In Part 2 of the Basic Performance series that looks into the capabilities of the D850 through actual shots, I will focus on the well-received features of the D850 that offer more realistic depiction and broadens the scope of photographic expression, including the new white balance feature, native range up to ISO 25600, as well as the Focus Shift feature. (Text by Toshiya Hagihara)
D850/ AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II/ FL: 185mm/ Aperture-priority Auto (f/8, 1/3sec, EV -0.3)/ ISO 400
D850/ AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR/ FL: 50mm/ Aperture-priority Auto (f/8, 1/20sec, EV -1)/ ISO 100
One of the features that are introduced for the first time on the D850 is the Natural Light Auto white balance feature. The conventional Auto White Balance feature determines the type of scene based on all the light sources present in the image. Because of this reason, if a colour such as orange occupies a large part of the composition in a landscape image, the camera may erroneously detect it as an environment that is illuminated by incandescent light and emphasise the blue tone as a result.
In comparison, the new Natural Light Auto feature on the D850 detects only natural light and not artificial light sources so as to obtain the optimal colour under natural light. For scenes such as autumn leaves and evening views, in particular, the orange colour will appear more vivid with this feature.
If we compare the test shots, we can also tell that the colours of the Natural Light Auto image are closer to what we see through our eyes than those of the “Auto 1” image. When photographing a landscape, I would recommend using Natural Light Auto over Direct Sunlight.
D850/ AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II/ FL: 98mm/ Aperture-priority Auto (f/5.6, 1/5sec, EV -1.7)/ ISO 3200/ WB: Direct sunlight
The native ISO speed range of the D850 is from ISO 64 to ISO 25600, which is further expandable by one stop from the lower ISO speed limit (equivalent to ISO 32) and two stops from the upper ISO speed limit (equivalent to ISO 102400). Compared to that of the D810 (ISO 64 to ISO 12800), the ISO sensitivity range of the D850 is higher by one stop at the high ISO sensitivity end.
If we compare the enlarged portions of the shots taken by the two cameras, the D850 clearly outperforms the D810 in the high ISO sensitivity range starting from ISO 6400. Not only are the images produced by the D850 clearer in quality with very little noise, we can also tell that the resolving power is extremely high.
D850/ AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR/ FL: 165mm/ Aperture-priority Auto (f/8, 1/80sec, EV+0.3)/ ISO 200/ WB: Cloudy/ 12 shots combined
D850/ AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR/ FL: 165mm/ Aperture-priority Auto (f/11, 1/60sec, EV+0.3)/ ISO 200/ WB: Cloudy
D850/ AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR/ FL: 165mm/ Aperture-priority Auto (f/22, 1/15sec, EV+0.3)/ ISO 200/ WB: Cloudy
To produce a sharp image of a landscape scene with depth, it is necessary to narrow the aperture substantially. However, choosing a small aperture such as f/22 causes the apparent resolution to deteriorate due to diffraction, thus resulting in an image that lacks sharpness. The feature that fundamentally addresses this problem is Focus Shift, which allows continuous shots to be taken automatically while varying the focusing point. It can be employed to produce images for focus stacking using a third-party software.
In the Focus Shift example, f/8 is selected. The final image is produced by combining 12 shots of the landscape from the near end to the far end using third-party software. It was impossible to achieve deep focus when shooting at f/11, and narrowing the aperture further to f/22 will result in loss of sharpness due to diffraction aberration.