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The Nikon D850 Announced But Not Revealed

By Kishore Sawh on July 24th 2017

So, this is it. The successor to the wildly successful and precedent setting D800, D810 – the D850.

Well, sort of.

Just moments ago Nikon rang in the break of its centennial anniversary with a teaser announcement of the development of the new Nikon D850. The emphasis there being placed on the word ‘development’ as Nikon, in rather common Nikon fashion, has bathed specifications about the D850 in ambiguity. To be more precise, we don’t actually know much about the camera other than the name, that it will do 8K timelapses, and will remain a high resolution body. As for the rest? Well, that’s currently up for speculation and no doubt that’s part of their intent. Well played, I might add.

There’s a palpable level of Nikon pride and pomp and circumstance in the text of the press release, with lines like,

“The D850 will exceed the expectations of the vast range of photographers that seek the high resolution and high-speed capabilities that only a Nikon of this caliber complemented by NIKKOR lenses can offer.” Clearly Nikon is betting big on this new rig.

But that’s not all their saying/insinuating/inferring in the release, because if you comb through it you’ll also see they suggest it useful for sports and weddings; two genres not particularly associated with the D810.  You’d often see it in the hands of the likes of Peter Lindbergh and Annie Leibovitz, in fact, but not typically found along the 50 yard line. But furthermore they claim it to have new technologies as a result of feedback from users, and that line, particularly, really sends the mind racing.

What could it be?

As a platform the D800 broke new ground and then the D810 refined it. It really was a benchmark, and it moved the goal posts. What will this have to do the same? Well, at this point we’re left like children on Christmas eve, simply awash with the thought of possibilities, and we’ll just have to try to enjoy it.

Have a look at the official release below, and let us know what you’d like to see in the new Nikon D850.

Press release:

Development Of Digital SLR Camera Nikon D850

MELVILLE, NY – Nikon Inc. is pleased to announce the development of the next generation full-frame, high-resolution, high-speed digital SLR cameras with the upcoming release of the highly anticipated Nikon D850. This announcement coincides with Nikon’s 100th anniversary of its establishment, which is celebrated today.

The D850 will be a formidable tool for creators who will not compromise on exceptional image quality and versatility, including both aspiring and professional photographers as well as hobbyists who capture landscapes, weddings, sports, fashion, commercial imagery and multimedia content creators.

The D850 is the successor to the D810, which has been highly praised by its users for offering extremely sharp and clear rendering, with rich tone characteristics. This powerful new FX-format digital SLR camera is engineered with a range of new technologies, features and performance enhancements that are a direct result of feedback from users, who demand the very best from their camera equipment. The D850 will exceed the expectations of the vast range of photographers that seek the high resolution and high-speed capabilities that only a Nikon of this caliber complemented by NIKKOR lenses can offer.

To learn more about the Nikon D850, please visit Information regarding the release of this product will be announced at a later date.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. robert garfinkle

    I must be a Wanker. A Nikon Wanker – see post below, before mine.
    I am not a pro, not even close. And yes, Nikon has had it’s issues. A lot of issues – again, see post below.
    I am not insulted. Can’t take what someone says about a product and tie it to my sense of self worth. silly is it not. Whether or not someone decides to think less of me, and call me a wanker, to make themselves feel better. ok. I’m glad I’m not them.
    I will be one of the many droolers putting the D850 in hand, yet won’t give up the D810 (as down payment for the D850, won’t happen).
    I remember a few years ago, frequenting this forum, and knocking Nikon etc. And getting drop-kicked for slamming the product. And I own the product. I think I had a right to be disappointed after dropping 1000’s to end up with less-then quality built / designed stuff.
    But, today, with D810 in hand, extremely happy with it. I know, it has IM, which aint changing. Just cause Sony might come out with A7RIII (someday) doesn’t change the quality of what I have in my hands.
    But let me depart from all the “he dies with the most / best toys wins” rhetoric for a moment. and say three things.
    In my unprofessional opinion:

    1. No matter what I have in my hands, it aint worth fuck-all (pardon my French) if I don’t show up to capture the moment, the image, the feeling, whatever. A camera is a tool, right? It’s helps a photographer be one…
    2. Nikon was a recommendation. It could have been Canon, or something else for that matter. I am an average-Joe consumer, and a friend of mine who had 25 years experience and who had owned Canon, Nikon etc, stated that Nikon was a great choice. So I went with it.

