The D850 is the first full frame Nikon DSLR with a back-side Illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor, a tool for professionals willing to pay the price for a camera that essentially continues tradition and is said to offer medium format quality.
The rumors of months were partially right. We’ve known for weeks, now, most of the specifications of the new Nikon D850. The fun of discovering the news in one specific day is long gone with so many rumor websites and leaks. Even the suggestion, by some, that the Nikon D850 was going to be an hybrid camera in terms of viewing the action, offering both OVF and EVF, was debunked before we got to hear from Nikon about the new model. No, this is nothing more than a classic DSLR, with its old style mirror so many seem to hate. Still, Nikon continues to produce them, apparently, as the company states, because professionals need and want them. And many others, apparently, wish they could find a reason to spend $3,299.95 in a camera.
The D850 is presented as a serious tool that expertly enables every kind of photographer. Whether capturing for client work or personal projects, claims Nikon, “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.”
Technically, this is a monster of a sensor, with 45.7-megapixel in a back-side Illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor which is a first for FX-format DSLRs from Nikon, used because it “captures light more efficiently, resulting in a wider dynamic range and low-noise image capture.” The company claims that the 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. “
“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 multimedia specifications
With the D850 Nikon continues to cater for filmmakers and multimedia content creators, offering in this camera full-frame 4K UHD at 24/30 fps, along with Full HD 1080p at up to 120 fps (4x or 5x) for dramatic slow-motion video capture. 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.
Time-lapse creators have the option to 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.
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. There is also focus peaking, although only available when shooting Full HD or in Live View for stills.
The audio department is based on an on-board stereo microphone, but the Nikon D850 also offers inputs for headphones and microphone. The camera also features a new audio attenuator to regulate sound levels.
In terms of output, HDMI allows users to record uncompressed, broadcast quality 4:2:2 8-bit 4K UHD footage, directly to an external digital recorder while simultaneously recording to a card.
The photographic specifications
Despite its resolution, the D850 is capable of a fast capture rate of up to 7 frames-per-second (fps) 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).
A wide ISO range will interest a variety of shooters. The D850 offers a ISO range from 64-25,600, which is expandable down to ISO 32 and up to 102,400. Although the higher number is too noisy for most uses, the opposite value, which reminds us of emulsions like Ilford Pan F, known for its very fine grain.
The autofocus system is the same Nikon used in the D5, a 153-point, Multi-Cam 20K AF system, which features 99 cross type sensors, 15 of which are sensitive to f/8. The sensor, 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.
A tilting LCD Touchscreen, 3.2-in., high resolution (2359k-dot) LCD monitor which offers Nikon’s most extensive touch functionality ever is present rapidly associated with the Live View functions of the camera, and the ability for the D850 to operate with an electronic shutter while in Live View. This allows users to work 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.
Controlling flashes through radio is nothing new for Nikon now, so the D850 follows the D5 and D500 in that department, also supporting Radio-controlled Advanced Wireless Lighting with the optional SB-5000 Speedlight and WR-A10 and WR-R10 accessories.
In terms of pure RAW processing power, users have three sizes to choose from, 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.
Focus stacking is a feature present in-camera. Ideal for macro, product and landscape photographers, the Focus Shift Photography feature of the D850 is where 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.
Despite all that the camera does, the battery will last a long time, claims Nikon, stating that users can “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).”
One interesting feature of the camera is its ability to digitize 35mm slides or negatives and immediately convert them to positives in-camera. The function works in tandem with the optional ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter and compatible Micro-NIKKOR lens, and enables super high-resolution digitizing. This is an interesting option if you’ve a huge collection of slides and want an easy way to digitize it.
Rugged, with built-in connectivity you expect – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Nikon’s SnapBridge – offering the widest and brightest optical viewfinder, with 0.75x magnification, five shooting formats – FX-Format, 1.2x, DX, 5:4, or 1:1 square with viewfinder shading for easy composition -, illuminated buttons for easy shooting at night or in low-light scenarios, the D850 features dual memory card slots — XQD for high-speed capture and transfer, as well as readily available SD media.
“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.
The Nikon D850 will have a suggested retail price of $3,299.95, and will be available in September 2017. The MB-D18 Multi Power Battery Pack will have cost $399.95, while the ES-2 film digitizing adapter will cost $149.95.
If you want to know more about the D850, Nikon will conduct a livestream discussion for the new camera, which will take place on August 29 at 6:00 p.m. EDT. Visit nikonusa.com/live to tune in.