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on Jul 24, 2014 in Gear Head Wed

GearHead Wednesday – D810 Edition


Got a gear question you want/need answered? I want to help and answer it. Send your gear questions to me at Gear Questions and I’ll do my best every Wednesday to answer as many questions as I can. In this case, had a WHOLE bunch of D810 questions that I wanted to answer in this Thursday Edition of GearHead Wed. Keep in mind the answers are just my $.02 worth and you have to take what works for you and your photography and embrace it and ignore the rest. And at this point, I have had limited time with the D810 but here it goes with the most common asked question first ….


Is the D810 a game changer? Is it what the D800 should have been?
NO, it’s not for either! It’s hard to understand where I’m coming from, I realize that but I make my living by my clicks. The tools I have MUST deliver on many fronts, not just what you might read on some review as being important. The D810 has Raw Small which I think is really, really important making the camera multi functional. I know there are occasions I would like that big file, most of the time, not. The D810 provides me that option which is important but as a package, it’s not a game changer just next in the evolution of digital photography. As to the second part of the question, I never understand why that is asked. I guess coming from a biological background where evolution is a given, I see all aspects of photography just the same. It’s like you just learned a new photographic technique today. One might ask why you didn’t know that yesterday and use it? It’s because your photography evolved just like camera bodies do.

Moose, what’s the sleeper feature of the D810?
Raw Small!!!! and most don’t seem to be even aware of it! You have a Raw large 36MB and Raw Small 9MB which means you can shoot is FULL FRAME FX killer quality Raw Small and then when you need SUPER KILLER quality, switch to Raw Large. Raw small provides fast camera, fast computer response saving the big, slow stuff for only those times you require it. I think this is HUGE!!!!

Moose, it’s no secret you aren’t a D800 fan … WHY?
It’s true, I never was a fan of the D800 because of weird Moose reasons. Tried to help a photographer once who got the D800E when it was first released get his HDR 9 frame photo through his old computer. After that multi hour struggle, come to find out that he only posts his images on the web, he never printed them! He then told me he got the D800E because he wanted to carry only one lens and if he needed a large subject size, he had the big file he could crop the crap out of. TO me, that’s just not photography and not what the D800 was all about. I’ve seen that alot!
The other thing is, the D800 just never fit in my hand right. I’m very happy to report that the D810, they changed the size of the handgrip and for me, it feels a whole lot better and I can grasp it tightly, comfortably now.
So my not being a fan of the D800 had nothing to do with the D800 and its quality but rather, how I saw its files abused and fit in my hand.

Moose, I bought the D800 because of your glowing reviews, why should I believe what you say about the D810?
Sorry to hear that, I truly appreciate your trust and faith and don’t like the thought I lead you a stray. Understand that I don’t write reviews, I write field reports which might not seem like much of a difference but in my mind they are. Field reports report what I find from my shooting, my photography. That’s very important because what I do and how I do it will most definitely won’t be how you do it. But the bottom line is, you’ve gotta buy the best tool for YOUR photography which is why I suggest none stop to rent before you buy and you see a banner on all my pages. But I hear you, and will work to do better!

Moose, I’m thinking of moving up from a Nikon 1 V2 to the D810, how do I learn all the D810 features?
To be honest with you, I never learn all the features. It’s like Photoshop, so much there that there’s not enough time to learn or master them all so go after only those that effect my visual communicating. All I can suggest is what I do, learn those you need at the start, master them and then slowly start adding to them. While I have the D4s, Df and shot the D800, D600 & D610, I treat the D810 as “new” so start from scratch. When it comes to learning new features, the first thing I do is download the PDF form of the instruction book to my iPad and to the ManualViewer app on the iPhone. I then start going over it, multiple times and highlight those features that either sound like they work for my photography or make no sense. I then dial them in and look at the results. I will be married to the D810 for the next three weeks doing just that process. Getting older, it seems like it takes me longer to retain it all and for some things to sink in 🙂

OK Moose, you buying a D810, straight answer please!
Right this moment, I would say yes but I have not pulled the trigger yet. I actually take my own advise and have a borrowed D810 that I am now evaluating. For my current book project it would be very cool to shoot in hi res, opens up some possibilities otherwise not possible. The “Unlimited” Continuous, GREAT Video features and Raw Small bring a versatility to the table not available before. And I can hand hold it securely getting sharp images at slow shutter speeds. It then comes down to the business question, money out vs. money in. The D4s will always be my main body and I love the Df but the D810 does solve a problem they do not.

Moose when it comes to seeing how “sharp” a file the D810 produces, how do you test?
My answer will disappoint most, but I shot with my basic kit of lenses everyday work in my everyday way and then make 24×30 prints. It’s what matters to my work and my clients. I use the KISS theorem as much as possible, Keep It Simple Stupid.