Gear

Nikon D850 vs Nikon D750 – Should You Upgrade?

When buying a new camera, today’s photographers have more choice than ever, but selecting between a flagship pro camera or a more affordable model can be a hard decision to make. Justifying the cost against what you get back for your money means photographers should research the shortlisted models carefully before deciding to go big or to seek better value for money.

With the launch of the 45.7-megapixel D850Nikon photographers are now faced with this exact conundrum. There’s no doubting you get a raft of new amazing new features, but could a camera like the D750 still tick all the boxes of what you need from a pro camera while saving you some money? Let’s dig into the specs sheets and find out…

Design and ergonomics:

The D850 is the long awaited replacement for the popular 36-megapixel D810 and sees a massive jump in resolutions with a new Nikon-made 45.7-megapixel full-frame sensor built into the tough, weather-sealed magnesium alloy body. The 24-megapixel D750 has actually been on the market since 2014, but still offers a number of impressive features and is best described as a DSLR that punches above its weight. For example, it shares the EXPEED 4 processor from Nikon’s D4S and D810 cameras.

In terms of build, both cameras offer magnesium alloy bodies and weather sealing, ensuring they can be used in harsh environments – a must for any camera destined for landscape photography work. Both models are similar in dimensions, though the D750 is lighter (840g vs 1010g). At the rear, both cameras offer large 3.2-inch LCDs, which feature a tilting design that’s useful for setting up awkward compositions and also for video work. Only the D850’s LCD is touch-sensitive though and it also offers a higher resolution (2359k-dot vs 1229k-dot).

Along with serving up far more resolution (45.7MP v 24.3MP), the D850 also bests the older D750 when it comes to autofocus. While the D750 uses a 51-point AF set-up, the D850 uses the same 153-point system found in Nikon’s flagship wildlife and action D5 camera. Despite all that extra resolution, the D850 is also the faster camera, enabling a maximum burst rate of 7 frames per second (9FPS when used with the optional battery grip) compared to the D750’s 6.5 frames per second. The D850’s shutter mechanism is rated for 200k actuations, while the D750’s is rated for 150k and the D850 can also offer longer battery life, with the battery rated for 1840 images between chargers, compared to 1230 from the D750.

The D850 also offers a faster shutter speed than the D750 – 1/8000sec compared to 1/4000sec, while both cameras offer users dual memory card slots. The D750 takes two SD cards and the D850 takes one SD and one XQD. With dual memory card slots, users can choose to instantly back-up images to the second card, shoot JPEGs to one card and RAW files to the other or use one card for stills and the other for video. These choices can speed up your workflow and dual card slots are preferred by professionals these days. Lastly, both cameras use the usual Nikon F mount for lenses, meaning there’s a huge amount of choice for both Nikon branded optics and third-party lens manufacturers.

The D850 has more AF points and can shoot more images per second.
The D850 has more AF points and can shoot more images per second.

Image quality:

As mentioned, the D850 sports a Nikon-made 45.7-megapixel sensor, making it the brand’s highest-ever resolution camera. With such a high amount of resolution, the D850 can easily create prints in excess of A3 and images can be cropped heavily without compromising image quality. The D750 offers 24-megapixels, which is still a decent amount, but leaves less room for cropping. The D850 also offers a higher ISO ceilings, topping out at 25600 native and 102400 expanded, while the D750 offers 12800 native and 51200 expanded.

Both cameras shoot both JPEG and RAW files – it’s useful to know that, as the RAW files from the D850 are so big, users can choose to use the smaller Medium Raw or Small RAW options. This can come in very handy when you are running low on memory or if your computer set-up struggles to deal with large files.

Both cameras feature 3.2-inch tilting LCDs, but only the D850's is touch-sensitive.
Both cameras feature 3.2-inch tilting LCDs, but only the D850’s is touch-sensitive.

Video:

Along with offering high resolution stills, the D850 can also record ultra high-quality 4K video footage. What’s more, footage can be used to create 8K time-lapse sequences in post-production. While the D750 can’t shoot 4K, it can offer Full HD up to 60p and, like the D850, has ports for headphones and an external microphone. If you are a fan of arty slow-motion sequences, you’ll be pleased to hear the D850 can shoot faster frame rates in Full HD, which can be slowed down to add this dramatic effect. What’s more, the D850 offers a clean HDMI out option to record 4K to an external device, making it a genuine contender for pro videographers looking for a camera that can do great stills and video.

Both cameras have headphone/mic ports, but only the D850 can shoot 4K footage.
Both cameras have headphone/mic ports, but only the D850 can shoot 4K footage.

Extras and verdict:

Although it has been around for three years, the D750 has a lot to offer. It’s one of the few full-frame DSLRs to include a built-in flash, which has a Guide Number of 12, making it powerful enough to illuminate close up subjects. The D750 also has Wi-Fi that enables the user to transfer images to a smart device and share them to the Internet while on the move. The D850 also has a colossal amount of features and not only boasts Wi-Fi, but Bluetooth too! Macro photographers will especially appreciate the D850’s Focus Bracketing mode that mode that will automatically take up to 300 shots at various depths of field. These images are then merged to produce a single image with front-to-back sharpness. What’s more, the D850 will help photographers select the right options in low light as it features illuminated buttons – clever eh!

It’s clear the D850 is a significant step up from the D750, but it’s also true the older camera still has plenty of functions and power to produce professional-level stills. What’s more, it’s on sale in a lot of places, making it accessible for those wishing to take their first steps into the world of professional photography. The D850 though is a different beast; capable of creating still images fit for billboards and a sure-fire hit for videographers who own a bag full of Nikon lenses. With an impressive autofocus system and huge resolution, the D850 ticks all the right boxes.