Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 Review

Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 Review


In this Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 review I will go through the pros and cons of this professional grade zoom lens after having used it for well over a year in my personal and professional work.

The Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 was the first in Olympus’ Pro series of lenses designed for Micro 4/3 cameras. It is a weatherproof (dust, splash and freeze proof) fixed aperture zoom lens offering the 35mm equivalent field of view of a 24-80mm lens. It has a fixed aperture of f/2.8 throughout the zoom range with a filter thread of 62mm.

62mm filter thread


Build Quality


The first thing you will notice when you pick up the 12-40mm is the build quality. Like all of the Olympus Pro range of lenses it is extremely well made. At 382 grams and featuring a metal construction it feels solid in the hand and inspires confidence in use. For me it fits perfectly on the Olympus E-M5 II with the HLD-8G grip attached or on the EM1 and Em1 II giving you a weather sealed combination.


There is also an additional function button on the lens which you can program to activate a variety of features by simply customising it in camera.

While it is a larger lens for Micro 4/3 in comparison to some of the tiny primes, it is not oversized and much smaller than something like the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8. You can carry it attached to your camera all day and not notice the weight.


Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 Review – Focus


This is going to be a very quick section because all there is to say is that focus is as fast as any lens on the system. It is instantaneous to focus and is deadly accurate. Absolutely no issues here.

The zoom ring is nicely damped and it features a manual focus clutch mechanism that allows you to easily swap between auto and manual focus simply by pulling the clutch back or pushing it forward. It uses focus by wire but don’t let that put you off as the focus ring is incredibly smooth and allows you to easily and finely adjust your focus.

Zoom markings are shown for 12, 14, 18, 25, 35, and 40mm. If you pull back on the focus ring you put the lens into manual focus mode and reveal a focus scale. The focus scale has markings at 1’, 2’, 5’, and .2m, .5m, and 1m, plus infinity. Close focus is 8” (0.2m), and the lens can produce a 1:3.3 magnification ratio at 40mm.

The Olympus 12-40mm zooms externally so it increases in length from 3.3″ -5″ when extended.

Size compared to the Olympus 25mm f/1.8 lens

Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 Review – Image Quality


The 12-40mm pro does suffer with some barrel distortion at the wide end if you shoot raw. The Jpegs are corrected in camera and the software does a good job in most cases. At 40mm there is a slight amount of pin cushion distortion. If you are shooting raw and have straight lines in your shots then you will need to correct in post.

The lens also shows some vignetting when wide open at f/2.8. This is easily corrected in post. I guess Olympus tried to keep this constant f/2.8 zoom as small as possible and that means the image circle only just covers the micro 4/3 sensor.

This lens handles chromatic aberration very well and I see very little sign of fringing even when shooting high contrast scenes. It also handles flare well.

The Olympus 12-40mm is sharp from 12mm all the way through to 40mm even wide open at f/2.8. At 12mm the corner performance is slightly softer than the centre but still way better than something like a Canon 17-40mm L. As mentioned the lens is bitingly sharp in the centre at f/2.8 and performance increases slightly when stopped down to f/4.

100% crop of above image


While f/2.8 on the Micro 4/3 format does not offer the same shallow depth of field as on 35mm sensors it is still capable of allowing your subject to be isolated from the background as shown in the above portrait. The bokeh from the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 at 40mm is enough for portrait work and the rendering is smooth and not overly busy. While it couldn’t be described as creamy it is not nervous and distracting and so works well. If you want a dedicated portrait lens then I suggest that you check out my Olympus 75mm f1.8 review or 45mm 1.8 review


Overall I would rate the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 as one of the best zooms I have used. It is very well-built and combined with my EM5II or an EM1 series body offers excellent weather-sealing and a very useful focal range.

In terms of image quality sharpness is outstanding throughout the zoom range enabling you to shoot it wide open at f/2.8 without concern. It can do everything from wide-angle landscapes to portraits and it does it all well. Yes other lenses may be better at specific roles but none offer the versatility and fixed bright aperture of this lens.

If you are trying to decide between this lens and the Panasonic 12-35mm (mark i or mark II) then it really comes down to a few factors as optically they are very similar. The Olympus is better at the wide end and offers a little more range at the long end. However the Panasonic is slightly sharper at 35m than the Olympus is at 40mm.

If you are shooting on a Panasonic body then perhaps you might prefer to go with the Panasonic lens to take advantage of Panasonic’s depth from defocus system and in the case of the mark ii lens their dual sync IS. The Panasonic lenses are both lighter than the Olympus.

