This free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep adding to this free website when you get anything through these links — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you take the chance of buying elsewhere. Never buy at retail, since unlike milk or DVDs which are sealed, Nikon doesn't seal its boxes so you can't tell if you're getting a used camera or a return. Thanks for your support! Ken.
NEW: Nikon D810, D800E, D600 and D3 Sharpness Comparison. 30 July 2014
Back, Nikon D810. enlarge.
The Nikon D810 has the highest technical image quality of any DSLR. The only way to get higher technical quality is to pay as much as a new Mercedes for a clumsy medium-format camera, and even then it's not clear that it would be any better.
The D810 is the world's highest technical performance DSLR ever for outdoor, nature, landscape and many other kinds of precision photography. The D810 has no anti-alias filter, allowing it to replace both the old D800 and the D800e. It's also about an ounce (20g) lighter.
But wait: the D800e had no anti-aliasing filter, but still had an optical low-pass filter (OLPF) over its sensor. The D810 has no anti-alias and no OLPF either, for sharper images than either old camera.
Faster internal processors allow the D810 to process enough data fast enough to shoot at 5 FPS over the slow 4 FPS of the old D800 and D800e. The D810 is now as fast or faster than the original professional DSLRs, the D1 and D1H.
The D810 has the autofocus performance of the D4s. It's fast and accurate in any light.
The D810 uses the same EN-EL 15 battery as most other better Nikon DSLRs, and it's now rated for 1,200 shots, up from 900 in the old D800 and D800e.
The D800 and D800e had more resolution than any other full-frame DSLR by a large margin, but were too slow for just about anything, Now the D810 is 25% faster with the same resolution, and may also be used for sports, whoo hoo! In fact, why bother with the D4s when you can get the D4s' AF performance with far higher resolution for half the price in the D810? Exactly!
No matter how you slice it, if gallery exhibition is your end product, no DSLR can make better images today than the Nikon D810 — and it now runs fast enough for action, too!
Much quieter than the old D800 and D800E. The D810 is quieter in its regular mode than the D800 or D800E are in their quiet modes! New mechanical sequencer and balancer that improves Quiet modes, too.
5 FPS, up from 4 FPS. (6 FPS in DX, and up to 7 FPS only with the grip and with certain batteries in DX mode.)
Same EN-EL 15 battery now rated for 1,200 (up from 900) shots.
New white OLED (organic electroluminescent) data display in finder.
Flash bolt in finder is now stand-out orange, instead of blend-in green.
Picture Controls have a new "Clarity" setting to increases local contrast without affecting overall contrast (a weak unsharp mask with a very large radius).
New "Flat" picture control.
Nikon claims a new sensor to get the higher speed, but I suspect it's really only faster processors to chew on all that data.
CAM3500FX AF sensor from the D4s; 51 points.
No anti-alias filter, just like the D800e, and no OLPF either, unlike any previous full-frame Nikon DSLR.
Built-in stereo mic (was mono in D800 and D800e).
Auto ISO now also works while rolling video.
Zebra stripe display in Live View for video.
"Power aperture" to change apertures while rolling video.
Base ISO drops from ISO 100 to ISO 64 for cleaner images at high resolution. (Can be dropped to ISO 32 as "Lo-1.")
ISO now goes to ISO 12,800 in regular modes, or to ISO 51,200 in a HI+2 push mode.
New "sNEF" files are lower-resolution NEFs to allow much faster post production while retaining the benefits of RAW.
New highlight-weighted mode added to the 91,000 pixel RGB meter.
Semi-electronic shutter allows smoother operation on a tripod in Live View.
Shutter rated for 200,000 shots.
50p and 59.94p video rates.
Video ISO 50-51,200.
LCD still 3.2," but now 1.3 megadots up from 0.921 megadots. It also has an LCD color-trim adjustment.
Clever split-screen mode lets you zoom into left and right sides simultaneously to level your camera even faster and more precisely than the old-fashioned electronic levels of older cameras.
Deeper grip than D800 and D800e.
