Nikon D810 camera hands-on review

Nikon D810 camera hands-on review

The Nikon D810 takes its spot in an impressive lineage of SLR cameras that began when the Nikon F was first introduced in 1959. It is shown here next to a couple of FTn models that were just as revolutionary in their day and the new D810 is today.

This Nikon D810 camera hands-on review is by Tom Grill (Web | Blog, you can see his previous [NR] reviews here):

The first thing you notice about the new D810 is its sound, or, more exactly, the lack of sound. It is quiet with a muffled dampening to the normal shutter and mirror noise, your first indication that something different is going on inside this camera. The new sound is a result of a redesign of the mirror sequencer / balancer unit to minimize shutter vibration -- a big improvement over the D800/800E models, whose high resolution sensors were offset by the increased sensitivity to motion blurring.

The 36.3-megapixel sensor has improved microlenses for gathering light. When coupled with the new EXPEED 4 image processor the performance is said to be increased by 30% with a new native base ISO of 64 and a range extending one more stop to 12,800 (32-25,600 extended). These improvements also result in clearing the buffer faster, which translates into overall speed improvement.

The sensor on the D810 no longer has an optical low-pass (anti-aliasing) filter instead of just cancelling it out as was the case on the D800. This should theoretically improve the resolution of the camera, and indeed the D810 recently just nudged itself to the top slot on the DxOmark sensor ratings. What these results are missing is the improvement to sharpness made by the dampening of interior motion of camera parts. From what I have found, the images I am achieving from hand-held shots with the D810 are considerably sharper than the prior D800/E.  Take a look at the high res shot of the Empire State Building later in this blog.

The color, tones, and noise control of the new EXPEED 4 processing engine are quite noticeable. The images have a different look to them. The colors are richer, gradated tones smoother departing an almost 3-dimensional quality to the image.

Nikon D810 camera hands-on review

Exceptional dynamic range, from the bright window to the deep shadows with no noise and smooth tonal transition. No fill was added to this severely back lit shot.

The D810 is considered an interim model, and appears at first glance to offer only moderate improvements over the D800/E cameras. After using the D810 for only a few days, however, I began to realize that the changes, minor as they might appear at first glance, considerably expand the versatility of use for the camera into other shooting categories.

The prior models of the D800/E were used primarily for landscape, architecture, still life, and some fashion -- in other words, in areas where a fast frame rate and slow buffer are not as important as image quality, and can be easily tolerated. When shooting sports, lifestyle, animals, or other subjects where capture speed takes a back seat the D800/E were just not up to the task. I found my D800 ponderously slow when shooting lifestyle where I would often miss an important part of the action because the camera could not keep up with the changing subject.

Increasing the continuous shooting range from 4 to 5 frames per second may not sound like much, but, when coupled with faster processing due to the new EXPEED 4 engine, the buffer rate of the D810 is considerably longer.  In fact, with a few adjustments to improve the file size, the camera can shoot continuously at a frame rate of 5fps speed for long bursts and do it again with only minimal wait time. When shooting  lifestyle or sports photography the ability of the camera to keep on shooting while the action is changing is often more important than the actual frame rate. I usually photograph lifestyle with a Nikon D4 set to a lower speed of 6fps and am finding the 5fps on the D810 coupled with the fast buffer clearance to be quite a comfortable pace.

In DX mode and the larger 1.2x crop mode the D810 continuous mode increases to 6fps,  and for the DX mode only it increases to 7fps with the optional Nikon MB-D12 auxiliary battery pack.

I have always appreciated that Nikon maintains a similar control layout on its pro and semi-pro cameras and keeps the physical design changes of new models to a minimum so that once you are familiar with one Nikon camera model you should feel quite at home with any other. Modern digital cameras have enough menu layers and buttons to rival the cockpit of a jet plane. There are only a few body changes on the D810. Aside from a resculpted hand grip, meter selection has been moved from a collar around the AE-L/AF-L button to a button on top of the left camera knob, as it is on the D4s.


