The Nikon D850 DSLR Camera offers an astounding blend of resolution, speed, performance and image quality. It’s a truthfully stunning camera, particularly for those who prefer DSLRs (and their battery lives) to mirrorless cameras.
The 45.7-megapixel sensor captures remarkably fine detail
Fast viewfinder autofocus with noiseless shooting option in Live View
Rear thumb-operated sub-selector for fast AF point positioning
Exceptionally fine 1840-shot battery life
No phase-detection AF in Live View
Touchscreen operation doesn’t include key exposure settings
Wireless SnapBridge connectivity needs development
- 45.7-megapixel full-frame backlit-CMOS sensor
- ISO 64-25,600 standard; ISO 32-102,400 extended
- 7fps shooting (9fps with MB-D18 grip)
- 153-point autofocus
- 4K 30p video recording
- XQD and SD (UHS-II compatible)
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- 3.2-inch, 2.36-mdot tilting touchscreen
|Camera type||Digital SLR|
|Image Sensor||FX CMOS|
|Shutter speed||30secs-1/8000sec, bulb|
|Max output resolution||8256×5504 pixels|
|Other resolutions||25.6MP (6192×4128 pixels), 11.4MP (4128×2752 pixels)|
|Exposure metering||Matrix, centre-weighted, spot, highlight weighted|
|Exposure compensation||–5 to +5 EV, in increments of 1/3, 1/2, or 1 EV|
|ISO settings||ISO 64-25,600 (standard) ISO 32-102,400 (extended)|
|LCD Monitor||3.2-inch, 2359-dot tilting touchscreen|
|Viewfinder||Optical viewfinder, 0.75x magnification with 100% coverage|
|Drive modes||7fps (9fps with EN-EL18b battery and MB-D18 battery pack)|
|Image formats||JPEG, Raw|
|Video (max res/format)||4K (3840×2160) up to 30p, Full HD (1920×1080) up to 60p|
|Movie length||29mins 59secs|
|Memory card slot||XQD, SD (UHS-II compatible)|
|Batteries supplied||EN-EL15a Li-ion|
|Dimensions Width (Millimeter)||124|
|Weight (body only) (Kilogram)||1005g with battery and card|
What is the Nikon D850?
Nikon D850 DSLR Camera was an actual game-changer when it was announced in July 2017. The big surprise was not just the resolution, but the D850’s continuous shooting capabilities and increased ISO range. Before the D850, it was normally assumed that you had to choose either high resolution or high shooting speed in an expert camera since the huge amounts of data generated by high-resolution sensors took too much processing power for fast burst rates.
But the Nikon D850 DSLR Camera dispelled this theory overnight, offering an inspiring 7fps continuous shooting speed as standard, boosted to a scarcely credible 9fps with Nikon’s optional MB-D18 battery grip. It offers pretty excellent buffer ability too, though for long-burst raw file capture you’re still better off with a high-speed expert like the Nikon D5.
This combination of resolution and high-speed shooting has since been repeated by the Sony A7R III and Nikon Z7, but the D850’s performance remains eye-opening even now.
The D850’s specifications appear to suit practically any subject type or shooting situation, and while a pair of later mirrorless rivals now edge ahead somewhat in speed, Nikon’s powerhouse of a DSLR is still in the top echelon of expert full-frame cameras.
Frankly, it doesn’t have a whole lot of opposition in the DSLR market. Canon has not yet shown any sign of updating or replacing its 50-megapixel EOS 5DS and 5DS R, launched way back in 2015, and the only camera to beat the D850’s resolution, the Pentax K-1 Mark II, is an absolutely decent camera, but does not attempt to match either the D850’s speed or resolution.
In its place, the D850’s challengers have come from the mirrorless market, including the Sony A7R III, with approximately the same resolution and faster shooting speeds, and Nikon’s own 45.7-megapixel mirrorless Z7.
So has the D850 still got what it takes to fend off the opposition, and is it still the ground-breaking that amazed us all when it was launched?
