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Gear Reviews

Nikon D810 Full Review – The Repeat Champion Of DSLRs Indeed!

By Matthew Saville on October 7th 2014

23-Nikon-D810-Review-ImagesNikon D810, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, FotoPro C5C Tripod
10 sec @ f/2.8 & ISO 3200
(Check out our night sky photo contest!)

When I first read the details about the new Nikon D810, I already knew we had a winner on our hands. Yes, incremental update cameras like this are usually not very well received, however, the Nikon D800 and D800E were already reigning champions in the DSLR world. Their claim to fame being their stunning image quality, and the fact that their sensors rank the highest on DXOMark’s overall sensor rating. (Even compared to some medium format digital cameras!)  Most notably, they hold a downright shocking lead over any other competitor (especially Canon) in the specific category of dynamic range.

So really, all Nikon had to do with the D810 was not screw up.  No shutter oil splatter?  Check.  No light leak recall that involves tape?  Check!  Indeed, despite a weird issue with long exposures and white dots, (which received a firmware fix before 99% of the photo world even knew it existed, let alone even had a D810 in-hand) …the D810 is a perfect DSLR in almost every way, and a very worthy update to the Nikon 800 series.  Of course, the proof is in the pudding, so let’s jump right in!

03-Nikon-D810-Review-ImagesNikon D810, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, Nikon SB7002x wireless flashes
1/80 sec @ f/3.5 & ISO 3200, 1.2x crop mode

Review Points

04-performance-5-starsFive stars, hands-down.  As far as DSLRs go, the D810 has no peer, by a long shot. (Aside from its mommy and daddy!)  I’m sure there are a few Sony A7R owners out there who might give the D810 only 4 stars, which is worth pointing out, but this camera is simply on a different playing field.  In fact we’re working on an entirely separate article to discuss that, as I had a very hard time rating the D810 due to the whole mirrorless “situation”.

Image quality is this cameras’ greatest “pro”, and general performance, including autofocus and shooting speed, leaves very little to be desired.  This camera isn’t meant for speed, and yet it still pulls off a rather impressive framerate considering the filesizes can range up to 70-80 megabytes. Most memory cards these days wouldn’t even be able to write ONE image per second from this camera!

Better Image Quality for the Nikon D810

Just as jaw-dropping as ever; it simply has the most incredible dynamic range, phenomenal image detail, and solid high ISO performance considering its absurd megapixel count.  Also, thanks to the complete lack of an AA filter over the sensor (instead of “cancellation” which the D800E had), images are, in fact, slightly sharper.  Probably not something you’ll notice often unless your shooting technique (and lens!) is utterly flawless, though the D800E already had great acuity.

12-Nikon-D810-Review-Images13-Nikon-D810-Review-ImagesNikon D810, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, FotoPro C5C Tripod
Original & Edited Image, 1/2 sec @ f/8 & ISO 64

16-Nikon-D810-Review-ImagesNikon D810, Sigma 35mm f/1.4 EX, Slik Pro 700DX Tripod
Single Exposure, 1/2 sec @ f/11 & ISO 64

31-Nikon-D810-Review-Images

As you can see in the above samples, the D810 handles extremely high-contrast scenes effortlessly, even without bracketing or GND filters.  In fact, it’s pretty easy to over-process D810 image files, since you can literally grab any Lightroom adjustment slider and crank it as far as you want to go in any direction, and the image quality just holds on and enjoys the ride.  More often now, I find myself having to throttle back on crazy HDR processing and letting shadows be, well, shadows!

Nikon D810 Speed: 5-7 FPS

Still not blazing fast, but definitely fast enough for all the complainers to “shut up” after they were (foolishly?) trying to use the D800 series as a D700 replacement for action sports photography. Now offering 5 FPS in FX mode and up to 7 FPS in 16 megapixel DX crop mode, (when using a battery grip and the right batteries), the D810 fits the bill quite nicely for an outdoor photographer who wants both absurd resolving power for landscapes, and decent speed for wildlife and stuff.

26-Nikon-D810-Review-Images

(Before you whine about having to shoot in DX crop mode to get 7 FPS, keep in mind that even the Nikon D4s offers “only” 16 MP, like the D810!)

Better Autofocus? Yes!

No, this wasn’t just marketing hype! The D810 is a step forward in AF performance.

I don’t know how much I’ll use the “group focus” mode that Nikon’s official press release brags about, however (A carry-over feature from the D4s). Simply put, the D810 is noticeably better at autofocus in general compared to its 800-series predecessors.

