Nikon D810: An Extraordinary Full-Frame DSLR Worth Buying in 2019 (Review)

Full Nikon D810 review: Is it worth buying in 2019?


Welcome to my Nikon D810 review 2019!
(With video, photos and lens recommendations.)


You might be wondering:

  • “Is it worth buying Nikon D810 in 2019?”

My quick answer is that if you’re fairly experienced in photography, this full frame camera sure is worth it.

I mean weddings, portraits, sports, landscape photography – this DSLR can do it all.

Without a doubt:

Nikon D810 is one of the dream cameras available on the market right now, whether you’re a pro or an amateur, a Nikon fan or not

Now:

It’s important to understand that buying this DSLR should be a conscious decision because there ARE cameras out there that will be able to meet 200% of your requirements at a much lower cost.

Truth is…

D810 is a full-frame (FX) camera and upgrading to this level comes with a lot of nuances, most of them of financial nature. 

Nikon D810 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body

Getting this camera is just the first step.

You should also realize that you’ll likely spend as much money on quality lenses as you will on the camera body itself.

That’s why I think that buying this DSLR should be a clear-headed decision that’s backed by years of experience and practice.

So… 

Who is Nikon D810 for?

This full-frame SLR camera is designed primarily for those photographers who need an uncompromisingly high image quality.

Specifically:

  • landscape photography, 
  • portrait photography, 
  • photography for commercial and advertising purposes. 

These are the genres where excellent color rendering and the highest detail of the image will be especially useful.


Now…

What else will you see in this post besides a “boring” set of features?

  • besides the usual text review, you will also get to watch a video review
  • I’ll provide you with photo samples so that you can judge this DSLR for yourself, 
  • my lens recommendations based on your photography genre. 

Let’s start with a video review.


Nikon D810 Hands-On Field Test (Video Review)


 


Quick specs:

  • Camera type: Mid-size SLR camera
  • Camera weight: 980 g 
  • How many pixels: 36 MP
  • Sensor size: Full-frame (FX)
  • ISO: Auto, 64-12800
  • Articulated LCD: Fixed
  • Touchscreen: None
  • Environmentally sealed: Yes

What you might like about this Nikon:

  • incredible sharpness of photos 
  • comfortable camera grip 
  • low image noise at high ISO units 
  • high image quality up to ISO 3200-6400 
  • large buffer when shooting in JPG 
  • weather sealed to prevent from dust and moisture 
  • video shooting up to 1080 @ 60p 
  • higher battery life (you can take 1000 images and it’ll still work) 
  • ability to work with 2 memory cards 

What you might not like about it:

  • pretty high price tag 
  • some people might find it pretty heavy (980g including batteries)
  • small buffer when shooting in RAW and S-RAW 
  • no U1 and U2 modes as seen in Nikon D7100 (our review)
  • no quick switch between AF-S and AF-C 

Important things to consider when buying Nikon D810:

  • no 4K video but for some it’s not necessarily a con
  • consider buying a fast and spacious memory card for D810, it’ll be a life-saver! 
  • our recommendation: CF memory card with a recording speed of 120 MB/s and with a memory size of at least 64 GB
  • use it as your primary memory card


Should You Buy Nikon D810 if You’re A Beginner Photographer? My Honest Advice.


Here is the thing:

I never recommend full-frame DSLRs to beginner photographers because by the time you figure out how this camera works and how to use all the camera settings, there will be something newer and cooler. 

The interface of D810 is designed for experienced photographers; the beginners will definitely find it complicated.

Nikon D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Auto Focus-S DX NIKKOR Zoom Lens (Black)

I don’t want you to lose money (or interest).

So…

If you are an amateur, I recommend that you go with simpler cameras that will help you learn and grow as a photographer.

Instead, check out the following entry-level cameras for 2019:

(With my full reviews of each DSLR mentioned.)

These cameras will likely help you get fully interested in photography and are very simple for beginners. In fact, some of these SLR cameras have even Guide mode available.