Meter selection mode button has been moved to the to dial as on the D4s, and the BKT button it replaces is now under the pop-up flash just above the flash over/under button.

d810 displaynr

A new "i" for "information" button has been added to the back and brings up this LCD screen giving an overall picture of the camera settings and a small menu at the bottom for making some quick menu changes. This is what it looks like in with the camera set to viewfinder mode.


The "i" button also calls up the quick change menu in  live, and movie view modes as well as in viewfinder mode. In playback mode the "i" button calls up its specific retouch menu.

The AF/M button on the lower front right of the camera is in the same place as before but now has some dimples added making it easier to feel without looking. I have always had difficulty locating this button while shooting so the change is most welcomed.

For reviewing a scene, the D810 has a new enlarged split screen display mode for examining the image in live view, or making very accurate horizon adjustments by comparing the far left to the far right of the frame. The right half remains stationary while the left half can me moved to cover the rest of the scene.

The 1.2x crop mode still offers a 25.1mp image file. Also due to the edge crop the image focus area is extended to cover a larger relative area of the frame. This is perfect for shooting moving subjects as in lifestyle or animal photography when you want to catch the peak of action.  For animal photography this also delivers a slight extension to your focal length by a factor of 1.2x.  Also in this 1.2x crop mode by selecting 12-bit for the RAW files, the camera will shoot continuously at 6fps to a fast CompactFlash card to the maximum frame limit set on the camera.  I shoot much of my lifestyle photography in a controlled lighting environment so switching from 14 bit to 12 bit does not impact on the dynamic range. For landscape photography on a bright day, however, I would want to use the camera in its full 14 bit capture mode.

Much of my work is done in a studio environment where I have total control of the light so I really don't need a 14-bit range. Switching to 12-bit gives me sufficient data, the camera buffer operates faster, and the files are smaller. This is what I mean when I refer to the versatility of the new D810. It is readily converted to serve whatever type of photography you are doing.

Nikon D810 camera hands-on review

In this severely back lit scene with no fill, done at a 1.2x crop, I experimented by shooting it both with 12 and  14 bit camera settings. I processed the two images at the same time and found no difference between the two bit modes. Considering the speed advantage, not to mention smaller file size, of the 12 bit setting, I see no reason not to use it on a suitable subject.

The D810 has a new RAW S mode for smaller uncompressed RAW files . The files are about 25% of the full res size, producing a 25MB as opposed to 103MB final tif or jpg image file with a resolution of 3680x2456 at 9MP, as opposed to 7360x4912 at 36.3MP.

The D810 is a 2% lighter at 980g vs 1000g -- not much to shout about there. Something that will be much appreciated by former D800/E owners is that the battery life has been improved by 25% with a claim of 1200 (CIPA) as opposed to 900. I found that I achieve much more than that, and have been shooting over 3000 shots on a shoot day without depleting the battery.

The LCD screen has been improved with 1,229k dots vs 921k on the D800/E, and its color and brightness can now be customized to suit your preferences.

Paying further attention to any possible motion blur with this camera, Nikon added an electronic front-curtain shutter option for the Mup (mirror up) mode. This eliminates any motion blur that could be caused by the shutter motion.

A new Highlight-Weighted metering mode has been added to the other metering modes. It assigns a greater weight to the brightest areas to prevent blown highlights. This will be of great benefit to event photographers photographing under bright spot lights.

The D810 now has the same Group auto focus as on D4s, where 5 focus points can consolidate to share information that keeps the camera focused on the subject instead of the background.  This is coupled with a new auto-focus algorithm that further improves focusing on dark and low contrast subjects for an overall substantial focusing improvement. I have performed some tests of these improvements and found them nothing short of amazing, as the examples below illustrate.

Nikon D810 camera hands-on review

In this scene there is a single, strong tungsten light shining through the background window, and no fill to light the model from the front. The picture I was trying to achieve was the one on the right, but the way it looked to me through the viewfinder was like the image on the left. I have faced this situation many times before and know from experience that none of the cameras I use could focus on the face, let alone the eye, in this situation. I usually have to switch to manual focus. The 5-point auto-focus of the D810 did not skip a beat, and delivered every shot in focus with no hesitation. Plus, with the dynamic range of the camera I had no trouble opening up the shadows without any noise.

