Nikon D850 First Shots Comparo

 
Camera Reviews / Nikon Cameras / Nikon D i Now Shooting!

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.



Enter this month to win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate