My Nikon D850 review after 5 years of ownership

May 17, 2023
Nikon D850 Review

My Nikon D850 review after 5 years of ownership - Will I be switching to the new Z8?

As a photographer, being comfortable, confident and happy with your camera is critical to capturing amazing photos. Let’s face it. If your camera lets you down when it comes to getting the shot you’ll spend more time worrying about your gear than getting the shot, although I am a great believer that it doesn't matter what camera you have, having a camera you’re happy with will give you confidence out in the field, and the Nikon D850 does that for me.

In my five years of owning and shooting with the Nikon D850, I have had countless wonderful experiences out in the field. Nikon has really packed a lot into this powerhouse yet user-friendly camera body. It has been said that this is one of, if not the best DSLR ever made. So you would have to ask yourself, is it better to save several thousand and get a D850 or jump into the world of mirrorless and grab the Nikon Z8?

Introducing the Nikon D850 and why I chose it for my photography

As a landscape photographer, the Nikon D850 has been a game-changer for me. Its impressive dynamic range captures the subtleties of light and shadow in a way I never thought possible. Despite its advanced features, the camera is surprisingly easy to navigate and use. And while the debate between DSLRs versus mirrorless was there at the time of release, and continues to rage on, I personally chose the D850 for its versatile capabilities and unparalleled image quality.

Why Nikon? I had no reason except that my Dad had a Nikon f301, and it was a familiar brand (plus I could borrow his lenses). When I bought my first SLR it was an easy choice, and from that point on I have remained an avid Nikon user. Although I have strayed to Fuji and dabbled with Canon, I am a Nikon lad through and through.

Why I don't care too much about specs and features

With plenty of specs and features readily available on the internet I won't be diving into that detail here, it can be tempting to get caught up in the latest and greatest technology, comparing stats as if a few megapixels or number of frames per second is going to make that big a difference.

I still revisit images taken on my D70, D300 and D700 from the past and love what I was able to capture, sure, I have upgraded progressively from those models to the D800, then the D810 and now the D850. But something happened when I got the D850, it was like I found ‘my camera’.

I have been tempted by the Z series cameras, and even had the Fuji GFX series on loan from Fuji for several weeks (I nearly bought a GFX 50R). But the D850 is the only camera I have not felt like switching out, at least for now. As a quick disclaimer, I have not held or seen the Nikon Z8 in the flesh, it may win my heart when I do.

However, As a self-proclaimed tech enthusiast, I've learned that it's not all about the numbers and stats. It's about how a device or piece of technology makes you feel. Does it make your job easier? Does it give you confidence? Does it meet your needs and expectations? These are the important questions I consider.

Sometimes, a device with fewer specs can actually provide a better experience than one with all the bells and whistles. I own several film cameras, and I absolutely love shooting with them. Ultimately, it's about finding the right fit for your unique needs and preferences.

My favourite aspects of the Nikon D850 and why I love using it

Did you see what I did there? I said aspects… as in plural. Because, as a photography enthusiast, there are several reasons why I love using the Nikon D850. I wouldn't be able to give you just one!

If I was pushed to narrow down my favourite aspects to just one or two, I would have to say one of my favourite aspects is the live view feature, which allows me to see exactly what I am capturing in real time. This has been especially helpful when trying to get the perfect angle or shot (not to mention my slowly deteriorating eyesight). I hardly use the optical viewfinder on my Nikon D850 for landscape photography. I find that the live view allows me to really nail my focus, and compose my shot with much more confidence.

In addition, the camera feels great in my hands, it’s a nice size providing both comfort and stability. Having used this camera for many years, it has become familiar to me and I have come to depend on its reliability. Overall, this has helped me to make some amazing images.

Durability over time - how it has held up after 5 years of use

When it comes to any product, durability is key, and that's no different for electronics. After five years of use, you may wonder if a product still holds up against the elements and accidental mishaps. My D850 has been knocked about, caught in the weather, and exposed to the likes of dust, water, snow, and rain. Heck, I have rinsed it off in the kitchen sink after I was sprayed with salt water shooting a seascape.

It's no easy feat to claim the title of "durable," but those products that are able to keep standing after all those challenges are worth their weight in gold. They're the ones that are truly dependable and can be counted on when it counts most. The D850 has not let me down, not once, and I have taken well over 100,000 images.

Pros and cons compared to other cameras in its class

I wish I could give you some really intelligent results from field tests I have conducted, or surveys with hundreds of DSLR owners, because like you when it comes to investing in a new camera, I like to weigh the pros and cons compared to other cameras.

I guess not feeling the need to compare it to other cameras is an endorsement on its own.
One potential positive is the D850’s image quality - it produces sharp, clear, vibrant shots with lots of detail and dynamic range.

However, the camera's size and weight may be a factor in your decision, the D850 is not the smallest or lightest. Mirrorless certainly wins the weight battle, if anything will tempt me to change to the Z8, it will be the reduction of weight. Travelling on airlines is a real pain, I have to be extremely careful as to what and how I pack my gear, just in case they want to weigh my carry-on luggage and I have to check something in.

Maybe you want the array of available lenses? The Nikon F mount has been around for decades, and as the masses switch to the Z series means you can grab a real bargain when it comes to filling your camera bag up with glass.

On the other hand, maybe the purchase price is a major factor for you. You could buy two Nikon D850 cameras for the price of one Nikon Z8 camera as I write this!

It's worth considering both the advantages and disadvantages of each camera before making your final decision. After all, you want to ensure you get the most bang for your buck!

Final thoughts & verdict on whether I would recommend the Nikon D850 or not

After five years of use, the Nikon D850 has demonstrated reliable performance and continues to impress me. It does everything I need from a DSLR and more. The impressive autofocus system helps capture sharp images quickly, while the variable angle touch screen makes it easy for me to see what I am shooting on the Live view, I can easily zoom in with a double tap and adjust settings easily too.

I also love the tactile feel of the controls all being easy to see, find and use.
Overall, I highly recommend the Nikon D850. If you’re looking to upgrade from a previous model or this is your first full-frame camera, I would definitely look at the D850 as a serious contender.
It has been an incredible asset to my photography journey and has enabled me to capture some amazing shots over the years!

Will I upgrade to the Nikon Z8? Time will tell.


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