Nikon D810 Review

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This real-world Nikon D810 review features photos I’ve taken with the new camera, comparison photos to the Nikon D600, and my thoughts after using the camera in the field. Note that this review covers an “off the shelf” production model of the Nikon D810 that I purchased and have actually used to take photos, not a pre-production model that a rep let me hold for like 5 minutes. Most “reviews” I read prior to pulling the trigger to order the camera were of the latter variety, so I thought I’d mention that this is a real review of the real camera. I’ve actually used the Nikon D810 and have edited a number of its RAW files in Adobe Photoshop CC thanks to the new ACR 8.6 release candidate.

If you’re reading a Nikon D810 review, chances are that you’re already read like 57 other pre-release articles and could recite the spec sheet in your sleep (I know spec sheets are the stuff of my dreams!), but in case you haven’t, here’s some perfunctory spec information. The Nikon D810 is a 36.3MP DSLR with no AA filter and an EXPEED 4 engine that makes image processing faster and improves autofocus speed and accuracy. The camera features native ISO of 64 to 12800 (expandable to ISO 32-51200), 51-point autofocus with Group Area AF mode, electronic front-curtain shutter and redesigned mirror mechanism to reduce camera shake, an increased buffer size, sRAW capability, 5 FPS in full frame mode and up to 7 FPS in DX mode, higher resolution LCD screen, split screen zoom in live view for leveling, and a variety of new video features (albeit no 4K). These are the big new things for the D810…but you probably already knew all of that.

Now that we have that out of the way, I’ll get something else out of the way up front: if you’re reading Nikon D810 reviews because you’re on the fence and are half-hoping for a reason not to purchase the new DSLR, you’ve come to the wrong place. The Nikon D810 is the stuff dreams are made of. It’s the camera I’ve wanted since the Nikon D4, D800, and D600 were all announced within months of one another in 2012.

As you’ll read in this review, I think the Nikon D810 is basically the perfect camera, at least for my purposes as a landscape photographer…

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Oh, and if you’ve stumbled on this site for the first time from somewhere else and are wondering why the heck you should listen to some idiot on a random Disney(?!) fan-site, view my Photo Gallery or check out my other Photography Reviews. I’m a photographer who has an interest in Disney theme parks–this site combines the two interests in a manner that I’m aware that is quite eclectic. I have experience with a wide range of cameras, from the Sony RX100 III to just about every Nikon DSLR since the D40.

This is a “real world” review, meaning that it’s based on my use of the camera in the regular course of taking photos in the field, not arbitrary photos in a sterile lab. Some people love to photograph lab charts and look at straight out of camera shots at 100% to take a pixel-peeping look at things, but I’m not one of those people. As an actual photographer who actually takes photos, I see more value in how cameras actually perform in actual scenarios, and how edited photos from it actually look. As such, that’s how I review photography equipment. Actually! ;) Is that enough caveats and background information? NO?! You want more? Okay, here’s what led me to buy the Nikon D810…

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When the Nikon D600 was announced, I made the lateral move from the D700 to it (you can read my Nikon D600 review, which compares it to other cameras I owned at the time), passing on the Nikon D800 primarily because of file size concerns since I tend to take a lot of photos. Not only would I be spending more on a camera with the D800, but I’d also have to buy a ton of new memory cards, external hard drives, and possibly even a faster computer for processing those huge raw files. That made it impractical and cost-prohibitive. The D4 was just cost prohibitive from the outset, so it never was really an option. Although the D600 compromised some features that might be marginally useful to me, I liked most of its specs. Despite the dreaded oil spot issues, it has proved to be a great camera for me for nearly two years.

This spring, I started to think about a replacement for my trusty Nikon D600, and the Sony A7 was my top candidate. It seemed to have a great feature set, excellent image quality, and a lower megapixel count. Plus, the smaller size would be convenient (but not entirely necessary…I don’t mind being a pack mule) for travel. The lackluster native lens lineup right now effectively nixed that idea, especially without something comparable to my beloved the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens (my review). I still think I’ll ultimately end up in the mirrorless camp at some point. A couple of years ago I was saying the camera technology wasn’t quite there for mirrorless. Now it is, but the lens technology isn’t. I’ll give that a couple more years. Sorry, you’re probably looking for a Nikon D810 review, not my life story in terms of cameras. Let’s cut to the chase…

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When the Nikon D810 was first announced, I saw it had a 36.3MP sensor, meaning just as large of files as the D800. I also was concerned that it was just a minor refresh of the Nikon D810, sort of like the Nikon D610. However, in the back of my mind I thought maybe it was time for an upgrade. External hard drive and memory card costs have come down, plus I’ve been eyeing a new MacBook Pro Retina that could handle the full size raw files with ease. As I reviewed the feature set, it became clear that the Nikon D810 was not a minor refresh, as the Nikon D810 had some of the features from the Nikon D4 and Nikon D800 that intrigued me most, plus its own upgrades. Then I saw a feature that sealed the deal: sRAW.