One obscure feature that might go unnoticed by most deserves a brief explanation:
You know how pros would never use the “auto AF point selection” mode, because it would just focus on the closest thing?  Well, Nikon introduced a new 91,000 pixel meter in the D800 with face-detect built into it for use during phase-detect (optical viewfinder) autofocus.  As with most technologies, the first implementation wasn’t that great so it kinda went un-praised, but the second iteration is pretty amazing!

Now, if you set the AF points to “auto,” the D810 will magically find the faces in your photo, not just in live view, but also in the optical viewfinder!  Even when DOF is very shallow, it can pick the right face during candid shooting environments.  I used this for general group portraits at weddings, and it works amazingly well, even when shooting wide open on lenses like the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art.  Impressive indeed.

09-Nikon-D810-Review-Images

The D800-series bodies always seemed to be difficult to focus reliably at fast apertures, for anyone who was used to the D700’s autofocus and its highly forgiving “mere” 12 megapixels.  The D810 delivers both pin-point accuracy, and consistent reliability.

09-features-5-starsAgain five stars, as far as DSLRs go.  And again, I hate to have to caveat “as far as DSLRs go” but that is the bottom line these days.  No other DSLR offers some of the features the D810 offers…

Nikon D810 Native ISO 64

Is it 2/3 of a stop less noisy than ISO 100 on a D810 or D800E?  I can’t really tell, but that’s not the point in my opinion.  In the real world, the point of having native ISO 64 is simply to be able to hit a wider variety of shutter speeds and apertures.  At sunset/sunrise, landscape photographers can now blur water, etc. a little more. In broad daylight, portrait photographers will find it easier to hit a fast aperture and shallow depth.

20-Nikon-D810-Review-ImagesNikon D810, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, FotoPro C5C Tripod
Water: 2 sec @ f/22 & ISO 31 (LO)
Sky: 1/15 sec @ f/11 & ISO 64

19-Nikon-D810-Review-ImagesNikon D810, Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art
1/8000 sec @ f/1.4 & ISO 64
(No ND filters required!)

Zebra Stripes

NO, not marching ants, AKA focus peaking.  Just zebra stripes.  What the heck am I talking about?  Live view exposure & focus aides.  Zebra stripes are a blinking highlight warning that you can see in real-time during live view. Marching ants/focus peaking, on the other hand, are a real-time indicator of your plane of focus/sharpness.  The Nikon D810 has one (exposure warning), but not the other (focus peaking).  This is a huge step in the right direction, (especially since Nikon doesn’t have Magic Lantern as an option). However, these are both features that mirrorless cameras have always had. Sooo close, but not quite…

Right-Handed ISO Control

Canon shooters, roll your eyes all you want, but the D810’s ability to re-program the REC button to control ISO during still photography capture is a major change in Nikon operation.  For ages, adjusting your ISO required taking your left hand away from your lens and finding a button on the far side of your camera.  Maybe for some this isn’t a big problem, but personally, it was one of the only things I still envied about Canon pro semi-pro bodies.  Now, it’s finally a non-issue.

The D800/D800E also received this upgrade via firmware, I should mention.  No need to upgrade to the D810 just for this, and bravo to Canon for offering new functionality via firmware!

11-Nikon-D810-Review-ImagesNikon D810, Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 EX, DX crop mode

Face-Detect Scrolling During Image Playback Zooming

Another feature that deserves huge praise in this D810 review, despite already being debuted in the D800/D800E, is face-detection during image playback zooming.  How does this work?  Say you click a waist-length group photo of 5 people, and you want to check each face for sharpness and blinking.  Just a few years ago, this would involve about 30 seconds worth of zooming and scrolling, for every single image.  This may not sound like much, but it is agonizing for wedding guests/families, trust me! Now with the D810 (and yes, also the D800 / D800E), all it takes is one tap of your joypad’s center button, and a twirl of the front command dial.  You’re taken directly to 100% magnification, and then magically scrolling from face to face.  This one feature alone (on my D800E), has spoiled me so much that for the first time ever I truly dislike using any other camera for shooting portraits/ weddings. Yes, even my beloved D700 is frustrating to use now, after just one season of getting used to those two features, right-handed ISO and face-detect image review.

