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Nikon D810 Review

A few weeks ago, I received a Nikon D810 with an 18-140mm lens to test a bit. This camera is probably one of the best top-range DSLRs I've had the chance to get my hands on. It's got a lot of great features and some very nice aspects to it that make it more than just a great camera to have in the bag -- it's also a great camera to rely on as your only camera. If you're looking to get a high-end DSLR that will last you a while and won't wind up driving you up the wall with some of its more esoteric settings, the D810 is the best choice out there. The first thing you'll notice is that the D810 is not going to break your wrist. That's fairly important as many high-end DSLRs are so packed with electronics, sensors, and other technical bits that they weigh far more than their compact size would suggest. A few previous DSLRs in this range felt like I was trying to carry an older laptop with one-hand. Using the lanyard on them made me wonder if I might experience accidental self-decapitation if I lost my grip on the camera. However, the D810 is light enough not to make you worry about that while being substantial enough that it's not going to get moved out of position on a tripod or base. The next great thing is the D810's flexibility. It comes with a lot of presets for different types of photography: landscape, night-time, low-light, portrait, etc. However, even without shifting out of Auto, it's got an intelligent enough programming guide to transition from various extremes (such as indoor portraits to sunset landscapes) without being a nightmare. It has a good dynamic color range which keeps photos from looking washed out -- a problem found in some earlier generation Nikon cameras. Nikon also has the best cameras for high technical image quality and the D810 is the best of the best when it comes to that. Several of the photos I took in the forest showed the best range of colors I had ever seen with a camera. The D810 also helped me capture a quick snapshot of my little friends who I have helpfully named "Mr. and Mrs. H. T. Duck." The D810 is also very quiet. I captured that image without the loud "click" or "snap" sound that you find on many other DSLRs. Its quietness was a bit disconcerting at first because I wasn't certain if it had taken the photo or not. However, once you get used to it, it's an unmixed blessing. The controls for it are very intuitive. I'm not a professional photographer but I found it quite easy to figure out the different controls for the D810 even before I broke out the manual. Lastly, the D810 has a great Auto-AF Area Select mode that can be a real boon to new DSLR owners in getting the camera to focus on the subject and not something else. This mode almost seemed to read my mind a few times which is both awesome and a little frightening. However, I, for one, am prepared to welcome my Nikon D810 overlords. In short: this is a great camera for anyone looking to get into more serious photography without being pigeon-holed into a particular discipline. It's also a great camera for a newbie to DSLRs as it takes a lot of the confusion over settings out of the way early on, allowing you to learn how to tweak things later without requiring you to take a six month course in camera settings first. -- da Bird
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