Video Quality

We'll be looking at the experience of shooting with the D850 in a separate article, but here we can look at the resolution capture and the differences between the camera's many shooting modes.

Obviously a still scene can't convey the effects of motion, such as rolling shutter or the effects of compression, so for those we'll be including footage shot with the camera in our experiential article.

4K video

The D850 is the third Nikon DSLR to shoot 4K footage and the first to be able to use the full width of its sensor, meaning the lenses you use to shoot wide angle stills with continue to offer a wide field of view when shooting video.

The camera can shoot UHD 4K at 30, 25 and 24p and can do so either either from the full sensor width (FX in Nikon speak) or from a 1.5x APS-C ('DX') cropped region. Both can be saved in either MOV or MP4 wrappers, depending on what sort of device you want to output the footage to.

The 4K modes are shot in h.264 with a bitrate of 144Mbps.

1080 video

As well as 4K, the camera can shoot 1080p footage at up to 60p, again either using the full width or a DX crop. There's also an electronic stabilization option in 1080 mode, available in both FX and DX modes. It's very effective, providing glidecam-esque footage. It's incompatible with peaking, though.

The stabilization mode applies a further 1.1x crop to whichever sensor area mode you're in. 1080 modes are shot in H.264 with a choice of bitrates. 60 and 50p can be shot at 48 or 24Mbps, 30, 25 and 24p gives options of 24 or 12Mbps.

There's also a slow-mo option that captures at 120 or 100 fps from the DX region of the sensor and outputs as 1/4th speed 30/25p or 1/5th speed 24p.

Video Resolution

Looking at the 4K footage you can see the effects of its sub-sampling: the full width footage looks as if there's been something like line skipping, which produces the risk of moiré (though it's unlikely to look this bad, pointed at lower-contrast detail). The result from the DX crop are better, with symmetrical aliasing suggesting pixel binning. There's not significantly higher detail visible, though.

This puts the camera a little behind the Sony a7R II's impressive oversampled crop mode but, added risk of moiré aside, not far off, in real world usage. The subsampling is likely to reduce low light performance, though, since you aren't using the full sensor region.

It's a similar story if you switch to 1080p mode. The FX and DX crops are pretty similar (certainly similar enough to allow cross-cutting). The same is true when you apply e-stabilizer mode: there's some risk of moiré but the footage looks essentially identical, despite the additional crop, meaning you can readily cut between FX and DX footage, with and without stabilization.

Click here to read more about the experience of shooting video with the Nikon D850.