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.
First, let’s go over the key specifications:
Nikon D810 vs D800 / D800E Specification Comparison
|Camera Feature||Nikon D810||Nikon D800 / D800E|
|Sensor Resolution||36.3 Million||36.3 Million|
|Sensor Pixel Size||4.88µ||4.88µ|
|Low Pass Filter||No||Yes / No|
|Sensor Dust Reduction||Yes||Yes|
|Image Size||7,360 x 4,912||7,360 x 4,912|
|Base ISO||ISO 64||ISO 100|
|Native ISO Sensitivity||ISO 64-12,800||ISO 100-6,400|
|Boosted ISO Sensitivity||Down to ISO 32, up to ISO 51,200||Down to ISO 50, up to ISO 25,600|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 4||EXPEED 3|
|sRAW File Support||Yes||No|
|Viewfinder Type||Pentaprism with improved coatings||Pentaprism|
|Viewfinder Coverage and Size||100%, 0.70x||100%, 0.70x|
|Built-in Flash||Yes, with flash commander mode||Yes, with flash commander mode|
|Flash Sync Speed||1/250||1/250|
|Storage Media||1x CF, 1x SD||1x CF, 1x SD|
|Continuous Shooting Speed||5 FPS, 6 FPS in DX mode, 7 FPS with MB-D12 battery grip||4 FPS, 6 FPS in DX mode with MB-D12 battery grip|
|Max Shutter Speed||1/8000 to 30 sec||1/8000 to 30 sec|
|Shutter Durability||200,000 cycles||200,000 cycles|
|Electronic Front-curtain Shutter||Yes||No|
|Exposure Metering Sensor||91,000-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering III||91,000-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering III|
|Highlight Weighted Metering||Yes||No|
|Full aperture metering during Live View for stills||Yes||No|
|Face-detection Analysis||On/Off||Always On|
|Spot White Balance in Live View||Yes||No|
|Preset White Balance||1-6 possible||1-3 possible|
|Autofocus System||Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX with Group Area AF||Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX|
|Focus Points||51, 15 cross-type||51, 15 cross-type|
|AF Detection||Up to f/8||Up to f/8|
|Video Output||MOV, Compressed and Uncompressed||MOV, Compressed and Uncompressed|
|Video Maximum Resolution||1920×1080 (1080p) @ 24p, 30p, 60p||1920×1080 (1080p) @ 24p, 30p|
|Memory Card + External Recorder Simultaneous Recording||Yes||No|
|Selectable Audio Frequency Range||Yes||No|
|Highlight Display (Zebra Stripes) in Live View||Yes||No|
|Interval Timer Exposure Smoothing||Yes||No|
|Timelapse Exposure Smoothing||Yes||No|
|Number of Images in Timelapse / Int Timer||9,999||999|
|Power Aperture Control using Internal Memory Cards||Yes||No|
|Audio Recording||Built-in stereo microphone|
External stereo microphone (optional)
|Built-in mono microphone|
External stereo microphone (optional)
|LCD Size||3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD||3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD|
|LCD Resolution||1,229,000 dots||921,000 dots|
|One Button Zoom Image Preview||Yes||No|
|Picture Control||Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape, Flat||Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape|
|Unlimited Continuous Shooting||Yes||No|
|Redesigned Sequencer / Balancer Mechanism||Yes, Operates in Quiet or Quiet Continuous Mode||No|
|Exposure Bracketing||2 to 9 frames||2 to 9 frames|
|Wi-Fi Functionality||Eye-Fi Compatible, WT-4a||Eye-Fi Compatible, WT-4a|
|Battery||EN-EL15 Lithium-ion Battery||EN-EL15 Lithium-ion Battery|
|Battery Life||1200 shots (CIPA)||900 shots (CIPA)|
|Battery Charger||MH-25 Quick Charger||MH-25 Quick Charger|
|Weather Sealed Body||Yes||Yes|
|Build||Full Magnesium Alloy||Full Magnesium Alloy|
|Weight (Body Only)||880g||900g|
|Dimensions||146 x 123 x 81.5mm||144.78 × 121.92 × 81.28mm|
|MSRP Price||$3,299||$2,999 / $3,299|
At first glance, there is quite a bit of similarity between these cameras. However, quite a bit has been changed in specifications starting from the camera sensor. While the resolution stayed the same at 36.3 MP, the sensors are actually not the same – the D810 sports a new sensor with different sensitivity levels, pushing ISO one stop further at both sides of the range. Its base ISO is 64 vs 100 and the maximum native ISO is 12,800 vs 6,400 on the D800 / D800E. Judging by these numbers, the new D810 sensor should not only produce greater dynamic range, but it also should be up to a stop cleaner at high ISO levels. Another important fact, is that the D810 now consolidates the D800 and the D800E into a single camera, eliminating the optical low-pass filter / anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor completely.
