Nikon D850, Early Impressions

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by ShunCheung, Oct 22, 2017.

  1. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    As I mentioned last week, our friends at Nikon USA let me borrow a new D850 for a short while. This is clearly the hot camera at the moment, as all major mail-order stores have a long waiting list with a lot of impatient customers complaining, very similar to the D800 shortage five years ago back in 2012.

    For those who are familiar with the D800, D810, and D500, there are few surprises. Size-wise the D850 is very similar to the D800 and D810, but its controls and the rear swivel LCD are almost identical to the D500, which has a smaller prism since it is DX.

    I have used the D850 a bit in the last couple of days. The AF module is the same Multi-CAM 20000 as the D5 and D500, but as reported elsewhere, AF speed, while good, is not quite at the same level as the D5. I shoot 14-bit, lossless compressed RAW, and the NEF files from the D850 are somewhere between 46 to 59 Mbytes in size. The high-ISO images tends to be larger.

    Here are some side-by-side images between the D850 and D800E as well as D500.



  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Here is an ISO 3200 sample, with its pixel-level crop. I think it is quite good at 3200. I have tried some ISO 6400 captures and it gets a bit noisy. However, I need to make some side-by-side comparisons against the D800 and maybe D810 and D5.

    Landrum Kelly likes this.
  3. Definitely a side-by-side comparisons with D810 is needed. At first look , the cropped image seems to have excessive noise...
  4. Shun,
    How is the auto focus speed compared to the D500?
  5. It's really handy to see just how similar the DX D500 and FX D850 are!

    I could take the wrong one with me on a job if they were side by side on the table.

    Are these OOC JPEGs?

    Noise seems to be mostly luminosity based. I'll be interested in the side by sides.
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Back in 2014, I did a thorough high-ISO comparison between the D800E and D810. My conclusion was that the D810 showed no improvement in that area. That was part of the reason I never bought a D810 myself. I will perform a side-by-side comparison between the D850 and D800E, and perhaps some other bodies. But to compare against the D810, I need to somehow borrow one.

    I was a bit surprised that the D850 missed some pretty straight-forward AF action shots; something the D5 can easily lock on. But I don't have enough experience with the D850 to draw any conclusions. Even they use the same AF module, the D5 has better AF than the D500, partly because the D5 uses a battery with higher voltage. I don't have a vertical grip for my D500 and I also don't have one for the D850.
  7. Interesting teaser and I look forward to reading your complete review once it is done.

    I would like to take the opportunity to repeat my interest in seeing some medium high ISO photos in DX mode (640-1 600 range). Preferably compared to the D500, D800 and D7200 so we really can se how usable the DX mode is. (And yes, I know the DX mode is not why you get a D850.)

    Your review will include information on how you have gone about testing the camera, but I would still like to ask you now how the above photo was treated? No in-camera NR, no NR in post, just RAW to jpg or JPG SOOC?
  8. I'm a bit surprised at the noise at ISO3200, my D750 is much cleaner. I will wind up with an 850 soon for studio work and run my own tests. I found that my 24-70 could not perform as well as the new Nikon primes with the better sensors.
    Best of luck and thanks for sharing.
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Please keep in mind that the D850 has roughly twice as many pixels as the 24MP D750. For a fair comparison, we need to scale the D850 image down to 24MP to compare against one from the D750.

    But I wouldn't buy a D850 to use it at high ISO. Similar to the D800/D810, the D850 shines at or near its base ISO on a tripod.
    Landrum Kelly likes this.
  10. Shun, with all respect, I think most here know the D8X0-series are not low light champions. However, for many they are the only camera in the bag, so I think that is why there is such an interest in their high-ISO capabilities.

    You are right when you say one should downsample in order to compare the photos. Some may even compare a jog straight fron the camera to a raw-file they have on their computer and have spent time on in post.
  11. It's noisy at pixel level but since it has a lot of pixels so if you resize it, I don't think it's any worse than the D5.
  12. I find my D810 is surprisingly noisy at moderate ISOs compared with my memory of the D700 - but over a whole image, it was definitively better. Slightly better high-ISO behaviour is absolutely on the list of things I'm hoping to get from a D850, but I'm not expecting miracles. Scaled to the same size, I believe DxO showed a slight improvement (at least in dynamic range) over the D750, similar to the D750's advantage over the D810, with the D5 retaining a larger advantage above ISO 1600. The A7RII neatly splits the two, with only the A7SII giving you much of a boost over the D5 (and then only at crazy ISO, with some possible question marks about raw processing). I'm interested to see what the A7RIII can do, which was announced earlier than expected, but other than HDR video recording it doesn't seem like there's much to make me switch systems there.

    If I always shot indoors (in dim light), a D850 would be a false economy (for this use); as someone who sometimes shoots indoors I'm not too scared - plus the better AF should help in low light. But I care more about the ISO64 performance, which seems at least as good as the D810.

    Shun, I'd like to know whether you can replicate DPReview's "warm pixels" behaviour. I don't think I've seen this from other reviews, so I'm curious to know whether they had an iffy body. I'd love to know about the AF performance with the grip, but "better than anything but the D5" will do for me.
  13. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Here are a couple of A/B comparison between the D850 and D800E @ ISO 6400. Again, since the D850 has more pixels, a 1000x1000 crop covers a smaller area, i.e. the magnification is higher. I used just one lens, the Sigma 35mm/f1.4 Art at f8.

    I actually also tested the D5 and D750 at the same location. Will probably refine my test procedure and retest them.

    It is probably premature to comment on the D850, but I am quite happy with ISO 3200 and 6400 seems borderline. The Sigma 35mm Art stands up well with the demanding D850.



    Landrum Kelly likes this.
  14. The 800E seems a little better on this sample though I would expect noise at ISO this high. I doubt we'll ever get rid of it. I notice there is a difference in colors though. Difference in WB settings or do they simply give a different result?

    Rick H.
  15. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    I noticed the white balance difference after I got home. I used auto white balance in both cases. The D800E gives me a much warmer image. The D850 manages to correct the indoor lighting and gives me a daylight-like, more neutral look.
    Landrum Kelly likes this.
  16. Hi Shun, thanks for putting this up. I'm considering a D850 in the near future, but I'm curious about the weather sealing and overall durability of the camera body. My work requires a high (22+) megapixel count, and my trusty D3X is still the only Nikon camera that gives me that resolution inside a flagship-style body. The D850 certainly meets my megapixel requirements, but I'm a little concerned about the build quality. What are your impressions on that front?
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    The D850 should have similar build quality as the D800, D810, D500 and some of the older ones such as D700 and D300. The one difference is that the D850 and D500 have no pop-up flash, which is a bit vulnerable and there are areas that water can get in thru the flash. However, the D850 is no D2, D3, D4, or D5.
  18. The D810 apparently (I've not stripped mine) has a carbon front panel, whereas the D800 and D850 are all magnesium. That actually worries me a little, since there were reports of D800s cracking when dropped. There's a tear-down here (also via a rumour site). Apparently it's a step up from the D8x0, but still no D5, as Shun says. The flash has gone, but obviously the tilting touchscreen is likely to be a little less robust than a fixed one (and the plastic cover I have on my D810's LCD is scratched enough that I'm a little nervous). That said, I've never felt anything from a D700 on to be less than solid, so you may have different requirements from me!
  19. I normally shoot Friday night football with a D5 and D500, but recently I left the D5 at home and used the D850 just to see how it would do. Overall I was pleased with the results, but as Shun pointed out it is not going to replace the D5. The AF speed, while good, seems to be about 1/2 step behind the D5. I set the AF-Area Mode to Dynamic 72 Point just as I do with the D5. I am attaching two shots from that night. The dancer at halftime was shot at ISO 4000 and the football action shot was ISO 6400. _D850215AB.jpg _D850388AB.jpg
  20. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    The next set of images are also captured at ISO 6400, with the D800E, D750, D5, and D850. However, they all have different pixel counts. The one from the D5 is at pixel level. For the others, I reduced them to 20MP in PhotoShop (i.e. 5568 pixels horizontally) so that each image covers the same sensor area.





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