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diverbrad

D810 vs D850

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I Am debating buying a new Nikon D850 with Nauticam Housing( and stuff !) vs buying a Nauticam Housing for my D810. I am not a professional photo geek, its just my hobby. I currently am shooting a TG5 and Sony RX100V both in Nauticam housings. I understand the Pixel difference but is there enough of the others positives to go ahead and make the purchase ?

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The most important difference between the two is the autofocus on the D850. It is an order of magnitude better than that of the D810.

 

Given how important AF is to us underwater photographers, this makes the the decision between these two easy!

 

However, to throw a curved ball, the D500 has the same amazing autofocus, is considerably less expensive and gets around many of the optical problems of full frame high resolution cameras....

 

Adam

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The most important difference between the two is the autofocus on the D850. It is an order of magnitude better than that of the D810.

 

Given how important AF is to us underwater photographers, this makes the the decision between these two easy!

 

However, to throw a curved ball, the D500 has the same amazing autofocus, is considerably less expensive and gets around many of the optical problems of full frame high resolution cameras....

 

Adam

 

.... and Mr Hanlon persuaded me to go with the D500 rather than the D850 when I was moving on from my much-loved D800 just over a year ago. It was an excellent call. I'm delighted with the D500 and the huge body cost savings has, errr, just gone into a stack more gear.

 

:crazy:

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I recently made the jump from a D800+Nauticam to a D850+Nauticam. The 850 is very nice and takes great images. It's not significant difference in my opinion. I already had an un-housed D500 and could have gone that way too.

 

For me the decision came down to these factors:

* D800 & housing were 7 years old and working well but eventually entropy will set in.

* I was able to sell the D800 housing for a good price, wanted to upgrade before it became worthless. (Old D800's bodies are not in demand)

* The #1 limitation I felt with the D800 was the image buffer. I often filled the buffer during fast action and lost shots. D850 solves this, as does D500.

* I was happy with full frame and did not want to go back to DX. I used a D300 for many years and prefer FF.

 

The D810 is only one generation removed. Unless you are having reliability issues or actually hitting limits of the D810 I would stay put. You are not going to see a major change in the quality of images or performance with the D850. It's better but is it $7500 better? (D850 body $3300 + $4000 Nauticam)

 

I'll bet you can buy a used Nauticam D810 housing for a fraction of the cost of a new D850 housing. There are Slim to None used D850 housings on the market yet.

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Another question to ask (the one in my head) is when is Nikon going to revamp the 850?

I waited on getting an 800 - the 810 was released about a month later.

Checking on NikonRumors.com, it sounds like the D6 is in development pathway with a suggested release end 2019.

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Another question to ask (the one in my head) is when is Nikon going to revamp the 850?

I waited on getting an 800 - the 810 was released about a month later.

Checking on NikonRumors.com, it sounds like the D6 is in development pathway with a suggested release end 2019.

Problem is, there’s always another one coming around the corner....

 

D6 for the 2020 Olympics. Does that necessarily mean a D8xx update?

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Posted (edited)

Problem is, there’s always another one coming around the corner....

 

D6 for the 2020 Olympics. Does that necessarily mean a D8xx update?

 

Given the very positive reception for the barely 1 year old D850 combined with less positive introduction of the Z6 / Z7 models, I would bet they rev the mirrorless cameras before the D850. It will probably be a few years before any replacement for the 850 shows up.

Edited by davehicks

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Stick with the D810. Period.

 

I would agree the D500 makes more sense for UW if buying new.

 

However I disagree with Adam that AF is so important UW. The D810's AF is fantastic (its my housed camera) and while I haven't used the D850 (I have used the D500), I consider AF as quite unimportant UW. I shoot more topside than UW and pushed the AF limits of many cameras in challenging situations over the years, but UW is not one of them.

 

That being said, the D810's AF is improved over my old D700 UW with the 105mm - I use my focus light less which is great for shy subjects. That did impress me. I wouldn't expect to see any significant difference with the D500/850 UW. Topside action would be a different story.

 

The D810 was a huge leap over the D800, much closer to the D850 overall, despite what the spec sheets say. I'm glad I made the D800-810 upgrade, but have no desire for the D850.

 

Chris

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Thanks for all the input. I have thought about " the next one " and that the Z6/7 may be the upcoming camera to buy, but I never buy the first of anything until the bugs are worked out. Guess I will keep shooting with my current equipment and let the cards play out. Im not on that tiny island anymore where I could grab my camera and scuba kit and go jump in the water. Now its all about traveling to my next dive.

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I have just upgraded from my Nauticam D810 rig to a Nauticam D850 rig. I used the D810 from 2015 through 2018. I took the D850 on its first dive trip in March (15 dives only).

 

As mentioned, the biggest difference is autofocus, but there are a few other changes too, some significant. First off, let me tell you my D810 experience, which was all pretty good.