We’ll get to every feature the Nikon D810, but let’s start with this one. sRAW seems like a minor-enough feature, but I know many people like me who didn’t pull the trigger on the Nikon D800 because of file size. For us, the addition of sRAW seems huge. In theory, sRAW is a compromise between JPEG and (full) RAW in terms of dynamic range and file size. Fine by me, as I take many photos where I don’t need huge dynamic range flexibility, but still want some. Ironically, for me the jury is still out on this feature that sold me on the Nikon D810, but I have found that switching to compressed RAW (a feature I previously was unaware of on the Nikon D800…or I might have purchased it 2 years ago!) offers exactly what I want in terms of a compromise between file size and dynamic range. In my shooting, I’ve found a 12-bit lossless compressed RAW file is ~30MB, whereas a full size RAW file is ~75MB. Not bad.

UPDATE: For whatever reason, I’ve been afraid to actually use the compressed raw (not wanting a “lesser quality” of a potentially great photo?). On my recent trip to Asia, I shot 350+ GB of photos with the Nikon D810. This is a serious issue for me, and as a blogger who takes a lot of photos of random things during the day–not just landscapes at sunrise and sunset–the file size here is going to be an issue. Due to that and other features, I’m taking a serious look at the new Nikon D750, although I haven’t made a firm decision on it yet. For strict landscape photographers, or those who take fewer shots than me, the D810 remains an absolute gem. 

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Now let’s take a look at some of the big reasons for purchasing. First is that EXPEED 4 engine. Like I wrote at the outset, this is a real world review, so I didn’t do any benchmarks or anything to tell you just how much faster this processor is, but it is noticeably faster than the engine found in the D600 and D800. The autofocus is also faster, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Next up, and quite possibly the greatest non-feature gain of the Nikon D810 is in terms of sharpness. To be fair, I haven’t used every camera ever, but I think there’s a good chance the Nikon D810 produces some of the, if not the, sharpest images of all time. Thanks to the lack of an anti-aliasing filter, lower base ISO, new sensor (no, it’s not the same one in the D800), and the new shutter mechanism, there is reason to believe this is at least the sharpest Nikon DSLR ever. Paired with my tack-sharp Sigma 35mm f/1.4 lens (my review), I was blown away at the sharpness of this camera.

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In terms of dynamic range, I don’t really feel like I can fully judge that at this point. I took many photos in RAW and pushed many to the limits in Adobe Camera Raw 8.6, and my takeaway was that dynamic range is slightly better than the dynamic range of my Nikon D600. However, ACR 8.6 is a “release candidate” version, meaning it’s what Adobe threw together the day the D810 came out. Usually, the final version improves upon the release candidate’s algorithm, which means dynamic range of RAW files should get even better. I will update this post and follow up with a ‘sample photos’ post that push the limits on the D810’s dynamic range once the final version of Adobe Camera Raw is out. By the way, this review is a mix of straight-out-of-camera JPGs, edited JPGs, and edited RAW files. The photo below is a straight out of camera JPG.

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The base ISO of 64 is a big deal, and not just because it improves dynamic range. Just as importantly, it enables you to use a slower shutter speed or wide open aperture in bright light without using neutral density filters. For me, this also enables longer exposures for fireworks without using a neutral density filter. I’m sure there are other specialized uses for ISO 64, too. Likewise, the increased native ISO of 12800 is a big plus.

Below is a photo that sort of demonstrates dynamic range and high ISO performance. I shot it at ISO 3200 and underexposed it by about 2 full stops. In Adobe Camera Raw, I pushed the file to its limits, bringing out the shadows, taming the highlights, and increasing the exposure. You can definitely see some noise (especially in the blacks and upper left corner), but given the amount of editing I did, it’s not too bad.

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High ISO performance is pretty important to me, and all of those fancy lab-based camera reviews do ISO comparisons, so let’s steal that idea. Let’s take a look at the Nikon D600 v. the Nikon D810. Note that although the background looks bright, these photos were taken in a poorly lit room to truly test the ISO. All are straight-out-of-camera JPGs shot from a tripod in identical conditions. I’ve decided to skip the lower ISOs because that seems pointless given the impressive high ISO performance of both cameras, so we’ll jump right to ISO 3200…

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Above is the Nikon 600. Pretty impressive given the conditions and the high ISO.

