What I've Learned About the Nikon D850 After Using It For 6 Months
- 45.7-megapixel BSI CMOS FX sensor
- Expeed 5 image processor
- 153-point autofocus system
- ISO range 64-25,600 (expandable to 102,400)
- 7fps burst shooting speed (9fps with optional battery grip)
- 4K video at 30fps and 1080p video at 120fps
I've had my Nikon D850 camera for a little over six months now, so I figured it would be a good time to give you an update on how this new relationship is going.
Mind you, I've been a Nikon shooter for a good long while now, so when the D850 was announced, it had some big shoes to fill. After all, I loved shooting with the D810 (I still have it, in fact), and I enjoyed the D800, the D700, and the D90 before that.
I admit that I never thought that the D850 could live up to the tremendous hype that surrounded its release last year.
But after six months, I can tell you that this camera most definitely is everything Nikon said it would be.
Here's a rundown of what I've learned about the Nikon D850 camera while using it virtually every day.
Nikon D850 Essential Specs
Just as a reminder, here's a few essential specifications for the D850:
I'll get into greater details on some of these features in a moment, but I wanted to list them here because they are such an impressive collection of statistics.
The sensor gets all the love (as it well should), but Nikon's autofocus system and burst shooting speed have proven to be more than up to the task over the last six months as well.
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That Sensor is Incredible
Whereas earlier Nikon cameras utilized Sony sensors, for the D850 they went in-house to design the sensor.
The result is the most capable and superb DSLR sensor ever made. And that's not just my opinion, either.
The resolution of this thing (45.7-megapixels) is impressive in and of itself, but it's also backlight-illuminated, which makes the image quality even that much better. Add in the fact that there's no low-pass filter, you have a recipe for a sensor that yields incredibly sharp, detailed shots.
As I've used the D850, I've noticed that Nikon's claim of a full stop of noise improvement is legitimate as well.
The Autofocus System is On Point
Nikon D850 at 20mm, f/16, 1 sec shutter, ISO 64
The Nikon D850's autofocus system is the same Multi-Cam 20K system that Nikon put in its flagship D5.
I've never used a D5 before, so I didn't know what I was missing...
WIth 153 autofocus points, 99 of which are of the cross-type variety, you can easily get focused on subjects that are stationary and on the move.
The 15 focus points that are centered in the camera's field of view also sport sensitivity to an aperture of f/8, which means you can use a 2x teleconverter with an f/4 lens and still have excellent autofocus performance.
Nikon D850 at 14mm, f/6.3, 2.5 sec shutter, ISO 500
Not only that, but the D850 is sensitive to -4EV, so when the light has faded from the day, you can still have confidence in your D850 to acquire focus.
When shooting during and after sunset, I can tell the difference between the D850's autofocus performance and the D810's performance (which has sensitivity to just -2EV).
Better still, the D850 has a dedicated AF engine. That means that the camera can achieve focus more quickly and much more precisely at any of its 153 AF points.
Burst Shooting Speed is Phenomenal
When the specs for the D850 were first released, many photographers (myself included) didn't actually believe that the D850 would be able to pull off 7fps shooting given that it produces gigantic RAW files with its 45.7-megapixel sensor.
But I'm here to tell you that the 7fps shooting is the real deal.
You have to have a fast UHS-II memory card or a XQD memory card to keep that burst speed over a long period of time, but that's a small price to pay to reap the benefits of such rapid shooting.
By adding the MB-D18 battery grip, you can improve burst shooting speed to an insane 9fps. I don't do much action shooting, but it's something to behold when this rig fires off images at that speed.
See the D850's burst shooting in action in the video above from Nikon Europe.
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I Love the Modern Conveniences of the D850
Nikon D850 at 15mm, f/10, 4 sec shutter, ISO 64
The last thing I want to point out about this camera is the array of modern conveniences it has.
I'm talking about illuminated buttons (I do a lot of sunset, blue hour, and nighttime shooting), the tilting touchscreen LCD, and the built-in WiFi and Bluetooth.
Sure, these features might be on the luxurious side that some photographers would thumb their nose at, but they have proven time and again to be lifesavers and timesavers when I'm out in the field.
In short, these and the other features listed above not only make the D850 easy to use, but they help me get the shots I want with more consistency than ever before.
There are tons of other features that any photographer would love about this camera, but for me, the ones I've outlined here are at the top of my list of reasons why the Nikon D850 is such a great camera and a sound investment for serious shooters.