Nikon D5 vs D850
The Nikon D5 and the Nikon D850 are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2016 and July 2017. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The D5 has a resolution of 20.7 megapixels, whereas the D850 provides 45.4 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their sensors, their features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
|Nikon D5||Nikon D850|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|20.7 MP, Full Frame Sensor||45.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 100-102400 (50-3280000)||ISO 64-25600 (32-102400)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.2" LCD, 2359k dots||3.2" LCD, 2359k dots|
|Fixed touchscreen||Tilting touchscreen|
|14 shutter flaps per second||9 shutter flaps per second|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|3780 shots per battery charge||1840 shots per battery charge|
|160 x 159 x 92 mm, 1415 g||146 x 124 x 79 mm, 1005 g|
Body comparison: Nikon D5 vs D850
The physical size and weight of the Nikon D5 and the Nikon D850 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the D5 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
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 smaller (29 percent) than the Nikon D5. Moreover, the D850 is markedly lighter (29 percent) than the D5. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the D5 gets 3780 shots out of its EN-EL18a battery, while the D850 can take 1840 images on a single charge of its EN-EL15a power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D5 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the D850, Nikon provides the MB-D18 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Nikon D5»||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D850«||146 mm||124 mm||79 mm||1005 g||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299||Nikon D850|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 5DS« »||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699||Canon 5DS|
|Leica SL« »||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450||Leica SL|
|Nikon D7500« »||136 mm||104 mm||73 mm||720 g||950||Y||Apr 2017||1,299||Nikon D7500|
|Nikon D500« »||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999||Nikon D500|
|Nikon D7200« »||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||1110||Y||Mar 2015||1,199||-||Nikon D7200|
|Nikon D4S« »||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499||-||Nikon D4S|
|Nikon D750« »||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299||Nikon D750|
|Nikon D810« »||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299||-||Nikon D810|
|Nikon D610« »||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999||Nikon D610|
|Nikon D4« »||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999||-||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D800« »||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999||-||Nikon D800|
|Nikon D800E« »||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299||-||Nikon D800E|
|Nikon D3X« »||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999||-||Nikon D3X|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The D850 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 49 percent) than the D5, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
Sensor comparison: Nikon D5 vs D850
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the D850 offers a higher resolution of 45.4 megapixels, compared with 20.7 MP of the D5. This megapixels advantage translates into a 48 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the D850 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.35μm versus 6.44μm for the D5). However, it should be noted that the D850 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 6 months) than the D5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size. 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.
The Nikon D5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 102400, which can be extended to ISO 50-3280000. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D850 are ISO 64 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 32-102400..
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D850 offers substantially better image quality than the D5 (overall score 12 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.3 bits higher color depth, 2.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Nikon D5»||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D850«||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100||Nikon D850|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 5DS« »||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/60p||24.7||12.4||2381||87||Canon 5DS|
|Leica SL« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88||Leica SL|
|Nikon D7500« »||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.3||14.0||1483||86||Nikon D7500|
|Nikon D500« »||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.0||14.0||1324||83||Nikon D500|
|Nikon D7200« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.5||14.6||1333||87||Nikon D7200|
|Nikon D4S« »||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89||Nikon D4S|
|Nikon D750« »||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93||Nikon D750|
|Nikon D810« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97||Nikon D810|
|Nikon D610« »||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94||Nikon D610|
|Nikon D4« »||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D800« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95||Nikon D800|
|Nikon D800E« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96||Nikon D800E|
|Nikon D3X« »||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||-||24.7||13.7||1992||88||Nikon D3X|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).
