D500 & D850 Owners - OVF Differences

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I know there are a few of you on here that've shot with both the D500 and D850, and I wanted to get your opinion on the differences between the two OVFs. Namely, how much smaller is the D850's OVF when shooting in DX mode, and is it worth the trade-offs?

I currently own two D500's, and really bought them to shoot sports & action, which I enjoy. However, since acquiring the Z6 and seeing just how good the AF is in the real world (vs. shooting zig-zagging bicyclists in a shaded alleyway), I'm not convinced that I need two D500's anymore and have been toying around with idea of selling both of them in exchange for a D850.

One of the things I LOVE about the D500 is its 1.5x crop factor, as it gives me a very good boost in reach with my lenses that allow me to cover pretty much everything I shoot (and I've got a 1.4x TC-E III for when I need a bit more). The great thing about the D850 is that in DX mode, it's basically a D500 (at least on paper). Very similar pixel count, AF points cover the entire width of the image area, etc. However, one of my concerns is the reduced size of the OVF in DX mode on the D850 vs. the native OVF on the D500.

I found an image, shown below, which does a good job of demonstrating the difference on the D850 regarding FX vs DX mode. And while the display is smaller in DX mode, you have the inherent benefit of being able to see when a subject is about to enter the frame.


My question to those of you who've shot with the two cameras before is: Do you mind shooting the D850 in crop mode? Is the display really small enough that you would stick with a D500, or do the other benefits of the D850 (including shooting in FX mode when the extra reach isn't required) make it worth your while to shoot with the D850 over the D500?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts & opinions.

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I just bought a D500 for wildlife and action and love it …. have a D800 that I've probably put in crop mode maybe 4 times in 5 years and I just don't like it …. you've got a big beautiful display and you cut it in half -- just doesn't do it for me but that's just me ….
 
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I have never shot any of my FX bodies in DX crop mode. The only advantage I could see is saving file space which isn't an issue. I've had many instances where, had I been in DX mode, I would have chopped off something important.
 
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While I've only played about with a D850 and not really shot with it...the FX viewfinder is awesome. The DX ones are workable and the D500 is one of the better Nikon implementations.

Having used the Fuji X-Pro2 for a bit now...I'm one of those that quite likes having the extra space in the viewfinder around the area you are capturing. It took some getting used to it, but now, when shooting the X-Pro2 in OVF mode, I use the 18-55 or 55-200 and the framing square moves to show you where the field of view is going to be.

Unfortunately, that like or dislike is a very personal thing and not something I can say you would like or even get used to without experiencing it. You could test it shooting the D500 in 1.3x crop mode. It will look similar with a crop box, might give you some idea.
 
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I shoot both. And have shot a lot with FX in DX mode going back to the D800, then 810, and now 850. I'd hazard a guess that I shoot the 850 as much in crop mode as I do FF. Oh and most of all in 1.2x crop mode. I'd say it's all a matter of training one's mind/eye. With the 800 and 810 I shot in DX mode with the unused frame greyed out as in the image in the OP. For me personally doing so requires no adjustment at all. In the OVF it's WYSISYG. However I shoot a lot of BIF and the more visibility the better. So with the D850 I don't have it set up to grey out the viewfinder. The default VF mode is to simply show a box in the VF indicating the cropped image size rather than greying it out. It took some mental training to get used to using the box without clipping wings etc but having made that transition it's great. Much easier to keep on target by using the full VF.

And there's one more trick to using crop modes in the 850(or 810). For those who consider crop mode as added "reach", well the 850 turns a prime lens into a zoom. I have the Fn button(plus scroll wheel) configured to switching crop mode. So say I'm shooting with a 500mm prime lens at a critter that's coming toward me. I set the camera to DX mode and am shooting EFL of 750mm. As the target gets closer with the push of a button and twitch of the thumb I switch to 1.2x mode and am at 600mm. As the critter continues to get closer another switch and I'm in FF mode at 500mm.

I have to say that since I've trained myself to use the VF in the D850 my D500 spends a lot of time on the shelf/in the bag. I have a grip for the D850 with the adapter for the larger batteries which makes it capable of 10fps. Since the one drawback (for me personally) to the D500 is VF blackout time at high frame rates(over 60 percent at 10fps) I much prefer shooting the 850. One downside is the shutter noise. Unbelievably loud. Though it does increase the number of frames with eye contact on wildlife. On shoots when in a static position an awesome combo is the 850 on a tripod mounted prime lens and D500 as a second body on a sling with the AF-S 80-400. No one but yourself to blame for missed opportunities in that scenario :)
 
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Obviously everyone is different, I like shooting FX in DX mode. I like seeing what is just outside the frame. But my advice to the OP would be to rent a 850 for a week and see what *you* think.
 
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So I had a chance to get some hands-on time with a D850 today.

The APS-C “crop” in the OVF didn’t seem too bad. I like that you can choose to shade it if yeah wish, but even if you don’t there is a solid box outlining the DX frame.

