#637. Monday Post (28 Aug 2017): Nikon’s D850 – would I?

By Paul Perton | Monday Post

Aug 28

Sitting supping strong Saturday breakfast coffee with my Greyton co-shooters last weekend, I was more than surprised to hear the discussion home in on the imminent release of Nikon’s D850.


True, amongst us was a couple of true pro photographers and a doctor or two, all of whom could probably easily afford the new DSLR heavyweight. Or write the cost off to tax. The rest of us – leastways those not toting Canons or Sonys – weren’t so convinced. Who really needs almost fifty megapixels?


Knowing my Land Rover would be doing the heavy hauling over the weekend, I’d packed my D800, some lenses and then gasped the bag downstairs to the garage to load it up. It proved a good decision; like unexpectedly running into an old friend and remembering how much you enjoyed his/her company.


I’ve been using the D800 for the four years since it was launched. I didn’t feel the need to join the D810 brigade in 2015 and had made my mind up likewise not buy this latest release. I want a mirrorless Nikon and will buy nothing new from them until it appears. Or not.



That was until I read the Thom Hogan’s overview piece on the D850 on Friday morning.


I read the lengthy piece:

46 megapixels? Blah

9/10 frames/second? Blah

4k video? Blah

High ISO performance? Blah

Silent shutter in LiveView? Blah


Blah, blah, blah. Adding his weight to the discussion, Lloyd Chambers has this morning published as exhaustive an overview as seems possible before actually getting his hands on an 850.


I do have to admit that a couple of minor features interested me; the tilting LCD and focus bracketing sound quite useful. But the only thing I really seemed to want was the new thumb stick to move focus point. As a Fuji user, the latter has become so ingrained in my photographing that it’s hard to think of shooting anything without it.


But really, there’s little else about the D850 that made me want to part with a considerable sum to have one. And, while most of us are looking to lessen our photo-tote, this new behemoth seems to be around 100g heavier than the model it’s replacing. So, no. Thanks.


Mind you, the weekend shoot with the D800 had been very enjoyable. Familiarity and muscle memory had kicked-in pretty quickly and the few controls I regard as essential – ISO, exposure compensation and LiveView were exactly where I’d left them. The Nikon RAW images I uploaded were big, bright and when correctly exposed, loaded with detail at both ends of the histogram.


Conceding that, did I really not want a D850 and push the bar just a bit higher? The technology is at least five years younger, I’ve a cupboard full of lenses that I know and trust and as long as the heavy hauling is handled by the car, why not?


Of course, my bank manager has his own ideas about this issue. Perhaps I’ll find a way to deal with that when there’s some stock in the shops…


D850 photos courtesy of the WWW.


Joining me in this post is Philippe, who has a somewhat more disciplined view:


The forthcoming D-850 is an interesting case study for the consultant that lurks inside me. Simply put, it is everything a state-of-the-art DSLR can be with today’s technology. Large, solid, weather-proof, lots of Mp, lots of high ISO, lots of DR stops, lots of focus points, lots of frames per second, lots of video Ks, lots of features, lots of lenses and other add-ons and accessories, lots of….. everything, including $,£, €, or whatever your call sign is.


Does that make it desirable? Will the D850 be a worthy champion for the Nikon DSLR line for a few years? Not forgetting Sony’s claim that they have now overtaken Nikon as the world’s N°2 manufacturer of interchangeable-lens FF cameras.


To answer that question is to answer a much more difficult one. If buyers flock to the D850, and I mean not “just” to upgrade their D800 or D810, then Nikon will have demonstrated that the DSLR is not yet mature. That buyers still hanker for more “performance”.


My own opinion is that the D850 will be a valiant placeholder for Nikon, keeping its existing customers happy enough so that they don’t defect to Canon, or even Pentax, for God’s sake! and giving Nikon a temporary boost while buyers upgrade. It will also reassure customers that Nikon aren’t dead quite just yet, and can still turn out a fine DSLR.


There are 4 things it doesn’t do however.


