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
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 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

Table of Contents

Nikon D850 Review -- First Shots Comparison Crops

by Zig Weidelich

Below 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 versus Nikon D810 at Base ISO

Nikon D850 at ISO 64
Nikon D810 at ISO 64
Nikon D850 at ISO 64
Nikon D810 at ISO 64
Nikon D850 at ISO 64
Nikon D810 at ISO 64

Above we compare the new 45.7-megapixel Nikon D850 to its predecessor, the 36.3-megapixel D810 at base ISO. It's easy to see that the D850 definitely resolves more detail than the D810, as it should. Noise levels from the D850 appear to be similar if not a touch lower, which bodes well for high ISO performance. The D810 produces better contrast in our tricky red-leaf swatch, however there are also much stronger moiré patterns. Neither camera has an anti-aliasing filter and aliasing artifacts will of course vary with resolution, distance and subject matter, so this is not really a surprise. Processing remains similar, with both cameras producing very sharp, crisp images but with visible sharpening halos around high-contrast edges. Colors are pleasing from both cameras, though the D850's are a bit warmer and saturation of most colors is a bit higher.

Nikon D850 versus Canon 5D IV at Base ISO

Nikon D850 at ISO 64
Canon 5D IV at ISO 100
Nikon D850 at ISO 64
Canon 5D IV at ISO 100
Nikon D850 at ISO 64
Canon 5D IV at ISO 100

Although the Nikon D850 offers a ~50% higher pixel count than the 30.4-megapixel Canon 5D Mark IV, we decided to compare them anyway, since they are similarly priced and can both shoot 4K video. (Below we compare the D850 to the higher resolution Canon 5DS R.) Here we see the D850 easily out-resolves the 5D Mark IV, though noise levels are a bit higher from the Nikon. The Nikon image is also a lot crisper, mostly thanks to better default processing. Once again, the lower resolution 5D IV shows stronger moiré patterns in our red-leaf swatch despite having an optical low-pass filter, however the D850 shows stronger aliasing in other areas of our test scene. Both cameras produce pleasing colors, though the Nikon's colors are generally more saturated and warmer.

Nikon D850 versus Canon 5DS R at Base ISO

Nikon D850 at ISO 64
Canon 5DS R at ISO 100
Nikon D850 at ISO 64
Canon 5DS R at ISO 100
Nikon D850 at ISO 64
Canon 5DS R at ISO 100

Here we can see the tables are turned with the 50.6-megapixel Canon 5DS R capturing a bit more detail than the Nikon D850, however the Nikon image is crisper with higher contrast, though sharpening halos are more evident. Noise levels are roughly similar except in the deep shadows where the Canon is noisier. Both cameras produce pleasing color, however the Nikon's is again more saturated and warmer.

Nikon D850 versus Fuji GFX at Base ISO

Nikon D850 at ISO 64
Fuji GFX at ISO 100
Nikon D850 at ISO 64
Fuji GFX at ISO 100
Nikon D850 at ISO 64
Fuji GFX at ISO 100

We've decided to include the 51.4-megapixel medium format Fuji GFX as sort of a benchmark here, even though it is roughly twice the price and doesn't offer nearly the type of performance that the D850 does. Also be aware that the GFX's sensor has a 4:3 aspect ratio while the rest in this group have a 3:2 aspect ratio, so the GFX has more of a resolution advantage over the others than their relative pixel counts would imply here, as we frame this shot vertically. (The D850 and GFX both produce images with 8256 pixels in the horizontal axis, but the Fuji yields 6192 pixels in the vertical, versus 5504 pixels for the Nikon.) As you can see, the GFX handily out-resolves the D850 and has lower noise levels as well. Both offer very crisp images, but the Fuji generates less obvious sharpening halos around high-contrast edges. The Nikon produces higher contrast though, particularly in our tricky red-leaf swatch. Both cameras offer pleasing, vibrant color though again the Nikon is a bit warmer and overall the Fuji's colors are a little more accurate.