However having owned all 3 lenses and as an owner of the Panasonic GH5 and Olympus EM5 II I decided that the build quality of the Olympus 12-40mm edged out the Panasonic and so I kept it over its rivals. When I say edged out, it is night and day. The Panasonic’s feel like a consumer grade lens with very good optics. The Olympus 12-40mm feels like a professional grade lens in every way.

During my testing, dual sync IS between the GH5 and 12-35mm ii made no noticeable improvement in the image stabilisation and didn’t allow me to handhold shots for any longer than when using the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 on the GH5.


If you are going to own just one lens for Micro 4/3 then this may very well be the best choice. Make sure to check out my Olympus 25mm 1.2 Pro review as well.


If you found this Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 review helpful then all I ask is that if you buy anything from Amazon that you use my links below. Your purchase doesn’t have to be photography related, it can be anything at all. I will earn a small commission if you use the links and it really helps me to keep this site going and create more content.



The best value portrait lens in the World

If you are looking for the best value portrait lens in the World then I think I may have the answer for you.

For many years now I have been shooting a variety of cameras and lenses ranging from Micro 4/3 to large format 4×5 film. As I am not rich I like to get the best gear that I can afford that will do the job I need it to do.

With that in mind I have used many different lenses and for portraits I have found that the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens offers the best value of any lens for portrait shots. It comes in at around £200 and is as sharp as you need for portraits. In fact it is pretty sharp wide open at f/1.8 and gets a little sharper when stopped down to f/2.8-5.6.

So below I am going to show why I think it offers great value and is basically a must have lens for every Micro 4/3 photographer.


Don’t forget that you can really help me out by buying this lens through the links on this page. I will earn a small commission and it won’t cost you a penny more.

If you are looking for an even better lens for portraits and don’t mind paying a bit more then be sure to check out my Olympus 75mm f/1.8 review here

Best Value Portrait Lens in The World – Handling

There is nothing outstanding about the handling of the Olympus 45mm f/1.8. It is made of plastic and doesn’t feel particularly expensive. However it is still a notch above lenses like the Canon 50mm 1.8 (sometimes called the plastic fantastic). It feels decently made but certainly cheaper than other lenses such as the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 or Olympus Pro zooms. However it is perfectly functional and does what it needs to do.

The reason I mention handling is because it is such a small and light lens that you can easily add this to your bag or even in a pocket and not even notice the weight. This makes it a carry everywhere lens for me and if I was to only have a 2 lens setup the little 45mm would almost always be one of the two lenses that I would carry.

Best Value Portrait Lens In the World – Image Quality.

More importantly, the reason why I think this lens offers such great value is because it offers really good image quality for the size and weight. It is sharp wide open and as mentioned before it improves a little when stopped down.

It easily defines eyelashes when shooting portraits which is one of my prerequisites for sharpness in a portrait lens.

It doesn’t suffer with any major flaws in terms of CA or distortion. Therefore for the price you get a very handy high quality lens that doesn’t add much weight to your setup. The only criticism I could level at it is that sometimes the bokeh can get a little nervous so you have to watch your background sometimes. However you should always be doing that anyway.

The f/1.8 aperture allows it to be used in low light and maintain fast enough shutter speeds to get sharp people images and the focal length is my personal favourite for portrait work.

Below are a few images taken with the 45mm f/1.8.

100% Crop


Olympus OMD EM5 II Review

This is not just any old Olympus OM EM5 II review. I have written this review after having spent nearly a year using this camera for travel, landscape and portrait photography. In this review I will tell you what is great and not so great about this small but powerful camera. So lets crack on and get into the review. If you are looking at higher end Micro 4/3 cameras then you might like my comparison of the Olympus OMD EM1 ii vs Panasonic GH5


Olympus OMD EM 5 II review – Build Quality and Handling


Let’s start with the build quality and handling of the EM5 II because for me in these days where almost all cameras produce high quality results I find myself more and more concerned with how a camera feels and handles.

The OMD EM5 II is a very well built little camera. It is constructed of a magnesium alloy body and is fully weather sealed. I have used it in everything from tropical rain to sub zero temperatures and it has functioned faultlessly.

The body weighing in at 469g feels dense and solid. Unlike Fuji cameras which often have a slightly hollow feeling. It is a little larger and heavier than the Mk I at 124x85x45mm  but I also find it more comfortable to hold. This is thanks in part to the thumb rest (which extends out a little further) and the increased grip size on the front.

