Many photographers would struggle to pick a side in a head-to-head between the Nikon D850 and the Nikon D800. Both cameras fall firmly in the center of Nikon’s popular semi-professional line.
They’re reliable, capable workhorses that lack the glitz and glamour of a high-performance camera, but still deliver exceptional results. Read on to learn more about these amazing cameras and discover which one comes out ahead in our comparison.
|Nikon D850||Nikon D800|
|Best For||Feature Fanatics||Wallet Watchers|
|Price||See Price on Amazon||See Price on Ebay|
|Sensor Type||BSI-CMOS Full-Frame||CMOS Full-Frame|
|ISO Range||64 - 25,600||100 - 25,600|
|Weight||1015 g||900 g|
|Dimensions||35.9 x 23.9 mm||146 x 123 x 82mm|
|Battery Life||1840 shots||900 shots|
Here’s what we cover in the review:
Before we dive deeper into the differences between these cameras, let’s take a few minutes to highlight their shared strengths and weaknesses. These are two exceptional machines with a range of sophisticated features, awesome capabilities, and a slew of D800 and D850 compatible lenses.
Both cameras have a brilliant optical viewfinder, tough-as-nails environmental sealing, a bright LCD display at the top of the body, and two media storage slots that write ultra-high speed memory cards. Whatever your decision, you’ll be investing in a durable, usable companion that doesn’t give up until you do.
Somewhat surprisingly, given their relatively high price points, neither camera offers automatic image stabilization. If that’s a deal-breaker, then you’ll probably want to shop elsewhere for your next upgrade.
Sensor and Processor
Both the Nikon D850 and the D800 feature sizable full-frame sensors with identical format factors and native aspect ratios. However, the D850 delivers a strikingly high resolution of 45.4 megapixels in comparison to the D800’s 36.2 megapixels. You’ll be blown away by the subtle gradations and intimate details that this camera can capture.
That means a greatly improved linear resolution, which ensures silkier shading and more vibrant colors. The D850 also eliminates its anti-aliasing filter for superbly sharp detail. Unsurprisingly, the D850 has also scored consistently higher on imaging tests that measure color depth and dynamic range.
The D850 also comes equipped with a sharper, smarter EXPEED 5 processor. It’s several generations ahead of the noticeably slower EXPEED 3 processor used in the D800. It’s impossible to overestimate the impact that a solid processor can have on a camera’s operating speed, autofocus quality, and light balance.
Although both cameras share the same maximum shutter speed—a blisteringly quick 1/8000s—the newer camera excels in fast-paced shooting situations. The D850 can shoot continuously at 7 frames per second, while the D800 manages only 4 frames per second. That can make a world of a difference at a chaotic soccer game, a wedding shoot, a busy birthday party, or any other event where you can’t afford to miss a special moment.
The D850 will also keep you shooting longer, guaranteeing 1840 shots on a single charge. On a good day, the D800 can only manage around 900 shots. Depending on the intensity of the shoot, the D850’s expanded battery capacity could mean several more hours of action.
The Nikon D850 has an LCD touchscreen, which gives it a substantial edge over its older relative in the ease-of-use department. Pinch to zoom, press to focus, and tap to navigate menus more quickly and effortlessly than ever. Its touchscreen is also fully articulated, which makes it much easier to get a perfect view of your subject.
If you use the LCD often, you probably know how a low screen resolution can fool you into thinking your shots are clearer and sharper than they actually are. The Nikon D850’s LCD screen has 2,359,000 dots, more than doubling resolution of the D800’s screen.
Wireless connectivity was a game-changer for many photographers, making it possible to streamline a disorderly workflow and upload images on the go. It’s included as standard on almost every high-end camera released in the last five years.
If your photography workflow has become dependent on a Wi-Fi connection, then you’ll need to spend a little extra for the Nikon D850. While its connectivity features aren’t the best in the business—this camera is a few years old, and its technology is a bit outdated—they’re still better than nothing.
The D850 also comes furnished with Bluetooth and Near Field Communication capabilities, which give you more options for connecting to other devices. You can even control the camera from a smartphone with the Nikon app, although you may need to do some troubleshooting every once and a while.
As you might expect, a faster processor and newer sensor equip the Nikon D850 to handle low light with a bit more sensitivity. It can capture crisp, colorful shots up to ISO 102,400. The D800 still performs admirably, but only extends to ISO 25,600 and loses slightly more definition and detail in the process.
Since the Nikon D850 is a higher-end camera, however, it totally ditches the built-in flash. You’ll need to invest in a complete off-camera rig to add fill light to your scenes and accentuate your portraits. Although the built-in flash is notorious for blowing out whites and washing away bright colors, it still has a place. It’s sad to see this frequently misused tool abandoned entirely.
Both cameras implement phase-detect autofocus and tracking, but the D850 steps up its autofocus game. It has 153 autofocus points, in comparison to the D800’s 51, and it adds a contrast-detect feature that makes it even easier to single out your subjects and lock down your focus. The combination of phase-detect and contrast-detect autofocus eliminates frustrating delays and ensures great results in any lighting situation.
Nikon also bulked up one of the D850’s most critical technical autofocus capabilities. Since the Nikon D850 boasts a lower minimum focus sensitivity, it can zero in on a subject in much dimmer lighting than its competitor. Plus, its focus bracketing feature enables you to effortlessly swap between focus points during bursts.
It’s often quite difficult to decide between two professional-level cameras, especially when they are very similar in form and function. Fortunately, this choice isn’t one of the hard ones. The hands-down winner of this contest is the Nikon D850. It’s wonderfully sophisticated, powerful, and fast, but it doesn’t sacrifice comfort or usability like high-end upgrades often do. While the Nikon D800 is still a solid and dependable choice, it doesn’t offer the same range of advanced features as its successor.Back to Top