Nikon D850 versus Sony A7R II at Base ISO

Nikon D850 at ISO 64
Sony A7R II at ISO 100
Nikon D850 at ISO 64
Sony A7R II at ISO 100
Nikon D850 at ISO 64
Sony A7R II at ISO 100

Here we compare the D850 to the 42.4-megapixel Sony A7R II. Although the D850 has slightly higher resolution, both resolve very similar amounts of detail and produce very crisp images, however the Sony image contains fewer sharpening halo artifacts due to a more sophisticated sharpening algorithm. Contrast is higher from the Nikon, though, and color is slightly more saturated as well. The Sony produces good color, however it pushes yellow toward green while the Nikon does not, and the Nikon is a bit warmer overall.

Nikon D850 versus Nikon D810 at ISO 6400

Nikon D850 at ISO 6400
Nikon D810 at ISO 6400
Nikon D850 at ISO 6400
Nikon D810 at ISO 6400
Nikon D850 at ISO 6400
Nikon D810 at ISO 6400

Here we jump up to ISO 6400 to get an idea of how high ISO performance compares. At ISO 6400, luminance noise appears to be a bit lower from the D850, but chrominance noise is much lower than the D810. This is likely why the D810 hangs onto a lot more detail in our troublesome red-leaf swatch than the D850. In most other areas, the D850 still manages to resolve more detail, however its resolution advantage isn't as much as it was at base ISO. Still, a very nice improvement over the D810 overall.

Nikon D850 versus Canon 5D IV at ISO 6400

Nikon D850 at ISO 6400
Canon 5D IV at ISO 6400
Nikon D850 at ISO 6400
Canon 5D IV at ISO 6400
Nikon D850 at ISO 6400
Canon 5D IV at ISO 6400

Noise levels are lower from the Canon 5D Mark IV as expected, however the D850 still manages to resolve more detail with better clarity in most areas. Both struggle with our difficult red-leaf swatch, however the Canon holds onto more of the leaf pattern while the Nikon still retains some of the thread pattern. Again, colors are a little warmer from the Nikon.

Nikon D850 versus Canon 5DS R at ISO 6400

Nikon D850 at ISO 6400
Canon 5DS R at ISO 6400
Nikon D850 at ISO 6400
Canon 5DS R at ISO 6400
Nikon D850 at ISO 6400
Canon 5DS R at ISO 6400

Luminance noise is much higher from the 5DS R here at ISO 6400 though the Canon manages to hold onto a bit more high-contrast detail than the Nikon. Noise reduction artifacts are however more apparent from the Canon giving fine detail a somewhat crunchy, stippled appearance. The Nikon does slightly better with our red-leaf swatch, though both blur most of the leaf pattern away, however the Canon retains more detail in the pink fabric.

Nikon D850 versus Fuji GFX at ISO 6400

Nikon D850 at ISO 6400
Fuji GFX at ISO 6400
Nikon D850 at ISO 6400
Fuji GFX at ISO 6400
Nikon D850 at ISO 6400
Fuji GFX at ISO 6400

The Fuji GFX easily bests the Nikon D850 here at ISO 6400, with much better detail, lower noise and a tighter noise "grain," though contrast is a bit higher from the D850. However, as mentioned in our GFX review, the Fuji requires about 2/3 EV longer exposures than most cameras so keep that in mind. Still, even when comparing to the D850 at ISO 3200, the GFX comes out ahead thanks to its higher resolution, larger pixels and more sophisticated processing.

