In this article, let’s compare two of Nikon’s high resolution cameras: the Nikon Z7 II and Nikon D850. Although the two cameras appearance very different on the surface – the particular Z7 II being a lightweight mirrorless camera, the D850 being a tank-like DSLR – they’re both intended for comparable audiences. Thanks to features like a 45 megapixel sensor, base ISO 64, and built-in focus stacking, the Z7 II and D850 are usually aimed at landscape photographers and the like who need maximum levels of fine detail.
Of the 2, the Nikon Z7 II is substantially newer, released at the end of 2020 (compared to mid-2017 for the D850). But the D850 was so far in front of the competition when it first turned out that it still holds up well today.
From this article you can see from the image below, the Nikon Z7 II looks positively puny compared to the D850:
But that’s par for the course with a mirrorless camera, and it doesn’t reveal anything negative about the Nikon Z7 II. In fact , many photographers consider the Z7 II’s small size and light weight a good thing, since it makes it simpler to carry along while traveling or hiking.
Therefore , let’s dive beneath the surface area and see how each camera compares in practice. We’ll begin by looking at their specifications.
|Camera Feature||Nikon Z7 II||Nikon D850|
|Announced||October 14, 2020||July 25, 2017|
|Sensor Resolution||45. 7 MP||45. 7 MEGA-PIXEL|
|Sensor Type||BSI CMOS||BSI CMOS|
|Sensor Size||35. 9 × 23. 9mm||35. 9 × 23. 9mm|
|Mount||Nikon Z||Nikon F|
|Low-Pass Filter||Simply no||No|
|Sensor Pixel Size||4. 35µ||4. 35µ|
|Image Dimension||8, 256 × 5, 504||8, 256 × 5, 504|
|In-Body Picture Stabilization||Indeed||No|
|Image Processor||Dual EXPEED 6||EXPEED 5|
|Buffer: RAW 14-bit Lossless Compressed||49||fifty-one|
|Buffer: RAW 12-bit Lossless Compressed||77||200|
|Native ISO Sensitivity||ISO 64-25, 600||ISO 64-25, 600|
|Boosted ISO Sensitivity||ISO 32, ISO 51, 200-102, 400||ISO 32, INTERNATIONALE ORGANISATION FÜR STANDARDISIERUNG 51, 200-102, 400|
|Dust Reduction / Sensor Cleaning||Yes||Yes|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic Viewfinder / EVF||Pentaprism / OVF|
|Viewfinder Coverage and Magnification||100%, 0. 8x||100%, 0. 75x|
|Storage Media||1× CFe / XQD + 1× SD UHS II||1× CFe / XQD + 1× SD UHS II|
|Continuous Shooting Speed||10 FPS (12-bit RAW), 9 FPS (14-bit RAW)||seven. 0 FPS, 9. 0 FPS with MB-D18|
|Fastest Shutter Speed||1/8000 sec||1/8000 sec|
|Longest Shutter Speed||nine hundred sec||30 sec|
|Flash Sync Speed||1/200||1/250|
|Exposure Metering Sensor||TTL exposure metering using main image sensor||181, 000-pixel RGB messfühler|
|Autofocus System||Hybrid PDAF; 493 AF points||Phase detect; 153 AF points, 99 cross-type|
|AF Recognition Range||-2 to +19 EV (-4 to +19 EV with low-light AF)||-4 to +20 EV|
|Eye-Tracking AF||Yes||Simply no|
|Video Maximum Resolution||4K up to 60 FPS, 1080p up to 120 FPS||4K up to 30 FPS, 1080p up to 120 FPS|
|HDMI Output||4: 2: 2 10-Bit||4: 2: 2 8-Bit|
|Audio Recording|| Built-in stereo microphone
External stereo mic (optional)
| Built/in stereo microphone
Exterior stereo microphone (optional)
|LCD Size and Type||3. 2″ Slanting Touchscreen LCD||3. 2″ Tilting Touch screen LCD|
|LCD Resolution||2, 100, 000 dots||two, 359, 000 dots|
|Battery Life, Stills||360 shots (CIPA); 420 shots (rear LCD only); 440 shots (rear LCD only, energy saver on)||1840 shots (CIPA)|
|Battery Life, Films||105 a few minutes (rear LCD); 100 mins (EVF)||70 minutes|
|Weather Sealed Entire body||Yes||Yes|
|USB Version||3. 1 (Type C)||3. 0 (Type A)|
|Weight (with Battery plus Card)||705 g (1. 55 lbs)||1005 grams (2. 22 lbs)|
|Sizes||134 × 101 × 70 mm (5. 3 × 4. 0 × 2 . 9 inches)||146. 0 × 124. 0 × 78. 5mm (5. 7 × 4. nine × 3. 1″)|
|Cost Upon Introduction||$3000||$3300|
|Price Today||$3000 ( check price )||$2500 ( check price )|
While both of these digital cameras share a 45 mp BSI sensor with base ISO 64, they differ in a number of important ways. The Z7 II usually arrives ahead in those distinctions: better video specs, increased FPS shooting, lighter weight, IBIS, and so on. The Nikon D850 is clearly ahead in battery life and has a couple small features that the Z7 II lacks (such as illuminated buttons and a 1/250 2nd flash sync speed) yet otherwise falls a bit guiding.
