Benchmark Performance: Nikon D810 review
Two years after Nikon shook up the high-end DSLR market with the 36MP D800 and D800E, it consolidated the 800-series with the release of a new camera, the D810. The D810 replaced both previous 800-series models, and took the D800E's 'AA filter cancellation' trick one step further by dispensing with an AA filter entirely. As of May 2016, the D810 is available for $2,796.95.
Anti-aliasing filter aside, the D810 is not by any means a reinvention of the popular D800/E concept, but the handful of major changes do make the new camera more capable than its predecessors. The D800/E were known for their massive Raw dynamic range, and the D810's ISO 64 mode improves on this. An electronic front curtain shutter guarantees sharp images in Mup mode, and the redesigned mirror mechanism reduces image-softening mirror slap. Continuous AF algorithms have been refined.
These and many other changes make the camera more attractive to potential buyers who have been weighing up whether or not to jump into full-frame. The D810 isn't a camera that you should necessarily sell your D800 or D800E for, but it's a better camera than both older models in almost every respect.
Nikon D810: Key Specifications
- 36.3MP Full-frame CMOS sensor (no AA filter)
- ISO 64-12,800 (expands to ISO 32-51,200)
- Electronic first-curtain shutter and redesigned mirror mechanism
- New 'RAW Size S' 9MP Raw mode
- Expeed 4 engine
- Max 5fps shooting in FX mode, 7fps in DX (with battery grip + EN-EL18 / AA batteries)
- 3.2in 1,229k-dot RGBW LCD screen with customizable color
- OLED viewfinder information display
- 91,000-pixel RGB metering sensor for advanced subject tracking and metering
- Improved Scene Recognition System allows face detection in OVF mode
- 'Split screen zoom' display in live view allows horizons/lines to be leveled precisely
- 51-point AF system with new 'Group Area AF' mode (inherited from D4S)
- New 'Flat' Picture Control mode for massive dynamic range capture (video-focused)
- Auto ISO available in manual exposure movie mode
- Zebra stripes for exposure checking in video mode
- Uncompressed HDMI output with simultaneous recording to memory card
- Built-in stereo microphone
D800 and D800E: Two become one...
In testing, we found that the practical difference in raw detail reproduction between the D800 and D800E was minimal except in a very narrow range of circumstances - specifically, tripod-mounted short shutter duration shooting at wide apertures with prime lenses.
As such, if two models must be consolidated into one, it makes sense for that single model to offer the highest possible resolution, at the risk of increased moiré. One area in particular the D800 fell behind was in JPEG detail: D800E JPEGs looked far sharper, and it wasn't just due to the OLPF differences. Thankfully, our studio testing shows the D810 to be more similar to the D800E than D800 in this regard, but it's still not the sharpest JPEG engine on the block. We've compiled a list of key differences between the D810 and its predecessor below.
D810 versus D800/E: Specification highlights
- 36.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor with no AA filter (D800E has effects of AA filter 'canceled')
- ISO 64 for industry-leading dynamic range (compared to ISO 100 on D800/E)
- Body redesigned to offer more general grip
- 5 fps maximum shooting rate in FX (compared to 4fps in D800/E)
- 7 fps maximum shooting rate in DX with MB-D12 grip (compared to 6 fps in D800/E)
- New 'Group Area AF' mode (5 AF points can act together with equal priority)
- New electronic first-curtain shutter and redesigned sequencer/mirror balancer to reduce vibrations in Mup mode
- New 'highlight-weighted' metering option (to preserve highlight detail in contrasty scenes)
- 1080/60p movie recording with built-in stereo mic (compared to 1080/30p with monaural audio)
- Live View magnified view is far more detailed, allowing for accurate manual focus
- 3.2" 1,229k-dot RGBW LCD screen (compared to 3.2" 921k-dot RGB)
- Power aperture available while shooting video to SD/CF card (compared to only when using HDMI)
- The ability to record to memory card while simultaneously outputting video over HDMI
- New 'Flat' Picture Control mode (intended for videographers who need broader dynamic range)
- Unlimited continuous shooting (previously 100-frame limit)
Back in 2010, Canon announced that it was developing the world's largest CMOS sensor, measuring about 40 times larger than full frame. The company has just updated its website with more details.
Samyang has launched its latest lens, the Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 EF. This telephoto prime is a direct competitor to Canon's $1,600 alternative—and considering it's expected to retail for half the price, it looks like quite the bargain.
Scanning film takes forever and photographing negatives is a pain. The Pixl-latr aims to provide a simple solution.