Nikon D850 versus Sony A7R II at ISO 6400

Nikon D850 at ISO 6400
Sony A7R II at ISO 6400
Nikon D850 at ISO 6400
Sony A7R II at ISO 6400
Nikon D850 at ISO 6400
Sony A7R II at ISO 6400

Luminance noise levels appear higher from the Sony here at ISO 6400, with the Nikon producing a slightly tighter, more consistent noise "grain" as well. The Sony manages to hold onto fine detail a little better than the D850, particularly in our red-leaf swatch, however the A7R II's area-specific noise reduction algorithm arguably produces a slightly more "processed" look. The D850 still shows higher contrast in most areas, however sharpening halos continue to be more visible than from the A7R II, and the Sony image appears a little crisper. Again we prefer the colors from the Nikon, but overall it's a pretty close race here with both cameras producing very good images for this sensitivity.


• • •


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



Nikon D850 Review -- Video

The D850 is proof Nikon is finally taking video seriously

by Jaron Schneider

Product Image

There 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.

Here are the Nikon D850's video features:

  • Full-frame 4K UHD: at 24/30 fps
  • Slow Motion: Full HD 1080p at up to 120 fps (4x or 5x)
  • Focus Peaking: When shooting Full HD or in Live View for stills, focus peaking can be enabled which highlights in-focus subjects in the frame to ensure sharpness.
  • 8K / 4K Time-lapse: Create 4K UHD time-lapse videos easily in-camera, or can use the built in intervalometer to capture images for an ultra-high resolution 8K time lapse that can be assembled in post.
  • Zebra stripes: The D850's highlight display mode uses zebra patterns to quickly spot overblown highlights. It is available in two varieties, selectable according to the patterns and textures of the subjects.
  • HDMI output: Record uncompressed, broadcast quality 4:2:2 8-bit 4K UHD footage, directly to an external digital recorder while simultaneously recording to a card.
  • Audio Control: The D850 features an onboard stereo microphone, as well as inputs for headphones and microphone. The camera also features a new audio attenuator to regulate sound levels.
  • Dual card slots: XQD and SD UHS-II
  • Tilting LCD Touchscreen: 3.2-inch, high resolution (2,359k-dot) LCD monitor.
  • EXPEED 5: New processor allows for full-frame 4K UHD video capture and greater power efficiency for longer battery life.

Full video specs:

  • 4K UHD 3,840x2,160 / 30 fps @ 144Mbps
  • 4K UHD 3,840x2,160 / 25 fps @ 144Mbps
  • 4K UHD 3,840x2,160 / 24 fps @ 144Mbps
  • Full HD 1,920x1,080 / 60 fps @ 48 Mbps
  • Full HD 1,920x1,080 / 50 fps @ 48 Mbps
  • Full HD 1,920x1,080 / 30 fps @ 24 Mbps
  • Full HD 1,920x1,080 / 25 fps @ 24 Mbps
  • Full HD 1,920x1,080 / 24 fps @ 24 Mbps
  • HD 1,280x720 / 60 fps @ 24 Mbps
  • HD 1,280x720 / 50 fps @ 24 Mbps
  • Slow-motion: Full HD 1,920x1,080 30p (x4) @ 36 Mbps
  • Slow-motion: Full HD 1,920x1,080 25p (x4) @ 36 Mbps
  • Slow-motion: Full HD 1,920x1,080 24p (x5) @ 29 Mbps

Actual frame rates for 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, and 24p are 59.94, 50, 29.97, 25, and 23.976 fps, respectively.

Quality selection available at all sizes except 3,840 x 2,160 (when quality is fixed at high) and 1,920 x 1,080 slow-motion (when quality is fixed at normal). Bitrates provided above are at sample from "high quality."

  • Format: Recorded in MOV or MP4, H.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding
  • Maximum recording time: 29 minutes 59 seconds. Each movie will be recorded across up to 8 files of up to 4 GB each. The number of files and the length of each file vary with the options selected for Frame size/frame rate and Movie quality.
  • Live View Autofocus: Contrast-detect AF anywhere in frame (camera selects focus point automatically when face-priority AF or subject-tracking AF is selected).

