By now, whether through me or fellow Nikon Ambassador or industry media, I am sure everyone in the know has heard about the new Nikon D850. But just like Han Solo says to Rey and Finn aboard the Millennium Falcon in The Force Awakens when they ask about the Jedi he replies, “Its true. The Force. The Jedi…all of it…its all true.” So is what you have read about the D850 and its capabilities.
When I received the call from Nikon Inc. offices in July asking me to be a part of the camera launch, aside from giving them an immediate and resounding confirmation for my involvement, I was floored by the specs of the camera. Nikon from time to time (both in the US and from Tokyo) will ask me for feedback on current and previous models while also asking what I would like to see in future models. This camera answered virtually every question or request I have presented to Nikon. Resolution (paramount), speed, high ISO performance. It all comes together in one package making it the most versatile camera I have ever used. Before, I would always switch out cameras in my kit based on the assignment I was covering. This is the first body that I will make a part of every single kit I pack for every single assignment.
In my work with the camera, I wanted to test it out in as many situations as I could. The request from Nikon was simple. They wanted some commercial style sports portraits and some high FPS sequences. However, I wanted more, so I worked up a couple weeks worth of insane shooting across the country so I could push it through as many real world scenarios as possible before I had to give the preproduction bodies back while in New York to assist with the launch of the camera. The hardest part of my assignment, was giving the cameras back when I was finished.
Check out the Nikon Learn & Explore page for more info on my thoughts regarding the camera. While you are there, be sure to bookmark it since it is a very valuable tool for the photographer at any level.
When it came to testing the camera, I pushed it in AF performance and FPS with water skiing in Michigan while also incorporating the use of the SB-5000 strobes. I pushed it in studio and location portrait scenarios to see how it would handle highlight and shadow detail and see exactly how robust the raw file was in this situation, which is one where I spend the most amount of my work. I pushed it in low light indoors and on the football field to see how fluid I could be shooting with only one line of cameras, where previously I would have mixed various bodies depending on the environment. I took it in the air over Chicago to see how it would perform from 2,000 over the Windy City to document sports and recreation from above which would be another test for the raw file and the detail that the sensor could produce. I criss crossed the state of Indiana shooting everything from fly fishing to a body builder to a recording studio to a basketball gym, all to see how it would handle the rigors of my shooting while throwing at it a variety of situations that would previously have me reaching for different bodies depending on the situation. It was refreshing to be able to accomplish everything with only D850 bodies.
Each and every test I put it through, it passed. While at times my expectations were met, more often than not, they were exceeded. Now the real world application begins with three brand new D850 bodies in my bag and more to come and a schedule over the next four weeks that can only be described as bananas.
How fun and crazy were my two weeks with the camera? Check out the video above and see for yourself. Coming soon here on the blog, I look to break down each of the shoots and give some insight as to what I was looking to accomplish, what was used and how it all came together. If you have questions, let me know and I will look to address them!
This camera literally has it all. What else would I like to see? Dual XQD slots instead of one XQD and one SD…but thats just personal preference and my love for the XQD card in both speed and durability compared to SD. I would also love a wireless teathering feature so I can give a client my iPad and have them be able to see what I am shooting in real time. Beyond that, it would also be cool to see a body like this in a D5-sized body like one of my old favorite cameras, the D3X. But those are just wants and not needs. What I need is a robust high resolution file, speed, quick AF and high ISO performance and this camera delivers. Versatility indeed.