 

I had an RX100 II in a Nauticam housing, with focus light and dual YS-D1 strobes. This was my big upgrade after years of using various Canon point-n-shoots. The dynamic range was a little better, and the strobes made a huge difference, but I was still suffering from typical point-n-shoot issues, mainly autofocus related. After only a year with that rig I was finally ready to take the plunge and get a DSLR underwater. I bought the Nauticam housing, a macro and a dome port and transferred the strobes to the new rig.

 

Pros: I finally (!) had the image quality I wanted, though it took some time to learn how to coax it out. (Stay at base ISO if you can.) With DSLR autofocus I at least had a chance of getting a nice fish shot, as opposed to 'fish swimming out of frame' shot. I could also put the focus spot where I needed. I was already very familiar with the camera, so learning to use it underwater wasn't that hard.

 

Cons: It is not just a DSLR, it's an FX DSLR. I had never actually seen or held one of these rigs before ordering my own. When the stuff showed up, I was shocked at the size of a 230mm dome port. Maybe because I don't have a feel for metric, but 230mm is freaking huge! It's definitely an issue when packing. This is the only reason I might consider a DX camera instead (D500) as the dome ports can be smaller. Other cons? Two of them, but they are not specific to the D810 particularly.

1. Video - the video may be better, but the autofocus is lacking, and I mean against a typical modern point-n-shoot. (And it's not better enough on the D850 either).

2. Lens selection is very limited - essentially there are no mid-range zooms. You either shoot wide (very wide, with dome port) or macro. I love macro, but I'd rather have the underwater equivalent of my 24-70 than my 16-35.

 

Advantage of the D810 over the D850 - pop-up flash. With the D810, I hook up my fiber cables and I can control my strobes in TTL or manual modes. The D850 doesn't have a flash, so the housing had to come with a flash trigger, making it more expensive. The supplied trigger is not TTL either, so you're definitely in manual strobe mode. I had been using manual mode anyway in the last week of diving with the D810, so that really didn't have much effect on me. But it might be significant for you.

 

Why did I upgrade? Kind of one of those end of life things. I'm now 65, and I have no idea how much longer I can both dive and lug all this gear around. Do it now, or it never gets done is the way I looked at it. I wanted the autofocus improvements, and possibly the frame rate (for ambient shots). It's not financially justifiable on the merits alone ($4000 upgrade expense), but it was something I wanted. Also, I had 150 dives on the D810 rig, 3 years of diving, and it was going to be $800+ to have it factory-serviced.

 

In the field: The controls are different between the two rigs, the biggest difference being the shutter release (moved to upper lever from lower). That took a bit of time to get used to, as did the WB/ISO button swap. Autofocus is indeed faster, and that's very handy shooting stuff like blennys in current surge conditions. (When did you not have current surge shooting a blenny!) The extra pixels are nice (I crop a lot), but not that noticeable. Same with dynamic range at ISO 64 - small difference, welcome, not significant.

 

And yet the images come out subtly better with the D850.

 

If you have both cameras, like me, and no rig to start with, then just get the D850 rig. A bit more future-proofed, with costs overall about the same.

 

You can see D850 pics here from March: http://www.cjcphoto.net/roatan2019-1/index.html

And D810 pics here from Sept/Oct 2018: http://www.cjcphoto.net/roatan2018/,

and 2017: http://www.cjcphoto.net/roatan2017/

and 2016: http://www.cjcphoto.net/roatan2016/

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2. Lens selection is very limited - essentially there are no mid-range zooms. You either shoot wide (very wide, with dome port) or macro. I love macro, but I'd rather have the underwater equivalent of my 24-70 than my 16-35.

 

Ummmm.... I shoot the D810 in an Aquatica and do indeed use my 24-70mm UW (though its been a while). Aquatica offers an extension ring and zoom gear for the lens. Good for sharks. Does Nauticam somehow not support the lens??

 

I'm not sure what you mean by "lens selection is very limited" - Nikon/Canon SLR's have great lens selections....

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However I disagree with Adam that AF is so important UW. The D810's AF is fantastic (its my housed camera) and while I haven't used the D850 (I have used the D500), I consider AF as quite unimportant UW. I shoot more topside than UW and pushed the AF limits of many cameras in challenging situations over the years, but UW is not one of them.

 

I've used D800, D810, D500 and D850 extensively underwater and can categorically state that the AF on the latter 2 is an order of magnitude better than on the first 2! When I first took the (then) brand new D500 to Indo, out of just over 6,000 images shot in a month, I think probably 35 were out of focus. With D810, I could bank on about 15% being out of focus. It made my first cull much, much harder :)

 

As for its importance, we use AF to hand-hold shoot things that are so small that we would use a tripod with a macro rail at the surface. We shoot fast moving animals in low light and low contrast situations. We rarely have the option of manual focusing when AF doesn't work...