Really, the question is, what feature does the D810 lack, that Nikon could have possibly crammed in, without bursting the envelope of price / profit, or size & weight?  We’ll have to wait until the D900 (or D850?) to see if Nikon can figure out mRAW and marching ants, but other than that, I’m at a complete loss to think of any feature “missing” from the D810.

14-design-5-starsAs a long-time Nikon user, and as someone who put the outdated D700 on quite a pedestal, I have to say that he design of the D810, in conjunction with the feature set, is amazing.  In fact, it’s downright difficult to live without, once you customize the camera to your liking.

Flagship Body (Mini-Flagship)

The body itself is full-featured, offering practically everything that a $5,000 flagship camera would offer, including pro weather sealing, pro autofocus, and all sorts of advanced functions.  Heck, forget $5K and D3/D4 territory, the D810’s images also surpass the D3X’s 24 megapixel sensor, and that was an $8,000 camera!  (Then again, the new Nikon D750 is probably going to also match/surpass the image quality of the D3x…) Simply put, the only reason to buy a D4 or D4s would be if you absolutely need those frames per second, or the incredible low light & high ISO quality.

(Note, of course, that the previous Nikon D800/D800E have roughly the same flagship body design, with just cosmetic changes and a couple button moves, so this assessment is mainly in comparison to other competition.)

19-quality-5-starsThis is a made-in-Japan quality, professional tool.  But who cares where it’s made, the bottom line is that the D810 is rock-solid. Hobbyists and pros alike, if you abuse your gear and are tired of wearing out anything less, then look no further.

This is also one area where I do feel like the Nikon flagship and semi-flagship / semi-pro DSLR bodies have a clear lead over most of the mirrorless market still.  Sony’s 7-series cameras, as we have mentioned, simply don’t feel as rock-solid and well built as Nikon and Canon’s high-end DSLRs.   Yes, they have some metal parts, and they look and feel very professional at first.  But the D810, you could pound nails with, or use for self-defense, probably without even accused of voiding your warranty.  (wink wink)

23-value-4-starsIs $3,300 a lot?  Yes.  Is this camera worth every penny?  Absolutely . However, I recently bought a used, mint condition D800E for $2,300, by comparison.  Then there’s the D750, which offers much of the image quality and general performance of the D810, for under $2300 brand new!  So ironically, Nikon’s own competing options are what keep the D810 from being as good of a value as it could be, for me.  If you already own a D800 or D800E, you’ll probably just wait till it dies or gets really old, before you replace it with a D810.

Considering the other review criteria though, especially quality and design, not to mention the image quality compared to any other non-Nikon competitor, the D810 maintains the same steady improvement of value that this line of cameras has held at the ~$3K mark since the D700 first came out. So yes, it is still absolutely worth buying if you have the money to spend.  I’m just personally loving the options at the $2300 mark too much right now.

08-Nikon-D810-Review-Images

Summary: Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Better Image Quality
  • Nikon Skin Tones
    Also on a more subjective note, does anybody remember how Nikon used to stink at skin tones, and how Canon images had “that look” when it came to creating beautiful portraits?  Well, that chatter seems to have really died down over the past year or two, and the D810’s overall colors (including skin tone) are fantastic.  In fact, I now prefer Nikon skin tones over Canon, even when shooting RAW and processing in Adobe software. Like I said, this is largely a personal observation, but either way, I’m loving the images from this camera- both portraits and landscapes!
  • More Speed: 5-7 FPS
  • Quieter
    Nikon’s original 800-series attempt at a “quiet” mode was pretty laughable, especially compared to the Canon 5D Mark III‘s downright stealthy quiet mode.  I still wouldn’t try to click photos during the quiet moments of a pro golf tournament, like I might with a 5D mk3, but at least the D810 is noticeably quieter in normal operation, and  significantly quieter with its new “Qc” mode.  Feel free to click away during quiet church wedding ceremonies!
  • Electronic 1st-curtain during Live View
    Also, finally, Nikon has implemented true electronic 1st-curtain shutter during live view, for shake-less image capture at those pesky slow shutter speeds.  (Eat your heart out, A7R!)

The Nikon D810 Con

Yes, that’s con, not cons.  This is going to be a pretty short list, but man-oh-man, Nikon sure goofed it up.

Small size raw capture, or “mRAW / sRAW” as most people know it, was one of the features Nikon seemed very excited to promote.  A ~9 megapixel raw file, with 12-bit compression. (most cameras now use 14-bit) Embarrassingly, sRAW is something that Canon DSLRs have offered for many generations now.