But, if you feel that you are ready:

  • emotionally,
  • financially,
  • and professionally,

…then by all means go with D810! 

It’s definitely one of the best Nikon cameras available on the market and will probably cost around $4000-5000 (with the lenses). 


The Technical Characteristics of Nikon D810


Nikon D810 review: Great DSLR for landscape photography
Liguria, Italy · 32.0mm · ƒ/6.3 · 10/5000s · ISO 100

Nikon D810 comes with a 36 MP sensor and is the continuation of the sensational D800 and D800E back in 2012.

It sure is a bit better than the latter ones in every aspect.

Specifically: 

  • it received a new EXPEED 4 processor, which increased serial shooting to 5 fps; 
  • has a natural ISO range of 64-12800; 
  • includes Picture Control 2.0, a new image processing system; 
  • Full HD video shooting at a rate of 50 fps; 
  • sRAW shooting mode, which allows you to take small resolution photos (for publishing them online). 

Among other minor additions that make this DSLR great.

For example, the D810 sensor doesn’t have an anti-aliasing filter.

What is that?

It’s a special filter on the sensor, which makes the transition between pixels smoother, and this way improves the quality of color rendering in certain shooting situations.

The engineers also removed the optical low pass filter (OLPF), which further sharpens the images (with a risk of moiré on some periodic textures.)

However, a moiré pattern is more hypothetical because you’re unlikely to encounter this effect in real-life shooting.

Fun fact:

Initially, an experiment without a filter was first carried out on D800E.

Nikon realized that no one was experiencing any significant issues and the sensor without the filter went to the masses in the form of Nikon D810 (and D7100 too, by the way).

Having no low-pass filter does such a good job that the photos are sharp even with the lenses that aren’t very sharp.

What I like about this camera as well is that the shutter noise is quiet, you practically don’t hear it when shooting.

(If you’re familiar with D7100, then you’ll have an idea how quiet it is.)


Nikon D810 Review:
About Burst Rate, Autofocus, Video and ISO


Nikon D810 sure is one of the best cameras for landscape photography (review).
Canton of Glarus, Switzerland · 140.0mm · ƒ/8.0 · 1/800s · ISO 400

Thanks to the EXPEED 4 processor that the camera received, its burst rate is 5 frames per second at a high resolution (compare it with the 4 fps of the last model), and up to 7 fps at a lower resolution.

The fact is, the frame rate corresponds to the one on D700, so it makes D810 pretty much universal

The standard frame rate is 8-9 fps in high RAW + JPEG resolution and up to 20 frames in JPEG. It’s pretty good for a camera with such resolution, the image buffer is pretty large.

Now…

Even though 5 fps is pretty low for a full-frame camera, it’s still enough for shooting sports related events.

As a matter of fact, Nikon D810 is one of our top camera recommendations for sports photography (with proper lenses!)

Important:

You can shoot pretty much anything at a rate of 5 fps.

But if it’s something sports-related, then just turn your camera to DX mode so that it gives you extra frames per second (one or two, depending on whether you are using an additional battery pack or not).

What about autofocus?

In terms of autofocus system, it hasn’t changed.

It’s the same Nikon Multi-CAM 3500FX with 51 focus points and 15 cross-over sensors, which makes autofocus very fast and accurate. 

And still there have been improvements in their algorithms. There is now an automatic focusing on a group of points.

Autofocus settings in Nikon D810 (review).

There’s a wide range of autofocus possibilities:

  • fine-tuning of all points and the possibility of selecting a zone; 
  • adequate tracking autofocus; 
  • perfectly working 3D tracking; 
  • AF illumination. 

I mean the face tracking autofocus is so great that you won’t even want to get off the auto mode. 3D tracking and dynamic area autofocus almost always “hit the target” from the first shot. 

In Live View mode, contrast autofocus works – it’s not as fast but it’s just as accurate.

The tracking autofocus definitely improved, and it’s something that will especially appeal to videographers or hybrid shooters.

Speaking of videography. 

The video capabilities in D810 had also been modernized.

