Basic Specifications
Full model name: Nikon D850
Resolution: 45.70 Megapixels
Sensor size: 35mm
(35.9mm x 23.9mm)
Kit Lens: n/a
Viewfinder: Optical / LCD
Native ISO: 64 - 25,600
Extended ISO: 32 - 102,400
Shutter: 1/8000 - 30 seconds
Dimensions: 5.7 x 4.9 x 3.1 in.
(146 x 124 x 79 mm)
Weight: 32.3 oz (915 g)
Availability: 09/2017
Manufacturer: Nikon
Full specs: Nikon D850 specifications
Nikon F 35mm
size sensor
image of Nikon D850
Front side of Nikon D850 digital camera Front side of Nikon D850 digital camera Front side of Nikon D850 digital camera Front side of Nikon D850 digital camera Front side of Nikon D850 digital camera

Nikon D850 Review -- Now Shooting!

by , Jeremy Gray, Jaron Schneider, William Brawley and Zig Weidelich

Preview posted: 08/28/2017
Last updated:

09/08/2017: First Shots posted
09/11/2017: First Shots Comparison Crops posted
09/15/2017: Gallery Images posted
09/26/2017: Field Test Part I posted
11/21/2017: Field Test Part II posted

Table of Contents


Nikon D850 Field Test Part II

Nikon's new DSLR shines in the field - is it their best camera ever?

by Jeremy Gray | Posted 11/21/2017

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E lens at 380mm, f/5.6, 1/250s, ISO 400.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.
Introduction to Field Test Part II

In William Brawley's Nikon D850 Field Test Part I from Bend, Oregon, he covered a lot of the camera's features and functionality. If you have yet to read his Field Test, click here. In this Field Test Part II, I am going to take a closer look at working with D850 RAW files and discuss how the camera performs in the field with respect to wildlife and night photography. Further, I'll write about my experiences using the D850 as a longtime D800E user.

Working with the D850 RAW files

In-camera RAW processing

Like other Nikon cameras, the D850 offers in-camera RAW processing. This allows you to take RAW images and perform a variety of edits to the file before exporting it as a JPEG. You can change the JPEG quality, image size, white balance, exposure compensation, Picture Style, strength of high ISO noise reduction, color space, vignette control and Active D-Lighting settings. You can also get a live preview of the changes you're making on the display. Once you've made the desired processing selections, you can then export the JPEG file of your choice to either memory card slot. What makes the D850 special though is that you can perform batch RAW processing to either selected images, all images on a chosen card or all images together. Not only is this a great feature, but it works really well and is very quick, with RAW files being processed and exported as JPEGs in only a couple of seconds.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- RAW processing Screenshots
The Nikon D850 offers batch in-camera RAW processing. RAW files are processed in a matter of seconds.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- RAW processing Screenshots
You have access to a variety of editing and processing options when performing in-camera RAW processing.

RAW file flexibility

While in-camera RAW processing is great, what about working with RAW files on a computer, which is by far a more common use case? When you increase the megapixel count and file size, you are also putting greater demands on your computer. This is something to keep in mind, but assuming that you have a capable workstation, editing the D850 45MP RAW files is a very enjoyable experience.

The Nikon D850 has fantastic dynamic range, as evidenced by analysis performed by Photons to Photos and DxOMark. Nikon's reputation for producing cameras with excellent dynamic range is well-known, and the D810 in particular was a very well-regarded camera for its dynamic range performance. The D850 manages to keep pace with the D810 at very low ISOs and outperforms it as you go above ISO 400. If you want one of the best full-frame cameras on the market in terms of dynamic range, it's tough to top the D850.

This excellent dynamic range pays big dividends with respect to RAW file processing. As you can see in the comparison shot below, I was able to recover a lot of shadow and highlight detail when working with the RAW file. The first shot below is the original straight-from-the-camera JPEG image, and the second is a RAW file which has been processed solely with highlight and shadow sliders in Adobe Camera Raw. That kind of flexibility is incredible, and the D850's showing here is phenomenal.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E lens at 24mm, f/8, 1/25s, ISO 1250.
Straight from the camera JPEG image. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E lens at 24mm, f/8, 1/25s, ISO 1250.
This image was processed in Adobe Camera Raw. Notice that even at ISO 1250, the D850 still shows a remarkable ability to recover shadow and highlight detail. Click for original JPEG image. Click here for RAW image.

It is not simply about pushing shadows and highlights. A high-quality sensor also allows for a lot of other types of edits that could create issues with tonality or banding in files from lesser cameras. Being able to manipulate colors and finer details without introducing noise or other image quality problems is a must for many types of photographers, landscape photographers in particular. It's not unusual for me to push a file to its limits during post-processing.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E lens at 24mm, f/6.3, 1/8s, ISO 64.
Straight from the camera JPEG image. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E lens at 24mm, f/6.3, 1/8s, ISO 64.
This image has been modified. I was able to push the limits of this file at ISO 64 without creating any banding or issues with noise. When shooting at or near base ISO, the D850's files are incredibly flexible. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

In terms of overall file flexibility, the D850 is as impressive as any full-frame camera I've used. I was already very impressed with the now-outdated Nikon D800E, and the D850 is even better, which is quite the accomplishment.

In the Field: Wildlife Photography

While it may be surprising that a 45-megapixel full-frame camera could be a good choice for wildlife photography, the D850 is a very capable camera in that regard. The camera can shoot at up to 9 frames per second with the optional battery grip attached and with an EN-EL18 battery (the same battery as is used in the Nikon D5). The camera shoots at 7 fps otherwise. In both cases, the camera is plenty fast for most wildlife shooting scenarios. In my case, I had the battery grip and EN-EL18 battery, so I was able to test the D850's best-case shooting setup.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E lens at 440mm, f/5.6, 1/800s, ISO 200.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E lens at 440mm, f/5.6, 1/800s, ISO 200.
100% crop of the above image. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

The ability to not only have images captured at 9 fps, but also have 45 megapixels to allow for extensive cropping and still have a usable photo is very nice. There are many times when a full-frame sensor makes it difficult to fill the frame with your subject, but you don't necessarily want to give up the flexibility that a full-frame sensor offers for other shooting situations. This is where a high-resolution FX sensor comes in handy because it allows for a lot of cropping without severely reducing image quality.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E lens at 450mm, f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 3200.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E lens at 450mm, f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 3200.
This is a 100% crop from the above original JPEG file. Even at ISO 3200, the camera is capturing quite a bit of fine detail with default noise reduction applied, although in my opinion, the default noise reduction might be a bit excessive. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Utilizing the same autofocus system as the Nikon D5 and D500, the D850 unsurprisingly delivers very good autofocus performance. What makes the D850 a bit different than the D5 and D500 is that the camera is capturing very high-resolution images. If you miss focus by a smidge on the D500, it might not be very noticeable. If you miss focus by the same small amount on the D850, however, it is very apparent.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E lens at 500mm, f/5.6, 1/800s, ISO 800.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Nikon has helped deal with some of the inherent issues with DSLR autofocus systems by including its Automatic AF Fine-Tune feature, but that feature, as helpful as it is, still lacks the ability to dial in autofocus microadjustment for different focal lengths with zoom lenses. This proved problematic with my Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E lens, which has slightly different focusing issues throughout the focal length range. There were also times when the lens missed focus considerably, despite having been checked for AF fine-tuning. This is not a problem I've had with the same lens on the Nikon D500.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E lens at 500mm, f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 2000.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.
In the Field: Night/Astro Photography

The first day that the D850 arrived on my doorstep for my Field Tests, the chances for auroras looked pretty good. The skies were going to be clear for a few hours after sunset and the moon was not going to be an issue, so I packed up the D850 with the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E lens it came with and headed to Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park. Having chased the northern lights many times, I know very well how much luck plays into it. You can make the trip and get all set up and no auroras develop. Sometimes an aurora display lasts less than a minute, other times it goes on for hours. In this case, the aurora appeared, but it was quite brief. While I was hoping for a longer display, the fast-paced situation proved to be a great test of the D850.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E lens at 27mm, f/2.8, 15s, ISO 4000.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E lens at 27mm, f/2.8, 15s, ISO 4000.
100% crop from the above modified image. Even at ISO 4000 and with moderate post-processing, the RAW file held up well. I applied some noise reduction to the image, but you can still make out good detail in the trees along the hilltop that would come out nicely in a large print. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

The very first image I captured with the camera after its arrival was an aurora shot. If you've never shot auroras, I assure you that they are very demanding, and no two displays are the same, meaning that you cannot completely rely on a predetermined group of settings. The D850's illuminated buttons proved very helpful as its control layout is a bit different than those of my D800E and D500 cameras. In a situation where every second counts, for a camera to be intuitive and user friendly is a great help. Plus, I was not yet familiar with the 24-70mm f/2.8E lens as far as infinity focusing is concerned. Every lens is a bit different in that regard, my 14-24mm f/2.8G is different from my 24-70mm f/2.8G, for example, and the 24-70mm f/2.8E is different from the older non-VR G version, too. The live view functionality worked very well and allowed me to quickly dial-in the manual focus.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Illuminated Buttons
The D850's illuminated buttons are an excellent feature for any photographer who regularly works in low-light, especially while you are still becoming familiar with the camera's control layout.

