Arguably Nikon’s best SLR of all time, the D850 struggles to retain its crown against mirrorless competition
For many enthusiast and professional photographers, the D850 is the perfect package. It has a 45.4Mp image sensor that can capture incredible fine detail and texture, a fast and accurate 153-point autofocus system and a high-tech metering system, both of which are shared with the top-flight D5. However, the D850 has a more manageable size and weight, more than twice as many megapixels, and still manages a decent burst rate of 7fps (9fps with the optional battery grip and D5 battery).
However, while the autofocus system has excellent performance for viewfinder-based shooting, it’s downright sluggish and prone to hunting in Live View and movie capture modes. The image sensor is the main culprit, as the D850 is the only camera in this group to lack phase-detection sites on its sensor. Even so, a plus point shared by both Nikon cameras is that they don’t crop 4K UHD movies, as do the Canon cameras.
while the D850 is capable of capturing ultra-fine detail, it can be a challenge to make the most of what’s on offer. Despite having a smooth action compared with the reflex mirrors of many SLRs, vibrations can still be a problem. The Z7’s mirrorless design and its built-in stabilisation, together with Nikon’s super-sharp new Z-mount lenses, simply enable sharper shots in more wide-ranging shooting scenarios.
Another factor is that up-market F-mount lenses tend to be relatively big and heavy.
For example, couple the D850 with Nikon’s latest 24-70mm f2.8 zoom, and the combined weight is about 2kg. A bigger fly in the ointment is that image noise can be all too noticeable when shooting at high ISO settings under low lighting conditions. The Canon cameras’ images are much cleaner and, more surprisingly, the Z7 also outstrips the D850 for noise suppression while maintaining good levels of fine detail and texture.
Right The D850 is a consummately prograde camera THE LAYOUT OF BUTTONS AND DIALS IS CLASSIC PRO-GRADE NIKON, WITH INSTANT ACCESS TO PRETTY MUCH ANY SHOOTING SETTING YOU MIGHT NEED