New secondary i (info) button.
New coatings on finder for claimed better brightness (I doubt there's any visible difference).
Full-aperture metering in Live View for stills.
Image area selectable in Live View for stills.
New for the D810, there's no BS-1 Accessory Shoe Cover included. This saves us the step of having throwing it away so we can use flash.
New are two little included strain reliefs for HDMI and USB cables, potentially preventing camera connector damage if you use the D810 tethered with these cables.
See also Compared.
Lacks an AF-S / AF-C / M switch; it simply has an AF / M switch, and you have to jack with AF-C and AF-S settings with two hands by holding the AF mode button (where the AF-S / AF-C / M switch used to be) and spinning a dial while watching a screen to set it.
No rear AF Area mode lever; it's been turned into the Live View mode switch.
No AF-A autofocus mode (no automatic selection of AF-S or AF-C depending on subject motion).
The MODE button has become a video REC button, and the MODE button moved a little to the left, further away from the shutter.
When shooting in a cropped mode (1.2x, 5:4 or DX), the viewfinder doesn't mask or darken unused image areas. Instead, it simply adds easy-to-ignore frame lines, which make it easy to forget you're in a cropped mode and miss some of your photo (Nikon's pro cameras like the D3 and D4 series mask properly, darkening the unused area in the finder).
The LCD auto-brightness control of the D800 and D800e is gone, but that's OK because it never worked well enough to use.
No GPS, thank goodness, and you can connect external ones.
Nikon's Settings Banks are still faulty. They don't recall everything (important things like AF and Advance modes aren't saved or recalled), and there's no way to lock the saved banks from accidental changes. The D610's U1 and U2 modes are far more advanced than the settings banks of the D810.
Lens Compatibility top
Nikon D810. enlarge.
With a built-in AF motor and an aperture feeler for manual-focus lenses, it works great with every Nikon lens made since 1977!
More at Nikon Lens Compatibility.
3-Lens Video Kit top
The 3-lens video kit for $5,000 includes the 35/1.8G, 50/1.8G and 85/1.8G as well as a few filters, two spare batteries (3 total) and an external video recorder. The kit price isn't much of a discount unless you really want those particular items.
For digital cinema and video I'd use the classic 50-300mm f/4.5 Zoom-NIKKOR*ED instead.
For still shots, see my Nikon D810 Lens Suggestions.
36MP FX (35.9 x 24.0 mm) CMOS.
7,360 × 4,912 pixels (L, 36MP), 5,520 × 3,680 (M, 20MP), 3,680 × 2,456 (S, 9MP).
14-bit linear ADC, 16-bit data pipelines, same as the D3X.
Video only uses a central 32.8 x 18.4mm section at most.
It's easy to set a function button to allow direct selection of these from shot-to-shot:
30 x 24 mm.
6,144 × 4,912 pixels (L, 30MP), 4,608 × 3,680 (M), 3,072 × 2,456 (S).
1.2x Canon emulation
30.0 x 19.9 mm.
6,144 × 4,080 pixels (L, 25MP), 4,608 × 3,056 (M), 3,072 × 2,040 (S).
23.4 x 15.6 mm.
4,800 × 3,200 pixels (L, 15.4MP), 3,600 × 2,400 (M), 2,400 × 1,600 (S).
64 ~ 12,800, expandable to 32 (LO-1) to ISO 51,200 (HI+2).
With a built-in AF motor and an aperture feeler for manual-focus lenses, it's the same as the D3X and D7000: it works great with every Nikon lens made since 1977!
More at Nikon Lens Compatibility.
51 points (15 are cross-type, and 9 will work even at f/8).
New group-area AF uses clusters of 5 sensors at a time.
Dark LCD boxes indicate AF areas, lit occasionally in red.
Same CAM3500-FX sensor as D4s.
Fine-tuning, if you have slight errors with certain lenses.
0.70x magnification with 50mm lens, same as D3X.
Split-Screen Level top
New system magnifies left and right sides separately and shows them close together.
