Nikon D850 Review – Unleashing the Power of High-End Photography

Nikon D850 is an astro beast and is ideally designed to shoot in the dark owing to high ISO noise handling, impressive low-light autofocus, and backlit buttons. When it comes to full-frame DSLR cameras, this monster outshines its contenders. Even the word “whooping” is an understatement, and this Nikon D850 Review will show you all the reasons why.

Nikon D850 Review

Nikon D850 Review

Sensor: 45.7MP FX-format CMOS | Battery type: EN-EL15B Lithium ion power supply | Focal length conversion: 1x Dimensions: 146 × 124 × 78.5 mm | Memory card: One SD/SDXC/SDHC and one XQD | Weight: 1,005 grams | Viewfinder optical pentaprism: 100% coverage | Shutter speed: 1/8000 second to 30 second | Highest video resolution: 4K UHD 3840 × 2160 at 30/25/24p | Screen tilt: 3.2-inch LCD screen, 2,359k dots | ISO range: 64-25,600. This is expandable to 32-102,400 | Maximum burst speed: 7 fps | Autofocus points: 153-point phase detection autofocus, 99 cross-type

Additional Kit

  • Memory card: Sony G-series XQD card
  • Kit lens: AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f)4G ED VR
  • Spare battery type: EN-EL15b
  • Best zoom lens: AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR
  • Best wide lens: AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR

Nikon D850 Features

Nikon D850 is a pro of all trades, rather than a jack. It definitely crushed the rivalry when it rolled out back in 2017. The camera is laced with a slew of options for changing static picture file format and size, as well as superb low light autofocus ability. These features are perfect for everyday photographers and professionals that wish to save space or shoot for a particular output.

Backlit buttons and a tilting LCD screen makes it a breeze to use in the dark without needing to pull out your torch. Not only this, it is also compatible with almost every F-mount optics created by Nikon. This means that you will be blessed with a huge inventory of lenses to utilize with the camera.

An effective noise handling ability and wide ISO sensitivity range proves that the camera is particularly suited for astrophotography. But this does not minimize its talent in other fields of photography. Keep on reading to know what else it does amazingly well.

Design

It’s very challenging to work your camera in a pitch black setting. But Nikon has resolved this by adding backlit buttons which can be employed by the “on” button and giving it a pull. This innovative design repeats throughout the body. For instance, there’s an in-built viewfinder cover in the OVF. It blocks extraneous light and avoids metering issues from traffic headlights, street lights, or head torches.

A textured sub-selector situated exactly under the thumb assists in replacing the autofocus point rapidly, even while wearing gloves or in wet conditions. It shifts diagonally in all directions, which means faster autofocus point to ace the focus. The AF-ON button, D-Pad, and joystick are the spots where users will instinctively place their right thumb. 

Functionality

Everything on this epic DSLR was added with professionals in mind. This means users can expect the D850 to tolerate extreme conditions and hefty usage. Magnesium alloy construction and weather resistance allows you to use it in colder temperatures.

Aside from the weather and dust sealing, the camera is also tough and lightweight. It is definitely built to last a lifetime. The D850 will take a real beating prior to running into issues. It boasts the layout of Nikon DSLRs, which means you’ll feel comfortable in using it in case you’re upgrading from a sister model.

The flip touchscreen is a great improvement owing to the ability to scroll hundreds of images instantly. This tilting affair is odd. While users can set focus points, launch the shutter in live view, zoom or swipe pictures, the touch input will not navigate the menus or tweak settings. It is also a breeze to review the pictures and rate them.

This can be accomplished by holding down the Fn2 button while choosing the star rating utilizing the multi-selector. This will offer a decent visual clue of which pictures to keep. It also translates to image editing software, like Lightroom.

Performance

The wide range ISO sensitivity proves the D850 to be perfect for dim light shooting and astrophotography. You can operate it from anywhere between ISO 64-25600 to view in the dark. It is possible to push it even further with the expandable option. Although the ISO noise gets more problematic and dynamic range gets inferior, it can still hit the equivalent of ISO 102400.

Astrophotography is known for the challenging task of focusing, but Nikon D850’s Autofocus Detection range can hit as low as -4EV. Although it is not sufficiently quiet to autofocus in a dark, vast sky, it will be enough to lock onto a faraway torchlight or lighthouse for accurate results.

Video is as critical as astrophotography shots. Thankfully, the camera is extremely capable in this aspect as well. Nikon D850 can shoot up to full-frame 4K video resolution at 30p for mesmerizing movie sharp results.

Focus peaking allows one to focus in difficult circumstances. And to take things slowly, dial down to HD video quality to shoot at 120 fps for slow motion videography with impressive detail.

While capturing the video of the stars, it is better to select the time-lapse mode because stars take a long time to move in the sky. Fortunately, there is a built-in time-lapse feature which takes on this responsibility. Labeled as “interval timer shooting” from the photo shooting menu, users can establish start day/time, number of shots demanded in the interval timer shooting, and the interval length.

In simple words, you can sit back and relax while D850 shoots all things galactic. It captures a string of static pictures for you to process to tweak out as much detail as possible prior to transforming in a video. This is the recommended tactic to capture astro time-lapse because the RAW data is way more flexible than the video content. Its sensor is designed with zero anti-aliasing filter in order to capture the finest details.

Performance

The high resolution of the back screen creates a crisp image for Live View photography, while the touch focus option is intuitive. Camera can be set to touch-shutter mode, which makes it capture an image when the focus is gained. Users can activate the Live View mode through the rear button, with a lever for switching between video and static pictures.

Similar to other Nikon DSLRs, the D850 employs regular contrast autofocus, which lags as opposed to Sony hybrid autofocus and Canon Dual Pixel CMOS AF systems. But it does feel a little rapid as compared to other Nikon DSLRs. This can be due to the powerful EXPEED 5 processor.

And then there’s the best-in-class persistent shooting speed at 9 fps in full resolution, with a buffer capacity of 51 uncompressed 14-bit RAW files. This is outstanding, but there are some caveats. Firstly, the EN-EL18B battery and the optional MB-D18 Multi-Power Battery Pack are required to gain such speed. Without the grip, the camera is only able to shoot at 7 fps, but this is still incredible for a model with that resolution level.

Secondly, the quoted raw buffer capacity is also an ideal figure at 7 fps rather than 9 fps, and with the addition of the correct memory card. The camera includes 2 very rapid card slots – one for UHS-II SD and other for XQD memory cards. Want to achieve the quoted buffer capacity? Pick fast cards to accompany them. And if you do happen to get the EN-EL18B and MB-D18 grip battery for 9 fps shooting, the identical RAW buffer capacity can not be achieved.

This is why the Nikon D850 is a huge deal. It not only raises the bar for high resolution, but also offers a persistent shooting speed to battle against a dedicated sports camera. The professional DSLR can ace almost anything. Nikon prioritized a host of photography genres with D850, such as weddings, landscapes, nature, sports, and fashion. Its abilities are so versatile that only the contrast-based AF in live view mode hinders it from being a superior 4K camera for filmmaking.

Pros
  • Great dynamic range
  • High resolution still images
  • Ability to record full-frame 4K videos
  • 4MP image sensor. This is 25% more than the Nikon D810
  • 9 fps, 7 fps with grip
  • A great attention to detail
Cons
  • OVF restricts composition of dark night sky
  • Bulky body as compared to mirrorless rivals
  • Pedestrian live view autofocus
  • Minimal buffer capacity at 9 fps

Final Verdict

After going through this Nikon D850 review, it’s no wonder why astrophotographers blindly trust this iconic model. It is a hybrid powerhouse that can professionally capture stills and videos, unveiling each star in the sky. The robust do-it-all DSLR delivers high-speed shooting, high resolution, and immense value. That’s why even ambitious beginners are pulled towards it.

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