The Nikon D850 and the Nikon Z6 II are both great cameras, but they’re designed for relatively different audiences. The D850 is an older, more professional DSLR, while the Z6 II is a mirrorless camera that was made more than three years later. Having used both cameras extensively, I wanted to compare them today and help recommend the right one for your needs.
Nikon D850 vs Nikon Z6 II Specifications Comparison
|Camera Feature||Nikon D850||Nikon Z6 II|
|Announced||July 2017||October 2020|
|Sensor Type||BSI CMOS||BSI CMOS|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 5||Dual EXPEED 6|
|Resolution||45.7 MP||24.5 MP|
|Sensor Dimensions||35.9 x 23.9 mm (Full Frame)||35.9 x 23.9 mm (Full Frame)|
|Sensor Pixel Size||4.35µ||5.94µ|
|Low Pass Filter||No||Yes|
|IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization)||No||Yes|
|Base ISO||ISO 64||ISO 100|
|Max Native ISO||ISO 25,600||ISO 51,200|
|Extended ISOs||ISO 32-102,400||ISO 50-204,800|
|High-Resolution Sensor Shift||No||No|
|Focus Stack Bracketing||Yes||Yes|
|Fastest Shutter Speed||1/8000||1/8000|
|Longest Shutter Speed||30 seconds||900 seconds|
|Continuous Shooting (Mechanical Shutter)||7 FPS||14 FPS|
|Continuous Shooting (Electronic Shutter)||7 FPS||14 FPS|
|Notes for High FPS Shooting||Up to 9 FPS with MB-D18 grip||12-bit raw and single-point autofocus at 14 FPS (no limitations at 12 FPS)|
|Buffer Size (Raw)||200 frames (7 FPS)||124 frames (14 FPS)|
|Autofocus System||Phase Detect||Hybrid PDAF|
|Low-Light AF Sensitivity (f/2 Lens, ISO 100)||-4 EV||-6 EV|
|Standard Flash Sync Speed||1/250||1/200|
|Maximum Video Bit Depth (Internal)||8 bits||8 bits|
|Maximum Video Bit Depth (External)||8 bits||10 (12 with paid upgrade)|
|Raw Video||No||No (Yes, externally, with paid upgrade)|
|4K Maximum Framerate||30 FPS||60 FPS|
|1080P Maximum Framerate||120 FPS||120 FPS|
|Additional Video Crop Factor||No||1.5x crop at 4K 60p (4K 30p has no additional crop)|
|Chroma Subsampling||4:2:0, 4:2:2 (External)||4:2:0, 4:2:2 (External)|
|Video Recording Limit||30 min||30 min|
Physical and Other Features
|Slot 1 Type||CFExpress Type B||CFExpress Type B|
|Slot 2 Type||SD (UHS-II)||SD (UHS-II)|
|Rear LCD Size (Diagonal)||3.2 in||3.2 in|
|Rear LCD Resolution||2.36 million dots||2.1 million dots|
|Articulating LCD||Single Axis||Single Axis|
|Viewfinder||Pentaprism / OVF||EVF|
|Viewfinder Resolution||N/A||3.69 million dots|
|USB Type||Type A 3.0||Type C 3.1|
|Battery Life (Viewfinder)||1840 frames||340 frames|
|Battery Life (Rear LCD)||N/A1||410 frames|
|Battery Life (Eco Mode)||N/A||450 frames|
|Weight (Body Only w/ Battery + Card)||1005 g (2.22 lbs.)||705 g (1.55 lbs.)|
|Dimensions (LxHxD)||146 x 124 x 79 mm (5.7 x 4.9 x 3.1″)||134 x 101 x 85 mm (5.3 x 4.0 x 3.3″)2|
|MSRP, Body Only||$3000 (Check Current Price)||$2000 (Check Current Price)|
|Used Prices||Nikon D850 Used Prices||Nikon Z6 II Used Prices|
|1Not specified by Nikon|
|2The Nikon Z7 II’s official dimensions do not include the depth of the protruding viewfinder. To match the typical standards today, 15mm were added to the Z7 II’s depth measurement in this table.|
Even though the Nikon Z6 II has more “wins” in its column, the overall winner of this comparison isn’t very straightforward – it really depends on what type of photography you do.
The Nikon D850 is still clearly ahead in pure image quality, thanks to the higher-resolution 45 megapixel sensor and lower base ISO of 64. (That said, at higher ISOs, the performance definitely equalizes – and starting around ISO 12,800, the Z6 has better image quality of the two.) I would also put the Nikon D850 ahead in terms of autofocus system. I know that the Z6 II has more total autofocus points, but there’s more to an AF system than the number of points.
That said, the Nikon Z6 II has plenty of things going for it as well. It definitely has better features for videography, including the ability to film raw video with an external recorder, so long as you send the camera off to Nikon for an optional $200 firmware upgrade. The in-body image stabilization system on the Z6 II also makes it a better camera for shooting handheld with non-stabilized lenses – and of course, it’s a smaller, lighter, less expensive camera in the first place.
Summary and Recommendations
Although the Nikon D850 is the more advanced camera, it would not be my choice for everything. The Nikon Z6 II is a better choice for lightweight travel photography, street photography, and videography.
Meanwhile, I would definitely choose the Nikon D850 as a landscape photographer, where its 45 megapixel sensor shines. The D850 would also be my choice for sports and wildlife photography because of its better ability to track fast-moving action, even though the Nikon Z6 can shoot at a higher FPS rate. Finally, the Nikon D850’s heavy-duty build quality is more reassuring if you’re a professional photographer whose gear gets beat up over time.
What does the Nikon D850 offer over the Nikon Z6 II?
- 1.87 times more megapixels (45.7MP vs 24.5MP) and base ISO 64 for stunning image quality
- Better battery life when using the viewfinder, with approximately 1500 more shots according to CIPA measurements
- Excellent autofocus system for tracking moving subjects across the frame
What does the Nikon Z6 II offer over the Nikon D850?
- Lighter weight (300g lighter or about 1.4 times lighter)
- In-body image stabilization, allowing for easier handheld photography even with non-stabilized lenses
- Much lower price, costing $1000 less—you could get a second camera!
Questions? Go to our forum, where you can start a conversation and talk to photographers about these two cameras!