Even though it has been on the market for more than three years, the Nikon D850 is still among the very best digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLR) that money can buy.
The stunning 36.3-megapixel Nikon D810, which has been favored for a long time by both professionals and amateurs alike, was replaced by the D850 in July 2017. It undoubtedly had huge shoes to fill, but it was able to do so owing to features such as burst shooting at 7 frames per second and superb performance at high ISO settings.
There is little question that mirrorless flagships such as the Sony A7R IV have now lifted the performance bar once again for high-megapixel cameras; but, the Nikon D850 is now a great deal more affordable than Sony’s 61MP all-rounder.
If you are primarily interested in still photography and appreciate traditional DSLR characteristics like as handling and battery life, then the Nikon D850 is an excellent and flexible all-rounder that you should consider purchasing.
Nikon D850 Body & Design
- Magnesium alloy body
- Comprehensive protection from the elements
- Weighs 1005g
Although the Nikon D850 and the Nikon D810 may have comparable dimensions, the D850 is significantly different from the D810.
If you are upgrading from a D810 or D800, the redesigned handle will be the first thing that jumps out at you when you pick up the new camera. It is now that much more pleasant to grip than its predecessor was, particularly for extended periods of time, due to its increased depth.
In an effort to make the camera even more durable than the D500, Nikon deleted the pop-up flash from this model as well. It’s possible that some people may be disappointed to learn that this function will no longer be available; we’ve used it in the past to activate remote Speedlights, but it’s always seemed like a bit of a weak link on a professional-grade DSLR.
In addition, there is no pop-up flash on the D850, the body is made of magnesium alloy, and it has weather seals to protect it from the elements. All of these features combine to make the D850 seem like the professional DSLR you would expect it to be. This camera is exceptionally well crafted, and there is no doubt that it can withstand the rigorous use that is required in a professional setting.
Nikon D850 Autofocus
- 153-point AF, 99 cross-type AF points
- Array determined by the user, with a maximum of 55 points
- Outstanding coverage over the entirety of the frame
However, Nikon fitted the D850 with the same Multi-CAM 20K AF module as its top-of-the-line D5, despite the fact that the 51-point focusing system on the D810 was one of the finest performers we’d seen back in 2017.
The focusing mechanism on this DSLR remains, in our opinion, to be one of the best, if not the best, that we have seen on any DSLR. It has an amazing total of 153 autofocus points, 55 of which are user-selectable, and 99 of which are the more sensitive cross-type points that provide an even higher level of precision.
Not only that, but the autofocus (AF) sensitivity goes all the way down to -4EV for the central AF point (with the remainder of the AF points focusing down to -3EV), which ought to enable the D850 to focus pretty much in almost full darkness.
The performance of Live View is one area in which the D850 is not quite up to par with Canon’s most recent DSLRs. Even though the Dual Pixel CMOS technology utilized in cameras such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV can compete with that mirrorless cameras, Live View focusing with the D850 is still a bit cumbersome. It is an improvement over earlier versions, but it is still not as quick as it might be.
Nikon D850 Performance
- 7 frames per second of rapid fire (9fps with battery grip)
- 1,840 shots of battery life with a raw file buffer for 51 shots.
The Nikon D850 is an even more adaptable piece of equipment as a result of its enhanced burst shooting speed, which has grown from 5 frames per second to 7 frames per second, despite the fact that it has a decently increased pixel count in comparison to the D810.
Additionally, if you insert a big EN-EL18B battery into the D850 and utilize the optional MB-D18 battery handle that comes with the camera (which is also used in the D5), you can raise that rate to 9 frames per second.
When considering the amount of data that the D850 has to process, the 51-shot buffer (at 14-Bit raws) is also extremely outstanding. This certainly compares well with the 5fps shooting speed of both the Canon EOS 5DS and the Sony Alpha A7R II.
The EN-EL15 is the basic battery that comes with the Nikon D850. This is the same power pack that is used by the D810, but Nikon has managed to wring even more life out of the battery in order to give a stunning 1,840 shots per charge.
To put this into perspective, if you wanted to attain anything close to the battery capacity of the D850 with an Alpha A7R II, you would need seven NP-FW50 batteries, and if you wanted to do the same with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, you would need two LP-E6N batteries.
The Nikon D850 has three different modes of auto white balance, allowing it to cater to a wide variety of shooting conditions. Auto 0 is supposed to authentically depict whites under any light source; Auto 1 is supposed to preserve a balance between the original subject color and the ambient lighting, and Auto 2 is supposed to render colors with a natural sense of warmth while keeping the color of incandescent lighting.
The optical viewfinder is breathtaking; it’s very big and well-lit, and the touchscreen display on the back of the camera doesn’t fall short in terms of its sharpness.
Nikon D850 Image Quality
- ISO64-25,600 (expandable to ISO32-108400) (expandable to ISO32-108,400)
- Additional raw file sizes of 25.6 megapixels medium and 11.4 megapixels small
- Stacking of the emphasis that is built in
The Nikon D850 is capable of resolving an astounding degree of information, which is something that can be expected from a sensor that contains 45.4 million individual pixels. You will have the ability to create big prints that are packed with detail; however, it goes without saying that you will want the highest quality glass in order to get the most out of the sensor.
Again, the D850 doesn’t let you down when it comes to how well it handles noise at high ISO settings. At an ISO of 3200, there is barely any luminance (grain-like) noise in the images, and there is not the slightest hint of chroma (color) noise in the images. The images display excellent levels of detail with minimal noise up to ISO3200.
