Nikon Z7 vs Nikon D850 ISO Performance Comparison
So far, we have pointed out that both Nikon Z7 and the D850 have very similar sensors – they both sport identical resolution, have identical ISO sensitivity range and a base ISO of 64. However, we have also pointed out that there is one main difference between the two sensors – the Nikon Z7 has built-in phase-detection pixels, whereas the Nikon D850 does not. Let’s take a look and see how the Nikon Z7 compares to the Nikon D850 in ISO performance for both low and high ISO values.
First, we will start with the base ISO of 64. In all the images below, the Nikon Z7 is on the left, and the D850 is on the right:
As expected, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference in image quality between the two cameras. Both produce extremely clean images. The same is true for all low ISO levels all the way to ISO 1600, as you can see from the image crops below. Here is ISO 100:
As we push ISO to 1600, we can start seeing subtle differences between the Nikon Z7 and the D850, especially when it comes to color noise in the shadows. Here, the Nikon Z7 shows a bit more color noise in comparison:
This becomes more evident when ISO is pushed to 3200:
And even more so at ISO 6400:
At ISO 12800 both cameras produce plenty of noise, but the Nikon Z7 is still a bit worse in comparison:
We can observe similar behavior at ISO 25600 as well, with the Z7 showing slightly worse color noise:
The differences start to diminish at extremely high ISOs above 25600. Here, both cameras look really bad:
Lastly, ISO 102400 is completely unusable on both cameras, but we can still see that the Nikon D850 looks slightly superior in comparison.
From the above tests we can conclude that the Nikon Z7 does have slightly weaker overall performance compared to the Nikon D850, most likely caused by the addition of phase detection pixels.
Does this make the Nikon Z7 inferior to the Nikon D850 in terms of image quality? If you are going to always pixel-peep your images at 100% view and underexpose by 5+ stops, then the Nikon Z7 is not for you. For all other normal people, the variances in performance between the two cameras are too small to make a difference in the real world…