The Nikon D850 and the Sony a7 III represent an interesting case of DSLR vs mirrorless cameras. Although they are certainly aimed at different audiences, and the D850 is the more advanced camera, the a7 III has some advantages of its own. Which one is the right choice for you? Read on to find out.
Nikon D850 vs Sony a7 III Specifications Comparison
|Camera Feature||Nikon D850||Sony a7 III|
|Announced||July 2017||February 2018|
|Sensor Type||BSI CMOS||BSI CMOS|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 5||BIONZ X|
|Resolution||45.7 MP||24.2 MP|
|Sensor Dimensions||35.9 x 23.9 mm (Full Frame)||35.6 x 23.8 mm (Full Frame)|
|Sensor Pixel Size||4.35µ||5.93µ|
|Low Pass Filter||No||No1|
|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||No|
|Fastest Shutter Speed||1/8000||1/8000|
|Longest Shutter Speed||30 seconds||30 seconds|
|Continuous Shooting (Mechanical Shutter)||7 FPS||10 FPS|
|Continuous Shooting (Electronic Shutter)||7 FPS||10 FPS|
|Notes for High FPS Shooting||Up to 9 FPS with MB-D18 grip||None|
|Buffer Size (Raw)||200 frames (7 FPS)||89 frames (10 FPS)|
|Autofocus System||Phase Detect||Hybrid PDAF|
|Low-Light AF Sensitivity (f/2 Lens, ISO 100)||-4 EV||-3 EV|
|Standard Flash Sync Speed||1/250||1/250|
|Maximum Video Bit Depth (Internal)||8 bits||8 bits|
|Maximum Video Bit Depth (External)||8 bits||8 bits|
|4K Maximum Framerate||30 FPS||30 FPS|
|1080P Maximum Framerate||120 FPS||120 FPS|
|Additional Video Crop Factor||No||No|
|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||SD (UHS-II)|
|Slot 2 Type||SD (UHS-II)||SD (UHS-I)|
|Rear LCD Size (Diagonal)||3.2 in||3.0 in|
|Rear LCD Resolution||2.36 million dots||0.92 million dots|
|Articulating LCD||Single Axis||Single Axis|
|Viewfinder||Pentaprism / OVF||EVF|
|Viewfinder Resolution||N/A||2.36 million dots|
|USB Type||Type A 3.0||Type C 3.1|
|Battery Life (Viewfinder)||1840 frames||610 frames|
|Battery Life (Rear LCD)||N/A2||710 frames|
|Weight (Body Only w/ Battery + Card)||1005 g (2.22 lbs.)||650 g (1.43 lbs.)|
|Dimensions (LxHxD)||146 x 124 x 79 mm (5.7 x 4.9 x 3.1″)||127 x 96 x 74 mm (5.0 x 3.8 x 2.9″)|
|MSRP, Body Only||$3000 (Check Current Price)||$2000 (Check Current Price)|
|Used Prices||Nikon D850 Used Prices||Sony a7 III Used Prices|
|1It is unconfirmed whether the Sony a7 III has a low-pass filter. The general (and perhaps surprisng) consensus is that it does not, or if it does, it is a weak horizontal-only AA filter.|
|2Not specified by Nikon|
As you can see, both cameras are trading blows in terms of specifications, but the D850 generally wins in the more important areas. It has a higher-resolution sensor, a lower base ISO, and a bigger 200-image buffer. It’s hard to reflect in a basic spec sheet, but having used both these cameras, the Nikon D850’s autofocus system struck me as better, too (although the a7 III’s AF system covers a wider area of the frame, so it takes the nod if your subject is near one of the edges of the photo).
Meanwhile, the Sony a7 III still has some advantages of its own. As a mirrorless camera, it’s no surprise that the a7 III is significantly smaller and lighter than the Nikon D850. It would definitely be my choice between the two for travel or street photography as a result. The addition of in-body image stabilization to the a7 III is also extremely useful for handheld photography. Finally, the price is substantially cheaper, both new and on the used market.
It all comes down to what you need to photograph. Landscape photographers will appreciate the 45 megapixels and ISO 64 of the D850. Sports/wildlife photographers will find the D850’s large buffer and excellent autofocus system to be worthwhile. Meanwhile, I think that most travel, portrait, and street photographers should go with the a7 III and put the money you save toward lenses.
Summary and Recommendations
What does the Nikon D850 offer over the Sony a7 III?
- 1.89 times more megapixels (45.7MP vs 24.2MP) and a lower base ISO make for better image quality
- Higher resolution rear display, with about 2.6x more dots, making image review in the field easier
- Better battery life when using the viewfinder, with approximately 1230 more shots according to CIPA measurements
What does the Sony a7 III offer over the Nikon D850?
- Lighter weight (355g lighter or about 1.5 times lighter)
- Much lower price, costing $1000 less—you could get an extra lens!
- In-body image stabilization, allowing for easier handheld photography even with non-stabilized lenses
Questions? Go to our forum, where you can start a conversation and talk to photographers about these two cameras!