Extreme resolution meets extreme speed
- Nikon-designed back-side illuminated (BSI) full-frame image sensor with no optical low-pass filter
- 45.7 megapixels of extraordinary resolution, outstanding dynamic range and virtually no risk of moiré
- 153-point AF system linked to 180,000-pixel metering system
- Up to 9 fps continuous shooting at full resolution with full AF performance
- 8K and 4K time-lapse movies with new levels of sharpness and detail
- 3.2″ Tilting touchscreen, Focus Shift shooting mode, outstanding battery performance and much more
- 4K Ultra HD video recording, slow motion up to 120 FPS at 1080p
- The lowest base ISO (ISO 64) of any DSLR or mirrorless camera
- 19.4MP DX crop (or 8.6MP at 30fps for up to 3 sec)
- SnapBridge full-time Bluetooth LE connection system with Wi-Fi
- Advanced time-lapse options (including in-camera 4K video creation)
- 1 XQD slot and 1 UHS II-compliant SD slot
- Battery life rated at 1840 shots
The use of a backside illuminated (BSI) sensor means that the light collecting elements of the sensor are closer to the surface of the chip. This should not only increase the efficiency of the sensor (improving low light performance) but should also be expected to make the pixels near the edges of the sensor better able to accept light approaching with high angles of incidence, improving peripheral image quality.
Like the D810 before it, the D850 continues to offer an ISO 64 mode, that allows it to tolerate more light in bright conditions. The D850 promises the same dynamic range advantage as the D810, meaning it should be able to compete with the medium format sensors used in the likes of the Fujifilm GFX 50S and Pentax 645Z.
The removal of the camera’s built-in flash frees up room for a new viewfinder, so magnification is able to leap from 0.7x to 0.75x which is the largest optical viewfinder on any Nikon DSLR. The larger finder, which features a new condenser lens and an aspherical element in the design, retains a reasonable (17mm) eye point, we’re told, so the whole scene should be visible even for most glasses wearers.
As with previous Nikon cameras, the D850 has intervalometer functions built in, so that you can capture time lapses without any external accessories. This feature can be combined with the camera’s silent shutter live view mode, to avoid vibration or excessive wear on the mechanical shutter, though with the risk of rolling shutter.
The camera can either assemble the images together in a 4K video or retain the full resolution files, to allow you to create a full resolution time-lapse in third-party software. Nikon uses the camera’s high resolution to brand this second capability as “8K Timelapse,” since the images exceed the 7680 × 4320 dimension of that video format.
NIkon D850 Specifications
Tilt and touch
Autofocus & AF Tracking
Nikon says the D850 has the same autofocus system as both the D5 and D500, with 153 AF points (99 of which are cross-type), a dedicated AF processor and the ability to focus down to -4 EV with the central point. Indeed, we titled the D5 review with the phrase, ‘Setting new standards,’ due in no small part to the D5 having the best phase-detection autofocus system we’d ever tested.
We’ve already written a lot about subject tracking and Nikon’s 3D Tracking in particular. In spite of other cameras on the market perhaps offering more frames per second, more autofocus points, or both, we continue to find that the 3D Tracking implementation on the flagship D5 is still the best overall performer in terms of focus accuracy and tracking reliability. It’s remarkably reliable at automatically shifting the AF point to stick to your original subject.
Offering an impressive 45.7MP of resolution, 7fps burst shooting, full-width 4K video and a focusing system derived from the flagship D5, it looks as though Nikon’s thrown just about everything they’ve got into the D850, and priced it well to boot. Competitors with similarly specced megapixel counts such as the Sony a7R II and Canon EOS 5Ds R may be cheaper at this point in their lifetimes, but they also fall short of the D850 in a number of ways that may make a difference in the way you shoot.