#739. An Acute Attack of GAS – Sony A7R111/Nikon D850

By Dallas Thomas | Review

Jun 20

Sydney Harbour bridge on a very foggy morning


GAS we’ve all had it, in mid May, it struck with a vengeance.

The thought process was; maybe, I should change systems and ditch the heavy Nikon D810 and go for a more compact body, like the relatively new highly acclaimed Sony A7R 111, surely any bugs of the previous versions have now been ironed out!.

An adaptor could be used to enable the use of my Nikon mount lens, problem solved.

I spoke with several people who had changed from Canon to Sony their comments were “I won’t go back”. Nobody I know has switched from Nikon to Sony, maybe I live in a small world. The only thing ex Canon shooters recommended was to switch completely and not use lens adaptors as auto focus could be effected. As I use Zeiss Milvus MF lenses this was not a concern.


Sherpa required


I asked Philippe of his thoughts which basically aligned to mine.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the D-850 is a very nice camera, and a very fine image maker. If I had to point out differences there are some between the 2 cams. My opinion is that the Nikon has better in-camera processing, including colours, meaning images require less PP, and are sometimes outright better. It is also more robust, including better weather sealed. It is a much quicker camera, with essentially no lag. And many prefer an optical viewfinder.

The Sony on the other hand offers IBIS which, for me is major. It offers an EVF with magnification, which helps in some cases. It is lighter and smaller, but how much that matters is individual, the Nikon may be preferred by people with larger hands and for better balance with heavy lenses.

One area where the Sony is unquestionably better is the huge choice of lenses. Just about anything works (not the Leica rangefinder wides, though). But how much that is worth to you depends on which direction you are giving your lens kit….”

I didn’t consider the lenses as all mine are Nikon mount.



Previously in #649. Three and half hours with the Nikon D850 I wrote that I decided that Nikon D810 was all I needed or wanted at the time. How times change, well 9 months is a long time isn’t it?

After much deliberation and many hours watching YouTubes reviews of both contenders, I decided to stay with the Nikon.

My main reason for change was to get  a smaller/lighter body after taking into account adding an adaptor to the Sony there was there was less 250 gms saving, not much. Also to swap to Sony I would need to purchase the lens adaptor, spare battery and shutter release. The smaller body of the Sony didn’t really suit my hand, my knuckles touched the lens body and wasn’t comfortable. I also didn’t want to have two camera systems to navigate and remember at that critical time!



Pascal has asked, I provide my thoughts on the D850. I’m not going to go into too much technical detail you can find many reviews on the web and YouTube by the regulars who do reviews for a living or are paid to, well I’ll leave that one alone!

Initially, the 850 feels extremely similar to the 810, but it is different like 810 was from the 800. Small changes like a deeper grip making it more comfortable to use. Now the D4s does not feel as good to use as its grip is nowhere as deep. The D5 has a deeper grip, no lets not go down that track!!

The buttons have been moved to align with the other Nikon models the D5, D500 and D750 I believe. Like all new things you quickly adapt.

How does it perform? I feel the metering system is much improved over the 810 where previous I was having to dial in negative exposure compensation of about 1 stop when using my Zeiss lens now in the majority of cases I’m not getting any blown out highlights with no exposure compensation in normal shooting.


The Strand Arcade, Sydney


Focus peeking is a wonderful addition especially with MF lens, on a tripod it works like a charm, but you still need to be extremely careful to place the focus point in the correct spot to ensure you get pin sharp results as the camera will punish poor technique. I have found using a 135 even stopped down to f14, at about a metre, not focussed exactly where you intended, provided far less than perfect results. The image below is a perfect example, the intended focus point was the log not the mushroom. Operator error!



Hand held Live View it’s still much better than the 810 and will take some time to get use to shooting using a screen instead of a viewfinder.

In Body Stabilisation would be an added bonus, maybe one day Nikon please!!!!

I didn’t get to do any side by side evaluation of files with the 810 as the camera was sold within 3 days of advertising it.

