Nikon D810 vs D800: is it time to upgrade?

Nikon D810 vs D800/E: is it time to upgrade?

Few were expecting Nikon to launch the D810. The first question many asked upon hearing the news (after asking about the Nikon D810’s price tag, of course) was ‘what could be improved’. In this Nikon D810 vs D800 comparison, Rod Lawton, editor of the Nikon magazine N-Photo, explains what’s new and what’s not in Nikon’s latest full-frame DSLR.

Nikon D810 vs D800/E: is it time to upgrade?

The original Nikon D800 set new standards for resolution. Two years later, it still had no obvious rivals – except its twin, the D800E, which ditched the anti-aliasing filter for even sharper detail rendition.

So what could Nikon possibly do with the D810 to top the original? The resolution is (apparently) the same, so is this just a routine update, or is there more to it than that?

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Like the D4s, the D810 is aimed at professionals (and well-heeled ‘aspirational amateurs’). The improvements are designed for professional users, and based on feedback from pros, so you can’t expect the same headline-grabbing numbers game you get in the amateur camera market.

SEE MORE: Nikon D4s vs D4: 14 things you need to know about Nikon’s flagship DSLR

Instead, what Nikon has done is introduce a raft of improvements and changes which are interesting enough individually, but taken as a whole produce a camera which is a real and substantial improvement over its predecessor.

Nikon says the new D810 produces ‘the highest image quality in Nikon history’. It goes on sale on July 17 at £2700/$3300, which is what the original D800E sold for.

Here, then, are the key differences…

Nikon D810 vs D800: Sensor

Nikon D810 vs D800: Sensor

D810: 35.9 x 24mm CMOS, 36.3MP (37.09MP total)
D800/E: 35.9 x 24mm CMOS, 36.3MP (36.8MP total)
Nikon says the D810’s sensor is ‘newly developed’. The effective pixel count may be the same, but sensor designs also include the microfilter array and electronic circuitry, so it’s not just about photosites.

Interestingly, the D810’s sensor has slightly more actual pixels, so there are physical differences.

Like the D800E, the D810’s sensor has no anti-aliasing filter. We’ve never heard of anyone complaining about moire with the D800E, but Nikon says the D810 has improved moire control nonetheless.

SEE MORE: Full-frame sensor size explained: how to exploit its advantages and cool effects

Nikon D810 vs D800: Processor

Nikon D810 release: EXPEED 4

D810: Expeed 4
D800: Expeed 3
The newer Expeed 4 processor in the D810 supports the wider ISO range and faster continuous shooting speeds. It also offers new processing algorithms for enhanced clarity, gradation and depth. Top fashion photographer Jon Wright, present at the London launch, told us he could see the difference straight away.

Nikon D810 vs D800: Sensor, Processor
Nikon D810 vs D800: ISO range, Continuous shooting, Picture Control 2.0
Nikon D810 vs D800: Autofocus, Shutter mechanism, LCD display
Nikon D810 vs D800: RAW S format, Movies, Metering
Nikon D810 vs D800: Wireless, Battery, Dimensions
Nikon D810 vs D800: So should you get one?


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