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D500 vs D850?

nikon d500 d850 dx fx

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#1 sinetwo

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 04:21 AM

Is anyone considering these two heavyweights? If so, what's swaying you one way or the other?

 

Personally I'm going for D500 as the price is indeed a factor, but crop underwater is not that bad of a thing. I love landscape photography but I can't justify that price-tag for the occasional full frame landscape shot. I'll probably end up compensating with a slightly wider lens on the D500.



#2 TimG

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 05:09 AM

Hi sinetwo

 

I've been going through the same mental argument.....

 

A couple of months ago I was thinking of selling my D800 and switching to the D500. The advantages of the D500 were, to me, not needing a 230 dome port (easier for travelling), a slightly smaller housing (again, better for travelling), some advantage to the DX crop for macro (but then an FX/D800 gives plenty of croppage). Against that was the cost of making all those changes back to DX (I used to have a D300 system) and, the big one and, for me the decider, the WOW factor I get from the dynamic range of the D800 and the "blues" - they are just superb. I just didn't want to risk losing that.

 

And then Nikon announce the D850. 

 

So now.... the D850 will be a smaller housing as there is no pop-up flash, slightly lighter weight (so some of the travel weight/bulk issues resolved - ok, who I am kidding?), I don't have to sell/re-buy as much, the focussing of the D5 system ( and, believe me, that is superb) and I should still have the WOW. 

 

But, yes, a significant difference in price for the camera body. Argh.

 

Hmmmmm, but I think I'll be going D850.


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#3 sinetwo

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 05:16 AM

@TimG,

 

Yeah, that's my thought as well. However, when  I did look at the dynamic range comparison between at least the D810 and the D500, there was minimal difference - to the point where I wouldn't even consider the D810. The reason I'd go for the D500 is mainly because of the D500's focus system. Stealing it off it's older brother(s), it is indeed a beast, and I'm happy to see a DX camera perform at a professional/amateur-pro level.

 

I own a D610 for land, and I've been very happy with it, but with UW photography, as you well know, you need to buy your gear for long term commitment as the housing is very expensive!



#4 TimG

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 05:42 AM

 

 

 as you well know, you need to buy your gear for long term commitment as the housing is very expensive!

 

 

Ain't that the truth!

 

Maybe if I didn't already have the FX lenses/ports etc I'd go D500 too. Maybe. But selling those and then buying DX stuff....  :crazy:

 

Hey, whatever we do it's the road to craziness, right?...  :mocking:


Tim
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#5 adamhanlon

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 08:14 AM

This is a really good question!

 

I should emphasize that I have not used a D850 yet, so some of my reasoning may prove to be incorrect...I have used the D500 quite a lot now.

 

The D850's increased resolution will be welcomed by most people, as the feeling tends to go along the lines of; "you can never have too much." However, I think 46 MP raises some potentially serious problems that will need addressing for underwater use.

