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Nikon Announces D810

Pre-order the Nikon D810 at B&H Photo.

Official announcement. See also the comparison sheet and diglloyd commentary that follows.

Tonight, Nikon announces the newest FX-format camera, the D810, bringing the best in DSLR image quality, video features and performance to professional photographers and cinematographers.

Featuring a new 36.3-megapixel full frame sensor without an OLPF and boosted by Nikon’s EXPEED 4 image processor, the Nikon D810 is the ultimate multimedia marvel with enhancements to image quality, speed and workflow.

  • A multimedia HD-SLR for photographers and cinematographers
  • New FX-format 36.3-megapixel CMOS sensor with no optical low pass filter (OLPF). Extremely high-resolution, broad dynamic range and stellar sharpness
  • Bolstered by EXPEED 4 Image Processor that offers enhanced image quality and a 30% overall boost in performance
  • Overall performance enhancements (white balance, reduced false color/moiré)
  • Wider ISO range (64-12,800) for improved low-light performance (expandable to ISO 32 and 51,200)
  • Advanced Scene Recognition System, Picture Control Profiles, Highlight weighted metering options all contribute to enhancing image quality and resolution for all types of photographers
  • Powerful video features for cinematographers: Full HD 1920 x 1080 video at 60/30/24p and versatile FX and DX crop modes. Uncompressed digital video HDMI output to an external device while recording to SD or CF.
  • Zebra stripes for over exposed areas, full manual controls and full time AF
  • Enhanced 51 point Multi-Cam 3500 FX Autofocus system
  • New RAW Size Small format (12 bit) provides increased flexibility in workflow
  • Engineered for versatility and performance with bright viewfinder and 3.2-inch LCD screen.
  • “i” button added for quick access to commonly used settings
  • Available in late July for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $3,299.95 (Body Only) and in multiple kit configurations

A very nice upgrade, but I really wish an EVF option had been offered (hot shoe mount). Still, practical features hold promise: a sensor delivering 14-bit images that is as good or perhaps better than the Sony A7R sensor (see limitations) will be welcome, as will the vibration-free EFC shutter and (hopefully) improved Live View.

Apparently the D810 uses the same sensor as found in the Sony A7R. But it would be an error to think that “same sensor” means the same quality grade and defect rate (might be better or might not) and/or to assume that the supporting electronics and algorithms don’t play a substantial role.

Continues below...

Excerpts from the press release

With diglloyd commentary.

The Nikon D810 is the pinnacle of D-SLR image quality, continuing to rival medium format cameras thanks to a variety of Nikon technologies engineered for professional image capture.

At the core of the D810 is a brand-new, 36.3-megapixel FX-format (7360 x 4912 resolution) CMOS sensor that lets photographers wield the benefits of extremely high resolution, with rich tonality and a broad dynamic range.

This super-high resolution gives professionals the power to capture with stellar sharpness, make massive prints or crop liberally with confidence. The OLPF has been removed to maximize the potential of every pixel, resulting in outstanding resolution and sharpness, yielding images that render subtle details with striking fidelity.

Sounds exciting (the sensor), but since “amazing imaging capabilities of NIKKOR optics” is also stated, we will have to wait and see if the sensor measure up to the hyperbole. It seems likely that it ought to meet or exceed the Sony A7R sensor quality, but with a real 14 bits, and that would indeed mean the best sensor on the market.

Image quality further benefits from the application of Nikon’s exclusive EXPEED 4 image processing engine, which also provides enhancements to overall performance while suppressing instances of false color and moiré. Photographing in the field or in the studio, users will see the difference with the ability to create stunning images with unprecedented clarity in gradation rendering, expanded dynamic range and high accuracy white balance.

Additionally, EXPEED 4 enhances noise reduction performance, and helps to achieve a wider ISO range, from 64 to 12,800, to improve low-noise image capture in a variety of lighting conditions. The ISO range is also expandable from 32 (Lo-1) to 51,200 (Hi-2) letting the photographer shoot with maximum fidelity under studio lighting or confidently capture a faintly-lit wedding reception or other subjects in even the most challenging light.

For me at least, a super high quality ISO 64 is most appealing.

With the ability to brandish the results of such staggering resolution, accuracy and precision become paramount as the need for razor-sharp focus is critical.

The D810 renders every subtle detail and nuance in epic clarity, with the enhanced Multi-Cam 3500-FX AF sensor module that utilizes new AF algorithms for fascinating precision, even in challenging light. The focus system also has 15 cross-type AF sensors for enhanced accuracy, and works with the Advanced Scene Recognition System to provide accurate face detection even through the optical viewfinder.

The camera also utilizes 11 cross-type sensors that are fully functional when using compatible NIKKOR lenses and teleconverters (aperture value up to f/8), which is especially useful for wildlife photography. In addition to normal, wide area, face tracking and subject tracking modes, the D810 also features the new Group AF mode for enhanced accuracy, even while tracking subjects.

The hyperbole is wearing thin here (“brandish the results of such staggering”). And I’ll be checking on that “fascinating precision” thing, since precision (in the scientific meaning of the word) has been a serious problem with all Nikon DSLRs to date. All NIKKOR ƒ/1.4 lenses suffer from disappointing to modest contrast wide open), so they come to mind as tough challenges for a focusing system (or the human eye). Lenses like the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM seem much more promising.