The buttons on the camera also lose the slightly spongy feeling of the mark 1 and as a result give better tactile feedback when in use.

The dials on the mk II are larger and the power switch has been re-positioned to the top left of the camera a la the EM1.

The 3 Inch fully articulated LCD screen feels robust and not in danger of snapping off or becoming a weak point. Let’s not forget that this little camera is weather sealed against dust, water and it is also now tested to be freeze-proof.

The only issue I have had in the handling department with the Olympus OMD EM5 II is the tendency for the rubber viewfinder eye piece to get knocked off when taking it in and out of my bag. So I would advise that you keep an eye on it to make sure you don’t lose it.

I would also mention that in its default state the startup time can be slow. It can also be tedious when the eye sensor is turned on and you switch between the LCD and EVF. I personally turn off the eye sensor and shoot only through the EVF. Leaving the LCD for reviewing images. This greatly speeds up operation of the camera.

I like the modular nature of the OMD EM5 II. What do I mean by this? Well I would advise any owner to at least pick up the HLD8G part of the battery grip because it really adds to the handling of the camera when using larger lenses. I find that with the HLD8G grip added the camera handles very similarly to my old EM1. It feels just right with larger lenses like the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro attached. Of course with this combination you now have a very well weather sealed camera and lens combination that can take in just about any climate.

But of course you also have the choice to go small and light when you wish by removing the grip and using smaller prime lenses like the 25mm 1.8.

The HLD 6G grip transforms the handling with larger lenses attached.
All the function buttons are customisable and so are the dials.


Olympus OMD EM5 II Review – Features


  • 16mp Micro 4/3 sensor
  • In-built 5 axis image stabilisation
  • 40mp Hi res mode
  • 1080/60p shooting and 1080/30p at up to 77Mbps (All-I)
  • 1/8000th sec maximum shutter speed (1/16000th with electronic shutter)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Live Bulb and Live time for easy long exposure photography



Let’s talk about that 16mp sensor because some may feel it is lacking compared to many competitors today where they are regularly offering 20-24mp on larger APS-C sensors.

While the 16mp sensor doesn’t quite keep up with competition anymore it is still perfectly capable of giving detailed images that can easily be used for everything from social media to prints up to 30×20″ with proper technique.


This is a 100% crop from Raw file with no adjustments or sharpening.


Dynamic range is on par with larger APS-C sensor offerings from Fuji and Nikon (see my Micro 4/3 vs APS-C comparison here).

Up to ISO 3200 is perfectly usable and the grain from noise is not unsightly.

Below are a couple of samples from shots taken at ISO 3200. Test charts don’t really give you a clear idea of real world noise performance. I find that the real test is shooting portraits and seeing how the camera does with skin tones. Both of these are 100% crops.

ISO 3200 straight from raw file with no adjustments, no noise reduction or sharpening


The same shot with +25 luminance NR in LIghtroom CC and a little sharpening.

Olympus also offers a Hi Res mode which gives 40mp files that both improve the detail and colour accuracy of the images. It is an incredible feat. However the caveat is that you really need to lock your camera down on a solid tripod and have minimal to no movement within the scene. It is workable with landscape images and is certainly very useful for studio product and architectural photography.

Click the image to see the full resolution shot on Flickr

The image stabilisation within the EM5 II is one of the standout features of this camera. At 24mm I can comfortably hand hold shots at 1 second which has several benefits. Firstly it allows you to lower the shutter speed and keep the ISO low, resulting in better quality photos with less noise. This somewhat negates the benefits of larger sensor cameras if your subjects are stationary.

Secondly it allows you to feel comfortable heading out with your camera without a tripod.

Shot handheld at 1/3 second.

The 1/8000 of a second fastest mechanical shutter speed means that even using fast prime lenses in broad daylight is usually not an issue.

Video has been improved on the EM5 II over the original and the quality is decent enough for travel use and V-Logging. You can even shoot time lapse and slow motion in camera. However the video image is nowhere near as sharp as that given by recent Panasonic cameras.

Here is a quick video I put together using the OMD EM5II and GH5. The scenes up to the vegetables being chopped are all shot on the EM5 II

I also find myself using the handy Olympus Viewer app to transfer images from the camera to my phone for quick uploading to social media. Unlike Fuji there is no 30 picture transfer limit. The app is simple and functional, allowing you to also leave your shutter release at home as you can trigger the camera from it.