Nikon D850 DSLR Camera – Features
The Nikon D850 DSLR Camera has a 45.7-megapixel full-frame (FX-format) CMOS sensor not previously seen in any other camera. Like many other later Nikon models, it does not have an optical low pass filter. This means there is some hypothetical risk of moiré effects in fine patterns and textures, but the payback is extra-sharp fine detail rendition.
This sensor also features gapless on-chip micro-lenses, with the latest back-illuminated design to maximize its light-gathering capabilities. In effect, the sensor’s layout is reversed so that the wiring is behind the light receptors rather than in front and no longer obstructs any light. The effect can be seen in the D850’s wider ISO range – its predecessor, the D810, had a native ISO range of 64-12,800 (expandable to ISO 32-51,200), but the D850 offers ISO 64-25,600, expandable to ISO 32-102,400. Usually, higher resolution brings a lower maximum ISO range, but the D850 sensor offers development in both respects.
In the D850, Nikon uses the similar Expeed 5 image processor as its flagship D5, which helps attain the healthy 7fps constant shooting speed and 9fps with the MB-D18 grip – although this is an extra £369/$397 and you’ll need an EN-EL18 high-power battery on top of that to attain those frame rates. Confusingly, these have been made available in ‘a’, ‘b’ and ‘c’ variants. The current EN-EL18c costs £189/$155.
Running at 7fps the Nikon D850 DSLR Camera offers a 51-frame raw buffer. That’s very excellent for a camera with this resolution, if not quite up to the standard of the Nikon D5. It has both an XQD card slot and a UHS-II companionable SD card slot, so it offers potentially very fast data capture for sports and action photographers.
The Nikon D850 DSLR Camera also inherits Nikon’s best autofocus system – again lifted directly from the D5. It has 153 focus points (55 of these are user-selectable), counting 99 of the more precise cross-type AF sensors, and 15 that will work with lens and teleconverter combinations with an aperture of f/8. The center point is sensitive to -4EV, and the rest to -3EV, allowing the camera to focus speedily in low light.
Autofocus modes contain auto-area, 3D color tracking, single-point AF and the option to choose the number of continuous (AF-C) focus points from a group of 9, 25, 72 or 153. In Live View, there’s a new pinpoint AF mode that’s designed to ease accurate focusing on smaller subjects in the frame, but the key point here is that the D850 still relies totally on slower contrast detection for autofocus. The on-chip phase-detection sensor used in the Nikon Z7 was still a long way off when the D850 was designed.
Exposure metering is handled by Nikon’s highly-capable 180,000-pixel RGB sensor – yet another feature inherited from the D5. It doesn’t just handle exposure, though, as it’s also used for subject-recognition and face-detection, and this information is fed back to the autofocus system for precise and accurate subject tracking.
The D850’s raw files are, unsurprisingly, huge. Even a compressed 14-bit Raw file takes up 43.8MB, and this rises to 51.6MB for a lossless compressed file. An uncompressed Raw file is 92MB.
Nikon has added two reduced image size options when shooting in Raw or JPEG. Change the image size from large to medium and the D850 will record 25.6-megapixel files (6192 x 4128 pixels), with the little setting reducing the resolution to 11.4-megapixel files (4128 x 2752 pixels). It’s improbable you’ll buy a camera with this resolution and then instantly reduced it, but Nikon has pointed to the value of lesser raw files for stop-motion animators, for instance.
Like other full-frame Nikon DSLRs, the D850 has a DX Crop mode. This is mechanically selected by the camera when a DX lens is attached but can be set manually with FX lenses when you need to extend the reach of telephoto lenses (the usual reason for using an APS-C DX-format Nikon body alongside a full-frame model). It may use a smaller area of the D850’s sensor, but the DX crop mode still produces resolution of19.4 megapixels with an image size of 5408 x 3600 pixels. This isn’t so extremely dissimilar to the 20.9-megapixel resolution produced by the DX-format Nikon D7500 and D500.
