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Some Interesting Points About the Nikon D850

See Nikon wishlist.

Get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

Nikon D850, rear view

As part of its Nikon D850 review, Imaging Resource has an interesting interview with Nikon. Some key points I noted:

  • Image quality is claimed to be a full stop better at every ISO, e.g. ISO 12800 is as good as ISO 6400 on the D810. And without losing quality at the base ISO.
  • Nikon-designed BSI sensor fabricated by someone else (presumably Sony since only Sony has BSI sensors AFAIK).
  • Claimed dynamic range as good or better than that of the D810 despite the higher pixel count. That’s very impressive, and it should help make the D850 the best full-frame camera on the market rivalling medium format as claimed, which is very interesting: see the D810 comparisons to the Hasselblad X1D, where the D810 fares well.
  • “focus shift” is a feature to take a number of frames (using AF lenses) in focus increments. Based on the description, it does not sound useful for in-the-field focus stacking, but I might be wrong on that point.
  • Same 153-point autofocus system as the Nikon D5 and D500.

With these improvements and the D850 having the stellar AF system of the Nikon D5, one wonders how Canon will respond. Canon has never had a superb sensor like Nikon, so I do not see how Canon can compete on an image quality basis without something radically better.

I’m actually pretty excited about seeing the D850 two weeks from now: the D810 has been an ultra-reliable workhorse camera delivering first class images. The 45 megapixels are a nice step up from 36 along with other features might not persuade Sony users to go back to a DSLR, but I’ll wager than Sony A7R II image quality will look even more cooked and fragile by comparison than it already does versus the D810. Unless of course Sony ups the ante with a new camera, which will ought to happen within 6 months is my guess. Still, I doubt that Sony will deliver the image quality that Nikon does—I’ve long found the 'brittle' quality of Sony raw files irksome. Nikon knows how to deliver very high quality raw files, which is an interplay of both sensor and eletronic processing.

Andrew P writes:

Interesting that you call Sony files “brittle”. I’m a (reluctant) Sony user – long story – and I call them on the harsh side. I presume we’re talking about the same thing?

DIGLLOYD: yes, same idea. From what I can tell, raw is not raw with Sony on any of their cameras; the files are partly 'cooked'. Or maybe it’s just that the Sony electronics don’t do as good a job as Nikon—I do not know.

At the end of the day (and during it), carrying the Nikon D850 will be just fine with me, particularly if it squeezes the gap versus the Fujifilm GFX down to minimal.

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