  1. I'm pretty sure that some of the lenses that we use currently will be out resolved by the camera. For example, I found that the IQ with the D810 and the Kenko 1.4/Sigma 15mm combination was significantly degraded to the point that I found it unacceptable with the D810. Based on that, I have my doubts about TC use with the D850 and am actually worried about both the Sigma 15mm and Nikon 16mm fisheyes. I would expect that the new Nikon 8-15mm fisheye should be OK. For those thinking of using the Tokina 10-17mm with this camera, I think it will look pretty bad (I found that the images were unacceptably degraded with the 10-17mm and the D800.) 
  2. I am concerned how the resolution will work when we use dome ports. This will be especially true with rectilinear wide-angle. The Nikon 16-35mm f/4 gives (just) acceptable results with a large (9") dome at f stops greater than f11 or so with the D800/810. I have pretty serious doubts about how this will look with another 10MP of resolution to show up the flaws in the corners with this combination. Nikon suggests that there is an additional stop of ISO performance with the D850 over the D810. My feeling is that you will need at least this to overcome the corner distortion that will show up at 46MP. DX sensor cameras, with their inherently greater depth of field at a given aperture, can shoot at smaller apertures and still achieve corner sharpness.
  3. There are wet optics that will be coming to market shortly that will fix the lens resolution issue, but they are likely to be expensive and, as far I am aware, are fisheye lenses. I don't know of a rectilinear solution yet.
  4. The D850 does have a DX image area mode, which would address almost all of the concerns above. I have found however that the solution of simply "greying" out the FX viewfinder area makes it hard to frame correctly. You also lose out on the advantages of the high resolution (it produces 19.4 MP images). It remains to be seen how the increased ISO performance is available in DX mode. Although the D850 does have smaller photosites than the D500, its slightly lower resolution in DX mode would suggest that there will be little or no ISO/noise reduction advantage.
  5. We shoot through water! Water contains all sorts of stuff and has physical properties that render super sharp edge sharpness physically impossible. Certainly with the EOS 5DS and 5DSr, there is no actual improvement in image output when used underwater, when compared with 5D Mark IV. I can see that in carefully controlled conditions, the resolution will be an advantage, but for those of us primarily shooting wildlife underwater, it will probably be more of a hinderance than an advantage.
  6. For macro, 46MP gives lots of potential to crop. You can sacrifice over half the image data and still end up with an image that has a higher resolution than that of the D500. Against that, the D500 does have the advantage of a 1.5 x magnification, meaning that you may not need to crop as much. 

The D500 offers the same excellent AF system, compatibility with a much wider variety of lenses (e.g. Tokina 10-17mm), very capable lens options for rectilinear wide-angle (Nikon 10-24), (slightly) higher resolution when compared with the D850's DX mode, compatibility with smaller domes and a $1400 saving!

 

As I prefaced this, I have not shot a D850, nor had any actual use of it underwater, so my opinions may all change!

 

Adam


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#6 Matt Sullivan

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 11:27 AM

There are people far more qualified than I to speak on this issue but:

 

I shot the d500 underwater for the first time this weekend. I usually shoot the d810. in terms of overall image quality, there is very little difference between the two at least underwater. Like Adam said, shooting through and under water will reduce many of the typical advantages of the d810 over the d500. If I were choosing now, id go d500 over d810 for underwater shooting.

 

The image sharpness may be slightly better on the D810, ISO performance in real world underwater looks nearly identical. I have to look at exif data if I really wanted to know which camera took which image. I prefer full frame usually for the narrower DOF, better high ISO, and wider FOV but underwater the former two don't seem to give any advantage to the d810 vs the d500 (d5 and d4 are a different story). The d850 may perform slightly better than the d810 but will need the highest quality lenses and ports as Adam mentioned. 


Matthew Sullivan

 

 


#7 phxazcraig

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 03:23 PM

Is anyone considering these two heavyweights? If so, what's swaying you one way or the other?

 

Personally I'm going for D500 as the price is indeed a factor, but crop underwater is not that bad of a thing. I love landscape photography but I can't justify that price-tag for the occasional full frame landscape shot. I'll probably end up compensating with a slightly wider lens on the D500.

I have a D850 on order, but having finally bought a Nauticam housing for my D810, I'm just not ready to drop money on a new housing.   I would LOVE the autofocus, and LIKE the few extra pixel.

 

Some comment on DX/FX here.   I love FX, but I can see a very very good case for staying DX in the water.  It all comes down to the size of your lenses, which basically means the size of your wide angle dome port.    I use a 16-35vr lens with my D810, or a 105 macro.

 

I was absolutely shocked when my 230mm dome port arrived.   My first thought was 'how am I going to pack this thing?',   And a year later I'm still trying to sort that out.   The dome port along takes up half the space in my backpack camera bag.  I have managed to fit both housing and dome port in the backpack - but not all the other stuff for the rig.  I can get a port extension in there, and one of the two strobes.   I can get the arms in there by disassembling them and sticking parts in a port extension.   Some my macro port (and lenses) cannot fit in the backpack.

 

If it weren't for the dome, all of the parts would fit in the backpack.

