Nikon D850 Snap Verdict

Here at Camera Jabber we were lucky to get one of the first Nikon D850 review units in the UK. The Nikon D850 is a full-frame or FX format DSLR with 45.7 million pixels on its backlit CMOS sensor. It sits below the Nikon D5 in the company’s DSLR line-up and above the D810 (which is set to continue). While the 45.7Mp sensor ensures plenty of detail is captured, the maximum shooting rate of 7fps, which can be boosted to 9fps with the optional battery-grip, plus the superb 153-point AF system should give the D850 all-round appeal for experienced photographers, professionals and dedicated enthusiasts.

Read on to see how it performed in our tests. Or watch our Nikon D850 review video above, which we filmed on location in Devon, England, where we were shooting with the camera.

We filmed our Nikon D850 review video with a GoPro Hero5 Black mounted on a Karma Grip, using the GoPro’s built-in mic, so please excuse the wind and tinny audio in places!

For

  • 45.7Mp full-frame back-illuminated sensor
  • 7fps continuous shooting (9fps with optional MB-D18 Multi-Power Battery Pack)
  • 153-point Flagship AF system

Against

  • High price
  • AF points clustered around the centre of the frame
  • Live View and Video focusing system lags behind the competition

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Nikon D850 Features & Specifications

Inside the D850 is a full-frame (35.9 x 23.9mm) sensor with 45.7 million effective pixels. As the sensor is backlit and the micro lenses are gapless the photoreceptors (aka pixels) have the maximum opportunity to gather light. This and the Expeed 5 processing engine has enabled Nikon to give the camera a standard sensitivity range of ISO 64-25,600. There are also expansion settings that extend the range to the equivalent of ISO 32-102,400.

Another feature that will have the ears of Nikon lovers pricking up is the inclusion of the same autofocus (AF) system as is in Nikon’s flagship camera, the D5. This has 153 points with the centre point being sensitive down to -4EV and the rest being sensitive down to -3EV. A total of 99 of the points are cross-type. It means that the D850 should be suitable for shooting sport and action in low light conditions.

Of the 153 points, up to 55 are available for individual selection but if you find that too many it can be reduced to 15 via the menu. In continuous autofocus mode it’s also possible to set the D850 to use a single AF point or a group of 9, 25, 72 or 153 points. There’s also Nikon’s Group-area AF and 3D-tracking options with the latter using colour information to follow the subject.

In the D5 the AF system is paired with a maximum shooting rate of 12fps with continuous AF and exposure metering. However, whereas the D5 is a 20.8Mp flagship camera aimed at professional sports photographers and photojournalists, the D850 is a 45.7Mp model designed for a wider audience. Nevertheless, the D850 can shoot at up to 7fps as standard and 9fps when the optional MB-D18 Multi-Power Battery Pack.

These high frame rates can be maintained for up to 51 14-bit lossless compressed raw files (the D810 can only manage 28 at 5fps) or 170 12-bit lossless compressed raw files.

Nikon D850 Review Product Shot

Thanks to an electronic shutter if you switch to Live View when Silent Live View mode is enabled via the menu it’s possible to shoot full-frame (FX) images at 6fps or APS-C (DX) format at 30fps completely silently. That could be extremely useful for sports and wedding photographers who need to avoid mirror and shutter movement sounds.

Shooting 45.7Mp images at 7fps or 9fps will fill a card pretty quickly but the D850 can record 12-bit lossless compressed raw files at three different sizes, full resolution, medium (25.5 Mp) and small (11.3 Mp). This means that in the medium settings the D850 produces larger images than the D500 and with the MB-D18 Multi-Power Battery Pack its maximum frame rate is only 1fps slower.

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The high frame rates and deep burst depths mean that D850 users are likely to record a lot of raw files. With this in mind Nikon has included an in-camera raw file batch-processing feature that lets you apply the same adjustment to selected images. The original raw files and the processed jpegs can be saved to an XQD card. Alternatively, the originals can be saved to the XQD card and the jpegs to an SD card in the second slot – that could be useful for anyone who needs to make a tweak to raw files before handing over jpegs.

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Macro photographers may be pleased to learn that the D850 has a Focus Shift Shooting option. In this mode the camera can shoot up to 300 images in a sequence with a specified shift in focus between every shot. These images can then be merged in a post-processing software package that supports focus stacking.

Like the D5 the D850 has a 180,000-pixel RGB sensor to inform the metering, white balance, autofocusing and scene recognition system. This functions down to -3EV – useful for low light photography.

Nikon’s SnapBridge technology has also been included in the D850 to enable images to be shared automatically to a smartphone connected via the free app.

Nikon D850 Review Product Shot

Nikon D850 video

Aiming to benefit from Nikon’s wide-angle lenses, the D850 is capable of producing 4K/UHD (3,840 x 2160) video at 30, 25 or 24p with no cropping. Alternatively, Full HD (1920 x 1080) video can be recorded at 60, 50, 30, 25 or 24p. In addition, there’s a 4x / 5x slow-motion Full HD movie option.

As well as recording video to a card in the camera, it’s possible to simultaneously record uncompressed 4:2:2 8-bit 4K files onto an external drive via an HDMI connection.

Video can be saved in MP4 or MOV format.

The inclusion of an intervalometer enables the creation of 4K time lapse movies in-camera. In addition, stills can be shot to create 8K time lapse movies but the video has to be created using a computer rather than in-camera.

Nikon has stuck with a contrast detection autofocus system for Live View and Video mode. In addition to Normal-area AF (single point), Wide-area, Pin-point, Face Detection and Subject tracking AF modes are available.

Nikon D850 Review Product Shot

Camera type:DSLR
Date announced:24th August 2017
Price at launch:3499.99/$3,296.95 Body only
Sensor size:Full-frame (35.9 x 23.9mm)
Effective pixel count:45.7 million
Lens/Mount:Nikon F
Processor:Expeed 5
Sensitivity range:ISO 64-25.600 expandable to ISO 32-102.400 for stills and video
Reflex AF system:153-point with 99 cross-type
Live View AF System:Contrast detection
Max shooting rate:7fps as standard, 9fps with optional MB-D18 multi-power battery pack (with EN-EL18B battery)
Max video resolution:4K/UHD (3,840 x 2160) video at 30, 25 or 24p with no cropping
Storage:SD UHS-II and XQD
Viewfinder:Optical with pentaprism 100% coverage and 0.75 magnification
Screen:Tilting, touch-sensitive 3.2-inch TFT LCD with 2,359,000 dots
Dimensions:146×124×78.5mm / 5.8×4.9×3.1inches
Weight:1,005g / 2lb 3.5oz with battery and XQD memory card but without body cap;
915g /2lb 0.3oz camera body only

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