If you have used a recent high-end Nikon DSLR cameras, the D850 should feel familiar. There are minor differences in how the camera handles, but it's a Nikon DSLR through and through. This is a good thing, assuming you like how Nikon designs its cameras. Compared to the D800E, the Live View functionality of the D850 was superior during the night shooting expedition, and the tilting display was very helpful. The star of the show for me was the illuminated buttons though, which really helped me become familiar with the camera's layout.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E lens at 32mm, f/2.8, 15s, ISO 6400.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Nikon D850 versus Nikon D800/D810

As a Nikon D800E owner since that camera launched in April of 2012, I was very excited to get my hands on the Nikon D850. While I don't think that the D850 is the revolution that the D800 was, the D850 has improved upon its predecessor in essentially every meaningful way.

Not only is the D850 equipped with an excellent and improved sensor, but it also includes much faster continuous shooting, much better autofocus, better metering, a more refined camera body, a tilting touchscreen display and 4K video recording. There are many other improvements, but that list alone should be enough to make most D800/D810 owners consider upgrading.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Nikon D10 vs Nikon D850
While this comparison is not perfectly to scale, we can see that the Nikon D850 (right) looks quite a bit different than the D810 (left), particularly when we look at the back of the camera. The D850 includes a tilting touchscreen display, dedicated autofocus point joystick and a revised control layout. Not pictured, there is also a relocated ISO button on the top right portion of the D850's body. This button is on the left side of the top of the D810. In the favor of the D810, that camera has a built-in flash, whereas the D850, like the D500, ditches it.

Whereas the D800E was well-designed as a high-resolution DSLR camera, it came up short for faster or more demanding shooting scenarios. Wildlife photography has been difficult at times with the D800E due to the slow shooting speeds and somewhat lackluster autofocus performance. The D850, on the other hand, is one of the most versatile cameras I've tested. There is very little that the D850 cannot do. Never has a Nikon camera been better equipped to handle such a wide variety of photographic situations.

Field Test Part II Summary

The D850 is as impressive in the field as it is on paper

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E lens at 55mm, f/8, 1/160s, ISO 800.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

What I liked:

  • Great high ISO image quality
  • Impressive autofocus speed
  • Illuminated buttons

What I disliked:

  • Rear directional pad feels mushy and at times unresponsive
  • Some surprising missed focus at times
  • Not negative for the camera, but you'll need a quick computer and a lot of hard drive space

Thus far, the Nikon D850 has been a very impressive DSLR. It's everything that the D800/D810 was and a lot more. The camera's newfound speed is not only a welcome improvement, but likely a game changer for many photographers. If you're looking for high resolving capabilities and don't want to sacrifice speed, the D850 is the best option Nikon has to offer. While the D800/D810 was designed almost solely for high resolution applications, the Nikon D850 can handle essentially any type of photography.

Nikon D850 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E lens at 30mm, f/11, 3s, ISO 64.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Nikon has included a lot of video improvements in the D850 as well, which will be the primary focus of our third and final Nikon D850 Field Test, so stay tuned to Imaging Resource for that.


• • •


Nikon D850 Review -- Overview, Features and Specifications


The Nikon D850 is the direct successor to the D810, but it is much more than a mere megapixel upgrade or specifications bump. With the new D850, Nikon is not only targeting high-resolution shooters, but also photographers who demand speed, performance and high-end video recording as well. Let's dive into the new full-frame DSLR and see what it promises.

Nikon D850 Key Features

  • Weather-sealed magnesium alloy body with 200,000 cycle shutter
  • Tilting 3.2-inch high-res touchscreen
  • Touch operation for all menus
  • Nikon's biggest optical viewfinder ever
  • Dual card slots, including one XQD and one SD card slot
  • Illuminated buttons
  • New backside-illuminated 45.7 megapixel full-frame sensor without optical low pass filter (OLPF)
  • Native ISO range of 64 - 25,600, expandable down to ISO 32 and up to ISO 102,400
  • The same 153-point autofocus system as the Nikon D5 and D500
  • EXPEED 5 image processor
  • Up to 7 frames per second full-res continuous shooting (9 fps with the optional battery grip and EN-EL18 battery)
  • Focus-shift mode for up to 300 shots
  • 8K time lapse
  • Full-frame 4K UHD video recording at up to 30 frames per second
  • Slow motion Full HD video at up to 120 fps
  • Focus peaking when recording Full HD and using Live View
  • HDMI output for 4:2:2 8-bit 4K UHD footage and simultaneous internal and external recording
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for Nikon SnapBridge compatibility
Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

Nikon D850 Camera Body: Weather-sealed with a tilting touchscreen

The Nikon D850 remains a large full-frame DSLR, but there are some rather noticeable differences between the new camera and the D810. For starters, the D850 has a thinner and deeper grip than the D810. Further, the top portion of the camera, in particular the viewfinder pentaprism, has a different shape and is narrower on the D850. The D850 is equipped with a 0.75x magnification optical viewfinder with 100% coverage. This is Nikon's largest viewfinder to date, besting the 0.70x one found in the D810 and even the D5's viewfinder, which offers 0.72x magnification. You will also notice that the D850 now does not include a built-in flash, another change from its predecessor.

Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

With a magnesium alloy body and weather-sealing, the Nikon D850 is built to last and features a rugged design akin to the D500 and D5. The pro-oriented body has a shutter rated for 200,000 cycles. The D850 features the same excellent 3.2-inch 2.3M-dot touchscreen LCD and tilting mechanism as the D500, which can tilt up to just over 90 degrees and down to almost 90 degrees.

Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

Looking on the back of the D850, you'll notice that it includes an autofocus joystick selector, something the D810 did not include. There are a few other differences between the rear of the D850 and its predecessor, including a new Fn2 button and a few relocated buttons. Further, the D850's buttons are illuminated, which is a very nice feature for those who often shoot in low light.

Revisiting the top of the camera, the D850 has switched locations of the "Mode" and "ISO" buttons of its predecessor, meaning that the ISO button is now near the shutter release, placing all exposure-related controls within the reach of the shooter's right hand. This change was also seen on the D5 and D500 last year and proved popular with our reviewers.

Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

Looking at the overall size of the D850, it has dimensions of 5.7 x 4.9 x 3.1 inches (146 x 124 x 78.5 millimeters). This is essentially the same width as the D810, but is slightly taller and slightly thinner. The D850 body does weigh in at a hefty 32.3 ounces (915 grams), versus 31.0 ounces (880 grams) for the D810.

New backside-illuminated full-frame sensor promises resolution & performance

The D850 uses a brand-new image sensor. The 45.7-megapixel full-frame sensor is Nikon's highest megapixel sensor yet and is also their first backside-illuminated (BSI) full-frame sensor. The sensor was designed entirely by Nikon, although they told us that the manufacturing was contracted out, which is not unusual. However, it remains notable that the sensor, unlike some found in other Nikon DSLRs, is not off-the-shelf but rather built specifically to Nikon's specifications. As expected, the new sensor also has a built-in ultrasonic cleaning mechanism and dust-off image reference capabilities.

Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

While BSI sensors have been lauded for their improved low-light capabilities in the past, Nikon says that the bigger advantage in the case of the D850's sensor is that it allowed Nikon more flexibility in wiring, which improves the sensor's readout speed and the camera's overall performance. The D850's low-light performance should be very good as Nikon told us that users should expect a full stop improvement in image quality at higher ISOs compared to the D810. For example, an image captured at ISO 25,600 on the D850 should have similar quality to the D810 did when shooting at ISO 12,800. We will need to verify this in our lab, of course, but it sounds promising nonetheless. Further, the D850's native ISO range is 64 through 25,600. The camera can extend down to ISO 32 and up to ISO 51,200 and ISO 102,400.

The D850 can capture RAW images at 12-bit and 14-bit depths in compressed, lossless compressed and uncompressed modes. Further, the camera includes RAW large, medium and small shooting modes. The large mode produces 45.4-megapixel images with the latter two modes capturing 25.5 and 11.3-megapixel images, respectively.

Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

Regarding dynamic range, we don't yet have any official specifications as to what we can expect, and we'd need to see testing regardless, but Nikon did tell us that the dynamic range performance is as good or better than the class-leading D810's.

The D850's autofocus system is the same as the Nikon D5

We were impressed with the autofocus capabilities of the D810, but the D850 takes it to a new level. The Nikon D850 utilizes the same autofocus system as the Nikon D5 and D500, Nikon's flagship Multi-CAM 20K AF system. This sophisticated system includes 153 autofocus points, including 99 cross-type sensors and 15 autofocus points that support f/8 lenses. When using single-point autofocus, you can manually select 55 points, 35 of which are cross-type and 9 that support f/8 maximum lenses. Like the D5 and D500, the D850 also includes a dedicated autofocus processor to supply the necessary computational power for subject detection and tracking capabilities.

Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

Also like the D5 and D500 but unlike the D810, the D850 no longer has a built-in AF assist lamp. On the topic of the DX D500, we want to point out that the D850's DX mode has the same autofocus point coverage as is found on the D500.

Autofocus area modes include 9, 25, 72 and 153-point dynamic-area autofocus, auto-area AF, single-point AF (as mentioned, you can select from 55 points), 3D-tracking and group-area autofocus. The AF system is rated to operate from -4 to +20 EV. Focus modes when shooting through the viewfinder include single-servo, continuous-servo, predictive focus tracking, face-priority AF, full-time servo and normal area AF. The D5 and D500 blew us away with their autofocusing, so we expect more of the same from the D850 given its lineage.

When shooting in Live View, the D850 relies upon contrast-detect autofocus, and it can focus anywhere within the frame. A notable first for Nikon's DSLR cameras is that the D850 now offers focus peaking in Live View mode (and also when recording Full HD video -- more on that later). This is fantastic news and we are eager to try it out. Live View autofocus modes include face-priority AF, wide-area AF, normal-area AF, pinpoint AF and subject-tracking AF.

Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

EXPEED 5 image processor promises high-speed shooting

With its 45.7-megapixel sensor and advanced autofocus capabilities, Nikon has designed the D850 to be a balanced blend of imaging performance and speed. That is made more evident by the D850's performance specs. We must preface this section with the normal disclaimer that we need to test the camera in the lab before drawing conclusions, but the EXPEED 5-equipped D850 is designed to be a very speedy camera considering its resolution.

The D850 is rated to shoot full-resolution, 14-bit lossless compressed RAW images at up to 7 frames per second with a buffer depth of 51 frames. If you reduce the bit depth to 12-bit, that buffer is stated to increase to 170 frames. We've also been told that the buffer in DX mode is 200 frames.

Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

This is already a significant speed increase over the D810, and the D850 also has a new optional MB-D18 battery grip, which can utilize the same EN-EL18 battery as is found in the D5. With the grip attached and EN-EL18a/b battery installed, the D850 can shoot at up to 9 fps, which is very fast considering its sensor and megapixel count.

The D850 also includes quiet single-shot and continuous shooting modes, which now utilize an electronic front-curtain shutter. The drawback of the quiet continuous mode is that continuous shooting speed tops out at 3 frames per second. Electronic front-curtain shutter is also available in mirror-up release mode, just like in the D810.

An all-electronic shutter is available in Live View mode, for totally silent capture. It operates at up to 6 fps (with AF/AE locked) at full resolution, while an additional mode enables 8.6-megapixel image capture in DX crop mode at up to 30 fps.

Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image
Shooting Modes

Continuing the pattern of similarity with Nikon's other flagship cameras, the D850 also includes the metering sensor from the D5 and D500. The 180,000-pixel RGB metering sensor nearly doubles the number of pixels found in the D810's metering sensor and has an operating range in matrix metering mode of -3 to +20 EV. The D850 also includes center-weighted and spot metering modes, the latter of which is tied to the selected focus point when a CPU lens is used.

Regarding Picture Controls, the D850 includes Nikon's new Auto Picture Control in addition to its standard array of user-customizable Landscape, Monochrome, Neutral, Portrait, Standard, Vivid and Flat controls.

Like its predecessor, the D850 includes a shutter speed range of 30 seconds to 1/8000s in normal shooting modes and includes a Bulb mode for longer shutter speeds when using a remote control (the D850 is compatible with the MC-30A and MC-36A wired remote controls).