Nikon D810 camera hands-on review

This photo was taken in the same situation as the those above it. Once again a single, strong backlight and no front fill. The D810 held auto-focus on the model's eye and delivered shadows and highlights with full detail and no noise.

Nikon D810 camera hands-on review

Severely back lit from the window behind the model a pinpoint focus on the model's eye is difficult to achieve.  Using the 5-group focus points borrowed from the D4s, the D810 had no trouble auto-focusing such a small target. In the past I would have had to "bracket the focus" by over-shooting a scene like this trying in an attempt to guarantee that some of the shots would be in focus. With the new Group autofocus of the D810, all of the photos were in focus. For the type of work I do on a regular basis, that alone is worth the price of admission.



Nikon D810 camera hands-on review

The built-in flash on the D810 can be used as a Commander unit to trigger an off-camera speed light. For this photo a single Nikon SB-910 flash was mounted in a small beauty dish reflector and placed on a stand just above the camera lens. A large collapsible metallic reflector was placed below the model. The flash was set to manual and remote.  Another SB-910 was placed directly behind the model to light her hair.

Nikon D810 camera hands-on review

Still life subjects like this is one of the subjects I normally photograph with the D800 series cameras. It is a composite of 15 images, each shot at a different focus point and later combined (stacked) to create one image with a super depth-of-field. Click here to download a high res version of this image.

Nikon D810 camera hands-on review

The Empire State Building photographed with the Nikon 70-200mm f/4 lens and ISO of 64. Click here to download a high res version of this file.   This image is considerably sharper than what I used to capture with the D800 and the same lens. Even with a high shutter speeds, I found that interior vibrations set up in the camera contributed to a blur that degraded hand-held images.

Nikon D810 camera hands-on review

The low base ISO of 64 makes it easier to quickly achieve nice bokeh by using fast aperture lenses very open. This photo was taken with the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens set to f/2 to throw the background completely out of focus..

Nikon D810 camera hands-on review

Nikon D810 camera hands-on review

Nikon D810 camera hands-on review

The D810 is selling for $3,296.95, the same as the D800E used to be but with improvements that deliver  a much  better bang for the buck. A new D4s sells for almost twice that, but unless you really rely on an extremely high continuous frame rate, the D810 may be all you really need.


As a result of the improvements made to the new model, the D810 is a much more versatile camera than its predecessors.

To switch or not to switch:  Should you trade up from a D800/800E to the newer D810?  That is going to depend upon what kind of photography you do. I shoot a very wide array of subjects --  landscape, lifestyle, still life, sports, animals -- which is one reason I have several cameras, a specific model for each type of photography I do. For me the decision was easy. I didn't hesitate in upgrading from a D800 to the new D810, and the more I use it, the happier I am I made the decision. I already prefer the D800 to the D4 for shooting 90% of my lifestyle subjects, reserving the D4 for those times when things are really moving fast and I need that super-high 9fps frame rate.

Nikon D810 camera hands-on review

If you liked the D800/800E, you are going to love the D810. If you are a professional photographer, this is currently the best camera out there for almost any type of shooting.

I began testing the D810 the day it came out. It didn't take me long to realize this was something special. Everything felt right. The camera was smooth, quiet, quick, sharper than ever, great in low light, delivered excellent color, kept pace with my fast shooting pace -- from a professional standpoint for what I shoot, it delivered seamlessly. It didn't take me long to incorporate it into my daily workflow, and has replace by D4 as my main camera for lifestyle.

With its design changes -- modest as they might appear at first glance -- the new D810 model expands its use from specialized shooting situations to a point where it might be the only camera you ever need for shooting anything -- still life, fashion, architecture, sports, wildlife, lifestyle, landscapes, events, wedding photography, whatever. This camera is as good as it gets.

Nikon D810 camera hands-on review

A Nikon FTn from 1969 with a vintage 58mm Noct-Nikkor lens that can still be used on the D810 next to it.

If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here.

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  • John Martinec

    Great review. I agree with everything here after upgrading from the D800E to the D810.

    • T53

      An outstanding review. Given the versatility of this camera, I have a large decision to make between the D810 and the new FX camera still to come from Nikon.

