A User's Report

A few posts ago I wrote a brief report saying I'd bought a new camera: A Nikon D850. Well, it's been a few weeks, I've been using it almost daily and I thought you might like to hear what I think.

Let me state at the outset that I find using a new camera unsettling and difficult. Although in this case, I've stayed in the same family and this camera has much that is the same as my previous camera (a Nikon D810) it has enough changes as to be hard for me to make what I would call "real pictures"yet. I really want the camera to disappear when I photograph, to become just the tool with which I make my pictures. With a new camera I can't do that right away. Because of those same similarities from the earlier camera I am unlearning some aspects while learning new ones with the new one. 

At any rate, some observations:

The files from the camera show increased dynamic range.

I don't know if you can see the shadow detail under the roof in this image or not but it's there. Try double-clicking on the photograph to see it larger. Dynamic range seems to improve each time I update to a newer camera. 

Notice anything else about these? They are square. For the first time in my experience, Nikon has included a 1:1 setting under its "image size" menu. This is a big deal for me, as cropping in post has never been a good solution, although I know some that seem to be able to do it. I worked with square format 2 1/4 cameras from 1971-2007 so square pictures are in my DNA. For instance,  virtually all of the black and white series works I made in those years are square.

What else?

The new camera appears to handle color a little differently and exposure as well. 

Colors seem a little more vibrant out of the box, or as I open the RAW files in Lightroom.

Regarding exposure, I seem to get more pictures looking underexposed in Live View. This is probably user error as I need to simply change the display on the rear screen to compensate. When I work the files in post they are fine.

Edgartown at dawn

Sharpness? Resolution? These look good, although to be honest, I'm not able to see big differences from where I was before (D810= 36mp versus the D850= 45mp). Yet. Will wait to make my first big prints from this camera. Use good glass and keep your camera steady is my motto.

User interface? Ergonomics? Mostly good, and very close to what I had before.  I am a system photographer and have been in Nikons for many years now. I appreciate them not reinventing the wheel each time they make a new camera.  Of course, it is way too heavy and lighter cameras are in store for us eventually. I can't for the life of me understand why the D850 needs to weigh so much and be so big. 

Last week in Boston we had our first snow. Before the wind came up the next morning the snow was stuck on everything. I got over the Mt Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge to photograph early in the morning. The cemetery is a consistent go-to place for me. It's one of several I'll go to nearby to try out a new lens, camera or new process. 

Nikon D850

Pros: Image quality, touch screen, improved Live View, dynamic range, solid construction, familiar menu, tilting screen, focus, bright screen

Cons: Weight and size, can be difficult to hand hold for sharp pictures, Snap Bridge needs a firmware update as this seems to work rarely sending files to the phone. Did I say size and weight? I've succeeded in several blurry frames while hand holding at reasonable shutter times-1/125 and even 1/200, so beware, sharpness is not a given, as with such a big file it is hard to get really critical sharpness. This means more tripod work for me.

Have we now got a camera that can get close to rendering with as high quality as the 8 x 10 did? Probably. Remarkable.

Topics: Camera

Permalink | Posted December 19, 2017