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Nikon D850 Monochrome Examples in Eastern Sierra, Focus Stacked and Presented at Up to 182 Megapixels

Background: The Nikon D850 monochrome is a Nikon D850 with its color filter array (CFA) removed by maxmax.com. The NEF files are converted to monochrome DNG via LibRaw Monochrome2DNG and “Method B”, then processed using Adobe Camera Raw. Doing so avoids any demosaicing and thus retains full spatial resolution.

I’ve added some stunning examples from the Eastern Sierra shot with the Nikon D850 monochrome. I say “stunning” meaning that they are at least technically so, and I hope some make the cut to reader eyes as having artistic merit too.

Nikon D850 monochrome

Nikon D850 Monochrome Examples: Eastern Sierra

Several of these focus stacked samples are presented at up to 182 megapixels, upscaled using Gigapixel AI. It’s hard to believe thjey were shot on a 45MP sensor, but the monochrome capture provides acute per-pixel detail with extremely low noise. I have no doubt that the images would print 2 meters wide at 210 dpi and look razor sharp. I’d like to make such a test print to test that theory, but I don’t know if it can be done that large.

The Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 provide spectacular detail, as good as any Zeiss Otus—at half the price! With low distortion and minimal field curvature and perfect symmetry (such a relief from the Sony platform!), it is a joy to use on the Nikon D850 monochrome.

100+ megapixels?

WOW! I have never seen image quality this high from any 35mm camera before. Image quality is outstanding in a single shot at ISO 64 on the Nikon D850 monochrome, but I’m extending that via focus stacking and in some cases, frame averaging.

I hereby raise my estimation of equivalent megapixels to 100+ megapixels, and still I think the detail exceeds anything I captured with the Fujifilm GFX100. That is a little unfair perhaps since the GFX100 is a Bayer matrix color camera, but there it is.

How can that be? My educated guess is that it is a combination of:

  • Monochrome capture with no debayering yields acute per pixel capture accuracy.
  • Outstanding lens performance definitely considerably better total sharpness from lenses like the Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 and Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon (and others) than the Fujifilm GF lenses can deliver.
  • Notching up lens performance using filtration that eliminates spectral blur (eg blue/red/green not focusing quite exactly the same). This also increases real (actual) depth of field to close to the theoretical amount, particularly in the outer zones.
  • Seemingly reduced effects of difraction (for reasons I don’t understand).
  • Extremely low noise, particularly at ISO 31.

Shooting in monochrome can be boring on brilliantly colorful days, but I find that with the right lighting I am really enjoying the challenge of making stronger compositions, which are essential in black and white.

f8 @ 0.3 sec electronic shutter focus stack 5 frames, ISO 31; 2019-09-26 17:02:38
NIKON D850 monochrome + Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 + filter B+W Dark Red 091
ENV: Twenty Lakes Basin, altitude 10300 ft / 3139 m, 60°F / 15°C
RAW: vignetting corrected, pull 1.2 stops

[low-res image for bot]

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