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Real World Nikon D810 Review w/ sample images

Click here to read my full Nikon D810 review  SLR camera body

nikon d810 review real life

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  • Sam! Thanks for writing up this review, I’ve been excites to hear your take on the D810 since Nikon announced it. Now you’ve got me dying to get a D4s. 🙂

  • Nice review. Planning to renew my d800 and d4 bodies next year and.your article totally helped me with the desicion.
    I’m wondering how many shots you fired on a single battery at the end. Can you please share?

    Cheers from Mexico

  • Bora
  • Hi Sam,

    Great review. As someone fairly heavily invested in Canon I always find it interesting to look at the other systems out there to see how it comapares. Real world reviews like this are far more important than the pixel peeping stuff that clogs up a lot of reviews. I’m not a Canon fanboy but ended up using Canon as this was the best system when I started taking things more seriously a few years ago. The most important features for me at the moment are high iso performance and dynamic range. Nikon with their Sony sensors have really taken things up a level with their last few cameras and it feels like Canon are treading water a little. That 5 stop exposure push is just mental! Due to my investment in Canon gear I’m waiting to see what the 5DmkIV will have in store, however I’ll be looking with envious eyes at the Nikon camp in the meantime.

    Going forward, what I’d really like is a smaller / lighter system, I’m also eying the Fuji X system, but having played with a few sample files on line the high iso output still isn’t quite there for me. It will be interesting to see what their 2nd generation xtrans sensor will be like when the xpro2 (or whatever it will be called is launched). I’ve seen you were using an X100 previously, wondered if you are still using it and if you’ve tried any of the other Fuji X range of cameras?

  • Per

    Great review!
    First i was thinking of replacing my d800 for the d810 but the release of the d750 is more appealing.

  • Great review. Currently I’m using a D600 but as I have traded up from a d90 then a d7000 it is obviously better than those so never felt the need to upgrade. After reading this though am seriously tempted.

  • Interesting read Sam – I’ve just switched from 5D mark 3s to D810s and pretty much agree entirely with your conclusions. Really fantastic cameras. It’s a big investment to switch though – I tried the 28mm 1.8G which some people love and found it was lacking when paired with the D810 sensor. Still – very happy with it and just waiting for Nikon to bring out some nice wireless flashes now 😀

  • Cool review, it definitely has my interest piqued in upgrading my D800. For now, I’m still feeling pretty good with my D4/D800 setup, both still have a lot of life in them, but the increased DR and buffer speed sound like the most killer improvements. It also has been sounding like the video features took a big step forward with this one as well.

  • Sam, you’re always such a cool mixture of chilled simplicity and micro-details. I especially appreciate the honest feedback regarding the suspect sRAW quality.

    As for my own, original D800, I’m still thrilled by it’s performance… especially by it’s seemingly limitless dynamic range. Here’s an example where I deliberately shot super-hot highlights and was still able to reel them back in within Lightroom.

  • Great thoughts Sam, this looks like the perfect body to tempt me away from my 5D3’s, though I’m also seriously considering mirror less for the first time too.

  • Tempted. But between this and the DF… it sounds like the DF still wins, for me.

  • Thierry

    Interesting review, especially as even though it’s mosty comparing the 810 to the 800 you seem to know what you’re talking about when comparing to a 5D3 as well.
    My 5D3 is my 4 th Canon body, i do wedding photography and am very tempted to switch to Nikon and the 810 particularly.
    Can you please elaborate a little further on your last paragraph and be a little more specific on why you think it’s worth switching coming from a 5D3? What will i particularly gain? And what will i lose? Much appreciated!

  • Hi Sam

    Big fan of your work and appreciate the time you (and others i enjoy reading) take to post reviews.
    Im a canon shooter (5D2) and am looking to upgrade next year. Im looking at the D750 at the moment as this seesm to have everything i need in terms of High ISO performance, noise, super quick AF, lightweight body etc etc.

    Are you going to be reviewing the D750?

    The 5D mark IV has its work cut out. But it will be intersteing to see what canon stuff into he mark 4 and at what price point too…

    All the best

  • Kurt

    VSCOcam bullshit.

  • I am a newbie in photography – just 5 – 6 years old. I was handed a D1 for free, then moved to a D7000 for my first purchase. 2 years ago upgraded to a D800 – loved it, loved it, loved it. I just purchased the D810, and this review has taught me a few things. one, how to handle the ISO on the D810. It sounds like “Don’t worry about it too much”, as post production (e.g. Lightroom) can assist. Sounds like all the detail is there just spin up some white levels / exposure will do the trick – however, having said that, the author seems to want to not have to worry about post production, to which I agree – he wants his camera’s to have “ability”

    I am not an expert by any means, I will have to take classes / shadow others and learn techniques – yet I know my camera is, well, waiting for me to “grow up” into photographer status. It’s nice to know that I have a camera which does have capability in many area’s I am more interested in the ISO 64, lack of anti-alias, raw sensor capability – it’s affinity for “attention to detail”. The quiet-ness of the shutter is a major bonus. And because I do use the MDB12 battery pack w / lithium “AA” batteries (don’t forget to tell the camera you are using lithiums…) I enjoy the 7fps.

    I trust Nikon. through the D1, D7000, D800, and now D810 – I can rely on unprecedented performance and image quality.

    One passion in photography is extra-terrestrial shooting. No, not aliens, but the moon, sun, and stars. In 2012 I captured the Venus transit with the D800 and the old-style 80 – 400; I was amazed at the detail. Here is what I look for in the D810 – rather than having to use filtration, I will employ the 64ISO as one more means of stopping light when capturing the sun, and will do similar for capturing the moon. For the sun: with a 64 ISO, f11 (or greater), and shutter speed of 1/8000 I can get pristine capture of the sun’s granularity, sunspots etc… I am learning that if I use less aperture (than f16 to f22 or higher ) in some lenses I can get a crisper focus. The ISO64 will allow me to open the aperture up to do that. As for the moon, the ISO64 will be a full attention to detail, should be stunning… can’t wait…

    If anyone goes to my site, they will see what I have done with the previous 3 cameras – I have yet to take some publish-worthy images using the D810 as it’s 3 days old to me.

    Thanks to Sam for posting this review –


  • I hope you could take a little time and check my blogpost:

    I discovered that the Nikon D810 is also affected with white noise at high iso and not only at long exposure. The thermal fix got rid of the white noise at long-exposure-photos. But in my opinion it has to be extended to high iso.

    I would like to hear your opinion on that.

    With kind regards from Germany…

  • Hi Sam,

    First I would like to say that I love your work! It’s a great source of inspiration. Congrats.
    Do you plan to make a D750 review ? I need to buy a new DSLR to replace my m43 and have something newer and better than the 5D mk II I use at the office. I’m very interesting by your opinion on this camera.


  • Hi Sam! I’m a huge fan of your work. I’m torn between the D750 and the D810. I do more landscape photography than portraiture and I can afford either camera body. Are you going to do a D750 review? I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this.



  • Really good looking back on this review to compare it to my recently purchased D750. I think I made the right choice as it fits somewhere between the D4s and the 810. I’ve had the D4s on loan for a bit and although I think the D750 is a better wedding camera due to weight, file size, dynamic range, if money were no object I’d still prefer a d4s purely based on its ergonomics in hand.