      • Rafa R

        Agree, even though the D810 sounds great, I´m going to patiently wait for the new D710 or whatever is called, if I don’t like it I´ll get the D810, september is very close..

        • Eric Calabros

          I feel D710 will be darn good, but not as good as D810

          • Michiel953


        • samseite

          After using D810 in a week for wedding and food photography. I agree D810 is the best DSLR right now

  • paintitwhite

    Great photos and very good writing. Thanks, Tom Grill!

  • Maji

    Great review. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • fjfjjj

    Very nice report. Superb craft in every picture! (Except for the Empire State Building. The detail in that picture looks terrible. Noise reduction applied?)

    Question: In the backlit pictures with no fill, did you perform manual dodging or use D-Lighting or anything else on the foreground, or did you just process the whole frame at low contrast?

    • First question: No noise reduction applied. ISO was 64. It was a very hazy day and I probably punched up the contrast too much.

      Second question: Although I keep my Nikons on “Auto” for D-Lighting in case I need to process them in Nikon Capture, I usually use Adobe Camera Raw for processing. In ACR I use the “Highlights” and “Shadows” sliders to adjust the tonal ratios with some local dodging/burning done also in ACR. For the most part I have stopped using fill reflectors because I’ve been going for a more candid look that the light seems to have without them.

  • Richard70115

    @Tom Grill

    Which lens did you use for the shots? Which are your most favourite and used Nikkor lens on D810? And how do you compare it to the Fuji Xt1 (you reviewed it as well) ?? Which is the nicer handling camera? Is the IQ difference remarkable? Xt1 lot of disadvantages onyl base iso200, 1/4000, 1/180 flash sync….but has uhs II, evf /higher magnification viewfinder, tiltable screen etc….do you prefer shoting the fuji xt1 or the d810/d4??

    THX in advance! Take care & Keep it up!

    • A high resolution camera like the D810 demands the highest quality objectives to get the most out of it. Indoors for lifestyel I mostly use the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.4. Outdoors I usually switch to the 70-200mm or 24-70mm f/2.8 zooms. I used the 60mm macro for the stacked still life.

      I have begun using the D810 instead of the D4 for all my lifestyle except where I need the super-fast motor. I usually have theFuji X-T1 with me on all my shoots now because it has a few unique features. I use the tilt screen for getting a quick shot from over the subject or an extra low one for ground level. The X-T1 WiFi remote control of the camera is also excellent and I rely on it when I need to place the camera somewhere where I cannot go myself. The Fuji’s super-wide angle lenses are also really terrific so I use it when I need that focal length.

      Most of the time I only need a 50mb file for traditional stock images. That means down-sizing the D810 files considerably or up-sizing the X-T1 files a little bit. At the 50mb size it’s hard to see a difference between the two cameras.

      I have plans to do a blog post shortly on this comparison between the two cameras. Check my blog over this coming week.

      • bwb

        Did you have Active D Lighting turned on? I shoot Raw Adobe and use LR. I can’t decide if I should use it or not?

        • Jeff Hunter

          Active D Lighting does not work on RAW files processed in LR.

        • The Active D-lighting will only work for RAW if you process in Nikon Capture software. LR doesn’t recognize it.

        • samseite

          Sometimes i shoot jpeg and when i’m not using any speedlight l, i turned on the D-lighting
          But when i need to capture the shadow to make a shape and when i use lighting system with strobe or speedlight, i turn it off.

          When i shoot food photography, Better adjust shadow and highlight later. and i use RAW for my commercial works so i don’t need to worry about D-lighting/noise reduction/etc

  • Jeffnky

    After using the D810 for 10 days I am still amazed at how much better it is than my D800E which I did not think possible.

    • HF

      Jeffnky: nice shots. What lens did you use?

    • Eric Calabros

      What the heck r they doin in second pic?

    • Guest

      Shot with NIkon D810, Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens. ISO 64, Compressed 14bit. 1/100 sec at f/ 5.0. Handheld

    • Roger Kirby

      Shot with NIkon D810, Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens. ISO 64, Compressed 14bit. 1/100 sec at f/ 5.0. Handheld

  • McDonnie

    When Nikon didn’t include 4K, it’s practically designed to be obsolete in 2 years….too bad

    • dclivejazz

      The days of 4 year product cycles for major electronic items are over. Technology improves too fast. It’s up to us to decide if we need the latest and greatest every year or two, or can afford to wait.