Videographers have an abundance to smile about too. When it was launched, the Nikon D850 was the DSLR with the whole thing, counting in-camera 4K recording at 30fps using the full width of the sensor – which means that there’s no crop factor in the 4K video mode (dissimilar the challenging Canon EOS 5D IV, for example) and your wide-angle lenses stay wide-angle.
You can also capture 4K time-lapse movies in-camera, but not 8K time-lapse movies. Creating these needs third-party software, so even though Nikon touted 8K time-lapse movies as a feature when the camera was being launched, it would be extra precise to say the camera has a built-in intervalometer.
Videographers will also be pleased to receive aids such as a peaking display for precise manual focus, and zebra patterns to help avoid overexposure. Both microphone and headphone sockets are manufacture in and are located above the USB and Type-C HDMI interfaces.
The inspiring list of features with a new in-camera focus bracketing mode to generate extended depth-of-field composites (focus stacking), as well as a new Natural Light Auto White Balance option, which promises optimal results in outdoor lighting.
On the back, the D850 has the major optical viewfinder so far on a Nikon DSLR, with a 0.75x magnification, and below this is a high-resolution 2.36m-dot tilting LCD. It’s like to the screen on the Nikon D500 and offers touch control of menu navigation, image browsing in playback mode and AF point positioning in Live View.
The camera is powered by Nikon’s familiar EN-EL15 battery, but what’s principally inspiring here is that it can be used to shoot 1840 shots on a single charge – a big jump from the 1200-shot stamina of the Nikon D810.
Nikon uses its now-familiar SnapBridge connectivity for wireless image move to mobile devices. Images can be transferred as you shoot, and selecting the all-important down-sampling 2-megapixel mode quickly speeds up transfer times and saves on valuable storage space.
Nikon D850 DSLR Camera – Body and Design
Nikon has once over again produced an extremely strong camera that feels excellently constructed, albeit with a few subtle body changes over the D810. Expert full-frame DSLRs have to be built like tanks if they’re to be robust sufficient to put up with the rigors of everyday use, and the D850 is no exception.
The camera is built about a magnesium alloy chassis for strength and inflexibility, and it’s fully sealed alongside moisture, dust, and dirt. There’s no pop-up flash, however. This was helpful on the D810 for triggering other flashes distantly, but Nikon D850 DSLR Camera users will have to rely on outside Speedlights or remote flash trigger add-ons instead. That’s attractive normal for pro-level cameras these days.
From the front, the Nikon D850 DSLR Camera doesn’t appear all that dissimilar from the D810. When you get it in your hands, although, you’ll notice that the grip has been reworked and made a fraction deeper. It’s excellent for even the largest of hands and leaves your index finger resting contentedly on the shutter release.
Comfort and an excellent feel are key factors for any serious photographer who will often spend hours at a time with a camera in hand. It’s here that the D850 actually excels, to the point I’d say it’s one of the most comfortable pro DSLRs I’ve used over prolonged spells of shooting.
Spin the camera round in your hands and you’ll find every inch of the body is covered in buttons, dials or connector ports, with adequate dedicated controls to change each key shooting setting without needing to access the menus. In terms of button layout, there are a few nice touches. For instance, there’s a new joystick that falls obviously under your thumb for shifting the focus point around the frame on the fly. It’s earlier than using the four-way controller and its knurled texture helps you recognize it from the AF-ON button.
Nikon’s decision to put the ISO button above the drive mode dial on the D810 was always an interested one, so it’s good to see this being exchanged with the mode button. In use, it means compassion can now be changed without having to pull your eye away from the viewfinder.
The control layout remains very ‘Nikon’. Unlike most DSLR and mirrorless models, the D850 dispenses with the standard mode dial. Instead, you change the exposure mode via a single button on the stacked control cluster on the left side of the top plate. This is where you’ll also find buttons for the image quality setting, white balance, and metering mode. Underneath is a release (drive) mode dial which you can only turn when you press a locking button alongside.
