Nikon D850 Review
|Processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Nikon 70-200mm F2.8E
ISO 64 | 1/2000 sec | F2.8
We've already written a lot about subject tracking and Nikon's 3D Tracking in particular. In spite of other cameras on the market perhaps offering more frames per second, more autofocus points, or both, we continue to find that the 3D Tracking implementation on the flagship D5 is still the best overall performer in terms of focus accuracy and tracking reliability. It's remarkably reliable at automatically shifting the AF point to stick to your original subject.
But the D850 is not a D5, it just shares the autofocus system. So, we set it up in front of a man on a bicycle to find out how it copes with semi-quick, non-predictable (for a camera) subject movement.
As with all Nikon DSLRs these days, the D850 performed near-flawlessly with a rider coming straight at the camera, continuously autofocusing with a single point over his face. So no surprises there - but we were surprised to find some issues with the D850's 3D Tracking when the cyclist was weaving side-to-side.
While the rider coming straight at the camera assesses whether a camera is able to deal with depth information and asses whether the camera can even drive the lens' focus elements fast enough to keep up, introducing the weave necessarily introduces greater stresses on the camera. It must be both reactive and predictive in an effort to keep the proper autofocus point on the subject.
And in many instances, the camera was able to correctly recognize and follow the subject around the frame which, combined with the ability to judge depth and drive the focus quickly (that we saw in the straight-on test), gave a very good result.
Now this isn't a bad show considering the amount of lateral movement, with a lot of movement towards the camera, at seven frames per second and 46 megapixels. However, without any rhyme or reason, this would sometimes happen:
The D850 would sometimes, mid-burst, lose track of the subject it had initially been tracking. This happened both in the middle of the autofocus area, as above, and also near the edges (usually at the apex of a turn, indicating a change in approach speed to the camera). It happened regardless of whether the camera's 'Subject Motion' parameter of 'Focus tracking with lock-on' was set to Erratic, Steady, or in-between.
And this didn't happen overwhelmingly often, or with any regularity - there were times, such as when Dan was backlit by car headlights, that I expected the camera to get distracted, and it didn't. We also swapped the D850 out for a D5 and ran the same test with the same lens three times, at 12fps, without any such problems. The D850 exhibited this issue within the first three runs on two testing occasions.
In any case, the story with autofocus tracking appears to be similar to that involving autofocus precision; the D850 is certainly capable of tracking extremely well, but there appears to be some other factor(s) at play holding it back.
Low light autofocus
One of our favorite use-cases for 3D Tracking, or subject tracking in general, is candid, social photography. Allowing the camera to track your subject while you freely change your composition can come in very handy - when it works.
With the D850, we're happy to report that there weren't any egregious focus errors such as what we found in our bike tests. However, we have found both in this test and our less structured observations while using the camera, that the autofocus point seems more prone to 'jump around' our initially chosen subject, rather than sticking tenaciously to the exact point on that subject at which autofocus was initiated.
Granted, we are comparing here to the flagship D5, though the D850 still performs far better than some competing brands in this regard, including Canon's iTR or Intelligent Tracking and Recognition.
It's also worth mentioning that the AF point is hard to see in low light or low contrast situations. When tracking the black point is often difficult to make out, and even when the camera flashes the selected AF point red when you initiate, it's not very bright. The brightness is adaptive: brighter in bright light and dimmer in dim light, but we'd rather prefer it to always be bright, as can be enabled on Nikon's flagships.
Appropriately for a highly capable camera, the D850 comes with a highly capable autofocus system. In single-point Single AF and Continuous AF, as well as in its Dynamic area settings, accuracy, hit rate and precision all rank pretty high. However, the D850's massive resolution shows up some inherent issues in terms of how DSLR autofocus systems work that might prevent you from getting all 'keepers' all the time, especially if your lens requires calibration. This shows up most often in wide-aperture work, such as some styles of portraiture, where autofocus precision is of paramount importance.
In terms of subject tracking, we continue to be perplexed by our experiences with 3D Tracking - but we must admit that, during burst shooting, the D850 pulls away handily when compared to its predecessor, the D810, as well as the Canon 5Ds R and Sony a7R II (though the Sony tracks better in Eye AF mode as long as you're not shooting bursts). However, despite Nikon's claims of D5 levels of performance, we collectively find the D850 to be somewhat lagging behind that lofty benchmark.
We'll be reaching out to Nikon with our observations, and have procured a battery grip for the D850 that boosts shooting to nine frames per second and provides a boatload of extra shots per charge. There's an awful lot of sports shooting in our D850's future, so stay tuned for updates.
|Misty morining by Claudi Lourens|
from My Best Photo of the Week
|Jet and Full Moon by dibilio57|
from Aircraft lights
A popular Instagram user based in Singapore has been caught passing stock images off as his own work. Daryl Aiden Yow, who has worked with many recognizable brands, has apologized for his actions, and has deleted some images from his Instagram account while adding credits to others.
