Should you upgrade from a D810? Maybe.
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Should you upgrade from a D810? Maybe.

Let's start with perhaps the most obvious question - is the D850 enough of an upgrade to justify replacing its predecessor, the D810 (shown on the left, above)? The answer, predictably, is 'maybe'.

On the one hand, while the changes from the D800/e to the D810 were relatively minor, the D850 has been substantially updated across the board. On the other, the D810 is still a great camera, and for some kinds of photography, the D850's extra features might reasonably be considered 'nice to have', but not essential.

Even if you mostly shoot static subjects with your D810, the D850 still has a lot to offer

Obviously the D850 offers greater resolution and a major speed increase, but more important (we think) is the completely overhauled AF system, which should provide class-leading autofocus on a par with the D5 and D500 - as well as inheriting those cameras' automatic AF fine-tuning feature. AF sensitivity down to -3EV is a major improvement over the D810 which (for reasons we could never really figure out) was pretty unreliable in poor light.

And even if you mostly shoot static subjects with your D810, the D850 still has a lot to offer. Ergonomically, the new camera is much improved. A tilting, touch-sensitive rear LCD is really handy for tripod-mounted photography, and illuminated controls are a game-changer for astrophotography and landscape shooting in low light. The D850 redesigned electronic first-curtain shutter mode should effectively mitigate mirror/shutter-induced vibrations, and its deeper grip is more comfortable to hold, too.

Just about the only use-case where the D850 might not represent a useful upgrade to a D810 is for tethered studio shooting, where you don't need things like autofocus or continuous shooting. But even here, the D850's tilting rear screen might end up being very handy.

Reasons to upgrade:

  • More resolution
  • Greater speed
  • Better autofocus, including superior low-light sensitivity
  • Improved ergonomics
  • Illuminated controls
  • Tilting, touch-sensitive screen
  • 4K video

Stick with your D810 if:

  • You mostly shoot in a studio
  • You really need a built-in flash