CONCLUSIONS – ISO, DYNAMIC RANGE AND PRICING
There is a huge jump in ISO performance when comparing the camera to my D810. This comes at a tradeoff to image size and dynamic range, of which the D810 has plenty! I was initially concerned after reading a review on the lower dynamic range of the D5, with reviewers stating ranges between 10 and 12 EV, compared to nearly 15 on the D810.
Some headlines are sensationalised though as it mentions the lowest DR of a Nikon full frame body at low ISO. Yet again at higher ISO, it has the highest DR of any Nikon body ever made. I honestly think too much hype was made about it, but unfortunately its something that we seem to need to get used to with the media nowadays. From ISO 1250 onwards it apparently exceeds the dynamic range of the D4s that it replaces, but again, this is from what I’ve read on the Internet, not tested for myself. I found the DR more than enough, and could care less to place a value of 9, 10 or 12 on it. When exposed properly, this camera produces beautiful quality images, as you would expect from any camera brand’s flagship model.
On a personal note, the improved ISO performance is more noticeable during low-light daytime photography than nocturnal photography, where I doubt I will ever use more than ISO4000. (It is still more than I ever ventured to go to.) If you are reading this article to find out about ISO 3 280 000, it is horrible! We need to remember that the same was said of expanded ISO of 25000 on cameras not too long ago. For now, 3.2milllion remains useless for any type of image though. The ISO’s I ended up using are the ones which I choose to use during everyday shooting to get good quality images, and I find it pointless to be shooting at (example) ISO20000 and to be stopping down to f/16 to do so, ruining the background with increased DOF and noise. When you need it, and you are happy with it, it is there though. It is not ideal to compare what is perceived as a “studio” body (D810) to a “sports and wildlife” body (D5) but those are the cameras I use and I’m looking at what I work with.
At the end of the day, both these cameras are brilliant, and each has its strengths. I do not think that at this point in time, you get a more complimentary combination for action, low light, landscapes, starscapes or other forms of wildlife photography you aspire to.
The pricing on the camera is a tender point, especially for us South Africans. According to DXOMark, this camera was introduced at $500 more than the D4 and the same price as the D4s. The international price is therefore the same, but at our devalued currency, R130 000 is still R130 000. I cannot foresee cameras becoming any cheaper in future though, hence making the correct purchase and sticking with it for many years something we all need to consider.
There are a host of other features that are mentioned including 4K video, but this will be of minimal use for me. The touchscreen at the back is handy for reviews and is a nice addition, with my biggest issue being the kids now exclusively wanting to use the D5 because of this function. Mentioning the higher DR of a D810 to them is met only with blank stares. The redesigned button layout is pleasant, and I re-mapped my video recording button to change the camera mode, hence being in a similar position to the old MODE button on the D4 and D810, so the controls remained the same, leaving time to focus on photography rather than fiddling with a redesigned layout.
All in all, I’ve only used the camera on a handful of occasions, but I’m already in love with it. No doubt it will be my go-to camera for action photography, and in time, I might come to rely on this body more and more as we try new avenues of lighting at night. Who knows, I might even one day venture past ISO4000 in darkness?
Only time will tell. The supplied images were all edited in Photoshop CC, using Topaz DeNoise 6 for noise reduction purposes. No noise reduction was applied on images taken at ISO2000 and lower. Other standard editing practises applied, including contrast, vibrance, saturation, levels and sharpening.