When it comes to high-end cameras for professional photographers, Nikon is a brand that is known for its exceptional quality and performance. Among the top contenders in Nikon’s camera lineup are the Nikon D850 and the Nikon Z7II, both of which offer advanced features and cutting-edge technology to cater to the needs of professional photographers. Packed with advanced features and cutting-edge specifications, these cameras offer an array of standout features that make them highly desirable for avid photographers.
In this article, we will dive deep into a detailed comparison of the specs and features of the Nikon D850 vs Z7II, two of Nikon’s flagship cameras, to help you make an informed decision based on your photography requirements.
Body and Design:
The Nikon D850 and Z7II both feature a robust and durable build quality with a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body that can withstand tough shooting conditions. The D850 follows the traditional DSLR design with a large optical viewfinder and a tilting 3.2-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 2,359k dots. On the other hand, the Z7II is a mirrorless camera with an electronic viewfinder (EVF) and a tilting 3.2-inch touchscreen LCD with a resolution of 2,100k dots. The Z7II also boasts a more compact and lightweight body compared to the D850, making it a more portable option for photographers on the go.
Resolution and Image Quality
In this aspect, both the Nikon D850 and Z7ii excel with their impressive resolution capabilities. The Nikon D850 boasts a remarkable 45.7-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor, while the Nikon Z7ii offers a slightly lower resolution of 45.7 megapixels. However, it’s worth noting that the difference in resolution is negligible in practical terms and won’t be noticeable in most shooting scenarios.
What truly sets the D850 apart is its back-illuminated sensor design, which allows for improved low-light performance and reduced noise levels. This makes the D850 an excellent choice for night photography, indoor shooting, or any situation where lighting conditions may be challenging. On the other hand, the Z7ii’s sensor also delivers exceptional image quality with excellent dynamic range, color accuracy, and detail rendition, making it a top contender for landscape, portrait, and general photography.
Autofocus and Speed
Both the Nikon D850 and Z7ii excel, offering highly advanced autofocus systems that ensure accurate and speedy focus acquisition.
- The D850 features a 153-point autofocus (AF) system with 99 cross-type sensors, covering a wide area of the frame. This advanced AF system is highly reliable and performs exceptionally well in various shooting conditions, including low light and fast-moving subjects. The D850 also boasts an impressive burst shooting speed of up to 9 frames per second (fps) in continuous high-speed mode, making it ideal for sports, wildlife, and action photography.
- On the other hand, the Z7ii features Nikon’s latest AF system with 493 phase-detection AF points, covering a wide area of the frame with remarkable precision. The Z7ii also offers an improved burst shooting speed of up to 10 fps in continuous high-speed mode, making it a suitable choice for capturing fast-moving subjects and action-packed moments.
Both cameras also offer excellent tracking performance for moving subjects, thanks to their advanced subject detection algorithms and sophisticated AF tracking capabilities. The D850 and Z7ii also feature Eye AF technology, which enables precise and quick autofocus on subjects’ eyes, making them ideal for portrait and wildlife photography.
Continuous Shooting Speed and Buffer Capacity:
The D850 and Z7II both offer impressive continuous shooting capabilities. The D850 can shoot at a blazing-fast speed of up to 9 frames per second (fps) with the optional battery grip, and has a generous buffer capacity of up to 51 frames in 14-bit lossless compressed RAW format. The Z7II, on the other hand, offers a maximum shooting speed of up to 10 fps with the optional battery grip, and has a buffer capacity of up to 77 frames in 12-bit RAW format. This makes the Z7II a better option for fast-paced action photography, where capturing a high number of frames per second can be critical to getting the perfect shot.
In this aspect, the Nikon Z7ii has a notable advantage over the D850, as it features in-body image stabilization (IBIS) with up to 5-axis vibration reduction (VR). This means that the Z7ii compensates for camera shake by stabilizing the sensor, allowing for sharper images even in challenging shooting situations.
D850 does not have in-body image stabilization. However, it is important to note that Nikon lenses with VR (vibration reduction) can be used with the D850, which provides optical image stabilization. So, while the D850 may not have IBIS, it still offers image stabilization through compatible lenses.
Lens Compatibility and Ergonomics
The D850 is a DSLR camera, which means it uses the traditional optical viewfinder and has a mirror that flips up and down to capture an image. It has a Nikon F-mount, which is compatible with a vast range of Nikon lenses, including older AF and AF-D lenses. This makes the D850 a versatile choice for photographers who already have a collection of Nikon lenses.
Z7ii is a mirrorless camera that uses an electronic viewfinder (EVF) and has a Nikon Z-mount, which is a newer mount designed specifically for Nikon mirrorless cameras. While the Z-mount has a shorter flange distance, allowing for more compact lens design and potentially better optical performance, it also means that older F-mount lenses would require an adapter to be used with the Z7ii.
In terms of ergonomics, both the D850 and Z7ii offer excellent handling and durability, as they are built to withstand the rigors of professional use. The D850 features a traditional DSLR design with a robust body, well-placed buttons, and a large optical viewfinder, providing a familiar and comfortable shooting experience for DSLR users. On the other hand, the Z7ii has a sleek and modern design with a smaller body size and a high-resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF) that offers a real-time preview of the image. The Z7ii also has a tilting touchscreen LCD, which can be useful for shooting at various angles and navigating through menus.
Both cameras also offer weather-sealing, ensuring durability and protection against dust and moisture, making them suitable for outdoor and challenging shooting conditions. However, it’s worth noting that the Z7ii has a slight advantage in terms of weather-sealing, as it features additional sealing around the lens mount, making it even more resistant to environmental elements.