Unfortunately, Nikon’s endeavors with their sRAW format are a complete failure. In our testing, we found that these “small” 9 MP raw files are almost exactly the same file size as a 36 MP RAW file that has 12-bit lossy compression turned on. In other words, there’s absolutely zero reason to use Nikon’s sRAW.

06-Nikon-D810-Review-Images

nikon-d810-mraw-fail-1 nikon-d810-mraw-fail-2

But wait, it gets worse! In Adobe software, the sRAW images also deliver significantly diminished image quality compared to a true NEF file. Dynamic range is indeed extremely diminished as you can see. It doesn’t matter though anyways, since like I said you’re not saving much space on your memory cards.

Click HERE to download two D810 RAW sample files!

Then again, Canon’s mRAW files have their own failures too.  They also significantly damage the dynamic range of files, while only offering a 10-20% file size savings at a 50% megapixel reduction.

Also, it is important to note that Nikon’s own processing software, such as View NX 2, seems to be better at recovering shadow detail than third-party software.  However, the vast majority of people reading this review are going to be Lightroom/Bridge users.

Anyways, I’m not going to deduct points from Nikon on this one.  Nobody can get mRAW / sRAW right just yet, and I’m still eternally grateful to Nikon for continuing to offer 12-bit raw as well as three different compression options, which can effectively allow me to shoot 36 megapixel raw files that are about the same size (30 MB) as raw files from the 22 megapixel Canon 5D Mk3.  That’s consistently more than a 50% savings versus the 14-bit lossless / un-compressed NEF files that average 70-80 MB!  I’m glad I have this option at all, compared to other systems that simply force you into one RAW quality option per megapixel number.

Did Adobe Rush Compatibility Of D810 Image Files?

Okay, so I guess this is part two of that one and only “con.”  This is something that I suspect will be very quickly remedied by Adobe, but it still needs to be mentioned.  As of now with Lightroom 5.6 and Camera Raw 8.6, Adobe’s D810 NEF processing capability is a bit weird.  In addition to the inability to process Nikon sRAW files properly at all, Adobe’s special camera profiles (Landscape, Portrait, Vivid, etc.) are very clearly incompatible with all D810 images, period.  This may be of no concern to most, but camera profiles are something I personally use quite a lot so this was a major bummer.  See the below sample of clear artifacts when turning on the “Camera Vivid” profile.  We’ll update you when Adobe remedies this issue!

27-Nikon-D810-Review-Images

Summary: Who Should Buy the D810?

Landscape shooters who are still happy to lug around a heavy DSLR system, for its advantages in lens compatibility and other features, the D810 is your champion.  If you’re a bit more of a lightweight traveler who shoots more adventurous landscapes and general travel, sure you might consider the likes of the Sony A7 / A7R, or the Nikon D750 / D610.  Or if you’re really on a weight-savings kick and a serious budget, do like I did and consider the Nikon D5300, D3300, or the Sony A6000 all which have a gorgeous 24 MP sensor that delivers 80-90% of what the D810 has to offer in a package that weighs about a pound and costs well under $1K for an entire kit.

Portrait and wedding and editorial / commercial photographers, again if you require what a DSLR has to offer, the D810 is again an un-paralleled champion.  The Sony A7 and A7R give it quite a run for it’s money, though, and for the more active wedding shooter who cares more about high ISO than megapixels or dynamic range might prefer a Canon 5D Mk3 or even a Canon 6D.  That doesn’t mean the D810 isn’t still the right choice for many, though.

Action sports photographers, the D810 is fast but it’s probably not the best camera for you unless you have a special reason to want sooooo many megapixels.  Instead, get yourself a Nikon D750, or a D4 / D4s if you have the cash.  Or a Canon 5D Mk3, or a 7D mk2, or a 1DX, etc. etc…

Casual photographers, general hobbyists, etc. etc. …this camera is probably going to be severe overkill for you.  Unless you live in the Yukon or the Amazon and don’t trust the weather sealing of anything less, you’ll be much better off with the likes of a Nikon D610 or D750.

What about folks who already have a D800 or D800E?  Some of you might really need what the D810 offers, others may not care as much.  It’s your job to weigh the new features I listed against those the original 800-series already has.

Anybody on an extreme budget?  Get a used D800E or a new D750 for $2300, and be happy!  The D810 may be the best DSLR ever, but it’s not the only option and Nikon has been churning out some killer cameras lately.

