Check out the hands-on Nikon D850 review on the website of our sister publication, Digital Photo Pro.
Nikon D850 Resolution And ISO
The Nikon D850 is based around a new 45.7MP full-frame CMOS sensor with backside illumination (BSI), a sensor manufacturing technology that should allow the D850 to have the increased resolution without a loss in ISO sensitivity. The BSI sensor combined with the Expeed 5 processor (the same found in the flagship D5) allows the D850 to capture a native ISO of 64-25,600, with a low setting down to ISO 32 and two high settings up to 102,400.
The speed of the Expeed 5 processor also allows the Nikon D850 to capture at 7 fps, but the optional accessory battery grip will boost that speed to 9 fps, if a Nikon D5 battery is used. (The grip can also use the D850 batteries, or AA batteries, but the D5 battery is required for that 2 fps speed boost.)
Nikon D850 AF Speed
Since a separate processor in the D850 provides the number crunching for the AF, this removes some of the load off the main image processor and so the camera can focus accurately while capturing 9 fps.
Autofocus in the Nikon D850 will match that in the D5, with 153 AF points, 99 of which are cross-type sensor. The D850 can focus down to -4 EV, a full stop lower than the auto exposure can evaluate the light levels. (That’s sort of like turning the AF up to 11.)
Nikon D850 Electronic Shutter And Special Shooting Modes
Using an electronic shutter, there are two special high-speed shooting modes. The first mode allows for 6 fps shooting at the full 45 MP resolution of the sensor, while the second captures 30 fps at a sensor crop of 8.6 MP for a total of three seconds. In both of these modes, the AE and AF are set during the first frame. Having the AF and AE fixed during the first frame is typical for most (but not all) electronic shutter operation in interchangeable lens cameras.
Since the mechanical shutter is rated to 200,000 cycles, Nikon has given the D850 the ability to capture time-lapse images (which can easily generate hundreds or thousands of images) in electronic shutter mode, which is a great idea. The first shot is mechanical shutter and then subsequent time-lapse shots are electronic, solving the problem faced by a lot of DSLR users who set up long-duration time lapse. This also saves on battery use, and the silent shutter operation during time-lapse capture means that the camera won’t distract any subjects. Set the D850 outside an animal’s den or a bird’s nest, for example, and the time-lapse captures won’t disturb them.
Nikon D850 Body Design
The Nikon D850, which is around the size of the D810, has the same touch LCD screen as the Nikon D5, with the screen useable for all camera function selection. At 3.2” and 2.3M dots, the screen is one of the standout features on the Nikon, and the tilting function allows for Live View or video shooting when shooting low to the ground.
While the Nikon D5 comes in either a SD or XQD version, storage on the Nikon D850 comes with one XQD and one SD slot (which is able to handle new UHS-II cards).
Nikon D850 Video
The Nikon D850 will capture 4K UHD video, but does so differently than the Nikon D5 or D500, using the full width of the sensor at 30 fps. The camera can also capture 4K UHD time-lapse movies, which can be assembled inside the camera. That’s a great feature, as most photographers want to avoid having to spend time importing shots into a video-editing app just to make a time-lapse.
There is also 120 fps 1080 video capture support, and although the camera will process the files for the user at 24P—so they come out as slow motion—there is no ability to access that original 120 fps footage.
The camera writes 4K video internally at 8-bit 4:2:0, and outputs 4:2:2 video over the HDMI port, although it does so at the same 8-bits.
Clearly, video isn’t the focus of the Nikon D850, but it’s nice that the company included the ability to output video over HDMI for capture on third-party recorders, and that the output is at least 4:2:2 not 4:2:0.
Smart Nikon D850 Lens Tricks
Nikon has added a focus-shift mode to the Nikon D850, which is a surprising and welcome addition for anyone doing focus stacking. Users can program the number of steps and the focus shift between each image and the camera will step through the sequence. This focus mode can capture up to 300 frames and intervals between zero and 30 seconds. Users set the steps and interval and then focus on the closest plane, and the camera will create a new folder on the card for the stacked images—super-handy when post-processing the files. (Nothing is worse than trying to dig through hundreds of nearly-identical images trying to find the start of a sequence.)
Several Nikon cameras already have the handy AF Fine-Tuning tool, which allows anyone to micro-adjust the focus of a lens using nothing more than a scene with high contrast, and this feature is on the Nikon D850 as well. This technique is so much easier than using a lens focus tool, and it’s something all Nikon users should check out.