Feature comparison: Nikon D5 vs D850
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D5 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 Nikon D5 and Nikon D850 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Nikon D5»||optical||Y||3.2||2359||fixed||Y||8000||14.0||n||n||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D850«||optical||Y||3.2||2359||tilting||Y||8000||9.0||n||n||Nikon D850|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||8000||16.0||n||n||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||8000||7.0||n||n||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 5DS« »||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||8000||5.0||n||n||Canon 5DS|
|Leica SL« »||4400||Y||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||8000||11.0||n||n||Leica SL|
|Nikon D7500« »||optical||Y||3.2||922||tilting||Y||8000||8.0||Y||n||Nikon D7500|
|Nikon D500« »||optical||Y||3.2||2359||tilting||Y||8000||10.0||n||n||Nikon D500|
|Nikon D7200« »||optical||Y||3.2||1229||fixed||n||8000||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D7200|
|Nikon D4S« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||8000||11.0||n||n||Nikon D4S|
|Nikon D750« »||optical||Y||3.2||1229||tilting||n||4000||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D750|
|Nikon D810« »||optical||Y||3.2||1229||fixed||n||8000||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D810|
|Nikon D610« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||4000||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D610|
|Nikon D4« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||8000||11.0||n||n||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D800« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||8000||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D800|
|Nikon D800E« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||8000||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D800E|
|Nikon D3X« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||8000||5.0||n||n||Nikon D3X|
The D5 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or XQD cards, while the D850 uses SDHC or XQD cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
Connectivity comparison: Nikon D5 vs D850
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D5 and Nikon D850 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Nikon D5»||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D850«||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y||Nikon D850|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 5DS« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Canon 5DS|
|Leica SL« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||full||3.0||Y||-||-||Leica SL|
|Nikon D7500« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||Y||Nikon D7500|
|Nikon D500« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y||Nikon D500|
|Nikon D7200« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Nikon D7200|
|Nikon D4S« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D4S|
|Nikon D750« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Nikon D750|
|Nikon D810« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-||Nikon D810|
|Nikon D610« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D610|
|Nikon D4« »||Y||mono||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D800« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Nikon D800|
|Nikon D800E« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Nikon D800E|
|Nikon D3X« »||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3X|
It is notable that the D850 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D5 does not offer wifi capability.
Both the D5 and the D850 are recent models that feature in their makers' current product line-up. The D5 replaced the earlier Nikon D4S, while the D850 followed on from the Nikon D810.
Review summary: Nikon D5 vs D850
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D5 and the Nikon D850? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Nikon D5:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (3780 versus 1840) on a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2016).
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D850:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (45.4 vs 20.7MP), which boosts linear resolution by 48%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (12 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.5 EV of extra DR).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More compact: Is smaller (146x124mm vs 160x159mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 410g or 29 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built 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.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (49 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 6 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D850 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 5 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D5 or the D850. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
Expert reviews: Nikon D5 vs D850
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Nikon D5»||-||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D850«||HiRec||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299||Nikon D850|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||-||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||HiRec||87/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 5DS« »||Rec||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699||Canon 5DS|
|Leica SL« »||-||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450||Leica SL|
|Nikon D7500« »||HiRec||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2017||1,299||Nikon D7500|
|Nikon D500« »||HiRec||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999||Nikon D500|
|Nikon D7200« »||HiRec||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2015||1,199||-||Nikon D7200|
|Nikon D4S« »||-||-||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499||-||Nikon D4S|
|Nikon D750« »||HiRec||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299||Nikon D750|
|Nikon D810« »||-||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299||-||Nikon D810|
|Nikon D610« »||HiRec||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999||Nikon D610|
|Nikon D4« »||-||-||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999||-||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D800« »||HiRec||82/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999||-||Nikon D800|
|Nikon D800E« »||-||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299||-||Nikon D800E|
|Nikon D3X« »||-||86/100||4/5||5/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999||-||Nikon D3X|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 2000D vs Nikon D70
- Canon D30 vs Fujifilm X-E2S
- Canon G1 X Mark III vs Canon SX60
- Canon G9 X Mark II vs Panasonic ZS100
- Canon T7i vs Canon T5
- Leica Q Typ 116 vs Sony A5000
- Nikon D3400 vs Nikon D5000
- Nikon D7200 vs Panasonic G7
- Panasonic G7 vs Canon XC10
- Panasonic G7 vs Fujifilm X-T2
- Pentax KP vs Panasonic G80
- Sony A7 III vs Leica Q Typ 116
Specifications: Nikon D5 vs Nikon D850
|Camera Model||Nikon D5||Nikon D850|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2016||July 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 6499||USD 3299|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 23.9 mm||35.9 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||858.01 mm2||858.01 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.1 mm||43.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.7 Megapixels||45.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5588 x 3712 pixels||8256 x 5504 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.44 μm||4.35 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.42 MP/cm2||5.30 MP/cm2|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100-102400 ISO||64-25600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50-3280000 ISO||32-102400 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 5||EXPEED 5|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2 inch||3.2 inch|
|LCD Resolution||2359k dots||2359k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||14 shutter flaps/s||9 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XQD cards||SDXC or XQD cards|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Type||EN-EL18a power pack||EN-EL15a power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||3780 shots per charge||1840 shots per charge|
160 x 159 x 92 mm
(6.3 x 6.3 x 3.6 in)
146 x 124 x 79 mm
(5.7 x 4.9 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||1415 g (49.9 oz)||1005 g (35.5 oz)|
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