 

It is pretty much the most important feature! In post you can fix many issues, but if the image is out of focus, it goes in the bin...

 

Resolution is (largely) a drawback with added optical problem and DOF issues when shooting underwater. Frame rates and buffer sizes are all faster than any available strobe's recycling time.

 

I have chatted to Nikon at various levels, including corporate, and they state that mirrorless IS the(ir) future. I expect that the development of new SLR models will slow significantly as resources are allocated to this (BTW the same is true of Canon too) and although pro models will continue to be offered, this will likely not be at the same rates as before. For us underwater shooters, this is a problem as Nikon has not even committed to produce any Z mount lenses that are truly suitable for underwater use in the next 3 years!

 

Of course, all the above is conjecture and may be wrong :)

 

Adam

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Posted (edited)

Lots of interesting comments and experiences in this discussion!

 

I think we all shoot a little differently and feel limitations in different areas.

 

Auto-Focus: I've never had a problem with the D800 auto focus or felt like I lost too many shots as a result. I doubt if I've seen more 10 OOF shots from a week's shooting of 1000-1500 images in the last 5+ years. Maybe 1% on both Macro and WA. (lots more crappy pics for other reasons...) I do a lot of my diving in darker waters of the PNW and even there D850 AF improvement has not been a major factor for me.

 

Frame Buffer: Big problem for me even with Flash Photography. When I've gotten into fast action environments like a circling school of sharks, or Lions Mane jelly in the water column I can quickly fill the buffer and have the camera freeze up for 15 seconds (seems like forever!) before you can shoot again. With strobes at 25 -50% power my Inon 330 or Ikelite 161 strobes can easily keep up at 1 shot / second. The D800 will freeze up after about 15-20 fast shots. The D850 will keep going until the XQD card is full at this same rate.

 

All other things being equal, the D850 image quality is just a bit better than the D800. More dynamic range, better detail in shadows, etc. The images have something extra I didn't always find in the D800.

Edited by davehicks

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Thanks for all the input. I have thought about " the next one " and that the Z6/7 may be the upcoming camera to buy, but I never buy the first of anything until the bugs are worked out. Guess I will keep shooting with my current equipment and let the cards play out. Im not on that tiny island anymore where I could grab my camera and scuba kit and go jump in the water. Now its all about traveling to my next dive.

If travelling is an issue, suggest you try and physically check the size of all the components you need, carrying them for travel can be a challenge and the DSLR housings are quite a bit bigger than other options as are the big dome ports. If you get the chance call into one of the big UW photo stores to compare them to the equipment you are carrying now and potentially other options - look at it from the total system perspective not just I've got this camera - let's try and house it.

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Phxazcraig....Your history is similar to mine. I was shooting Sealife, then a TG3 to a TG 4 and then a D7200 in an Ikelite ( Big ) when I was on Kwajalein. Size was not a problem there cuz I was a block to the water. Now I have to travel to dive and size matters. Now Im in Korea and switched to a RX100V and am "Content" with it, but now I am after image quality when I shoot so. The picture gallery you have I can see the difference between the 810 and 850. ( Great pics by the way ! ). I would suffer with lugging more gear with better image Qaulity as a result.

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Posted (edited)

 

However I disagree with Adam that AF is so important UW.

 

This is a highly subjective statement to make (though the reverse could also be argued, too!). Sure, shooting big tigers on blue backgrounds probably doesn't require the latest and greatest autofocus, but small, fast-moving reef fish shot on busy coral backgrounds or trout in complex rocky river habitats would require tip-top autofocus, unless you like the frustration of missing a significant number of shots. Certainly mean no disrespect to Undertow, just want to point out that there are definitely situations where snappy autofocus is and is not needed. I did fine shooting blue sharks off Rhode Island with a D7000 - arguably garbage AF compared to modern cameras - but my keeper rate went through the roof when shooting small-bodied freshwater fish in rivers after switching from the D7000 to a D500.

 

After having "seen the light," I will never again (budget permissible) shoot anything underwater that does not feature the latest iteration of AF/sensor technology. But to each their own!

Edited by ComeFromAway
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Ummmm.... I shoot the D810 in an Aquatica and do indeed use my 24-70mm UW (though its been a while). Aquatica offers an extension ring and zoom gear for the lens. Good for sharks. Does Nauticam somehow not support the lens??

 

I'm not sure what you mean by "lens selection is very limited" - Nikon/Canon SLR's have great lens selections....

 

I was trying to find a chart of lenses I've used in the past, but can't find it at the moment. But basically there isn't anything between wide and long besides the 60mm macro. DX yes, but not FX. As far as I know, Nauticam does not have a zoom gear or port for the 24-70. I once found a recommendation for it somewhere at Bluewater Photo, and when I enquired about it (the 24-70), they were surprised, asked where I had seen that, and I think they removed the reference.

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