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Nikon D850: Still my best Friend

Key Features

  • 45.7MP FX-Format BSI CMOS Sensor
  • EXPEED 5 Image Processor
  • 3.2″ 2.36m-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
  • 4K UHD Video Recording at 30 fps

Perhaps one of the most anticipated camera releases of 2017 has been the D810 successor, the Nikon D850. Nikon’s high resolution camera body shook up the industry once again, this time with a strong punch, making the Nikon D850 the most versatile DSLR on the market.

Thanks to its 45.7 MP sensor with a native ISO sensitivity range of 64-25,600, upgraded 153-point autofocus system, advanced 181,000-pixel RGB metering system, 7 fps continuous shooting speed that can be bumped up to 9 fps with a battery grip, a fully weather sealed construction and a bunch of other hardware and software upgrades, Nikon managed to pull out a camera that can satisfy every photography need – from landscapes and architecture, to sports and wildlife. In this review, I will be assessing the camera from many different angles and comparing to its predecessor, as well as its primary competition.

45.7MP FX-Format BSI CMOS Sensor and EXPEED 5 Processor

A first for Nikon DSLRs, a 45.7MP BSI CMOS sensor is used for high-resolution shooting, impressive low-light quality, and fast readout speeds to benefit continuous shooting, movies, and time-lapse recording. The back-illuminated design of the sensor affords noticeably cleaner high-sensitivity output for reduced noise when working at high ISO values, up to a native ISO 25600, as well as vivid and smooth quality at sensitivities as low as ISO 64. The sensor’s design also omits the conventional optical low-pass filter in order to achieve the greatest sharpness and resolution from the sensor.

Benefitting the sensor is the apt EXPEED 5 image processor, which affords a wealth of speed throughout the camera system, including the ability to shoot continuously at 7 fps for up to 51 consecutive 14-bit lossless compressed raw files in a single burst. When working with the optional MB-D18 grip and EN-EL18a/b battery, this shooting rate can be increased to 9 fps, and up to 30 fps shooting is possible when working in a DX crop mode during Silent Live View.

4K UHD Video Recording & 8K Time-Lapse

I was initially hesitant to give too much praise to the Nikon D850. After all, I’m still rather fond of my current workhorse of a camera, my Nikon D810, and I paid an arm and a leg for it. Admittedly, one area where the D850 excels dramatically over the D810 is when it comes to creating time-lapse videos. The D810 is no slouch in this department by any means, however, the D850 is capable of cranking out these clips at a remarkable 8K resolution using advanced technology that Nikon claims will separate time-lapses created using the D850 from all others. I don’t even own a 4K television or monitor yet, but at the rate things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised to see 8K monitors and televisions popping up in advertisements on the sidebar of my favorite websites soon.

The captivating video from Nikon was shot in southern Africa by photographer Marcel Van Oosten. Keep in mind that in order to upload the video to YouTube, the footage was converted down to 4K UHD

Nikon D850 camera autofocus (AF) coverage

Auto-area AF
•  The DSLR intelligently and automatically detects subjects, focusing on them accurately even during high-speed shooting.
•  The camera identifies the major subject automatically using all 153 points and achieves focus, prioritising portrait subjects through effective face detection capabilities.
•  This mode allows the photographer to concentrate more on composition and capturing the perfect shot, making it well-suited for free-moving subjects like ice-skaters or running children.

Single-point AF
•  The camera achieves focus around a selected point determined by a photographer, honing in on a specific subject. This can come in handy when capturing portraits with a lens that provides a very shallow depth of field, such as the AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED.

Dynamic-area AF
•  Dynamic-area AF tracks a moving subject around a single focus point, utilising surrounding points to continuously focus on a particular subject (areas covered by 25, 72 or 153 points). It is optimised to capture erratic movement typical of wildlife or sports photography, where tracking a subject with one focus point can be challenging.

Group-area AF
•  The AF system can be configured to recognise the subject as an “area”, with a central selected point and the surrounding ones as a group. This would be most useful for following unpredictable movement across the entire frame with multiple focus points.
3D –tracking
•  The DSLR intelligently follows the subject, automatically changing focus points across all 153 as the subject moves, when the shutter-release button is pressed halfway. 3D-tracking is usually used when combining creative composition with moving subjects.

Specification

TypeSemiProDSLR
Announced23/08/2017  
Indicative price (USD)3300  
Sensor typeCMOS  
Resolution8288 x 5520  
Sensor photo detectors (Mpix)45.75  
Sensor size (mm)23.9 x 35.9 
Color filter arrayRGB 
Pixel pitch (µm) 
Bits per pixel14.0
Focal length multiplier
Aspect Ratio3:2 
ISO latitude 32 – 102400 
Shutter typeElectronic/Mechanical 
Fastest – Slowest speed (s)1/8000 – 30.0  
Frame rate (fps)9.0  
Live view Yes 
Stabilization No 
Firmware1.0 
Dust cleaningYes 
Mount typeNikon F FX  
Weight (gr)915
Battery typeLi-ion, EN-EL15a, 7.0V, 1900mAh 
Battery weight (gr) 
TropicalizationYes 
Camera materialMetal 
Mount materialMetal 
View finder typeOptical 
View finder magnification0.75 
View finder coverage100 
Mirror lockupYes 
View finder diopter-3 to +1 
Monitor typeLCD 
Monitor size3.2 
Monitor pixel2359000 
Articulated screenYes 
Touch screenYes 
Contrast screen 
Low-pass filter 
Focus modeYes 
Autofocus modesSingle-servo AF (AF-S), Full-time-servo AF (AF-F), Continuous-servo AF (AF-C): predictive focus tracking automatically activated according to subject status, Manual focus (M) 
Number of autofocus points153 
Exposure bracketingYes 
Exposure compensation+/-5 EV, in increments of 1/3, 1/2, or 1 EV 
Drive modesS (single frame), CL (continuous low speed), CH (continuous high speed), Q (quiet shutter-release), QC (quiet continuous shutter-release), Self-timer, MUP (mirror up) 
Buffer size 
Recording mediumXQD, SD, SDHC (UHS-II compliant), SDXC (UHS-II compliant) 
Image formatJPEG, RAW (NEF), TIFF 
White balance bracketingYes 
ConnectivityUSB/WIFI 
BluetoothYes 
3GNo 
Sound recordingYes 
External microYes 
HistogramYes 
GPSNo 
VideoYes 
Maximum format image video3840 x 2160 / 30 fps 
Full HDYes 
Live autofocusYes 
Video file formatMOV, MP4 
Video codecH.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding 
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