If the Nikon D800 was a major revolution in the world of high-end digital photography, the D810 is an important refinement that makes a great camera even better. As highly regarded as the 800 is, somehow Nikon found ways to make it better.
Nikon started the improvements in the D810 with the sensor. Yes, it’s still 36.2MP, but Nikon has tweaked it and paired it with a new Expeed 4 image processing engine to produce cleaner, sharper images, and to do it 30% faster. Nikon has removed the Optical Low Pass Filter completely, relying instead on firmware to seek and destroy any moire patterns. The new sensor supports 1080/60p HD video and up to 1200 shots or 40 minutes of full HD video per charge.
Nikon claims that image quality is consistently noise-free throughout its entire ISO range of 64-12,800. This means the exposure triangle will not be adversely effected by raising ISO. Dynamic range, which was already impressive in the D800, is said to be greatly improved as well for the D810.
While the Nikon D810 is expected to be even more impressive as a still camera, Nikon is also touting its expanded video features to professional cinematographers, and will even bundle a Filmmaker kit version of the camera.
In this video, Nikon senior product manager Lindsay Silverman demonstrates the D810’s key features. Video provided by Nikon USA.
Let’s take a closer look at how the Nikon D810’s key features compare with those of its predecessors, the Nikon D800 and D800E.
Nikon D810 vs. Nikon D800/D800E
|Nikon D810||Nikon D800/D800E|
|Image Processing Engine||Expeed 4||Expeed 3|
|Expandable ISO Sensitivity||32-51,200||50-25,600|
|File Format||12 + 14bit NEF, JPEG, TIFF||12 + 14bit NEF, JPEG, TIFF|
|Raw file size S||12-bit uncompressed||No|
|Picture control||Standard, neutral, vivid, monochrome, portrait, landscape, flat, Flat picture, clarity settings added||tandard, neutral, vivid monochrome, portrait, landscape, flat|
|3D Color Matrix Metering III (91k RGB Sensor)||Yes||Yes|
|Advanced Scene Recognition||Yes-Group Area AF added||Yes|
|Highlight/Weighted Metering||Yes-Ideal for spot/stage lit scenes||Yes|
|Face detection analysis for viewfinder Shooting||On/Off possible with custom setting||Always On|
|Spot White Balance when using Live View||Yes||No|
|Preset White Balance||1-6 possible||1-3 is possible|
|Group Area AF||Yes – 5 AF sensors used as a group; optimized for subjects located within an area covered by the group.||No|
|Dynamic AF Modes||9/21/51/51 points w/3D Tracking, Group Area AF, Auto Area AF||9/21/51/51 points w/3D Tracking, Auto Area AF|
|Frame Advance Rate||5fps in FX; 6-7fps in DX crop mode||4fps; 5-6fps in DX crop mode|
|Unlimited Continuous Shooting||Yes (depending on media card and battery life)||No|
|Image Stabilizer: Redesigned Sequencer Balancer Mechanism||Yes in Q or QC modes||No|
|Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter||Yes||No|
|Frame Size/Rate||1920×1080 in 60/30/24p||1920 x 1080 30/24p|
|Simultaneous recording: Memory Card + External Recorder||Yes||No|
|Selectable Audio Frequency Range||Yes (Wide/Voice)||No|
|Interval Timer Exposure Smoothing||Yes||No|
|Time-Lapse Exposure Smoothing||Yes||No|
|Number of Images in Time-lapse/Interval Sequences||Up to 9,999||Up to 999|
|Built-in Stereo Microphone||Yes||No|
|Highlight Display (Zebra Stripes) in Live View||Yes||No|
|LCD||3.2 inch, 1,229k dot||3 inch, 921k dot|
|Live View||Split Screen/Zebra Stripes Highlights||No|
Pro-end video versatility
For professional videographers, the D810 offers high image quality and dynamic range on 1080p videos recorded uncompressed at 60, 60 30, 25 and 24p uncompressed to an external device or compressed to an internal CF or SD card—or to both simultaneously. A new ISO auto adjust feature lets you move from dark to light scenes without changing iris or frame rate; you can change a depth of field using power hi-res control, and shoot in a flat picture style that enhances dynamic range and streamlines post-production. A kit designed for professional videographers (shown above) will also be offered.
Still resolution tweaks
Back to stills: The D810 will capture full resolution and 5:4 cropped images at up to 5fps, 6fps in 1:2 crop mode, and 7fps in DX crop mode. As with the D800, the D810 employs an advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX AF sensor with 51 focus points, including 15 cross-type sensors, 11 of which work up to f/8, plus a new Group Area AF. Nikon says it has virtually eliminated internal camera vibration caused by movements of mirror and other gear by using a new sequencer mechanism and electronic front curtain shutter. If you still aren’t sure focus is accurate, you can zoom in 46x on the LCD monitor to spot-check focus.
Astrophotographers will be interested in the D810’s unlimited continuous shooting capabilities which can produce star trail images. For time-lapse photography, the camera will keep shooting infinitely—or at least until the battery dies or the memory card is filled. Highlight-weighted metering is designed for spotlit situations such as concert photography, and the pop-up flash can be called into action as a commander for Nikon’s Creative Light wireless flash system. Files can be saved in a new uncompressed 12-bit RAW Size S, which is half the size of RAW size L and therefore saves time and storage resource. Since full-sized images are 36MP, this is a welcome added option since the 18MP images may be more than sufficient for most uses.