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Here’s the Nikon D810. I honestly cannot say I see much of a difference between the two cameras at this point without pixel peeping.

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Nikon D600 at ISO 6400. This is the D600’s highest native ISO, and I’ve always felt it performs pretty well here, salvaging plenty of “keepers” at this point.

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Nikon D810 at ISO 6400. I don’t think it’s entirely apparent from the resized photos in the review, but there is a difference here, with the D810 looking slightly better. I don’t think it’s a huge difference…maybe half a stop?

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Here’s ISO 12800 on the Nikon D810. This is where the real “difference” is, and not just because the Nikon D600 maxes out at ISO 6400. The big takeaway here is how well the Nikon D810 performs at this level! I took several shots at ISO 12800, and for me, a good portion were usable. Having that higher native ISO is a big difference between the two cameras for me, and it’s been a while since I’ve had a Nikon that hasn’t had ISO 6400 as its highest native ISO. From the D90 on, every camera I’ve owned has maxed out at native ISO 6400. So I consider that a pretty big deal, especially given how regularly I use high ISOs.

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Just to show you what a not-so-good ISO 6400 is like, here’s the Sony RX100 III that I recently reviewed in the same conditions at ISO 6400. Compared to the full frame DSLRs, this is pretty bad, but I’m betting it would compare pretty favorably with the Nikon D90 or another older DSLR. Crazy what this point and shoot can do, but I digress..

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Moving on, let’s check out the autofocus. WOW…the autofocus! The Nikon D600 took a slight step backwards (from the D700) in terms of autofocus, and while I’ve been perfectly fine with its AF, using the Nikon D810 was like stepping into the light after your eyes have adjusted to a dark room. It was like a revelation.

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Between the new EXPEED 4 processor and the Group AF (brought in from the Nikon D4s), the Nikon D810 has incredibly snappy autofocus. If you aren’t familiar with dachshunds, think of them as like small children, but much faster and more frenetic. I used the new Group AF when photographing our dachshund, and I walked away with far more keepers than I normally do when photographing him.

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By the way, if you follow the progression of photos of him in this review, you might wonder what the heck he’s doing…he’s trying to catch a squirrel in our apple tree by jumping at the tree. No one has ever accused him of being brilliant.

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Besides these things, which I consider to be major, there are also some features and improvements that are less significant. The first is the Electronic Front Curtain Shutter. What this does is increase sharpness by eliminating camera shake. I recall a friend who owns a D800 complaining of reduced sharpness due to shutter shake, and I just assumed it was an ‘in his head’ excuse. Guess I was wrong on that one.

The LCD screen is a higher resolution, which gives it a crisper look. Same goes for the viewfinder, which is larger and brighter. The battery life is also superior to past full frame Nikons, with the D810 capable of over 1,500 shots on a single charge.

There also have been a number of improvements on the video side of things. Photography is my primary interest with this camera, so these don’t concern me so much, but it’s worth noting that the Nikon D810 can shoot full HD video at 60p, there’s now Zebra Stripes for highlight control, ‘flat’ mode for a low-contrast output that can more easily be edited, ‘power aperture’ mode for easy adjustments on the fly, and audio levels in live view mode. The biggest addition from my relatively uninformed perspective is auto-ISO in video, which should help with keeping the exposure ‘even’ while shooting. This has been my worst problem when shooting video…but I really have no clue what I’m doing, so maybe this wasn’t a big issue for others.

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Finally, there’s that intangible x-factor, and this may just be personal to me: the Nikon D810 is that it just feels right. Remember the marketing for the Nikon Df that called the camera a fusion of creative, technical, and the photographer? Well, that’s exactly how I feel with this camera. It feels like an extension of me, and all of the other eye-rolling marketing used for the Nikon Df actually seems appropriate here. I can tell how ridiculous this sounds as I type it, so if you want some more of those superlatives I’m feeling, just read/watch Nikon’s marketing for the Df. That’s how I feel with the D810. Although I loved its image output, I never felt this way with the Nikon D600. I did feel this way with the Nikon D700, but its image output was lacking as compared to the Nikon D600. The D810 is the beautiful sweet spot where the two cameras meet.

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I try to be as balanced as possible in my reviews, and I realize I’ve basically just gushed over the Nikon D810 in this review. The problem is, thus far I have not discovered anything about which I should be critical. I know video folks have criticized the lack of 4K, so I guess that’s a way it might be lacking for you if you shoot a lot of video. Other than that, I don’t really know what to criticize…that the camera is dangerously awesome? I feel like any other criticism would be forced and grasping at straws. (I suppose now would be a good time to point out that I paid for this camera out of pocket and my review has in no way been influenced by Nikon.) One thing, if you want to call it a complaint, is that this camera is expensive at $3,300. For that price, you should fully expect a camera that is more or less perfect!