At the rear, you get the common menu, lock, playback zoom and OK buttons parallel to the left of the screen, but there’s also a new customizable Fn2 button in the bottom corner that’s radiant for rating images in playback. It is capable of also be set up to access My Menu and toggle between stills and movie shooting info in Live View. The integrated Live View button and stills/movie switch have shifted down and the info button is helpful for viewing key exposure settings on-screen.
Nikon users coming from the D800, D800E or D810 will rapidly become recognizable with the changes to the body. It should also be said that other Nikon users coming from less advanced APS-C models shouldn’t find the D850 confusing, and can use their excellent knowledge of Nikon’s menu system to set up and navigate the camera simply.
The Nikon D850 DSLR Camera has a few other nice touches. Flicking the on/off switch to its bulb position illuminates not just the top-plate LCD but also many of the buttons crossways the body, which is actually helpful when shooting in the dark. In addition, there’s a clever folding port cover that permits you to keep the headphone socket completely protected from the elements when a microphone is plugged in.
Nikon D850 DSLR Camera – Silent Shooting
Nikon has added ‘Quiet’ modes in the past to suppress mirror slap and the noise of the focal plane shutter, and the D850 offers two Quiet modes, one for single-shot photography and one for shooting constantly at 3fps.
But these only suppress the sound of the shutter and can’t eliminate it absolutely. To get around this, Nikon has introduced a quiet, zero-vibration electronic shutter that enables users to capture images in absolute silence when using Live View. Mode 1 offers silent shooting at 6fps at full resolution including Raw, whereas Mode 2 rattles out 8-megapixel shots at 30fps in the JPEG format only.
This new way of shooting will be wonderful for wedding and wildlife photographers who are often at risk of terrifying or worrying their subjects in calm environments, but it’s easy to see the potential for theatre photography and many sports where key moments require complete quiet – such as golf swings or tennis serves.
I tested both modes at a church wedding, and those around me were absolutely oblivious to the actuality I was capturing images throughout the service. It’s a boon for those times when you want to be discreet and work under the radar.
Nikon D850 DSLR Camera – Viewfinder and Screen
One of the constraints of the Nikon D850 DSLR Camera was that it had a fixed screen, so it’s excellent to finally see Nikon embracing a tilting touchscreen on one of its high-resolution pro-spec DSLRs.
It’s essentially the same 2.36m-dot LCD that you get on the Nikon D500. It tilts up and down for waist-level shooting, but isn’t as ingenious as the sideways-tilting screen you get on the Fujifilm X-T3, the scissor-action design of the Pentax K-1 II‘s screen, or the fully-articulating screen on the Canon EOS 6D Mark II. The D850’s screen and its single-axis tilt constrain you to shoot in landscape rather than portrait format too.
The angle of tilt is principally excellent for low- and high-angle shooting. It goes one better than the D500’s screen, too, in the way the touchscreen can now be used to browse menus and change menu settings. You can’t change exposure variables from the info display or Live View screen, but it still offers a big step in the right direction. It’s also amazingly sensitive and precise to the touch, rivaling the response of Canon’s superb touchscreens.
The viewfinder is evenly inspiring. Obviously, being an optical viewfinder, it doesn’t offer a preview of white balance, exposure or depth of field in the way of an electronic viewfinder, but with its 0.75 x magnifications and 100% frame coverage it offers a very agreeable view when raised to the eye and an accurate rendition of what you see with the naked eye.
It’s promising to turn on a viewfinder grid display, and I found myself assigning the Fn1 button to viewfinder virtual horizon, which loads a helpful leveling guide on the horizontal and vertical axis to avoid skewed shots. Being an optical viewfinder, there is zero lag. There is also an extremely short blackout time, and there’s the option to block out the viewfinder to avoid any light leak problems during long exposures.
Nikon D850 DSLR Camera – Autofocus
Nikon’s pro DSLRs have a reputation for speedy and precise focusing, and the D850 is no exemption, using the same Multi-CAM 20K autofocus sensor module seen in Nikon’s flagship D5. It can be relied upon to obtain focus faster than you thought probable, though this will depend on the lens used and the speed of its internal AF motors.