    Admittedly, I got caught up in the “want” and “drool”, first buying a D7000 back in 2011, and quickly moving to a D800, then a D810.
    I will make the statement that I have taken images with the D810 in which I don’t think I could have captured with the D7000, just don’t – and that was on the basis of sheer megapixels alone. I am not a megapixel person per se, but I’ll say this…

    I love capturing storms, specifically lightning. in 2015 had a session in which I captured close to 150 usable shots, some are true keepers, which showed detail at 38 miles that I just know could not have been captured with a camera with less megapixels. Fractured and fibrous  shards of lightning at unprecedented detail.

    With the D810’s 64 ISO I am able to discern a bouquet of colors in lightning I know for certain a D7000 cam, or others could not pick up at 100 to 400 ISO.

    I can’t say with certainty that other camera’s out there, i.e. A7RII, etc. wouldn’t pick up these details, they probably could. I know for a fact that mine did. It wasn’t planned that way, and very happy I own the D810.

    I would come to expect that the D850 will do that much better, which leads me to a close with point #3.

    3. I have had my eyes on Nikon’s issues over the last few years – somewhere in my loins lay the sentiments of Paul Aparycki (post below mine). I had one DOA D810 land at my doorstep, very pissed off. But I’ll say this.

    I have what I have in my hand, and whilst I look forward to see what the D850 offers us for features, I am very happy with the D810 and still have a shitload of lessons ahead of me dealing with “what it means to become a real photographer” as there is soooo much more to learn. Awe hell, admittedly the articles in which Pye wrote, which put me in my place because at some point I was thinkin’ “I was all that” until Pye came along, wrote articles relating to the fact that I suck (circa 2015) (not personally but might as well have). All it meant was, it was my teachable moment to learn that I don’t know shinola about photography and I better have an open mind…

    Anyway, where was I oh yeah… (scatter brained, forgive me) – The D850 will actually be a formidable tool, or it won’t be. It will be the most awesome piece of equipment Nikon ever made, or, well, it won’t be.

    Maybe I won’t get it, yet a person like Paul Aparycki will throw away all his equipment and get two Nikon D850’s – just saying…

    Manufacturer’s will always be innovating and jockeying for position to outdo the other. Sony, Nikon, Canon, Fuji, etc. or is it Nikon, Sony, Canon, Fuji, etc. or is it Fuji, Canon, Sony, Nikon etc… who knows…

    At the end of the day (don’t you hate people who keep saying the phrase – “at the end of the day” :) ) where will this “Wanker” be, will I be striving to keep learning to jump ranks from the wanker-ness or will be willing to learn to just take the picture.

    This has been wanker-Rob reporting…

    Over and out.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Well said Robert. It’s my opinion that this is about the right kind of outlook and approach to new tech. All I can say as someone who, as per occupation, spend a fair amount of time speaking with brands and those who drive their sales and thus development, is that I still believe it’ll be an important piece for their future.

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  2. Paul Aparycki

    Hmmm . . .  d600, more problems than it was worth, the 610 problems also from a “new” camera that was nothing more than an effort to cover their massive fuck-up with the 600. 

    D800, problems also, and not to ignore Nikons’ capacity to maintain “excellence????”, so did the follow-up/cover-up D810.

    D750? Again a large issue of problems and as usual, denied or covered up by Nikon.

    Which I guess leads to what IS GOING to happen, that being another piece of worthless shit from Nikon . . . who needs it.

    The wankers . . . thousands on this list, will flock to it. Anyone with intelligence will look elsewhere.

    Me? A Nikon shooter for longer than most of you have been alive, and much wiser than you. I have with good reason, been looking for a long while at changing bodies, for a more reliable and more consistent manufacturer. Unfortunately due to glass investment, that becomes a more painful choice.

