Nikon updates its megapixel-monster DSLRs with the D810
By Simon Crisp
June 27, 2014
Two years ago, when Nikon unleashed the D800 and D800E on the world, their 36.3-megapixel sensors shocked many photographers (and their hard drives). Now, Nikon has revealed its update to the megapixel-monsters in the form of the D810, an equally megapixeled beast with a wider ISO range, faster continuous shooting, and improved video functions.
At the core of the D810 is a new 36.3-megapixel, full-frame FX-format (35.9 x 24.0 mm) CMOS sensor which lacks an optical low pass filter (OLPF). This is important because the D810 is the successor to both the D800, which features an OLPF, and the D800E, which removes the effect of the filter, to give sharper images. It's clear Nikon is now confident that filter-free is the way to go, as it did with the D5300 and D3300.
The new sensor is paired with Nikon's Expeed 4 image processing engine, which we saw in the D4S, and is said to be 30 percent faster than its predecessor. Because of this, the camera sees a significant boost in performance. The ISO range now covers 64-12,800 (expandable to 32-51,200), which should mean better images whether shooting in a brightly-lit studio, or low-light conditions. The D810 can also now achieve continuous full-frame shooting at 5 fps, 6 fps in DX crop mode, or 7 fps in DX crop mode with a battery pack.
Autofocus also gets an upgrade with an enhanced Multi-Cam 3500-FX AF sensor module that utilizes new AF algorithms. The 51-point system (15 of which are cross-type) can now be used in Group AF mode for better tracking of moving subjects. Another feature inherited from the flagship D4S is the ability to shoot RAW Small files which come in at half the resolution and approximately 1/4 the file size of full RAW files.
However, it's videographers and filmmakers who are likely to be most impressed by the upgrades to the D810 … if they can get over the fact it didn't get the rumored jump to 4K. In addition to now being able to shoot Full HD 1080p video at 60/50/30/25/24 fps, the camera adds a flat/neutral color profile. This give users maximum flexibility in post-production, especially as the camera retains uncompressed HDMI output.
Auto-ISO also means the camera can adapt the exposure as the light changes when shooting video, eliminating the need to adjust the aperture. Highlight-weighted metering can also be used to help prevent blown-out highlights in video, while the addition of zebra stripes (which display a pattern during live view) makes it easier to spot overexposed areas while filming. The built-in microphone is now stereo, but you'll probably be plugging in an external one anyway.
The physical design of the camera remains relatively unchanged, though the grip has been slightly remodeled, and an "i" button has been added for quick access to common mode-dependent settings. Around back, there's a big optical viewfinder, and the new 3.2-inch RGBW LCD screen has 1,229K dots and its color balance and brightness can be customized. This should mean no more complaints about "greenish" screens.
Measuring 146 x 123 x 81.5 mm (5.8 x 4.9 x 3.3 in) and weighing 980 g (2 lb, 2.6 oz) the Nikon D810 promises to be a sturdy bit of kit. It features a magnesium alloy structure and is sealed and gasketed to resist the elements. Inside, a redesigned mirror sequencer/balancer unit helps to minimize vibration during multiple frame bursts, and should make it quieter too.
The Nikon D810 will be available in late July for a body-only price of US$3,300. That's the same as the D800e when it was released, and $300 more then the D800 was.
You can check out Nikon's promo video for the D810 below.
Product page: Nikon D810