Despite the D810’s immense imaging power, it will astound with its rapid response and speedy performance, thanks to the implementation of the EXPEED 4 image processing engine.

The addition of EXPEED 4 allows for an overall 30% boost in performance, as well as a faster burst speed and enhancement to overall energy efficiency. Now the D810 is capable of shooting at 5 frames-per-second (fps) at full resolution and 5:4, 6 fps in DX or 1.2x modes, (15.4-megapixel, 25.1-megapixel, respectively), and 7 fps in DX mode (15.4-megapixel), with battery pack. For full workflow versatility, the D810 also gives users the option to shoot in full resolution 14-bit RAW/NEF file format or the new RAW Size Small format. This 12-bit file format is half the resolution and approximately 1/4 the file size of full RAW files, for increased flexibility when speedy downloads are desired or memory space is at a premium.

Extends versatility. It is smart to to build on DSLR strengths.

From all day in the studio to an extended assignment in the field, the D810 has been engineered for superior comfort and operability. When looking through the wide and bright viewfinder with 100% coverage, users will see shooting data displayed on an organic EL display element for maximum visibility. The viewfinder now also features a prism coating for enhanced clarity. In addition, the grip has been refined for comfort and ergonomics, and the “i” button has been added for quick access to common mode-dependent settings.

Little things can add up to comfort and enjoyment. But an EVF option is missing.

Both photographers and videographers will clearly see the benefits of the new high-resolution (1229K-dot) 3.2-inch LCD screen, which makes it simple to check focus, review images or compose a scene.

The color space of the LCD screen can now also be fully customized, a feature that is useful for matching monitor or print calibration settings.

Using the high-resolution LCD screen, users can also activate the new Split Screen Display Zoom function. This new mode magnifies two separated points on the same horizontal line, making it easier to confirm the two points are both level and in focus; a true advantage for architecture, industrial and landscape photographers.

Excellent, but is it still a mangled Live View or not, Nikon?

Inside the durable magnesium alloy structure of the D810 improvements have also been made, including the use of a redesigned mirror sequencer / balancer unit, which minimizes vibration during shooting to increase sharpness during multiple frame bursts.

Additionally, the electronic front curtain can now act as an electronic front shutter when using live view or first composing through the optical viewfinder in mirror-up mode. This new feature is useful to attain exacting sharpness when shooting slow-shutter landscapes or astrophotography.

The shutter unit has also been tested to 200,000 cycles for years of maximum reliability. For further durability, the body of the D810 has been thoroughly sealed and gasketed to resist the elements, reinforcing this camera’s role in extreme production environments.

Deference to the serious practical challengs of extracting 36 megapixels of real resolution undamaged by small vibration deserves kudos. Sony A7R anyone? I’m looking forward to a serious workhorse camera with no undermining of my own efforts.

Capture NX-D is Nikon’s new software for processing and adjusting RAW images captured with Nikon digital cameras. Capture NX-D is a free software application that will replace the current Capture NX 2 program, and adds interface and performance enhancements.

In addition to RAW images, the program can also be used to adjust JPEG and TIFF files. This new software will support many functions needed by professional photographers, including batch image processing, filtering and an enhanced user interface with a variety of displays and floating palettes that are ideal for multiple monitors. Additionally, photographers will also have the ability to adjust parameters including exposure and white balance in RAW files, and can adjust tone curves, brightness and contrast, as well as functions for correcting lateral color aberration and vignetting in JPEG and TIFF files. The software also features a new “sidecar” format, which retains and saves the adjusted image as a separate file.

I’ll settle for a useable user interface. The ability to adjust JPEG and TIF files speaks to a lack of focus, but maybe that’s OK. Nikon color has always been excellent, and the sharpening has always been awful in Nikon raw converters. TBD.

The Nikon D810 will be available in late July for the suggested retail price (SRP) of $3299.95.* The MB-D12 battery pack is currently available for $616.00 SRP. The new Capture NX-D software package will be available mid-July for download at no additional cost. For more information about these products, NIKKOR lenses or to download the new Capture NX-D software, please visit www.nikonusa.com.

Holding the line on price (relative to the original D800E pricing) is a good thing.

Additionally, Nikon will be offering two kits designed for videographers and filmmakers; the D810 Filmmaker’s Kit consists of the D810 body, AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G, AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G, AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G lenses, 2 additional EN-EL15 batteries, ME-1 Stereo Microphone, Atomos Ninja-2 External Recorder, and Tiffen® 67mm and 58mm Variable Neutral Density Filters (8-Stops). For stop motion applications, the D810 Animator’s Kit features the D810 body, AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G ED VR lens, EH-5b Power Adapter, EP5B Power Supply Connector and Dragonframe™ Stop Motion Software plus Dragonframe USB Keypad Controller. For more information and pricing for these kit configurations, please visit www.nikonusa.com.

Well, 1080p (no 4K video) and autofocus lenses are hard to take seriously for video work, but the 50/60 fsp feature is of value. 4K video is stunning and makes far superior 1080p output, so get a Panasonic GH4 and be happy.

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