The Nikon D850 and Z7II both offer impressive video capabilities, making them suitable options for videographers as well. The D850 can record 4K UHD video at up to 30fps, and offers options for slow-motion and time-lapse video recording. It also has an external microphone jack for better audio recording. On the other hand, the Z7II offers 4K UHD video recording at up to 60fps, and also offers options for slow-motion and time-lapse video recording. Additionally, the Z7II features 10-bit N-Log and HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) for more advanced videography needs. The Z7II also has a dedicated headphone and microphone jack, giving it an edge in terms of video capabilities.
Dual Card Slots:
Another notable difference between the D850 and Z7II is the presence of dual card slots in the D850, whereas the Z7II has a single card slot. The D850 has one XQD card slot and one SD card slot, allowing for simultaneous backup, overflow, or RAW + JPEG separation. On the other hand, the Z7II has a single XQD/CFexpress card slot, which may be a limitation for photographers who require redundant storage or prefer to shoot with two different types of memory cards for backup or organization purposes.
Connectivity and Workflow
Both come with a range of connectivity options, but there are some differences in their features.
- The D850 features built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, allowing for wireless image transfer and remote control using Nikon’s SnapBridge app. It also has an Ethernet port for wired connectivity, making it suitable for studio or tethered shooting. The D850 also has dual memory card slots, one for XQD cards and one for SD cards, which can be configured for backup, overflow, or RAW/JPEG separation.
- Z7ii offers more advanced connectivity options. It features built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, similar to the D850, but it also has built-in FTP (File Transfer Protocol) capabilities, allowing for direct transfer of images to a server or a computer. The Z7ii also has dual memory card slots, both of which support high-speed CFexpress (Type B) cards, offering faster write speeds and larger storage capacity compared to XQD or SD cards. This can be advantageous for photographers who require faster and more reliable performance for high-resolution images and 4K video.
Additionally, the Z7ii also supports USB-C connectivity, enabling faster image transfer and charging through a single cable, which can be convenient for on-the-go photographers or for those who work with a laptop or tablet. The Z7ii also has a built-in focus stacking feature, allowing for easier creation of images with extended depth of field, which can be beneficial for macro and landscape photography.
Battery Life and Accessories
D850 and Z7ii come with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, but there are some differences in their battery life.
- The D850 uses the EN-EL15a battery, which provides a CIPA-rated battery life of approximately 1840 shots per charge. It also has an optional battery grip (MB-D18) that can hold an additional EN-EL15a battery, effectively doubling the camera’s battery life. The battery grip also provides additional controls for vertical shooting and improved handling.
- However, the Z7ii uses the EN-EL15c battery, which provides a CIPA-rated battery life of approximately 400 shots per charge. While this may seem significantly lower than the D850, it’s important to note that the Z7ii has a more power-hungry EVF and additional features like continuous autofocus during high-speed shooting, which can impact battery life. However, the Z7ii also has an optional battery grip (MB-N11) that can hold two EN-EL15c batteries, providing extended shooting time and improved ergonomics for vertical shooting.
In terms of accessories, both cameras have a wide range of optional accessories available, such as external flashes, remote controls, and lens filters, to enhance the shooting experience and creative possibilities. However, it’s worth noting that the Z7ii has a few unique accessories designed specifically for the Z-mount system, such as the FTZ mount adapter, which allows for seamless use of F-mount lenses with the Z7ii, and the Z-batteries, which are optimized for the Z-series cameras and provide better performance and durability compared to the EN-EL15 batteries.
Both offer a wide range of lens compatibility, thanks to Nikon’s extensive lineup of lenses. The D850 is a DSLR camera, which means it uses Nikon’s F-mount lenses, offering compatibility with a vast range of Nikon F-mount lenses, including both DX (APS-C) and FX (full-frame) lenses. The Z7II, on the other hand, is a mirrorless camera that uses Nikon’s Z-mount lenses, which are specifically designed for Nikon’s mirrorless cameras. While the Z-mount lens lineup is relatively newer compared to the F-mount, Nikon has been rapidly expanding its Z-mount lens lineup, and there are already a significant number of high-quality lenses available for Z-mount cameras. However, it’s worth noting that the Z-mount lenses are generally more expensive compared to the F-mount lenses.
Both the D850 and Z7II come with weather sealing, which provides protection against dust, moisture, and harsh environmental conditions. This makes them suitable options for outdoor and rugged shooting conditions. However, it’s worth mentioning that the Z7II, being a mirrorless camera, has fewer potential entry points for dust and moisture compared to the D850, which has a mirror and pentaprism. This gives the Z7II a slight advantage in terms of weather sealing, making it a better option for photographers who frequently shoot in challenging environmental conditions.
The user interface of a camera can significantly impact the shooting experience and ease of use. Both the D850 and Z7II offer intuitive and user-friendly interfaces, but there are some differences due to the fundamental differences between DSLR and mirrorless cameras.
- D850 features a traditional DSLR layout with physical buttons and dials for easy access to various settings. It has an optical viewfinder (OVF) that provides a direct and real-time view of the scene, which some photographers prefer for its familiarity and responsiveness.
- Z7II features an electronic viewfinder (EVF) that provides a digital representation of the scene, with real-time exposure and depth-of-field preview, which can be advantageous for precise exposure control and visual feedback. The Z7II also has a larger and more high-resolution LCD touchscreen, which can be tilted and swiveled for more flexible shooting angles and easy menu navigation. The touchscreen interface of the Z7II also offers touch-to-focus and touch-to-shoot capabilities, adding to its overall user-friendliness.
In conclusion, both the Nikon D850 and Z7ii are outstanding cameras that offer advanced features and capabilities for professional photographers. The D850 is a high-resolution DSLR camera with excellent image quality, fast autofocus, and robust build quality, making it a reliable choice for a wide range of photography genres. It also offers compatibility with a vast range of Nikon lenses and has a longer battery life with the optional battery grip.