Full frame Revelation!
Full-size sensor, 36 million pixels, redesigned from the inside out... is this the best D-SLR ever?
With a full-frame FX-format sensor packing 36.3 million pixels, the original Nikon D800 set new standards for resolution. Two years later, it still had no obvious rivals – except its twin, the D800e, which had a weaker anti-aliasing filter so that it could deliver sharper details. Now the successor to these cameras has been announced. The 36.3-megapixel Nikon D810 replaces both models and ditches the antialiasing filter altogether.
So what could Nikon possibly do to top the D800? The effective resolution is the same, so is this a routine update, or is there more to it?
Like the D4s, the D810 is aimed at professionals and enthusiasts. 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.
Given the high pixel count of the D800 it’s no surprise that the D810 has the same pixel count, but we are told that it uses a newly designed sensor, coupled with Nikon’s EXPEED 4 processing engine. This should be good news for noise control; in fact Nikon claims the D810 is capable of producing ‘the highest image quality in Nikon’s history’. The move to the EXPEED 4 also provides a boost in the maximum continuous shooting rate at full resolution to five frames per second. Alternatively, the D810 can shoot at seven frames per second in DX format and record 15.3-megapixel images.
Sensitivity may be set in the native range ISO64-12800 and from there expanded from ISO32-ISO51200, giving greater scope for shooting at wide apertures or in bright conditions as well as better low-light capability.
Other changes from the D800 include a higher resolution LCD screen, the ability to record smaller RAW images (as seen with the Nikon D4s), and the introduction of Grouparea AF mode, also seen in Nikon’s flagship camera. The D810’s buffer is reported to be more than double the size of the D800/ (think 47 12-bit uncompressed RAW files compared with the D800/ 21).
The D810 also gets the new Picture Control 2.0 system for applying different looks to images processed in-camera as JPEGs. The new system adds a ‘Flat’ mode for maximum dynamic range, and it’s possible to adjust image clarity or micro contrast to give an impression of greater (or reduced) sharpness without overemphasising strong edges.
The D810 takes a big step forward from the D800/ in terms of movie capabilities. Video (and stills) may be shot in FX or DX format and there’s a clean HDMI out, plus the ability to capture full-resolution footage incamera and on an external recorder simultaneously. When shooting video in manual mode, sensitivity can be set from ISO64 to ISO51200, while the Auto ISO function allows you to specify the maximum sensitivity setting to be used. This is useful when combined with the ability to
use power aperture and set the two buttons next to the lens mount to open up or close down aperture. It should ensure steadier footage with less operational noise.
In a first for a Nikon, there’s a new Live View split-screen zoom mode that allows you to check sharpness in two areas at the same time. This looks like making life easier when shooting landscape and macro scenes, where depth of field is important.
Any D800 user who picks up a D810 will feel right at home because only a few subtle design changes have been made. The grip, for example, feels more solid and the memory card door more durable. Nikon has added its ‘I’ button to the back of the camera, giving quick access to key settings and providing the means of accessing the split-screen view.
We’ll have a full review of the D810 for you next issue.