The viewfinder on the EM5 II is taken directly from the EM1 and is larger than the one found on the Olympus Pen F for example. It is not the largest EVF in the world, with those from the Fuji XT2 and Panasonic GH5 offering a better experience. However it is large enough to manually focus lenses and see all the details that you will need to capture the moment.

With really useful tools in camera such as Live Bulb and Live Time you can capture long exposures while being given a preview on the LCD screen as the image builds. This is one of the standout features of Olympus cameras at the moment and genuinely useful.

Olympus OMD EM5 II Review – Verdict


So why am I reviewing the Olympus OMD EM5 II when it has been out for a couple of years now and its replacement is expected in a few months time.

Well in this day and age with companies constantly bombarding us with their marketing telling us that we need the latest and greatest in order to be good photographers, compete with everyone else etc, I wanted to show that this 2 year old small sensored camera is still perfectly capable of producing professional quality results in a small package with all the features you are likely to ever need.

It can now be bought for around £600 in the UK from some suppliers such as Cotswold Cameras and at that price it is an absolute steal.

If you are trying to decide between the Olympus OMD EM5 II and the Olympus Pen F then check out my comparison here 


And if you are going to do any shopping on Amazon UK or Amazon US then please do click through my links as I will earn a small commission and it wont cost you a penny more.

Olympus 75mm 1.8 Review



The Olympus 75mm f/1.8 has a rather odd focal length but despite this it is regarded as one of the best lenses in the Micro 4/3 lineup.

In this Olympus 75mm f1.8 review I am going to show you how this lens performs in the real World. You wont find any charts here, just real World use and everyday photos.

Olympus 75mm 1.8 Review – Build quality


Lets not beat around the bush, the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens is not cheap, however it is within the price range of a lot of enthusiasts before we push into the territory of really expensive glass such as the Panasonic Nocticron 42.5mm 1.2.


The build quality of the Olympus 75mm feels excellent with its metal barrel and smooth focus ring. In matt black finish it looks beautiful attached to my black EM5II. Suffice to say you can feel where the extra money goes in comparison to lenses such as the Olympus 25mm 1.8 and 45mm 1.8. Those lenses are optically very good but they feel made to a budget whereas the 75mm 1.8 feels like no expense has been spared in crafting this lens. Easily on par with the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens, in fact it feels a little nicer in the hand.

It feels well balanced on an EM5 II and even better with a grip attached. For a 150mm equivalent lens this is exceptionally small and light. But it doesn’t feel cheap. Just well built, solid and professional.

Size wise it is easier to just show you the lens compared to the 45mm 1.8 and 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom to give you an idea of the size.



The 75mm compared to 45mm (left) and 12-40mm Pro (right)



I’m not going to go into detail on auto focus performance except to say that it is very quick to focus. As fast as any lens on the system. The only caveat is that in low light it can hunt a little but that is due to the contrast detect AF system on the EM5II. All lenses perform like this on the EM5 II. However I will retest it on the EM1 mk II once I have one as its phase detect focus points should help it perform better.

Olympus 75mm 1.8 Review – Image Quality

A lens like the Olympus 75mm 1.8 is a beautiful thing. I really do find satisfaction in handling and looking at a piece of glass that is this well made. There is a beautiful aesthetic to well made products and I appreciate this.

However that means very little if the performance is not up to scratch.


This is the second copy of the Olympus 75mm lens that I have owned and they both performed to a very similar level. That is they are both pin sharp. In fact this is some of the sharpest glass you will ever use should you decide that the focal length suits your style.

It is sharp from wide open with only minor improvements when stopping down to f/4 and f/5.6.


Lets take a quick look at some samples below.



Shot at f/1.8
100% crop from the centre (conversion from raw with no adjustments)


100% Crop from the corner


The lens is sharp and gives plenty of detail even wide open at f/1.8


Stopping down to f/4 increases IQ slightly




All the above images were shot in raw and then exported as jpegs for the website without any adjustments in lightroom.


The Olympus 75mm 1.8 is pin sharp in the centre at 1.8 with some slight loss of quality as we get out to the edges. One thing you can pick up on here is a little bit of purple fringing in the corners in the first image. I’ll go in to that in more detail later.

Here’s a shot of my wife that I took which shows how sharp details such as eyelashes look when shooting portraits. I didn’t make any extra effort to get a really sharp shot here. This was how it came out when we were playing about taking pictures.




Shot at F/8 using off camera flash but sharpness is nearly as good even wide open.