    Take note, being a capable pro, very little of my glass is Nikon. Schneider and Zeiss produce (and I own) optics that far outstrip what Nikon can make. Yes they are pricey, but I actually work for a living, unlike a lot of photo-wannabees (that’s you).

    Is this an exciting announcement? No

    A more exciting announcement might have read “we fired all the failures from factory floor to ceo” . . . but that would never be able to defraud all the wannabees (that’s YOU).

    So, here we go again

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  3. David Ferebee

    I think it will be priced so high. Most photographers will not be able to afford it.

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    • robert garfinkle

      Nah, I think it’ll be around 3699.00 same price as the D810a or maybe $4000.00 – that’s very possible. Yes, a lot o coin for sure.

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  4. adam sanford

    A teaser — for *working professionals*?  That seems out of place. 

    Folks patiently waiting for a D810 follow-up don’t want a Nikon Df sort of teaser campaign, they want the product to be announced already.

    This whole thing reeks of a preemptive move, possibly to dissuade photographers from buying another rig that might surface soon.  (Is the A7 III line about to drop or something?)

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  5. Vladimir Ladev

    I shoot with the D810 and in my oppinion for a higher mp to arrive it will have to be backed up with new lenses. The highest that a FX lens can cover as mentioned in dxo mark is the new sigma 85mm that fills  36mp, so if there are no lenses that can do the high res what do you need it for? A studio camera doesn’t need higher iso imo the D810 does well at 4000, so what will be the game changing thing that will sell the 850… can’t think of anything, not even 4k video not even higher iso or some tricks. If you neeed higher than 36mp efectively go for medium format there the lenses are rated up to 100mp res 

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    • adam sanford

      All lenses — even ordinary ones — will see sharper output from a higher MP sensor, but *how much* they improve is a function of the quality of the lens.  A nice primer on this is here:

      So when Canon jumped to 50 MP, they didn’t throw all their glass in the trash.  They had a hard look at which lenses were good enough to pass muster on that fine of a canvas and came up with a recommended list of lenses:

      I expect any Nikon high MP rig to do the same.  Some older lenses will continue to be sold but not recommended for use with the D850.

      But the notion that nothing in existence today can fully use the entire potential of a 50, 75, 100 MP sensor *so my company must make all new lenses* is simply unreasonable and will not ever happen.

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    • robert garfinkle

      Vladimir –

      You bring up excellent points.

      Personally, When I see the ISO numbers waved at me on a box 3,200,000 etc. I am anything but impressed. Great, at 3,200,000 I know that the camera, still in the box, without batteries will have the ability to take a photo :) – just being a bit facetious there…

      What I am concerned with, is it’s usable ISO latitude, to which I think you refer to. for example, how well does the camera do from say (in the case of Nikon D810) 64ISO to 3000 (or 4000 as you note) – what range works well without noticeable noise, right?

      First off, I am not a pro, but do own the D810 myself.

      I do find some of it’s features very useful, for what I photograph, and consider detail, dynamic range, very important.

      It is my hope that the D850 brings more to the table, and that is simply, options. choice.

      I would love a lower native ISO. I hope that it does have a greater ISO usable latitude. That would be fun.

      From what I’m hearing there will be a big jump in FPS, which is important to me. I would love to take a camera with that much capability to a sports arena, capture some action shots.

      Personally, I could give a hoot about video. I really don’t care about it. I do like the teaser video though – only cause it’s astronomy, and that intrigues me. I would do something like that…

      I’m putting lot’s of pressure on Nikon here, only to answer their assertion that the camera is formidable by their words, and in the last few years, with manufacturing issues galore, questionable quality (IQ) of the D5 / D500, which is of great concern…

      I don’t own a D5 or D500 for that matter, but in the test labs (DXO) they just don’t rank too well. And when the D810 held a #1 spot for nearly 2 years before the AR7II showed up, it said a lot, and we were able to experience consumer photography with the D810 that was unprecedented, right? I mean I do have to say if a person does not know how to work a camera let alone know how to take a photo the D810 meant very little. And to be very clear, I fit that “mold” very well. I am not a professional photographer and yes, admittedly the D810 was a high-priced bragging rights toy for a long time. But I do have to say my passion for photography has led me down the road a bit to gain more experience, whereas the camera is a bit more justifiable now… just saying.

