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Shootout: Nikon D850 vs D810 for Low ISO Noise (Sprinter Van)

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

See my growing review of the Nikon D850 in Advanced DSLR.

Update 2017-10-11: I’ve added a conclusions section discussing my view of the findings of this analysis.


This page evaluates low ISO noise with the Nikon D850 versus its D810 predecessor, long renowned for outstanding image quality and very low noise at ISO 64.

Also examined is how much benefit accrues in using “Lo” ISO values on each camera. These values are not real ISOs, and deliver a significantly different tonal scale. In essence, they simply record brightness without any gamma curve. They require special care during exposure to avoid blowing out highlights.

A few questions that I wanted answered:

  • Is the Nikon D850 at ISO 64 superior in per pixel noise to the D810, or is it perhaps about the same relative to the pixel count? Ditto for pseudo-ISO 31 (D850) vs pseudo-ISO 50 (D810).
  • Can a Nikon D810 at pseudo-ISO 50 equal a Nikon D850 at ISO 64?
  • What are the negative effects of using the pseudo ISO “Lo” settings versus real ISO.

Noise and Dynamic Range Shootout: D850 vs D810 (Sprinter Van)

Includes full resolution images at ISO 31 and ISO 64 for both cameras, as well as actual pixels crops, enlarged-to-match actual pixels crops and RawDigger histograms.

My Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van turned out to be an excellent test subject for this article. As well, this content delivered from 11,800' in my Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van.

Lloyd’s Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van
f1.4 @ 1/4000 sec, ISO 31; 2017-10-09 16:23:52
NIKON D850 + Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4

[low-res image for bot]

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