D850: a very brief hands-on sharing

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Longed for many years, Nikon has finally responded her supporter with something impressive. Months before the arrival of D850, Sony released another pioneering product A9. It unveils the true potential of mirroless who not only be attractive in size but also capable to keep up the fast moving subject like DSLR.

So what Nikon can offer? It is pretty obvious that the next Nikon Flagship must processes distinctive feature by integrating extra high pixel count and fast shooting ability.

Before D850, Sony A99ii is the only DSLR equipped with extra high MP (>40MP) and fast shooting ability (e.g. 12fps). Now D850, is the only rival that can compete with A99ii head to head in the market.

The stock of D850 runs out immediately when it arrives HK, unless you are willing to pay additional 30% premium. So, like many other D850 enthusiast, the only place that I can feel the D850 is the official Nikon showroom. After testing for 30mins, I think I have acquired some basic and preliminary understanding to this new gear.

1. It is bulky
Bulky and heavy are the first impression that D850 gives me. I recall, the last big-guy I use is D810 but D850 definitely weights more. There is no way you can ignore this when you hold it in your hand even without a vertical grip.

Per my experience of D810, her specially designed hand grip improves the hand-held experience alot. However if you shoot intensively, the heavy weight of D810 still hurt. That’s why I pay extra attention to the ergonomic design of D850 who weighs even more than D810. The hand-grip of D850 is shadow when compared to D810, and personally speaking, the design of D810 is the better in this regard. However if you have a big hand, the weight and hand grip of D850 may not be a problem to you.

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Photo source

Maybe some people will not seriously value the ergonomic design like me. However, as an outdoor and sport camera, each shooting session may last for half or even a day. Therefore I need to make sure if D850 is a feasible gear for me in light of physical strength and habit of shooting (I don’t use tripod/monopod when birding)

When compared to A99ii (849g), the D850 (1,015g) weights around 20% more. Of course D5 is the real beast which i finally gives up considering the weight which I can’t handle.

2. Excellent AF that you can trust
In my perception, the AF system of DSLR is always trust-worthy and D850 is no exception. Accuracy and speed are both excellent. Her 3D tracking is very snappy too. Although the 153 AF point of D850 cannot cover the whole screen like A9, it is good enough for photographer to compose and capture fast moving subject.

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The shutter sound is gentle like D500. It is not completely silent even shooting in silent mode. I think it is okay, complete silence is not a must for everyone.

Without the vertical grip, D850 can continuously shoot up to 7 fps. This limit can be pushed to 9 fps when paired with vertical grip. 7 fps is being on the low side when compared to the other sport / action camera. The leader is A9 (20 fps) while D5(without vertical grip) and A99ii both can do 12 fps. I think 7 fps is marginally enough for action shooting. However, for birding, I think pushing to 9 fps is needed despite this will lead to extra weight on your system.

3. Live view, flipping screen with touch 

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Live view shooting has become an inevitable part of DSLR today. The flipping screen of D850 makes low angle (e.g. pet running) shooting accurate and easy.

However, when switching to liveview, the AF response will obviously be slowed down. In addition, during my liveview test, the D850 will apparently freeze between shots. Although it only lasts for 0.5s – 1s approximately, that’s enough to miss some precious shots. Therefore, if you are working on an action shooting,  liveview mode is not a preferred choice instead traditional OVF is a better option to go.

The laggy respond in liveview seams so common across DSLR. Personally, I encounter such delayed respond in D500, 6II, 5D4 as well as the latest D850.

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Sony A99ii

On the other hand, A99ii performs seamlessly in liveview shooting. In fact such comparison is not fair, A99ii as a mirrorless camera, is designed to shoot liveview natively while OVF is stills the primary option of DSLR.

 

Conclusion

D850 is a great camera. Her image quality, high MP and AF system are top of the line. As an user of Nikon, I am glad to see the innovation and dedication in it.

The development of DSLR has come to a crossroad, there are lots of uncertainty whether camera manufacturer will invest continuously in DSLR or shift to mirrorless. Recent years, mirrorless has proved to be the way to go that’s the fact undeniable.

 

As the stock of D850 is limited, it seems review from user will come a bit later. I have found some useful review on the web produced by some renowned KOL, they should give you some idea how this camera is working in real.

