Nikon Announces the D850: Yes, It's an Amazing Camera

We'll have to wait to get our hands on one to see if this camera really can be the Swiss army knife of DSLRs that it seems to be, but we now have details from Nikon's official D850 announcement, including the U.S. price.

With all the features the D850 promises, this camera will be the true separator of those with a healthy dose of gear acquisition syndrome and those with a real problem; anyone left complaining with this camera should consult a doctor. Let's jump right in with the full list of features.

Nikon D850 Features

  • $3,269.95 Pre-order now!
  • 45.7-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor
  • ISO 64-25,600, expandable to 32-108,400
  • No anti-aliasing filter (first introduced in this line with the D800E and continued with the consolidation of the lineup in the D810)
  • 4K @ 24/25/30 fps in full-frame coverage, 1080p up to 120 fps "4x and 5x slow motion" (locked into DX coverage), up to 3 hours recording time with grip, 70 minutes without
  • 4:2:2 8-bit 4K HDMI Output
  • Focus peaking for 1080p only, zebra stripes for highlight warning
  • Redesigned pre-amp for improved audio recording
  • 8K in-camera time-lapse
  • 180,000-pixel RGB meter
  • 7 fps body-only, 9 fps w/ MB-D18 battery grip (for up to 51 consecutive, full resolution, uncompressed 14-bit, raw images)
  • 153-point AF system from D5 (130% larger AF point coverage compared to D810)
  • Smaller, half-sized focus point for more precise autofocus selection/differentiation
  • -3 EV focusing from every point, -4 EV for center cross-point
  • Small (11.4 MP), Medium (25.6 MP), and Large (45.4 MP) raw file capture
  • New "Natural Light" auto-white balance mode
  • Negative/Positive film scanning with in-camera conversion with optional ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter and compatible Micro-NIKKOR lens for high-resolution scanning of negatives with the D850
  • In-camera focus stacked image-capture (third-party software still required for putting files together), up to 300 images with up to 10 focusing steps
  • SD (UHS-II-supported) and XQD card slots
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, new and improved version of Snapbridge, no GPS
  • Tiltable 3.2-inch LCD touchscreen supporting touch-based AF, shutter, and menu
  • Back-illuminated buttons, joystick selector
  • No built-in flash
  • Improved Live View split-screen display
  • Improved silent shooting mode, uses mirror-up liveview to shoot up to 6 fps silently with electronic shutter, 30 fps at 8 megapixels
  • Improved battery life up to 1,840 shots on single battery, 5,140 with grip
  • Lighter than D810 with combined magnesium alloy and carbon fiber body

The high resolution of the D850 sensor isn't surprising, but it's the exact mix of its entire specification set that's impressive. Shooting as fast as 9 fps with a grip at full resoultion enables the D850 to serve as a very capable sports and action-event camera. Even the casual wedding photographer can appreciate the ability to have a 9-fps burst at their fingertips.

Meanwhile, pending a review of the D850's true video quality, it seems Nikon is finally getting serious about video. The D850 presents Nikon with an opportunity to prove itself with some catch-up work. But 4K, full-frame video, and 120 fps slow-motion video in full HD isn't anything to scoff at. Let's hope it's as sharp as some of the best 4K DSLR shooters out there (but I'll settle for getting as sharp as my iPhone for starters).

The 64-25,600 ISO range isn't a huge surprise either, but sitting alongside the D5's state-of-the-art 153-point autofocus system that will allow for up accurate focus down to -4 EV with the center point will make this a deadly combination for low-light shooting. The low ISO 64 and expanded ISO 32 as well as the in-camera focus-stacking caters to the landscape and macro-photography crowds as well. While you'll still need third-party software to put the files together, the D850 will automatically adjust through up to 10 levels of focus and take up to 300 images in sequence for hands-free focus stacking, best in macro shooting environments. This is a first for a Nikon DSLR. The smaller, half-sized focus point selection should also help make autofocus selection much more precise in these situations.

While the big buzz features including the backlit buttons and 3.2-inch articulating touchscreen are impressive, it's other refinements like the enlarged, 0.75x-magnified viewfinder and 130 percent greater autofocus point coverage compared to the D810 (thanks to that D5 autofocus system) that really make me wonder, "What's Nikon leaving out on this one?" I honestly can't find the answer. They have everything covered, including a lighter-weight body and improved battery life over the D810. There's even a true silent shooting mode that uses live view and an electronic shutter to shoot up to 6 fps (or 30 fps at 8 megapixels, which makes sense with the 4K video recording capability).

It's true that the continued split between SD and XQD slots bothers some users who are sick of buying two types of cards and who want a bolder bet from Nikon in either direction. But the flexibility of shooting on the more common SD card and the more robust and faster XQD card is at least one thing to be grateful for, even if investing in multiple card types is still a reality.

A nice surprise is the addition of the optional ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter, which allows for an easy workflow setup for the D850 to be used as a film scanner with in-camera conversions for accurate film capture with a compatible Micro-NIKKOR lens.

Improved Snapbridge with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth help round out the luxury feature set for this $3,300 camera that's sure to lure D750, D810, and D5 users alike. For me, personally, I don't think Nikon has ever made a professional camera that's easier for me to buy than the D850. Look out for our review following the D850's release in September and pre-order yours now to get in line early!

Read the full press release and let us know what you think in the comments.

Update: The Camera Store is currently doing a hands-on [was] live on YouTube:

Enjoy all the images of the D850 below:

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60 Comments

Craig Jeffries's picture

damn - looks good. Having just bought the A99ii - I wonder how big the buffer is on the D850. Would love it if Sony could add some features to the A99ii via firmware - focus stacking feature, and silent shooting.

A superb achievement by Nikon. Add to that, a killer price.
I am a long time Canon shooter and will not switch but I applaud the effort by Nikon to deliver a great platform for their line of lenses.

What a reasonable comment! If only all shooters could think this way.

Fritz John Asuro's picture

"Add to cart"

Jonathan Reid's picture

Canon asked what photographers want from the new 5D and Nikon listened. Seriously gutted to be stuck with Canon lenses at the moment.

Donald Hoxha's picture

If only nikon had Canon lenses.... I am a Canon guy but this new camera rocks!

... and more than a $1000 more in Europe... why?

Adam Ottke's picture

Taxes and a strong dollar. Higher (and included) sales tax makes the discrepancy seem more than it is. But still, yes, it's more in EU.

Strong dollar??
1 Euro = 1.18 Dollars

For years 1 Euro was equalling around 1.30 U.S.

Adam Ottke's picture

Yeah. It's all relative. The Euro to USD has been way worse for us in the past. 1.1-1.2 is great for us... When I was younger, the Euro was still fairly new and was incredibly strong when my family took trip. I think it was near 1.5:1 or more, even.

Could it be the video tax? The specs say it can record video for up to 70 minutes which takes it far past the 29:59 mark that everyone else has been limiting their DSLR to. And from my understanding, video cameras get a special tax applied to them and 29:59 is the limit you can go to without being labeled a video camera.

+20% (in average) VAT. USD vs EUR rates seem irrelevant as factory prices are in JPY.

Adam Ottke's picture

USD vs EUR still matters a ton because Nikon eventually has to convert it back to JPY (or spend it in those countries). But either way, you're still only getting the value of that currency at that time... Prices change all the time regionally for various devices if currencies fluctuate enough (happened with the iPhone around the world several times coming out of the recession...caused a big uproar, but you can't charge the same if the currency value drops).

Ahmed Gadou's picture

time for metabone Canon EF to Nikon G mount adapter

Adam Ottke's picture

Pro tip: You're probably going to want a Canon EF to Nikon F mount adapter ;-)

Ahmed Gadou's picture

Thanks for the correction.

Does this camera have IBIS and Eye AF?

No IBIS.

Incredible camera, from the spec sheet. For someone purchasing a new pro DSLR, it would be hard to recommend Canon at this point.

Bill Larkin's picture

I agree, especially when the 810 already smokes the Canon so badly in dynamic range.

I like how "no popup flash" is a "feature". I don't use them often but they can be nice to have even if you only use it to trigger an off camera flash.

Bill Larkin's picture

I'm actually glad it's gone, I bump the damn thing quite a bit somehow, and pop it up... it irritates me lol.

Anonymous's picture

I wouldn't call it a feature but it gives you a bit more room for tilt-shift lenses.

Didn't Nikon introduce radio controlled flashes recently? I may be imagining that.

Adam Ottke's picture

Yes. And it does support that. Much smarter (it was about time).

Ariel Martini's picture

but you need the sb5000

Not quite worded right, the feature is really the improved weather sealing that the removal of the flash enabled.

I just hope this camera lights a fire at Canon HQ, incremental updates are not what consumers asked for. Congrats to all the Nikon lens mount owners out there.

Bill Larkin's picture

I was REALLY hoping for Focus Peaking. That Said, still very excited.