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

Previous comments
dred lew's picture

I does have focus peaking. ;)

Adam Ottke's picture

Interesting... I'll update the article now, but focus peaking just in 1080p, not in 4k..? Hmmm.

dred lew's picture

Yeah, that's a bit the disappointing part.

David Apeji's picture

It has focus peaking

Bill Larkin's picture

I should have been more specific, will it have focus peaking in live view for photos.... (manual focus) ?

Check out this document: http://www.nikonusa.com/en/nikon-products/d850-technical.page
There is focus peaking as well as highlight detection in "Stills Live View Mode".

Michael Kormos's picture

ISO 32 and 45mp alone make this a landscape shooter's dream camera. D5 AF is also great to have, as is the ability to shoot RAW in smaller formats when needed.

Bill Larkin's picture

if it's an "expansion ISO" to 32, from the native 64, you will lose dynamic range at 32, and therefore would be better off at 64, to retain all the detail from the camera's excellent dynamic range capability.

Anonymous's picture

That thing is a beast.

David Apeji's picture

I hope Nikon steps up their marketing. They have been failing in that department for far too long.

Christian Santiago's picture

Does it have HDMI 10 bit output?

Adam Ottke's picture

Nope. Just updated the article: 4:2:2 8-bit

Will the electronic shutter (I know- only in Live View) allow for faster strobe sync speeds?? If so this will eliminate one more advantage of medium format...

Very good question but I think sync speeds gets worse with e shutter because the sensor must scan down the sensor electronically rather than allowing the shutter to close and then having extra time to read the light on the sensor after exposure. So no, I don't think it will give you a faster sync speed

Adam Ottke's picture

I think these sensors are more or less "globally" capturing the light, as it's the shutter and only the shutter that determines the exposure time normally (and the sensor simply turns on or off). I don't think it scans along with the shutter from one side of the sensor to the other, does it? Hmmm. But good questions all-around. Anyone with more technical knowledge want to chime in?

If the e shutter really is global then it should allow for faster sync speeds!

I hope you're right but I don't think this has been evented yet. If it had, there would literally be no reason for a shutter.

What a time to be a photographer! Incremental changes all, but taken as a whole this camera is incredible! It's on my upgrade list!

Oliver Kmia's picture

The Canon 5D Mark IV cries in silence #seeimpossible #2generationsbehind #updatedoneright

What will the bitrate be for 4k and HD video?

Oliver Kmia's picture

I think 4k is 144mbps and 1080 is around 25-36mbps depending of the frame rate.

Vegard Breie's picture

Finally an update replacement for the aging D810! As a still camera this is really promising, love the balance between speed and filesize!
But only 4k at normal fps and no 120 fps option in 2.7 or even 1080? Really? Isn't that almost a bit outdated even in a camera even before launch. Even the GoPro deliver better specs on filming (not talking about dynamics and such here obviously, just the numbers)...

120 fps at 4k will be in the 860. SloMo is so overused atm, I won't miss it; people walking or putting on a shirt, puh-leez. Give me some bullets or arrows and I'll appreciate the slomo.

Vegard Breie's picture

Yea, hopefully not that long wait untill that one arrives then.
As you say. It depends on what u're shooting. For me I just wrapped shooting trailbikes for a tourism destination and filming army guys blasting open some doors and stuff on tuesday.. BroMo is a must for a lot of shooters out there. :D

Martin Ureta's picture

Not bad, but I would have liked 4k 60fps though...

Adam Ottke's picture

Here's an interesting question: would you have paid more for it? How much more? I'm just curious...as a sort of mini-poll, here.

Michael Coen's picture

I kicked myself thinking I wish I'd waited for the Canon 5D Mark IV, but now I REALLY wish I'd waited before going from a D3300 to a Sony A7RII. This just blows mine out of the water in every way possible. I'm glad to see that Nikon was able to put out an amazing piece of kit, completely undeterred by the negative press and financial downturn.

Beautiful camera!

Mateusz Antonowicz's picture

Oh yeah, Nikon really lands hit after hit. I am a little bit concerned with the resolution, would really like the ability to have 1/4 res with ALL RAW abilities [like 14bit etc, previous models had sRAWs that didn't go as high or as low as real deal [shadow/highlights]. And I know most of photos wont need full 45MPX, I know some will, I understand that, and it is targeted towards these people, but as a wedding guy I can't help but drool, lol.

Jayson Carey's picture

Looks like the same specs (other than the pixel count) and the exact same price as the 5d4.

Jose Luis's picture

congrats Nikon- you just made a camera Sony made over two years ago for about $1000 more expensive and you forgot to include stabilization in the body.