Accessories For The Nikon D850
The Nikon D850 has built-in WiFi for image transfer to smartphones, tablets and computers, but it can also use the Nikon WT7 WiFI accessory, which will allow the camera to connect to WiFi on location for direct transmission of images over the Internet.
There’s also a brand-new negative digitizer, which attaches to the front of the 60mm NIKKOR lens and allows shooters to digitize black-and-white or color-negative images. The tools creates a JPEG image (you can’t make a RAW file out of this shot) and automatically flips the negative to positive. A slide holder allows for easy conversion of mounted film.
This sounds like a great tool for photographers (like myself) who started in the film era, and have not yet converted slides over to digital images. Without a dedicated film scanner in my office, I have to send out any slide I want to have converted.
Pricing For The Nikon D850
The Nikon D850 will be priced at $3,299.95. The Nikon D810 and the Nikon D750 will remain in the company’s lineup, so hopefully there will be a price drop on those models.
Thoughts And Testing
It’s great to see Nikon merge two different camera systems into a single camera, and this is a welcome announcement for any Nikon shooter who has eyed the Sony a7R II with envy. Seeing Nikon create a camera that’s both fast and high resolution is great, and helps stoke the competitive fires between companies.
Editor David Schloss will be traveling with Nikon in September to test the Nikon D850 and will file reports from the field.
See the press release below:
FULL-FRAME, EXTREME SPEED & EPIC RESOLUTION: THE NEW NIKON D850 DSLR DEFINES PROFESSIONAL VERSATILITY
New Nikon DSLR Offers Incredible Combination of Performance, Image Quality and Thoughtful Features
MELVILLE, NY (Embargoed until Thursday, August 24, 2017 at 12:01 A.M. EDT) – Today, Nikon announced the new Nikon D850, a powerful full-frame DSLR camera that provides professional photographers and multimedia creators with an impressive combination of resolution and high-speed performance. The 45.7-megapixel D850 is Nikon’s first DSLR with an FX-format, back-side Illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor for image quality that is nothing short of majestic, allowing professionals to create stunning, high resolution still images and full-frame 4K UHD video. Despite its monumental resolution, the D850 is capable of an astoundingly fast capture rate of up to 7 frames-per-second (fps) or 9-fps with the optional battery grip and EN-EL18a/b battery, while offering a range of new user-friendly features requested by Nikon shooters around the world.
The Nikon D850 is a serious tool that expertly enables every kind of photographer. Whether capturing for client work or personal projects, the camera delivers intense clarity and accurate skin tones for portraits, with the added benefit of low-light ability for weddings and events. It is versatile enough to be used for landscapes and fine art where broad dynamic range is critical, for sports that require a high frame rate and decisive AF, or for video creators who want 4K UHD flexibility. Whether in the studio or on-location, from the catwalk or the scenic overlook, to a wedding ceremony or night sky, the Nikon D850 is the tool that can capture it all, with astounding resolution and speed.
“The Nikon D850 is much more than a camera, rather it’s a statement that Nikon is continuing to listen to customer needs, to innovate for the next 100 years, and bring to market a full-frame DSLR that exceeds the expectations of the professionals that rely on this caliber of camera to make a living,” said Kosuke Kawaura, Director of Marketing and Planning, Nikon Inc.
“I have had the pleasure of putting this camera through its paces, and there is nothing like it. The Nikon D850 introduces a whole new generation of photographers to medium format quality; the resolution is out of this world, and the tonality and range are at a level I never thought possible from a DSLR,” said Nikon Ambassador and award-winning wedding photographer Jerry Ghionis.
The Ultimate Combination of Resolution and Speed
The Nikon D850 is the new benchmark in DSLR image quality, with an unprecedented combination of resolution, dynamic range, ISO and processing power. The 45.7-megapixel CMOS sensor approaches medium format-level resolution and forgoes an optical low pass filter (OLPF) to harness the maximum sharpness of NIKKOR lenses, with fantastic fidelity, tonality and clarity. This is also Nikon’s first DSLR to incorporate a BSI CMOS sensor, which captures light more efficiently, resulting in a wider dynamic range and low-noise image capture. Beyond the immense resolution, the Nikon D850 offers photographers superior performance:
High-Speed Capture: The D850 is capable of shooting up to 7 fps at full resolution, with full AF/AE or 9 fps at full resolution with the addition of an optional battery grip (MB-D18) and EN-EL18a/b battery (Buffer approximately 51 frames of 14-bit lossless RAW capture / 170 frames of 12-bit lossless).
