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D850 or D5

Discussion in 'Nikon FX DSLR Forum' started by bsinc1962, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. Thoughts from those that use or have used both.

    My primary usage is wildlife with the occasional landscape. I'm not a full time pro but I sell a lot of images to our state Tourism bureau as well as the State Game and Fish dept. so clean images are pretty important to them.

    I have a D500 and a D810. A great deal of the wildlife I shoot is either early or late in the day so low light is guaranteed and a way of life. The D500 autofocus and tracking is great and the 10fps is a bonus but trying to keep shutter speed in a good range when the light is poor often means high iso and the noise that comes with it. Often too much noise. The D810 handles the noise great but has trouble tracking if things get moving quickly.

    I'm pondering either a D850 with the grip or a good/used D5. I know there are pros and cons to both and you probably can't go wrong with either one. What are everyone's thoughts?
  2. Baywing


    Feb 22, 2005
    CT USA
    Well, you raise a good question and you also have several answers already; ie, you can't go wrong with either.
    The D5 has the better af and really shines in lower light. The files are cleaner at higher ISOs as well.
    You don't mention what glass you will be using and that will factor in. If you have f2.8 glass both will do a great job in lower light levels but if you have f5.6 glass, the D5 will get you a little bit better.
    The D850 does very well and if I could only keep one, that would be the one. I'd give up a little frame rate and the cleaner high ISO's for the extra pixels. The D850 with grip AF falls between the D5 and D500, probably closer to the D500. It's still way better than anything we had 4 years ago.
    If you like the D810 ( I love mine) you'll really love the D850. Since getting my D850 and grip I don't use my D5 very much unless I'm doing a PJ type of shoot. The only advantage the D5 would have would be in low light with larger birds/animals that you don't need to crop in on. If you are always cropping in, the 850 is the winner.
  3. Thanks. I do have a few f/2.8 lenses but they're on the shorter end (<200mm) so unless I can get really close they're not my first choice. I sold my 300 2.8 in favor of a 300 PF. If I'm in the parks I'll primarily use my 500 f/4 but I do frequently need to attach a TC1.4 which as you know loses a stop of light.

    I try not to crop too much but some times distance to the subject is a challenge.
  4. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee
    I agree. I have both the D850 and D5. In most situations the D850 is almost as good as the D5. In really low light (and without a lot of cropping) the D5 has a slight edge. I use mainly the 500mm/f4 but also the 300 pf. These hummer images here were taken on an overcast day (with slight drizzle!), all shot with the 500mm. Some were taken with the D5 and some with the D850. Can you tell which is which? Hint: Look in the lower right corner and click on the "i" for information. All capture info is there. You can then click the right arrow to view the next photo and it's capture settings.

    Also, get DxO Elite and use the Prime Noise Reduction. It takes care of noise while retaining feather and fur detail. It's so good I no longer stress over using high ISOs! REALLY! (If you get it, PM me and I'll share how I use it in my work flow.)
  5. Karen and Baywing make good points. I have both, shoot birds and landscape. I hardly ever us my D5.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018

  6. Thanks for taking the time to answer.

    I've heard nothing but good things about the D850. The only downfall seems to be trying to get one but that will change.
  7. I sold my D850 (twice) and kept the D5. The D5 is noticeably better at AF and high ISO and the other stuff like speed, handling, etc. There is IMO no comparison when it comes to shooting wildlife
  8. Baywing


    Feb 22, 2005
    CT USA
    At worst the wait is around 2 weeks. Depends on the dealer, the big ones have longer wait lists, the smaller brick and mortar shops are quicker. I sent a friend to my dealer back in March, had his in about 2 weeks.
  9. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee
    Try Murphy's Camera in Kentucky. Great local store. They got me one in about a week - and a grip.....last December when the big stores were still filling pre-orders from August!
  10. I firmly believe the flagship bodies have better focusing, even if Nikon says they're the same. They charge more for these bodies for a reason.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. I have a D5, a D850, and a D500. Until owning and shooting them, I believed they were close in ability. I was wrong. For wildlife there is simply no comparison to the D5. The D850 is a great camera, with beautiful big files - but it does not keep up with the D5. I resisted getting a D5 for a long time because I didn't believe it could be that much better than the D4 it replaced. It is. The D850 is a mighty fine camera but it can not compete with the D5 on AF, low light, build, handling, etc.

    I find that unless I know that I am only shooting landscapes or portraits of people, the D850 stays at home. If I could only have one it would be the D5, no question.
  12. I have both the D5 and D500 and the D5 is my first choice every time. Both great cameras just depends on how you shoot and what you shoot.
  13. No high ISO problem with the D500, I use DXO PhotoLab Elite and Affinity photo to clean up the noise. I am sure I could have gone to ISO 5K with no problem.
    I would suggest to wait and see what this new camera that nikon is coming out with and then wait for some reviews and then decide. .

    1. ISO 2500
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    2. ISO 3200
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    3. ISO 3200
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    Attached Files:

    • Like Like x 1
  14. OK, I visited you site. What problem are you actually trying to solve? Granted I'm only looking at images on a 2k and not 4k monitor, but they look great to me.

    On the tech side the D850 could replace both you D500 and D810. It's better than the D810 in several areas. Add the grip and you get 9fps and a 19.4mp DX mode, so speed and pixel density are right up there with the D500. The D5 would get you better AF, more fps, and better high ISO. But I'm not sure it would replace the D810 for landscapes. Do you want to combine them?
  15. What I'm shooting for is better high iso performance when shooting in low light with higher shutter speeds.

    I shoot a lot of wildlife and quite a bit of it is in really crappy light. Another thing I really enjoy shooting are rodeos. The local Friday night shows here in Wyoming typically have lousy lighting towards the end of the show which is also when the bull riding is.

    You really can't go wrong with either one.
  16. The D5 is unquestionably an action camera, but the D850 is unbeatable for landscapes.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. scharn


    Jul 6, 2009
    Berlin, germany
    So you sold the 2.8 300mm to get f4 lens and now trying the retrieve the light by bumping ISO ?
    Maybe a faster glass would be a better fix for your situation then a D5 /D850
    Even a used 600 VR II (non-E) should be very close to D5
  18. Actually I regret that I sold the 300 2.8 but it's a length that I didn't use all that much anyways. Too short for grizzlies so it always had a 1.4 teleconverter attached so it wasn't really a f/2.8 and too long for rodeos where I use a 70-200 f/2.8
  19. With that additional information, get the D5.
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