Nikon D850 review. The view of an active traveler

Choosing a camera for active travel and a great love of landscape photography is challenging. There are so many factors to consider!

  • When traveling in unsafe countries, there is a risk of losing everything all at once, and then you think about the overall cost of the system and its attractiveness to others.
  • When shooting in adverse conditions (deserts, dust storms, seashores, and rain), you consider protecting individual elements. So, for example, I drowned the waterproof camera because only one control wheel was not covered by a rubber band.
  • Going to the mountains, you seriously consider how much equipment you can take and how small the set can be.
  • And the most important thing is to get a result worthy of winning international photography competitions.

I make at least 7-9 trips a year, shoot actively in any conditions except heavy rain, and go hiking often. My equipment is a tool for work and must be dependable. From time to time, the same things happen to it that happens to me - falls, bumps, getting wet.

On a trip to Patagonia, I had a Nikon d850 camera, an AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED ultra-wide-angle lens, and an AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR for testing.

The last thing I wanted to do on this trip was to use my tripod because, on average, I had to walk 20 kilometers during an active day, and every gram of extra weight made a difference.
So, task number 1 was to go for a walk in the evening city without a tripod, take pictures at high ISO and get interesting sharp shots. The canals of Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires, a favorite place for evening strolls among Argentinians, are available. In this image, there is no noise in the sky completely, noise in the details is minimal, the first line of the building is obvious, the top of the skyscrapers is slightly less sharp, there is no color noise, minimal geometric distortion. Amazing clarity, figures on board very clear, noises very little, slight drop in sharpness in the smallest details of the skyscrapers in the far background. At ISO 3200, the noise is already quite strong, and the scene is complicated due to multicolored backlighting and large brightness range, but in post-processing, it pulls in a normal picture; the main thing is that the movement of people is not blurred.

As a result of this walk, I am more than happy with great sharp photos for the blog. Now let's take a walk with a tripod. I was lucky with the blazing sunset; I used HDR mode and slow shutter speeds here.

With the high definition of even the smallest details, you can see microscopic fences on the roofs of houses, which are clear! Starbursts from streetlights as standard and have minimal perspective distortion, which is very nice.

A big plus for me was the bracketing on the camera body in the form of a small button. I found it quick to adjust and reset your shooting settings, just what you need in landscape photography. I also want to mention the convenient location of the ISO button next to the shutter button.

When shooting at night, there is no noise at all; the frame is very sharp throughout the field.

This photo was taken with a tripod in one shot, and the result is beautiful. The details are well-defined, and I can see some noise but not much for this ISO.

Well, let's go to Patagonia!

The Nikon D850 has a massive body, heavier than my working DSLR camera, and larger, weighing 915 grams. This is more of a disadvantage; you immediately wonder if you should look at the Nikon Z7 or other mirrorless cameras with less weight and bulk. Long days of hacking ahead, an average of 25km each; let's check it out!

Patagonia's scenery is impressive, with high, dramatic mountain peaks, so it's time to test the AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens. We shoot the Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the most beautiful in the southern Patagonian ice field.

The structure of the glacier is drawn to the smallest detail; you can see the finest textures; there is a small grain, which does not spoil the photo at all, and chromatic aberration is completely absent. I am thrilled!

I change to a wide angle to show the three kilometers-wide ice tongue:

And here's where a lot of shots get ruined because of a drizzle and the fact that microscopic drops on the lens turn into huge spots in the frame, and it's all visible only on the computer.

One morning there are loud cries outside the window that sound like the songs of a March cat, but no, they are ibises! The birds are in the shade and actively moving about the lawn.

It was a pretty sharp shot, but the settings were not "birdy" at all. The shutter speed is too long for this scene; such a shot is hardly suitable for large prints. We'll have to wait for the ibis to come out.

The bird is very sharp, and the good detail on the feathers and the strong suppression of noise in Lightroom do not spoil the photo. The promised "movement without loss of sharpness" is perfectly realized!

We pack a backpack for the day trip to the national park. The route length is 20 km; in fact, you can "find" about 26 km during the day. A D850, two lenses, 1.5 liters of water, a sandwich, an apple, a raincoat, and a pair of socks (which were never in use) go into the backpack. Together with the bag's weight, it all adds up to about 8 kilos. This is very, very much after 3 hours of hiking; there is a feeling of a weighty backpack. After 5 hours, your shoulders are already hurting.

Here it's important to mention that I don't have the most ergonomic backpack, and it's unsuitable for mountain hiking (KATA Bumblebee). However, I like this model for the convenience of flaps and access to photographic equipment.

You involuntarily think you could go hiking with just one lens on a mountain climbing pass, probably with a universal zoom.

The flash sync terminal and remote connector ports are on the front plane of the camera and are protected by rubber flaps. These rubbers need to fit tighter enough, and they unnoticeably come off. During the day, it started to drizzle a few times, and the ports got wet. However, nothing happened to the camera; I just dried the contacts and checked the functionality in the morning - everything worked perfectly.

The touchscreen and the availability of all the settings were very pleasing and convenient, as well as zooming and rewinding photos. However, it takes time to realize that such a function exists.

Amazingly, you can see two black dots in the frame, but at 100% magnification of the structure, they appeared to be clear, well-drawn eagles, not a single feather blurred! I like this lens more and more. And the weather conditions are crazy, with wind speeds up to 90kph and shooting without a tripod.

Shooting with a tripod:

Technically a perfect shot. Very sharp, on the slopes of the mountains, every speck of rock is visible, the histogram is soft, details are well defined, and it is here, in the details and quality, that the tremendous resolution of 45.7 megapixels (compared to my DSLR) is visible.

Lucky with the rare sunset and quiet weather, a gradient filter was added in Lightroom, but I would like to be able to use gradient plates in some scenes. I want to note that the lens focuses very fast and error-free in low-light conditions.

An unexpected encounter with an Andean deer, a local endemic. The portrait was taken literally on the nose of the animal with the wide-angle lens.


The dynamic range is amazing, and the minimal noise is what makes the Nikon D850 the best choice for my travels. The image quality and super high resolution are desirable, and Nikon delivers it on most shots, even at the most incredible settings with ISO2000+.

A huge plus is the long battery life of the camera. In 15 days, only two battery charges under standard shooting conditions - average temperature of +15 and a small percentage of long exposure shots.

AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED and AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lenses have very soft focus and zoom rings; all details move smoothly, quietly, and nicely.

The weighty advantage of a wide-angle lens is the minimal amount of geometric clutter. It's the perfect lens for interior and architectural photography. It is also good for night photography. It is not suitable for landscape photography because of its flare, inability to use filters for landscapes, and enlarging raindrops to large specks.

The only drawback for me is the weight and size of the equipment, but as opposed to the perfect picture, I agree.

And a few more photos from this vivid trip:

  • Text and photos by Anna Gibiskys