When this camera first came out, back in July 2014, I was excited about it. At the time I had a Nikon D7100 and loved the photos that the D7100 produced but I was so ready to dive into full frame.
The D810 is a beast of a camera. The image quality is really exquisite and tasty, as it's filled with detail and does awesome at high ISO's. I really suggest you get one if you can or if you want to upgrade from your crop sensor to a full frame!
With it's 36MP size sensor and the omission of an AA filter and no OLPF (Optic Low Pass Filter), this makes one of the sharpest DSLR's around.
WHO'S THIS FOR?
The D810 is a versatile camera. It can be used for studio work, landscape, photojournalism, a little bit of sports and wildlife. It's an awesome tool to have. Since the D810 is more detailed oriented, it would have to be for those who want really sharp images.
Let's start with quick specs on this camera…
Format: FX (Full Frame)
Type: CMOS Sensor
Total Pixels: 37.09 million
Sensor Size: 35.9mm x 24mm
ISO Sensitivity: (Native) 64 - 12,800, (Software) Lo-1 (ISO 32) Hi-1 (ISO 25,600) Hi-2 (ISO 51,200)
Types: JPEG, NEF (RAW) 12-bit & 14-bit, TIFF (RGB)
Compact CF, SD, SDHC, SDHX
Viewfinder: Pentaprism Frame Coverage: FX (36x24), 1.2x (30x20), DX (24x16), 5:4 (30x24) Magnification: 0.70x
Type: Electronically controlled vertical-travel focal-plane
Shutter Speed: Bulb, 30 sec - 1/8000
Flash Sync Speed: Up to 1/320 sec
Shutter Release Modes: Continuous Low Speed [CL], Continuous High Speed [CH], Mirror-Up [Mup], Quiet Shutter Release, Quiet Continuous Release, Self Timer Mode, Single-Frame [S]
Top Continuous Shooting Speed at Full Resolution: 5fps
Metering Mode: Center Weighted, Matrix, Spot & Highlight Weighted Metering
Bracketing: 2-9 in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 EV
Picture Control: Flat, Landscape, Monochrome, Neutral, Portrait, Standard, Vivid
AF Points: 9, 21, 51 and 51 (3D Tracking)
AF Modes: 9, 21 or 51 Dynamic-Area AF, Auto-Area AF, Single-Point AF, 3D Tracking and Group-Area AF
Autofocus Sensitivity: -2 to +19 EV
Video: 1080p (60, 50, 30, 25, 24 fps), 720p (60, 50 fps)
Record Time: 20 minutes (At High Quality) and 29min and 59sec
Video Compression: H.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding
Video Audio Recording Format: Linear PCM
Video Audio: Built-in microphone (Stereo), External Stereo Microphone Jack
Approx. Weight: 31.1oz (880g) camera body only Now on to the review…
Nikon D810's sensor size is 35.9mm x 24mm
The sensor on this camera is big! At the time of its release, the trend was having a DSLR camera with 24MP but having been with a 24MP camera and moving on up to a 36MP camera, I saw a HUGE difference. Because of the omission of the AA filter, images come out sharp! There's so much detail in just one shot!
Nikon D810, AF-S VR Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 IF-ED @ 200mm @ f/5.6 @ 1/160th sec @ ISO 400
There are benefits to having 36MP. For instance, you can crop in a lot and still have a sharp image and the amount of detail you can have in one photo is amazing versus taking multiple shots to get more detail. Obviously there is a drawback with having a 36MP image and that’s the file size. A file size on a D810 can range from 30MB to 70MB. That's big! Which is why I recommend getting an SD card from 32GB on up.
Nikon D810, AF-S VR Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 IF-ED @ 200mm @ f/2.8 @ 124th sec @ ISO 3200
ISO sensitivity on this camera is amazing. Nikon has the right algorithm to manage high noise and if there is noise in the image, it looks really good, like having film. All of what I'm saying is coming from my experience with DX (crop sensor) cameras. On my D7100, my max ISO value, before noise starts to be a problem, was 1600. Anything after that was horrible. When I got to the D810, my new max is ISO 4000, before I start to see image degradation. That’s just insane! Now I shoot more with higher ISO's than before and love the pictures. It’s the benefits of having full frame.
Nikon D810, Nikon 50mm f/1.8G @ f/10 @ 2.5sec @ ISO 64
A huge advantage over other DSLR cameras in it's class is the fact that it has ISO 64! It gives you the dynamic range of a medium format camera. Which is why I try to shoot as much as possible on ISO 64. It's amazing the images you can capture with that type of dynamic range.
The D810 takes great JPEG images and comes in different flavors from JPEG Basic to JPEG Fine as well as 12-bit and 14-bit RAW images. It even gives you an option to record your image as a TIFF file for easy editing with Photoshop.