The autofocus is most inspiring in very deprived lighting conditions. Dimly lit dance floors at wedding venues and low-light wildlife shots are just a pair of examples where I found the capabilities of the Nikon D850’s autofocus system excelled my expectations’ experienced no difficulty at all tracking moving subjects traveling directly towards the camera, even in fading light. A quick-fire burst of 18 frames at 7fps set to continuous AF (AF-C) of a train traveling towards the camera in excess of 60mph resulted in only three frames not being perfectly pin-sharp.
The D850’s 55 user-selectable points are extra than the D810 provided, but they’re still grouped towards the center of the frame, meaning there may be an odd occurrence when your subject is positioned in an area of the frame where you need to focus primarily and then recompose.
In a similar way to other Nikon DSLRs, you change between single (AF-S) and constant (AF-C) modes by pressing the AF button located inside the AF/MF switch and turning the rear dial. Holding down the button and turning the front dial controls the number of points in use in AF-C mode and is also used to select 3D AF tracking.
From the Autofocus custom setting menu, you can refine AF settings to suit your way of shooting. For instance, you can speed up or slow down the blocked shot AF response, and tell the camera whether you’re shooting an unpredictable or steady-moving subject from the Focus tracking with lock-on settings. Users are given the option to decrease the number of selectable AF points from 55 to 15, and back button focusing is easy sufficient to setup from the AF activation sub-menu.
Nikon D850 DSLR Camera – Performance
Being such an adaptable camera, I found myself shooting a wide range of subjects in many dissimilar environments to find out how the D850 performs. First, I used the camera to shoot a series of landscapes and rapidly found myself blown away by the amazing detail the sensor resolves.
The marriage of high resolution, fast focus velocity and tilt-angle screen allowed me to capture shots bursting with detail from low-angles, and far more simply than any previous high-resolution DSLR Nikon has produced.
The crystal-clear rear display, with its receptive touch control and accurate color rendition, is outstanding for monitoring results. I frequently used the double-tap function combined with the rear dial to rapidly zoom into 100% and check focus between shots. Even if you’re not excessively keen on the idea of using a touchscreen on a DSLR, the D850’s are so good you’re likely to use it more than you think, particularly to navigate the menu.
Testing the Nikon D850 DSLR Camera at a marriage produced an agreeable set of results with two of my favorite Sigma Art lenses – the 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art and 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM. The true test was its silent Live View mode, where I opted for Mode 1 ahead of Mode 2 to priorities resolution ahead of speed.
While it’s great that the D850 can capture shots devoid of a trace of a sound, you’re still totally dependent on contrast-detection for autofocus in Live View, both when shooting stills and video. This is where the Nikon D850 DSLR Camera does lose out to some of its more up to date mirrorless rivals. I did find myself missing a few key shots where the D850 struggled to lock on fast sufficient, at which point I reverted to phase-detection focusing and composing via the viewfinder at the cost of louder operation
The D850 can’t pretty reach the heights of Canon’s EOS 5D Mark IV, which benefits from on-chip phase detection in Live View thanks to its Dual Pixel AF technology. However, the drawback of the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is that it doesn’t offer an absolutely silent shooting mode in Live View like the D850. If you extend the list of probable rivals to mirrorless cameras, although, you have to include the brilliant Sony A7R III and Nikon’s own Z7. There are times when a mirrorless camera is better suited to the subject and the conditions than a DSLR.
To test the D850’s speed capabilities I used it on a car shoot – hanging out the back of a car to get a series of action shots. Without the MB-D18 grip and EN-EL18 high-power battery, I was limited to shooting at 7fps, but the AF system proved more than competent in tracking the car, delivering pin-sharp results frame after frame.
However, I did notice that shooting in Raw and Fine JPEG formats at a full resolution only gave me around 400 shots or so to play with using a SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB card. If you’re going to shoot at the highest quality at the highest speed on the D850 then you’ll not only need a few high-capacity cards, you’ll need carefully check card specifications and speed ratings before you buy – or bite the bullet and invest in the comparatively new and untried XQD format.
