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Canon 10D versus Nikon D850

The Canon EOS 10D and the Nikon D850 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2003 and July 2017. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (10D) and a full frame (D850) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 6.3 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 45.4 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 10D vs Nikon D850

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 10D and the Nikon D850. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 10D – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon 10D vs Nikon D850
Compare 10D versus D850 top
Compare 10D and D850 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D850 is notably larger (13 percent) than the Canon 10D. Moreover, the D850 is markedly heavier (18 percent) than the 10D. It is noteworthy in this context that the D850 is splash and dust-proof, while the 10D does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (10D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D850).

Concerning battery life, the 10D gets 500 shots out of its BP-511 battery, while the D850 can take 1840 images on a single charge of its EN-EL15a power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 10D» 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 500 n Feb 2003 1,999- i Canon 10D
Nikon D850« 5.7 in 4.9 in 3.1 in 35.5 oz 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 i i Nikon D850
Canon T5« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 16.9 oz 500 n Feb 2014 449- i Canon T5
Canon SL1« » 4.6 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 14.4 oz 380 n Mar 2013 549- i Canon SL1
Canon T4i« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.3 oz 440 n Jun 2012 849- i Canon T4i
Canon 7D« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699- i Canon 7D
Canon 40D« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
Canon 30D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
Canon 20D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 n Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
Canon Rebel« » 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
Canon D60« » 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.2 oz 620 n Feb 2002 2,999- i Canon D60
Nikon D810« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 34.6 oz 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299- i Nikon D810
Nikon Df« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.6 in 26.8 oz 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749 i i Nikon Df
Nikon D610« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610
Nikon D600« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i Nikon D600
Nikon D100« » 5.7 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 27.5 oz 370 n Feb 2002 1,999- i Nikon D100
Sony A99 II« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 29.9 oz 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The 10D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 39 percent) than the D850, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 10D vs Nikon D850

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 10D features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D850 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D850 is 150 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 10D and Nikon D850 sensor measures

With 45.4MP, the D850 offers a higher resolution than the 10D (6.3MP), but the D850 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.35μm versus 7.38μm for the 10D). Yet, the D850 is a much more recent model (by 14 years and 4 months) than the 10D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D850 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

10D versus D850 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the D850 offers substantially better image quality than the 10D (overall score 43 points higher). The advantage is based on 5.3 bits higher color depth, 3.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Canon 10D» APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.110.957157Canon 10D
Nikon D850« Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100Nikon D850
Canon T5« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463Canon T5
Canon SL1« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363Canon SL1
Canon T4i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262Canon T4i
Canon 7D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466Canon 7D
Canon 40D« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.370364Canon 40D
Canon 30D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.510.873659Canon 30D
Canon 20D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.911.072162Canon 20D
Canon Rebel« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.010.854455Canon Rebel
Canon D60« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-----Canon D60
Nikon D810« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397Nikon D810
Nikon Df« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280-24.613.1327989Nikon Df
Nikon D610« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594Nikon D610
Nikon D600« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.2298094Nikon D600
Nikon D100« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-----Nikon D100
Sony A99 II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792Sony A99 II

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D850 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 10D does not. The highest resolution format that the D850 can use is 4K/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 10D vs Nikon D850

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 10D and the D850 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 10D and Nikon D850 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon 10D»optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 10D
Nikon D850«optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 9.0 n n Nikon D850
Canon T5« »optical n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon T5
Canon SL1« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 4.9 Y n Canon SL1
Canon T4i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon T4i
Canon 7D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n Canon 7D
Canon 40D« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 6.5 Y n Canon 40D
Canon 30D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Canon 30D
Canon 20D« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Canon 20D
Canon Rebel« »optical n 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Canon Rebel
Canon D60« »optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon D60
Nikon D810« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Nikon D810
Nikon Df« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 5.5 n n Nikon Df
Nikon D610« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 6.0 Y n Nikon D610
Nikon D600« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.5 Y n Nikon D600
Nikon D100« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D100
Sony A99 II« »2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 12.0 n Y Sony A99 II

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 10D has one, while the D850 does not. While the build-in flash of the 10D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The 10D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D850 uses SDHC or XQD cards. The D850 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 10D only has one slot.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Canon 10D»Y-----1.1---Canon 10D
Nikon D850«YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYYNikon D850
Canon T5« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Canon T5
Canon SL1« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon SL1
Canon T4i« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon T4i
Canon 7D« »Ymono-Y-mini2.0---Canon 7D
Canon 40D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 40D
Canon 30D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 30D
Canon 20D« »Y-----1.1---Canon 20D
Canon Rebel« »Y-----1.1---Canon Rebel
Canon D60« »Y-----1.1---Canon D60
Nikon D810« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--Nikon D810
Nikon Df« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon Df
Nikon D610« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D610
Nikon D600« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D600
Nikon D100« »Y-----1.1---Nikon D100
Sony A99 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYYSony A99 II

The D850 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the 10D has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 10D was succeeded by the Canon 20D.

Review summary: Canon 10D vs Nikon D850

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon 10D better than the Nikon D850 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS 10D:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More compact: Is smaller (150x107mm vs 146x124mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 155g or 15 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (39 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2003).

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D850:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (45.4 vs 6.3MP), which boosts linear resolution by 169%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (43 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (5.3 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3.9 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.2 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 118k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1840 versus 500) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 1.1).
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Reflects 14 years and 4 months of technical progress since the 10D launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D850 is the clear winner of the contest (21 : 6 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

10D 06:21 D850

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 10D or the D850 handle or perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 10D»-HiRec-rev- Feb 2003 1,999- i Canon 10D
Nikon D850«HiRec89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 i i Nikon D850
Canon T5« »Rec-4/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449- i Canon T5
Canon SL1« »Rec78/1004/54/54/5 Mar 2013 549- i Canon SL1
Canon T4i« »HiRec77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849- i Canon T4i
Canon 7D« »HiRec84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699- i Canon 7D
Canon 40D« »HiRecHiRec4.5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
Canon 30D« »HiRecHiRecrevrev- Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
Canon 20D« »-HiRec-rev- Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
Canon Rebel« »-HiRec-rev- Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
Canon D60« »-HiRecrev-- Feb 2002 2,999- i Canon D60
Nikon D810« »-86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299- i Nikon D810
Nikon Df« »-81/1004/54/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749 i i Nikon Df
Nikon D610« »HiRec87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610
Nikon D600« »HiRec87/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i Nikon D600
Nikon D100« »-HiRecrevrev- Feb 2002 1,999- i Nikon D100
Sony A99 II« »-85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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