I’m very very seriously considering trading both of my D500’s & grips for a D850 and grip to use along with my Z6. It really does seem to be a “do it all” DSLR, and getting some hands-on time with one made me more comfortable with making the switch.
 
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So I had a chance to get some hands-on time with a D850 today.

The APS-C “crop” in the OVF didn’t seem too bad. I like that you can choose to shade it if yeah wish, but even if you don’t there is a solid box outlining the DX frame.

I’m very very seriously considering trading both of my D500’s & grips for a D850 and grip to use along with my Z6. It really does seem to be a “do it all” DSLR, and getting some hands-on time with one made me more comfortable with making the switch.
Might as well go full FF. The D850 + Z6 will be a great two camera combo gaining the best of both worlds. It'll also simplify your kit even more. Saying that, it is nice to have full AF coverage with the DX OVF though, but you gain that with the Z6, so there really isn't much downside.
 
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A lot of good comments here, one more but different. The D850 in DX crop mode has the same buffer as the D500 that is 200+, might come in handy one day..... . I have not used my D500 much since I got the D850.

Now I'm lusting for a Z6 with the new firmware, would love to get your opinion on how that all works for wildlife. How is 12fps vs 10 fps with a D500? Tracking? Blackout? etc
 
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Now I'm lusting for a Z6 with the new firmware, would love to get your opinion on how that all works for wildlife. How is 12fps vs 10 fps with a D500? Tracking? Blackout? etc
The Z6 is a fantastic camera, I truly love it. However, IMO it is not a sports camera. It's not because of the C-AF abilities (I find the C-AF to be extremely good), but rather the EVF blackout when shooting in one of the continuous drive modes. The EVF blackout is quite long, which makes it difficult to follow your subject through the viewfinder. If I'm panning with a subject and shooting, it's MUCH easier to do this with the D500/850 than it is the Z6/7.

If you shoot a lot of sports, and currently own the D500/850, I would not sell that camera to get the Z6. While the Z6 is capable, the experience with the DSLR is simply better. However, the Z6 makes for a fantastic companion to the DSLR. I tend to use my Z6 for most of my shooting, and bring out the D500 when I know I'm going to be shooting a lot of moving subjects that I need to follow through the viewfinder.

I hope that helps!
 
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Great informative answer, Thank you!!!

The Z6 is a fantastic camera, I truly love it. However, IMO it is not a sports camera. It's not because of the C-AF abilities (I find the C-AF to be extremely good), but rather the EVF blackout when shooting in one of the continuous drive modes. The EVF blackout is quite long, which makes it difficult to follow your subject through the viewfinder. If I'm panning with a subject and shooting, it's MUCH easier to do this with the D500/850 than it is the Z6/7.

If you shoot a lot of sports, and currently own the D500/850, I would not sell that camera to get the Z6. While the Z6 is capable, the experience with the DSLR is simply better. However, the Z6 makes for a fantastic companion to the DSLR. I tend to use my Z6 for most of my shooting, and bring out the D500 when I know I'm going to be shooting a lot of moving subjects that I need to follow through the viewfinder.

I hope that helps!
 
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Good question and interesting responses. Having shot with a Leica M-4 a number of years ago, I can appreciate being able to see things as they approach the image frame. But, what I do not understand from the responses above is why shooting the full frame and cropping is not preferred. I understand the buffer and space issue, but if you hold those aside, is there something that I am not taking into consideration? If I had the full OVF at my disposal and my subject was approaching, my preference would be to keep shooting at crop in post as opposed to switching over the OVF. Any additional comments would be greatly appreciated. I do not have a D850, but do both FX and DX.

Thanks,

--Ken
 
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...I understand the buffer and space issue, but if you hold those aside, is there something that I am not taking into consideration?..
From a technical standpoint, that's it. Saves a lot of card space.

Beyond that we all have our individual idiosyncrasies and one of mine is that it gives me a better idea of what I'm getting when I shoot in crop mode. Otherwise I'm a poor judge of subject size with a lot of space around it. Then I'm so disappointed and confused in post when I crop a 46MP file down to 3MP of useful image :(
 
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From a technical standpoint, that's it. Saves a lot of card space.

Beyond that we all have our individual idiosyncrasies and one of mine is that it gives me a better idea of what I'm getting when I shoot in crop mode. Otherwise I'm a poor judge of subject size with a lot of space around it. Then I'm so disappointed and confused in post when I crop a 46MP file down to 3MP of useful image :(
I agree. We all have our preferences and, yes, it does save space. I understand about judging about subject size, and I guess that shooting FF could cost you a bit of culling as its price. Having re-read your informative post above, I guess that having the outer area not grayed makes judging a bit easier, not unlike a rangefinder. Still, I suspect that I would probably pay the culling tax and use the whole frame, but then again, I do not shoot with a D850.

Thanks,

--Ken

P.S. Your May 2019 gallery photos are quite wonderful. Nice work.
 

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