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Nikon D850: Natural White Balance Option, Active D-Lighting, HDR

See my Nikon wish list and get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

Nikon D850

I find the Nikon D850 brochure glaringly obtuse in one way: it fails to state that the new “natural white balance”, Active D-Lighting and HDR features are JPEG only. Because raw is raw and has no white balance per se, or shadow/highlight control. Possibly HDR could be done in raw, but Nikon does not say, and that would be a first AFAIK.

It’s just bizarre to talk seriously about these features in the context of landscape shooting. Does any competent landscape shooter actually shoot JPEG? White balance is irrelevant for raw files. I find this whole paragraph a WTF: are the talking to amateurs or pros? The former presumably, or perhaps sports shooters. But landscape—huh?

More faithful color reproduction under natural light — New natural light auto white balance option — the D850 employs a new “natural light auto” white balance mode, taking advantage of the Advanced Scene Recognition System’s improved light source identification function. This option delivers optimal white balance results under natural light— a valuable asset for landscape shooters. It makes it possible to respond quickly to changes in the weather conditions without switching to the direct sunlight or cloudy options. When shooting scenes such as an autumnal landscape awash with red leaves or spectacular orange sunset, sunset, it also enhances the warm colors, helping create even more impressive pictures.

Next, Nikon talks about Active D-Lighting. This is a nice feature, but it is a JPEG feature or a Nikon capture feature for NEF (but who these days uses Nikon Capture?). If you’re shooting raw files, then you have all the range, so the discussion again reverts to JPEG. I understand that some people shoot JPEG and think it’s great—it has its place, but not in the arsenal of a competent photographer for landscape and similar shooting.

Preserve details in highlights and shadows — Active D-Lighting — Even when shooting high-contrast scenes in backlit situations, Active D-Lighting preserves details in highlight areas as well as shadowy areas, reproducing brightness as you see it. Active D-Lighting is suitable for use with moving subjects, as it does not involve combining two images like the High Dynamic Range (HDR) function does.

HDR is of course interesting, but the Nikon D810 already has such great dynamic range (properly exposed) that I almost never would need HDR. And AFAIK, the HDR feature is JPEG, an absurdity for high dynamic range scenes. If somehow the HDR feature supports raw files, then Nikon ought to blow that horn. But that crucial detail is left unstated.

Produce amazing dynamic range — HDR — the High Dynamic Range (HDR) function takes two images of different exposures with one shutter release and automatically combines them to produce a single image with a wider dynamic range. This achieves images with rich tonal gradation in shadows and highlights, even for high contrast shooting scenes. HDR is ideal for stationary subjects such as high-contrast landscapes and still lifes.

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