Nikon D850 video options images

Nikon D850 video options

Does this powerful DSLR have what it takes to compete for video shooters as well as stills? We dig into its feature set to take a closer look.

As the world of visual content chops and changes, many photographers are finding themselves wanting to diversify into video, to be able to offer their clients either or both services depending on their needs. As such, many are asking for a decent hybrid camera, a reliable stills workhorse that can also pick up the slack in video where needed.

Last year, Nikon responded to these demands with the magnificent D850 — a true hybrid camera that brings all the stills acumen you’d come to expect from Nikon and adds in some seriously impressive video functionality to boot.

If you’re thinking about picking up a hybrid camera to shoot stills and video, the Nikon D850 is a great place to start looking. In this article, we’ll break down its video capabilities in a little more detail to help you decide if it’s the right camera for you…

What does it shoot?

One of the headline features of the Nikon D850 is its ability to shoot 4K UHD video using the full width of its full-frame sensor — by contrast the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, its realistic closest rival, shoots 4K video with a hefty 1.74x crop. The D850 uses intelligent pixel binning to get 4K (at 3840 x 2160) from the full width of its 8.2K 45MP sensor, and is currently the only DSLR model to shoot such video. It goes to a maximum frame rate of 30 when shooting 4K; if you’re shooting at Full HD 1080p, you can go to 60 or even 120fps for super slow-motion footage that’s still at high quality (though with a decent crop). Movies are shot in MOV or MP4 formats.

When capturing 4K, the D850 uses a bitrate of 144Mbps. This is significantly lower than the Canon 5D Mark IV, which uses a bitrate of 500Mbps. What this means is that while the D850’s footage is a little lower in quality, it eats up a lot less room on the SD card. You can record video continuously for up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds. There’s also the option to shoot 4K and 8K timelapses, although it’s worth being aware that the 8K timelapses will not compile in-camera, and will need to be assembled in post-production, and if so desired there is an exposure-smoothing function for timelapses.

The Nikon D850 doesn’t have Log profiles like its Canon and Sony rivals [link to explaining C-Log blog], however it does have a Flat Picture Control setting that’s intended to have the same effect — decrease contrast to gather as much information as possible to make the video suited for colour grading. It also has a clean HDMI output at 4:2:2 8-bit, and you can use this to record footage to an external recorder as well as the internal SD card simultaneously.


As you’d expect from a pro DSLR, the D850 is built like a tank, but it also has plenty of controls and physical features that should prove useful for video shooters. The tilting LCD screen on the rear is a touch-sensitive model, which adds a great deal to the D850’s operability. You can use the touchscreen to access all the main video settings — what’s more, there’s also the nice touch of keeping video and stills settings separate, meaning you can tweak your preferred defaults for one without affecting the other. This is especially useful for hybrid shooters.

The DSLR ergonomics of the Nikon D850 arguably give it an edge over its Sony rivals, with a good chunky handgrip that makes it easy to use. Dual card slots are also welcome, allowing you to keep shooting and shooting.

There are two things that video shooters often ask for that end up neglected on DSLRs and CSCs — sockets for both an external microphone and monitoring headphones. Thankfully, the D850 includes both.

Video features

Nikon has included plenty of useful features for video shooters in the D850, though it’s important to be aware of how and when they can be used.

Focus peaking, highlighting subjects that are currently in focus, is included for video shooting on the Nikon D850, a rarity for DSLRs and a welcome feature here. While you may or may not have found much use for it while shooting stills, in the more manual focus-oriented world of video, it’s borderline essential. It can be set to three intensity levels, and you also have the option of changing the colour if so desired. However, this feature is only available for shooting video in 1080p, not 4K, and it also cannot be used at the same time as digital image stabilisation, or when shooting slow-motion.

The D850 also has a highlight display mode that uses zebra stripes to indicate blown-out highlights, and electronic vibration reduction technology to control the effects of camera shake. Again, both of these features are only usable for Full HD recording, not 4K. The D850 also has the option of using its contrast-detect autofocus system for video, however, early reports indicate that this can be a little erratic and unreliable. In most situations, you’ll probably be best off using manual focus, with focus peaking for fine-tuning, and if this isn’t something you’re comfortable doing, you may want to look at Canon or Sony.

Final thoughts

The hybrid photographer/videographer was quite clearly on the Nikon engineers’ minds in the making of the D850, and if this describes what you are, or what you want to be, then it’s a superb option that’s well worth considering. Some of the limited video functionality, such as various features being unavailable in 4K, means that dedicated video shooters may want to look elsewhere, but if you’re going to be a jack of both trades, then the fact that the arguable best pro stills DSLR on the market now comes with professional-grade video features makes the D850 a very tempting prospect indeed.


Sony A7S II vs Sony A7 III: Which should you use for video image

Sony A7S II vs Sony A7 III: Which should you use for video?

