Portland Area Real Estate Appraisal Discussion

Portland Appraiser Reviews Leica DISTO D810 Touch
August 28th, 2015 7:11 PM

Leica Disto D810 Touch Review Portland Appraiser

About one month ago, I purchased a new Leica DISTO D810 Touch.  I am a big fan of going mobile and of laser measurement for real estate appraisers.  When it comes to laser measurement, the bright lasers, handy features, and rugged design of the DISTO brand put it above its competitors.  It is hard to imagine appraising without a DISTO.  Consequently, I never work in the field without a backup DISTO waiting in the car.  Prior to this purchase, the older D5 and a D2 models were our tools of choice.  If you have not found your favorite DISTO yet, maybe these thoughts and experiences will be surprising and helpful.

The D810 Touch offers some exciting features (some exclusive and some available on other models).  Here are my thoughts on some of the aspects that are most relevant to real estate appraisers:

  • A digital viewfinder (also available on other DISTO models) is a handy video camera function to help you find the laser point in bright sunlight or at a distance.  Once you get used to using this feature, it is hard to live without.


  • Measure with a picture (exclusive to the D810 Touch) allows the appraiser to take a picture of a second floor outcrop and measure it on the screen.  On some homes, this feature can be quite valuable.  It avoids the need to use the more difficult polynomial functions (that are available on the lower cost DISTOs), or having to take measurements from the interior of the structure.


  • Smart horizontal mode (also available on other DISTOs models) allows a measurement to shoot on an angle and then obtain the level distance.  This feature is handy when the only target for the laser beam is a high overhang.


  • Lithium-ion battery (exclusive to the D810 Touch) allows your 810 Touch to be charged in the car and eliminating the need to carry backup batteries.  This is a great feature, but it only works if you are someone who will remember to charge it.  The cost of purchasing AA batteries for the other DISTOs can be significant over the life of the device (they go through batteries quick), but it might be easier to remember a pack of batteries in your car.


  • Bluetooth compatibility (also available on other DISTOs models) is a promising feature for sending measurements directly to your device.  Some techy appraisers might find this feature useful or fun, but most will not need or want it.


  • Plus and minus keys are standard on all DISTO models (that I know of) and are essential because they allow the appraiser to measure segments of a wall, taking advantage of more convenient targets that might not be available at the end of the wall.  I use the plus or minus keys on about half of all exterior measurements.

After using the D810 for the past month, I’ve decided that it should stay in the car as a backup (or in my back pocket for use on difficult properties) while I use my older D5.  Here are my reasons:

  • The D810 is significantly slower when it comes to plus and minus measurements.  For example, I might shoot to a fence past the edge of the house, walk to the end of the wall that I’m measuring, and press the minus key to subtract the distance from the house to the fence.  With the D5 this requires only four keystrokes.


On the D810, this requires six keystrokes.


The +/- key must be hit twice because a single key is used to toggle between plus and minus each time.  The DIST key must be hit twice because the laser does not automatically come on when the +/- key is pressed, as it does with the D5 and other DISTO models.  I’ve found that all of these extra keystrokes waste a significant amount of time in the field.

  • The D810 touch screen is clumsy and I find myself accidentally hitting the screen and turning on the picture mode.  This happens most often when I’m reaching the DISTO around corners or holding it over my head.


  • The D810 is just larger and does not slip in and out of my pocket as well.

Based on these experiences, if I was buying another DISTO today, I would select the E7500i.  This model only lacks the measure in a picture feature and the lithium-ion battery of the D810, but it is smaller, it is $250 less expensive than the D810 (which is 30% less than retail), it has both plus and minus keys, it has a digital viewfinder, and it features smart horizontal measuring.  If you do not care about the digital viewfinder (some appraisers might not care), you can save a lot of money by purchasing the model D2.  The D2 has separate plus and minus keys and costs $670 less than the D810 (which is 79% less than retail).

If you want a great deal on a DISTO, try www.distagage.com .  Leica requires that this company list the same price on their website as everyone else.  However, if you contact them and ask for a discount, their prices are unbeatable.  My 810 Touch was 20% off retail.

Did I leave anything out or do you want to join in the conversation?  Let me know in the comments below.

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Thanks for reading,

Gary F. Kristensen

Great post Gary...nice to see what tools a Portland Appraiser uses for home measurement. I've been using the D810 Touch for nearly 2 years, and although I really like it, I agree with you about its shortcomings.

Posted by Jason Fischman, SRA, AI-RRS, ASA, IFA, AGA, RAA, M on August 28th, 2015 7:26 PM
Thanks for following Jason and I'm glad to hear that others have the same experience. However, the D810 is still an amazing piece of equipment and given the choice of no DISTO, I would take that any day.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on August 28th, 2015 7:33 PM
Good to know. Thanks, Gary.

Posted by Ryan Lundquist on August 29th, 2015 9:12 AM
Great info Gary! I started with a cheap model $100 from Home Depot and switched to the Disto 7500i a little over a year ago and LOVE it. I would never go back. The camera function and brighter laser make it much more manageable. Keep up the great work and love the review by Portland's best appraiser!

Posted by Paul Rowe on August 29th, 2015 9:18 AM
Thank you for the comments Ryan and Paul. I'm so glad to hear you're happy with the DISTO 7500i.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on August 29th, 2015 9:34 PM
I have the old D5. It's lasted this long because I put a strap on it the day I got it and I never get out of the car without both the D5 and the camera straps around my neck. It is large and cumbersome by today's standards but the batteries, based on your comments, last much longer. I get 6 to 9 months out of a set of triple A and that was when I was doing high volume work. You did such a great review that now I am sorta hoping mine breaks so I have an excuse to grab one of those fancy new small models!

Posted by Mike Turner on August 29th, 2015 11:39 PM
Thank you Mike for following. My D5 uses double A and not triple A. We might have a slightly different unit. If I do three home measurements with interior walls per day, I will only get three days out of my D5 batteries.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on August 30th, 2015 12:05 PM
Thanks for sharing your experience with the Distos. I agree that the view finder is hard to live without. The batteries on my D5 seem to last forever (rechargeable NiMH), as does the Disto itself. These things are practically indestructible. Once again Gary, valuable info for anybody thinking about getting a new laser

Posted by Mark Buhler on August 30th, 2015 1:44 PM
Great idea Mark, try rechargeable batteries in your DISTO.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on August 30th, 2015 5:41 PM
I've been using a laser measure for over ten years now and highly recommend using one. For the last two years I've been using a Bosch. I'm wondering if the DISTO has a stronger laser that can be seen better during the day. If so it might be worth the investment.

Posted by Rob Meadows on September 1st, 2015 10:10 PM
Thank you for the comment Rob. One of my employees uses a Bosch and likes it, but we have not had a chance to compare how bright the laser dot is with the DISTO. The problem that I have with his Bosch is that it does not have the plus and minus function like the DISTO. However, your Bosch might be a different model.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on September 1st, 2015 11:51 PM


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