Nikon D810 for Wedding Photography

***Edited July 22, 2014 for clarification and to add new photos***

If you weren’t already aware, Nikon’s newest DSLR, the Nikon D810, was just released on July 18. For the announcement history, features, sample images and other current D810 posts, you can search Photography Life’s archives. When I saw the camera’s features, a few of them got me immediately excited. I don’t consider myself to be a photographer who has gear lust and must always have the newest camera body, regardless of how incremental the improvement may be. With that being said, as soon as it was announced I simply knew that I had to get the D810. Why? I’m glad you asked.

Nikon D810

Please note, this is not a detailed Nikon D810 review. I photographed a wedding and these are my thoughts after using this new camera. A full review will be posted soon.
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Nikon D810 vs D800E ISO Comparison

After I received the Nikon D810 in the morning today, I thought about posting an article on the ISO performance of the camera and how it stacks up against the Nikon D800E. After Adobe announced the release of the Camera RAW 8.6 RC, I thought about using the Adobe converter for the Nikon D810 RAW files instead of Nikon’s software like Capture NX-D or ViewNX. Well, that was a really bad call on my side, because I ended up wasting the whole day trying to figure out why the performance of the D810 was coming out so bad when compared to the D800E. I ran many different tests and each one of them showed the same thing – the D800E was surpassing the D810 at every ISO above 3200. Whether it was with retaining colors and dynamic range, to plain noise – the D800E was just killing the D810 in every case. Although the D810 images were coming out about a stop brighter (with the exact same exposure settings and even custom white balance set at 4700K), I even tried to equalize the brightness both in cameras and post, only to see variations of the same problem. Nothing made sense and I simply could not believe that Nikon would release a camera that was inferior than its predecessor in image quality. That really did not make sense, but that’s what I was seeing!

Nikon D810 vs D800 / D800E

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24 Things You Need to Know About the New Nikon D810

Since the Nikon D810 got announced yesterday, we have been getting a lot of questions from our readers via emails, comments and Facebook messages. After answering many questions and doing some additional research, I decided to compile everything I have gathered so far in a single article. Looks like the biggest number of questions is coming from existing Nikon DX and D600/D610/D700 owners, who are considering to move up to the D810 as an upgrade. Some Nikon D800 and D800E owners like myself also find some of the new D810 features attractive, but there are still some items that remain unclear from the announcement (such as the camera buffer size), so the below article will hopefully address some of those questions and concerns as well.

Nikon D810 Film Maker's Kit

1) Nikon D810 has no OLPF / AA filter

This one might be particularly interesting to existing D800E owners. If you remember from our previous coverage of the D800E, the difference between the D800 and the D800E is the filter stack in front of the sensor. Basically, the D800 has two stacks of anti-aliasing / blur filters along with the regular UV filter, which is what effectively reduces moire in images. The D800E, on the other hand, has a blur filter in the front of the filter stack, which is cancelled out by another filter at the end, as shown in the below illustration (a detailed PDF illustration from Nikon is available here):

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Nikon D810 Buffer Size

One question that has been continuously asked from our readers has been regarding the buffer size of the Nikon D810. Nikon stated that the buffer has been increased, but has not yet provided any information in the official documents on the English versions of the Nikon USA and Nikon Imaging sites. After doing a bit of research last night, I found the Nikon D810 manual in Japanese language at Nikon-image.com (here it is for reference). I compared the table to that of the Nikon D800 / D800E and found out a surprise – the buffer size on the D810 appears to be doubled in comparison. What a nice surprise!

Nikon D810

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Nikon D810 vs D800 / D800E

In this Nikon D810 vs D800 / D800E comparison, we will go over differences in specifications between these cameras and talk about what has been added, changed and improved. The Nikon D800 and D800E have been very popular camera models among enthusiasts and professionals for several years now. With world’s first 36.3 MP full-frame sensor, very high dynamic range, pro-level autofocus, magnesium alloy construction and weather sealing, the cameras have converted quite a few Canon and even Medium Format shooters. What does the D810 bring to the table? Let’s take a closer look at the specifications.