91,000-pixel 3D Color Matrix Meter III with Advanced Scene Recognition and Face Recognition Systems.
New highlight-weighted mode.
i-TTL flash metering for use with SB-910, SB-900, SB-800, SB-700, SB-600 and SB-400.
4mm Spot and 8, 12, 15 or 20mm-diameter center-weighted.
Meter coupling: AI or CPU.
In-camera High Dynamic Range (HDR) capture.
Built-in Flash top
Controls wireless flash.
GN 39/12 (Feet/meters at ISO 100).
1/8,000 ~ 30 seconds in full, half or third-stops.
Flash Sync: 1/250.
Carbon fiber and Kevlar, tested to 200,000 cycles.
Requires an exotic 10-pin electronic remote cable, no thread for a real cable release.
Front-curtain is also electronic in Live View mode to help eliminate vibration.
Frame Rates top
5 FPS FX.
6 FPS in DX.
7 FPS in DX with MB-D12 and AA cells.
Live View top
Two modes, with a rear selector lever.
23x zoom electronic loupe.
Video only uses a central 32.8 x 18.4mm section of the sensor, at most.
No Standard definition or 4:3 options.
FX and DX gates.
Time-lapse mode from 1 FPS down to about one frame every half-hour.
Up to 29:59 minutes per clip at normal quality.
Live, uncompressed 1080 HD signal directly from the HDMI port (8 bit, 4:2:2).
Built-in stereo mic.
3.5mm stereo mic jack.
20-step manual recording gain control.
30-step manual output gain control.
3.5mm headphone jack.
Linear PCM recording.
File Formats top
JPG, TIFF, NEF, or NEF+JPG.
NEF in 12- or 14-bit with no, lossy or lossless compression.
sNEF (lower resolution).
JPG in BASIC, NORMAL or FINE, Size or Quality-based.
Exquisite 3.2," 1,229,000 dots.
Tempered glass cover.
Auto brightness control.
Data Communication top
USB 3.0, micro-B connector.
HDMI, type-C connector.
Data Storage top
SD and CF Slots, Nikon D810. enlarge.
One CF card rated up to UDMA-7, and one SD card rated up to SDXC / UHS-1.
Rated 1,200 shots, up from only 900 in D800 and D800e.
Nikon rates it as 2 hours 35 minutes for a full recharge.
Nikon says the clock battery charges itself after two days with a regular battery inserted, and once charged, will keep the clock running for three months if you pull the main battery.
4.9 x 5.8 × 3.3 inches, HWD.
123 × 146 x 81.5 millimeters, HWD.
34.042 oz. (965.15g or 2 pounds, 2.042 oz.), measured with battery and SD card.
Nikon rates it at 34.6 oz. (980g or 2 lb., 2.6 oz.) with battery and SD card.
Made in Thailand.
26 June 2014.
For late July 2014.
Shipping Since top
I got mine on Wednesday, 23 July 2014, as promised.
Price (USA) top
Nikon D810 Box. enlarge.
Nikon D810 Box End. enlarge.
Legal USA Versions (USA only) top
If you bought from other than a recommended dealer, you may have been sold an illegal gray-market version. Send it back while you still can, and if the dealer tries to tell you otherwise or offer a bogus extended warranty, dispute the charge with your credit card company and you won't have to pay.
Gray-market cameras have no warranty in the USA, will get no firmware upgrades, and will not be serviced by Nikon. I usually buy gray-market manual-focus lenses since they'll never need service, but digital SLRs always need service, support and firmware updates eventually.
Nikon is no longer supplying parts to independent service shops, so if you get stuck with a gray-market D810, when it needs service or an update, you're out of luck. A store might try to offer a worthless third-party warranty, but if you ever need to use it you'll discover it's worthless. Never buy a gray-market digital camera.
Legal USA versions have a (U) after "D810" above the UPC symbol:
Nikon D810 Box, USA version. enlarge.
Inside the box, you'll find yellow Nikon USA paperwork, and also a "U-S" sticker on the plastic bag holding the manuals:
Nikon D810 USA Version. bigger.
