Photographers everywhere loved the Nikon D800 and D800E, and now comes the Nikon D810 as the firm's latest high-resolution workhorse camera. Is it a worthy successor? Callum McInerney-Riley finds out in our Nikon D810 review
Nikon D810 review – Autofocus
The Nikon D810 uses the same Multi-Cam 3500FX autofocusing module as the D4S. When coupled with suitable lenses like the AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II, I found it delivers exceptionally fast autofocusing even in low light.
The 51 autofocus points cover around 50% of the width and 30% of the height of the frame. The AF can be changed between single (AF-S) and continuous (AF-C) modes by pressing the AF button and scrolling the front dial. Turning the back dial then controls the number of AF points in use.
When the camera is set to AF-S, users can select group area AF, auto (51 points) and single-point AF. In AF-C mode, auto (51 points), 30, 21 or nine points, group area AF and 3D tracking are selectable. The 91,000-pixel RBG metering sensor also helps with tracking by recognising shapes and detecting faces, then sharing this information with the AF system to help follow the subject.
In live view mode, the mirror is locked up so the D810 must rely on contrast-detection AF. The focus point can be positioned anywhere in the frame. This is usually a problematic area for DSLRs, but thankfully the D810 is quite fast, although it still can’t match the best compact system cameras.
The live view display can be enlarged up to 23x, allowing very accurate manual focus. Compared to the D800/D800E, the D810 gives a notably more detailed magnified view, thanks to a better sensor readout.
Nikon D810 review – Metering
For metering, the D810 uses the same 91,000-pixel RGB sensor as the D800/D800E. When shooting in a dark music venue with quickly changing lights, I found the D810 achieved accurate exposures most of the time. The metering also worked well for high-contrast landscapes, giving a good balance between shadows and highlights.
One important new addition is a Highlight mode, designed to avoid blowing bright areas. As the sensor has such a large dynamic range, users can then recover a lot of detail from shadow areas. Wedding photographers in particular will like this, as it will help to preserve details in white dresses.
Nikon D810 review – LCD and viewfinder
The D810 boasts a 3.2in LCD monitor with a 1.23-million-dot RGBW display. This includes a fourth, white dot per pixel as well as the usual red, green and blue.
This aids visibility in direct light by enabling brighter illumination, and reduces power consumption in lower light. It’s a big improvement over the screen on the D800/D800E, with visibly better contrast and colour, giving previews that are very true to the scene and accurate to the final image.
A light sensor automatically adjusts the screen brightness, contrast and saturation to optimise the viewing accuracy. Older Nikon DSLR cameras have this technology, but the D810 makes great use of it with its excellent display.