Thanks to the newer EXPEED 4 processor, the camera gains 1 FPS improvement in speed, jumping to 5 FPS continuous shooting in full resolution, 6 FPS in DX / 1.2x crop modes and 7 FPS with the MB-D12 battery grip. In comparison, the D800 / D800E shoot at 4 FPS in full resolution and require the MB-D12 battery grip to get to 6 FPS. The faster processor also improves autofocus performance, which gains the same “Group Area AF” feature from the top-of-the-line Nikon D4s. As you will see in our upcoming Nikon D4s review, the autofocus performance of the D4s is noticeably faster than the D4, so expect to see similar improvements on the D810.
The D810 gains an improved LCD screen with 1,229K dots compared to 921K dots on the D800 / D800E and the optical viewfinder has gotten better and brighter thanks to improved coatings. The D810 went through several ergonomic changes, with improved grip, new buttons and other slight changes on the back of the camera. Battery life has been improved dramatically, with the D810 capable of shooting up to 1200 shots on a single charge (versus 900 on the D800 / D800E).
One of the biggest highlights of the D810 is the new and improved shutter mechanism that allows Electronic Front-curtain mode in Live View. Basically, the camera simply starts recording the exposure without moving the shutter and only closes the shutter at the end of the exposure sequence, which completely eliminates shutter vibrations. This is a great feature for those of us that shoot in low light, especially with heavy supertelephoto lenses that tend to increase camera shake at long focal lengths. For me, this is a must-have feature when testing lenses in my lab, since I do not have to worry about shutter vibrations at all. The new shutter mechanism is also supposedly much quieter in operation and there is now a “Quiet Continous” mode.
Hopefully Nikon fixed the bad Live View interpolation issue that is currently present on the D800 and D800E, because it makes it difficult to acquire critical focus. Another area that I am not 100% confident about is Wi-Fi compatibility – NikonUSA does not provide any information on this, so it is unclear whether the D810 requires the WT-4a, or if it would work with the much smaller WU-1a unit.
Timelapse photographers will love the D810, because it can now shoot 9,999 frames instead of 999 and there are plenty of other great options available such as exposure smoothing to improve the quality of timelapse sequences.
And movie shooters will probably be happy to see drastic changes in movie recording capabilities of the D810. Nikon introduced a new “Auto ISO” feature in Manual Mode for video shooting, which should make it easy to keep the shutter speed and aperture the same, while letting the camera adjust brightness levels depending on the scene. Full HD recording has been increased to 60 fps and the D810 now comes with a slew of options for movie makers. In fact, Nikon is pushing the D810 heavily for videography needs, thanks to the many video recording options and simultaneous recording of footage to memory cards and external devices. Nikon now even bundles a special “film maker kit”, which includes the Atomos Ninja 2 external video recorder. Sadly, there is no 4K support, which is quickly becoming the standard in videography.
The last feature I want to talk about is sRAW file support on the D810. Although this feature is not that useful on the D4s (because it creates tiny 4 MP images), sRAW on the D810 will be more useful. With a resolution of 3680×2456 pixels, which is roughly equivalent to 9 megapixels, the D810 will be able to yield clean RAW images even at very high ISO levels. How does this work? Basically, the camera down-samples / reduces the 36 MP image down to 9 MP and shares color information between adjacent pixels, as described in this awesome article by our dear friend Iliah Borg of RawDigger (see his previous articles here at Photography Life). There is some obvious loss of colors and dynamic range (recorded data is 11-bit), but if you are shooting in the dark and just want a cleaner image, sRAW might be a good option. In short, sRAW is in-camera resizing / downsampling of 36 MP images to 9 MP, while keeping the file format in RAW for flexibility. Although Iliah thinks that the sRAW format is similar to JPEG in terms of information loss and not as practical, I would be curious to see his analysis for the D810…
Will all lenses that fit the D800 fit the D810? Thank You
Is the D800 recommended for fashion photography considering possible problems with moire?
D800 has anti-aliasing filter to minimize moire. The D800E does not have this filter, the same as the D810 and D850.