 

Once at a dive site, the rig still has to be carried on and off a dive boat (assuming dive boat), and if you can fit the rig into a camera dunk tank, it's likely to fill it up.   I don't bother, but I put the rig into a 36 quart soft-sided cooler I use as a carrying bag and back-in-the-room rinse tank.   In the water, the dome wants to twist up (lots of air in there), and float.,

 

Oh - airport security personnel around the world are fascinated by the dome in an xray and just have to see it up close and personal.  Probably would happen with a smaller port too, but I have to say the xrays are very impressive - looks like some weird large bomb.

 

I still much prefer 36mp over 20 as I often have to crop a lot, so I'd be happier with the IQ from my D810 over a D500 - if the subject matter doesn't need the D500 autofocus.   One can always use better autofocus underwater.



#8 adamhanlon

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 11:55 PM

To be fair to FX, big domes are best for either type of camera.

 

Basically, the bigger the dome, the better the corner sharpness will be at a given aperture for any camera/lens/port combination.

 

The increased depth of field inherent in DX means that we can get way with smaller domes and still have acceptable results, but a big dome will still work better!

 

I guess the difference is that with FX, you have no choice. I am really worried that the Nikon 16-35 f/4 VR behind a 9" dome will not work well at 46MP. It is OK with 36MP, but actually not that great. If it doesn't work, this leaves D850 users without a workable rectilinear wide angle solution. Of course, the only way test this out is to get one in the water, which isn't an option yet....

 

@phxazcraig-At the risk of a product plug (I have no commercial relationship with the company) the CineBags dome ports cases really help with carrying domes:

 

http://wetpixel.com/...s-and-tool-bags

 

Adam


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#9 sinetwo

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 12:56 AM

All really good opinions and viewpoints. I never really thought of the compatability issues for the D850 - personally I'd rather go for something tried and tested for UW (e.g. choice between existing rectilinear and fisheye lenses), than to hope they'll bring out a new lens that'll solve everything.

 

Corner sharpness is something I've started paying attention to a lot more, and has been stated, big domes = pain in the a... at the airport. For me, the ease of packing and transporting is actually pretty fundamental, as I only bring my rig abroad, but I may start shooting in the UK at some point. Either way, it'll have to be transported!

 

I guess i'm in the position of 'measure twice, cut once' - so I think given the amount of research I've done into this upgrade, I'll be going for the D500 with the recommended tokina and 105mm nikkor macro lens.

 

The d500 body itself can be bought for £1300 with 3 yr UK warranty, and with a hugyfot housing that totals to about £4000. Not the cheapest, but a lot cheaper than £3500 for the D850 and an extra £3000 for the subal housing, totaling £6500. Couple that with dome/ports etc., then that's a £2500 saving, assuming the dome and ports are the same for both. Lenses would probably be more expensive on the FX lens.

 

So all in all, some of the benefits of having FX in general underwater would possibly be:

  • Dynamic range: d500 has excellent DR
  • ISO/noise: d500 is pretty good on the noise for higher ISO levels
  • Continuous shooting without strobe: d500 has excellent burst/buffer
  • High MP for prints: this is a tricky one, as the D500 has lower MP, but I don't be doing enormous prints, and I aim to crop as little as possible so this shouldn't be an issue
  • Wider FOV vs DX: well, this isn't always an advantage under water, but definitely almost always on land

 

I'll be going for the D500 and hugyfot, but I need to carefully select my setup so it's easy to pack! I do however look forward to the next generation of cameras coming out after the D850. I feel the D850's been a bit of a game changer, and an incredibly exciting release - hopefully other manufacturers will follow suit and prices will go down and tech will go up.

 

@AdamHanlon: If I were to go for the d500 with hugyfot, do you feel it would be reasonably future proof (i.e. 5-10 yrs)? Or are there aspects of the D500 which you feel are technically inferior and is due for replacement soonish? From what I can tell, the D500 is a beast, and despite being DX, it has a lot of the FX qualities you'd expect in an FX camera, and even some features of the D5!



