In this Nikon D850 vs D810 vs D800 / D800E comparison article, I will go through all the differences in specifications between these DSLR cameras and talk about what has been added, changed or improved with each generation. While both Nikon D810 and D800 / D800E cameras have been very popular among many enthusiasts and professionals for the past few years, the Nikon D850 is clearly a huge step up in many ways for the D8x0 line of cameras. It is the first high-resolution Nikon DSLR that is aimed at many different photography genres, from landscape and macro, to sports and wildlife photography. Let’s take a look at what the D850 brings to the table when compared to its predecessors.
Below are the key specifications of the three cameras:
Nikon D850 vs D810 vs D800 / D800E Specification Comparison
|Camera Feature||Nikon D850||Nikon D810||Nikon D800 / D800E|
|Sensor Resolution||45.7 MP||36.3 MP||36.3 MP|
|Sensor Type||CMOS BSI||CMOS||CMOS|
|Sensor Pixel Size||4.35µ||4.88µ||4.88µ|
|Low Pass Filter||No||No||Yes / No|
|Sensor Dust Reduction||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Image Size||8,256 x 5,504||7,360 x 4,912||7,360 x 4,912|
|Base ISO||ISO 64||ISO 64||ISO 100|
|Native ISO Sensitivity||ISO 64-25,600||ISO 64-12,800||ISO 100-6,400|
|Boosted ISO Sensitivity||ISO 32, 51,200, 102,400||ISO 32, 25,600, 51,200||ISO 50, 12,600, 25,600|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 5||EXPEED 4||EXPEED 3|
|sRAW / mRAW File Support||Yes, Both||Yes, sRAW Only||No|
|Buffer: RAW 12-bit Lossless Compressed||170||47||21|
|Buffer: RAW 14-bit Lossless Compressed||51||28||17|
|Viewfinder Type||Pentaprism with improved coatings||Pentaprism with improved coatings||Pentaprism|
|Viewfinder Coverage and Size||100%, 0.75x||100%, 0.70x||100%, 0.70x|
|Built-in Flash||No||Yes, with flash commander mode||Yes, with flash commander mode|
|Flash Sync Speed||1/250||1/250||1/250|
|Wireless Radio Flash Control||Yes||No||No|
|Storage Media||1x XQD, 1x SD (UHS-II)||1x CF, 1x SD (UHS-I)||1x CF, 1x SD (UHS-I)|
|Continuous Shooting Speed||7 FPS, 9 FPS with MB-D18||5 FPS, 6 FPS (DX), 7 FPS with MB-D12||4 FPS, 6 FPS (DX) with MB-D12|
|Max Shutter Speed||1/8000 to 30 sec||1/8000 to 30 sec||1/8000 to 30 sec|
|Shutter Durability||200,000 cycles||200,000 cycles||200,000 cycles|
|Electronic Front-curtain Shutter||Yes||Yes||No|
|Silent Photography Mode in Live View||Yes||No||No|
|Exposure Metering Sensor||181,000-pixel RGB sensor||91,000-pixel RGB sensor||91,000-pixel RGB sensor|
|Highlight Weighted Metering||Yes||Yes||No|
|Face-detection Analysis||On/Off||On/Off||Always On|
|Spot White Balance in Live View||Yes||Yes||No|
|Preset White Balance||1-6 possible||1-6 possible||1-3 possible|
|Autofocus System||Multi-CAM 20K AF sensor||Adv. Multi-CAM 3500FX + Group Area AF||Adv. Multi-CAM 3500FX|
|Dedicated AF Engine||Yes||No||No|
|Focus Points||153, 99 cross-type||51, 15 cross-type||51, 15 cross-type|
|AF Detection||Up to f/8, 15 sensors||Up to f/8, 1 sensor||Up to f/8, 1 sensor|
|AF EV Range||-4 EV||-2 EV||-2 EV|
|Auto AF Fine Tune||Yes||No||No|
|Video File Format||MOV, MP4||MOV||MOV|
|Uncompressed Video via HDMI||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Video Maximum Resolution||3840×2160 (4K) @ 24p, 25p, 30p||1920×1080 (1080p) @ 24p, 30p, 60p||1920×1080 (1080p) @ 24p, 30p|
|Active D-Lightning for Video||Yes at 1080p||No||No|
|Slow Motion HD Video||Yes, up to 1920×1080 @ 30p x 4||No||No|
|Electronic VR for Video||Yes, 1080p||No||No|
|Memory Card + External Recorder Simultaneous Recording||Yes||Yes||No|
|Selectable Audio Frequency Range||Yes||Yes||No|
|Zebra Stripes in Live View||Yes||Yes||No|
|Multi-Selector Exposure Compensation||Yes||No||No|
|Touch AF in Live View||Yes||No||No|
|Focus Peaking||Yes, Stills & Video||No||No|
|Interval Timer Resolution||4K, 8K||1080p||1080p|
|Interval Timer Exposure Smoothing||Yes||Yes||No|
|Timelapse Exposure Smoothing||Yes||Yes||No|
|Silent Timelapse Mode||Yes, Up to 9,999 frames||No||No|
|No. of Images in Timelapse / Int Timer||9,999||9,999||999|
|Power Aperture Control||Yes||Yes||No|
|Audio Recording||Built-in stereo microphone|
External stereo microphone (optional)
|Built-in stereo microphone|
External stereo microphone (optional)
|Built-in mono microphone|
External stereo microphone (optional)
|LCD Size||3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD||3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD||3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD|
|LCD Resolution||2,359,000 dots||1,229,000 dots||921,000 dots|
|Picture Control||Auto, Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape, Flat||Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape, Flat||Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape|
