The long wait for the successor to Nikon's D810 has finally arrived as the D850. While the wait has been long, the trusty D810 has stood up beautifully to the test of time, a testament to Nikon's quality. That said, the last major release was the D800 in 2012 (the D810 was an incremental upgrade), and in that timespan we've seen new competing models from both Canon and Sony, so time was quickly running out for Nikon. Fortunately, Nikon has once again stepped up the game and delivered above its competitors with the new D850. Here are a few highlights of the new camera.
- The new 45.7 MP Expeed 5 BSI sensor hits the sweet spot. It's enough of a jump from 36 MP to make a difference in image quality, yet not to the point where problems arise from noise or shooting speed.
- Shoot full resolution RAW images up to 9 fps (with battery grip). (7 fps without the grip)
- Improved autofocus. As I had hoped for, Nikon implemented the D5's 153-point aufofocus system. This is huge, especially since the D810 really struggled in low light situations. The AF coverage is now 30% broader than that of the D810.
- 4K UltraHD video (3840x2160) uses the full width of the sensor at 16:9. High quality 4:2:2 8-bit uncompressed video can be captured via HDMI output to an external recorder.
- No optical low-pass filter for maximum sharpness.
- 8K/4K timelapse video. The D850 has a built-in intervalometer which can output 4K timelapse videos straight from the camera or images that can be used to assemble 8K timelapse video which are saved to a special folder. Curious what an 8K timelapse looks like? Take a look at this video.
- XQD cards! With an XQD card, the D850 can shoot up to 51 RAW images before hitting the buffer.
- Enhanced battery. The new battery offers 1840 frames at full resolution or 70 minutes of video on a single charge.
- Focus Stacking. This is a nice addition for still life shooters when challenging depth of field issues are encountered.
- Illuminated buttons. Another small but important upgrade for those that shoot at night or in low light.
- Weather sealed magnesium body. This is a great upgrade, as I saw multiple D810s damaged due to moisture when working near the ocean and hit with the spray of waves. For professionals that literally need to be in the moment regarless of conditions, you can't underestimate the value of a weather sealed body.
- 3.2-inch touchscreen. This is worthless to me, but I'm guessing some people will like a larger touchscreen on the back.
If you are looking to switch to a Nikon system or jump into a pro level DSLR, the Nikon D850 is a fantastic choice. Here are the items I would recommend to build your system.
- Nikon D850 body. I would only buy the body and skip the temptation of a zoom lens. For the best image quality, stick with Nikon prime lenses.
- Sony XQD 64GB card. You'll need a few of these for shooting to card and maximizing the speed of the camera.
- 50mm 1.4 lens
- 24 mm 1.8 lens. I'd usually always recommend a 1.4 over a 1.8, but in this case the price to quality differential ratio gives the 1.8 the edge.
- Nikon 85mm 1.4 lens. If you shoot people or portraits, this is a beautiful lens and a must have in every Nikon camera bag.
- Vertical/battery grip MB-D18. You can only get the maximum 9 frames per second with the grip, plus the benefits of being more ergonomic and extended battery life make it worth the cost.
If shooting tethered in the studio, don't forget the following:
- Right angle tether cord
- USB3 repeater
- Thunderbolt hub I've probably captured more frames tethered to my computers than anyone in the world, since I've been shooting tethered since 1999! Take my advice - if you want a stable connection when tethered on a Mac, use a Thunderbolt hub.
- Tether lock / TetherBLOCK. This is another must have for protecting the USB3 port and keeping the cord attached.
This is a living post, as I'll continue to update this page with tips and/or issues as I begin to use the camera.
If you have any questions at all regarding this camera or Nikon in general, please feel free to leave a comment here. I've been using and working with Nikon Pro DSLRs since 2006, so I'm happy to answer any questions.