Nikon D810 vs Nikon D850: For Filmmakers and Still Photographers

Nikon has slowly been upping their game for DSLR video shooting over the last 10 years or so, and the D800 series has played a big role in that evolution.  Until the D750 came along, it was the least expensive full-frame series that has strong video capabilities and crazy resolution for still photography.

Nikon D810 vs Nikon D850: An Upgrade

The Nikon D850 is an upgraded camera model with superior specs compared to the D810. For starters, the Nikon D850 (45.7 MP) is almost 12 MP higher than Nikon D810 (36MP). However, many photographers would suggest that even 36 MP is plenty of resolution.  Also, dealing with even larger file sizes of the D850 raw images should be a consideration if you’re using a slower computer for editing or have limited storage.

BSI CMOS Sensor of D850

The real new introduction is the BSI CMOS Sensor in the Nikon D850. The technology moves the sensor circuitry to the back of the sensor, reducing the noise and improving low-light performance.  The D850 comes with a faster processor, the EXPEED 5, which can also increase quality.

The sensor in D810 is the same CMOS Sensor as in its predecessors – the EXPEED 4.  Note: If you’re shooting RAW, you’re recording an unprocessed image, so there will be no change in quality.  However, the burst rate for still photos is considerably faster.   The D850 is 7 FPS, compared to the 5 FPS max of the D810.

Nikon for Filmmakers – 4K is introduced

Nikon D810 vs Nikon D850Nikon D810 offers a 1920 x 1080 video resolution at a frame rate up to 60 frames per second.  It also offers time-lapse video support at the same maximum resolution. Nikon D810 is very functional for shooting video, with its monitoring and audio capabilities – plus a headphone jack.

Nikon D850 is the first DSLR in Nikon family to introduce 4K video capability. The video resolution supported is 3840 x 2160, or double the resolution of FULL HD. It supports 24fps, 25fps, and 30fps at full resolution. It can shoot at 60fps at 1920 x 1080 resolution, and a slo-mo mode allows it to shoot at 120 FPS. Focus peaking and digital stabilization are available in FULL HD mode, but not at 4K mode. You can also extract 8MP photos from stills. There’s a feature of 8K time-lapse videos in the camera.

Nikon D810 vs Nikon D850 Final Thoughts

For a brand new camera, the $500 difference seems like a no-brainer: I’d get the D850, even if I didn’t need 4K video right now.   That said, there are used Nikon D810 models that are going for much less – between $1,500 and $2,000.  That makes the price difference double in some cases.  Plus, it seems like the D850 has been in short supply and may not be an option if you’re looking to buy today (check availability here).

If I was boot-strapping a new business, I’d get two Nikon D810s rather than a single D850.  But I’d get the D850 if the money wasn’t a concern.  It’s a hell of a camera.


Nikon D810 vs Nikon D850 – Current Sales Prices

Nikon D810 Price – Body Only: $2,799 (View Sale Price)
Nikon D810 Used – Body Only: $1,500 and up (View Current Market Prices)

Nikon D850 Price – Body Only: $3,299 (View Sale Price)
w/ 105mm Lens: $5,499 (View Sale Price)
w/ 200-500mm Lens: $4,699 (View Sale Price)
w/ 24-120mm Lens: $4,399 (View Sale Price)
w/ 24-70mm Lens: $5,699 (View Sale Price) (Recommended configuration*)
w/ 28mm Lens: $5,295 (View Sale Price)
w/ 8-15mm Lens: $4,549 (View Sale Price)

*We’re big fans of the Nikon 24-70 for video and photography – read more in the article, The Five Best Lenses for Nikon Videography. Or, TL:DR – It’s a high quality lens with a versatile zoom length and low (fast) aperture perfect for all kinds of video shooting.