Here Comes the Nikon D850

Nikon D850 Preview
By Matthew Sullivan

As seemingly more and more people are moving to the mirrorless cameras, the all too familiar "DSLR's are dead" shouts are more and more prevalent everyday. 

Enter the Nikon D850. A camera that, at least on paper, proves that DSLR's are very, very far from dead. 


Key Features:

The highlights that will be important to underwater shooters and differentiate the D850 from its predecessor the D810

  • 45.75 megapixel Full Frame BSI (Back-Side Illuminated) Sensor
  • The world's best autofocus system taken from the Nikon D5 (153 AF points, 99 cross type)
    • Can focus center spot down to -4EV
  • Improved low and high ISO performance over the D810/Improved Dynamic Range.
  • 7fps, 51 shot raw buffer
  • True full frame 4K video
  • Max flash sync speed 1/250s
  • XQD/SD card slots
  • $3296 (An incrediblely reasonable price for what should be an incredible camera)
-*That is not a comprehensive list of upgrades and features for the D850, those are the ones IMO that are notable upgrades from the D810


Nikon has already stated they're sold out and won't be able to fulfill the first run of this camera, that should really tell you how popular this camera is going to be. Several housing manufacturers including Nauticam, Ikelite, S&S, and Aquatica have all confirmed they'll be making housings (Get yours here when they become available! )

For most underwater shooters, the D850 may well be the best DSLR ever made. In the past there has always been a compromise between speed and high resolution. No more. The D5 autofocus system + 7fps will be more than enough for just about every situation underwater. The dynamic range and ISO performance will be hugely appealing to wide angle shooters and the resolution to allow insane detail and ability to crop heavily will appeal to macro shooters. 

To get the most out of such a high resolution sensor, the best quality Nikon lenses will need to be used.


Lens Recommendations:


  • Nikon 105mm 2.8G VR Macro
  • Nikon 60mm 2.8G Macro

Wide Angle Fisheye:

  • Nikon 8-15mm 3.5-4.5G Fisheye - Best fisheye overall for Nikon FF
  • Sigma 15mm 2.8 Fisheye - The budget option but focuses very close, is quite sharp and much cheaper than the other lenses listed.
  • Nikon 16mm 2.8 Fisheye - Sharper, more expensive than sigma, but does not focus as close

Wide Angle Rectilinear

  • Nikon 16-35mm 4.0 - The mose popular and versatile choice but requires a big dome port for acceptable image quality
  • Nikon 20mm 1.8G - Small, compact, sharp, doesn't NEED as big a dome as the 16-35


I did not order the D850 and if I were smart, I should probably never shoot with one or chances are I will want one. I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on the camera for underwater testing. Stay tuned to Underwater Photography Guide for a comprehensive review once housings are available!

UPDATE: There are still no housings available just quite yet (they're coming!) but I did manage to get my hands on a full production model recently. It was not any sort of formal shoot, just played around with the camera for a few minutes to get a feel for it. That few minutes was enough to convince me that this will indeed be an amazing camera for just about any application and underwater shooters will not be disappointed in making the move to the D850.



Matthew Sullivan is an underwater and conservation photographer based out of Los Angeles, CA. For more of his pictures follow him on Instagram.


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