If you’re looking at picking up a camera to shoot video as well as stills then the full-frame mirrorless Sony Alpha 7 series contains several fantastic options, and it can be difficult to know which should earn your buy.

For this blog, we’re going to take an in-depth look at two of these cameras — the Sony A7S II vs. Sony A7 III. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and both will see you more than satisfied with your purchase should you decide to take the plunge. This isn’t about ascertaining which is the “better” camera, but simply a means by which you can assess which model is right for you.

Is everything clear? Then let’s get cracking…

Sony A7S II

It’s not too much of a stretch to call the first Sony A7S revolutionary. With its compact form factor, full-frame sensor, its whopping ISO ceiling of 409,600 that allowed it to effectively turn night into day, and the ability to record 4K video to boot, this seriously impressive machine started tempting videographers in droves.

One of the annoyances with the original A7S was that it wasn’t possible to record 4K video internally — doing so required an external recorder. The Sony A7S II fixes this as its first priority — it records glorious 4K 4:2:0 8-bit video (in XAVC S format, with no pixel binning) internally.

It can manage 4K video 8-bit 4:2:2 colour depth if hooked up to an external recorder. It also brings to the table some seriously impressive slow-mo, with the capacity to record Full HD video at 120fps at 100Mbps.

What else is there for videographers? Glad you asked. That delightful high ISO ceiling of 409,600 is present and correct, making the A7S II a formidable low-light beast. While results at these high ISO settings are not what you’d call high-quality, results throughout the range are impressive, and it’s a good option to have in seriously challenging lighting conditions.

There’s an internal 5-axis image stabilisation system that works with video too. Sony also promised better autofocus for video with this model, up to twice as fast as the previous model, although there’s no phase-detect autofocus system and the camera relies entirely on a contrast-detect system.

Videographers also have access to S-Log2 and S-Log3, Gamma settings that create a flat picture profile with maximum dynamic range. These are designed to capture as much detail as possible to give you the maximum amount to work with when colour grading in the edit (See our blog on Canon’s version, C-Log, for a more detailed explanation on how this sort of thing works).

According to Sony, S-Log can provide increases in dynamic range as high as 1300%. The camera also provides a useful Gamma Display Assist mode that allows you to view the scene with a normal contrast even while shooting in the flat profile. Elsewhere you’ve got plenty of other useful video features: Sony Picture Profiles, focus peaking, zebra patterning and a histogram.

In the centre of all this is a 12.2MP Exmor CMOS sensor with improved noise reduction algorithms, making use of its lower pixel count to provide larger photosites that help to further control noise.

Sony A7S II key advantages

– Thoroughly optimised for video

– Amazing low-light performance and noise control

Sony A7 III

As you may be able to deduce from its number, the Sony A7 III is a more recent camera than the A7S II, and accordingly it inherits features from recent star cameras like the Sony A9. While many cameras in the Sony Alpha range are quite specialised, the A7 series have typically been more like all-rounders. Accordingly, the A7 III is a balanced camera, a strong stills shooter and a capable video option.

It comes fully able to shoot 4K video using the full width of its sensor, the S-Log gamma profiles and the ability to shoot Full HD video at 120fps. Resolution is higher than that of the A7S II thanks to the 24.2MP back-illuminated sensor. This means a better high-resolution image and quality for photographers, at the cost of less noise control. Speaking of which, the A7 III has a maximum ISO ceiling of 204,800, not quite reaching the heights of the A7S II.

The A7 III and the A7S II full-frame cameras both use the same electronic viewfinder (OLED 2,360k dots, 0.78x magnification). However the A7 III benefits from its later arrival in the form of the amazing AF system inherited from the A9, with 693 phase-detection points. It also features the same 5-axis stabilisation system as the other camera, with a slight bump in performance. It has a rear LCD screen that is a little lower than that of the A7S II, but benefits from touch functionality. Even battery life has been improved — the A7 III will record for a maximum of 125 minutes; the A7S II for up to about 60.

Sony A7 III key advantages

– Newer camera with more features

– Higher resolution

– Better battery life


At the end of the day, it’s about your workflow balance, and what shooting situations you’ll find yourself in. If you’re going to be shooting mostly stills and dabbling in video, the Sony A7 III is the best buy. If your balance is likely to tip the other way and you have to choose which Sony is for video then the A7S II is the better choice given its video capabilities.

The fact that the A7 III is a newer camera also means that it benefits from technological and performance improvements. Though not in any danger of topping the impressive low-light performance of the A7S II, which is incredibly tough to argue with. There’s a reason it has been used for large-scale professional productions like the BBC’s Blue Planet.  

The important point to remember, however, is that whichever of these cameras you choose, you’re getting an excellent machine. Happy shooting!

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