In June 2014, a little over two years after the D800 and D800E were introduced, Nikon introduced the D810. On the surface, the D810 seems like a modest incremental update to the D800/D800E line, and on paper the changes appear to be rather unimpressive. I think this isn’t the case, and find the D810 to be a substantial upgrade with all the subtle changes working in tandem. The D800 felt a little flawed in many respects, but the D810 finally made good on that, and and I’m not the only one that thinks it’s what the D800 should’ve been from the start. The D810 gives me the impression that Nikon took care and deliberation making this product, and not rushing it to the market prematurely with a handful of issues.

The D810 and the D800/D800E are quite similar in many respects, but it’s clear that Nikon followed the path of the D800E for this upgrade. Unlike the D800, the D800E had an optical low pass filter (OLPF) that cancelled itself, mitigating the anti-aliasing effects. The D810 does without the OLPF all together.

The D810 has the same 36.3 MP output as the D800/D800E cameras, but it houses a slightly different sensor, with a total 37.09 MP versus 36.8 MP. The D810 features a widened ISO range of 64 - 12800, expandable to ISO 34 and 51 200. The base ISO of 64 is 2/3 stop lower than that of the D800, which is a big deal for some. I suspect they gave the D810 a stronger CFA and increased the full-well capacity a little too. While this is a guess, it would be great if Nikon shared this level of detail with us.

On paper, the D810 uses the same Advanced Multi-Cam 3500 FX featured in the D800/D800E, except it’s much improved. This is in part due to the faster Expeed 4 processor, which is advertised to be 30% faster than it’s predecessor.

The D810 also features a completely redesigned mirror box and shutter mechanism. It’s very quiet and soft in action, effectively reducing mirror slap and shutter vibrations. In addition to this, Nikon also included an electronic first curtain shutter, which allows the user to further mitigate any vibrations.

The improvements to the D810’s also extend to ergonomics, which is highly welcomed by those upgrading from the D800/D800E. Most noticeable is the redesigned grip, which greatly improves hand holding comfort especially over extended periods of use. Some subtle changes to button placement have also been made, but this lies in the shadow of the greatly improved grip.

Live View on the D810 has seen a dramatic improvement over it’s predecessor, so much so it can be regarded as one of the main reasons to upgrade. The zoomed in live view feed is sharper, much lower in noise and free of the annoying line skipping found in the D800/D800E

There are a few other new features in the D810 that I feel are a little overshadowed by the above listed improvements.

  1. -sRAW recording ability, first introduced with the Nikon D4s. Arguably a useless feature.

  2. -Split screen display zoom feature in live view

  3. -Highlight weighted metering.

  4. -Time Lapse and interval timer features have exposure smoothing including an increased photo limit to 9 999 images

  5. -Improvements to the buffer, nearly twice that of the D800

  6. -Group Area AF

  7. -Battery (EN-EL15) and battery grip (MB-D12) compatibility from the D800.

  8. -7 fps in DX mode with battery grip. 6fps without grip.

  9. -OLED viewfinder display.

  10. -D810 SDK will become available, someday

  11. -Improved metering and white balance

  12. -Improved battery life but mostly with the Li-ion20 designated EN-EL15 battery. (D800 EN-EL15 battery had Li-ion01 designation)


Click the images to download the appropriate PDF file. From the left: D810 and D800/E comparison sheet, Brochure, User Manual