      If the D850 is all that they are saying it is, to which I hope it will be, then I look forward to it….

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    • robert garfinkle

      can you explain to me how there are limitations to lenses vs. the sensor. what gives?

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  6. David Liang

    What are the chances the D850 will use Sony’s 42mp BSI chip? Be pretty interesting to see what Nikon could do with it. That said it’s not their technology that’s the cause of their recent downslide, it’s quality control.

    They really gotta get on that one.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      That’s something we were discussing earlier, the use of that chip. It’s possible but you almost feel like it won’t be enough for Nikon’s flagship high-res. I mean the D800 was the camera that really moved the goal posts on resolution at the time. I agree they need to figure out their QC, but at the same time the D750 still sold like hot cakes. So I think part of Nikon’s problem was simply not releasing enough cameras. I mean the D750 is what, 3 years old now nearly?

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    • adam sanford

      +1 to Kishore.  How would you feel if you are using (debatably) the finest FF sensor ever made — the one in the D810 — and Nikon announces that they are replacing it with a 2+ year old sensor that is only marginally better?

      I’d feel like a prospective 6D2 buyer being peddled old tech.  [eye roll]

      My point is, the D850 should have come out with an A7R II sensor *18 months ago*.  It never happened — either Sony withheld the sensors or asked far too much for them, or Nikon said ‘now is not the time to update the D810’. Either way, now Nikon is on the hook to go it alone and make some EXMOR magic of their own. 

      And good luck with that:  the 14 highest rated FF sensors at DXO are all made by Sony if I’m not mistaken, and they’ve made it clear their tech isn’t cheap to license and the best goods will be kept in-house.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      adam sanford – I mean I can’t really disagree with that entirely. Is it the finest sensor for FF? Probably pretty damn close, and yes a Sony sensor. I wouldn’t assume they’d put in the exact same chip, but something close or tweaked I’d be fine with. The problem is that’s small-minded thinking on my part. When the D800 came out I thought 36MP was too much, but it started something, so again I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 60MP sensor.

      As per Sony dishing out the sensors 18 months ago, well of course there was the disruption due to the earthquake that I think rocked the industry in a way we won’t fully grasp until we can look back years from now and spot it with data. We don’t know if Nikon is going it alone here. We don’t know much about it at all really. But I’ll be putting my thoughts together in another piece today about what may be likely, and or what we want that could pull the D850 away from the pack.

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    • adam sanford

      That D810 sensor was OK Computer in my book — so enormously ahead of its time.    (Little credit to Nikon for that, it’s a Sony sensor, but still.)

      But Nikon simply must climb up the resolution ladder to compete with Canon for the studio/landscape/tripod crown.  They don’t need to match/exceed the 50 MP barrier, they just need to show progress on that metric and stay in the game.   The A7R II sensor would accomplish that, but as I said before, the optics are not good.  Using an older sensor to say ‘We’ve still got it!’ is not a reassuring move to Nikonians getting skittish at the prospect of corporate restructuring, poor sales, canceled projects, recalls, etc.

      The D850 needs to be the juggernaut best-in-class offering the D810 faithful are counting on.

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  7. Frank Villafañe

    I feel like a kid at one of those grade-B shlock movies where for most of the film we only see vague glimpses of the supposedly fantastic creature reaking havoc thruout the flic…only to be fully revealed towards the end (cue the music…dum-dum-DUM)…it’s just a guy in a rubber suit, not really scarey-almost comical, and the rest of the feature is an huge anti-climactic letdown. 

    Nikon is purposely building anticipation and suspense with their ‘non-announcement’ and I guess I can understand their reticence to reveal their hand too soon. Like the commercials of old-‘we will release no wine before it’s time.’ But great expectations can often lead to great disappointment…let’s hope this is not the case here. 

    Still waiting, Nikon…

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Well said, Frank. All of that really. It makes sense they do this to a point, because they could do with their name being associated with good for a while given recent events. But as you say, disappointment can befall anticipation. I am a Nikon shooter mostly, and I have faith. Or maybe that’s hope….

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