Nikon D850 vs D5
The Nikon D850 and the Nikon D5 are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in July 2017 and January 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The D850 has a resolution of 45.4 megapixels, whereas the D5 provides 20.7 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 D850||Nikon D5|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|45.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor||20.7 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 64-25600 (32-102400)||ISO 100-102400 (50-3280000)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.2" LCD, 2359k dots||3.2" LCD, 2359k dots|
|Tilting touchscreen||Fixed touchscreen|
|9 shutter flaps per second||14 shutter flaps per second|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|1840 shots per battery charge||3780 shots per battery charge|
|146 x 124 x 79 mm, 1005 g||160 x 159 x 92 mm, 1415 g|
Body comparison: Nikon D850 vs D5
The physical size and weight of the Nikon D850 and the Nikon D5 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth 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 D850 – represents the basis or 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 D5 is notably larger (41 percent) than the Nikon D850. Moreover, the D5 is substantially heavier (41 percent) than the D850. 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 D850 gets 1840 shots out of its EN-EL15a battery, while the D5 can take 3780 images on a single charge of its EN-EL18a 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 D850»||5.7 in||4.9 in||3.1 in||35.5 oz||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D5«||6.3 in||6.3 in||3.6 in||49.9 oz||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499||Nikon D5|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.0 oz||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5DS« »||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699||Canon 5DS|
|Canon 5DS R« »||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699||Canon 5DS R|
|Nikon D4S« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.6 oz||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499||-||Nikon D4S|
|Nikon D750« »||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||26.5 oz||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299||Nikon D750|
|Nikon D810« »||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||34.6 oz||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299||-||Nikon D810|
|Nikon Df« »||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.6 in||26.8 oz||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749||Nikon Df|
|Nikon D610« »||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.2 in||30.0 oz||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999||Nikon D610|
|Nikon D600« »||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.2 in||30.0 oz||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099||-||Nikon D600|
|Nikon D800« »||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||35.3 oz||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999||-||Nikon D800|
|Nikon D800E« »||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||35.3 oz||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299||-||Nikon D800E|
|Sony A99 II« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199||Sony A99 II|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. 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.
Sensor comparison: Nikon D850 vs D5
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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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). In this context, it should be noted, however, 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 D850 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 64 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 32-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D5 are ISO 100 to ISO 102400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-3280000..
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 review, the D850 provides substantially higher image quality than the D5, with an overall score that is 12 points higher. This 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Nikon D850»||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D5«||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88||Nikon D5|
|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 5DS« »||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/60p||24.7||12.4||2381||87||Canon 5DS|
|Canon 5DS R« »||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/60p||24.6||12.4||2308||86||Canon 5DS R|
|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 Df« »||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||-||24.6||13.1||3279||89||Nikon Df|
|Nikon D610« »||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94||Nikon D610|
|Nikon D600« »||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94||Nikon D600|
|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|
|Sony A99 II« »||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92||Sony A99 II|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).
Feature comparison: Nikon D850 vs D5
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D850 and the D5 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D850, the Nikon D5, and comparable cameras.
|Nikon D850»||optical||Y||3.2||2359||tilting||Y||8000||9.0||n||n||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D5«||optical||Y||3.2||2359||fixed||Y||8000||14.0||n||n||Nikon D5|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||8000||16.0||n||n||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5DS« »||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||8000||5.0||n||n||Canon 5DS|
|Canon 5DS R« »||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||8000||5.0||n||n||Canon 5DS R|
|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 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 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|
|Sony A99 II« »||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||8000||12.0||n||Y||Sony A99 II|
The D850 writes its imaging data to SDHC or XQD cards, while the D5 uses Compact Flash or XQD cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
Connectivity comparison: Nikon D850 vs D5
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 D850 and Nikon D5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Nikon D850»||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D5«||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Nikon D5|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5DS« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Canon 5DS|
|Canon 5DS R« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Canon 5DS R|
|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 Df« »||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon Df|
|Nikon D610« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D610|
|Nikon D600« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D600|
|Nikon D800« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Nikon D800|
|Nikon D800E« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Nikon D800E|
|Sony A99 II« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony A99 II|
It is notable that the D850 offers wifi support, while the D5 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Both the D850 and the D5 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 D850 vs D5
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D850 or the Nikon D5 – has the upper hand? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D850:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (45.4 vs 20.7MP) with a 48% higher linear resolution.
- 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 assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum 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 thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 410g or 29 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- 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: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 6 months after the D5).
Reasons to prefer 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: Gets more shots (3780 versus 1840) out of a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2016).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D850 is the clear winner of the match-up (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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D850 or the D5 handle or perform in practice. 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 D850 vs D5
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Nikon D850»||HiRec||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D5«||-||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499||Nikon D5|
|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 5DS« »||Rec||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699||Canon 5DS|
|Canon 5DS R« »||Rec||83/100||5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699||Canon 5DS R|
|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 Df« »||-||81/100||4/5||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749||Nikon Df|
|Nikon D610« »||HiRec||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999||Nikon D610|
|Nikon D600« »||HiRec||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099||-||Nikon D600|
|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|
|Sony A99 II« »||-||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199||Sony A99 II|
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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu 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.
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- Fujifilm X100S vs Panasonic GF1
- Leica M Typ 240 vs Panasonic GF1
- Nikon D3500 vs Sony A9
- Nikon D610 vs Canon 40D
- Nikon Z6 vs Sony A7S II
- Olympus E-PL9 vs Panasonic FZ2000
- Panasonic ZS70 vs Canon G9 X Mark II
Specifications: Nikon D850 vs Nikon D5
|Camera Model||Nikon D850||Nikon D5|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2017||January 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 3299||USD 6499|
|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||45.4 Megapixels||20.7 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||8256 x 5504 pixels||5588 x 3712 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.35 μm||6.44 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.30 MP/cm2||2.42 MP/cm2|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||64-25600 ISO||100-102400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||32-102400 ISO||50-3280000 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||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||9 shutter flaps/s||14 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC or XQD cards||CF 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||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Type||EN-EL15a power pack||EN-EL18a power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1840 shots per charge||3780 shots per charge|
146 x 124 x 79 mm
(5.7 x 4.9 x 3.1 in)
160 x 159 x 92 mm
(6.3 x 6.3 x 3.6 in)
|Camera Weight||1005 g (35.5 oz)||1415 g (49.9 oz)|
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