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It should be pretty clear that this is an impressive camera. Certainly the best DSLR I’ve ever used, and possibly the most well-rounded DSLR ever. The question thus becomes one of who it will best suit. First and foremost, anyone looking for the absolute best DSLR quality who is not shooting sports (sports shooters, go for the D4 or D4s). Likewise, anyone wanting to go full frame with the budget for a $3,000+ camera should buy it. Those are the two obvious groups that should buy this camera without any hesitation.

As for closer calls, what about current owners of the D600 and D800 lines? If you are a D600/D610 owner who thinks the feature set here and higher resolution are worthwhile, go for it, too. If you are primarily looking for a bump in image quality, I’m not so sure this is a good purchase. It does offer an improvement, but that is so incremental at this point, especially in light of the increased cost, that it’s a tad difficult to justify. The question and answer are going to be about the same for D800/e owners. The D810 brings a lot of new features to the table over its predecessors, so it’s really a question of whether you need those. I can’t address every single type of photographer here, but I think for the vast majority of others considering DSLRs, it probably comes down to an issue of whether the price is justifiable for you, because in terms of quality and features, this camera flat out performs.

For me, the answer is an easy and emphatic “YES!” to these new features justifying the purchase of the Nikon D810. These new features will make photography easier and more fun for me (as if it could get more fun), and will also put me in a position to miss fewer shots. If I can now nail a shot that I would have missed…well, that’s the ultimate improvement in image quality. The Nikon D810’s actual improvements in image quality and processing are really just gravy for me, as I was more than satisfied with the Nikon D600 in this regard. For me, the new and improved features, especially that autofocus, are where the Nikon D810 becomes a grand slam for me.

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Overall, in case it’s not clear, I love the Nikon D810. For many photographers, the cost of this camera in relation to the substantive image quality improvements may not be justifiable, but for me it is. It is a huge leap over the Nikon D600 in terms of all-around performance. This probably makes no sense to anyone besides me, but I view the Nikon D600/D800/D4 as the first generation of revolutionary DSLRs, and with any first generation of technology, there are hiccups (that would be an understatement with some of the issues those cameras had!) and things missing. To me, the Nikon D810 feels like the “second generation” of these cameras, where the great foundations found in those cameras have been improved upon and put together in a package that is basically perfect. I’ve found myself buying and returning more camera equipment in the last year due to being dissatisfied with it, but the converse is true with the Nikon D810: it’s a camera that exceeded my high expectations and I feel is a very worthy upgrade for many serious photographers, even at its price-point. I can already tell that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. 

If you do want to purchase the Nikon D810, we recommend the following trusted & authorized retailers:
Amazon
B&H Photo
Adorama

If you’re looking for other photography equipment recommendations or photography tips in general check out a few of my top photography blog posts:

Photography Buying Guide: Everything from Underwater Cameras to Software
Best Books for Improving Your Photography
5 Indispensable Tips for Better Vacation Photos
Choosing the Best Travel Tripod
Choosing the Best Camera Bag for Travel

Your Thoughts…

Are you interested in the Nikon D810? Have you already bought it? Have any additional questions or comments about the camera? Please ask or share below, and I’ll offer my feedback!

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49 Responses to “Nikon D810 Review”

  1. David says:

    I upgraded from the D600 I have used for the past two years and after having the d810 for a couple days now I agree with you 100%. People will be very pleased with this camera!

  2. David says:

    As some who was on the fence about a d610 or a d810 and a Disney fanatic I thoroughly enjoyed your review. You’re an entertaining & well informed writer. I can tell you read all the same previews & stat overviews the net has been littered with since the announcement of the d810. Thanks for being you and stating your mind. I think what impressed me the most( after the fact that you’re a Disney fan) is your bold stance on the d810. You’re not gonna make too many friends, but it’s your opinion and you’re going off how you shoot… so it’s real. If all your shots on this review were from the Sigma 35mm 1.4 art lens then you sold me on that lens as well. I love bokeh. Anyways good “personal” review and I look forward to more of your point of view.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      “You’re not gonna make too many friends” <- What do you mean by that? I haven’t read actual photographer reactions to the Nikon D810 (I avoid that before reviewing things myself so I’m not biased), but I can’t imagine this camera has been poorly-received by photographers…has it? I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinion…

      The photos in this post were shot with the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art, Nikon 50mm f/1.8, and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8…at least I think that’s it. I would have added captions under the photos indicating which was RAW, JPG, and lens combinations, but when I tried to add them, it messed up the formatting. Sorry about that–I know it would be helpful information.

