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Nikon D810: How Much Underexposure Can It Take?

Get Nikon D810 at B&H Photo.

Nikon D810

This evaluation of sensor quality speaks to the versatility and value of a camera/sensor that can accept gross underexposure and still produce a good image, and/or the ability to give a severe boost to dark areas while retaining color quality and detail.

These real world attributes will appeal to anyone who has worked under difficult field conditions such as high dynamic range scenes.

Canon had better have something really good to announce at Photokina, because while the D800E already embarrassed the 5D Mark III, the D810 wins my praise as best ever.

In my review of the Nikon D810:

Pushing Nikon D810 at ISO 64 up to 5.5 Stops

Several intermediate exposure values and pushes are included.

Shot with the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon.

Nikon D810 range of exposures

Peter W writes:

I've never been more gobsmacked in my life as by your 5.5 stop push from nothing - nothing! - to a totally acceptable image. Absolutely incredible!

D810 ETTR and pulling up the shadows offers tremendous appeal and usefulness.

It's incomprehensible why Canon continues to bring out inferior sensors (noisy, banded blacks) when the Nikon benchmark is in plain sight.

I would be very interested in your comparison of the Sony A7/s/r sensors with their D810 counterparts.

DIGLLOYD: Canon has insisted on building their own sensors, and this has hurt them so far. But maybe Canon has something really great coming at Photokina. As for pattern and streaking noise in particular, this is a Canon thing for sure: Nikon D800E vs Canon EOS 5D Mark III as well as the Canon 5D Mark III noise pages and Canon EOS 1D Mark IV noise pages in DAP.

As for Sony, I’d done with the Sony A7R, having borrowed one 4 times now (I won’t waste my money on a $2000 camera which can’t make a sharp image at some shutter speeds and will rapidly decline in value—it has ruined far too much work from its shutter vibration, making it a frustrating PITA in spite of its helpful EVF. Moreover, the Sony 11+7 bit compression just doesn’t cut it and the too-thick sensor cover glass just kill it for Leica M lenses. The Nikon D810 is a solid and robust workhorse with good controls that takes a wide range of lenses with no adapters—and no goofy tripod mount workaround needed for heavy lenses and it won’t be worth 1/2 or 1/3 of what I paid for it in 6 months.

Gene F writes:

Canon has way too many professional users not to catch up quickly to Nikon. Their operating system and design ethic and really everything but the sensor are better too, imo, which is why pros love them. But maybe I'm just comfortable with them; they seem to me more well-conceived and navigable.

Leica, on the other hand, might be quitting photography in favor of jewelry-making.

DIGLLOYD: Well, they’ve had 2+ years to catch up. And I bet Canon will, and maybe as soon as early 2015 (following an announcement at Photokina). And maybe not. I also like a number of things about Canon DSLRs and I think the autofocus is superior with fast lenses.
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