You know, I was worried that Nikon was going to release the Nikon D810 and render my D800 irrelevant or unimportant, but if anything, they’ve done the exact opposite. I know that it isn’t easy trying to improve upon a camera when the sensor you’re working with is near or at the pinnacle of where sensor technology currently sits. However, if you look at what Sony has done with the very same 36.3 Megapixel sensors, it seems like a tale of two worlds. With Sony, you’ve got the a7, a7R and the a7S, all of which have a lot of unique features and encourage you to make a decision. The a7 and a7R are probably the two closest in the a7 family, but they also came out at the same time so you can’t really argue about upgrade fails like the D810.
The Nikon D810 is almost as little of an improvement over the D800 as the D610 is over the D600. The only reason why it isn’t is because the D610 is designed to remedy sensor oil and dust issues that plagued the D600 and nothing more. But obviously, Nikon has done more than that here, as they’ve made some internal upgrades that affect the system’s overall performance. Even if it looks almost identical from the outside.
If you look at the D810 against the D800, all you really gain is the new Expeed 4 processor as opposed to the Expeed 3 processor. This processor improvement is supposed to mean that the new processor is going to be 30% faster than the previous generation. This supposedly improves video capability to 1080P at 60p (up from 30p) and increases the battery life up to 1,200 shots, up from about 900 ish. It can also do 40 minutes of video recording, which honestly isn’t much of a concern since if someone’s going to shoot video with a DSLR its going to be on a Canon.
Nikon has also expanded the ISO sensitivity range from 50-25,600 on the D800 to 32 to 51,200 on the D810. Nikon also claims lower noise throughout the range, which is supposed to mean you can get better light sensitivity with the same or less noise. They’ve also added more white balance options, improved group area AF but kept the amount of points the same. The burst fire rates have also been upgraded to 7 FPS in DX crop mode up from 6 in DX crop mode with the D800. They also added an unlimited continuous shooting capability which creates 30 second exposures for star trails.
Nikon appears to be making the D810 the video version of the D800 with improvements to the camera’s overall video usability. This includes added image stabilization features to reduce vibrations and shake. They’ve also added simultaneous recording to memory card as well as external recorder. There is also power aperture control using internal memory cards, built-in stereo and one button zoom image preview. They’ve also upgraded the display to a 3.2 inch 1229k dot dislay as opposed to a 3.0″ 921k dot display on the D800.
Last but not least, they’ve added quiet and quiet continuous modes with the shutter by upgrading the shutter with some more durable and lighter materials. Oh, and its got a much better grip and OLED display on the outside.
Overall, these improvements clearly show that Nikon is getting more serious about video with their cameras. The only problem is that they couldn’t eek out 4K video support on a camera with a sensor more than 4x the size of a 4K video frame. I’m probably not alone in wanting this feature to come to the D810, but honestly if my D800 did 4K video I probably wouldn’t need another camera for probably close to a decade. Maybe Nikon knows that, but I doubt it.