      • David says:

        I don’t think it has been poorly received from all that I’ve read so far. There do seems to be a lot of people on various Internet forums that seem to always find something wrong in order to feel justified in their previous Dslr purchase prior to the d810. This is the first review I’ve read (out of many) where someone (who also has used many earlier Nikons) speaks their mind and doesn’t try to sound politically correct. I guess my statement about making friends wasn’t needed. No offense.

  3. Okwy Ugonweze says:

    A honest review,we all nikonian hope that this is the camera we ve earnestly waited for.I thoroughly enjoyed reading this review.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I think this is the camera we’ve been waiting for. I’ve been very critical of Nikon recently (especially that awful Nikon Df), but I think they nailed it with this one. They still need to get on the ball with mirrorless and point and shoots, and to start truly INNOVATING again, but for us landscape DSLR photographers, this is about as good as it gets!

  4. Onids says:

    Tom, thank you for reviewing the D810, I love the way you review it with real life scenarios.I wonder if you can post a photo comparing the the sRaw with the 14 bit NEF Raw.
    Thank you!

  5. Lamar says:

    Got to agree with the others, your review was honest and refreshing. I owned the D90 then the D600 also, and I am waiting for my D810 to come in. I was a little apprehensive for many of the same reasons you gave. I am a little more at ease now.

    Thanks.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks for the kind words. I think it’s funny that a few of you have called this review ‘honest.’ It *is* an honest review, but I know if I read a review that was as glowing as this one about any product, I’d be skeptical about ulterior motives. That type of skepticism is sort of the nature of the internet (and is totally justified), with about half of bloggers being bought-off shills, and plenty of others who try to be balanced, but are so passionate about their niche that they have blinders on to the point that being objective is nearly impossible.

  6. Rob Archer says:

    I have recently moved up from the Canon 70D to this D810. I was unsure at first and took sometime to think about the move. I love the camera and I certainly don’t miss my canon. The detail this thing picks up is amazing, you really appreciate it even more on the screen of a retina macbook pro. I was also worried about the file size, but you can’t alway have the best of both, you can’t have a super car that does the MPG of a Mini, you sure can’t have the detail of 36.2 MP camera without bigger file sizes, but thats a easy trade off for me. If your considering this, make the move and you won’t look back.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I really hate going down the Canon v. Nikon path as I think people get waaaaaay too into that with weird brand loyalty, but I’m thinking Canon has less and less of a place. It used to have a big advantage with portrait/prime shooters and video. In terms of portraiture, the killer lenses available from Sony/Zeiss are making Canon less compelling. In terms of video, just about everyone is catching up.

      I think it’s pretty undeniable that Nikon makes the better landscape cameras and lenses, and that dynamic range and ISO performance are better on Nikon. Mind you, I think that BOTH Canon and Nikon are failing to innovate as much as they should be (Sony really is crushing them both–good thing Nikon uses their sensors!), but it seems like Canon is totally asleep at the wheel, and Nikon is just drifting off a bit, with a few wide-awake flashes of excellence.

      • Echo says:

        Sports, Canon still owns the high-speed, high-zoom market.

        Otherwise, Nikon for landscape, and Sony for FF mirrorless.

        The a7S is likely going to be the bomb for dark ride photos and video though.

    • Rhys Parker says:

      Actually in this case you can have a super car with 100+mpg, at least if you are ok with using adobe’s DNG format.
      My D800E 36mp files average around 8-10mb once compressed, without noticeable loss in quality even when pushing and pulling the files dynamic range.

      Anyway should have my D810’s soon, and am looking forward to taking it for a spin.

  7. DreGGs says:

    I decided to pull the trigger on the 810 5 minutes after its announcement. For me, its a bigger jump (from D7100 to D810). I haven’t ordered it yet simple for 2 reasons: 1.) I have to pretty much sell and re-buy new lenses as I am not a fan of crop lenses on full frame, and 2.) wanted to see what others with similar photography interests as me think about it. You…and several others, have confirmed my decision. Thanks for the review! Can’t wait for me to get my hands on one and really test what it can do ;)

    • Tom Bricker says:

      One thing to note that I didn’t cover in the review but is worth mentioning in light of your comments: due to the resolving power of this camera, you will want to invest in high-quality glass. I noticed that my Nikon 28-300mm lens wasn’t looking quite as good with this as it does with the D700 or D600. The rest of my lenses were fine, though.

