Nikon D850 Build and Handling
The D850’s high pixel count will make it appealing to landscape photographers. To ensure it survives the type of conditions that these users are likely to experience, Nikon has made the D850’s top, rear and bottom covers, along with the internal body structure, from magnesium alloy and applied weather- and dust-sealing to all the joints.
I used the D850 in persistent drizzle and driving wind on a sandy beach (I had to wipe it clean when I got home) and it survived.
In addition, the shutter is tested to 200,000 cycles and for the first time in a Nikon DSLR there’s a counterbalance in the shutter drive to reduce vibration caused by the shutter’s front curtain downward movement. It certainly feels smoother than some earlier Nikon cameras when you’re blasting away at 7fps.
A shutter monitor also calculates the time between the front- and rear-curtain movements each time it’s fired and it corrects any variance automatically for precise exposures.
While you wouldn’t describe the D850 as a small camera, it’s the single-grip type and therefore nowhere near as beefy as the D5. It’s interesting to compare its dimensions to the D810 and D500. It’s actually a smidgen smaller than the D810 (146×124×78.5mm vs 146x123x81.5mm) and only a little bigger than the APS-C format D500 (146×124×78.5mm vs 147x115x81mm).
Nikon has used a very similar control layout to the Nikon D500 for the D850, and D810 users will notice a few small differences.
One of the most noticeable is that the D850’s mode button is within the four-button cluster above the release mode dial on the left of the top-plate. Also, the ISO button is just behind the shutter release, putting it within convenient reach of your index finger when the camera is held to your eye.
Happily, the mini-joystick controller that’s found on the back of the D500 is also present on the D850 and it offers a quick and convenient means of selecting the focus point that you want to use.
Frustratingly, however, Nikon has continued to use the I and Info buttons on the D850 with Info button activating a display that shows key settings but not allowing any interaction or adjustment. Meanwhile pressing the I button brings-up a list of features that can be adjusted but that in stills mode includes aspects such as ‘Custom control arrangement’ that you’re unlikely to want to use on a frequent basis. It’s a bit more relevant in video mode, however, giving a quick means of adjusting aspects such as headphone volume and peaking level.
Nikon has mounted the D850’s 3.2-inch 2,359,000-dot rear screen on a tilting bracket and made it touch-sensitive. That’s particularly good news for videographers but it’s also handy for anyone who likes to shoot low-level images in landscape format.
The screen is the same as the one on the Nikon D5 and it provides a very nice, clear view, making images look crisp and vibrant. It’s also responsive to a tap of your finger AND you can use it to navigate the menu and make setting selections as well as zoom in and out of images.