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The Nikon D850: an in-depth review

Tom Tworek, digital tech salesman at Keeble and Shuchat Photography store holds up the new Nikon D70, right, and the comporable camera, Canon Digital Rebel, left, at his store in Palo Alto, Calif., Tuesday, March 23, 2004. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

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Tom Tworek, digital tech salesman at Keeble and Shuchat Photography store holds up the new Nikon D70, right, and the comporable camera, Canon Digital Rebel, left, at his store in Palo Alto, Calif., Tuesday, March 23, 2004. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Austin Martin, Staff writer

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The Nikon D850 is Nikon’s new high-resolution portrait/landscape camera. Following the D810, this camera has some very nice twists on the classic design in terms of use. With the autofocus system of Nikon’s flagship camera, the D5, and a shooting speed of 7fps, it can absolutely do sports and it does it well, even more so when the optional vertical grip is used, with a D5 battery, which will give it a staggering 9fps. This camera is a jack of all trades, but it comes at a price of $3,299 on Nikon’s website. This camera is not intended for beginners, it’s meant for hardcore enthusiasts or professionals, hence it’s hefty price-tag and lack of automatic exposure options.

With a full-frame 45.7 megapixel sensor and lack of AA filter, if a sharp lens is used, the results are astounding. With a resolution of 8256 x 5504, there is, within reason, no limit on how extensive a crop can be. The lowest native ISO on the D850 is 64, which means it only allows 64 photons to hit the sensor. This allows for minimal noise in well-lit conditions. On the other side of the spectrum, the highest native ISO is 25,600. My personal preference is to not go above 3200, as colors tend to get washed out and the noise is a bit too much for it to look natural after noise reduction but it’s possible to make it look nice with some work at 12,800 ISO.

This camera, out of all of the cameras I’ve owned, performs the best at a high ISO. At 64 ISO and when shooting in the RAW format, (RAW should always be used, despite the increased file size) the dynamic range is incredible. Underexposed photos are able to be recovered up to 5 stop and the same goes with overexposed photos. As the ISO increased, the dynamic range incrementally and predictably decreases. So always use the lowest ISO that the lighting will allow. For the full unedited ISO test, barring a minor exposure change, follow this link. Only the ISO and shutter speed were changed, aperture and distance to subject remained the same throughout the test.

When it comes to video, Nikon boasts that this is one of the best DSLR’s for video with merit. The D850 is capable of shooting 4K video with no crop, as well as 1080p slow motion with a 1.5x crop at 120fps. A new feature introduced is focus peaking, which means it is very easy to see where the plane of focus is without inducing eye strain. The D850 is also capable of taking an 8K time-lapse without the need for an external intervalometer. All that needs to be done is to stitch the photos together in a program to create a video. Despite all of these great features, the D850 is still not ideal for videography. Mirrorless cameras, such as the Fujifilm XT-2, are much more suited to the task simply due to their small size and are generally designed with video in mind.

Overall, this is an incredible camera, the best I’ve ever used. I wouldn’t buy this camera for just videography, but for photography, it’s second to none for it’s price. The fact that it does video is just the cherry on top. It’s a jack of all trades, it excels in portraits and landscapes but is very capable of doing all other types of photoshoots and produces stunning results.

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The Nikon D850: an in-depth review