Skip to main content

Prominent camera lab DXOMark gives Nikon’s D850 a sky-high score

Nikon’s 100th year in business is also bringing an equivalent score for their latest high-end DSLR — the Nikon D850 is now the first full-frame DSLR to earn a score of 100 from DxOMark, the third-party company using software to analyze just how good a camera sensor is.

The Nikon D850 boasts a 45.7-megapixel sensor with top shooting speeds between 7 and 9 fps — and now a category-leading score of 100 from DxO software, a number our real-world Nikon D850 review would agree with. DxOMark is crediting the D850’s backlit design and absence of an optical low pass filter with the camera’s high score. A backlit sensor places all the hardware behind the sensor, allowing more light to reach the surface and in turn creating better low light performance, more dynamic range and lower noise levels at high ISOs. While backlit is becoming more common, the D850 is the first full-frame sensor from Nikon to use this design.

DxOMark says that the D850 earned a score of 100 because of both the color and dynamic range coming from the sensor. For color, which DxOMark calls the portrait score, the D850 is comparable to the pricier D5 in printed photos, with the D5 having a slight edge viewing photos on a monitor.

DxOMark gave the D850 a dynamic range of 14.8 EV at the base ISO, a score that helps measure the differences between the lightest and darkest areas of an image and the range of light the camera is capable of capturing without using editing techniques. As ISO increases, the D850 has about a one-stop advantage over the older D810, the testing company says. The D850’s dynamic range compares closely with the Sony A7R II and both cameras score about one stop better than the Canon 5DS.

DxOMark says the D850’s ISO score isn’t quite as impressive as the color and dynamic range, though still respectable up to ISO 3200 without editing and beyond that with noise reduction in post-production. Since noise tends to increase as resolution increases, the lower ISO score isn’t too surprising.

The scores from the D850 are so good, in fact, that DxOMark says the camera is on par with medium format, and in some cases, better than a few medium format models. “Offering outstanding dynamic range of 14.8 EV and color depth of 26.4 bit at base ISO, combined with its massive 45.7Mp resolution, the D850 is a mouthwatering prospect for landscape, studio, portrait, as well as high-end editorial or advertising photographers who are  seeking top-notch image quality for large-scale reproduction and display,” DxOMark’s Paul Carroll wrote.

DxOMark scores aren’t percentages, so the 100 points for the DxO isn’t a “perfect” score despite now leading the category. The highest score from the company went to the Red Helium 8K cinema camera earlier in 2017 with a score of 108, while (on a different scale than the dedicated cameras, the Google Pixel 2 earned a 98, suggesting 2017 is proving to be an excellent year for camera sensors.

Editors' Recommendations

Snapchat’s pocket-sized Pixy drone takes to the skies
Snapchat's Pixy drone.

Snap has unveiled its first camera drone -- Pixy.

A promotional video (below) shows a group of friends sending Pixy skyward to capture footage of the trio as they goof around in the countryside.

Read more
NASA’s asteroid investigator Lucy tests out its four cameras
The faintest visible stars in this raw L’LORRI image are roughly 17th magnitude, 50,000 times fainter than the unaided human eye can see. Image brightness levels have been adjusted to enhance visibility of faint stars. The exposure time was 10 seconds. Keen observers will notice that the stars are slightly elongated in this relatively unprocessed image; the Lucy team has techniques to mitigate this effect, and the optical quality is sufficient for accomplishing the science goals of the mission.

NASA's Lucy mission launched last year on its trip to the Trojan asteroids, located in the orbit of Jupiter. Despite an issue with one of its solar arrays, the spacecraft has been traveling as hoped and is on its way to study the ancient asteroids with the aim to learn more about how the solar system formed. Now, NASA has shared some of the first images taken by Lucy's instruments as part of their calibration process.

Lucy has a total of four cameras, including the two twin Terminal Tracking Cameras (T2CAM), which have a wide field of view and are used to lock onto asteroids and point the other instruments in the right direction as Lucy performs close flybys of them. The other cameras are the Multicolor Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) which will take panorama-like images, and the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (L’LORRI) which will take high-resolution, up-close images of the asteroids. In addition to its cameras, Lucy also has a spectrometer and an instrument for mapping temperature.

Read more
GoPro takes to the skies with the Hero10 Black Bones
The GoPro Hero 10 Black Bones mounted on an FPV drone.

GoPro’s cameras have always enjoyed a close association with drones, though that relationship has had its ups and downs. However, after the sagas of the Phantom and the Karma have faded into history, the use of GoPros to capture aerial footage has only accelerated. The hobby of building and flying first-person view (FPV) drones is a passionate pastime and profession for a growing number of people, and GoPros are by far the most popular camera for capturing FPV footage. Now, GoPro has created a camera specifically designed to take to the skies.

The GoPro Hero10 Black Bones is a stripped-down, heavily modified version of the Hero10 Black, GoPro’s flagship action camera, which I praised highly in my review of it last fall. FPV drones are stripped to the bare minimum, as every milligram of weight can mean the difference between a maneuverable and acrobatic racing machine, and one that wallows through the skies.

Read more