From Hot to Not

Ah, the Internet. First, new tech on announcement gets the pile-on-hype effect, where the product can do no wrong. Eventually the product gets shipped and the measurebators get all upset when their expectations of fantastical, imagined gains aren't met. 

The D850 has gone from Hot to Not in less than two months. At least if we're to believe the Internet. In particular, two things seem to have dulled the enthusiasm, with a third pushing those on the fence off. 

  1. It doesn't have the D5 Autofocus. This all seems to stem from one test done with what appears to be 3D Tracking. I'm still testing, so I can't say anything definitive at the moment. I suspect that there are subtle changes due to the differing viewfinder blackout times of the D5 and D850. But as many of you know, I've been pushing the D850 into areas you wouldn't normally expect it to be, such as sidelines sports. I can tell you that it works perfectly fine, though you may need to pay some attention to your settings and adjust accordingly.
  2. It's not a stop better than the D810. In actual measurements, I'd say that is completely true. But it also wasn't something I was expecting to be true. We don't have that big a generational gain in sensors any more. But there's more to this than just a measurement. Let me describe it this way: same shot, same situation, same settings, in every case I've preferred the D850 files to the D810 files. Every case. It's a subtle thing, and I'm not sure that I can yet ascribe it to a specific change Nikon made. I'm still digging (thanks Iliah, for RawDigger). But the difference is there, though small enough that some might miss it. But then again, I now have 45mp instead of 36mp and I've got a small gain? How can I not like that?
  3. Nikon's greedy. The third item tends to be something to do with the features. The lack of built-in flash. The absurd cost of gaining 2 fps. The second slot being SD. The power-hungry and still broken SnapBridge. Yeah, I hear you. These things can be disappointments on a US$3300 camera. 

Ironically, the more I shoot with the D850, the more I like it and the hotter I get about it. Exactly the opposite of the Internet. 

I think the conclusion in my review of the D850 is going to be very similar to my conclusion about the D810. On paper and in actual measured testing, it doesn't seem like the bar has been moved all that much (D800->D810, or D810->D850). In reality, the sum of the parts add up to a far better experience in doing the things that you want the camera to do. Moreover, the camera now does more things than it used to. For example, the D850 is more than a passable pro DX camera, it's nearly equivalent to the D500 with only frame rate being lower. The D810 wasn't quite that. 

I'm nearly prepared to say that Nikon has done the right thing by the D850 iteration: they've now iterated the best all-around camera you could get twice, and in both iterations they've moved the bar considerably forward. Which is going to keep it at the top of my best all-around camera list. 

This camera should still be hot. Don't believe everything the dogs are writing on the Internet.

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