      As for 4K, that’s not a major factor for me, but if it matters that much to you, that’s of course your right. The improvements in the shutter (esp sharper focus from less mirrror slap), autofocus and iso may be enough to prompt me to trade up from my D800E.

      I appreciate the thoughtful review.

    • Canadian Jerry

      What’s 4,000.00 compared to two years of improved performance and technological edge? With this new system, there is no doubt that you can make it back in a month!

      • Jorge

        4,000.00 (dollars) is more than four stock shooting trips with my “old and obsolete” D800 and Fuji X-T1, which, over several years will generate about 10,000.00 or more in income.

  • Delmar Mineard Jr

    Terrific review. Good detail and great examples. I expected a minor update and this is so much more. All of a sudden Nikon is listening and could be going back to their roots of technology and engineering. I am impressed.

  • HF

    Very nice review. I read all articles on his site, since I like his stile very much. Made me buy the XT1+56/1.2 and D810, which are awesome cameras (XT1 is our backup).

  • Iustin P.

    Nice review, but all JPEGs (even the bigger one of the building) seem like they were saved at 70% quality – it really ruins the message of the review. Otherwise, I have enjoyed it, so please for the next time use a bit higher quality rating.


    • Sorry about the low quality jpgs. I’ve been bumping up against the size requirements of my site and these super-large files, which I have to leave there forever, have been eating up a lot of the space. Happy to send you an uncompressed file if you shoot me a note. – t

      • Awesome review.

        You should consider letting Flickr host your pictures. I do on my blog.

      • Thanks, I might do that as I’m shopping for a step up and would like to see them. Yes, I see the artifacts, especially on the Empire State Bldg., and it had me baffled for a bit (hmmm, I thought this guy was supposed to be pretty good…:-)). But thanks for the well-reasoned advice.

        • I re-uploaded an uncompressed version of the file. Let’s see if that looks better.

          • Iustin P.

            Thanks, much better! Really appreciate the response.

          • Thanks for sharing that. Truly remarkable from a technical point of view considering where we were just ten years ago. Further refinement seems almost futile. Makes you wonder how Canikon will keep selling new cameras in the future when the current crop is so capable.

            • ISO is the new Megapixel. 😉

              Unfortunately, all this emphasis on numbers was bound to catch up with the camera companies eventually. I think now consumers will want lighter and capable with strong numbers. Being able to change a lens is a sign of quality amongst the general public. Enthusiasts speak loudly, but rarely hit on what the average consumer will actually purchase.

    • BigEater

      Don’t forget that every website does its own unique and terrible compression damage to images which your browser then makes even worse when displaying the pix.

  • David Teter

    Thanks for an outstanding review. Nice to see well thought out opinions combined with photography that actually shows what the camera is capable of.

  • Sam

    Nice review. But I prefer the Nikon F with the Noct! 😛
    @Nikonrumors : Do you have any rumors on the next D7100? Coming soon or not?

  • peteee363

    instead of a composite on the veggies, have you tried a wrong lens? I found the 24-pce used as a 24mm lens, without any swings or shifts works wonderful as a huge depth of field 24mm lens. none of the nano coated lenses of Nikon’s have f/32 except for the pce. so I have tried it, and it is great for large areas of focus on landscapes, and even on close-ups. but at f/32 you most likely need a tripod. I am not sure why Nikon does not make a 28mm or less lens with f/32 or greater for us landscapers? these days everybody seems interested in only fast lenses.

    • Genkakuzai

      When does diffraction start being an issue with the 24-pce though? Just curious, since most lenses aren’t really optimal at f/32. Though obviously it is a tilt-shift lens and as such it might work differently 🙂

      • peteee363

        you have to remember, since it tilts, and shifts, it’s image circle is larger than a normal lens. I would bet if I was shifted to the max, and closed it to f/32 some might be seen in the two edge corners. but on my old 4×5 with nikkor lenses, the copal shutters went to f/64, and I would use that from time to time. but for a stunning depth of field, f/16 does not make it, you need more. I only tried it a few times, and I liked what I saw every time. but my old 28mm 3.5 went to f/32, and it was an ais lens. that what was on my fa most of the time.