I managed to shoot 20 constant frames (Raw and Fine JPEG) at full resolution at 7fps to my card before the buffer was reached. To get wherever close to the promised 51-frame raw buffer – and reach the full potential of the D850’s speed capabilities – you will need to use the fastest UHS-II SD cards or XQD cards.
Just as my time with the camera came to an end, I managed to source a Sony 64GB XQD card. In real-world use, I found I was recording around 40 (14-bit lossless compressed) Raw files at 7fps before its buffer was reached. This is an inspiring number considering the vast volume of data it was being asked to process and write. Formatting the card and switching to 12-bit lossless compressed Raw saw the number of constantly recorded frames increase to 107 at 7fps.
Nikon’s Snapseed system has developed a reputation for being troublesome. I found the camera would automatically couple and connect to my iPhone via Bluetooth without issue. However, it wouldn’t always send my latest shots to my mobile device straight away when the auto-link within the app was obviously switched on. It seemed totally random as to when new photos would be transferred from the camera.
To overcome this I ended up using the Download Selected Pictures option, which initiates a Wi-Fi connection with the camera. Then, by hand-selected the images, I wanted to wirelessly transfer to my camera roll before sharing. Having the option to select the shots you’d like to import at 2MB or full resolution is great in this part of the app, but overall I was left with the impression that SnapBridge could be made more instinctive to use.
The fact it doesn’t offer the option to change exposure settings live in Remote Shooting mode also puts it way behind other apps from opponent manufacturers.
Nikon D850 DSLR Camera – Video
The Nikon D850 DSLR Camera is capable of producing outstanding movie footage in the hands of a pro videographer. It offers in-camera 4K UHD recording (3840 x 2160) at 30fps and Full HD (1920 x 1080) at up to 60fps for a maximum record time of 29mins 59secs. This is not outstanding by today’s standards, since the APS-C format Fujifilm X-T3, for instance, can record 10-bit 4K video internally at 60fps, but this is the exception rather than the rule, and the D850’s video capabilities are still generally on a par with its rivals.
For cinematographers, the feature that sets the Nikon D850 DSLR Camera apart from others is its 4K and 8K time-lapse capabilities. The time-lapse movie and intervalometer settings are simple to appreciate, too, offering advanced options such as being competent to turn on silent shooting and exposure smoothing.
Once you’ve set up the interval and shooting time, you get a visual of how much space the time-lapse is going to take up on your SD or XQD card, as well as the indicated length of the time-lapse once absolute. It’s simply a matter of hitting start to commence a 4K time-lapse. However, it’s worth noting that those who’d like to produce an 8K time-lapse will need to shoot in Raw and run the files through a third-party program since this can’t be done in-camera.
Creating high-resolution time-lapse video recording is rather draining on the battery, so the MB-D18 grip and EN-EL18 high-power battery are recommended if you’re going to use this functionality frequently.
Nikon D850 DSLR Camera – Image Quality
The enhance to 45.7 megapixels sees the Nikon D850 DSLR Camera yield a somewhat higher resolution than 42.4-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor found in the Sony A7R II, but it isn’t quite as high as the 50.6-megapixel resolution offered by Canon’s EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R twins. The improvement of the Canon models is purely theoretical, however. With its lack of optical low-pass filter, the D850’s sensor produces an astounding level of detail, with great scope for cropping and maintaining high resolution when required.
In spite of the sensor being thickly packed with pixels, it offers wide dynamic range leverage and allows users to extract a high level of shadow detail from raw files with minimal noise. This is where the D850 does seem to offer an important advantage over the newer Nikon Z7, which can manufacture faint but visible banding in shadow areas in the same conditions.
Pushing the D850’s understanding to its extremes reveals that ISO 6400 is usable, and the same can be said for ISO 12,800, with the application of a little carefully-judge noise reduction in the processing/editing stage.
