“The brightest flame casts the darkest shadow,” George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings
When you develop an exceptional product (on purpose or by mistake, it is not that important), its next iteration, without exception, is under the shadow of the noted predecessor. Unless you manage to outdo yourself. If plenty of items are withheld from the older model so that there would be room for future improvements, then the list of problems for the manufacturer is getting shorter. However, what happens when the existing product is already polished enough, remarkable in many segments, and obviously flawless? There are two solutions. One is highly unpopular among users, and that is prolonging the introduction of the next generation as long as the current generation demonstrates even the minutest signs of vitality concerning sale. The second solution is shaping the new generation of the product to be even more dazzling and convincing than the former. Or, at least, an illusion about that. Anyway, the epilogue can balance between users’ discontent, indifference or sheer delirium.
The Nikon D810 arrived somehow all of a sudden, without pomp and circumstance, and almost unexpectedly, as it had passed only a little more than two years since the older class representative had been announced. Since the predecessor (or is it more accurate to say ‘predecessors’?) had been come with a slightly odd decision that it should be offered in two versions, one with a conventional AA/LP (Anti-Aliasing/Low-Pass) filter, known as the D800, and the other with a filter whose one layer has the effect of eliminating blur, which is known as the D800E, Nikon decided to simplify things this time and place before users a significantly simpler dilemma: to buy or not to buy. ‘The simpler dilemma’ is not a simple choice in itself – if you own the older model, no matter if it is the D800E or the ‘regular’ D800 version, there will definitely be pros; perhaps not to such a degree as to encourage you to replace it without any critical attitude, but enough to really label the new camera genuinely new. On the other hand, if you bypassed the D800(E) for any reason, this is your chance to grab an even better version, with a number of notable improvements, and at the same price that was once set for the D800. As no predicament boils down to such a simple solution, thus the choice of the D810 is no longer the only logical choice, at least when it comes to the sensor resolution. If we disregard for one moment the fact that that camera is the only DSLR of its kind, we can point out that 36MP of pure photons are offered by the Sony A7R as well – in truth, it belongs to the class of mirrorless cameras, but with a tremendously respectable quality of output and the dynamic range that is highly competitive with the superior experience brought by the Nikon D800 at the time.
“Why did the key subsystems receive so little attention?” is a question that will bother a certain number of the D800(E) sympathizers. The answer can be based on several real reasons. The first is that even the old D800(E) featured the resolution that had previously been considered absolutely unimaginable in the said category, and the second one is that the most direct rival, Canon, even until this very day has not done anything significant in its own yard regarding an increase in resolution. Whichever reason you favor, it is fully justified. Development is dictated not only by users’ needs, but also by animating on the part of the competition. When the competition is asleep or scores in some other field, motives of other manufacturers will definitely not be ‘advancement at all costs’, as that will be an utter waste of resources – both developmental and financial.
In anticipation of the final and worthy answer of the competition concerning DSLRs (and in hopes that all that does not become like Waiting for Godot), let's look at what the new Nikon D810 brings.
Due to the sensor that carries the same resolution, many new cameras are regarded as a slightly freshened D800. To see that this is not entirely true, you can take a glance at a table of specifications:
Technical characteristics: Nikon D810 in comparison to D800/D800E
From the table, we can see that several subsystems were updated to some extent, that the key division into the classic D800 and the D800E was left out this time, so the D810 is offered only with the sensor without the AA filter, which is an innovation that had been introduced with the D7100. The chief problem of the D800E was the moiré effect, and since the new camera brings an even more challenging solution, we are impatient to see how it fights against this negative phenomenon.
A tremendously expanded ISO range (particularly in its lower part) will be a much greater sensation for many than the ostracized AA filter, especially because such low values could not be seen outside the class of small format cameras. The autofocus system was not changed, despite some rumors, and the items that were also improved are the video mode, buffer and general operating speed. If we add a number of sundries that were added or fixed, we get a camera that carries this label completely justifiably. Each parallel regarding the models D600 and D610 is absolutely misplaced.
As always, we start the story about the camera with its package. It is what each and every proud owner first encounters, and in the case of the D810, the package differs from most of others since the camera is not offered in any kit combination. It is rightly expected that the D810 will be used largely by those that already have a certain system of their own, so various additional elements will not be necessary for them. On the other hand, perhaps packages that offer certain financial favorability regarding an acquisition of high quality lenses would be welcome, yet this is a topic for some other occasion.
Nikon D810, the content of the package
The content of the box is more or less identical in the entire world, with only minor changes, depending on the market. In addition to the body, which comes packed with a BF-1B mount cap, the box contains the following elements: an EN-EL15 Li-Ion battery with a MH-25 charger and a cable used to connecting it directly to the network, an AN-DC12 wide shoulder strap, a USB cable for connecting with a computer, a BM-12 monitor cover, a printed manual, a regular disk with the ViewNX application for viewing and basic conversion of RAW images, as well as a manual on a CD-ROM. It is noticeable that the presence of certain sundries varies without any regularity, so this time the list does not contain a well-known protective hot-shoe cover, yet there is a monitor cover. What is new are two dedicated cable carriers, whose purpose is to secure connectors from falling out while operating in the video mode, when external HDMI and USB devices are used. No matter how trivial it may be, this points to the fact that Nikon plans much larger engagement in the field of the video mode.