        • Genkakuzai

          Gotcha! I was genuinely interested ^^ Thank for the response! And I completely agree that f/16 isn’t nearly enough sometimes.

          • peteee363

            after I replied, I looked up current thought on the subject. I noticed most illustrations are wrong. every last pixel travels simultaneously through only one spot on the lens where the image is inverted. the excess light that is restricted by the blades is where the detail is gained, as well as the depth of field. on a small image circle lens the blades don’t bend the light correctly, so the diffraction is created. a simple way to solve this in dx cameras is to use only fx lenses. but on fx, the options are very limited. I wish Nikon would address this. but for now my pce will have to do. for great lens information, go to the best source around, ansel adams 3 book series. the camera, the negative, the print. digital was not around back in his day, but the concepts are still at work.

            • Genkakuzai

              Then again most serious landscape photographers are likely using full frame cameras… now if only there were any Nikon medium format lenses ^^

            • peteee363

              well, I had to search long and hard until I came up with this idea, which happened to work.

  • Ian Lindo

    Any word on the supposed issue with long exposure? Been reading that there’s a considerable amount of thermal noise with this camera at exposures as “short” as 15 secs. Supposed to be fixed with a firmware upgrade and only the very earliest models seem to have this problem.

    • HF

      No, so far I couldn’t find out anything. But LE-NR works fine and removes the thermal noise efficiently.

    • HF

      Some guy at pointed out, that using edge and astro noise reduction in Capture NX-D removes the issue. For my files it worked nicely. Worth a try.

  • Guest

    better veggies

    • Guest

      I’m not the net police or a lawyer or anything like that, but if you’re not the copyright owner of the photo did you get permission to modify his photo? it’s actually pretty irritating to post a photo and someone takes it to and modifies it. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, but it usually isn’t okay to take someone else’s photo and modify it, even if you feel it looks better, without first asking the photographer first.

    • Guest

      I’m not the net police or a lawyer or anything like that, but if you’re not the copyright owner of the photo did you get permission to modify his photo? it’s actually pretty irritating to post a photo and someone takes it to and modifies it. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, but it usually isn’t okay to take someone else’s photo and modify it, even if you feel it looks better, without first asking the photographer first.

      • I agree. The only thing MORE annoying is people commenting anonymously. What are you hiding from?

    • peterw

      You call that better? I prefer the original, more natural look…

  • Kynikos

    Thanks for a really useful review that exposes what a pro can do with the tool.

  • Antonio

    Thanks very much for the excellent analysis.
    However there is one point I’d appreciate if you pls could clarify: you refer both LR and NX2 besides saying you used LR for the presented images,
    As Nikon doesn’t support NX2 anymore I’m curious to know if you already tried to convert any D810 RAW files with it.
    Tks vm in advance

  • PhotoJoe55

    Excellent Review, and real life image situations really show this cameras abilities. I was surprised to find it here!

  • FrancescoP

    The removal of the OLPF improves the perception of details by the human eye, but generates moire in high spatial frequency regions of the image.
    I would be interested to know if the D810 is capable of removing by software the moire from on camera JPEG and video recordings.
    The software removal of moiré is not conceptually difficult, but requires a lot of computing power.

    • Hey Francesco,

      I know what I am going to say is up to personal requirements but! 🙂 I worked as a student part time for one of the most successful architecture photographers in my home country. All I did was photoshop-edit his photos. He was shooting an alpa max camera with schneider kreuznach lenses and a leaf 40mp back with of course no AA filter. (so kind of the best of best in landscape and architecture photography) In stills we happened to frequently get some moire, but only in severe cases I would really have to make the (15min) effort to remove it. His images are published on a monthly basis in the most important architecture magazines so it never seemed to be a major issue. Most people are overly worried about moire. Yeah, it happens, but is it really that bad? I on my part would always prefer increased sharpness and moire sometimes instead of less sharpness and moire less frequently. (don’t be fooled, moire is also happening with AA filters, even on my shabby d700 with 12mp:) ). For video it is of course a totally different thing, though the d810 seems to be doing better than the d800. Regarding moire removal, it may be possible with software but I can Imagine cases where the software won’t be able to recognize the error. I guess the solution will be having sensors which out resolve the attached lens, thus making false patterns impossible.