The D800E will give you moire patters but the D800 won’t. Nikon corrected the moire pattern problem with the d810 and the d850. I would recommend the d810 or the d850 much more than the d800. the d810 is better in low light by a stop and it has much improved auto focus systems than the d800. The d850 is even better in low light than the d810 and has 45 mp instead of 32 mp. the d850 has a newer processor enabling it to be better in low light. but overall I would recommend the d810 or the d850. If you already have the d800, it won’t give you moire patterns
Hi, i bought the D810 last year after being very happy with four years of using the D600. Its the best purchase i have made, i love this camera, found it hard to work my way around it initially, now i just read what i need to find out in the handbook which is really good. I had thought of the D800 but am glad i waited for the D810. I would highly recommend this camera, if you want to see any of my images i have some on Adobe Stock if you type in Rosie the Jack Russell, that should lead you to my work, it will give you an idea of the quality. I photograph anything, as Adobe like your work to be unaltered all my images are as shot. All i can say, don’t lose money by buying a lesser quality camera.
Its quiet sometime since releasing 800e and 810.
I been using D700 for years and found Refurbished D800e with one year Nikon warranty.
I do all type of photography and D800e captured my attention because its cheaper and made in Japan.
I dont know if thats a good idea to get 2012 camera instead of 2014 or even better to wait to September for new Nikon full frame.
Is there any improvement in recording time length in movie mode? My D800 often overheats after 20 or so minutes
Hello Nazim, I actually don’t have a question, problem or suggestion for you. Strange, isn’t it? I am actually writing to thank you for the time that you spend in answering questions and the Reviews that you write. I have been reading you for some time now and many of the Qs and As have helped me, as have the Reviews. So I would just like to say thank you for your time and effort and keep up the good work.
I am at the point of getting a D800 to supplant my D600.
So here we are in April of 2015 and the talk is about the D810 with all of it’s attendant upgrades over the D800.
My dilemma is I can get a refurbished D800 for $1800 with an additional $250 to pay for an all-hazards protection plan or pay $3000 for the D810 with a one-year warranty.
My main focus is fine-art landscape which I market as framed pieces. For my stated purpose, is spending the additional $1200 worth it?
I currently shoot with fast legacy Nikkor AF-D primes (24, 35, 50 & 85), a 18-35 AF-D zoom, and the VR 70-300 zoom.
I want to expand more into night shots of the sky also, the D600 does an ok job, but I feel the D800 would be better suited.
I have used the D600 to shoot weddings and am pleased with it. I also own a D7100 with two dedicated DX zooms. I own a SB-600 and a SB-800 strobes, so you can see I am heavily invested in Nikon.
Question – Am I overlooking a truly revolutionary camera by foregoing the D810 and will I come to regret it if I go with the D800 no matter the price? Are there latent issues with the D800 that make it a problematic purchase?
If you want to get a solid camera for fine art landscapes, the D810 is the way to go. In my opinion, the electronic front curtain and the better shutter mechanism are alone worth paying the premium for. I would rarely ever recommend to spend more money on cameras – I usually recommend to get glass instead of cameras. But given that you are serious about landscape work, it is better to just go with the D810.
So I delay that impulse for the instant gratification that the D800 would certainly give me for the materially better camera in the future. Really makes sense in light of my upcoming trip in November to Hawaii. So it looks I am eating bologna sandwiches for lunch for a while. Thanks for your thoughts.
Also, why buy something that you might regret about later? The D810 is clearly a better choice and if you struggle with the D800 in the future, you will always wonder why you did not go for the best. Having done that in the past, it is not a pleasant feeling :) Bologna sandwiches sound good, LOL, I love those!
Thanks again. It has been a pleasure.
I upgraded from DX to FX through D600. Snagged one up when everyone was unloading it. The money saved allowed me to get the better Nikon lenses. Now that I have the gold ring lenses I’m excited to see how I can truly make full use of that awesome sensor. To me the D810 is the camera to get.
The “Highlight Weighted Metering” is VERY good tools! Maybe is the most underrated tool. It is a VERY VERY useful tool.
Regarding the Wi-Fi, the D810 brochure and Nikon website says:
“The WT-5A Wireless Transmitter is designed for use with the Nikon D4 D-SLR camera. It can also be used on the D810, D800, D800E and D7000 D-SLRs when used along with the UT-1 Communication Unit.”
Does this mean that in order to wirelessly connect the D810 to a computer or an iPad you need both the UT-1 for networking and the WT-5A to make that networking wireless? So one must spend $979 to do this (or buy a separate 70D for $999 that has this capability built-in?!)
Am I missing something here? Is there no WU-1 type accessory one can use for $60 for basic Wi-Fi with the D810?
I’ve been researching this as well. Looks like the only reasonable options are CamRanger (file transfer and camera control) or Eye-Fi cards (file transfer).