What I am trying to say here is that this Nikon DSLR is fully adapted for professional videoshooting with its Full HD recording at a rate of up to 50p/60p. 

A thing called Picture Control “Flat” was realized especially for videographers, which gives them the maximum of color correction capabilities for post-processing.

To record audio, you can use external stereo microphones, and during recording itself, you can actually monitor the sound using headphones.

Nikon D810 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body

Last but not least, video-recording can be done onto a memory card, an external recorder using an HDMI connector, or both.

What about ISO?

The maximum ISO threshold is up to ISO 12800, and in the “Hi 2” mode you can now take photos with ISO of up to 51200.

With such characteristics, there is no need for high-aperture lenses. The minimum ISO now is not ISO 100, as was seen in D800, but ISO 64 (in the “Lo 1” it’s ISO 32). 

Overall, the images at high ISO, let’s say 10 000, look absolutely amazing.

Yes, you’ll see a bit of noise but it’s definitely tolerable.


A Few More Things…


Low light:

Its low light performance is pretty great but certainly isn’t one of the best. Most pros would give it a rating of about 3/5 (without flash).

Battery life:

The battery life is amazing. You can get approximately 1200-1300 shots with 1 full charge. Of course with video, your battery will die faster. Speaking of video…

4K video:

I know there’s a 4K-mania now and keep in mind that there’s no 4K video. For some it’s not a huge con though, especially with all the other great features that this DSLR has to offer.

Dynamic range:

DR with the available base of 64 make it one of the best cameras for landscape photographers. 


5 Best Lens Recommendations for Nikon D810


1) As an “all-in-one” lens, then consider the universal Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR .

  • You’ll be able to shoot pretty much anything you want. 

2) For wedding photography, portraits, landscapes/travel 24-70mm f/2.8 is brilliant.

  • It costs a lot but it’s definitely an exceptional lens (and very popular too). 

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

3) If you’re heavily into portrait photography, consider getting 50mm f/1.4G.

  • Its smooth autofocus and amazing bokeh will win your heart. 

4) A wide lens like 16-35mm f/4G is our top recommendation for landscape photography.

  • You can start with this lens and then upgrade to other monster lenses in the future. 

5) As a fan of macro photography, you’ll enjoy the 105mm f/2.8 VR lens.

  • As a professional macro photographer, consider getting 200 mm f/4.

Final Thoughts: Nikon D810 Worth Buying in 2019


Nikon D810 review (this SLR camera works for sports photography too).
200.0mm · ƒ/7.1 · 10/25000s · ISO 1250

Without a doubt:

The interface of D810 is directed at more experienced photographers.

The beginners will simply find it challenging.

However, if you’re pretty experienced in photography, you’ll definitely enjoy camera’s:

  • fast and accurate autofocus,
  • great image detail at high ISO levels, and,
  • an amazing sRAW mode function.

This DSLR is a great tool for commercial photography, portraits, landscapes, wedding photography, and so forth.

Whatever you decide to shoot, Nikon D810 is a dream camera, hence the price tag. 

Nikon D810 FX-format Digital SLR w/ 24-120mm f/4G ED VR Lens

And like I said earlier, before you decide to buy this DSLR, think if you’re ready to spend so much money on it (plus quality lenses).

Now…

If you’re on a tighter budget, you can always go with cheaper, yet great, alternatives like Nikon D750, for example.

And if you’re a proud owner of D800 already, personally I don’t think you should upgrade to D810, even given the new additions. 

But if you have an old camera like D700 and want to upgrade to D810, then it will be a huge step forward for you.

==> Check the exact price on Amazon.


Nikon D810 in 2019: Your Thoughts?


Now, I’d like to hear from YOU:

  • What’s your skill level in photography?
  • What camera do you own right now?
  • What are your thoughts about this DSLR (and the review overall)?

And more importantly…

Do you think it’s worth buying Nikon D810 in 2019?

Any comments, suggestions and/or recommendations are always welcome in the comments!

Click here to jump straight to comment form.


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