      On the plus side, the 50mm f/1.8 lens (the ~$100 one) looked great and it’s a solid focal length on FX. So it’s not as if you have to drop $6,000 right off the bat on this camera plus lenses. You could easily get away with the 50mm f/1.8 and one other lens, and build from there. My recommendation for that ‘one other’ lens would be the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8, but you probably know I’m a bit biased towards that lens!

  8. Guido says:

    Hello Tom and readers,

    With joy I read this review. No day pass for me before sleeping to see something new from the D810. This since day one of the rumors when the type name wasn’t sure yet.
    My first camera was bought in 1986 an Nikon FA. Loved that camera and lost it in a burglary in 1997 with all my precious lenses, even my most one the 58mm f1.2 Nocturne. Yes I love sharpness, and seems to be I see sharper than average people. In 1998 I could buy me the Nikon F5 and love that camera for several reasons. Most of how it capture moments before I thought it had be, and red this also on the D4s. Shooting a lot was expensive and thought about Digital solution at that time already. A stroke in 2003 made my life difficult and even lost a fraction of my sharpness, but likely I still am above average. Luckily. But financial I couldn’t effort me a DSLR. So I bought a Leica D-lux 4. Nice to have it all the time in my pocket for those moments you can capture a moment in time worth to shoot. And in the wait when they bring something on the market like the D810.
    In my mind I made up what my perfect camera would be, and now first the D810 comes real close to that, would miss the vertical grip from the F5 but the MB-12 will attached for me on it.
    Now I save to have my specimen, and indeed the Sigma 50 mil Art will be my lens too, I have still my favorite also my 105 micro 2.8.
    I loved to read your review Tom, yet to me it Is sure no other camera will be mine in the future than this one. I am looking forward for more of your tests, like one thing I am real curious about, and this is the dynamic range. The D800 was with 14.4 the best yet, and I estimate after seeing lot of vs between the D800-810, D800 E-810, even the Sony A7r-D810 and the D4s-D810 that always more details is seeing in the black. 30% better? Doxmark will give us the right number when there are that far. But I can see that this D810 give more details like we can see with the naked eye.
    It feels good to know about this equipment and I’m 100% sure I will be pleased too, to have my specimen.

    If you’re not making a lot of friends, you do make the genuine one’s

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I also am looking forward to what DxOMark has to say about this camera. While I may not do lab tests myself, I think they are useful.

      I cannot wait to try the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art with this camera. I think that will be a great combo.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Guido says:

        My dream, even if it’s not a AF is the Zeiss Otus, my opinion this is the best combo. Yet the Sigma 50 Art for 25% of the price will do not mush under, and at the moment is this the best option. More dream lenses are the Nikkor 200 mm f2.0, and a new FL type is on the way. Nice to wipe your large frontlens when it’s dirthy more easily and coma must be improve too. in the 400 mm 2.8 in FL version will be out in test on Dxomak, soon.
        I love reading here, and will see on daily ground for new things, that’s for sure.
        Guido

  9. Aly says:

    Awww….love the photos of Walter! I also have a dachshund (she, too, is obsessed with the rabbits and orioles that live in our backyard) and I’ve really enjoyed photographing her. Those little legs can really move if they see something they want to chase!

  10. Mitch says:

    I am so tired of fighting with my camera’s autofocus system and its acceptable but not-so-great low light performance. I keep trying to convince myself that my d5100 isn’t what’s limiting my ability but my skill as a photographer because I see tons of shots taken with that camera that are fantastic…. but a blazing fast auto-focus system and high ISO performance that is this good would be absolute game changer when it comes to photography for my purposes.

    We have a three month old baby and it can be a challenge to photograph him when he’s moving his face and hands around quickly. The D810 would make that much easier. And our beagle also moves at the speed of light sometimes and shots like you were getting of dachshund. And in Disney or other places when I don’t want to spend a long time composing a shot to nail the focus because I have step down all the way to 1.4 or 2.8 would be awesome. Intermittently usable 6400 or 12800 ISO sounds great to me. Alas, $3,300 is too steep. It is however- a camera worth saving up for.

    Looking forward to seeing all the new DTB updates featuring photos from the D810!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I think you’d probably see pretty big gains just by stepping up to the D7100 (or wait for the D7200…).

      • Mitch says:

        You are likely correct about that, going full frame is what I’m currently deciding on. That 14-24 lens and a 50mm would be quite satisfying. If I can score a great deal in a 610 that could be my ticket

  11. Dave Lyons says:

    Tom,

    Thanks for the review. I use a D600 as well. Although I love the image quality it provides, I don’t love the camera due to the reduced feature set. For me, a 24 MB sensor with D810 features is what I’d want (not that I expect Nikon to provide that).