The D810 has dual card slots. One CF slot and the other one is a SD slot. The CF slot accepts CompactFlash (CF) (Type I, compliant with UDMA) and the SD slot accepts SD, SDHC and SDHX.
The viewfinder is big and bright. Which means when viewing thru it, you'll see very clearly what you're shooting. There's this one feature that I love to point out to people about the D810's style of viewfinder and it's the viewfinder cover located on the upper left corner of the outer part of the viewfinder with the little lever. On other cameras you need to take off the eye piece and attach a cover over the viewfinder when doing long exposures. Well not anymore! Its built-in! Just flick the little lever to cover your viewfinder and you're good to go. This feature is awesome when you don't want ambient lighting spilling in to your long exposure shots. It's the small things that make shooting much more fun.
Thru the viewfinder you'll find the focusing grid with a feature where, when switching between crop factors, it can tell you which crop factor you are in by lighting the frame in red. Sadly it doesn't black out the rest of the unused frame, instead it lights up the corner of the frame in red. It's not the end of the world though. Other reviewers complained about this but honestly, it's not that serious.
The shutter is rated for more than 200,000 shutter actuations. (Which is what all pro DSLR's are rated for.) The shutter sounds awesome with a satisfying thump.
The D810 has a shutter speed ranging from Bulb, 30 seconds all the way to 1/8000. It also features an electronic front curtain shutter to further reduce vibrations from the mirror slapping up! Unfortunately, this option can only be used when in [Mup] mode. It would be nice to have this feature thru all shutter modes, but I can see why Nikon only made this feature available for [Mup] mode. To take away the vibration you can use [Mup]mode to flip up the mirror, add an exposure delay of 3 seconds and then add the electronic front shutter to eliminate any vibrations.
This camera has a flash sync speed of up to 1/250 sec and also synchronizes at 1/320 sec if you want to do High Speed Sync with your speedlights to use shutter speeds of up to 1/8000 sec! This option is amazing to have because it opens up other creative shots.
Also, the D810 made an upgrade from it's previous predecessors, the D800 and the D800e, by upping the frames per second from 4fps to 5fps. It doesn't look like it’s a big jump, but it sure is. 5fps makes the D810 a decent DSLR to get action shots. If you want more fps from the D810, just go into DX mode to get 6fps. If you're not satisfied with that, then slap on an MB-D12 battery pack with a EN-EL 18a battery in DX mode and you bump up to 7fps! Now that's awesome.
Nikon added a sweet new feature called Highlight-Weighted metering, which is essential when shooting your subject under a spotlight and a dark background. I use this feature from time to time and I love it. And I say from time to time because not always do I run into these type of situations. Nonetheless, this is a nice feature.
Like all pro DSLR's, the D810 can get up to 9 auto bracketed shots with exposure increments of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 EV to give you amazing HDR images. I do a lot of HDR work and I love having this feature.
As with all Nikon DSLR camera's, you have different picture profiles like Landscape, Monochrome, Neutral, Portrait, Standard, Vivid and a newly added profile called Flat. The Flat picture control was designed for cinema photographers who need to capture every detail and make it easier to color grade in post. This feature is also great in capturing still images for maximum detail retention.
Nikon's auto focusing system is amazing. I really like how it track its subjects. They give you up to 51 auto focusing points with auto-area AF, single-point AF, 3D tracking and Group-area AF. The group-area AF is highly useful in tracking any fast moving subjects like kids and wildlife.
The D810 can autofocus from -2 EV all the way to +19 EV, which means you can autofocus from really dark scene's to a very bright scene. Some DSLR's autofocusing system starts to hunt (when the focusing point starts jumping around) when it's dark.
The D810 gives crisp 1080p video with 60fps, 50fps, 30fps, 25fps and 24fps. It also has 720p with 60fps and 50fps.
Nikon added the Zebra Stripes for you to monitor overblown highlights on the monitor.
You can do Auto ISO control in Manual mode as well! Which is a great feature so you can let the camera do the work and concentrate on your video. Also, you can control the aperture while recording video.
There's also input jacks for you to connect external audio and video devices. Even though the internal audio from the D810 isn't horrible, I still suggest using an external audio recorder to get better sound quality. There's a HDMI out to connect an external video recorder to record uncompressed video straight from the sensor, bypassing the internal camera's compression. I love making videos on the D810. Its huge step up from using a Camcorder.
It even comes with a cable clip so that the cables don't snag while moving your camera in a shoot.
The D810 has a comfortable grip and really feels solid. It's a little heavier than other DSLR's but it really feels good in my hands (Im a size S in gloves for men).
The D810 is a fantastic all-round camera. It's for the detailed oriented photographer who don't want to settle for less. It's a versatile camera that can delve in many different styles of photography and it has features to feed your creativity. I highly recommend this camera.