I’m about done with my Nikon D810 testing. I may do one or two little things, but it’s time for some conclusions.
- From a noise perspective, the sensor in the D810 is a modest step up from the D800E’s if you operate at base ISO. There are some games being played at the higher ISOs that show more sophistication than the D800E’s left-shift as the ISO knob is turned up.
- The camera is pretty near ISOless, and I don’t think you’d want to turn the ISO over 1250 in normal photographic situations. Maybe ISO 5000 for really dark scenes. Otherwise you might as well push in post.
- The sensor is not materially sharper — or less sharp, for that matter — than the one in the D800E.
- EFCS offers substantial vibration advantages for longer lenses, medium telephotos (here, too), and small advantage at normal focal lengths (here and here).
- The shutter is quieter and better damped than the previous camera. It seems to reduce vibration slightly when the camera is operating in flapping mirror mode.
- Live view is much improved at high magnification, and is now, except for the lack of an articulated LCD panel, the equal of the great live view in the Sony a7R.
- The camera is easier to handhold for long periods of time than the D800. I puzzled on what made the difference, and came to the conclusion that the battery holder sticks out just a little farther in the front of the camera, providing more room for your fingers.
- Autofocus is improved, and is now almost the equal of the D4 AF, at least for static subjects (I’ve done no testing with moving subjects).
There are many more improvements, but the ones mentioned above are the ones that are important to me.
My bottom line? Two big changes — LV and EFCS — are enough to make me switch. Add the AF improvements to that list if you use AF a lot. Where I’m going to stress the AF, I usually pick up the D4. All the smaller changes add up to a dramatically-improved photographic experience. I was initially skeptical, but this camera has won me over.