Much of this really is reflected in the prices. Whereas the Nikon Z7 II is a new camera and it has yet to go on sale, the D850’s price has continuously lowered over the past few years. Consequently, you can save about $500 simply by going for the D850 instead of the Z7 II (and over that if you’re willing to buy used).
However the specifications don’t always tell the full story. For example , looking at the specs, the Nikon D850 has a better buffer than the Z7 II whenever shooting 12-bit RAW: two hundred rather than 77 images. Yet that specification is for the particular Z7 II at ten FPS, with the D850 on 7 FPS. When each are set to a similar frame rate, their buffer is essentially equal.
Something similar is true of these cameras’ autofocus systems. The particular Nikon D850 may seem to be worse because it “only” has 153 autofocus points, compared to the Z7 II’s 493 AF points. But in practice, the particular D850 is better than the Z7 II at tracking fast-moving action across the frame, and therefore better for something like taking photos of birds in flight. By comparison, the Z7 II is preferable to the D850 in single-servo autofocus mode, focusing a lot more quickly in live look at (at least when using native lenses) and having a bit more accuracy as well. These aren’t things that are reflected in the specifications, but rather the result of our own extensive tests of these 2 cameras. (See our Nikon Z7 II review plus Nikon D850 review for further. )
Then there are some factors where the two cameras differ, but it’s not necessarily clear which one has the advantage. The biggest such instance is the lens mount: Nikon Z mount for the Z7 II, and Nikon Farreneheit mount for the D850. The benefit of the Z mount is that it can take Nikon’s extraordinary Z-series lenses, as well as any F-mount lens if using the (somewhat finicky) FTZ adapter. The advantage of the F mount is that it has a much wider selection of lenses than the Z install, and no adapter is needed in order to use them. You can read more in our article on Nikon Z vs Nikon F .
A final difference worth directing out is simply the type of viewfinder. Some photographers prefer digital viewfinders (EVFs) due to the ability to zoom in and review photos without taking your digital camera away from your eye. Others prefer the through-the-lens appearance of an optical viewfinder (OVF). This is completely dependent upon the professional photographer, and while the Nikon Z7 II has one of the most natural-looking EVFs that I have ever used, some photographers can never want an EVF in the first place.
Now let us take a look at some high ISO tests between the Z7 II and the D850.
Low Light Performance
For the images below, I have made 100% plants of the same scene through both the Nikon Z7 II (on the left) and D850 (on the right). The goal is to measure their low-light performance. You are able to click on the images to see all of them larger.
At low ISO values, there is absolutely no visible difference between both of these cameras, so let’s begin with ISO 800:
Even presently there, I see no differences, so here’s ISO 1600:
Within the ISO 1600 images above, I see just a hint more color noise on the Z7 II. This becomes a lot more evident when ISO can be pushed to 3200:
And more so at ISO 6400:
At ISO 12, 800, both cameras produce plenty of noise, but the D850 continues to be ahead:
ISO 25, 600 continues this trend:
On extremely high ISOs such as 51, 200, both cameras are unusable, even though the D850 retains its slight benefit:
Lastly, ISO 102400 appears awful. The D850 looks slightly less awful from the two, but these photos are both going in the trash:
At the end of the day, the differences here are going to be almost insignificant once the appropriate level of noise reduction is certainly applied in post-processing. It’s a benefit of perhaps 1/3 of a stop in the D850’s favor, and maybe not even that will. Suffice to say, image high quality should not be a factor in your choice to get either the Z7 II or D850.
If you’ve narrowed it down to these two cameras, but you’re not sure which one is better for you, here’s what I would recommend.
First, in case budget is an issue, go with the D850 (and ideally buy it used or even refurbished). For the money you’ll conserve over the Z7 II, you can upgrade your lens or even tripod and get some significant image quality improvements.
On the other hand, if you shoot a lot of video, pick the Z7 II. It can shoot slow-motion 4K video, outputs high quality footage over HDMI, and has plenty of other helpful features like in-body image stablizing and an EVF. I would also strongly recommend the Z7 II if you’re planning to traveling a lot or hike with this particular camera, since it weighs significantly less.
The D850’s biggest advantage over the Z7 II is autofocus tracking on fast-moving topics, like birds in air travel. The Nikon Z7 II actually does a great work of tracking subjects that have obvious eyes (such as cats, dogs, and people), but it falls short when tracking more general topics. For photographers who want to carry out extensive wildlife photography alongside their landscape work, the D850 is probably the way to go.
That said, ignoring cost, the Z7 II continues to be the better camera overall for most photographers. It’s smaller, lighter in weight, and more feature-rich. Even pertaining to wildlife photography, it’s not a negative option, thanks to the large buffer and an excellent maximum frame rate of 10 FPS. The D850 is one of the greatest cameras of all time, but the Nikon Z7 II is more than three years newer, and it displays. The Z7 II also has access to the full line of Z-series lenses (as well as all the F-mount glass with the FTZ adapter), while the D850 does not.
You can not go wrong either way, of course. They are two of the best cameras in the marketplace, especially for landscape photography. Because so many of their differences come down to the standard mirrorless vs DSLR differences, saying which one is “best” is a fool’s errand, since it depends on your own requirements and preferences. When you find a tremendous amount on one of them, go for it, and don’t look back.
I hope you discovered that useful, and if you need to see more comparisons between these two cameras with others on the market, you may find these links helpful:
You may also read our full review of each of these cameras here: