Nikon’s D800 or D810 For Boudoir Photography?

If you’re looking for a full-frame camera for your boudoir photography business but can’t afford to spend several thousands of dollars on a brand new top-of-the-line model, acquiring a used Nikon D800 or D810 may just be your ticket to ride.

In a previous article entitled, “Is Nikon’s D800 or D800e Better For Boudoir Photography?” I wrote about the one big difference between those two models… and I suggest you go back and read that at some point.

In this article, I’m going to talk about the multitude of changes that the D810 has over the D800 and D800e.

Which Is Better For Boudoir?

If you do a lot of video, like making boudoir videos for your clients, then you may want to pull up a chair and pay attention because most of the improvements affect the video capability more so than the still image part. 

Granted, there are still some significant changes in that department, but most of the improvements have more to do with the camera’s video characteristics.

The D810 Was Made To Replace the D800 & D800e

First off, the D810 was designed to replace the D800 and the D800e. In fact, some people state that the D810 is the camera the D800 should have been from the start, but alas, we had to wait another two years for that to happen.

Big Changes On the Stills Side

One of the biggest changes between the D800/D800e and that of the D810 is a new image processor, the EXPEED 4 verses the older EXPEED 3. This new processor allows for faster image processing (30% faster) and improves auto-focus performance. 

They’ve also expanded the ISO about one stop at either end.

With the D800/D800e the native ISO range is from 100 — 6400 but with the D810 it’s 64 — 12800. So, if you shoot boudoir by candlelight or very low light, you’ll have a little more latitude with low light, not that I recommend shooting at ISO 12800, but it’s there if you need it. 

At the other end of the spectrum, if you shoot in a too brightly lit room where ISO 100 is still too much, you can drop it down to ISO 64 — not likely either of those two scenarios are your norm for boudoir though.


Carrying on the legacy of the D800e, the D810 has no OLPF or optical low pass filter. I won’t get into all the details of that here because in my article, Is Nikon’s D800 or D800e Better For Boudoir Photography?” I get into all that.

In short, cameras with no OLPF will produce sharper images, however, at the cost of possibly having the morie` effect creep into your photos more often… although that depends on the type of photography you do. Again, refer to my previous article for a discussion on the pros and cons of that.

Okay, so far the D810 has a faster image processor, wider range ISO, produces sharper images… 

Moving on…

The D810 sports 6 preset white balances as opposed to 4 with the D800/D800e, and can shoot 5 fps (frames per second) instead of just 4 fps with the D800/D800e. If you’re a burst shooter, this may tickle your fancy. 

Add the vertical grip and you can squeeze out 7 fps because of more battery power… I believe.

They’ve improved the viewfinder with a special coating and increased the resolution of the LCD screen on the back of the camera. They’ve done this by adding white (W) to the RGB LCD so it’s now RGBW.

This supposedly adds more contrast making it easier to see the image on the back of your camera in low light and also in bright sunshine.


The D810 also has a built in stereo mic compared to the D800/D800e with just a mono mic. (Not that you should ever record sound with the built-in mic, but… okay.)

They’ve improved the electronic front curtain shutter, so it’s quieter and reduces camera shake and they’ve added a “RAWs” which stands for RAW small. It’s a reduced RAW image but personally, I’m not so sure I trust anything other than a full RAW image if I’m shooting in RAW.

Better Battery Life For the D810

Did I mention the D810 has an improved battery life enabling you to shoot 1200 images on a single charge as opposed to the D800/D800e’s 900? 


Price-wise, when the D810 first came out it was priced the same as a new D800e. Now, if that’s not an indication that the D810 was built to replace the D800e I don’t know what is. 

Now, it’s still about $200-$300 more than a D800, but look at all the improvements Nikon has made… and we’re still not done yet!

Improved Video on the D810

This is where things get real interesting.

With the D810, they’ve added auto ISO while shooting. This feature allows the camera to automatically and gradually adjust your ISO when shooting video, allowing you to keep your shutter speed and aperture setting where you set them originally. 

That’s pretty cool because now you can move from room to room or from one type of lighting to another all the while keeping the settings you want while following your subject as she moves around.

They’ve also added flat picture control which is sort of a base level look that allows you more leeway when color grading your video in post.

I like to think of it as applying a base coat of paint first to a wall that allows you to more easily apply whatever color paint you really want on top of that.

Make sense?

Anyway, it’s called flat picture control.

Change Aperture While Recording

Title pretty much says it all. Yes, you can change the aperture while you’re videoing (is that even a word?). 

Do You Like Zebras?


Did I mention the zebra striping? 

The D810 has it for video (yah!).

The D800/D800e does not not (boo!).

Zebra striping is a visual warning (in the form of black striping) on areas in your frame that are overexposed. This serves as a nice warning for you to adjust your settings to avoid an over-exposed image. 

The D810 is also capable of shooting 60 fps at 1080p verses just 30 fps on the D800/D800e, which is sweet if you like to capture sloooow mooootion. In fact, this is major, especially if you shoot video or are even thinking about shooting video.

For effects like speed ramping in post (an editing effect where your shot suddenly speeds up then slows back down again, kinda’ like that movie “The Matrix” with Keanu Reeves bra’) having that extra versatility with the 60 fps at 1080p is a nice improvement.

Group Area AF

The D810 utilizes five focus points to track your subject and achieve initial focus as opposed to prioritizing only the center focus point of the Dynamic 9 auto-focus mode.

Basically, it makes focusing and tracking your subject faster and easier. 

We like that!


Boy, I need to take a knee… that was a lot of improvement.

So, Is It Worth Spending More For the D810?

Right now, with the Nikon D850 having replaced the D810, you can get a fantastic full-frame camera in the D810 at a much reduced price, not only compared to a D850, but also to a brand new D810 if you can find a used one in good shape. 

(Check out KEH for used photography gear.) 

Getting A Super Bargain Verses Improved Video

So, which is better for boudoir, the D800/D800e or the D810?

Here are my thoughts. 

If you’re really into video and make a lot of boudoir videos for your clients then get the D810. You may experience having the moire` effect creep into your still images more often (possibly), mostly with fine meshy sheer materials, but if you keep an eye out for it, you can make adjustments to correct it.

If you’re not doing as much video but are still a stickler for getting the sharpest stills images possible then go with a used D800e. That model is a huge bargain for a full-frame camera since the D810 and D850 have driven the price down on the D800e.

If you’re looking to save even more money on a used full-frame camera and you’re not really shooting video then go with the D800. Still an awesome camera (it’s the one I shoot with) and you won’t have to worry about that pesky moire` effect interfering with your work flow. 

Thanks for your time!

If you found this article helpful, please forward it to someone it may also benefit.

Charles Mitri

Founder / Lounge Boudoir

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Charles Mitri

Charles Mitri is an award-winning boudoir photographer and also founder and writer of, an educational blog and resource website for boudoir photographers worldwide. He lives in Yorktown, Virginia.

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