#10 adamhanlon

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 09:21 AM

@sinetwo-it is hard to be certain about how future proof any camera will be! I think the D500 is the best Nikon camera for underwater use right now. Bear in mind that I have not shot the D850, but I have used the D810 a great deal.

 

It is a pro DX camera, so has all the pro features that the other cameras have, just with a cropped sensor. I would be happy to shoot with it for the next 5 years, but then again, I am also a sucker for shiny new stuff..


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#11 Geo Cloete

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 12:48 AM

I have no real world experience with either the D500 or the D850, but am a bit baffled as to why the D850 would be limited to only a small selection of lenses.
When speaking to top side photographers who have an in-depth knowledge on the topic, the D800/D810 and D850 pairs very well with existing lenses, even lenses as old as 50 years.

From the perspective of this topic, I think it's fair to say that for the underwater photographer there are four parts to the equation.
1) The camera/sensor megapixel count
2) The lens
3) The Dome port
4) The medium we shoot in, ie. water.

The first two, given the same specs, are equal to both top side and underwater photography. From reviews of top side shooters I consider reliable, there is not an issue with the camera/sensor out resolving the lens. If that was the case, then surely Nikon would be first in line to warn customers. I recall that when the D800 was released, it was said that the digital sensor now had the same resolving power/resolution as what 35mm film has. If that is true, then surely the "problem" of out resolving the lens would have been valid in the film days as well.

This leaves still the dome ports and the medium we work in, in question as well as the interaction between the lenses and the virtual image created by the dome. 
Personally, I am not convinced that the problem experience is a direct cause of the sensor out resolving the lens. If it was, the same would have been true for top side photography. In fact, I have seen the opposite reported by professional topside more than once, saying that some of their old lenses perform even beter on the D800/D810 than what they did on older model cameras. (Performance referring to the quality of the photo captured by the lens/sensor combination.)

P.S.

I  was able to test drive the D850 yesterday. In hand, the build quality feels impressive. Autofocus is snappy, as expected. I have heard some people calling the shutter sound loud. Comparing it to my D300, it's rather quiet. The max flash sync speed is 1/250 were as on D300 it is 1/320. There are enough times where I appreciated the 1/320, so I will miss it. The pros far out weigh the cons in my opinion. It's clear that Nikon worked hard at creating the most versatile camera they have created to date and to me this versatility equals flexibility. Flexibility which I would love to explore shooting underwater, especially seeing as a dSlr underwater shooter, having flexibility in your camera setup whilst underwater is a rarity.  

 



#12 adamhanlon

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 07:27 AM

Hi Geo,

 

There is no doubt that there are plenty of lenses that work well on land, but there are far fewer that give acceptable results behind a dome port. 

 

For example, the only Nikon rectilinear wide angle lens that works behind a (9") port with full frame cameras is the 16-35mm f/4. It is not the best lens optically, so whether it will give acceptable results remains to be seen. Likewise the 60mm f2.8 Micro is not the best optically either. Lastly, and this is a big uncertainty, I am worried about the performance of the Sigma 15mm and Nikon 16mm fisheyes. Until the lens/camera/port combination is shot underwater, all bets are off and land testing has no relevance to this whatsoever. I found that performance with Kenko Teleconverters was unacceptable in terms of IQ with the D810 (this definitely impact on versatility.) The upside is that I would imagine that the new 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5 fisheye will definitely be OK.

 

I'm not sure where you are getting your information from, but the D810 dramatically showed the flaws of many lenses (e.g.17-35mm) both underwater and topside. The 5DS and 5DSr have also dramatically shown the issues with older lenses. In the case of Canon, they have admitted it...

 

I would absolutely agree that compared to the D300s - which is pretty long in the tooth now - it will be capable of images and creative techniques that would not have been possible with your older camera. However, I also feel that, for underwater use, I remain very unconvinced about it, especially when compared with the D500.

 

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#13 sinetwo

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 07:34 AM

Hi Geo,
 
There is no doubt that there are plenty of lenses that work well on land, but there are far fewer that give acceptable results behind a dome port. 
 