Additional D810 Sample Images

29-Nikon-D810-Review-Images

30-Nikon-D810-Review-ImagesFX 100% Crop, zero noise reduction & minimal sharpening

18-Nikon-D810-Review-ImagesNikon D810, Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art
1/1000 sec @ f/1.4 & ISO 64
SLR Lounge Preset System V6: Bright Wash – Apricot

Conclusion

34-overall-score-5-starsTechnically, 24/25 stars is 4.8/5 stars.  That’s good enough for me!  If you’re in the market for a high-end digital camera, anywhere from $2K to $5K, you owe it to yourself to strongly consider the D810.  Even if you’re fully invested in another system, I’d argue.  Yes, mirrorless systems are increasing in popularity, but the differences and advantages of each have been pointed out a hundred times so you probably already know what you’re in the market for.  If you’re looking for the most powerful camera on the market, with jaw-dropping image quality and flagship grade overall performance, look no further than, in fact, save yourself the trouble and go straight to….the D810.

Take care, and happy clicking,
=Matt=

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

Follow his personal wilderness adventures: Astro-Landscapes.com

See some of his latest wedding photography featured on: LinandJirsa.com

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Shremal Patel

    Excellent review.

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  2. Rafael Steffen

    You really need to be making some serious money to afford and justify a D810 because how many people are actually going to order a print the size of a wall? It helps cropping, but for an event photographer, nobody needs 36 MP.

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  3. Felicia Harter

    Hi there. The blue static (not sure what you would call it) in the third image above of the house is something I commonly also see on my images when I open them in adobe raw. Am I doing something incorrectly for this to occur? Can I prevent this/?

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    • Matthew Saville

      Hi Felicia,

      Unfortunately I’m not sure if you mean, the third image from the top, or the third image from the bottom, since both of them have houses.

      I suspect, however that the blue you’re talking about is the shadow warning. It is just an aide that tells you when your shadows are clipped. In Lightroom, hit “J” to make it go away, or in Bridge / Camera Raw, hit “U” to make it go away. However, keep in mind that if your shadows are clipping too much, your image may not look very good in print, it could potentially show a digital-ish looking abrupt edge from near-black to pure black, and it would be something that you’d want to minimize either in your shooting habits, or in post-production.

      Good luck!

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  4. Peter Nord

    I like my 810 so much more than the 800. Glad I got it.

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  5. Clare Havill

    Great review, I’ll be giving the D810 serious thought when I upgrade to my next body.

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  6. Edwin Tai

    Great review with pin point and fair advice.

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  7. Eric Sharpe

    Great review.

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  8. Emilio Savov

    Great review, probably one of the best cameras on the market, but if I have to describe my THE best camera on the world …. it will be a D750 in a body of a D810 :) Don’t get me wrong, D810 is an amazing camera too, but 36MP is a little bit too much :) everything else is absolutely perfect.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Yep, Emilio, I’d love to see a D750 sensor in a D810. I think many folks would! I’d also love to see a Df sensor in a D810, or even a Df sensor in a D750 body, for astro-landscapes and timelapse photography.

      For now, I’ll just focus on getting my hands on a D750 to review, and we’ll see if I wind up selling off my D800e in order to fund it, or if I decide the D750 isn’t enough and I have to keep the D800e around. I suspect however that the D750 is gonna deliver the goods and it will be bye-bye D800e!

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  9. Kurk Rouse

    I got my self a D800 months before the rumours of the D810 came out. At first I wanted to kick my self but then i remembered it’s you as the photographer that have the challenge of doing some thing creative with what tools you already have. This was a great review thumbs up to any one that owns this camera but I think i’ll wait a yr or two for the release of the D900 : P

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  10. Austin Swenson

    This is the body I would switch to if I were to ever jump ship from Sony… Just so awesome.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Austin, that’s a very interesting comment. What Sony camera do you currently use, and what do you possibly envy in the D810?

