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GEAR TESTS: Nikon D850 FX Full Frame DSLR Underwater Camera Review

Jim Decker

Jim Decker

CEO: Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo


The Nikon D850 has been my favorite camera to shoot in the past year and a half. The image quality is stunning with great dynamic range, color reproduction, and high ISO/low light performance. It also has 3D tracking autofocus which is one of the easiest and most accurate autofocus systems I've used in a camera.

While I haven't shot it a lot this trip, I did pick up a little bit of macro and tried out the Saga Magic Ball for some unique shots.

For macro the D850 autofocus snaps right to focus even when shooting at more than 1:1 reproduction ratio when using an external super macro lens. This made it easy to get even the smallest critters on the reef nice and sharp. Another great aspect of shooting the D850 with macro is the ability to go to ISO 64. Not only does ISO 64 give 2/3 of a stop of more dynamic range, it also helps knock down the ambient light for black backgrounds when shooting a snoot in the daytime.

This is my first try with the Saga Magic Ball with the Nikon D850. The "ball" is a crystal ball effect with a fisheye wide angle type look in the center and a defocused bokeh background. It makes for some very interesting and different types of images that are a ton of fun to shoot. It's a little tricky to shoot, as the image is upside down and backwards--meaning left is right and up is down. For the D850 it works with a 60mm lens and a diopter with a strength of around +10

And of course, on the last day of the Shootout it was time for a pool party. Why not bring out the D850 for some pool fun! For the shot jumping in the pool, I used 3D tracking to make sure the focus followed on the guys while they were moving. It was getting late in the day with the sun low in the sky when I did the split party shot at ISO 11400. I forgot I had left it at 1/800 from the jump shot! At least it shows the great high ISO performance of the D850.