As a magazine editor, I get to play with lots of great new cameras. There's a new Leica T on its way early next week and I imagine I am going to see the new Nikon D810 up at Hamilton Island next month when I do the Away workshop with Nikon Ambassador David Oliver.
There's no doubt Nikon put it out there with the D800 and D800E, challenging the DSLR market with its 36-megapixel sensor and putting the medium format camera manufacturers on notice. It's a great camera for photographers who want to make large prints or require lots of detail in their work.
The new D810 goes where the D800E almost went, but stopped short. Let me explain. The problem with the standard DSLR design is that there's an optical low-pass filter over the sensor which makes the colour better, but blurs the image. That's one of the reasons we apply some pre-sharpening to our files.
However, medium format cameras don't need any pre-sharpening because they don't use the optical low-pass filter (and nor do a few other cameras, such as the new Fujifilm X-series). This is one of the reasons their files are so sharp and clean.
With the D800E, Nikon created a sensor without an optical low-pass filter, but it still had another filter design over the top. Now with the new D810, the sensor has been designed without the optical low-pass filter. Full stop!. And there won't be a E version, just the D810. Will it be sharper than the D800E? I imagine so, but I will have to wait to play with one before commenting further.
The question a lot of photographers will be asking is, do they upgrade from their current D800/D800E? What are the improvements? And what does it cost? (I don't know the price, but Nikon says the cameras will be available next month.)
The D810 has 5 frames per second (compared to 4 fps), and a new electronic front-curtain shutter, which effectively reduces internal mechanical vibration. Vibration is one of the biggest killers of ultimate image quality, especially when you have so many pixels. When the electronic front-curtain shutter is enabled instead of the mechanical shutter during mirror-up, the camera's image sensor acts as a front curtain of the focal-plane shutter and this provides a vibration free exposure. That's a clever idea I'd love to see on medium format!
The native ISO range of 64 to 12,800 can be extended to ISO 35 to 51,200; there's a highlight-weighted metering option that preserves details in the highlights and lets the shadows fall where they may (why didn't someone else think of this before - or did they?), a higher resolution LCD screen and the ability to shoot 1080/60P Full HD videos.
For more information, check out the details on the Nikon website - click here.