We've already discussed how the D850 offers different sized RAW files, but its high-megapixel sensor also offers ample flexibility for different crop factors. In addition to its full FX 36 x 24 frame, the D850 can shoot with 1.2X (30 x 20), DX (24 x 16), 5:4 (30 x 24) and 1:1 (24 x 24) crop factors. In terms of megapixel counts, those are 31.5, 19.4, 37.8 and 30.2 megapixels, respectively.

Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

In-camera batch RAW processing

The Nikon D850 allows users to batch process RAW files in-camera even faster than their computer at home, providing more flexibility in the field than ever before. Nikon told us that the D850 can convert a RAW file to a JPEG in as little as 1.5 seconds, which is very quick.

4K and 8K Time Lapse

During the Nikon D850 development announcement last month, Nikon shared that the camera would have 8K time lapse capabilities. The camera can be set, using its built-in intervalometer, to capture 8K images for compiling in external software. 8K UHD is about 33 megapixels, by the way. For users who want the camera to build the time-lapse movie itself, you're limited to 4K resolution.

Focus Stacking: Nikon D850 hopes to woo macro shooters with new built-in focus shifting

For macro shooters who like to use focus stacking, the D850 includes a special focus-shift mode designed just for that. You can record up to 300 shots at user-adjustable focus steps automatically, creating files which will be ready to be assembled into a composite focus stacked image using third-party software. Further, these files are saved in their own separate folder on your memory card, which will help with organization.

Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

Nikon D850 video: Full-frame 4K UHD video recording and much more

While primarily a stills camera, the D850 appears to be Nikon's most versatile DSLR to date for video shooters. The D850 can record full-frame 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) footage at up to 30 frames per second (29.97 fps). This means that the camera crops the top and bottom to create a 16:9 ratio, but does not crop in from the sides, which lets you use wide-angle lenses to their full potential. If you capture a photo during movie recording, it is a 38.3-megapixel file (8,256 x 4,640 pixels). The camera supports zebra stripe exposure warnings as well, a nice feature for helping spot blown highlights. The D850 includes an HDMI output, which allows the user to simultaneously record internally and externally, including recording 4:2:2 8-bit 4K UHD video to an external recorder.

For 1,920 x 1,080 (Full HD) video recording, the D850 sports a number of other neat features. The camera can record Full HD video at up to 60 frames per second, for starters, but it also offers focus peaking and electronic vibration reduction (which will crop the frame slightly). The D850 also offers a nifty slow-motion capture mode as well, which captures Full HD video at up to 120fps.

Maximum continuous recording time per clip is 29 minutes and 59 seconds, and it records in MOV and MP4 movie formats using the H.264/MPEG-4 codec. As with Live View still shooting, the D850 utilizes contrast-detect autofocus for video recording. Like the D810, the D850 includes both microphone and headphone inputs.

In case you missed it, for more on the Nikon D850 video features,
click here to read our Nikon D850 Video Preview.

Ports, Power, Connectivity and Accessories
Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

The front of the Nikon D850 includes a ten-pin remote terminal, which is compatible with the Nikon MC-30A and MC-36A remote controls. Along the sides of the camera, you will find SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.0 Micro-B), HDMI (Type C mini-pin), 3.5mm stereo mini-pin and headphone jacks.

Looking at the camera's storage interface, the D850 includes dual card slots. One slot is an XQD slot and the other is a UHS-II compliant SD card slot. As far as recording features are concerned, the D850 allows you to copy images between the two slots, use them as backup, overflow or even split RAW and JPEG recording across the two different slots.

The Nikon D850 is compatible with Nikon's GP-1 and GP-1A GPS units, the ML-3 and WR/A10/WR-R10 radio flash accessories. The D850 is fully compatible with Nikon's latest radio-enabled flash, the SB-5000. You are able to control remote flashes from within the D850's menu system, including group configuration, power and more.

Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

The D850 is powered by an EN-EL15a lithium-ion battery, which is rated for 1,840 shots per charge or 70 minutes of HD video recording. The camera is compatible with a new MB-D18 Multi Power Battery Pack (sold separately for around US$400) that can use an EN-EL18a/b lithium-ion battery. When using an EN-EL18 battery in the attached optional battery grip, as we've mentioned, shooting speeds increase to 9 frames per second, and the camera's battery life leaps to 5,140 shots! The grip also supports an EN-EL15(a) battery pack or eight AA batteries, though with no speed boost.