But I do have similar shots from the same location The Royal National Park just south of Sydney. These 3 images are all taken from the same spot using different lens, I have cropped the 2nd image to try to get the same perspective, the extra size of the 850 file does come in handy for this.


D810 35mm


D850 21mm cropped


D850 Multi Row Pano 3 rows x 5 shots 135mm

D850 Multi Row Pano 3 rows x 5 shots 135mm


Can you pick any difference in IQ?

My eye favours the 2nd, it’s very hard when viewing on digital screens, don’t you agree, I’ve yet to compare print against print.

I find the files need slightly less post than the 810, which is a bonus and the colours render slightly richer to my eye even in RAW.



The increased FPS is a bonus but not a specific reason why I bought the camera for,  the D4s takes care of sport and wildlife shooting. I will be interested to see the 850 performs with these genres in the future, but from all accounts it’s no slouch.

The articulated screen is a bonus and come in handy on the tripod in difficult positions. My only concern is how good is the weather sealing! Talking of the LCD’s this one is a huge improvement over the 810 much more detail due to higher resolution, but I think it still behind the class leader Sony.

The screen has does have some touch functionality which most of the time I forget to use, as time goes by I will get used to it and am sure will use it more.

Connectivity, it does have what Nikon call Snapbridge, I had a play and decided it was feature I could do without as it was slow and cumbersome.



Battery life is improved, which is a bonus if you use live view a lot as I do with landscape and seascape photography.

Image Quality well 45.7MP does provide a large file and lots of detail. However as the majority of us don’t print, can we tell the difference viewing it on a digital screen?

Improved Autofocus being the user of MF lens the majority of the time this was not huge feature for me, the few times I used AF it snapped focus quickly.



Focus Stacking, again isn’t a feature I’ll use a lot due to my choice of MF lens. I used it a few times using the 24 – 70/2.8 Nikkor lens, it worked well and gave sharp focus, from the desired focus point to infinity without any fuss. I can see it being a valuable tool for shooters that want their landscapes pin sharp throughout the entire image. For Macro shooters it could be a huge bonus, but then again are we allowing the camera manufacturers to de-skill us or is it just another feature, you tell me?


7 shots stacked in PS @2.8 using Nikkor 24 -70/2.8 with bad CA, not my favourite lens by a long shot


The $64,000 question was it worth the upgrade from the D810?

It is a significant leap forward from the D800 and a large enough leap to upgrade from the D810 and something I don’t regret.

I’m still learning how I can get more out of the camera and capture the type of images I want to capture, this process will continue no doubt until GAS shows its ugly head again in the future, hopefully very much in the future.

Finally, Pascal I know this has probably not provided you with any definitive answer to your question, should you forsake your Sony A7R11 for a Nikon D850.

If you want a really good review of the Nikon D850 watch the YouTube of Steve Parry IMHO.

My final word, hell yes, get the 850 Pascal!

PS My comments/thoughts are only after a short period of ownership so maybe Cliff Whittaker may wish to add or subtract to then.



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  • Rudi says:

    It pains me to read this one because finances dictate whether I can upgrade or not…”not” is the most despised word in my head unfortunately, it brings on deep dark gloom, that and the fact that as a 64 year old who is retired and is into mountain biking and surfing still, it also loosely but emphatically leads to an empty wallet…Once upon a time a Swiss supplier of printing ewuipment put a Nikon D70 in my hands and that same day I bought one..I now have a D7000 and an array of lenses, bad posture due to lugging heavy kit around and a very green bit of envy for my two photo mates, who sport mirrorless cameras that do everything including psychological analysis…so reading missive’s like this get me sitting here mumbling “bah humbug” into my coffee…not recommend but it does clear the sinuses…

  • Mike says:

    I have both the D850 and the A7RIII and love them both.

    BTW I think you meant Steve Perry not Steve Parry.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Dallas, I believe I’ve said so before – Nikon upset me, introducing the D850 so soon after I bought the D810, and they can bloody well wait, before I buy another one – maybe by then it’ll be called the D900, who knows?

    After all, looking at the reports I’ve seen on the D850 and knowing what I can do with the D810, what’s in it for me? Apart from wasting about $5 grand that I could use on other gear, and get more fun with it elsewhere?

    A slight increase in performance for my available light photography – but I don’t really need that, I’m doing what I want already, with the gear I have already.

    A limited-use tilt screen (which BTW they should have fitted to the D810 anyway). Yeah, OK, but it’s Nik’s fault I don’t have it already. Gee that makes me buzz with enthusiasm to hand over cold hard cash to the culprit.

    Focus stacking? – sorry, I already do that with other gear and other software. Don’t want or need it from Nik.

    Stabililsation? – don’t particularly need any more than I already have, and anyway you tell me Nik has yet to solve it – the D850 doesn’t.

    Better weather proofing? Halloooo – are they telling me they did the wrong thing by me with the weather proofing on the D810? Great sales pitch – but don’t EVER fire one like that at me!

    Connectivity/Snapbridge/whatever – no possible use for it, and no interest in it.

    Focus peeking? Well this one leaves me wondering – why can’t they sell me an upgrade to the software that runs the D810, to provide me with this on that camera? Ooops – sorry – forgot – their upgrades have been killing off anyone using a Sigma ART, and I still use mine. Clang of alarm bells – Microsoft did something similar and there has been no way back, so they aren’t being included in the package when I replace my present computer over the next 12 months. Nikon – take note of that!

    Metering system? Well I’m not having probs with the D810, so I don’t know how the D850 could improve things.

    Moving buttons around? EEK – that stuff just makes my head hurt.

    Battery life? Again, I’m having no issues with that, with the D810. If I did, I have plenty of spare batteries anyway (5 of them, currently, servicing 2 different Niks).

    Image resolution? Properly used, the resolution on the D810 is sensational. Well able to do anything I’d ever ask of it. But then I don’t print larger than A3. If I did, I’d get an MF anyway – hey that’s a great idea! – it just about kills the issue of blown out highlights.

    Sigh! “What’s in it for me?” leaves me thinking I should just ignore the D850 altogether. I DO envy the [limited use] tilt screen. I HAVE seen reports showing improvements in image quality – and claims of a far greater ISO range, which I might occasionally find helpful. But the tantalising morsel Nikon is dangling in front of me is nowhere near as interesting or attractive as:
    1) one of Sigma’s foveon screens
    2) a half decent MF cam
    3) a tele lens I can use for wildlife, bird and astronomy photography
    and a few of the other “tempting morsels” out there, that I see from time to time.

    As both Rudi and you seem to be saying – in the end we all have to decide what is best for us.

    But thanks anyway, Dallas, I always enjoy your articles – and the photos are superb, as always. 🙂

    • Pete, Can’t disagree with your comments, it all comes down to what you want/need as an individual.

      Your kind comments regarding photos and the story are appreciated.


  • Dan says:

    Personally I find that the A7R paired with the right lenses make for a small, top quality package easy to carry and use almost everywhere.

    I have both D810 and A7RIII. D810 is fantastic with the 300mm 2.8 – my only Nikkor left.

    I have some of the big 2.8 Sony zooms, but I find that lately I use mostly the Loxia set, except for specialist cases when I need autofocus – public events and sports.

    The Loxias re-kindled my enthusiasm for photography. The feel of the lens, the small size, the clean rendition – I feel like I am young again! 😀

    I like the slower, more deliberate style that manual fixed lenses induce. The focus peaking and automatic magnification are invaluable for manual focusing. Manual focus on Nikon is a pain. I had the Zeiss lenses for it at some point and sold them all as the only reliable focusing could be done only from a tripod. The 100mm was impossible to focus handheld and get a decently focused portrait out of it.

    Bottom line – Nikon D850/810 or Sony A7R depends on each one’s use cases and inspiration. Both cameras are top notch and more than enough for anything we need them to do. Personally I greatly enjoy the A7RIII.

    • Dan, The MF using the 850 and very much improved over the 810 with focus peeking. As you say personal preference comes in.


      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        It also seems to me that the industry needs to pause for a moment, and think hard. We (They?) are now so close to “perfect” that any further improvements are only going to be marginal – most people would never even notice them, whatever their effect – so why would anyone buy them? Pascal also said something similar, recently.
        Another example is post processing. To my astonishment, Adobe has suddenly revved up its approach to draining our pockets by saying its stand alone products (like PSE) are being phased out, you’ll only be able to get its subscription (CC- range) products, and you’ll be charged the earth for them. They also suffer from some delusional belief that everyone will pay even more to them, for the dubious privilege of storing all their photos on Adobe’s cloud system – perish the thought anything might go wrong with THAT one, its already happened to another company’s cloud storage. But really – if you take decent shots in the first place, how much PP DO you need? The more photos I take with this digital gear – and I’ve only been using top end digital gear for about 3 years, so I’m still learning/improving – the better they get. The better they get, the less post processing they require. And (now) MOST of the post processing they require is far easier to do in DxO products and Capture One Pro, than LR or PP ever was.
        I wish Adobe well – but sorry folks, I don’t even bother to read articles about them any more – we’ve drifted apart, and there’s no reason I’d ever think to go back there. Because I KNOW I don’t need them. But that’s not very good for business – they still need customers – and I’m far from being the only photographer who has come to this point, and this realisation, with Adobe.
        I just hope we aren’t heading for the crash bars with all of this. Paying thousands of dollars for gear on any particular system, only to find the manufacturer goes broke, and we’re left with stuff that won’t work on other brands of gear.

        • Pete what can I say but agree with you re the industry, I’ve looked around for something else other than Adobe but stay maybe that will change one day.


  • Cliff Whittaker says:

    I’ve been using the D850 since Feb and have made 3,176 bird pictures. By bird pictures I mean small (often itty bitty) songbirds, warblers, woodpeckers, vireos, etc., not large wading birds, ospreys or eagles that get all the oooh and aaahhhh comments on FB.
    Small birds are exactly why I bought the D850. I always shoot with the reduced format of 2/3 (20×30) with a 1.2 conversion factor because all that other sensor space and huge file size is wasted on a subject that usually only used the very center. I don’t use the DX size because I need to be able to see around the target as it constantly moves through the limbs and branches.
    So, even though I have used the D850 a good bit you can see that my experience is limited in the type of use. I won’t consider myself an expert about the qualities of the 850 because, to date, I have only used the features that I need to capture bird images.
    That will probably change soon since the warbler migration has ended and I hope to take a nice break and then go in search of other subject matter.
    What I can say about the D850 is that my experience with it has been highly satisfactory. It has done everything I asked it to do from birds in flight to birds so close I really didn’t expect to get a focus lock.
    I’m using a Nikon 500mm f/4 G lens and the focus lock is amazingly quick and accurate with the 850 over the extremes of its range. I have no idea how fast the shutter is in fps but I know that it is difficult to squeeze off less than a three-round burst. Those warblers are seldom still, moving from bright sun to dense shade in a second so I usually set a manual exposure of 1/1250 at f/5.6 and put the ISO on automatic and it works for me most of the time. Sometimes I have to slow the shutter to 1/500 and shoot at f/4. Most of the time I can’t use a tripod but I often shoot from a padded window in my mobile blind (Tundra).
    Now comes the good part. I wanted the extra pixel count and upgraded processor of the D850 over the D800E I had been using because almost every small bird has to be cropped dramatically. Even when using the reduced 3/2 sensor size I still have 32+ mpx to work with. ISO ratings for a large percentage of the shots will vary from 1200 to 6400 and sometimes more. My finished prints are usually 8×10 plus a 1-inch white border. I use PS CC processing.
    I am often amazed at the amount of detail, tonal values and color retention in the feathers of the birds in my pictures. Sure, sometimes I get a 6400 ISO shot that has to be cropped so much the noise in a dark background is a limiting factor, but I’m really surprised at how often I have to shoot in that situation and noise is not a problem.
    So far I have been more than satisfied with the D850 for my type of use. Maybe in the coming months I’ll have the opportunity to extend my efforts back to landscape again, cityscapes, table top studio work, portraits, street photography, etc. but I feel confident the 850 will be my camera of choice when I do.
    Hope this answers some of your questions about the D850.
    BTW, I still have the D800E and use it with my walk-around lens from time to time.

    • Thanks Cliff for your additional comments they’re very much appreciated. I will try your crop settings when I give the 850 a go at wildlife in August.


    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      Can I follow along behind, and maybe carry some of your gear for you, so I can learn something seriously good about bird photography, Cliff? 🙂
      As Dallas is suggesting, it really boils down to “horses for courses” – what suits you, and your particular type of photography. I often feel that, most intensely, because I take different types or styles of photography, and use different cameras to do it. There are gaps in my collection of gear – haven’t the money to lash out on another $20 or $30 grand’s worth! – but the principle still applies, even with the gear I’m using now.

  • pascaljappy says:

    Dallas, your article contains a serious flaw. With such an extraodinary first photograph, how can you expect us to want to look at or read anything else all day long? That’s an absolute cracker! (I like the rest of the article, mind you 😉 )

  • PaulB says:


    I think you made the correct choice for the correct reasons.

    I have been using a Sony A7II and adapting Canon EF mount lenses to it, along with M, R, and other lenses. And, while it has been enjoyable and rewarding, there are compromises, adjustments, and frustrations to using adapted lenses that you don’t face when the lens is made to work with camera body.

    Have fun with the D850.


  • philberphoto says:

    If I were a shrink, I’d be delighted to talk to Dallas and Pete -or rather have them talk to me- both of whom morph focus peaking into focus peeking…. priceless! 🙂
    That said, good pics are worth more than a thousand words, and your pics tell only good things about the D 850. Kudos!
    And Pascal is right about that first picture. How did the shrink put it? Ah, yes, priceless!

    • Thanks Philippe for your kind words on the pics, nothing more will be said about the spelling other than my editor (LADS) will not be paid this month.

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      Hmm – I don’t think a shrink would help me, Philippe – it’s way too late for repairs & restoration on this head.

      The origin my “problem” is “transposition error” – I wanted to grow up in France and I grew up in Oz, instead. When they tried teaching me English, I used to hide all sorts of other books under my desk and read them instead. Everything from french detective novels to books of (and on) “nonsense”, like Hilaire Belloc’s classic poem interweaving english and latin, to describe the London public transport scene. Or my copy of an annotated version of Alice in Wonderland, explaining it all and making your brain explode with the information it brings to light on what was presumed to be a book for children, and which turns out to be something altogether quite different. While the English master droned on about Wordsworth and daffodils, or that mournful poet John Milton.

      Worst by far was being subjected to a year drowning in Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Of all the things to teach adolescent/pubescent schoolboys, that one took the biscuit – being drowned in a flood of “nymphs and fairies”, as if there was a boy in the room who could find anything remotely interesting in that subject matter. I’m sure Mr Shakespeare was a very nice man – I just used to wish he’d go and do it elsewhere.

      So although I had English dumped on my head, as a “first language”, I’m afraid my knowledge and grasp of it is rather patchy, at times, Philippe.

  • RetroRon says:

    My head hurts from TMI and I miss my beloved Nikon F3. That said after more than 3 decades away I find myself with the resources to return to photography, but such a different world from the one I left. My biggest concern now is the ability to MF all that fantastic Zeiss glass with my 66 year old eyes. Opinions are opinions of course, but I’ve read enough DS to value those of the people on here. Any ideas?

    • My eyes aren’t much younger than yours, I find I can MF my Zeiss lens using the Nikon D850 other than my experience I’m not sure what else I can tell you, other than maybe borrow/hire a camera and give it a go. Philippe I know uses Sony and MF lens and gets excellent result also.

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