : Nikon D810a
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Nikon D810A DSLR (3)

The Nikon D810A is a 36.3 megapixel full-frame Digital SLR dedicated to astrophotography, with a specialised IR cut filter to capture the red tones and no optical low pass filter. The camera can also shoot ultra long exposures up to 900 second (15 minutes), with built in time-lapse, interval shooting and unlimited continuous shooting. The Nikon D810A is based on the Nikon D810, and we've collaborated with astrophotographer Göran Strand on this review. 

Nikon D810A Features

Nikon D810A DSLR (1)

Astrophotography is photography specialised for taking images of astronomical objects and the night sky. Capturing objects that are normally invisible to the naked eye, including dim stars, nebulae, and galaxies, using long exposures. However, for the best results, you need a dedicated camera that is sensitive to the light output of stars, which is often outside the normal range of sensitivity of digital cameras.

The Nikon D810A is designed spefically for astro photography, and records the red tones of H-alpha emission nebulae with 4 times more sensitivity to the 656nm wavelength compared to a standard DSLR. Nikon's free downloadable Capture NX-D software has an Astro Noise Reduction filter that eliminates pixel artifacts without sacrificing stars.

The D810A is described as "not suitable for general photography" - however, we found it still suitable for general photography. For someone who plans to use this for general photography an IR cut filter (ie UV + IR cut filter) attached to the front of the lens would be a good idea. You can use a dedicated infrared filter (eg IR R72 720nm filter) to block visible light, and then take infrared photos as well. Here you can see the difference between a standard Nikon D800E camera, compared to the Nikon D810A, on the right, showing the red colour of the Nebulae:

Nikon D800 Vs Nikon D810a
Left: Nikon D800E, 60 sec, ISO 800, Nikon AF-S 300mm/f2.8 @ 300mm f/4.0 Vs Right: Nikon D810A, 60 sec, ISO 800, Nikon AF-S 300mm/f2.8 @ 300mm f/4.0, Images (C) Göran Strand.

The Nikon D810A has the same specifications and features as the D810, and to find out all about the Nikon D810, we would recommend reading the full Nikon D810 review. As the Nikon D810A is designed specifically for astro-photography, we have worked with professional astro photographer Göran Strand, from Sweden. 

Nikon D810A DSLR (5)

Key Features

  • 36.3mp Full-Frame FX CMOS sensor without OLPF
  • Sensitive to the 656nm wavelength
  • 5fps full-frame continuous shooting, upto 7fps DX cropped
  • Electronic front curtain shutter
  • Virtual exposure preview mode
  • M* Long exposure mode
  • ISO200-12800, expands to ISO100-51200
  • 51 AF points, with new group area AF (as per D4s)
  • FullHD 1080p, at 50 to 60 fps
  • Quiet 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 D810A Handling

Nikon D810A DSLR (8)

For anyone who has used the Nikon D800/E or D810, the D810A will be immediately recognisable, with the same layout and controls as the D810. The metering mode button is on the top left of the camera, next to the ISO, WB and QUAL buttons. There is a bracket button on 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).

There is a new M* manual mode that lets you choose exposure times between 4 and 900 seconds, as well as the normal manual mode. Both manual modes feature a bulb mode. You can dim (invert) the rear LCD screen for use in low light. 

There is also a new feature called "Virtual Exposure preview" which works in bulb / time setting, as explained by Göran Strand:

"This will let you see a preview on how the photo will look like when using long exposure times. This is very good for focusing on dim objects (Stars etc) and when composing your shot in dark environments. When I did some infra red photography with the D810A, using a Hoya Infrared (R72) filter, I found this new feature to be very good when composing the image. I could clearly see how the shot would look. Otherwise it is pitch black with the IR-filter looking through the viewfinder or in normal live view. My only complaint against this new boosted live view is that the preview can be a bit noisy and in some cases it can be difficult to see fainter stars."

The D810A feels good in the hand, with the same camera body as the D810. The camera has a weather sealed body and a good size hand grip, with the rubber texture surrounding the side of the camera, as well as featuring rubber grip on the back for your thumb. The memory card cover has 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 will be using the camera for it's intended purpose, and that is shooting outdoors.

Nikon D810A DSLR (7)

There is 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 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 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 feature from the D810 is 'Split Screen Display Zoom' that lets you view two areas of the image magnified while taking a photo in live view mode.

Nikon D810A DSLR (9)

Like the D810, the shutter is quieter than the shutter found in the D800, and the D810A also has a quiet shutter mode to further dampen the noise of the camera's shutter. The camera has 51 focus points, like the D810/D800, which includes 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 D810A DSLR (2)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 1200 shots according to Nikon / CIPA test results, which is very good, and can be extended using the optional Nikon battery grip.

Nikon D810A DSLR (6)
 



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23 Mar 2017 4:06AM
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