Resolution – Nikon D850 DSLR Camera
The D850 resolves such a high level of detail that it was essential to shoot our resolution chart from double the distance to determine our results. The sensor resolves 4800l/ph at ISO 100 – a sensational figure that it manages to maintain up to ISO 400. Beyond this point, it drops a little to a very reputable 4400l/ph at ISO 800 and 4000l/ph at ISO 1600.
The sensor showed no problem resolving 3600l/ph at ISO 6400, with a slightly lower 3200l/ph figure being recorded at both ISO 12,800 and ISO 25,600. Detail starts to tail off more beyond this point as noise becomes ever more customary at higher sensitivity settings.
Noise – Nikon D850 DSLR Camera
To produce the best results at high ISO, you’ll want to shoot in Raw. However, I was left impressed by the in-camera processing that’s applied to the D850’s JPEG images, with the fine features being well preserved up to ISO 12,800.
A close assessment of raw files revealed noise-free results between ISO 100-800, with trace luminance noise starting to creep in at ISO 1600. ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 is absolutely functional, and I wouldn’t fear to push to ISO 12,800 – just beware that shots taken at this setting will require some noise reduction applied during processing.
I noticed a drop in saturation beginning at ISO 25,600, and the noise becomes so imposing at ISO 51,200 and ISO 102,400 that you’ll want to avoid these settings at all costs. Whereas ISO 3200-6400 was the limit at which I’d want to shoot at with the D810, I wouldn’t be too frightened of pushing to ISO 12,800 on the D850 if there’s no other option.
Should you buy Nikon D850 DSLR Camera?
Nikon users had a long three-year wait for a substitute to the mighty D810. Even during this time, it was hard to see what Nikon could really do to get better on a camera that had become something of a modern classic. The great news is that the D850 doesn’t dissatisfy in the slightest, delivering more than perhaps any of us could have expected.
Professionals, semi-professionals and serious enthusiasts will be thunderstruck by the performance of the new 45.7-million-pixel full-frame (FX-format) CMOS sensor, principally its low-light capabilities at high ISO. More than that, by fruitfully marrying high resolution with high speed, Nikon made the D850 questionably the most adaptable DSLR on the market.
It’s true that 2018 has seen various major innovations in the full-frame mirrorless market from Canon, Nikon, and Panasonic, and that the D850’s combination of speed and resolution is no longer unique, but by comparison the DSLR market has remained beautiful static, and if you prefer DSLRs to mirrorless cameras – and many do – the D850’s landmark status is unchallenged, even now.
As far as Nikon users are concerned, the D850 changes one of the basic system setups. Until now, you’d require a D810, say, for high-resolution shooting, and a D500 (or a D5) for fast action work. The D850 offers both in a single body – though you will require the MB-D18 battery grip and an EN-EL18 battery to attain that 9fps constant shooting speed.
It’s not just the speed and the way the Nikon D850 is competent in processing such high volumes of data so rapidly that impresses, either, as the AF response is as excellent as you get on the flagship Nikon D5. It’s insanely precise and responsive, even when challenged with the fastest subjects and poorest of lighting conditions.
Injustice, there are other points of view for carrying two bodies, such as being competent to switch from one lens/setup to another in an instant. Real-life events tend to unfold at their own speed and won’t wait while you swap lenses.
The D850 is not perfect, of course. The tilting touchscreen is great, but is limited to a single axis of movement and does not offer touch control of key exposure settings. The contrast-based Live View AF is slower than the on-sensor phase-detection systems of rival cameras (and the newer Nikon Z 7) and the Snapbridge wireless connectivity proved somewhat changeable and unreliable.
None of these points make any serious dent in the D850’s appeal, though. It’s an absolutely sensational camera that is as inspiring now as when it was first launched. And if mirrorless cameras do indeed take over the world, the D850 will definitely represent the high watermark of digital SLR design.
After a few tough years Nikon appears to finally be back on track with one of the finest and most adaptable DSLRs ever made.
The Nikon D850 DSLR Camera offers an astounding blend of resolution, speed, performance and image quality. It’s a truthfully stunning camera, particularly for those who prefer DSLRs (and their battery lives) to mirrorless cameras.
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