Flat Rate Shipping only $7.95

Nikon D850 What To Expect

August 25, 2017

Two michaels' experts discuss many aspects of Nikon's new 46 MegaPixel D850.

This new Full Frame DSLR from Nikon tops the charts with both high resolution and high frame rate while still providing amazing high ISO performance and market leading dynamic range.

Bill & John discuss -

  • Image quality
  • The significant difference compared to the D810 - the back side illuminated (bsi) cmos sensor
  • Base ISO 64 - brilliant dynamic range
  • D5 focus engine with 99 cross type sensors
  • Burst rate 7 frames per second (fps)
  • 9 fps with optional grip that takes the EN-EL18 battery
  • Buffer 51 frames
  • 4k video - full HD
  • Time lapse @ 8k
  • Silent mode via live view
  • The Nikon "special sauce"
  • Low light sensitivity
  • They discuss lens choice, shooting for maximum quality
  • Back illuminated buttons
  • Wifi Bluetooth
  • Focus stacking
  • Intervalometer
  • 120 FPS in HD video
  • Flip out LCD
  • XQD & UHS memory cards
  • How it ties in so well for D500 users


What will Canon do?


(John Warkentin)

John Warkentin here for Michael’s Camera. We’ve got a very big – albeit one day late - sort of announcement.

Yesterday was the official launch of Nikon’s brand new D850.

Now, this is their full-frame sensor camera with class-leading resolution and a very high frame rate.

So it’s quite an exciting camera and we thought we’d just sit down have a little round table – albeit it’s not a round table at all - but a little discussion.

So I’ve brought my colleague Bill, who is our secondhand department manager; a Nikon shooter.

Full disclosure here; I’m not a Nikon shooter; I do use the Nikon D… is it the 800 we have?

 

(Bill)

810.

 

(John)

The 810 in the studio?

So we use it for a fair bit of product photography around here; and also for object VR; if anybody wants to know more about our VR, ask a question in the comments and I’ll link you to some object VR samples.

But nevertheless, I’ve been a sort of a lifelong Canon shooter and I guess you’ve been a bit of a lifelong Nikon shooter.

 

(Bill)

That’s right! From way back in the film days.

 

(John)

Yeah! So when we were getting our email ready to announce the camera yesterday, Bill was just bouncing off the walls; he was very excited once the specs came out for this, and that got me thinking that well we better sit down and have a little bit of discussion all about this camera.

 

[Slide shows the Nikon press release for the D850]

 

So I’ve got on the iPad here, and I guess David will probably just flip over to it – Nikon’s press release so it doesn’t really say too much here; and of course, nobody really has done testing on this yet.

Pre-release cameras have made it out to some of the reviewers in the United States; not too sure of any other countries.

Did you see anything from Europe at all?

 

(Bill)

I haven’t seen anyone in Australia or Europe, possibly? No? Yeah? Maybe.

 

(John)

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

So it sounded like imaging review had some discussions about image quality with the Nikon people in Japan; DP review had a pre-release sample and they gave a fairly good hands-on analysis of it; and every other blogger and his dog and now us, has done their video with nothing in their hand - we don’t have a camera - so we’re empty-handed here; but we sort of know that the camera is pretty similar to the existing 800 series, so the 800 and the 810.

Now what we do know is that this camera does not have an anti-aliasing filter; so there are not two different versions.

So there’s not an e-version; so that’s kind of nice.

I think at these resolutions, the anti-aliasing filter is really not much of a factor anymore.

 

(Bill)

No, no.

 

(John)

I’ve only ever seen the (___) come up in one or two shots recently on any of these mega res cameras, and it’s not a factor.

There are tools and software to deal with that.

But what’s really exciting about this camera is that it’s looking like the image quality is going to be better.

I’ll just click on over to what we saw on - I guess it was… where was that? It was (petapixel) had an article here… or was it over here?

Yes!

 

[Slide shows a blog page with an image of the Nikon D850 and a review]

 

So, this was the stuff that I think came out of imaging resource or imaging review, can’t remember which site it was.

But it looks like about one stop better when it comes to noise; and the D810 was brilliant, to begin with; and as Bill and I have discussed many times; the D810 because of its ISO 64 settings was right up there with some of these medium format sensors that were using that 50 MB Sony chip.

 

(Bill)

Well, the crucial thing about the 850, as opposed to the D810, is the BSI CMOS inside.

 

(John)

Yes, so that means there’s a little less stuff in the front of the sensor, blocking light - so think of it as circuitry - so more actual photons could hit the sensor and more photons is good; because of course, as soon as you increase the resolution you’re talking smaller photo sites, but anything you can do to decrease the gap and anything blocking light coming into hit those photo sites, is good; and this backside illuminated sensor technology - which I believe Sony developed.

 

(Bill)

It is Sony.

 

(John)

Now, interestingly enough, at the bottom of this article - it doesn’t matter whether you want to read it here - it says “and if you’ve been wondering about the origins of the new sensor, you’ll be interested to know that Nikon designed it themselves rather than use an off-the-shelf sensor from another manufacturer: ie. Sony.

 

Yeah, I don’t know how much faith I’m putting in this again.

Everybody always wants to say they’ve designed it themselves.

I bet you they have done some, made some requests on various things they want.

My gut tells me Sony made this thing; because it does say the next paragraph here “while Nikon contracts with a silicon foundry to actually manufacture the chips” they’re saying it’s entirely their own design.

I don’t think Nikon’s big enough to be designing their whole chips from scratch; that’s a pretty complex area, and Sony kind of runs the market.

But nevertheless; it’s sounding very good.

So, I believe it’s got a base ISO of 64 again?

 

(Bill)

That’s right.

 

(John)

So that’s going to be nice for people who obviously want, you know, the lowest noise; as well as it helps you get a little longer exposure, without having to resort to (ND) filters.

So a lot to be said for that.

The Canon cameras which of course, I’ve been using for years; often have a special ISO 15 mode, a low ISO mode, but unfortunately, that usually has more noise in the image than ISO 100.

So you don’t want to use it; you’re better off putting a filter in front, blocking down the light.

 

(Bill)

It’s because it’s not native ISO. Native ISO is 100; so the Nikon is 64 – 25/600; that’s its native ISO.

So you’re getting the most out of the sensor at those ISO values, but crucially, at 64 ISO, you’re getting that dynamic range that we were getting with the D810 and the D800 series.

So that’s something to really look forward to, and the fact that it’s a BSI sensor is… we expect to get really good results with it, I think, and continue giving the medium format cameras a run for their money.

 

(John)

Oh, which brings up another point - the price leader in the medium format market right now is the Fuji GFX, but that’s now, here in Australia so that’s approximately $10,000; and this comes in at basically half the price.

And you’re really splitting hairs when it comes to resolution -  46 megapixels here, 50 megapixels there; I mean that’s… you’re never going to notice that difference!

And of course, you’ve got the wide range of Nikon lenses that are available; whereas if you go into one of these medium format systems, you’ve got a very limited range of lenses; and no matter how successful it ever gets, it’ll always be a limited range of lenses.

I mean the Nikon line’s got, what, 50 lenses in it, if not more!

 

(Bill)

There are tons of lenses, yeah.

 

(John)

There are all the third party lenses as well.

 

(Bill)

Yeah, there’s quite a lot there to choose from.

 

(John)

Now, the other exciting thing about this camera is - we don’t normally see resolution and speed in the same package; as well as a crazy focus system.

So what they’ve brought is the d5 - which is their premier sports body - they’ve brought that focus engine over to the D850 - I’ve never shot with the D5. Have you shot with it?

 

(Bill)

I have played around with it a bit; phenomenal autofocus system; it’s got 153 point AF system; 99 cross-type sensors; the center sensor is -4, so it’s extremely low light.

 

(John)

The low light sensitivity; great for tracking.

 

(Bill)

And 3D; the group mode is phenomenal for tracking and that sort of thing; and if Nikon has… if the processor is not (different) the same; but if you’ve got that sort of capability in this camera it should be phenomenal in terms of its autofocus capability.

 

(John)

So you’ve got a focus engine from the top-of-the-line camera, and then you’ve got a burst rate which is unheard of for something with this kind of resolution - out of the box it’s 7 frames per second and they’ve got an optional grip that then takes the big battery from the D5 - so if you had a D5 shooter, and you ran those batteries… I don’t know what the model in that is…



(Bill)

It’s the EN-EL18 battery.



(John)

So it’s a different battery; it’s not the one that’s going to fit in the body only; it’s a completely different battery; it’s kind of similar size to the Canon big ones that they run.

But anyway, when that battery is in that grip, the camera can do 9 frames a second.

So that’s just crazy! I mean not long ago sports cameras weren’t even capable that and they were like 3 megapixels.

So now you’ve got a camera with an obscene amount of resolution; you put it into a DX mode; you’ll probably still have what 25 megapixels or something in there? And obscene burst rate for that kind of data; so I’m not going to say it’s a principle camera for a sports shooter, but as a second body that’s useful for all your high-resolution applications and when you need a second, you know, thing for doing some action - I think you got it!

 

(Bill)

Well, it’s you know, 9 frames a second for most non-serious sports photographers, is more than enough and with the buffer of 51 frames, I mean, that’s about five-second burst; which is more than enough for most kind of sports photographers, I think, provided you’ve got the right lenses of course.



(John)

Now there are some exciting features in it for video as well; so it’s got 4K; so that’s something that everybody wants in a camera these days that unfortunately, for the Canon faithful, not a lot of the Canon cameras have had 4K.

Sometimes they’ve had a bit of a crippled 4K.

Now from what we understand, of course, we’ve not had a chance to (___) people into any results or whatever; but there are two modes on this; you can get 4K in Full HD using the full sensor’s width, and you can also run it in DX mode.

So you’ve got the ability, if you’re shooting with a prime lens, to get two different framings out of that same lens without sacrificing resolution.

So that’s kind of interesting.

Now it’s not a 100% video centric camera; at this stage it doesn’t seem like they’ve got those log profiles, but there’s a low contrast profile that we read about.

 

(Bill)

There is yeah.

 

(John)

So I think, for what a digital SLR shooter’s going to need out of a camera; which is predominantly designed for stills; I think there’s a lot there and it’s great that you’ve got the 4K.

Now there’s an interesting time-lapse mode they’ve announced.

So it’ll an in-camera time lapse in 8K or something - that’s crazy!

So, that’s quite interesting!

 

What are the other features that are getting you excited about it?

 

(Bill)

Well one thing is, um, just comparing it to the other models; I’m really stoked about the sensor as well; it’s got the same pixel pitch as the D500 – Nikon D500 - so in a way you can utilize this sensor with its crop values, and you’ve still got all the sports and autofocus capability.

So anyone with a D500 is going to find that everything that that camera can do, this can actually do and even more!

So that’s quite an interesting option.

 

(John)

Hey, what’s the current price on a D500 in Australia?

 

(Bill)

Not sure!

 

(John)

I’m not sure either! We can look that up.

[Laughter]

 

But anyway, the price, I mean this 850 is right in the same ballpark as the Canon 5D Mark IV!

And much better spec camera, it’s looking like!

 

(Bill)

Yeah, phenomenally. But, then again you’re not going to get people who are married to the Canon system to dump everything and come over to Nikon, and vice versa.

 

(John)

It did happen with the 800 came out; that was such a game-changer, a lot of people from the Canon camp jumped ship when that came out.

And I must admit, I was seriously thinking of it.

And I must, to be completely honest; I want resolution, and I’m stuck on an old Canon 5D Mark III; so I’m at, like, 22 megapixels or whatever it is, 23 I think; and I must admit every time I use, in our studio, the D810 and have a play with those 36 MB files and when I use that Fuji GFX and get the 50 MB files; or even the Canon 5D SR; you get those big files - I just love them!

But there are just so many sacrifices and of course, I’m kind of married to the Canon system.

But this is quite an exciting camera; if I… my problem is that I’m just so used to the Canon menu system.

But I know you hate it!

 

(Bill)

It’s all… look they’re all great menu systems these days; I think ergonomics has gone to the point where they’re all very useful, but when you’re jumping from one to the other; it’s just experience; you’ve just got to… once you work out where everything is and how to use it, Nikon’s are very good that way.

So are the current Canons.

 

(John)

But if you are considering jumping, Bill is the Used Department manager; so we’ll buy it!

 

(Bill)

That’s right!

 

(John)

Bring it on in!

 

(Bill)

Bring it in!

 

(John)

If you’ve got something; if you’ve got a whole kit load of Canon stuff; we know that we’ll take that, because there’s always a market for it.

You want to jump ship; plus if you preorder your D850 we’re going to give you a couple sensor cleans a year for the next two years!

 

(Bill)

Yeah, which is quite good.

 

(John)

Which actually means Bill and I are going to be busy because it’ll probably be us doing it!

 

[Laughter]

 

(Bill)

Well, one thing with our sensor cleans is we do guarantee them; so we do the job right; it’s not something that. There are many ways to clean a sensor.

 

(John)

Many wrong ways… we see it all the time.

 

(Bill)

Many wrong ways, yeah. So, you know, cleaning it and getting it done right is really good; and it’s a great guarantee to have; especially if you’re shooting out in the elements; it’s a great service that we can offer.

 

(John)

Now, if something has got say, one of the higher spec’d cropped cameras in the Nikon line and wanted to move up the full frame; which of the lenses you feel would be the appropriate ones to go with this new 850? Because, of course, it’s good to push the lens envelope.

 

(Bill)

Well, it will. I mean I use the 24 - 120 f/4 VR lens quite effectively on my D810.

I love that lens; it’s just a combination of good image quality and flexibility, which is what I prefer.

You’ve got the big three Nikon lenses; the 24 - 70 2.8 and the 70 – 200; and then you’ve also got the 17 - 35 2.8; but a lot of people sort of going for the 14 - 24 2.8 as well. Those big constant 2.8 aperture lenses are always very popular.

 

(John)

They are the top spec ones so they’re going to be… they’re ready for this camera.



(Bill)

And you really need the optical quality to get the most out of this sensor. So I mean it’s, for most people a 20-megapixel sensor will do the job, but to get that extra bite out of the sensor you’ve got to know what you’re doing with your lenses and that’s the most important thing.

 

(John)

I certainly notice this all the time when I throw a lens on, you know, one of these hyper high-resolution cameras - you can see every flaw. Yeah, probably a lot of it's going to be hidden in the print, but you want it perfect.

So there’s, you know, your shooting style is important; you might want to start thinking about using a tripod again for really critical landscape photography; you might want to consider upping that shutter speed just a little bit higher when you’re using these ultra high-resolution cameras; and of course, if you’ve got to raise that shutter speed and you still want to be at, you know, your sweet spot on the lens, maybe f/8 sort of range or something like that; well you might need to consider raising that ISO and this is where these this 850 is going to be incredible.

Because it’ll probably be clean as a whistle up to, like, 3200 or something, you won’t even notice it!

 

(Bill)

Well, it’s one of the things that the mirrorless cameras don’t exhibit, and that’s shutter shock. Or, some of them do; some of them have in the past; but Nikon has had that and some people have complained about the D810 that it does exhibit that shutter shock; but with the D850 they’ve gone into this silent mode which means you can shoot using live view and eliminate it that way. Now, it’s a shame it doesn’t have the electronic viewfinder, okay, which would make that more capable; but it’s almost… you have to go into that nth degree when you’re really shooting at the most of your lenses and really getting that extra bit of resolution from edge to edge. But, in saying that, Nikon has redesigned their mirror box with the D850, so we’ll see once we get the camera whether that has eliminated a lot of the shutter shock issues.

But, yeah, having a good redesign; it’s looking promising for this camera.

 

(John)

And there’s no doubt about it, when it comes to, you know, figuring out exactly how you’re going to put these tools to use to get maximum image quality, you know; you got to get to know your gear; you got to have a bit of play with it; it’s not the sort of thing you want to just pick up and use within 10 minutes and expect to get an award-winning shot.

 

(Bill)

No.

 

(John)

Yeah, you might even want to read the manual!

[Laughter]

 

(Bill)

Well, it’s a Nikon, you don’t have to! [Laughter]

 

(John)

Well, that’s a quite interesting point there!

The other thing I was just going to say was that it really is a game changer; because we’ve seen resolution at this level, of course, Sony’s got the a7r Mark II, which is at 42 MB; Canon’s got the 5D S and SR series at 50; and of course, there are all these medium format cameras; but Nikon has managed to always squeeze the best image quality out of existing technology and I mean, we know that the previous sensors were done by Sony and we’re sure Sony’s manufacturing this but, Nikon’s got some special sauce in there, and they’ve always managed to pull…

 

(Bill)

Well, they do. Their processes seem to be at a higher level than I think what Sony’s have in the past; in terms of extracting dynamic range in particular out of their sensors; they tend to be the market leaders at the moment.

And hopefully, this one will sort of raise the bar a bit more and it’s looking like it hopefully, will get very close, if not match; but a lot of people are saying that you know BSI sensor CMOS sensor; it should raise the bar quite considerably.

Which is a good one; it’s great for the industry.

 

(John)

So yeah, Nikon’s fighting a real hard game here; which is… this is good for the industry; and of course, it’s a brilliant time to be a photographer.

If you just love to take pictures and you just love to explore them in immense amount of detail that these high-resolution resolution sensors enable you to do; I mean, my background - I’ve always been stitching these huge mosaics to make panoramas to get just obscene resolution, and now with these high resolution sensors; it’s like one image is like a panorama I was putting together with, like, 50 images 10 years ago!

So it’s just crazy!

And when you marry that with a really high-end lens and good photographic technique; you’re just capable of producing just a very large work.

So it’s exciting!

And then you add low-light sensitivity to it?

It’s just; it’s ticking all the right boxes!

 

So as a Canon shooter you know, I’m really looking forward to playing with this camera.

And you know, I better learn to love it a bit more - whether I’ll sell all my gear to Bill; and he’ll put it in the front window of Michael’s; I’m not too sure!

 

(Bill)

Well, I’m not buying it! I’ll sell for you, yeah.

 

[Laughter]

 

(John)

But, the question now is, what’s Canon going to do to respond?

Because Canon, Nikon and Sony - that’s your pecking order in this game; and Canon’s got to come to the party with something.

 

Now, about two years ago they brought their 50 MB camera, and at base ISO produced a bloody good image; but you didn’t want to take it beyond ISO 400, I mean, it just fell apart.

And at the exact same time, you know, they were doing that, you know - was the was the 810 already out two years ago?

 

(Bill)

Yeah, it was already out.

 

(John)

Yeah, so Nikon was already, you know, at the 36 MB resolution but with great high ISO performance.

 

(Bill)

And dynamic range! You can’t forget the dynamic range with these at base ISO, which is phenomenal.



(John)

Yeah, so what is Canon going to do to come to the party? They can’t just ignore this, you know, and I’m sure that there are some engineers scrambling some unknown city in Japan or whatever, trying to figure this out!

But this is what the industry needs; you need one company to come out with something that changes the game and then the others have to respond.

So let’s hope that we see some very interesting things!

And I sort of need to see it because I’m not too sure we’ll sell all the gear. [Laughs]

 

But anyway, so yeah, we just want to sit down and was there anything else you had on your sheet there that is left to discuss?

 

(Bill)

Well, there are a few little features that they’ve added and they’ve obviously listened to a lot of the customers out there like, back-illuminated buttons for using at night time.

 

(John)

Oh, yeah I saw that! That’s a great idea!

 

(Bill)

It’s got Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; so they’ve got that connectivity that’s on the other ones.

 

(John)

Yeah, it’s got Snapbridge I hear.

 

(Bill)

Yeah, it’s got that in there.

 

(John)

There will be a lot of people excited about that.

[Laughs]

 

(Bill)

But a new version, ok, probably. It’s got a focus stacking option, which is up to 300 photos. It won’t do it like the Olympus cameras will, and stitch it in there in-camera; you’ve got to upload the photo, it will put it in a nice folder which enables you to grab the images out of it and do it using aftermarket software.

 

(John)

Did it have a built-in bulb timer and interval timer or not? I don’t remember seeing that. I’m not sure.

 

(Bill)

It does. Well, it’s got the intervalometer.

 

(John)

Oh, it does? Okay!

 

(Bill)

Yeah, for the intervalometer shooting.

 

(John)

Okay, well that’s perfect then; so you can use it to do time lapse right out of the box; and then process the files later or you’ve got that mode where it will assemble it assembles it, in-camera.

 

(Bill)

It does 120 frames a second in HD mode; yeah, Full HD 120, which is awesome slow-mo.