For example, the only Nikon rectilinear wide angle lens that works behind a (9") port with full frame cameras is the 16-35mm f/4. It is not the best lens optically, so whether it will give acceptable results remains to be seen. Likewise the 60mm f2.8 Micro is not the best optically either. Lastly, and this is a big uncertainty, I am worried about the performance of the Sigma 15mm and Nikon 16mm fisheyes. Until the lens/camera/port combination is shot underwater, all bets are off and land testing has no relevance to this whatsoever. I found that performance with Kenko Teleconverters was unacceptable in terms of IQ with the D810 (this definitely impact on versatility.) The upside is that I would imagine that the new 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5 fisheye will definitely be OK.
 
I'm not sure where you are getting your information from, but the D810 dramatically showed the flaws of many lenses (e.g.17-35mm) both underwater and topside. The 5DS and 5DSr have also dramatically shown the issues with older lenses. In the case of Canon, they have admitted it...
 
I would absolutely agree that compared to the D300s - which is pretty long in the tooth now - it will be capable of images and creative techniques that would not have been possible with your older camera. However, I also feel that, for underwater use, I remain very unconvinced about it, especially when compared with the D500.
 
Adam

As you say, ultimately the proof is in the pudding. I'm not saying one is better than the other, but the D500 has been tried and tested underwater with great results, whilst the D850 has not.

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#14 Geo Cloete

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Posted 18 September 2017 - 12:23 AM

Hi Adam

In part, you summarized perhaps better the one point I was trying to highlight, which is that the main issue is the working relationship created between the lens and the port.
As this relationship is not a direct link between sensor megapixels, I don't think megapixels count is the place to look for the cause.

 

Whether or not the camera has a full frame or crop sensor plays a far bigger role.

Crop sensors use only the best part of any lens you put in front of them and hence the reason why it's easier to pair them with dome ports. Or alternatively put, crop sensors don't "expose" the weaker part of the lens elements, so we don't get to see it.

Taking into account that the D500 and the D850 have the exact same pixel pitch, we would have seen the D500 highlighting the same weak parts of lenses if the cause was megapixel related. 

Looking back into history, we will see that the same claims have been made since the release of the D3, that new lens designs will be required because of the high megapixel count. I think it's safe to say today that megapixels were wrongly blamed. 

In general, if one look at Nikon lenses, it's fair to say that they are most definitely not designed with uw photography in mind. We only have to look at the minimum focal distance of most of the Nikon lenses. This present the first obstacle to bridge.

However, if one would take a lens / dome port combination which was design with uw photography in mind, like the now legendary RS 13mm, I have no doubt that it will render as beautiful results when paired with the D850 as it has done with any other full frame body.

Perhaps it's time we lobby with the various lens manufacturers and request a line of lenses designed for underwater photography. 

 



#15 Matt Sullivan

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Posted 18 September 2017 - 09:10 AM

I have the rs 13, and I believe Adam does as well. Its spectacular. I've not actually used any other lens, wide or macro, since i had it converted. I love it on both apsc and full frame but i've not gotten to use it enough to have a firm opinion on which format I prefer it. The DOF is far shallower than a normal fisheye. This can present a problem on a high res full frame body and that is an issue i have noticed but its easy enough to work around. The only 'complaint' with the 13mm is the fact that it cant be used for splits. The sharpness and 'look' of the images from the RS imo is far superior to any other option i've used (not having used the Nauticam WAP converter). 

 

Tangent aside, I am very much looking forward to using the RS on the d850 but I am curious as to how the much higher res + already shallower than normal DOF of the lens will perform


Matthew Sullivan

 

 


#16 JackConnick

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Posted 18 September 2017 - 02:51 PM

 

For example, the only Nikon rectilinear wide angle lens that works behind a (9") port with full frame cameras is the 16-35mm f/4.