One is push the envelope. When the D800 was introduced, its 36Mp left everyone gasping, and left Canon’s 22Mp in the dust. What is it in the D850 that leaves us gasping? Yes, it does incorporate lots of goodies, including some learned from mirrorless. But push the envelope? Pshaw!


Two is give an existing high-end DSLR user a BIG reason to upgrade. Lots of nice-to-haves, yes. A must-have (let alone more than one)? Nope. If you have GAS and $$$, sure, and you won’t be disappointed. But if you have to starve yourself and your kids for months? Nope.


Three is give users who, on average aren’t getting any younger an easier ride, for their crumbling backs, withering eyesight and failing arms and shoulders. It has not escaped you that Leica and Zeiss both went partially AF at the same time. That’s because aging eyes and MF aren’t a happy couple. Neither are IMHO a D850 and growing older.


Four is giving young users, born-and-bred on smartphone photography an urge to move to “real” photography.


The first 3 mean that the D850 is a potentially superb DSLR, but maybe, even though it is superb, not quite superb enough.


The fourth however is the Deadly Sin, for which our community has no future until we repent and find a way forward.


In summation: the D850, ain’t no star born….



Changing gears


Here at DS, we’ve been trying (largely unsuccessfully) for some time to find post processing options to Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop lock in.


My post on the Greyton weekend will appear in a couple of days and in there, you’ll find mention of my failed plan to use Luminar to process the weekend’s shooting.


Over that weekend, a new On1 RAW release rolled-out. Now installed, it looks like it’s developing into a serious contender in the post processing stakes – the more time I spend with it, the more I find to like.


I’m still not sure about the odd left/right split in the interface and some of the workflow quirks, but personal issues aside, this might be the LR replacement I’m seeking.


So, what do I do with an Adobe CC subscription I no longer need/want? What happens to my photographs? Fortunately Scott Kelly published an answer to that one a couple of days ago. My money’s on you not knowing this already.




Email: subscribed: 4
  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Tell me you’re joking! You mean I just spent several hundred dollars on Capture One, and it’s now been replaced straight afterwards by a new version? ARRRRRRRRGGGHHH That’s what I hated about all of Adobe’s stuff!! I am so over this kind of behaviour!!

    Back to the topic. Yes I have a D810. No I am not buying a D850. Most of those “improvements” are of no interest to me. Only 3 or 4 are of interest, and not of sufficient interest to justify replacing my present cam.

    1 – AF – the way it’s gone with digital, it’s put me off, completely, and I’ve gone back to MF lenses – so nothing they do or say with AF is of any further interest to me, in FF format, for the time being.

    2 – touch screen – bugger off – that’s what came with my Canon, and every time my nose goes near it, it moves the thing on the screen – anyway, see 1 above.

    3 – 4K video – if I wanted to be a cinematographer, I’d buy a video cam

    4 – removing the built in flash – OK – you got me there, but not parting with my cash to get rid of the one built into my D810, even though I never use it – and while I’m at it, the same goes for the “improved ergonomics”, that is only of importance to someone who has yet to buy ANY of the D800/810 etc range.

    5 – 45MP or whatever – I never print bigger than A3 these days, and the last time I did, was A2 prints I made half a century ago – I don’t think I need any more MP than my D810 provides

    6 – one extra stop for my available light photography, before noise sets in? – well I won’t deny that’s “of interest”, but not a factor which would tip the scales from “no” to “maybe” or “yes”

    7 – extra magnification in the viewfinder? – too late, I added a lens to my D810’s viewfinder and it magnifies the image quite nicely already, thanks

    8 – XD cards? – bum to this – I already bought all the cards I need when I kitted the D810, and whatever the virtues of the D850 might be, replacing all the compact cards that don’t fit the D850 is one reason for me NOT to buy one. I noticed the battery has a different serial no – does that mean the D810’s batteries can’t be used on the D850 too?

