Review: Nikon D810 and 80-400mm f4-5.6
to see the review online, go here:
Thanks to The Photo Brigade and Adorama, I was able to get my hands on the new Nikon D810 and the new 80-400mm f4-5.6. One word will describe my feelings about both…WOW!
There are 2 things that I look for in a camera that are must haves for me-VERY usable images at high ISO and a dual card slot. I don’t want a dual card slot for overflow, but for the extra security of the “WHAT IF” a card fails. I have only had this happen twice since going digital in 2001-both times while shooting Bruce Springsteen- but it is something I never want to happen. One time was saved because I was reading to both cards and it was a good thing because one of the shows was at the historic Apollo Theater which makes up several pages of my book “Bruce Springsteen In Focus 1980-2012” which was published last year It was that day that I fully realized the importance of the dual slots and I can never turn back.
I shoot a lot of outdoor concerts in the summer and to be honest, lugging around my 200-400 f4 is something I have wanted to avoid and the new 80-400 is the perfect lens. On the D810, it was the perfect combo. Since I shoot a lot of concerts, great image quality at high ISO is more important to me that speed-I never really shoot high fps and the 810 was more than perfect.
I never owned the D800 but used it and I wasn’t happy with the quality at high ISO. Some photo friends have said the 2 are so close but I beg to differ.
Right out of the box the D810 felt really good in my small hands. Using my D3/D3s/D4, my hands cramp up after a few hours but the D810 was perfect for all day shooting.
The D810 has another mode I love and used-the sensor crop mode modes, making a 400mm lens more like a 550mm. Some people will say “just crop in during photoshop” but I like the added compression and if I am on a deadline, it’s one less step. This was a feature on the D3 and D3s that I used often and on the D810, it’s amazing at 36 mp. I was able to make a great 8x10 from a very wide scene of singer Jennifer Hudson.
I owned the older version of the 80-400mm and this new one surpasses it in every way. It focuses fast, is sharp and I expected it to be too heavy to handhold but it was not. It was a perfect pair with the 810. I didn’t have the grip with the camera-something I am used to and I was surprised that I was easily able to stabilize this big lens when shooting vertically.
The images right out of the camera without any tweaking were great. I expected to have to sit set the menu but as soon as I got the camera and lens in my hands, I was off to shoot Jennifer Hudson at the Today Show.
As I mentioned earlier, high ISO is very important to me and even at 12,800, the image quality is more than acceptable for the newspaper and magazine work I do. Corporate work makes up for about 75% of my shooting but I purposely did not bring the D810 out on those shoots since I know it is a perfect studio camera as well. I wanted to put it thru the ringers with concerts and other day to day shoots and fully use it with the 80-400.
Do I have any complaints about this camera? Only one but it is minor-I wish it had the voice recorder that the D3/3s/D4/4s have. Other than that..there is not one thing missing on this gem of a camera.
Thanks to The Photo Brigade, Adorama and Nikon
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