      Regards Andreas

      • FrancescoP

        Andreas, thanks for your answer.

        The moiré occurs infrequently and, in general, with man-made objects such as certain fabrics or repetitive structures photographed at the limit of resolution. Not a problem for those working in RAW.
        The request for information about the ability of D810 to remove the moiré (JPEG and Video) is an indirect test to understand the progress of the electronics on board camera.
        Unfortunately Nikon is too stingy of information. A careful observer can only conclude that the improvements of the latest cameras are the result of the new generation of cpu and software, combined with the improvement of the of the autofocus’s electronics. The sensors of the D4S and D810 have been redesigned. Their performance has been improved only in some specific areas, not in absolute terms for all sensitivities. This is clear from the independent charts published (eg. DxOMark).
        The sensor technology is now close to the limits of physics and future improvements will be the results of complex studies involving the materials technology, the geometry of analogical circuits and the construction techniques. Personally, I consider a proper way increase the computing power and software to improve the IQ and the field usability of the cameras.

    • Moire is only really an issue if your lens can capture more detail than your sensor. Soft focus, retro lenses, or cheap glass make moire a non-issue on bodies without the AA filter.

    • Moire is only really an issue if your lens can capture more detail than your sensor. Soft focus, retro lenses, or cheap glass make moire a non-issue on bodies without the AA filter.

  • Jim Leahy

    Good review…great photos…but one thing bothers me…the last photo; the camera strap on the 810 is threaded improperly which invites sudden slippage of the strap, especially in intensive prolonged shoots. Camera impact damage is very expensive. I know…

  • Edward Jakubowski

    Just bought the D810….my first Fx camera…!!…..But I will still keep my D300s and d7100.

    • Jeff Hunter

      I’ve owned a D800 for two years, moving up from a D90. You’re going to have some major fun. The image detail is astonishing. Enjoy!

      • Edward Jakubowski

        Thanks Jeff!…….I’ve already seen the great imaging results from this camera….only wish is that it could be 8fps.

  • stormwatch

    One of the best reviews I have ever read.

  • Scott

    Tom, I’m not sure I’m buying the need for the 810 to shoot “lifestyle” over the 800, but perhaps our definitions differ.

    On the building pic, I’d love to see a side by side with the D800 image with equal amounts of sharpening applied in post.


  • Richard70115

    @ Jeff and all other Nikon users….

    Has the D810 the slightly better WIFI options? (D810 only WT-5 required vs. D800(e) WT4+ UT-1??? True??)

    Is the WT-5 enough for wifi transfer of images from d810 to
    tablet/smartphone/pc and you only need the ut-1 additionally for
    tethering shooting /remote controls??? Or you need even both for just
    wifi transfer of images???? Cannot believe so….

    And what are your expeirneces with the WT-5 and the d810 is it still acceptable (wifi speed) due to the large files of the d810???

    Investigation is needed…so please could anybody help me??? Dont find any valid, trustworthy sources if the wt5 solely is enough (like it seems nikon promotes him) for just wifi ftransfer of images to mobile devices and the ut1 onyl if tethered shooting/remote controls are seeked???

    Please answer! THX!

    I am just thinking about buying the wt5 for wireless transfer of files but still have some doubts…….

    All the best!

    • jypfoto

      From what I can tell the D810 has the same lack of wifi but there is support from the Camranger which I’ll probably take a look at since I can use it with multiple cameras and not just one brand. The feature set looks a little bit better too than a standard built in wifi.

  • Breakfromfb Brock

    NOT UPGRADING… unless Nikon rights their wrongs and replaces my D800E with a D810 like they did with the D600. If Canon makes a next generation camera thats not crippled (on purpose just so you can buy a more expensive camera in their line up), I will ditch defective (on purpose only to correct defects and sell you the same camera with defects removed later) Nikon.

