Some Nikon D850 thoughts

October 05, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Some Nikon D850 thoughts

The D850 is the first DSLR that attempts to combine high megapixel fine art and action photography in one camera.  My experience so far suggests it does so very well.  The image quality at ISO 64 slightly improves on the D810.  The focus, responsiveness and high ISO performance, while not quite in the D5 league, is not far off.

The things I really like the the D850:

  • The automatic metering is near perfect.  Landscapes rarely go wrong in matrix, general photography in central weight and when there might be concern about highlight blowout the matrix with highlight protection mode works great.
  • The focus system is very good, especially D9 and Group.  D25, D72 and D153 no longer hold the initial subject after the hold delay if something else is close to focus under the center selected focus point - a change I am not sure is an improvement but will require testing.
  • The image buffer is more than sufficient for my needs.  For anything over ISO 100 there is little value in shooting in 14bit and the 12bit buffer is close to 200 images.
  • The fold out monitor is well constructed and a long time coming to high end Nikon bodies.
  • The focus stacking feature is a welcome addition.

Some nits about the D850:

  • The ability to customize buttons to specific AF/ON area options is a real improvement. However, the arbitrary selection of options is irritating. Why limit custom options on different buttons? I've always found Nikon's limiting user options to be a little bit patronizing.
  • The location of the AF area mode button is awkward when shooting with telephotos. That should be a custom option for other buttons + command dial.
  • I just don't understand why Nikon is still using their banks without sticky settings. There are many settings that cannot be saved in a bank. There is no way to change banks quickly without multiple key presses and taking your eye away from the viewfinder. I like the Canon implementation on the 1DXMKII where each press of the top function button cycles through the custom setups you have enabled. Fast and ergonomic.
  • I like using the viewfinder level but there does not appear to be a way to turn it on permanently. It can only be activated by customizing a button, and not just any button of course. This means using a custom button that could be doing something else.
  • There does not appear to be any way to always show EV adjustments in the viewfinder without pressing the EV adjustment button. It's easy to forget you've made an EV adjustment and a reminder in the viewfinder would be helpful.
  • Peaking in live view is very useful but it only works in manual focus. Why not when the lens is set to M/A? Olympus shows peaking whenever you manually change the focus eliminating the need to flip the focus switch. This would be useful when shooting with super teles.
  • The implementation of focus stacking is okay, but I would like to choose the near and far focus limits, and I would like to see the previews of each shot on the monitor as the stack burst occurs. You can see it in the viewfinder but in low level setups the idea is to use the tilting monitor. By watching the progress you can choose when to end the stacking sequence.
  • The implementation of focus tuning requires pressing two buttons simultaneously to initiate. It should be hands free by using the timer to eliminate the shake, which is particularly obvious when tuning super teles with converters.

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