    SUMMARY – nice cam, Nik – but IMO (humble or otherwise) your main market is people who have yet to buy into the D800/810 etc range, not people who already have.

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      Oops – sorry everyone – me again – I forgot something.

      Insert this above, before the summary 🙂

      9 – stack shots – well yes, OK, if you don’t already have the gear to do stack shots – of course I’ve yet to try it on the D850 and, it seems, I likely never will – I have dedicated stackshot gear from Cognisys for my macro work, though, so again, fitting a stackshot system into the D850 is not a reason for me to replace the D810 – although I can appreciate it will be an attraction for newbies.

      And perhaps add this thought to paragraph 3 above. “While it’s ‘interesting’ to be able to take video with a still camera, these hybrid toys end up being ‘neither fish nor fowl’. And however much it’s a nuisance, a dedicated video camera is likely to be the better choice, if you are serious about cinematography.”

      I hope nobody takes offence with this. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and this is merely mine, so everyone else can have a completely different one – it’s not me, they have to satisfy – it’s themselves, and the answer for them is, “whatever floats your boat – DO IT”.

      And Nik is to be congratulated for upping the standard and improving the quality of their flagship FF camera. Early reports suggest even the pros are buying it – one says he’s pre-ordered three of them, already! It’s also more likely, I think, that cameras of this quality will rescue their finances, than pushing any more of those delightful pocket size compacts they’ve flooded the market with in recent years. And it’s comforting to see them producing more cameras that will hopefully be around when the time eventually comes for me to pension off my worn-out D810 and find a suitable replacement that still accepts the glass I use. All this talk of major camera manufacturers having financial problems makes me nervous, when I think about the money I have tied up in lenses 🙂

  • Adrian says:

    A few weeks ago, when Nikon first officially mentioned the D850 was coming, their corporate press statement made it clear that it was going to be something very special and revolutionary. When I saw the official release the other day, I was left wondering exactly what was so special. It seems to have the required class average feature set and specification, but revolutionary? I didn’t think so. I’m not a Nikon user, but if I was – after several major quality debacles and their financial woes – I don’t think I would be particularly excited. It certainly doesn’t feel like the revolution they need to get the motion back into the brand. Let’s just hope there isn’t another quality control debacle too.

  • Dallas Thomas says:

    In mid-May I had miss hap with my D800 while shooting in Paris and it had to be replaced. I was speaking Philippe and told him I would replace it with the 810. His immediate comment was why not wait for the much anticipated replacement. Easy answer I do not require, want or need the then reported 45MP. His comment was something along these lines very few people can tell the difference between 32, 42, 50MP images, unless they are printed very large. Apologies if I have misquoted you Philippe.
    Yes some of the new features would be useful:
    Increased Dynamic Range
    The focusing system from the D5 & D500, however as these days I use MF lens about 90% of the time this would be of little use.
    Overall, I find the D810 does what I need it to do very well and as it’s taken less than 2,000 shots replacement at this point is out of the question especially given the price in Australia it’saround the A$5,000 mark, I’m sure this drop over time.
    Having said that maybe one day GAS will takeover, never say never!

  • Cliff Whittaker says:

    I am very interested in the new Nikon D850. I bought the D800E as soon as it hit the market and I was amazed at the upgrade from my D300. And now I’m thinking the D850 will be a significant upgrade from my 800E. I don’t care about the nit picky little things like Video because I’ll never use it; I don’t like touch screen at all; and moving the focus point doesn’t appeal to me in the least, no matter how conveniently it can be done. BUT, I am all about dynamic range and capturing tonal transitions and minute detail in landscape and nature images. It takes MPX to do this.
    I’ll probably wait for a while and read user reviews, but I’ll probably have this new Nikon D850 to go with my 500mm f/4G Nikon lens for birds.
    BTW, I’m 75 years old and I’m not quibbling about a few more ounces in weight to get the image quality I want. Lighter would be better but it’s not lighter so I’ll go with a tiny bit heavier. After all, I packed a 4×5 field camera and equipment for many years.

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