|In-Camera Batch RAW Processing||Yes||No||No|
|Exposure Bracketing||2 to 9 frames||2 to 9 frames||2 to 9 frames|
|Wi-Fi||Yes||Eye-Fi Compatible, WT-4a||Eye-Fi Compatible, WT-4a|
|Battery||EN-EL15a Lithium-ion Battery||EN-EL15 Lithium-ion Battery||EN-EL15 Lithium-ion Battery|
|Battery Life||1,840 shots (CIPA)||1,200 shots (CIPA)||900 shots (CIPA)|
|Battery Charger||MH-25a Quick Charger||MH-25 Quick Charger||MH-25 Quick Charger|
|Weather Sealed Body||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Build||Full Magnesium Alloy||Full Magnesium Alloy||Full Magnesium Alloy|
|Weight (Body Only)||915g||880g||900g|
|Dimensions||146 x 124 x 78.5mm||146 x 123 x 81.5mm||144.78 × 121.92 × 81.28mm|
|MSRP Price||$3,299||$3,299||$2,999 / $3,299|
Just looking at the highlighted areas of the above chart, it is very easy to see what Nikon has done with the D850. Not only does it outclass its predecessors, but it does it in a big way, especially when it comes to important feature changes such as back-illuminated CMOS sensor, higher resolution, larger native ISO sensitivity range, much better AF system, better AF detection range, faster continuous shooting rate, faster processor, larger viewfinder, XQD and UHS-II SD card support, silent shooting, better battery life and 4K video. In addition to these, the D850 adds a bunch of new features such as focus stacking, focus peaking, tilting touch-screen LCD, in-camera batch RAW processing, button illumination, WiFi + Bluetooth, and silent timelapse shooting that we have previously not seen on the D8x0 cameras. In short, the D850 presents a massive upgrade over the D810 and especially over the D800 / D800E DSLRs.
There is only one area where the D850 significantly differs compared to the D810 and D800 / D800E cameras and that’s built-in flash. Some photographers might look at this as a negative (since one would lose the ability to use a built-in flash for fill flash, or to be able to control other speedlights), but considering that Nikon was able to improve the weather sealing of the camera by dropping the flash, it could be looked at as an advantage instead.
It is also worth noting that the Nikon D850 physically looks quite different compared to both D810 and D800 / D800E cameras. First of all, the top of the camera has gotten slightly different not just because of the lack of a built-in flash, but also because the “Mode” button has been moved to the top of the left dial and replaced with a large “ISO” button. This is exactly in line with how the Nikon D500 was designed, so if you already own a D500, you won’t need to go through a learning curve. Second, the grip has been modified to be a bit deeper on the front and the rear parts of the camera to make it more comfortable to hand-hold. But the bigger changes are in the back. Take a look at the below comparison of the D850 vs D810:
As you can see, there are many ergonomic changes on the D850 when compared to the D810. The AE-L / AF-L button has been removed and a joystick has been added right below the AF-ON button (if you are a heavy AE-L / AF-L button user, don’t worry – it can be assigned to any of the function buttons, or to the joystick). The joystick is a big deal ergonomically, because it makes it very easy to go through focus points when shooting, so you no longer have to rely on the multi-function buttons for that. A new “Fn2” function button has been added to the left of the LCD and you can assign any of the menu items or camera features to this button, which is great. The LCD screen obviously appears different, because it is now a tiltable touch-enabled LCD. In addition to being able to pinch-zoom or swipe through images, you can also use the touch-enabled screen to focus on a subject in live view mode, or navigate through the menus. There are a few other smaller ergonomic changes, but those are minor and mostly cosmetic.
Now the biggest question is, should you upgrade? If you shoot with a Nikon D800 or D800E, the D850 is definitely worth moving up to. Even if you don’t need all the crazy fps and 4K video features, there are three most important features you do not want to miss – electronic front curtain shutter (EFCS) + silent shooting, ISO 64 for improved dynamic range and a much better autofocus system. If you already shoot with a Nikon D810, then it is a question of what you shoot and whether you truly need the new features highlighted in the above table. If you only shoot landscapes, it might be worth skipping a generation, since the D810 is an excellent camera already. However, if you shoot landscapes and wildlife, and especially if you already own a D810 and a D500, the D850 would be a solid camera to move up to – it could replace both of those in a single package.