“NIkon D850: Best Wildlife Camera EVER?” from Tony & Chelsea Northrup

 

“I used the Nikon D850 and lived to tell about it!” from TheSnapChick

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Is Sony A9 the ultimate gear for action and sport?

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DSLR is dying, yes we all knew that.

Camera manufacturer can hardly ignore the fact that DSLR market is shrinking. At the same time, the Mirrorless product is gaining her momentum. Action and sport photography, the last edge of advantage of DSLR, could possibly be taken over by the coming Sony A9.

No. of AF points? fps? or what
Generally speaking, more AF points especially cross-type AF point, better will be AF performance. This has become an indicator to determine if a camera is capable of shooting action like tracking fast moving subject.

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Few years ago when A7RII comes to market, people were stunned by the overwhelming number of AF points (399 AF points) showing on her focal plane. Compared to the Flagship DSLR like Nikon D5(51 AF points), it seems DSLR should be trashed several years ago. The reality is, until today, the majority of sport and action photojournalist still hold their DSLR in their hand, why?

I am a owner of A7RII and I am sure you will have a better understanding on her performance for fast moving subject if you have tested it in the field. Don’t make me wrong, I still love my A7RII, she is doing brilliantly except for shooting action. Maybe some will challenge by posting several precisely-focused action photos of A7RII, for me that means nothing.

Simply put, it is all about the successful hit-rate. You can use a manual-focused film camera to shot a flying bird, that’s absolutely possible we all see that happening in past century. You may refer to my previous testing and see how frustrating to use A7RII to shoot a moving subject.

The 693 AF points of A9 is convincing but that’s not enough.

20 Frames Per Second
That’s very embarrassing, the flagship Nikon D5 can only take up to 14 frames per second but A9 can do 20, that’s 43% more. fps (Frames Per Second) is critical, for example you are taking an action completed in one second. For A9, a 20 fps camera, you will have captured that action by 20 pictures however for D5 you only get 14, theatrically the D5 shooter has inevitably missed some moments.

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I am not an engineer, I can’t tell if DSLR can boost their fps like mirroless camera does. Personally I guess the mirror box system hinders the max fps that it can reach. If this is so, this short coming of low fps of DSLR is inherited and hardly be fixed unless it gives up the mirror box system(that simply makes it a mirrorless camera by definition)

AF system
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Although the A99ii the latest A-mount camera shares the same image sensor as A7RII, the former performs much better in action photography. I will not go into detail  comparing between A99ii and AR7ii. Instead I simply want to point out that AF system is a crucial factor that reviews use to overlook.

Honestly I can’t perform a 100% objective test between DSLR and Mirroless, only I can share, as a user of A7RII, A99ii, D810 and D500, the reliability of DSLR AF system is still higher per my experience. Again this is my two cents only, you may share a different view.

To me, the reliability of AF system is the strongest reason that keeps DSLR in our hand. Th knowledge in AF system is the valuable know-how accumulated from decades of experience. However, the mirroless technology is advancing tremendously. From time to time it has beaten their DSLR counterpart surprisingly, no one can tell if A9 can breakthrough this time.

Price, lens and user habit

Recalling the pricing of recent Sony camera such as A7, A7RII, A99ii and A9, we are all expected to be stunned by the  new technology embedded in A9. However the price of native Sony mount lens are significantly higher than DSLR counterpart who shares a similar spec. So there are lots of considerations (and cash) before decided to swap from one system to another.

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Sony e-mount system is building up her lens family gradually. For an action shooter however the coming 100-400mm lens is the only choice to be available.

Summary

Sony is doing good ! It successfully changes the game.

As a DSLR and Mirrorless user, my feeling is complicated. I am glad to see the advancement of technology which enabled photography to be more effective and efficient.

On other other hand, I am quite confused and hesitated to make any move. For example my beloved A99ii, a few months ago i have been told it is the solution of Sony for action photography. Now the A9 is coming…… can you imagine how I feel….haven’t mentioned that new A-mount lens are still missing which are promised to be in the market very soon when I buy my A99ii.

So A9 is around the corner, but maybe an A10 will be shown a few months later …who can tell ??!!

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Since several years ago, we already foresee that DSLR is dying, it is only a question of when.

Source of photo

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http://briansmith.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Sony-a99II-vs-a7RII-42-mp-Showdown-1.jpg
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