Nikon D810 vs D800 / D800E

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Nikon D800/D800E Firmware and NEF Codec Updates

If you shoot with the Nikon D800 or the D800E DSLR cameras, you might want to check what firmware you are currently running in order to make sure that you are running the most recent version of the firmware v1.10. A couple of weeks ago Nikon released the firmware update that deals with the most annoying bug that has existed since both cameras were announced, where the camera will occasionally freeze, keeping the memory card access light lit for a very long time. The only workaround was to either wait it out or remove and re-insert the battery. To be honest, I am surprised that it took Nikon so long to fix this issue, as it was one of my personal pains with using my D800E. With the new firmware v1.10, Nikon has made a number of changes to the camera and its menu system, and has added support for larger than 128 GB CompactFlash cards.

Nikon D800

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Nikon High ISO Comparison using D600, D800E, Df, D4 and D4s

After I posted my last article comparing the high ISO performance of the Nikon D4s vs D4, a number of our readers requested that I provide a similar comparison with other cameras such as the Nikon D600/D610, D800 and Df. Instead of posting multiple articles that show these comparisons, I decided to put it all into a single article, so that our readers could look at the side by side comparisons, or download the files to their computers for closer examination. Before you start comparing the below images, however, I would like to point out that the images are just provided as a reference, and only represent one side of the camera performance – high ISO in low-light, indoor conditions. Each camera comes with its own set of features, strengths and weaknesses, so please do not draw conclusions from these shots. Please note that ISO performance might vary in different lighting conditions. My recommendation would be to read the comment exchange I had with Brad Hill of Natural Art Images in the previous Nikon D4s vs D4 comparison article, where we discuss the topic of comparing sensor performance in detail.

Nikon D610 vs D800E vs Df vs D4 vs D4s

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Recommended Nikon D800 / D800E Settings

After I published the article on the recommended settings for the Nikon D600 / D610, I received plenty of requests from our readers that asked me to write a similar article for the Nikon D800 and D800E cameras. Since I own and use both frequently, I decided to expand the series to other cameras (and I do have plans to publish similar articles for Canon DSLRs as well). In this article, I want to provide some information on what settings I use and shortly explain what some of the important settings do. Please do keep in mind that while these work for me, it does not mean that everyone else should be shooting with exactly the same settings. The below information is provided as a guide for those that struggle and just want to get started with a basic understanding of menu settings.

Nikon D800

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Eye-Fi Pro X2 Review

When testing lenses, I have to make sure that my setup is calibrated and the camera is perfectly aligned with the test chart. The process can take quite a bit of time, since I have to take a picture, make minute adjustments, then take another picture and retest again. In some cases I have to repeat the process many times over, which can be very painful. To simplify and speed-up the process, I have been connecting my laptop (which sits right under the tripod) directly to the Nikon D800E with a USB cable and have been using Nikon’s Camera Control Pro to dump files into a local folder, from which I pick up and process images using Imatest software. The problem with this approach has been speed – Imatest is pretty demanding when it comes to processing large RAW files from the D800E and my laptop just could not keep up. So I ended up moving the software to my powerful desktop machine, which created another problem. Every time I take a picture and need adjustments, I have to walk back and forth between the camera setup and the computer to analyze the results and make adjustments. USB 3 cables have length limitations and even with “active” USB 3 extension cables, the maximum length is typically under 10 meters. And that’s just not going to work for me, since I often test telephoto lenses and I have to be more than 10 meters away. To address these issues, I decided to try some wireless solutions that are available on the market. The first and the cheapest product to try was the Eye-Fi Pro X2 memory card. I got a 16 GB version and wanted to see just how well the card with its software could work for my setup. In this review, I will be focusing primarily on the transfer speed of the card and its usability with the Nikon D800 / D800E DSLR.

Eye-Fi Pro X2 Review

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Sony A7R vs Nikon D800E ISO Performance

In this article, I will show noise performance from the new high resolution Sony A7R mirrorless camera and compare it to its direct competitor, the Nikon D800E. Both have 36 MP sensors and both lack anti-aliasing (AA) filters, which should make it a good case for analysis at pixel level with no re-sizing/down-sampling involved. The Sony A7R is a pretty hot camera right now thanks to its compact camera body, high resolution and excellent image quality. Let’s take a look at how it fares against the older Nikon D800E.

Here is a comparison at the boosted ISO level of 50:

Sony A7R ISO 50 Nikon D800E ISO 50

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