    For a future review, I’d be interested in your approach to file management (external drives?, RAID?, online? Backup approach Etc…). I’m sure you’ve worked that out already because you already take lots of photos and the D600 files aren’t tiny. I’ll admit the D800 file sizes are a big concern for me. The idea of filling multiple 4GB hard drives over the years, and backups to those hard drive, etc… is daunting. I will sill probably need to revise my system in the future for D600 but should avoid that for a while since I have a new computer and backup online (but second drive is filling rapidly too!). I’d be interested in your approach given how you provide practical advice.

    Thanks!

    • Mark Willard says:

      I second Dave – I’d love to hear your approach to storage, backups, etc. For myself, I know that in preparation for the D810 file sizes I’ve been doing a ton of photo organization and deleting (something I should have done sooner but put off for too long)! I’d be very interested to hear how you address this, Tom.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        I don’t think you guys actually want to hear my approach to backup. It’s very sad. I have a 4TB external hard-drive on which I save all of my files (folders of all raw files and separate folders of all edits. When I remember to do so, I back-up the edits to another external hard-drive.

        In Adobe Camera Raw, I give files that are worthwhile a star designation. Then, I delete all of the files that have no stars. Usually, that’s about 75% of the photos.

        I really need a much better system. I could stand to read up on this to get an idea of what works well.

  12. Letitia says:

    Thanks for this review. I’m glad I found your blog. It also combines two of my favorite thins: DISNEY & Photography. I have the D810 ordered and anxiously awaiting its delivery from B&H. As another commenter requested, I’d like your opinion on the sRaw with a picture comparison. I see you’ve reviewed the 14-24mm which I also own, but haven’t used much. Thanks again for this very thorough-photography related- review!
    Letitia

  13. Laura B. says:

    I hate to say this, but the more I read your reviews, the more I’m tempted to make the jump from Canon to Nikon. (Canonites, note that I said TEMPTED. Don’t lynch me yet!) I’ve never had anything against Nikon, I simply started out with Canon, and built from there. And as I continued, they’ve always had cameras with features that I loved. But I must say…tempting, indeed.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I would strongly encourage you to try out a Nikon AND edit some raw photos from it. Shooting with the cameras is a pretty comparable experience (I shot with a Canon for a couple of weeks last fall), but once you get to the digital darkroom, it’s a totally different ballgame.

  14. rexb says:

    Thanks for the review! I too have the D600 and have been watching the D810. Your review literally was speaking to me ;)I too am intrigued with the sharpness now that Nikon took out the AA/OLPF. Any chance you can comment more on the sRAW? I’ve heard some people saying it’s useless basing it off D4s. With WB baked in the file etc.

  15. jessica says:

    Wonderful review but… can we have more photos of Walter, please? He’s a star! :)

  16. Drana says:

    Out of curiousity, what ball head is that on the mefoto?

  17. William McIntosh says:

    Glad to see that I’m not the only one sticking it out with Nikon as seemingly many of our friends are going to Sony. I have to admit that I’ve taken a long, hard look at Sony, but I’ll be sticking with the D800 and D4 for the next several years. Matt Pasant put his Sony through the paces while he was out here, and it looks mighty tempting, but the only thing nudging me in that direction at the moment is thinking about the weight issue on long hikes. I already know that I can’t make it back to Yosemite point with a D4 and a 14-24, and even the D800 got to be a bit much while we were on the Four Mile Trail. If they come up with something comparable to the 14-24 for the Sony that fits in the palm of your hand, it might just tip me over the edge. In the mean time, enjoy that D810!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I really want to love the new Sony cameras, and have found myself about to pull the trigger on them several times (I had one preordered for a while before they came out, before ultimately cancelling), but the lens lineup is just insufficient right now. I’ve seen some lenses about which I’ve though, “I could make this work,” but then I realize that I don’t really want to have to “make” anything work. Smaller size would be nice, but I’m at a point where I’d rather carry heavier gear that serves me perfectly than lighter, imperfect gear.

      The plan right now is to use the D810 for 2 years, and then reevaluate the mirrorless market at that point. I assume by then the lens situation will be looking much better.

  18. Guido says:

    Yes, this morning on DPreview, the results of the first curtain shutter, you can see the difference how tack sharp the image is with the lack of vibration.
    For those who didn’t saw it yet, go view on that site, it is not aloud and not ethical to bring results to this site.
    At this evening I went to see on Dxomark, like I did this morning, and also there the result of the D810 you can see. His sensor from the 810 is the new champion with 97 points (95 for the D800 and 96 for the D800/E) so gain one point over the D800E.
    Where I was curious about the dynamic range, it has 14,8 EVS and with this also the champ.
    Tom was right and think we all agreed, the D810 is the best DSLR.
    Congrats for all who already have it, you took a good choice. Have fun and lot of luck with it.