Wireless connectivity is provided via built-in Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) and Bluetooth 4.1 (low energy). The D850 is compatible with Nikon's SnapBridge platform, allowing for an always-on connection between your D850 and smartphone. The SnapBridge functionality is the same as the Nikon D7500, meaning that you have your standard SnapBridge assortment of remote control and image transfer features. For enhanced file transfer performance, the D850 is compatible with Nikon's WT-7A Wireless Transmitter, which includes an Ethernet port in addition to its 802.11ac wireless standard.

For users with 35mm slides or negatives they'd like to digitize, Nikon offers an optional ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter. Alongside a compatible Micro-Nikkor lens, this accessory enables super high-resolution digitizing of slides or negatives and allows for in-camera conversion to positives. The D850 inverts and corrects color right in the camera. The ES-2 will have a suggested retail price just under US$150.

Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

Nikon D850 versus Nikon D810: The biggest differences

While there are many more differences than can be covered in this section, we want to point out some of the bigger differences in the features and specifications between the new Nikon D850 and the Nikon D810.

  • Sensor: The Nikon D850 has a 45.7-megapixel full-frame backside-illuminated sensor. This is nearly 10 megapixels more than the 36.3-megapixel sensor found in the Nikon D810. The D850 offers a wider ISO range than the D810 as well, with a native range of 64 through 25,600 compared to 64 through 12,800 and an expandable range that has the same low value of ISO 32 but a higher 102,400 top end. There is a similarity between the D850 and D810's sensors though; they both lack an optical low pass filter.
  • Autofocus: With the same autofocus system as the Nikon D5 and D500 cameras, the D850 offers up a total of 153 autofocus points, over 100 more than is found in the 51-point AF system the D810 utilizes. In addition to the many more points, the D850 also has 84 more cross-type autofocus points and four more which are usable with maximum f/8 aperture lenses. Further, the D850 has a dedicated autofocus processor, which should result in better speed, accuracy and subject tracking capabilities presuming the D5 and D500 are the reliable indicators we expect them to be.
  • Performance: With its EXPEED 5 image processor, the D850 promises faster shooting speeds by about two frames per second than the D810. Further, the D850 also should offer an expanded burst length thanks in part to its XQD card slot and UHS-II support for its SD card slot.
  • Shooting Modes: While the D810 offered a lot of shooting modes, the D850 brings in new features including an Auto Picture Control, built-in 4K and 8K time-lapse modes, electronic front-curtain shutter quiet modes, an all-electronic shutter Live View mode, a built-in Focus Stacking feature, Auto AF Fine Tune, radio-controlled flash support, and SnapBridge connectivity.
  • Video: There are a lot of improvements and new features for stills shooters, but the D850 ups its game in the video department as well. Not only does it top the D810 with 4K UHD video recording, it also bests the D5 by being the first full-frame Nikon camera to offer 4K recording with the full width of the sensor. Plus for Full HD shooters, the D850 also includes slow motion recording at up to 120 fps, which the D810 did not include.
  • Camera Body: There have been numerous changes made to the D850 camera body itself. There is a new autofocus selector joystick and some relocated buttons, including the newly-placed ISO button. Plus the D850 has illuminated buttons. Further, the rear 3.2-inch display on the D850 tilts, is a touchscreen and has more resolution than the D810's non-touch, non-tilting rear display. On the other hand, the D810 did have a built-in flash and AF assist lamp, something that the D850 lacks. On the connectivity side of things, the D850 has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, whereas its predecessor lacked the latter features.
Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

Summary: Our First Take on the Nikon D850

Though we've yet to put the camera through its paces, a few things stand out about the D850. First, it's a unique blend of resolving power and speed, especially if you're using the optional battery grip. Whereas the D810 was primarily aimed at slower-paced shooting, such as landscapes, still life work, portraits, etc., the D850 appears well-suited to nearly any type of photography, including sports shooting. Nine frames per second, or even 7fps without the grip, is plenty fast for a lot of uses. It can't offer D5 speed, of course, but it comes impressively close for a 45-megapixel full-frame camera. No camera can do everything perfectly, of course, but the D850 sure is trying hard and looks to come much closer to that goal than its predecessor.

With the D850, Nikon now has a trio of cameras powered by the same EXPEED 5 image processor that utilize a 153-point autofocus system. The D5 and D500 delivered fantastic autofocus performance during our testing, and there is no reason not to expect more of the same from the D850. The D850 also features a higher-resolution sensor than either of those cameras, so it'll be curious to see if the more demanding sensor exposes any shortcomings of the otherwise very good autofocus performance.

