This is the fourth post in a series of Nikon D850 tests. The series starts here. In addition, you should be able to find all the posts about the camera in the Category List on the right sidebar, below the Articles widget. There’s a drop-down menu there that you can use to get to all the posts in this series; just look for “D850”.
With the D4/D4S and the D800/D810, it looked like Nikon was continuing in the direction that it had started with the x and h versions of earlier flagship D-series cameras, but with a twist. With the earlier cameras, there were high-speed lower-resolution, and lower-speed, high-resolution (for the day) models. The D4 was clearly a high-speed camera, although resolution crept up marginally from the D3/D3S. The D810 was the replacement for the D3x, but for the first time, it wasn’t a no-holds-barred pro camera. And it wasn’t priced like one. Good move, Nikon, at least in terms of the marketplace.
So, when the D5 came out, it seemed like a logical successor to the D4S, a low-light, fast-handling monster with prescient AF abilities. I expected the D810 replacement to push the resolution up significantly, hopefully to 70 MP or so. Of course, I was disappointed. Instead of much of an increase in resolution, Nikon chose to make the D850 more of an all-around camera, upping the frame rate and improving the autofocus.
I felt the same way about Sony and the a7x line of cameras. They came out with focused versions of them: the a7S and a7SII for video, the a7 and a7II for middle-of-the-road, and the a7R and a7RII for high-resolution. When the a9 was announced, it was also a focused camera that sort of attacked the D5 space. I had hoped for a big jump in resolution with the a7RIII, especially after the small one with the a7RII.
Again, my hopes were dashed. The a7RIII, like the D850, appears to attempt to be an all-around camera. Both the D850 and a7RIII may prove to be smart product management moves for Nikon and Sony. But I really want higher resolution. I realize that the only reasons to want more resolution are to print big and fill 8K monitors (which are thin on the ground at present, and in any event, if you ignore Bayer CFA losses, the resolution of both the D850 and the a7RIII surpass that of a 7680×4320 monitor). So most folks don’t want or need it. But I want to get all I can out of the great lenses we have now, and am delighted when I get an opportunity to make a big print.
Sony has said that they will ship a 100 MP 33×44 mm BSI sensor in 2018. It’s probably be in Fuji and Hasselblad (and maybe Pentax) cameras in early 2019. I guess I’ll just have to wait for that. I can’t see spending $40K for a heavy, bulky, soon-to-be-obsolete 100 MP Hassy or Phase One camera right now.