Google has published an 18-page study fully detailing its synthetic depth-of-field technology that makes its single-camera Portrait Mode possible. The in-depth paper shows a degree of openness and academic mindset unusual for the industry.
Rugged, waterproof compact cameras are tough enough to survive even the most action-packed vacation, but they're not the only choice for capturing those great memories. Photographer Josh Root takes us through the options.
Kodak has restarted production of one of its most famous film emulsions - Ektachrome. Popular Science editor Stan Horaczek recently go to take a look inside.
The Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 Di III RXD is an affordable F2.8 standard zoom for full frame Sony E-mount cameras. What's it like, what are the trade-offs, and what are the alternatives? Chris and Jordan take a closer look...
We've updated our Best Drones buying guide and there's a new winner. Find out which drone was our favorite and learn more about all current models in our updated guide.
A teardown of a Nikon D850 has provided proof that the camera's sensor is made by Sony Semiconductor. The chip's design and performance already strongly supported this, but the confirmation also gives a hint about how the industry works.
Leica Camera has announced a new compact camera that features a 24-360mm F3.3-6.4 zoom lens and a 20MP 1” MOS sensor. Essentially a re-badged Panasonic Lumix ZS/TZ200, the Leica C-Lux will save Raw and JPEG files, will offer 4K video and has a viewfinder with a 2.33 million-dot resolution.
Leica has launched a limited edition M10 with a contoured handgrip designed by luxury car manufacturer Zagato. And, to celebrate the opening of a new part of the company's Wetzlar factory, a pair of Leica-made watches are due this autumn.
The new Mijia gimbal provides 3-axis stabilization and can charge the battery of the attached device.
YouTuber George Tomlin explains the concept of sub-framing and details how you can use it to take not only make the composition more interesting, but also provide context for the scene you're shooting.
British photographer Drew Gardner tells us how his gigapixel image of the queen's birthday parade came together.
YouTube channel Company Man has shared a 12-minute video explaining the history of Kodak and the factors that led to it going from industry leader to bankrupt business.
Neewer, a photo gear brand out of China, has launched a new budget APS-C lens for Fuji X and Sony E mounts. The Fuji X mount lens offering has appeared on Amazon as a new release with a $119.99 price tag, but is currently listed as unavailable.
Two years after launching its first photo filter, Aurora Aperture is back at it again with the Kickstarter launch of its PowerXND Mark II filters.
Nikon has announced the development of the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm F5.6E PF ED VR lens. Thanks to its use of 'phase fresnel' optics, Nikon claims that the lens will be small and light enough to be used handheld.
MIOPS has opened up a Kickstarter campaign for its latest product, the Capture360. This pocket-sized device is a versatile motion control box designed to be as simple or robust as your needs desire.
Lowepro has released the FreeLine BP 350 AW, an all-new daypack that features Lowepro's adaptive interior divider system it calls QuickShelf.
Currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, the Instant Magny 35 supports Fujifilm Instax Square film and doesn't require any camera modifications. The instant film back is described as ideal for rangefinders and SLRs from Pentax, Leica, Olympus, Canon, and Nikon.
Utah-based tripod manufacturer Really Right Stuff has updated all 17 of its tripods with updated features and better ergonomics.
The new Technical Camera app offers comprehensive manual controls and a range of features for users who prefer to take control of the capture process.
Someone finally made a 1"-sensor compact with a fixed prime lens that can take great photos, but it's aimed at Scuba enthusiasts more so than land-based photographers and has a few operational quirks.
Leica has released details of the twelve finalists for this year’s Leica Oskar Barnack Award, one of who will take the €35,000 (approx. $41K) top prize. Organizers say that 2500 photographers submitted work to the competition this year.
One week after it was first seen in leaked images, Samyang—also known as Rokinon in the US—has unveiled a ‘tiny but wide’ 24mm F2.8 lens for full-frame Sony cameras.
Whether you're hitting the beach in the Northern Hemisphere or the ski slopes in the Southern, a rugged compact camera makes a great companion. In this buying guide we've taken a look at seven current models and chosen our favorites.
Every photographer knows about APS-C sensors, but what about APS film? This week, Chris and Jordan take a stroll down memory lane and try out the original APS format, a technology that promised to streamline the film workflow, but which ultimately lost out to digital technology.
It's not every day you have the opportunity to shoot with a lens like the Hasselblad XCD 21mm F4. It's currently the widest lens in the company's medium-format lineup and as we discovered, incredibly sharp.