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Nikon D850


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#61 TknoGeek

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 09:00 PM

I got a chance to take the D850 out on a local shoot today. Here is my first impression...


"Oh, SNAP!"

 
Yep. That's about it. In short, yeah, I'm glad I parted with the money to get the camera. 
 
What I like for the type of shooting I typically do (mostly landscapes):
  • Silent electronic shutter. No, my D750's shutter wasn't loud enough that I think local wildlife were frightened and local humans were alerted that an expensive bit of kit was near, but it is nice to have a completely silent shutter - especially one at 20+ frames/second.
  • 45,441,024 pixels in each frame. Yes, they advertise the sensor at 45.7 megapixels, but the image size is 8256x5504. This is fantastic for cropping.
  • ISO 64. Yes, this has been available in the 8xx series for a while now, but this is my first foray into that realm - and I think it will be hard to go back to the world of base ISOs higher than 64.
  • Focus stacking. 'Nuff said.
  • Big buffer. Using a Sony 'G' series XQD card, I can consistently get a series of 22 images before the buffer is full (using full size compressed 14-bit NEFs). "Buffer full" in this context is a relative term as this card writes at 400MB/sec, so the pauses for buffer space are less than 1sec. 
  • The screen on the back is ​sharp​. OK, so D500 users have the same screen, but coming from a D750, this was a very pleasant surprise.
  • Touchscreen!​ Oh, this will require breaking some habits (like pressing the "+" button to zoom and then the cursor pad to scroll around), but this is ​huge​ for how I typically shoot landscapes (tripod using LiveView). Touch the screen and it focuses (just like a typical smartphone). 
There's more to like, no doubt, but these are the features that caught my attention the most.
 
Still, all is not perfect in the World of Nikon...
  • File size. I'm seeing average file sizes of 60MB (14-bit lossless compressed NEFs). Yeah, storage is cheap - unless you're talking about XQD cards fast enough to keep up with this beast. 
  • Memory cards. No, this is not the camera, per se, but this is a cost consideration as a result of moving to the D850 - and set me back over $400USD for new high-speed cards. Sony G Series 256GM XQD cards will set you back $380USD while 128GB cards are $170. Worst case calculations of 100MB uncompressed NEFs mean a 128GB card will hold just about 1200 images. While many people may consider that far more than enough for their needs, this was less than half the count from my last week-long trip through Colorado (not to mention last year's trip through Utah). If you travel away from your primary storage option for extended periods, expect to purchase additional cards or additional portable storage. (In my case, I opted for both faster cards and extra portable storage.)
That's about all I have to complain about - and these are truly "First World Problems". I'm not concerned about primary storage or "workspace storage". I'm more concerned about having more than one copy of images while traveling. My trusty 480GB SanDisk Extreme SSD needed to be replaced by a 1TB model (more $$) and I will likely end up using multiple card sets on future trips (rather than a single set as I could do with my D750) - more $$. 
 
Even so, I do not regret my purchase of the D850 in any way. Let me show you why...
 
Exhibit A - Local botanical garden with a foggy pond (shot about 30mins before sunrise); EXIF = 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II / 150mm / ƒ/2.8 / 1/50s / ISO 10,000
SOOC, without NR:

i-xHnjtVn-X3.jpg

With NR (Luminance: 25, Detail: 75, Contrast: 30):

i-nRcFfLk-X3.jpg

These are just about 1:1 captures of the master image. As you can see, this noise was easily cleaned up to an acceptable level - and I may be able to get a bit sharper detail with some more advanced tweaking. Regardless, Lightroom was able to render a very usable image with just a couple slider changes.
 
Exhibit B - Same park after the fog/mist burned off. EXIF = 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II / 200mm / ƒ/2.8 / 1/400s / ISO 64.
This image is just about 1:1 (SOOC!).

i-ZHDktzt-X3.jpg


Here is a version at 3:1 (screen capture from Lightroom)...

i-kskp9cb-X3.jpg


This image was captured handheld from about 40 yards (36.5m) away. Note the strand of spider web to the left of the blossom. My D750 would not have picked up that detail from that distance..

Finally, Exhibit C - 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II / 200mm / ƒ/4.0 / 1/500s / ISO 400
This is just about a 1:1 crop, shot at minimum focus distance [15in/0.38m] - and SOOC!

i-fbg2KsK-X3.jpg




If anybody's looking for a used, well-cared-for D750, let me know. :D
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#62 John W

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 08:12 AM

The butterfly looks like it is 3D. Wonderful color, focus and detail. 