    • true

      I happen to agree with you. The D600 and D800 lines seem to have a lot of bodies with soft PDAF. I can get sharp CDAF pictures, but the moment I try to take photos with PDAF it’s soft, slightly out of focus, not tack sharp. It seems they’ve stopped getting money from innovations, so now they have to design these stupid flaws.

  • JoCarpenter

    Great post, thanks all.

  • Funduro

    The color, tones, and noise control of the new EXPEED 4 processing engine are quite noticeable. The images have a different look to them. The colors are richer, gradated tones smoother departing an almost 3-dimensional quality to the image.
    What a load, give me a break.

  • Roger Evans

    Has anyone else noticed a reoccurrence of the green colour cast on the D810 or is it just me ? Yes, I can correct it in Camera Raw, but I had hoped that Nikon might have sorted this out.

    • On landscapes, I feel like I’m moving the slider always toward the green.

  • Michiel953

    I just (did I mention that?) traded in my 800 for an 800E. I must be certifiable.

  • Hi Tom, Great Review! Could you let us know your settings on the back lit photos, were they on Aperture Priority? And did you use the new highlight weighted metering?

    Thanks again for your great review and information.

  • Nokin

    This is a radical development for Nikon Rumours.

    Someone discussing a camera that they actually own & use.

  • @tomgrill:disqus

    “The color, tones, and noise control of the new EXPEED 4 processing engine are quite noticeable. The images have a different look to them. The colors are richer, gradated tones smoother departing an almost 3-dimensional quality to the image.”

    Didn’t you shoot these in raw?

  • Genkakuzai

    Splendid review! Much appreciated.

  • Shot with NIkon D810, Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens. ISO 64, Compressed 14bit. 1/100 sec at f/ 5.0. Handheld

  • Radar80

    Thinking about buying the D810, the main reason is the AUTO ISO.
    so I can put i on a steadycam, BUT how smoth is the AUTO ISO ?
    Can you see the changes in the iso step ??

  • docfink

    I couldn’t agree more. The differences from the D800 are indeed noticeable. 5ps (or 6fps) is enough for my kids’ sports as I was never a rapid-fire shooter anyway; remnants of growing up with Nikon Fs and FEs I guess. The D810 is as versatile and useful as it gets.

  • I just bought the d810 and i was really hoping to see the raw s having the same dynamic range as the raw l 12 bit…

    Here is a comparison, where i used the same exposure in raw L and S and pushed the shadows +100 and a comparison where i pushed the shadows and hi lights.

    Not that i’m ever pushing the shadows +100, but the fact that my old canon 60d has better performance that the nikon raw S file really sucks….

    The raw S file was really something that made me buy the d810 for when i occasionally shoot events.. but as it turns out i have to shoot it at 36 mp and crop it afterwards…..


    I have a D810 and it is like night & day from the D800. I think their ad should read “You’ll need to shoot everything again if you owned the D800”.

    In investigating the recent recall of white spots on the D810 I found out something interesting. Don’t know if anyone can answer this or not. I shoot in FX mode, 14-bit, Lossless compressed. According to the manual my RAW files should be 36 X 24. Don’t know what that is in pixels. WIth the compression on, they average 36-40mb in size. When viewing in ACR or Photoshop and selecting Image Size it shows them as 24 X 16. Is this a Photoshop problem? I am using Photoshop CC with the latest 8.6 ACR. Something I never noticed before but the D800 files are the same way. They are also 24 X 16. I was also shooting in FX mode with that camera as well.

    If you know an answer to this email me at

  • info56

    The split screen is a interesting feature or should I say, could have
    been interesting. For macro photography for example, it could have been
    very interesting to have on the left part the whole image and on the
    right a zoom to see the details. The left part able to see if the animal
    is in the frame, the right part anable to check if the details are
    But two zoomed screen at the same level ? I do not see the point ? I am disapointed…
    Does an evolution of the firmware could perform this kind of split screen usefull for macro photography ?
    Best regards

  • Marlin1895

    Is it possible to disable the popup flash button? I broke the flash on my 800 since it was way too easy to accidentaly press the flash open button on the side, especially when it was a bit of hairy action going on around you. I really like the image quality but i honestly hate that flash.

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