If you buy from a first-class dealer, you'll never need to worry about this. The problem is that if you don't check and if you buy from other than a recommended source and get stuck with a gray-market version, you won't know until it's too late.
Nikon D810 and BM-12 monitor cover.
Nikon still includes a BM-12 clear LCD monitor cover, which I never use.
Also included are:
BF-1B Body Cap.
EN-EL15 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery.
MH-25 Battery Charger.
UC-E14 USB Cable.
USB Cable Clip.
ViewNX 2 CD-ROM.
These little pieces of plastic are strain reliefs. They poke into the USB and HDMI sections and help prevent a yanked cable from breaking your D810.
You clip them around your cable and then plug them into the D810:
D810 cable strain reliefs (no cables shown).
MB-D12 Vertical Battery Grip (optional) top
MB-D12, new for D810. It sells for about $500 after you've bought the batteries for it.
The MB-D12 uses Rechargeable Li-ion Batteries EN-EL15 and EN-EL18, AA cells or an EH-5a/b AC adapter if you buy the Power Connector EP-5B.
When the MB-D12 and AA cells, high-speed continuous shooting at 7 FPS in DX mode.
The MB-D12 has its own shutter-release, AF-ON and multi-selector buttons for vertical shooting.
It has the same seals as D810 for dust and water resistance.
You can connect the Nikon GP-1 or Nikon GP-1A GPS, or use any GPS GPS device compliant with NMEA0183 version 2.01 or 3.01 (requires optional MC-35 GPS Adapter Cord and cable with D-sub 9-pin connector).
Sound and Noise top
The first thing that struck me compared to my old D800e is how much quieter is my new D810. While my D800e was always too noisy to use in many indoor situations without annoying people, I'm impressed that my D810 is very quiet, especially in its normal mode. My D810 is quiet enough to use to photograph people candidly.
The D810 gets even quieter in its Quiet mode. The D810's Quiet mode is also significantly improved over the relatively loud and useless Quiet mode of the old D800e. The D810's Quiet Continuous (QC) mode is even quieter than the usual mode, and isn't much slower.
The regular Quiet mode is OK, but slower and not much quieter than the much faster QC mode.
The D810 is quiet, and the QC mode is even quieter, and fast enough to use almost all the time when photographing people.
Shooting Speed top
The old D800 was among Nikon's slowest DSLRs ever, while the new D810 feels fast enough for photographing just about anything.
It's never just about frame rate; it's also about autofocus speed, which on the D810 is fast and sure. It just shoots.
The finder is the next thing that hit me: the data display is now white instead of green, and the flash-ready bolt is not orange to stand out.
As usual, it's big, bright, sharp all over and easy to see.
When shooting in a cropped mode, the finder doesn't darken the unused areas, it merely adds some extra frame lines and hopes you'll notice. It's easy to forget and lose part of your image in the cropped modes.
The finder frames, metering lines and active AF areas are black LCD indications that cover the image. They are side-lit in red if it's very dark.
Nothing that new here. Images get noisier when the ISO gets to four digits.
I'll add more detail later when I get to compare them to my other cameras.
As covered before, the weakest point of the D810 is its foolish Settings Banks system, which neither saves and recalls all the settings we need it to, nor does it allow us to lock or actually save any of these settings.
The OK button is not the center button of the rear controller, but a separate button on the lower left.
Frustrating is that my brand-new D810 still makes me see an hour-glass icon for a moment anytime I wake it from sleep to make a menu setting. It's the year 2014 and we still have to wait for things to load? if the D810 meter is ON then menus pop right up, but if not, it forces me to wait a moment.
The rear LCD is OK. It looks like previous Nikon full-frame cameras.
It has no auto brightness control.
New in the D810 is a color tweak adjustment for the LCD (MENU > SETUP > Monitor color balance). It's sad that we'd need such an adjustment; the D810 should simply be perfect right out of the box.