#63 Roderick

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 01:31 PM

Did you get to try the focus peaking ?



#64 TknoGeek

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 03:07 PM

Did you get to try the focus peaking ?

Only a bit - and rather unsuccessfully. I've seen YouTube demonstrations of it working on a D850, but I've not seen it working on my model. I have also seen reports that it needs a scene with very good contrast and I've seen some recommendations for increasing contrast and sharpness settings in camera to help it work better. Frankly, it's not a feature I'm excited about as I usually use the LiveView zoomed to a focus point and manually focus to get it sharp. Peaking isn't likely to improve that workflow, but I'm open to changing my opinion after seeing peaking actually work.  ;) 

Now what I have​ played with and find incredibly useful is the electronic shutter and focus stacking. I'm looking forward to using these features in my landscape shots.


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#65 John W

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 09:55 AM

"Now what I have​ played with and find incredibly useful is the electronic shutter and focus stacking. I'm looking forward to using these features in my landscape shots." 

 

How large is the file when using focus stacking. Obviously it would have to do with how many images are stacked so I guess a better question would be how many images are you stacking in an average landscape image and how large is is that file? Any issues working on it in LR or PS?



#66 geedee

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 11:06 AM

Following on from John`s questions, I think that as one who has not ventured into focus stacking in PP, I think to have that in camera would be great, and once set up might even require less time spent at the computer..?  As for the file size relative to in-camera focus stacking given that I suspect landscape to perhaps be less than a spray and pray type of photography than sport and wildlife might be, it seems that file size for the stack might be much less of a consideration for landscape photography..? In my D800 I have two 128 gig cards which if the second card is used as from the first overflow even at the highest quality settings should satisfy most situations..?  I expect that the D850 should match if not exceed the memory storage capabilities of my old D800..?

 

The other aspect of the D850 that draws me towards it is the flip out screen as hunkering down is just not as easy as it once was and the ability to frame a scene up accurately from overhead would also be a great advantage on occasion.... Not set my sights on acquiring a D850 yet..... though.......???? (-:



#67 rdb images

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 09:00 PM

I really like the butterfly shot.

 

Bob


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#68 TknoGeek

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 05:43 AM

Just to clear up any confusion about focus stacking with the D850...  :)
 
The D850 does not blend the photos into a single focus-stacked image. This mode of the camera takes a series of photos and stores them in a separate folder. This makes it easier to identify them for pulling them off the card and importing to, say, Photoshop for the actual stacking into the final image. You can specify from 1 to 300 shots for the series. You specify the "step" between focus points (a value from 1 to 10) and the interval between shots. There's also an option for "expsoure smoothing" (think about a cloud moving over the scene during the series; requires Auto-ISO). 
 
You focus on the closest point you want in focus, then press the shutter. Now the camera takes over and moves the focus point farther into the scene based on the "focus step" value, takes another shot, then repeats the process until either a] the specified number of shots is taken; or b] the lens reaches infinity focus.
 
It's up to you to compile them all into a single image using third-party software (like Photoshop) - and the size of that image file is entirely dependent on how many layers you keep in the final product (versus flattening the result into a single layer).
__________
 
The flip screen is very handy. I used it very frequently on my D5200 and my D750. I used it on the D850 the other morning while taking the sunrise shots of the gazebo on the pond, too. I have no doubt it will continue to get frequent use - and the touchscreen capability is a very welcome addition.
__________
 
Memory...
 
The camera has two slots: one XQD, one SD (UHS-II). These can be set to the same modes as the D7200 and D750 (overflow, duplicate, or NEF on primary and JPEG on secondary). I've observed an average NEF file size of ~60MB (14-bit, lossless compression) across a range of subject matter. I've kept the image size to "large" and the smallest file size I've seen is 43MB (for a completely dark image). Doing some quick math, this means I should expect a 128GB memory card to hold just about 2,100 images.
 
The camera buffer holds about 20 full size images. Shooting just with the Sony G series XQD card (with a write speed of 400MB/sec), I can get a series of 35-40 images before the buffer is full. The Sony G series SDXC UHS-II card I have has a write speed of 299MB/sec. Putting the card slots in "duplicate" mode with NEF only nets me a series of 22-25 frames (usually 23) before the buffer is full.
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