Overall, as I have already stated in my Nikon D850 announcement article, and as you can see from the above comparison table, the D850 is a monster of a camera – it really looks like Nikon has thrown everything in its arsenal at this particular release. Without a doubt, it will be Nikon’s best-selling DSLR for a long time, especially considering its $3,300 MSRP price in the USA…
If you want to find out more about the D850, check out my Everything You Need to Know About the Nikon D850 article.
Would be interesting to see if the autofocus area has increased from the D810. Im guessing its the same size. For me it would be a huge niggle that the autofucus area would be same. It makes such a huge difference if the whole screen is covered like the D500. For portraits it is SOOO useful yet Nikon didn’t want to impliment it to cannibalize sales on its D500. Huge let down on the D850.. it could have been the very best camera ever
Don’t understand why in the USA the D850 is the same exact price as the D810, while in Canada the D850 is $600.00 more than the D810(yes, six HUNDRED dollars). This is a scam bordering on fraud, no if, but or maybe. Nikon need to get their price structure in order ASAP, it’s not like customers are oblivious to what is happening outside of their own country.
Can anyone answer 2 questions about the D850 vs. the D810 I can’t find discussed anywhere. 1. Is the D850 medium raw file a “true” raw file (unlike the D810 small raw)? 2. Is the D850 faster getting the picture displayed on the viewfinder?
For my purposes as a sports photographer, I am not concerned with any more MP or small changes in DR/ISO etc. What interests me is the ergonomics and the AF tracking, which I was able to test briefly in a local camera shop’s evening event. The AF is very good. I couldn’t tell much difference to the D5. At 7fps the body is stable and not too loud. I couldn’t check the LV silent shooting unfortunately. The handling is also excellent. It’s like a cross between a D500 and D810, being just slightly taller and thicker than the D500, but feeling more secure in hand than the D810. The viewfinder is excellent. Basically the best Nikon have made, probably since the F5. It appears to be optimised for faster than F2.2 lenses as others are, but I haven’t confirmed that. What I would like to see if how it performs with the grip, and whether without grip there is a fps boost in 1.2 and dx crop modes (the manual doesn’t mention that unusually). However, when considering also the big increase in battery life, I can already say that this would work well as a sports body at 7fps. Obviously not quite as good as a D5 for speed or D500 for AF coverage, but a completely useable sports allrounder body. With 5,000 shots using the grip and 9fps, this really feels to me like the D700 and MB-d10 update many have waited for, with a ridiculous amount of MP thrown in for free!
Preliminary dynamic range for the D850 is disappointing. If you own the D750, you may actually be going backwards from a strictly dynamic range standpoint…
I’m betting the A7riii will blow the socks off this D850 from a dynamic range POV.
As you mention above, this is a good update for general/sports/wildlife, but minimal/incremental for most landscape.
FWIW: On D500 size; 5,568 x 3,712 = 20.67 MPix, not 25.
FWIW: The D810 buffer in FX has a capacity of 28 14-bit Lossless Compressed, while the D850 has a capacity of 51 such shots. In DX mode, the D810 buffer (see page 490 of its manual) has a capacity of 97 14-bit Lossless Compressed. Based on that ratio, in DX mode the D850 in DX mode could be around 170 shots. I say around because of the FPS rate, and the possibility of a 100-shot limit built into the camera (unknown at this time). The size of DX pictures from the D850 is 19.47 MPix (5,408 x 3,600), while the size of D500 pictures is 20.67 MPix (5,568 x 3,712, see page 94 of the D500 manual); which makes the D850 pictures only 1.2 MPix smaller. This 1.2 MPix difference is so small, that the D850 could almost work as a D500 as far as reach, with the added benefit of FX light capacity; typically 1-stop difference between FX and DX cameras.
Just some food for thought.
How does the D850 compare with D5?
I do have a D5, D810 and D500. Was planning to buy another D5 to replace D810. But, now I’m thinking of D850. For wildlife action photography, will D850 perform well?
I guess a professional photographer considers several things before upgrading to D850 from D810.
1) Final result… Think that you have the same photo session with D850 and D810. Check what you get with each Camera. For my photography style, the only difference will be the sizes of the photos, which does not impress me. 36MP is already more than OK for me.
2) Ease of use… I consider In the photo session what makes use easier. Tilting screen maybe… Boosting ISO sensitivity, focus stacking option, continuous shooting speed does not impress me either. I am not forcing ISO speed. I’d rather do focus stacking in post production if I need, which doesn’t happen often. So far I did not miss any valuable photo just because of 2 less shoots per second. For wireless solution, I use TP LINK TL-MR3040 with my D810, and I am happy with this couple.
D850 is surely better camera than D810. But I have already D810 with which I am very happy.
The photographer should think what would make his photography better. For some the answer is a new camera. For the others, the answer is inspiration which leads to trying, experiencing and discovering new techniques. In short I will not upgrade as I think D850 will not make me a better photographer, it will not make my life much easier, it will not be the reason of my better photography.
Well said my friend.
Well said! would rather prefer to spend those money to pay a ticket to some remote region for a good reportage with my “old” camera ;)
The D810 body is NOT full magnesium alloy.