Although filled to the brim with features still shooters will appreciate, the D850 also intrigues as us a video camera. While video has felt less like an afterthought on more recent Nikon DSLR cameras, it has not been a strong feature. The D850 finally incorporates full-frame 4K UHD video recording, so we are very eager to test that out as more and more users are demanding video features in their cameras. The D850, unfortunately, still relies on contrast-detect AF for live view shooting (both stills and video), though the D850 has finally incorporated focus peaking.

Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

Touchscreens are here to stay. The D5 and D500 incorporated touchscreen displays to varying extents, and the recent D7500 upped its game with more touchscreen integration. The D850 continues that trend and also features the same robust tilting display as the D500.

Considering the changes to the camera body, the brand-new image sensor and many shooting features in the new D850, Nikon is making a strong case for D800/D810 users to upgrade and is certainly targeting new customers, as well. Based on what we know about the new Nikon D850, the word that comes to mind first is perhaps "versatility." Stay tuned to Imaging Resource for more coverage, and we will let you know if the D850 lives up to the hype as soon as we get our hands on the camera.

Nikon D850 Pricing and Availability

The Nikon D850 will be available starting in September with a suggested retail price of US$3,299.95. The optional battery grip has a suggested price of US$399.95, while the ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter will retail for US$149.95. The D850 will be available in a body-only configuration and no information is available at this time regarding potential kits.


Nikon D850 Product Tour


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B&H Photo Nikon D850 Live Panel Discussion

A B&H live panel discussion with David Flores and Brittany Leigh (YouTube personality), with Nikon Ambassadors Matthew Jordan Smith and Andrew Hancock. Tweet your questions to the panel with hashtag -- #BHPhotoLive -- which also puts you in the running for a chance to win a Nikon D850!

Additional, Nikon will be hosting an exclusive livestream at on August 29 at 6:00 p.m. EDT, where interested photographers can learn even more about the camera.


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Nikon D850 First Shots Comparison Crops

Pitting this heavyweight against the 5D IV, 5DS R, GFX, D810 & A7R II

by Zig Weidelich |

Nikon D750 image qualityHere we compare the Nikon D850's JPEG image quality at base ISO and at ISO 6400 to that of its predecessor's, the Nikon D810, as well as to a number of competing DSLRs or mirrorless cameras: the Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon 5DS R, Fuji GFX and Sony A7R II. Stay tuned for a more detailed comparison and analysis as our Nikon D850 review progresses!

For those interested in working with the RAW files involved: click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Nikon D850, Nikon D810, Canon 5D IV, Canon 5DS R, Fuji GFX, and Sony A7R II -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Nikon D850 to any camera we've ever tested!

Nikon D850 Video Preview

The D850 is proof Nikon is finally taking video seriously

by Jaron Schneider |

Nikon D850 video preview illustrationThere have been multiple attempts over the last five or so years by Nikon to show their customers that they are not just a still photography system. Ashton Kutcher tried to convince us, their haphazardly thrown together (and often neglected) filmmaking section on their website had some nice images, and they have liked to talk about making films with their cameras. But in all honesty, few did. As much as Nikon said they supported filmmakers, the words rarely felt backed up by action as their cameras' features fell behind competitor offerings.

But finally, when I look at the D850, I think there are signs that is changing. With the features that Nikon has built in to their new flagship, I think it's fair to say they're finally taking video seriously.

Nikon D850 Field Test Part I

Nikon's megapixel monster is more versatile than ever

by William Brawley |

Nikon D850 field test photoIntroduction
Back in 2012 when Nikon launched the D800 and D800E, those models, in a sense, reignited the megapixel race amongst camera manufacturers. At the time, no other DSLR offered that kind of resolution. Yet despite the high megapixel count -- which has the potential to be detrimental to image quality, particular at higher ISOs -- the Nikon D800-series, both the original and successor D810 model, have all earned rave reviews for image quality performance.

These high-resolution Nikon DSLRs, while an excellent choice for crisp, detailed photos of slower, more deliberate subjects such as landscapes, portraiture and architecture, often compromised on speed, namely continuous burst shooting rates. Now, don't get me wrong, the D800 and D810 weren't slow, sluggish cameras, but at about 4fps and 5fps, respectively, for their maximum burst rates, they weren't exactly designed as the go-to choice for professionals when it came to photographing sports and action subjects.


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