Should you upgrade from a D4/S? Probably.
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Should you upgrade from a D4/S? Probably.

If you're shooting with a D4, or D4S, there are very few reasons why the D850 would do the same, or a better job for you than your existing camera. Arguably, the only significant point in the D4/S's favor at this point is durability. The D800-series are tough, solid cameras but they're not built to withstand the same kind of abuse as Nikon's flagship pro sports models.

And... that's about it.

The value of the D4/Ss 11 fps continuous shooting is somewhat moot when you consider that the D850 can manage 9 fps with a couple of (admittedly expensive) accessories, and the additional stamina of the D4/S's larger battery is unlikely to prove a to be a deal-breaker for most photographers. The D4/S offers a Gigabit Ethernet port, but outside of shooting in a major sports stadium, that's not a feature that most of us are ever likely to need.

At 7-9 fps the D850's huge files will rip through memory cards, so it's not a camera you want to take to the Olympic Games

Then there's resolution. The D4/S are built for working photojournalists that need speed, durability and versatility. And part of 'versatility' in this context is a relatively low pixel count of 16MP, which while big enough for print and online media, isn't so big that file sizes become an issue when shooting at high frame rates for extended periods of time, or wiring images back to a picture desk. At 7-9 fps the D850's huge files will rip through memory cards, so it's probably not a camera you want to take to the Olympic Games. But at 45MP, those files are much more versatile for general use.

When you consider that the D850 also features a next-generation autofocus system, more versatile rear LCD and 4K video capture, it really does look like a solid upgrade over a D4/S. And of course without the optional grip it's considerably smaller and lighter, too.

Reasons to upgrade:

  • Greater resolution
  • Better Raw dynamic range
  • Better autofocus system
  • Tilting, touch-sensitive rear LCD
  • Smaller and lighter body
  • 4K video

Stick with your D4/S if:

  • You need the ultimate in durability and stamina
  • You use a specific pro-oriented feature (i.e, wired Gigabit Ethernet)