      In my experience, a camera like the Sony A7R is just a couple improvements away from matching everything the D810 offers, in a much smaller / lighter package. All it needs is just a little bit more robust construction, a few minor tweaks / improvements to the controls, interface, and cutsomizability, and better RAW file options. I know that’s a lot for “all it needs…” but really, it could all happen in an A7R mk2 if Sony would just listen to its pros…

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    • Austin Swenson

      I shoot the regular A7 which is no slouch when it comes to image quality, but in hypothetical terms of which brand/body/features I would switch to if Sony were no longer an option, I would have to go with Nikon’s D810 and here’s why:

      1) Image quality is just superb, it seems to out-resolve pretty much any DSLR right now, and even though it’s more than I can afford as a part-timer, I wouldn’t mind having this guy around
      2) I miss dedicated buttons to access features that I used to have with my A77 that I switched from, and the D810 has those in droves.
      3) The weather sealing on these higher end cameras is certainly enviable, I wouldn’t take my A7 into a dirtbike mud rally kind of thing and come out un-scathed even though the A7 line blocks out dust and moisture pretty well.
      4) Although I still stand by my decision to get into Sony’s E-mount full frame department while they only had a few lenses, I was really hoping they would come out with a series of zooms like DSLR’s that have a constant aperture of f2.8 or wider, and they seem to be stuck on f4 to keep them small and light. I miss that about having a DSLR.

      Keep in mind though that this is really just a hypothetical scenario, but I still have to give props to Nikon’s D810 for just killing it right now.

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    • Holger Foysi

      @M. Saville: The Sony A7r does have a great sensor already, but I doubt they will be able to surpass the D810 regarding AF-tracking performance with the next generation (evtl. they will, but I can’t imagine it just now). For me I would wish the Sonys to be a little larger with better build, more buttons and larger battery. EFCS is a must for the next generation, too. If then they are able to bring out the right lenses, it will be a formidable competitor.

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  11. Hannes Nitzsche

    Great review this! Seems like Canon has a lot of catching-up work to do on their camera bodies if they want to stay competitive… The 5dmk3 is awesome but what’s with the everlasting banding that’s going on in dark areas? Nikon show’s there’s no need for that and have seemingly set new standards here. Well done!
    Thanks for the interesting write-up, Matthew!

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    • Matthew Saville

      Really, this is the crux of it all. Canon’s bodies are killer, with nothing to complain about and a bit to still brag about even, but their shadow recovery is just keeping them as a non-option for me as a landscape photographer…

      Personally, I do have faith that Canon’s gonna make a comeback, and once they can mount this one minor issue, they’ll be equal or even king of the hill again.

      We’ll see what the 5D mk4 brings, and also how the 7D mk2 performs when it hits DXO’s charts!

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    • Hannes Nitzsche

      Let’s hope you’re right about Canon’s comeback :) I own a 6d and mainly shoot landscapes. I bought it because it’s broad dynamic range and the low light capabilities and while I’m very happy with this camera – there certainly is still room for improvement.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Keep in mind, that especially with the 6D, once you go higher than a certain ISO, Canon actually surpasses Nikon for dynamic range I believe. So if you do a lot of ISO 3200 or 6400 astro-landscapes or timelapses, you’re actually still better off with Canon. ;-)

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    • Dave Lyons

      But how much DR do you need for astro shots?

      the 5dm3 can take some beautiful landscapes but they all pretty much look the same, kind of a sterile, assembly line look, nikons have room to give more personality to your shots. Like I’ve said many times my 30D from 2007 hasn’t really progressed at all in terms of quality… they are just more megapixels now.

      Those new 7dm2 shots are nice but you can see the limited DR in them. As a landscape guy there isn’t a canon even worth considering so canon is completely irrelevant to me. The 6D can take decent landscapes but here’s another issue with their low DR & IQ.. Right now I’m going back and editing files from my D200 and D90 so I realize that years from now I could be going back and editing my D7000 pix and I feel a lot more comfy in knowing that I’ll still have a huge IQ advantage over people going back say on their 70d’s. So it’s not just about today but also the future and canon has clearly showed us at this point that IQ is not something they hold in high regard and that should scare the crap out of you.

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    • Matthew Saville

      @ Dave, depending on the conditions, I like as much DR as possible for astro-landscapes.

      Or, I should also mention, even if an image has “easy” DR, having more DR at your fingertips also means you can simply under-expose an image by a whole stop or two more and then just push it in post, which is often necessary when you’re trying to “freeze” stars in the sky, or cram 300 clicks into a certain amount of time for timelapse purposes. (Do the math on how much night time is required to create just 10 seconds of timelapse footage when you’re forced to do 2 min exposures!)

      All in all, therefore, I do envy the Canon 6D as one of the best astro-landscape cameras on the market today. I hope Nikon makes an effort to improve their shadow recovery abilities at higher ISO’s.

