Nikon D850 High ISO Performance Tests
The Nikon D850 DSLR camera not only produces 45-megapixel images perfect for landscapes and studio work, but its fast frame rate makes it potentially appealing for sports and action photographers. In sports and action photography, shutter speed is critical, and that means being able to push the camera ISO well above its base value. I decided to do some Nikon D850 high ISO testing to see how it fares.
Watch: Nikon D850 unboxing video
The Nikon D850 has a base ISO of 64, but you can expand it up to 25,800. Beyond that, you can push the ISO two full stops (Hi 1 and Hi 2 settings) to get corresponding ISO values of 51,200 and 102,400, respectively. Nikon uses the “Hi” nomenclature to denote sensitivities that are not truly “in-spec” and in accordance with the ISO standard.
Nevertheless, we push our gear, so I captured a sequence of shots from ISO 1600 through Hi-2 (102,400).
I set my Nikon D850 on a tripod and used the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AFS G Nikkor lens. I focused using Live View and metered manually using the Live View Histogram. I set the lens to f/11 to maximize sharpness and minimize vignetting. I captured RAW images and then converted them to DNG using Adobe Camera RAW. I was then able to adjust the images in Adobe Lightroom, where I applied the following adjustments:
- Camera Calibration: Camera Standard
- Lens profile corrections: On
- Sharpening: 0
- Luminance Noise Reduction: 0
- Color Noise Reduction: 25 (default)
I used these settings to avoid sharpening luminance noise. Keep in mind that in the real world, you can apply tailored noise reduction and sharpening settings based on ISO and image content.
Nikon D850 High ISO Sample Images
Click on an image to enlarge it.
I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but in examining these images, I found that the Nikon D850 high ISO performance is excellent. Color noise is extremely well controlled, and luminance noise is tight and grain-like. The grain noise doesn’t really become noticeable until ISO 12,800, and for most web-size shots you won’t notice any major image degradation with any of the in-spec ISO values. Color fidelity is excellent. At the two top settings, you can see dynamic range, contrast, and color fidelity start to degrade. Nevertheless, if you needed to use the Nikon D850 at its Hi-1 ISO setting for web work, you could do so without too much concern.
Download Nikon D850 High ISO Images (JPEGs)
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