Wide ISO Range: The D850 offers a wide ISO range from 64-25,600 (Expandable down to ISO 32, up to 102,400).
Flagship Focus System: The D850 uses the Nikon D5’s 153-point, Multi-Cam 20K AF system, which features 99 cross type sensors, 15 of which are sensitive to f/8.
EXPEED 5: Behind every great sensor is a great image-processing engine. EXPEED 5 is Nikon’s most powerful engine yet, allowing for fast data readout and swift image processing, improved low light performance, high speed shooting, full-frame 4K UHD video capture and greater power efficiency for longer battery life.
Innovation Built for the Needs of Professional Creators
In addition to its phenomenal performance, the Nikon D850 hosts a range of innovative and thoughtful new features that enhance workflow, and will leave every photographer or content creator wondering how they ever lived without them:
Tilting LCD Touchscreen: The 3.2-in., high resolution (2359k-dot) LCD monitor offers Nikon’s most extensive touch functionality ever.
Silent Shooter: The D850 offers the ability to operate with an electronic shutter in Live View. When in this mode, users can shoot in complete silence, which is ideal for weddings, ceremonies and events where the shutter sound is discouraged. The electronic shutter operates at up to 6 fps (AF/AE locked) at full resolution, while an additional mode enables 8.6-megapixel capture in DX image area mode at up to 30 fps.
Radio Flash Control: Like the D5 and D500, the D850 also supports Radio-controlled Advanced Wireless Lighting with the optional SB-5000 Speedlight and WR-A10 and WR-R10 accessories.
RAW Processing Power: Users can choose from 3 sizes of RAW files to enhance workflow, including Large (45.4-MP), Medium (25.6-MP) and Small (11.4-MP). Additionally, the D850 lets users batch process RAW files in camera, saving time in post-production.
Nikon’s Widest and Brightest Optical viewfinder: The 0.75x viewfinder magnification is the highest ever for a Nikon DSLR, and offers a wide and bright view of the frame to easily track and compose subjects.
Phenomenal Battery Performance: Shoot all day and well into the night with up to 1,840 shots at full resolution or approximately 70 minutes of video on a single charge. Users who opt for the additional control and handling benefits of the optional battery grip can expect up to 5140 shots (CIPA standard).
Dual Card Slots: The D850 features dual memory card slots — XQD for high-speed capture and transfer, as well as readily available SD media.
Illuminated Buttons: Buttons that light up at the turn of a dial increase visibility and allow easy shooting at night or in low-light scenarios.
Focus Stacking: Ideal for macro, product and landscape photographers, the Focus Shift Photography feature of the D850 is high resolution meets high magnification. This feature lets the user automatically shoot up to 300 shots at adjustable focus step intervals to infinity which can be easily assembled into a focus-stacked image using third party software.
Negative/Positive Scanning: With the optional ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter and compatible Micro-NIKKOR lens, the camera enables super high-resolution digitizing of 35mm slides or negatives and converts them in-camera to positives
Durable Construction: Ready for any field assignment or production environment, the rugged and weather-sealed magnesium alloy body lets users work with confidence in a wide range of tough environments.
Square shooter: Photographers can choose from five formats, including FX-format, 1.2x, DX, 5:4, or 1:1 square with viewfinder shading for easy composition.
Built-in Wi-Fi1 & Bluetooth2 Connectivity: Users can seamlessly send images to their compatible smart devices through an always-on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connection or through Wi-Fi. Nikon SnapBridge3 also gives the ability for remote capture and preview.
Multimedia Production Ready
Multimedia content creators and filmmakers alike will appreciate a wide range of considerate, industry-leading new features that can help to elevate any production:
Full-frame 4K UHD at 24/30 fps: The D850’s FX BSI CMOS sensor allows 4K UHD output at a full-frame width at 16:9, to increase lensing options and provide a true field of view.
Slow Motion: Creators can also capture Full HD 1080p at up to 120 fps (4x or 5x) for dramatic slow-motion video capture.
Focus Peaking: When shooting Full HD or in Live View for stills, focus peaking can be enabled which highlights in-focus subjects in the frame to ensure sharpness.