If you push it any further to ISO 6400, you’ll see that the luminance noise is somewhat more noticeable; nonetheless, the image quality is still quite acceptable, and we have no problem shooting at this sensitivity.
Even at ISO 12,800 and ISO 25,600, the noise is still well managed, and the results are more than satisfactory. Even though the noise is more obvious, it is still well-controlled. Above that, we would recommend staying away from the two extended settings, as they result in a slight loss of saturation. However, with some adjustments in Lightroom or another program of a similar kind, it is possible to achieve a picture that is passable at ISO51,200.
The dynamic range performance of the Nikon D810 has never failed to please, and the good news is that it looks to continue to do so with the Nikon D850, despite the fact that its sensor has more pixels than its predecessor.
It is feasible to significantly underexpose an image and yet be able to recover shadow detail without the appearance of undesirable noise in the shot. This is achievable because of the dynamic range of digital cameras.
The process of manually shooting focus-stacked images can be a chore. The Nikon D850, however, features a focus shift photography function that enables the camera to shoot a sequence of up to 300 frames while gradually and automatically shifting focus position from the starting point to infinity.
The period between each shutter release may be adjusted from 0 to 30 seconds, and there are 10 different levels from which to choose the focus step width.
The photos will need to be combined in post-production using an image editing application such as Photoshop, but this appears to be an excellent method for rapidly capturing macro shots with a high level of detail.
|Body type||Mid-size SLR|
|Body material||Magnesium alloy|
|Max resolution||8256 x 5504|
|Image ratio w:h||1:1, 5:4, 3:2, 16:9|
|Effective pixels||45 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||47 megapixels|
|Sensor size||Full frame (35.9 x 23.9 mm)|
|Color space||sRGB, Adobe RGB|
|Color filter array||Primary color filter|
|ISO||Auto, 64-25600 (expands to 32-102400)|
|Boosted ISO (minimum)||32|
|Boosted ISO (maximum)||102400|
|White balance presets||14|
|Custom white balance||Yes (6 slots)|
|Uncompressed format||RAW + TIFF|
|JPEG quality levels||Fine, normal, basic|
|File format||JPEG (Exif v2.3)TIFF (RGB)Raw (Nikon NEF, 12 or 14 bit, lossless compressed, compressed or uncompressed)|
|Optics & Focus|
|Autofocus||Contrast Detect (sensor)Phase DetectMulti-areaCenterSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousTouchFace DetectionLive View|
|Autofocus assist lamp||No|
|Number of focus points||151|
|Lens mount||Nikon F|
|Focal length multiplier||1×|
|Screen / viewfinder|
|Screen type||TFT LCD|
|Viewfinder type||Optical (pentaprism)|
|Minimum shutter speed||30 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/8000 sec|
|Exposure modes||ProgramAperture priorityShutter priorityManual|
|External flash||Yes (via hot shoe or flash sync port)|
|Flash modes||Front-curtain sync (normal), Rear-curtain sync, Red-eye reduction, Red-eye reduction with slow sync, Slow sync|
|Flash X sync speed||1/250 sec|
|Drive modes||Single-frameSelf-timerQuiet shutterQuiet continuousMirror-upContinuous lowContinuous high|
|Continuous drive||7.0 fps|
|Self-timer||Yes (2, 5, 10, 20 secs)|
|Exposure compensation||±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 1 EV steps)|
|AE Bracketing||±5 (2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)|
|WB Bracketing||Yes (2-9 exposures in 1, 2, or 3EV increments)|
|Modes||3840 x 2160 @ 30p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 25p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 24p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 120p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 60p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 50p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 30p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 25p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 24p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1280 x 720 @ 60p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1280 x 720 @ 50p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM|
|Storage types||SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II supported) + XQD|
|USB||USB 3.0 (5 GBit/sec)|
|HDMI||Yes (mini HDMI)|
|Wireless notes||802.11b/g + NFC + Bluetooth 4.1 LE|
|Remote control||Yes (wired, wireless, smartphone)|
|Battery description||EN-EL15a lithium-ion battery & charger|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1840|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||1005 g (2.22 lb / 35.45 oz)|
|Dimensions||146 x 124 x 79 mm (5.75 x 4.88 x 3.11″)|
|Timelapse recording||Yes (4K movies or ‘8K’ stills)|
Nikon D850 Verdict
Even though it has been on the market for more than three years, the Nikon D850 is still considered somewhat of a benchmark for DSLR cameras.
The D850 is jam-packed with desirable photographic features, and it backs these up with impressive performance and stunning image quality. To say that the specification is comprehensive would be an understatement.
The Live View focusing speeds could still be improved, and the rather rudimentary SnapBridge connectivity that is offered is disappointing; however, those issues aside, the D850 won’t leave you wanting for anything, whether you’re shooting weddings, landscapes, portraits, action, or wildlife. It’s a versatile camera that can handle it all.
The Nikon D850 is an excellent DSLR that is also much more adaptable than its predecessor, the D810, as well as its closest competitors. It is possible that the D850 is the most well-rounded DSLR that we have ever evaluated.
Nikon D850 Pros & Cons
- The large and bright viewfinder
- the possibility of visuals that are both huge and detailed
- Amazing runtime on the battery
- 19.4MP DX crop mode
- AF system that is both advanced and tried and tested
- SnapBridge still clunky
- a higher price than the D810 model
- Live View, concentrates on the distance behind other competitors