Nikon D850 – Initial Thoughts.
Before we get into my initial thoughts about the D850 “leaked specs”, Roger Styles read my D5 post from the other week and asks:
“Very interesting…and I wonder if you would care to suggest how the D500 with a 300mm f4 lens would have performed? Similar? Worse? or heaven forbid better?”
Well Roger, all I can say is that I’m not really in a position to comment on how the MultiCam 20K system worked out on the D500/300mmPF combo (I didn’t use it) but I do have D4S, D5 and D500 7200ISO shots so you can compare the image quality with regard to noise etc:
Bare in mind I’m only illustrating IQ here – so look at the out-of-focus areas and darker tones to see the differences.
Roger – I can’t offer you any real comparisons between the D5 and D500 AF performance, but from other tests I’ve done with the D500/300PF combo I’d say it performs the same or slightly better than the D5. But only because you are using a shorter focal length lens with theoretically greater depth of field for any given aperture and distance – therefore more AF errors are masked by DoF.
Why does the D500 image look so crappy?
The answer is simple – too many mega pixels and not enough light!
The more megapixels you squeeze into a fixed area, the smaller each one of those photosites has to be.
There are two main problems with making photosites smaller:
- Reduced Dynamic Range
- Increased Diffraction
Overall, the sensor becomes more light-hungry.
Let’s put these three sensors on an even playing field with regard to crop factor:
D4/D4S = 16MpFX = 8Mp x1.5 crop
D5 = 20.8MpFX = 10.4Mp x1.5 crop
D500 = 20.9Mp x1.5 crop = 41.8MpFX
The IQ implications of these figures are illustrated in the images above!
And this brings me nicely around to the new Nikon D850.
I got rather excited about the idea of this camera when it was first thought to have a hybrid OVF/EVF – the implications for using the plethora of super-sharp older manual lenses with modern focus-peaking in an EVF made me go all swoony!
But alas, this was not to be, and instead, all we have is a pumped up FX D500 – if the leaked specifications are to be believed.
The D850 is NOT a replacement for the D810 – anyone who thinks that is an idiot.
Let’s look at these leaked specifications:
- 45.75MP FX full frame CMOS sensor – clipped Dynamic Range then, nice one Nikon
- 180,000 RGB sensor that’s same as the D5, with better face detection and enhanced scene recognition – really?
- Native ISO range of 64-25600 (expandable to 32-108400) – meaningless at the top end, and I doubt the base ISO will actually be 64ISO
- 153-point AF system with 30% more frame coverage than the D5 – a higher resolution sack of angry weasels!
- Center AF point -4EV, and all others -3EV – same as the D5
- 8K timelapse shooting – Who in their right mind shoots time lapse and allows the camera to process and assemble it? Oh yeah, that’s right – dickheads!
- 4K UHD video recording in FX with no crop – pass
- 51-photo buffer when shooting in 14-bit uncompressed RAW – GOOD. That’s really a data-pushing miracle, to be honest
- 3.2″, 2.36-million-dot tilting LCD touchscreen with improved gesture control – tilty screens are useful but straight away are a weak point. But what use is gesture control when you’ve got gloves on ‘cos it’s -30 below?
- 7fps continuous shooting standard, 6fps with autofocus, 9fps when using a battery grip – here’s where the price tag will go over £4000, because the grip will be £400 plus if I know Nikon!
- 30fps at 8MP using the electronic shutter – 8Mp raws from a 48Mp sensor – what a spiffingly top notch idea. And is that 30fps available silently?
- RAW can be small, medium, and large resolutions – For F***s SAKE WHY would you buy a huge capacity camera and then shoot small files with it? Has the world gone bloody mad?
- 0.75x magnification viewfinder, the first for a full-frame DSLR – GREAT, but you can buy an adaptor to do the same thing to the majority of existing Nikons.
- Focus stacking. The camera can shoot up to 300 photos with 10 levels of bracketed focus from nearest to infinity for software to stack afterwards – I have every confidence that this will turn out to be crap! It’s a gimmick to get the unskilled to part with their money. Aimed at macro and landscape photographers who can’t be bothered to tweak their focus manually.
- Natural Light AWB achieves better white balancing in natural light – stupid gimmick
- Completely silent electronic shutter while shooting in live view. – could be useful for sports if it works with fast shutter speeds
- There’s no low-pass filter – GOOD – why couldn’t they do that on the D5?
- SD + XQD card slots – Jesus Christ – Nikon need to grow up and stop mixing media
So as I’m sure you can tell, the Nikon D850 is not setting my world on fire.
What could Nikon have given us?
A hybrid OVF/EVF with an RGBW sensor and keep the capacity down to 36Mp or a tad less would have made a good impression with me for starters.
You have to have been asleep for months to not have heard something about the Fuji GFX medium format. That’s running at 51.4Mp on a 1441mm2 sensor, which is roughly 1.67x the area of an FX 35mm camera.
Simple maths tells us that if we trimmed the GFX sensor to fit in a 35mm DSLR then it would be – that’s right, 30Mp. The world of photography is populated by frigging idiots who just keep clamouring for more megs – and the camera manufacturers give them what they ask for simply because the idiots spend money like it’s going out of fashion.
Listen, if you want 50 megapixels or more, then go and buy a medium format camera and get 50 megs worth of good dynamic range with nominal diffraction.
Do not buy a Nikon D850 then stick a wide angle lens on and stop down to f22 – the image will be unusable at full resolution – and I don’t need to see a raw file to know that; it’s simple physics.
How this camera will stack up on the sports/action/wildlife front remains to be seen, but I don’t see how it can even be as good as a D5 – and that’s not brilliant.
To get the full potential out of the D850 for sports/action/wildlife then you will need the vertical grip AND an ENEL18A battery or two, and a charger, because I don’t think the D850 has USB charging.
An ENEL18A battery at Park Cameras is £169.00 and a genuine MH-26a charger is crazy money anywhere!
So you will be looking at more than £4000 – and I can think of far more sensible ways to spend that lump of cash.
Nikon promised us something really special to celebrate their 100th aniversary – this ain’t special Nikon! It’s nothing more than the DSLR equivalent of a click-bait video.
But then again, I’m going on “leaked specifications” – and they could all be lies, smoke and mirrors. We will have to wait and see what the real specs are when Nikon officially announce the D850.