8K / 4K Time-lapse: Users can create 4K UHD time-lapse videos easily in-camera, or can use the built in intervalometer to capture images for an ultra-high resolution 8K time lapse that can be assembled in post for those who want the ultimate in video quality.
Zebra stripes: The D850’s highlight display mode uses zebra patterns to quickly spot overblown highlights. What’s more, the zebra patterns come in two varieties, selectable according to the patterns and textures of the subjects.
HDMI output: Using HDMI, users can record uncompressed, broadcast quality 4:2:2 8-bit 4K UHD footage, directly to an external digital recorder while simultaneously recording to a card.
Audio Control: The D850 features an onboard stereo microphone, as well as inputs for headphones and microphone. The camera also features a new audio attenuator to regulate sound levels.
THE FX-Format advantage
The amazing performance and image quality of the Nikon D850 is best coupled with the wide variety of NIKKOR lenses, heralded for their unmatched image quality, color reproduction and optical characteristics. For maximum fidelity, Nikon’s Gold Ring Series of lenses provide the highest caliber of optical performance needed for such immense resolution applications.
Price and Availability
The Nikon D850 will have a suggested retail price (SRP) of $3,299.95*, and will be available in September 2017. The MB-D18 Multi Power Battery Pack will have an SRP of $399.95*, while the ES-2 film digitalizing adapter will have an SRP of $149.95*. For more information on the latest Nikon products, please visit www.nikonusa.com.
Exclusive Livestream Event
Want to learn more about the new Nikon D850? Nikon will conduct a livestream discussion for the new camera, which will take place on August 29 at 6:00 p.m. EDT. Please visit nikonusa.com/live to tune in.
Nikon 100 Year Anniversary
Since the company was established in 1917, Nikon has cultivated its status as a pioneer of optical technologies around the world. Guided by a corporate philosophy of “Trustworthiness and Creativity”, Nikon provides a wide range of products and services globally by harnessing advanced opto-electronics and precision technologies. Nikon is proud to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2017. For more information about Nikon’s 100th Anniversary, please visit www.nikonusa.com/100th.
Nikon, At the Heart of the Image™. Nikon Inc. is a world leader in digital imaging, precision optics and photo imaging technology; globally recognized for setting new standards in product design and performance for an award-winning array of equipment that enables users to tell their stories through amazing photos and videos. Nikon Inc. distributes consumer and professional digital SLR cameras, NIKKOR optics, Speedlights and system accessories; Nikon COOLPIX® compact digital cameras; 35mm film SLR cameras; Nikon software products and Nikon sports and recreational optics as well as the Nikon 1 compact interchangeable lens camera system and KeyMission line of action cameras. Nikon Corporation, the parent company of Nikon Inc., recently announced the production of 100 million NIKKOR lenses in 2016, creating a new milestone in Nikon’s heritage of superior optics. For more information, dial (800) NIKON-US or visit www.nikonusa.com, which links all levels of photographers to the Web’s most comprehensive photo learning and sharing communities. Connect with Nikon and other photographers on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Vimeo and Flickr.
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This camera’s built-in Wi-Fi® capability can only be used with a compatible iPhone®, iPad®, and/or iPod touch® or smart devices running on the Android™ operating system. The Nikon SnapBridge application must be installed on the device before it can be used with this camera.
The camera’s built-in Bluetooth® capability can only be used to connect the camera to a compatible smart device running the SnapBridge app, and to take advantage of SnapBridge features.
Using the SnapBridge App System Requirements:
Android 5.0 or later or 6.0.1 or later
A device with Bluetooth 4.0 or later (i.e., a device that supports Bluetooth Smart Ready/Low Energy) is required.
The SnapBridge app is available for compatible iPhone®, iPad® and/or iPod touch®, and for smart devices running the AndroidTM operating system. The app can be downloaded free of charge from Apple’s App Store® and GooglePlayTM. SnapBridge can be used only with compatible cameras.
Wi-Fi and the Wi-Fi logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of the Wi-Fi Alliance. N-Mark is a trademark or registered trademark of NFC Forum, Inc., in the United States and/or other countries.
iOS is a trademark or registered trademark of Cisco Systems, Inc., in the United States and/or other countries and is used under license.
Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.
Android™ and Google Play™ are trademarks of Google Inc.
*SRP (Suggested Retail Price) listed only as a suggestion. Actual prices are set by dealers and are subject to change at any time.
**Specifications, equipment and release dates are subject to change without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer.