In the battle for professional full-frame SLRs, Nikon and his D810 had been somewhat heckled by rivals, including the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and Sony Alpha 7R II. But the famous "Compagnie d'Optique Japonaise" which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, does not intend to let it go, and therefore takes out heavy artillery with a D850 with (very) high flying characteristics.
Design and Ergonomics
When we were talking about heavy artillery, we were not saying that figuratively. D850 is big (146 mm wide for 124 high and 78.5 deep) and heavy (1,005kg), but so are its competitors, with the exception of the Sony A7R II. However, this gives a real impression of solidity. Besides, know that the D850, with a magnesium frame, is tropicalized. No problem so to shoot in the rain or in the middle of a sandstorm …
Menus and Connectivity
The menus have also been updated (and they are tactile!). With many settings, they are very complete but nevertheless a little clutter and sometimes counter intuitive. As usual at Nikon. The application for smartphones Snap Bridge is of course always at the rendezvous to transfer your photos via bluetooth. You can also connect the device to Wi-Fi, a welcome but limited novelty: impossible to send images directly to a PC for example. Regarding Snap Bridge, the application "does the job" the transfer is quite fast if we reduce the size of the images. Things get complicated when you keep the maximum size. Incidentally, note that there is still no integrated GPS.
Given the characteristics of the camera, we could expect very high quality pictures, and unsurprisingly, that's really the case. The D850 delivers great shots from every point of view, offering one of the best image quality in the market.
f / 1.6 – 1/60 – 640 ISO – 35mm
The sharpness of the pictures is simply excellent, and thanks to the 45.7 Mpx of the sensor (for images of 45.4 Mpx max), you have a margin of considerable cropping As on the previous model, you can choose between different formats: FX (full format), DX (APS-C), crop 1,2x, 5: 4 or even 1: 1 Instagram way. DX, the images retain a definition of 19.5Mpx, which is very satisfying.Cerient on the cake, you can now combine two different formats when shooting in RAW + JPG.By cons, you will notice that the format 16: 9 n is unfortunately not available.
That said, we can easily compensate for this by raising the ISO sensitivity, because on this point, the D850 is really excellent. It can go up without worry at 6400 ISO while maintaining a very satisfactory level of noise. And then even at 12800, the noise level remains really correct. It is appreciated that the manufacturer has shown reasonable sensitivity range. It rises from 64 to 25600 ISO, values that remain usable. Note that it is still possible to extend it from 32 to 102400 ISO but the images will be really degraded. In short, you will understand, when it comes to shooting in low light, the D850 is a real monster.
f / 1.4 – 1/80 – 200 ISO – 35mm
And in video?
In video, the big novelty of the D850 is its faculty of f ilmer in 4K, at 30 frames per second and without cropping moreover. The D810 was sticking to Full HD while the Nikon SLR for shooting in 4K, like the D5, D500 or D7500, imposed a crop of 2.2x: not great for very large angles. But this limitation is no longer, and the D850 now puts all of its large sensor to contribution for quality images, good news.
f / 1.4 – 1 / 60 – 800 ISO – 35mm
On the other hand, the built-in mic is rather average, as it is often the case.It lacks a bit of bass and even induces a little hissing enough annoying (that a noise gate should nevertheless clear easily.) Apart from the 4K, you can also film in Full HD (with electronic stabilization) 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p or 24p, or even 120p but with a crop at DX format (APS-C) Finally, last little novelty, it is possible to achieve timelapse with an 8K definition.
Reactivity and autofocus
Here again a domain e in which the Nikon D850 radiates. Indeed, it is very responsive, it turns on and off in a split second. The autofocus, with its 153 collimators (99 cross), is also booming effectively, the viewfinder at least because in live view, its speed drops significantly (it is still suitable … if you do not shoot the moment). In manual mode, the focus is finally facilitated by features of focus peaking and focus steaking, welcome novelties that were sorely missed by Nikon.
f / 1.4 – 1/60 – 1000 ISO – 35mm
It is a great pleasure to work with the Nikon D850, which offers significant improvements over its predecessor, with gorgeous images, enhanced video performance, excellent responsiveness , an up-to-date design (adjustable touch screen, tropicalized case, complete connection with the exception of USB-C) and new functions welcome (long live the peaking!), the device hurts the competition of a Shutter movement: Clearly one of the best full-frame SLRs on the market.
To pay less, you can also opt for the Sony A7R II, at turn of 2800 euros at the time of publication of this test. Do not forget that the Sony A7R III, which displays features very similar to the D850, is available since November at a lower price of 3500 euros naked. We have not tested it yet, so it was not taken into account in this test. But anyway, if you have the budget to offer the D850, go for it! It's a real gem.