Nikon D850 vs Sony RX10
The Nikon D850 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in July 2017 and October 2013. The D850 is a DSLR, while the RX10 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a full frame (D850) and an one-inch (RX10) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 45.4 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 20 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D850 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Nikon D850 and the Sony RX10 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX10 is considerably smaller (37 percent) than the Nikon 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 and possibly misleading, as the RX10 has a lens built in, whereas the D850 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the D850 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the D850 gets 1840 shots out of its EN-EL15a battery, while the RX10 can take 420 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the RX10 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D850||146 mm||124 mm||79 mm||1005 g||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|2.||Sony RX10||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||420||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|4.||Canon 80D||139 mm||105 mm||79 mm||730 g||960||Y||Feb 2016||1,199|
|5.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|6.||Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|7.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|8.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|9.||Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|10.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|11.||Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|12.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|13.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|14.||Nikon D800||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999|
|15.||Nikon D800E||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299|
|16.||Sony RX10 III||133 mm||94 mm||127 mm||1051 g||420||Y||Mar 2016||1,499|
|17.||Sony RX10 II||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||400||Y||Jun 2015||1,299|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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 RX10 was launched at a lower price than the D850, despite having a lens built in. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D850 features a full frame sensor and the Sony RX10 an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX10 is 86 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.7. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around BSI-CMOS sensors.
With 45.4MP, the D850 offers a higher resolution than the RX10 (20MP), but the D850 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.35μm versus 2.41μm for the RX10) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D850 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 9 months) than the RX10, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. 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 resolution advantage of the Nikon D850 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D850 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 41.3 x 27.5 inches or 104.9 x 69.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 33 x 22 inches or 83.9 x 55.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 27.5 x 18.3 inches or 69.9 x 46.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony RX10 are 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm for good quality, 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm for very good quality, and 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 are ISO 125 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-25600.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 review, the D850 provides substantially higher image quality than the RX10, with an overall score that is 31 points higher. This advantage is based on 3.5 bits higher color depth, 2.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.5 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.
| DXO |
|1.||Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|5.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|6.||Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|8.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|10.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|12.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|13.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|14.||Nikon D800||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|15.||Nikon D800E||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
|16.||Sony RX10 III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.1||12.6||472||70|
|17.||Sony RX10 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.0||12.6||531||70|
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, but the D850 provides a higher video resolution than the RX10. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the RX10 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), while the D850 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the D850 has a higher magnification than the one of the RX10 (0.75x vs 0.70x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D850, the Sony RX10, and comparable cameras.
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n|
|6.||Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|16.||Sony RX10 III||2359||Y||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||14.0||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony RX10 II||2359||Y||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/3200s||14.0||Y||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The D850 has a touchscreen, while the RX10 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The Nikon D850 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The D850 writes its imaging data to SDHC or XQD cards, while the RX10 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The D850 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the RX10 only has one slot. The D850 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the RX10 can use UHS-I cards (up to 104 MB/s).
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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony RX10 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony RX10 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D850 (unlike the RX10) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The D850 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the RX10 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the RX10 was succeeded by the Sony RX10 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Sony websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D850 and the Sony RX10? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D850:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (45.4 vs 20MP) with a 51% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (31 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (3.5 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (2.2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (2.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.75x vs 0.70x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 1229k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/3200s) to freeze action.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1840 versus 420) on a single battery charge.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 9 months of technical progress since the RX10 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D850 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (129x88mm vs 146x124mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the D850).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in October 2013).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D850 is the clear winner of the match-up (22 : 10 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. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D850 and the Sony RX10 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Travel-Zoom Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D850 and the RX10 in practical situations. 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.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Nikon D850||4.5/5||+ +||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|2.||Sony RX10||5/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||4.5/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|4.||Canon 80D||4/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||1,199|
|5.||Canon 5DS||..||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|6.||Canon 5DS R||5/5||+||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|7.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|8.||Nikon D5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|9.||Nikon D500||5/5||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|10.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|11.||Nikon D7100||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|12.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|13.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|14.||Nikon D800||5/5||+ +||82/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999|
|15.||Nikon D800E||..||..||84/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299|
|16.||Sony RX10 III||5/5||+||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2016||1,499|
|17.||Sony RX10 II||5/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||1,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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 make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Nikon D850 vs Sony RX10
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon D850||Sony RX10|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||24-200mm f/2.8|
|Launch Date||July 2017||October 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 3,299||USD 1,299|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D850||Sony RX10|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||1" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 23.9 mm||13.2 x 8.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||858.01 mm2||116.16 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.1 mm||15.9 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||45.4 Megapixels||20 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||8256 x 5504 pixels||5472 x 3648 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.35 μm||2.41 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.30 MP/cm2||17.18 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||64 - 25,600 ISO||125 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||32 - 102,400 ISO||80 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 5||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||100||69|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||26.4||22.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.8||12.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2660||474|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D850||Sony RX10|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||2359k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D850||Sony RX10|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/3200s|
|Continuous Shooting||9 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC or XQD cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-II||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D850||Sony RX10|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Nikon D850||Sony RX10|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1840 shots per charge||420 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
146 x 124 x 79 mm
(5.7 x 4.9 x 3.1 in)
129 x 88 x 102 mm
(5.1 x 3.5 x 4.0 in)
|Camera Weight||1005 g (35.5 oz)||813 g (28.7 oz)|
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