The adjustment doesn't affect whites. It only affects middle and dark tones. It also affects the blacks; the only way to display a true black is with this control at 0.
Oddly when setting it a center-push doesn't set it back to zero; to zero it you need to click around slowly back to zero.
It's a subtle adjustment, and its steps aren't as fine as they could be.
I'd leave it alone.
JPG files are tagged as 300 DPI, a bit of a pain for web developers as we need to remember to reset them to 72 DPI before we drop text over the images. Nothing new; Nikon has always done it like this.
Compared to the D800 and D800E
As covered above, the D810 is sharper, faster, quieter, lighter and uses less battery power than the old D800 and D800e.
The D810's viewfinder data is displayed with white OLEDs instead of the green digits in the old D800/e, and more importantly, the flash bolt in the D810 is now bright orange instead of blend-in green as in the old cameras.
See also what's new from the D800 and D800e.
Shutter and Quiet Modes
Audio and Video
LCD Monitoring and Live View
Power and Battery
Compared to the Canon 5D Mk III
The Canon 5D Mk III is designed more for photographic artists and family men than the tech geeks for whom the D810 is designed.
The 5D Mk III has slightly fewer pixels (still enough for ultra-sharp mural-sized wall wraps), and has much more pleasant ergonomics that allow it to be optimized for different shooting conditions much more quickly than the D810.
The D810 has four sets of Shooting Banks and four sets of Custom Settings Banks, however all these banks together still don't save and recall as much information as each of Canon's C1, C2 and C3 settings. For instance, autofocus and advance mode settings are saved and recalled with Canon's C-settings, but never with any of Nikon's banks!
One click of a dial is all that's needed to recall any of Canon's C settings, while it takes quite a few clicks to recall different banks in Nikon.
There is no way to lock or protect any of Nikon's memory banks, while all of Canon's C memories are safe. In other words, you never really know if Nikon's settings were the way you intended to leave them when you recall them, while every time I select one of Canon's C settings, it's exactly as I left it.
It's easy to go back and forth between Canon's C settings as I snap people or things, while with Nikon it takes too many clicks and I miss photos while twiddling.
If you only shoot one thing at a time, like only shoot landscapes or only photograph people, the Nikon D810 is wonderful. However, if your shoot includes people for which you want one setting (lower resolution and normal saturation, 1/125 Auto ISO slow speed and typically AF-C), and also you need to photograph things a the same assignment (high resolution, high saturation, slower Auto ISO shutter speed and AF-S typically), it takes too long to reset the D810 for each shot, while it's only a dial click on the 5D Mk III.
The 5D Mk III feels better in hand and has better ergonomics. The 5D Mk III is better thought-out and has a better rear LCD with automatic brightness control that shows bigger images in actual use (the 5D Mark III's screen is the same shape as the pictures, while the D810's screen isn't the same shape so it can't use the entire screen when viewing complete images).
The choice between the two is very simple. I own both. I use my D810 when I need as many pixels as possible, and I use my 5D Mark III when I'm out with family and need to snap them as well as whatever else I'm shooting.
The choice is also simple if you already own full-frame lenses for either. Don't jump systems if you already have Canon L or Nikon FX lenses. If all you have are APS-C lenses (Canon EF-s or Nikon DX), then you'll want new full-frame lenses with either new body.
Battery and charger are the same as D7000.
A blinking light means charging, and steady means you're done.
Image Area Selection
I often use the professional 5:4 aspect ratio, which crops-off "Oskar's Folly:" the too-wide sides.
Especially for vertical shots, the classic 5:4 ratio is better for what most of us shoot more of the time than the foolish 24x36 frame invented as a work-around by a guy trying to shoot movie film in a still camera.
Anyway, most of the time, the finder only indicates the cropped area with lines, like a rangefinder camera, except that the lines are dark.
Much better is how the D3 does it, which is to make the unused areas dark and fuzzy.
To get the D810 to do this, set MENU > CUSTOM (pencil) > a5 AF point illumination > OFF, which then lets the outer areas go dark instead of just have a line around them.