Exciting features on Nikon's new pro full-frame DSLR

Focus Peaking on a DSLR

Focus peaking, or highlighting edges of subjects in focus on a display, is an absolute must for video professionals. It's a standard feature on every serious video camera, and has been noticeably absent from most DSLRs out there -- certainly none from Canon or Nikon before the D850 have had it. That's right: bafflingly, hardly any DSLR has ever included the feature despite the competition (mirrorless) happily including it on basically every model ever. It's handy for both stills and video, but for motion pictures, it makes manual focusing (a common decision for making video) faster and more accurate than the alternative (zooming in and dialing in focus which is slow, or rack focusing with parfocal lenses, which are rare).

Someone at Nikon decided to take a stand and give the masses what they wanted, and the D850 is one of the few DSLRs to offer focus peaking in video. Though it's only available for the 1080p features (not in 4K), this is a huge step in the right direction.

Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

True Full Frame 4K

I hope that this doesn't get passed over, because having true full frame 4K video is spectacular. The D850's FX BSI CMOS sensor allows 4K UHD output at the full sensor width to 16:9, which gives video shooters a true field of view when shooting video.

This is exceedingly rare in any full frame camera.

For most, including Canon, there is a crop (often times significant) that brings the actual field of view down to at APS-C size, sometimes smaller. That means that what you see with your 24-70mm lens, for example, in stills isn't what you see with the same scene and the same lens equipped in 4K video.

One of the main benefits of shooting video with a DSLR is getting that "full frame look," and cropping in dramatically takes away from that benefit. Keeping the true field of view means making dynamic, dramatic full frame video that is going to look unique among video options on the market.

Full HD, true slow motion

Much of the slow-motion video that shooters are used to seeing on DSLRs is just barely slowed down thanks to shooting at a maximum of 60p on a 24p or 30p sequence. The D850 offers up to 5x slow motion in 1080p (if final video output is 24p, otherwise it is 4x slow motion in both 30p and 25p) thanks to a 120 frame per second capture rate. That is slow enough to really see incredible detail in action sequences, and is a welcome addition to any video camera.

Additionally, 4K isn't for everyone. Often, shooters want to only shoot in 1080p, and it's nice to see that Nikon included five different 1080p settings, both in NTSC and PAL frame rates.

Built-In Timelapse

Nikon is touting both 4K and 8K timelapse, and it's the latter that will be of most interest to the higher-end shooter. For quick, in-camera timelapse, the 4K mode allows you to have the camera do most of the work, stitching together stills and outputting a finished 4K video file. If you prefer a PC-based workflow, if you bring the D850 stills in for editing the final output video can be up to 8K, the next in-demand video resolution.

In terms of timelapse, the D850 is ready to offer ultra high definition now, and is future-proof to provide content for even higher resolutions as the demand arises.

Nikon D850 Review -- Product Image

Other welcome features

  • The clean HDMI out at 4:2:2 8-bit is nice to see, especially since the D850 can record in-camera as well as to an external recorder simultaneously. For those looking for the best quality the camera can offer, this is pretty darn good.
  • Both a headphone and mic jack together is of course a must-have, and Nikon delivered.
  • A tilting screen is always welcome, and it being touch-capable as well is great.
  • Zebra striping for exposure is a big plus, and many video shooters can't imagine using a camera that doesn't have this feature.

Looking at the Nikon D850, I'm seeing a lot more pros than potential cons. Though it doesn't offer 60p at 4K, which is disappointing, the bitrates for 1080p video (including slow motion) seem a bit low, and the autofocus is only contrast-based, the other features Nikon built into the D850 certainly shine brighter than these concerns. Though I'll reserve judgement until we get a hands-on, there is quite a bit about which to be excited. If nothing else, the D850 shows that Nikon may finally be ready to commit to competing as a video system.


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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 nikonusa.com/live on August 29 at 6:00 p.m. EDT, where interested photographers can learn even more about the camera.


Enter this month to win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate