Nikon Designed Their Own Sensor for the D850, Promises Major Performance Improvement

Nikon Designed Their Own Sensor for the D850, Promises Major Performance Improvement

The new Nikon D850 is a monster of a camera, so much so that even this Canon shooter is longingly peering over the fence a bit. In a recent interview, the company revealed a bit more information about the soon-to-be-released camera. 

In speaking to Imaging Resource, Nikon revealed that they designed the new sensor in the D850 entirely in-house, which is a marked departure, as the company has traditionally used Sony sensors in most of its cameras, including the D850's predecessor, the D810. Nikon didn't mention if this was in response to Sony announcing earlier this year that they would be keeping their best sensors exclusively for their own cameras, though it wouldn't be surprising if that was the case. Furthermore, Nikon said to expect the same image quality at double the ISOs of the D810, representing an improvement of a full stop, along with equal or better dynamic range performance. If this turns out to be true, it'll be particularly impressive considering the camera also gained 10 megapixels over the D810. Like I said, even as a Canon shooter, Nikon piqued my interest with this one.

If you'd like to learn more, you can read our full announcement here or preorder the D850 here.

[via PetaPixel]

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zeissiez lee's picture

Canon 5D4 is still the more capable camera, with dual pixel af.

Jonathan Brady's picture

An absolute statement like that can't possibly always be true. Here, I'll show you... Let's say I'm a photographer who doesn't use live view. Now... back up your assertion. Aaaaaaand go! Heck... I'll make it easier for you... I'm a photographer who only uses live view in the studio where practically all live view AF systems perform perfectly fine. Aaaaaaaand go!
I rarely use live view, personally. I have a 5D Mark IV and love it's other benefits. But let's not kid ourselves by saying it's a superior camera just because of DPAF. DPAF is a laughable AF system for photographers in comparison with what other companies, not named Nikon, offer. It is, however, the number 1 AF system for videographers who rely on AF (a small group).

Nick Dors's picture

Never ever used liveview or the videomode. As a PHOTOcamera this thing looks unbeatable for pro's. Sony is great but ergonomics and battery life are too important for me. Renting the D850 for upcoming projects this fall by the looks of it!

David Mawson's picture

>> DPAF is a laughable AF system for photographers in comparison with what other companies, not named Nikon, offer. It is, however, the number 1 AF system for videographers who rely on AF (a small group).

It would probably be a huge group if Canon combined DPAF with 4K at a reasonable price...

Jonathan Brady's picture

I think they need a different 4k. They need something that's NOT mjpg and also NOT so heavily cropped. THEN they might turn some heads. As is, they've produced a self-fulfilling prophecy - they believe that 4k in a DSLR isn't something that's desired by their customers, and now, they're right!

David Mawson's picture

I tend to the theory that Canon know that their customers want 4K, but they want them to buy C-series camcorders costing twice as much. Reading the Imaging Review article makes me think that Nikon see this as their chance for taking decisive market share from Canon.

revo nevo's picture

Dual pixel AF on canon 5Dmk4 does not mean a thing since it has terrible 4k implementation

DPAF is good for video and nothing else and video on canon is terrible so what is the point ?

Jonathan Brady's picture

I wouldn't say DPAF is good for video and nothing else. DPAF is good for stills. But if you go outside the Canon ecosystem, there are live view AF systems that are substantially better for stills. I'd describe them as VERY good, even excellent (although I'm sure future on-sensor AF systems will be even better).
So, let's give credit where it's due. DPAF is "good" for stills, but it's not "great" or "excellent", or even "very good".

Bill Peppas's picture

you must be trolling.

David Moore's picture

That's nice to think. lol

Jonathan Teacha's picture

I also have Canon camera too. Let's not fool ourselves here. D850 owned 5D IV

Anthony Cayetano's picture

You have to look at it both ways. As a video AF, it's great but has no 4K, furthermore, it's FHD video quality is even bested by many newer APS-C cameras. So great AF but meh video. On photo applications, you again get great fast focus but Canon's DP sensors suffer from terrible dynamic range and noisy shadow details that creep up on mid ISOs. So what exactly do you mean by it being the more capable camera because of Dual Pixel?

Pieter Batenburg's picture

Right. the mk4 has indeed 4k video with an incredible crop factor of 1,74 and ridiculous mjpeg codec. The mk4 would be a really nice videocamera if Canon hadn't handicapped it to the brim.

Josh Leavitt's picture

$3,300 is a very tempting price for a camera that already has a monster library of exceptional fast glass, can produce 46MP files with incredible DR at 7-9FPS, has an AF system that rivals an F-22’s targeting computer, and might as well be powered by a nuclear reactor giving its seemingly inexhaustible battery life when paired with the MB-D18 battery grip. I’m actually a Canon shooter myself by the way, but the D850 has sent me into geek mode. I'm thinking Nikon has an instant classic like the D700 on their hands here. Well done Nikon, well done.

