If you’re a landscape photography enthusiast and want to equip yourself with the ideal camera for that kind of work, there’s plenty of options that will get the job done and get it done well.
However, there’s one camera - the Nikon D810 - that, for me, stands head and shoulders above the rest. In short, there is simply no better camera body to stand up to the rough and tumble ways of landscape photographers than the trusty D810.
Not convinced? Let the D810’s specs and features do the talking!
I’ve dropped, bumped, and sat on my D810 a fair share of times. It’s not that I go out of my way to abuse it; it’s just the nature of the beast when you’re walking around or hiking, pulling your camera out and packing it back in your bag. Despite all the abuse, my D810 keeps on keeping on. The body is made of magnesium alloy, so it’s strong. The camera is weather sealed too, so those occasions when I’m out in the rain or at the beach, I can work with the confidence that the rain, dust, sand, and other environmental elements will stay outside the camera body.
Better Metering Performance
The D810 has a 91,000-pixel RGB sensor with scene recognition. What that means in terms of performance is that the camera has better metering accuracy than previous models (and also has improved auto white balance as well). In Highlight Weighted metering mode (a new feature for the D810), the camera determines the best exposure by detecting the brightness of the scene. This is advantageous for landscape photography because it helps prevent blown out highlights. So, when you’re out photographing your favorite landscape in the middle of the day, the D810 will help you master tricky dynamic range.
Outstanding ISO Performance
When I take shots with my D810 at normal ISO values, say 100-800 (and even much higher), there is no noticeable noise. But, what’s special about the D810 is that it has an extended lower ISO range down to ISO 64. For some photographers, this might not be a big deal, but if you’re in the habit of taking long exposures of landscapes, that added range allows you to use slower shutter speeds without having to use a neutral density filter. That’s time saved in the field not messing about with putting a filter on and more time you can use to actually take photos!
Less Shutter Vibration
If you’ve spent any amount of time out in the field taking handheld photos of landscapes, you know that the movement of the shutter can cause vibrations that are strong enough to cause blurriness, especially when creating long exposure images. That’s not the case with the D810. The D810 uses an electronic front-curtain shutter that, when in live view mode or mirror lock-up mode, doesn’t have to close and reopen. Instead, the shutter remains open until the end of the exposure when it finally closes. The result? Tack-sharp landscape images!
Better Battery Life
I don’t know about you, but when I head out on a Saturday to get some landscape shots, I’m gone all day. I always take spare batteries with me, but since I got my D810, I seldom need to swap the batteries out. The D810 has an EN-EL15a battery that will power you through about 1,200 images. Compare that to just 900 shots on a single charge for the Nikon D800/e. With a 33% improvement in battery life, that means I can keep on shooting for hours and hours without being as worried about what the battery display is showing.
Image Quality is On Point
When you’re photographing a landscape, you want your camera to be able to reproduce the beauty of the scene with the same gorgeous colors, and in sharp detail with a pleasing dynamic range. That’s a tall task, but the D810 is certainly up to par.
Unlike other full frame cameras, the D810 doesn’t have an anti-aliasing filter. As a result, its images are incredibly sharp, with the smallest of details rendering crisply and clearly. That’s good news if you intend to make large prints of your landscape images. Color reproduction is also quite good. Using the baseline RAW settings, you get highly dynamic files that give you a lot of options for post-production. In short, you can do more in-camera and in post with a D810 to ensure that your final images are the ultimate representation of the landscapes you photograph.
Powerful Exposure Bracketing
For the many occasions in which you’re presented with a landscape that has lots of dynamic range, having a good exposure bracketing system can be a lifesaver. In previous Nikons, like the D800, bracketed exposures weren’t allowed at two stops apart. Not the case with the D810! Now you can get an exposure at -2 stops, 0, and +2 stops for a perfect three-shot bracketed exposure. I often find that one of them is spot on, but if not, I just pop them into Photoshop and blend them together.
Wide-Ranging Exposure Value
For landscape photography, consider yourself lucky if your camera has an EV of 12. In fact, that’s downright awesome. Not to be outdone, however, the D810 has an EV of 14.8. With that added dynamic range, you can recover a heck of a lot more detail in the highlighted and shadowed areas of your images in post-processing. With so many landscapes offering up lighting conditions that are, in a word, undesirable, having that extra range of EV can be a lifesaver.
There’s times when I need to check out a scene on live view, and on some cameras I’ve owned in the past, it was virtually impossible to get a good glimpse. But since the D810 has 1,229,000 dots, the images have far more detail - no pixelation when zooming in for focusing! What’s more, the D810’s LCD is brighter, has improved contrast levels, and it has a customizable color array too. Better still, the display is ultra power efficient, helping to boost the camera’s awesome battery life.
The D810 isn’t going to win any awards for being the lightest camera in the world, but just because it’s got the bulk and heft of any full frame camera doesn’t mean that’s a pain to hold. The D810 sports an all-new grip that is just a tad deeper and thinner that makes it much more comfortable to hold. This is appreciated by folks like me with large hands, but smaller-handed photographers will appreciate the comfort of the grip as well. I’ve found that I have less finger and hand fatigue after a day shooting with my D810, which is certainly a bonus when I’m out photographing landscapes for hours on end.
It’s Simply Easy to Use
Obviously, no matter what kind of photos you typically shoot, you want your camera to be easy to use and to have buttons whose placement is intuitive. These factors are perhaps more important when you’re out and about photographing landscapes, and you need to be able to draw your camera to your eye quickly in order to get an iconic shot that might pass you by.
The D810 fits the bill.
I feel utterly confident in being able to manipulate its controls very quickly and while I’ve got the camera to my eye. The layout just makes sense, and the essential buttons and dials are easy to reach (which is not something that could be said for older Nikon models). With the D810, the power switch is positioned with the shutter button, so all you have to do is flick it on, and your finger is already poised to take a shot. The shutter speed dial is on the grip, right below the shutter release, making for easy back-and-forth. The aperture dial is right where your thumb falls on the backside of the camera body. It’s just a dream to work with!
So, all the gushing aside, the D810 is a well-built, well-designed, high-performance camera. If my personal experiences using this camera haven’t convinced you that it’s a top-notch choice for landscape photography, just let the camera’s specs and features do all the talking. One thing is for sure: if you buy a D810 for landscape photography, you certainly will not be disappointed!