The D810 does this because it makes more sense to illuminated frame lines in the dark, and the D810's AF area illumination isn't with individual LEDs as it is in the D3 and D4; the D810 simply uses on LED that lights the entire finder's LCD overlay.
When you swap between AF-C and AF-S, it recalls whatever AF area mode (Single, Auto, etc.) you had selected before.
Now the slowest shutter speed in Auto ISO can be set to AUTO, meaning that the slowest sped automatically tracks your lens as zoomed to 1/focal length.
You can shift the automatically-selected speed by ±2 stops if you click right from AUTO to set FASTER or SLOWER in one-stop increments.
AUTO ISO's auto-setting slowest speed still isn't smart enough to adjust differently depending on if we have VR or not.
Spin the front dial on zoomed Playback, and it swaps among the faces so you can check smiles.
The regular Quiet mode is OK, but much slower and not much quieter than the much faster Quiet Continuous (QC) mode. Use QC mode if you want the D810 to be even more quiet.
If you're serious about image quality, especially for large prints, gallery showings and shooting for major publications like Arizona Highways (America's premier journal of the finest contemporary Southwestern photography), the new Nikon D810 replaces everything that has come before it. No 35mm-based DSLR can duplicate its technical image quality.
Not only is its static image quality unbeaten, now shooting at 5 to 7 FPS lets us apply this same insane image quality to our sports and action shots. Want to shoot a hummingbird fight over territory, and blow it up to eight feet wide on the gallery wall for your museum show? Welcome the Nikon D810!
This free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep adding to this free website when you get anything through these links — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you take the chance of buying elsewhere. Never buy at retail, since unlike milk or DVDs which are sealed, Nikon doesn't seal its boxes so you can't tell if it's a used camera or a return.
Thanks for your support!
See my FX Lens Suggestions.
The best do-everything lens to use on full-frame is Nikon's 28-300mm VR. As you can see at my review, it's just about as sharp as all of Nikon's previous reference lenses, and covers the entire range in a twist of the wrist. Sharpness doesn't matter if you miss a shot because you're changing lenses.
Of course lens quality can be a huge limitation if you're counting pixels, as most people shooting the D810 do. You suckers who got cheap with Sigma and Tamron will learn why the old adage says "the poor man pays twice;" you need to use real NIKKOR Lenses to get the full resolution of which the D810 is capable.
Therefore, unless you really know what you're doing and shooting micro lenses with flat subjects at f/5.6, you'll only have full resolution in the middle of your image, and only for what's exactly in focus.
If you really want to use all 36-million pixels, you'll have to shoot flat subjects! Honestly, though, the 28-300mm VR is a great lens, and always gets the shot, but it's not the sharpest if you're a pixel-counter. If you want the sharpest results possible, use the the 24mm f/1.4, Voigtländer 40mm f/2, 60mm f/2.8 AF-S Micro, 85mm f/1.8 G, 105mm Micro and 200mm AF-D Micro, which are Nikon's very sharpest lenses of all time. For ultrawide, use the 16-35mm VR.
Beware of diffraction. At apertures smaller than f/5.6, simple physics will dull the image if you're looking at files at 100%! This is why digital point-and-shoot cameras are designed so that their lenses never stop down to more than f/8. If you shoot at f/11 to f/22, you'll get much softer results.
CF cards tend to be faster than SD cards, but they are also easier to damage when inserting them.
I use a big CF card and use it as a backup (record mode to both at the same time), and use smaller SD cards to pull out and download the day's shooting.
I only use SanDisk and Lexar cards, the only cards we can get in the USA that are recommended by Nikon. I'd not use any Kingston, PNY, store brands, or any brands other than SanDisk and Lexar, period.
I especially like the 1000x Lexar CF card I just got; everything is much faster than with the SD cards I've tried.
If you find all the time and expense I incur sharing all this information for free, this website's biggest source of support is when you use any of these links, especially these directly to the body at Adorama or as a kit with three lenses, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live.
More Information top
Help me help you top
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