    Guido

  19. Guido says:

    You’re most welcome Tom

  20. Bernd says:

    Well, I am one that stumbled across your site via Google, from Germany.
    I appreciate your review which is straightforward – from the heart.
    It lacks though one important thing, you never owned the D800.
    I just purchased one 3 months ago and it still puts a big smile on my face every time I use it.
    And yes it also feels right – just like my D300S did for years and unlike the D600 and the D7100 that I owned for a short time.
    The D810 is for sure an improvement over the D800 and even over the D800E.
    I would appreciate an even better display for review of the pics and I would especially like the option to calibrate the colours of the LCD display as to my eyes they are slightly yellowish.
    Will I upgrade, don’t think so, I’ll rather spend the money on more lenses.
    First reviews [i.e. DXO mark] show that pictures wise the difference is minor.
    0.3 more stops dynamic vs. D800 and almost the same ISO behaviour.

    So for anyone that wants a really damn good camera for a reasonable price.
    Go for a used D800 that the folks trade for their D810.

    For everyone that does not own a D800, of course, go for the D810 it is the best cam on the market.

    Kind regards

    Bernd

  21. Bernd says:

    Forgot to link my Flickr account, just in case you would like to see pics taken with the D800

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/48947216@N02/

    Enjoy

    Bernd

  22. Guido says:

    For those who like to see samples from the D810 in 4K quality, if your computer alows this?
    here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JB7bVT1HFE

    Another link is from someone (Pomazal) who compare it with a 4X5 technical camera, the technical camera seems better, but I can say, the D810 do not much under, know that the size is almost twice larger!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsMDsGjmIsY

    I thought you like to see this also, all of you, no?

    Guido

    • Guido says:

      A little correction on the size difference. Not almost twice the size but more than, doing some mat, 2,31 times exactly. Between the 4X5 technical sensor and the 2,4X3,6 Nikon sensor.

      Before someone shoots me, by this some accuracy.
      Sorry

  23. Joy says:

    I’ve been holding off on upgrading from my D700 for awhile, honestly, because a new camera body costs as much as a Disney trip! You mentioned that it’s perfect for landscape photographers. Any reason why it would be a less than ideal solution for portrait photographers? I hadn’t even considered the D810, because I assumed it was a small update on the D800. Oops.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      My assumption (as a non-portrait shooter) was that having that high of a MP count wasn’t really beneficial to portrait photographers. Is there something your D700 can’t do that you’d like out of a new camera? I’ve always heard the D700 regarded as a really great portrait photographer. I say this as someone who literally knows nothing about portrait photography, though!

      • Joy Wright says:

        I’m always looking for lower noise and more detail at higher ISOs for indoor and early evening photography without springing for one of the $5000 or greater bodies. My D700 is much better than the D300 I upgraded from in that regard, but I’d love to be able to shoot indoors at F4 instead of F1.4 and get an acceptable noise level. (Keeping in mind I shoot kids, so I need to keep my shutter speed pretty high.) When I’m doing studio photography with strobes my D700 is perfect, though.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        In this case, you will DEFINITELY see significant benefits from the D810.

      • Joy Wright says:

        I’m glad I held off. Looks like the D750 is going to be the upgrade for me. I love my D700, but technology has changed a lot in the last 7 years. Lower noise at high ISO, better low light focus, 24 MP-it sounds perfect for me. I hope it lives up to early reports, because I am SO excited about getting one in my hands. We are planning a Feb WDW trip, and I bet it would be an excellent companion!

  24. Guido says:

    Another Link to share:
    Best camera and lens
    Nikon D810 with Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art
    a few pictures with this combination.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LB9YZBUOjTs

    Guido

  25. Dai Ngo says:

    Nice review, Tom. I recently acquired the D810 for my aviation photography hobby. For the last 2 years, I’ve been shooting with the D600 and have been reasonably satisfied, except for the fact that in shooting JPEG Fine+RAW, the D600’s lack of speed has made me miss a lot of shots. The extra speed on the D810 has been nothing less than remarkable (shooting in JPEG Fine+ S RAW). The faster AF & richness in colors in the D810 have been real bonuses too. This is a keeper!!

  26. Brian says:

    Great article and site! Although it was just released, I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts about the D750. I’m looking to upgrade from the Sony a55 and am very interested in the 810.

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