Instagram is the fourth Facebook-owned social media app to reach the coveted 1 billion users mark.
Chinese smartphone brand Oppo has employed a clever solution to the dreaded display 'notch' – a sliding mechanism that houses the device's front and rear-facing cameras.
The Kamlan 28mm F1.4 is an all-manual prime lens for APS-C (and Micro Four Thirds) mirrorless cameras. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, it'll go on sale to the public for just $200 – see what it can do on Sony and Fujifilm bodies.
Instagram TV — IGTV for short — is a new app and service from Instagram that puts the focus on video content. You can now follow content creators and watch up to hour-long vertical videos inside the new dedicated IGTV app, as well as directly within Instagram.
Researchers at NVIDIA have used artificial intelligence to train a system that's capable of turning standard 30fps video into 240fps slow-mo video with minimal loss in quality.
Loupedeck has updated its popular Lightroom editing console with a new '+' version featuring improved build quality, more customization and support for some non-Adobe software.
Apple released a new batch of mobile photography tutorial videos this week, each briefly demonstrating how to perform various camera actions using the flagship iPhone X.
Adobe has announced development of Project Rush, a cross-device video editing application that consolidates the entire video creation workflow, from shooting to social media sharing, in a single application.
Adobe's quarterly financial report was just published, and the news is good. Q2 2018 saw a new quarterly revenue record of $2.20 billion, and 22% growth to $1.55 billion in its Digital Media segment.
Just months after launching its QuartzLine filters for DSLR and mirrorless lenses, PolarPro has launched a buyback program that will give you credit towards a PolarPro filter for trading in an old one - even if it isn't theirs.
Sigma has announced that five of its Sony E-Mount Art-series primes, announced earlier this year, are now shipping.
Adobe has announced a raft of updates across its suite of Creative Cloud apps, including Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC.
The FUJINON GF 45mm F2.8 R WR is a 36mm equivalent fast prime for Fujifilm's GFX 50S. We've been shooting with one for a few days, and we're impressed. Check out our sample gallery to judge for yourself.
Video editing software package Video Pro X has received what is described as its biggest update yet to mark ten years since Magix Video Pro was launched.
Back in 2010, Canon announced that it was developing the world's largest CMOS sensor, measuring about 40 times larger than full frame. The company has just updated its website with more details.
Samyang has launched its latest lens, the Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 EF. This telephoto prime is a direct competitor to Canon's $1,600 alternative—and considering it's expected to retail for half the price, it looks like quite the bargain.
Scanning film takes forever and photographing negatives is a pain. The Pixl-latr aims to provide a simple solution.
Google has published an 18-page study fully detailing its synthetic depth-of-field technology that makes its single-camera Portrait Mode possible. The in-depth paper shows a degree of openness and academic mindset unusual for the industry.
Rugged, waterproof compact cameras are tough enough to survive even the most action-packed vacation, but they're not the only choice for capturing those great memories. Photographer Josh Root takes us through the options.
Kodak has restarted production of one of its most famous film emulsions - Ektachrome. Popular Science editor Stan Horaczek recently go to take a look inside.
The Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 Di III RXD is an affordable F2.8 standard zoom for full frame Sony E-mount cameras. What's it like, what are the trade-offs, and what are the alternatives? Chris and Jordan take a closer look...
We've updated our Best Drones buying guide and there's a new winner. Find out which drone was our favorite and learn more about all current models in our updated guide.
A teardown of a Nikon D850 has provided proof that the camera's sensor is made by Sony Semiconductor. The chip's design and performance already strongly supported this, but the confirmation also gives a hint about how the industry works.
Leica Camera has announced a new compact camera that features a 24-360mm F3.3-6.4 zoom lens and a 20MP 1” MOS sensor. Essentially a re-badged Panasonic Lumix ZS/TZ200, the Leica C-Lux will save Raw and JPEG files, will offer 4K video and has a viewfinder with a 2.33 million-dot resolution.
Leica has launched a limited edition M10 with a contoured handgrip designed by luxury car manufacturer Zagato. And, to celebrate the opening of a new part of the company's Wetzlar factory, a pair of Leica-made watches are due this autumn.
The new Mijia gimbal provides 3-axis stabilization and can charge the battery of the attached device.
YouTuber George Tomlin explains the concept of sub-framing and details how you can use it to take not only make the composition more interesting, but also provide context for the scene you're shooting.
British photographer Drew Gardner tells us how his gigapixel image of the queen's birthday parade came together.