 

(John)

Now, is that a first for Nikon to have that?

 

(Bill)

It is. There are not many cameras that are not full-on video-centric that have that feature, which is great for most things; memory card uses XQD, plus UHS-2 SD cards; so we’re seeing the XQD cards coming into it; which is great for sort of the move forward.

 

(John)

Yeah, so dual slots; got all the standard procedures that you expect in a pro camera, you know; RAWs on one; JPEGs on the other; spill-over, or for backups.

So that’s really good!

And you expect that!

 

(Bill)

What else? They’ve doubled the resolution on the LCD screen and it’s a flip-out screen.

 

(John)

Oh, that’s right! That will be very…

 

(Bill)

Which is great for shooting from different angles. Like, very similar to the D500; so they’re sort of bringing it in line with the ergonomics on that one.

 

(John)

It has the weather sealing on these cameras?

 

(Bill)

It’s very, very good. Now with the D850, what they’ve done is, they have removed the built-in flash; so no built-in flash but what Nikon is saying; that it’s improving the weather proofing. So it is slightly better weather proofing.

 

(John)

Oh, that’s right, those pop-up flashes are a great spot for sticky fluids to get into - I’ve cleaned them so many times.

 

So yeah, the pop-up flash is not a great thing anyway; I don’t think that’s a deal breaker; if you need to use a flash you’re going to have a flash system anyway.

 

(Bill)

Well, some people use it to trigger their wireless systems; so it does have… it can be handy for some people; but as far as the flash is concerned, it’s very limited in what you use it for; and you can always pop on a built-in flash.

But you know, with high ISOs, the way they are, you know, you can get really, really good shots without it these days; more and more so, than what we once could.

 

(John)

Now, we talked to our friendly Nikon rep on the phone today; and if we’re very lucky, we might get one of these 850s in for another little video before they come up for general sale.

From what I understand, I think they’re thinking September 7th/9th or something; so about two weeks from now we should see these things in the store; which is very quick.

That’s almost like Apple type speed, you know - announce it, and within a couple of weeks, it’s out there.

 

(Bill)

Well, we’ve been told 1st of September! So, the first week.

 

(John)

Oh, first week!

 

(Bill)

Yeah, the first week of September is what the price book says. So yeah, so we’re hoping to get good stocks by then!

And Nikon’s been pretty good in the past; when they when they do deliver, they deliver pretty strongly; so hopefully, depending on international demand, of course, we’ll hopefully, we’ll get heaps and heaps of stock, and we’ll get that a model to play with straight away.



(John)

Oh, yeah, yeah! So as soon as we’ve got one in hand we’ll do another video; we’ll get some sample shots taken and we’ll just sort of see how it feels; and I’m sure we’ll probably be putting one into the Hire department at Michael’s, into the Nikon.

 

(Bill)

Definitely.

 

(John)

Yeah, we’ll add it into there; we’ve got the 810 now; so this will fit right in.

 

And then the Nikon faithful have got something to be excited about!

So we hope to see you in the store here; come in and in a couple weeks’ time and we’ll have it; and have a play and we’ll probably come up with some kind of event tied around it.

 

(Bill)

I’m sure we will!

 

(John)

Yeah! So, it’s exciting times to be a photographer and if you’re into the Nikon stuff, this is the camera to have!

 

(Bill)

It’s the one we’ve been waiting for!

 

(John)

Yeah! Sounds good!

Anyway, so hopefully, you enjoy it a little bit of a free-form discussion here; and Bill is a wealth of knowledge; so he’s always available if you need to get some used gear evaluated and traded in on some new gear.

And he loves to talk photography about as much as I do, but he knows about a hundred times more than I do!

Anyway, I really want to thank Bill for joining me today, and hopefully, we’ll have him up here for some more discussions in the future!

 

So, exciting times! The launch of the Nikon D850; and Michael’s Camera has got it - you can pre-order it on our website; we’ll put the link into the description of the video; I think we’ve got a very good price on it too!

The rep told me we were probably the cheapest! So that’s good!

 

(Bill)

Yeah, very competitive! Very competitive in Australia.

 

(John)

Yeah, yeah! So exciting times!

Anyway, we’ll see you on the next video!

Take care!

 

(Bill)

Bye.