Ricky Perrone's picture

Only camera I've ever preordered, high pixel count macro mode and the potential for even better DR are what got me. D810 was a game changer for me. They really got the pricing right too. This is going to be a killer cam. You going to jump ship Alex?

Tommy Botello's picture

Nikon has actually designed many of their previous sensors, though it's been typical of them to get others (like Sony) to manufacture them. Yes, they have used entirely Sony-made sensors in the past, but many of their flagships such as the D3 & D4 were entirely Nikon made. I think it's been proven that Nikon can 'create' a great sensor even though they don't make/manufacture it.

Don Fadel's picture

It's a Sony sensor. Nikon may have designed it but it has a Sony part number and I believe Sony is the only company that can fab a BSI sensor of this size.

Spy Black's picture

Probably. It's a Nikon designed and engineered sensor which I believe is manufactured by Sony, although there may be another fab involved.. It even licenses some of Sony's technology as well, such as BSI, but it is essentially a Nikon sensor.

Don Fadel's picture

Not that it matters, but I'd bet this is still a Sony sensor. Nikon may have designed it, but I'm not sure fab exists for BSI sensors of this size outside Sony.

Sean Molin's picture

Supposedly it's definitely NOT made by Sony.

Lee Morris's picture

Love seeing the competition. I wonder what the A9R and S will look like.

David Moore's picture

Just wonder if this is all Samsung tech they acquired finally coming to the front.

Sean Molin's picture

Supposedly the BSI allows any given ISO to be twice as clean as before.

It's deceptive to think 64-25600 isn't a step up from last generation, but the quality should be substantially better across the entire range.

Alex Cooke's picture

The BSI actually didn't change ISO performance much in this case; they did that for more wiring flexibility to increase data throughput.

Matus Kicka's picture

i think is SIGNAL TO NOISE CONVERTOR what's make iso better , i might be wrong please explain if anyone knows . thanks

Jonathan Teacha's picture

Yes, I took a look at RAW files, high ISO noise performance is so good. Even I who normally shoot with IQ3 100MP, and Credo50 still think that D850 is a very great camera.

Stephen Fretz's picture

So a full stop lower noise? Does this mean 15+ stops dynamic range, as opposed to the 14+ current Nikon sensors deliver?

Jonathan Teacha's picture

@Stephen, No, the D850's DR is about the same as D810 (actually D850's DR is a bit better at ISO 1600 - 12800. What we are saying about ISO to be twice as clean is Signal to Noise Ratio.

Joshua Luna's picture

I've never once considered abandoning Canon for another system, until this came out, very tempting especially when I have two Mk3's that are on the end of their life cycle and need replacing.

Matus Kicka's picture

all specs sounds fantastic and i'm sure nikon users will get superb workhorse , this camera make me think about switching from canon thick all boxes of missing futures in my 5ds , better dynamic range; tild and touch screen and wifi or bluetooth capability ; all of those futures will make my work easier and faster, more precise, but lensessss switch to nikon is expensive when its come to glass , then what i see and i hope for .is this call for canon to wake up and realise they will be in trouble with amount of people switching to sony , nikon and fuji in this segment of business . they have to start using better sensors and SNR at minimum quality of 5D mark4 it should be taken as new bottom line off professional segment . all new sensors and snr must be better( i mean it's fantastic sensor and snr but it's not enough for beating competition or keep up in near future) and yes touch screen tild screen ones you try ist amazing how much it can make life easier when you shoot for example high on tripod what i do often ; or wifi bleuthoot send preview to client co confirm view is time and money saving , canon wake up before is to late , well done nikon

Dusty Wooddell's picture

I wish I could stop looking at that preorder button on B&H!

David Mawson's picture

>> Sony announcing earlier this year that they would be keeping their best sensors exclusively for their own cameras

Could we have a link to that, please?

Pieter Batenburg's picture

You may think of this camera what you like.

But Nikon goes at least balls out and holds nothing back from this camera and you have to applaud that.

Canon is still offering handicapped cameras (feature-wise) with hardly any improvements or new features and is practically at a standstill innovation wise. I really don't understand why people defend a brand that is clearly showing the middle-finger to their clients and why they remain brand-loyal to a brand that makes you spend far too much money to have features that are on a cameras that cost a fraction of its price.

Nikon on the other hand makes a wise move in the right direction by not holding back on features and innovations.
Good one for them.

Claude Laramée's picture

There was a time when the future of Nikon was being questioned ... this is a good answer !