 

Adam, I shoot the 17-35 f2.8 all the time on my D800. I think your statement is a bit misleading, as there are lots of good options as good as the 16-35, although it is popular. There are also some prime lenses too that don't seem to get much play, but are much smaller and easier to work with.

 

I'm struggling to justify upgrading to the D850 as the biggest issue I have with the D800 is frame rate, weight and size. I much prefer cropped cameras for macro and actually find that the E-M1 MKII is a winner in that realm, but falls apart in dynamic range.


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#17 Architeuthis

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 05:31 AM

Jack,

 

Could you post example images, that illustrate the limitations in dynamic range of the MFT camera, when compared to FX?

 

Would be very helpful...

 

Wolfgang :) 



#18 Geo Cloete

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 08:13 AM

Hi, Matt can you please explain to me the correlation between high megapixels and DOF.
Thank you.



#19 Matt Sullivan

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 09:28 AM

Hey Geo. 

 

The shallower DOF I was referring to is a characteristic of the nikonos. It has a shallower DOF than a normal fisheye so on a high res FF body (which has narrower DOF than cropped sensor) the focus will need to be even more spot on


Matthew Sullivan

 

 


#20 adamhanlon

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 01:03 PM

Sorry this discussion is drifting away from the original query. Still it is a great discussion :)

 

Dome ports produce a curved virtual image. Our cameras have (currently) flat sensors. So in order to get both the center of the virtual image and the corners in focus, we have to rely on depth of field.

 

DX sensor cameras have inherently greater DOF than FX for a given aperture. This means that they can be used with smaller domes (which produce a curved virtual image that is closer to the sensor) and at wider apertures than their DX brethren and still produce acceptable results.

 

What constitutes acceptable corner sharpness is largely down to how much distortion you are prepared to accept. This is also reflected in the type of image and how you frame it. Blurry corners of large animals in the blue are probably not a problem, but wide angle reef scenics will show the issue.

 

The problem I anticipate is when you combine FX's inherent reduced depth of field with an increase in resolution. The details that the increased resolution produces effectively draw attention to the optical imperfections of the port/lens interface.

 

My observations are based on using both the D800/810, which are both 36MP FX cameras. At this level of resolution, lens choices do become restricted. I personally found the that the 17-35mm was not capable of producing corner sharpness that I was happy with (I actually find it soft at the surface too!). I did shoot the Nikon 20mm and it was OK at smaller apertures and my personal choice is a legacy prime lens, the Tokina 17mm f/3.5-4.5. In terms of fisheye, I found that using the Sigma 15mm with a 1.4 x Kenko TC degraded the image to a level that I was not happy with. I have extrapolated the effects of 10MP more and am worried that this will exaggerate the flaws in the optical performance of many lenses behind domes. 

Aperture is critical too, many lenses will probably work fine at f/14 and beyond, the issue here is what happens at f/11. 

 

FX (and indeed the D850 specifically) does give improved high ISO performance. For a given level of light, this can mean that a wider aperture can be chosen, but the increased DOF in DX systems may allow them to use smaller apertures and still get acceptable corners.

 

It should also be pointed out that a lens' performance behind a dome is not related to directly to focal length or optical quality. For example, the otherwise excellent Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 performs badly behind a dome port.

 

My concern is that the increase resolution of the D850, combined with its inherently shallow DOF, will create problems with image quality. The 16-35mm f/4 (with a 9" dome) is the only current rectilinear lens that I found that was capable of producing corner sharpness in wide angle scenics that I was personally happy with. I predict that I will not be happy with this combination at 46MP.

 

Nikonos and other water contact lenses are designed to shoot wide open and still produce excellent optical results. Of course this will be at the expense of DOF. The RS 13mm is an amazing lens, but it is still a fisheye. The 8-15mm behind a 7" dome is a very capable combination that is significantly cheaper! My understanding is that there will be new water contact lenses coming to market shortly, but they are also fisheye.

 

The AF system in the D850/D500/D5 is so good that it is a no brainer for macro.

 

Sorry....:)

 

Adam


Adam Hanlon-underwater photographer and videographer
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