“Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.”
~ Winston Churchill
Art Model, Covenant  ©2014 Terrell Neasley

The Nikon D810 has just arrived in stores this past week and the reviews are very positive for this new camera system. I have to admit, its pretty dog gone stunning and a very desirable piece of equipment. I own the D800E and several people have asked me if I will upgrade. The easy answer is, No. Not right now anyways. And I’ll tell you why. I’ve got several other priorities before I make that move. While I am a gear head, I don’t feel the immediate draw to ditch my 800E for it. I might feel otherwise had I bought the D800 (non-E version). But the fact of the matter is that I’m happy with the E. And I haven’t been wishing for the upgrades that appear in the 810.

Art Model, Covenant  ©2014 Terrell Neasley

I can’t say that a little later down the line, I won’t make that jump. But if I do, its because my priorities have been fulfilled and the upgrade is allowable. Right now, I’ve been upgrading my Dell T5500 computer workstation which is entering its 3rd year this fall. I’ve added an external hard drive and 16GBs more RAM, giving me close to 30 now. This system is still good enough that a tune-up will suffice rather than an overhaul. I’m still trying to determine which graphics card upgrade I’ll get and chances are I’m going also beef up my internal hard drives again along with my back-up external drives before year’s end. To me, this is more important that the D810 right now.

What I Like
Make no mistake. The D810 is bad ass. Several features make me wanna jump on it. One of the things that gets my attention on the camera the quiet nature of it. Its got an electronic front curtain shutter and is now whisper quiet. I’m big on that, but its not as if my current system is blaring in my ears. But let me back up to the sensor. Its a misnomer to state that the E has the AA filter removed. Its actually simply negated by another piece of glass on the sensor. The 810 actually has it removed. Its simply not there. But this could be a negligible improvement to the naked eye. As a fine art specialist, I gotta give cred to the native 64 ISO. So far, you see all the rage on the extended high ISO. If there is a low ISO, its a system edit moreso than a specifically designed sensor capability. They’ll call it L1 and L2. Same with the high ISO. Once it reaches its max, manufacturers like to boast extended H1, or H2. A natural ISO of 64 means even more fine quality shots about a stop lower than the native 100 ISO of most cameras. I like the new 4-digit counter instead of 3-digit. That means time-lapse shots can go to 9,999 in stead of 999. In fact, I’ll likely make the switch as video and time-lapse become more prominent in my work, as opposed to occasional. The exposure smoothing option is key here. This is the only time Auto-ISO becomes important to me. I like the AF and Metering systems that come courtesy of the D4S. Beautiful.

Art Model, Covenant  ©2014 Terrell Neasley

What I don’t Care About
Frame rate isn’t that important to me. And unless you are doing sports, chances are, you don’t benefit from it as much either. The D800 has never been a sports camera. So the single frame rate addition is a marginal benefit in my opinion. I personally don’t need the added stop of ISO on the high end. Nice feature, allowable with the new processor, no doubt. But its not a huge jump. I have rarely ever shot above 3200 much less blasting at 6400.

What I WISH it Had
Now here’s the tricky part. As I mentioned in a previous post, both Nikon and Canon are missing the proverbial boat here by remaining conventional and traditional. Ask Kodak how that worked out for them. But its tricky in that the features I want to mention aren’t necessarily ones I really “need” per se. But shaking things up a bit, surprising us a bit, getting outside the same old predictable would have set the D810 apart. A touch screen for instance. Nikon has absolutely no touch screen systems what so ever despite that almost every display we have starting to trend that way. So why not? Why not give us built-in WiFi/GPS? Canon has this and touch screen in two of their systems already. And every other camera manufacture has already implemented it as well. What Nikon could have done to really throw it in Canon’s face would have been 4K video to challenge the Canon 5DMk3 (and its successor), even if it meant having an external output like the Sony A7S. Focus Peaking or Split Screen Focus would have made me immediately sell my D800E for that feature alone. How about some aps on the thing? What else…? I can’t think of anything else at the moment. Wait…that’s it!! Give me something that I haven’t even thought about! Or show us a video of someone using a water hose on the camera and that it still functions perfectly. Forget the High ISO and megapixel war that has been raging since the dawn of the Digital Age. Give me voice command…or something! I just want to feel like innovation is important to the company. Just about every last one of the new features on this camera were predictable.

Art Model, Covenant  ©2014 Terrell Neasley

And I can be further impressed if they do firmware upgrades that make the D800/D800E better cameras. What? Would that cannibalize 810 sales? Fuji does it all the time and its called brand loyalty and consumer support. Do a firmware upgrade on a Fujifilm camera two years after the fact and its almost like you just downloaded a new camera. But hey…maybe Nikon has some things in the pipe I/We aren’t aware of that will be featured in the D900. But I live in Vegas. Chances are, the next upgrade will be a D820 while Sony introduces a curved 50MP medium format sensor that fits in the palm of your hand.