Nikon D850 Review
The Nikon D850 is finally here. After months of speculation, and Nikon itself teasing us back in July that the camera actually existed and was in development, the D850 has been officially announced – and boy, does it look like it’s been worth the wait.
Superseding the brilliant 36.3MP D800 that’s loved by both pros and enthusiasts alike, the D850 certainly has big shoes to fill. That said, while the D800 ticked a lot of boxes for photographers, its modest burst shooting speed of 5fps meant it wasn’t the perfect all-round DSLR.
Nikon doesn’t appear to be holding back with the D850, though, boosting numerous areas of the camera’s performance to make it appear (on paper at least), the most well-rounded DSLRs we’ve seen. Is the D850, then, the ultimate DSLR?
Nikon D850 Specifications
- Sensor: 45.7 MP FX BSI Sensor, 4.35µ pixel size
- Sensor Size: 35.9 x 23.9mm
- Resolution: 8256 x 5504
- Native ISO Sensitivity: 64-25,600
- Boost Low ISO Sensitivity: 32
- Boost High ISO Sensitivity: 51,200-102,400
- RAW Formats: 45.7 MP (Full Size), 25.6 MP (Medium Size / mRAW), 11.4 MP (Small Size / sRAW)
- mRAW / sRAW File Support: 12-bit lossless compressed
- Processor: EXPEED 5
- Metering System: 181,000-pixel RGB Meter
- Dust Reduction: Yes
- Weather Sealing/Protection: Yes
- Body Build: Full Magnesium Alloy
- Shutter: 1/8000 – 30 seconds
- Shutter Durability: 200,000 cycles, self-diagnostic shutter
- Storage: 1x XQD slot and 1x SD slot (UHS-II compatible)
- Viewfinder Coverage: 100%
- Viewfinder Magnification: 0.75x
- Speed: 7 fps, 9 fps with optional MB-D18 battery grip
- Built-in Flash: No
- Autofocus System: Multi-CAM 20K AF sensor
- AF Sensitivity: -4 EV at the center point
- AF Detection: Up to f/8 with 15 focus points
- LCD Screen: touch-enabled 3.2 inch diagonal tilting LCD with 2,359K dots
- Movie Modes: 4K UHD @ 30 fps max
- Slow Motion HD Video: Yes
- Movie Exposure Control: Full
- Movie Output: MOV, MP4
- Time Lapse: 4K and 8K Timelapse
- In-Camera HDR Capability: Yes
- GPS: Not built-in, requires GP-1 GPS unit
- WiFi: Built-in
- Illuminated Buttons: Yes
- Focus Stacking Feature: Yes
- Focus Peaking for Stills and Video: Yes
- Wireless Radio Flash Control: Yes
- Silent Photography Mode in Live View: Yes
- Bluetooth: Built-in
- Battery Type: EN-EN15a
- Battery Life: 1840 shots (CIPA)
- USB Standard: 3.0
- Weight: 915g
- Dimensions: 146 x 124 x 79mm
- Price : $3299
Build and handling
- Magnesium alloy body
- Comprehensive weather-sealing
- Weighs 1005g
The Nikon D850 may share similar proportions to the D800, but quite a bit has changed.
Pick up the camera, and if you’re coming from a D800 or D810, the first thing that strikes you is the re-worked grip. It’s now that bit deeper, and much more comfortable to hold than its predecessor, especially for longer periods.
As on the D500, Nikon has omitted the pop-up flash in an effort to make the camera even sturdier. Some may be sorry to see this feature disappear – we’ve found it useful in the past for triggering remote Speedlights – but it’s always felt like a bit of a weak link on a pro-spec DSLR.
And with no pop-up flash, a tough magnesium alloy body, and weather seals to protect it from the elements, the D850 feels every bit the pro DSLR you’d expect it to be. It’s incredibly well made, and there’s no question this camera’s up for the rigors of professional use.
- 153-point AF, 99 cross-type AF points
- User-selected array limited to 55 points
- Impressive coverage across the frame
The 51-point autofocus system in the D810 is still one of the best performers out there, but Nikon has equipped the D850 with the same Multi-CAM 20K AF module as its flagship D5.
In our book this is one of the best, if not the best, autofocus systems we’ve seen on any camera to date. It features an impressive 153 AF points, of which 55 are user-selectable, while 99 are the more sensitive cross-type points for even greater precision. That’s not all – AF sensitivity goes all the way down to -4EV for the central AF point (with the remainder focusing down to -3EV), which should enable the D850 to focus pretty much in almost complete darkness.
- 7fps burst shooting (9fps with battery grip)
- 51 shot raw file buffer
- 1,840-shot battery life
Despite the decent increase in pixels over the D810, the Nikon D850 features an increased burst shooting speed, up from 5fps to 7fps, making it an even more versatile piece of kit.
Furthermore, attach the optional MB-D18 battery grip to the D850 with a large EN-EL18B battery (as used in the D5) inserted, and that rate will increase to 9fps. This certainly compares favorably with the 5fps shooting speed of both the Canon EOS 5DS and Sony Alpha A7R II, and considering the size of the files the D850 has to process, the 51-shot buffer (at 14-Bit raws) is also very impressive.
The D850’s standard battery is the EN-EL15 – it’s the same power pack used by the D810, but Nikon has managed to squeeze even more life out of the battery here to deliver a staggering 1,840-shot life. To put that in perspective, you’d need seven NP-FW50 batteries with the Alpha A7R II to reach anything like the D850’s battery capacity, or two LP-E6N batteries with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.
Something that’s bound to appeal to wedding and social photographers is the D850’s ability to utilize an electronic shutter to shoot silently at 6fps in Live View mode. Need more speed? Select the DX crop mode and you can shoot 8.6MP pictures at an impressive 30fps.
- ISO64-25,600 (expandable to ISO32-108,400)
- Additional 25.6MP Medium and 11.4MP Small raw file sizes
- Built-in focus stacking
As you’d expect from a sensor packing 45.4 million pixels, the level of detail the Nikon D850 is capable of resolving is impressive. You’ll be able to produce large prints rich in detail, although it goes without saying that to make the most of the sensor you’ll need the best glass.
When it comes to high-ISO noise performance, again the D850 doesn’t disappoint. Images up to ISO3200 display excellent levels of detail, with minimal noise, while at ISO3200 there’s barely any luminance (grain-like) noise in images, and no hint of chroma (color) noise.
Push above that to ISO6400, and while luminance noise is slightly more pronounced, it’s still very good – we’d be more than happy to shoot at this sensitivity. Even at ISO12,800 and ISO25,600, while noise is more noticeable it’s still well controlled, and results are more than acceptable. Above that we’d try to avoid the two extended settings, which see saturation dropping off a tad; however, with some tweaking in Lightroom or similar it might be possible to get a satisfactory result at ISO51,200.
What We Say :
It’s felt like a long time coming, but the Nikon D850 has definitely been worth the wait. To say the specification is comprehensive is an understatement; the D850 is packed with desirable photographic features, while it backs these up with impressive performance and stunning image quality.
Live View focusing speeds could still be better, while the rather rudimentary SnapBridge connectivity offered is disappointing; but those issues aside, whether you’re shooting weddings, landscapes, portraits, action or wildlife, the D850 won’t leave you wanting.
P.S – Photograph does not belong to me