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  12. Raoni Franco

    Great review Matt, thanks!! I think you guys from the lounge should do more reviews like this. I’ve lost count on those “hands on reviews” that you do with the promise of a future in-depth review that never happens or happens when it is no longer relevant. Anyway, awesome review. I wish I could afford this baby…….one day, my son, one day……

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    • Matthew Saville

      Thanks Raoni! I’ve been guilty of never getting around to following up with the 2nd half of a review, but only when I feel like I’ve reached a pretty solid conclusion with the initial review.

      Either way, you can expect a whole part two D810 review soon as well. I still want to expand a little bit more on how the D810 fits into the current market, because mirrorless full-frame cameras are such a love/hate thing right now…

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  13. Chuck Eggen

    Very thorough Matt.

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  14. Adrian Jones

    Wow! Im just as impressed with the rokinon 14mm!

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    • Dave Lyons

      I have the 85mm 1.4 and its magical

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    • Dave Lyons

      MATTHEW…
      Outta curiousity have you opened the files up in nikon’s software or capture one? I’ve just recently come across the issues with Lightroom screwing up nikons colors and even just opening in nikon’s software or capture one will make your jaw drop over lr. I’m going to use LR for cataloging but switch to capture one for editing (pulling them from lightroom NEF’s not dngs) and there is definitely a difference in how much more crisp they come out of capture one. Im’thining im going to sell my tokina 12-24 for that rokinon tho ;)~

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    • Holger Foysi

      @Dave Lyons: There are beta2 versions of the Lightroom profiles available not showing the issue! But I prefer Capture one pro.

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    • Enzo Scorziello

      I have the 85 1.4 for Sony e-mount by far one of my favorite lens’ ever.

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    • Dave Lyons

      HOLGER..
      interesting… there are presets that “simulate” the modes but still not the same and LR really seems to “muddy” up the images a lot more but the workflow is better in LR. Right now I’m trying to “use” lightroom to copy (not convert to dng) the nef’s, add metadata and gps and keep it organized there but setup capture one to actually do the edits with the LR locations. Seems easy enough but c1 keeps importing the nef’s into its system which is kinda bummin me but the output quality is way better.

      The only issue I have going forward is their pricing, I guess its $10 a month IF you pay all year up front or else $25 a month and not so fond of that… I could get rid of lightroom easily and be fine but i still need ps so im still paying the same on the adobe side. Everyone but canons sensors (sony’s) are so good anymore that editing is just getting silly :)

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    • Matthew Saville

      Yes, @ Dave Lyons, I briefly mentioned this in the review but I guess it wasn’t clear enough:

      I did open the Nikon NEF files in Nikon View NX 2, I always use View NX 2 to peruse and do a bit of light processing on NEF files.

      And yes, Nikon’s own processing software did NOT exhibit the same severely diminished dynamic range quality as Adobe did, when processing the 9 megapixel sRAW files. So, there is hope that Adobe can someday get it right. The main problem is, then, whether or not Nikon will find a way to reduce the file size from 30 MB, which is the same as a full 36 MP file that has 12-bit lossy compression, …to the ~8-9 MB file size that it OUGHT to be as a 9 megapixel image!

      =Matt=

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    • Matthew Saville

      @ Dave – Regarding Lightroom, for $9.99 per month you also get Photoshop CC, so IMO it’s worth it. And they’ve promised that it’ll always be $10, it won’t go up after 12 months like some people feared.

      Also, you should be able to set up both Lightroom and Capture One to reference image files in their existing location, instead of moving them to their own catalog system. Hopefully you can figure out a workflow that maintains this!

      Yes, I do find Lightroom’s color response to be a bit inferior to Nikon’s own, and I haven’t yet tried Capture One enough to make a full judgment but it does seem to be superior to Lightroom.

      Still, I find that Lightroom’s camera profiles are good enough for what I need, along with the use of Nikon View NX 2 help me re-create my original vision and to accurately represent colors.

      Stay tuned for my next Adventure Report, it will be about fall colors in the Eastern Sierras and will involve a section about this!

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  15. Spencer Payne

    By the time I save up for this one, there will probably be an even better camera out there, but this is definitely on the wish list.

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    • Matthew Saville

      LOL Spencer, well hey I bought my used D800e literally weeks before the D810 was first announced. Honestly? I’m completely happy with the D800e, and I won’t be upgrading to a D810 until they’re $2300 (used) as well…

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  16. Brandon Dewey

    Great review!!!

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