It’s pretty obvious that a lot of us buy fast glass for the ability to throw the background out of focus. Some lenses exhibit nervous bokeh (out of focus areas) and others render the scene in to a dreamy hazy creaminess. It is somewhat subjective to analyse bokeh with many factors playing a role. However I can say that the Olympus 75mm 1.8 offers creamy smooth bokeh with a gentle fall off. It doesn’t suffer with nervousness which can cause the out of focus areas to become distracting to the viewers eye. But hey, why read about bokeh when it is easier for me to show you a few examples below.





Shot at f/1.8
Look at the difference in subject isolation between the previous shot and this one shot at f/4.

Is the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 a perfect lens?

It’s pretty close to perfect if the focal length suits you. However there are two points that I would note.

  1. It is not weather sealed but I don’t mind as this is a specialist lens for particular situations. It is not intended to be a do everything lens like the 12-40mm Pro. Therefore weather sealing while nice is not essential.
  2. It suffers with some Purple fringing in very high contrast scenes.

Lets talk more about the purple fringing

This is quite a common flaw in many of todays lenses and I am not usually put off by it as long as a lens doesn’t suffer too badly.

The Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens does suffer some purple fringing when shooting very high contrast scenes. The real acid test for this kind of fringing is always backlit leaves on trees so I shot a few example to see how it performed.



Notice the purple fringing due to the very high contrast scene. This is 100% crop of the worst affected area of the image


Just bare this in mind if you are going to shoot in very high contrast conditions but I would not let it put you off what is otherwise a superb performing lens.

Olympus cameras generally do a good job of removing Chromatic abberations in camera using profiles for each lens so it is not always a problem. I have also intentionally shot the lens in what is the most difficult situation so that I can highlight any flaws.


The Olympus 75mm 1.8 doesn’t exhibit any issues with lens flare. In fact I shot it straight into the sun through some leaves and it coped remarkably well. It retained plenty of contrast in the image. Move the sun just out of frame and you have no problems with flare at all.


The lens does not suffer any noticeable levels of distortion.


Olympus 75mm 1.8 review – Verdict


Overall the Olympus 75mm is a great performing lens. Optically it is one of the sharpest lenses I have used for any system. If you are using micro 4/3 and you want to define every eyelash in your vicitms (ahem sorry I mean subjects) then this lens can easily do that. The creamy bokeh and sharp glass from wide open mean that you can use this lens exactly how it is intended to be used.

The fact that Olympus do not provide a lens hood with a more premium lens like this still grates a little but in the end the results that this lens can produce makes it worth the added cost over something like the 45mm 1.8.

However if you are just looking for your first portrait lens to add to say, a standard zoom, then I would advise you to look more closely at the incredible value of the Olympus 45mm f/1.8. It is sharp, light and a lot cheaper than the 75mm. Plus I find the focal length much more useful in a wider range of situations.


If you found this review helpful then all I ask is that if you buy anything from Amazon that you click on my links below first so that I can earn a small (and I mean tiny) commission. It wont cost you a penny (cent, pesos) more.

Best cameras for Travel Photography 7 Reasons Why Micro 4/3 Kicks Ass

I have access to and use a lot of cameras yet I choose to travel with an Olympus OM-D E-M5II. Here are just 7 reasons why Micro 4/3 offers the best cameras for travel photography.

1. Size and weight

Cameras like the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, Pen F and Panasonic GX-8 are small, light and well-built cameras. When you are looking for a camera for travel photography you have to consider just how much you want to carry with you. Yes the Sony A series are in some cases equally as small but then add in a decent zoom lens and a couple of primes and the difference in weight grows substantially. I carry with me an Olympus EM5II, Olympus HLD 8 battery grip, Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro, Olympus 25mm f/1.8, 45mm f/1.8 and 75mm f/1.8. My Olympus system feels modular in nature. I can choose to go from really small and light using just the EM5II and the 25mm 1.8 or I can add the grip and use the 12-40mm Pro lens on the fully gripped body for extra battery life when I am on extended shoots.

2. Image Quality

Cameras from Olympus and Panasonic offer me a lightweight system without compromising on image quality. Some people will say you need a full frame camera and you may, if you specifically want the most shallow depth of field possible and the best high ISO noise performance. However if most of your photography is not shot in pitch black conditions at night and you don’t just want one eye in focus for portraits then Micro 4/3 is more than capable.

The differences between Micro 4/3 and APS-C in anything below 3200 ISO are negligible. In fact in a blind test I would be willing to bet 95% of people could not tell what sized sensor was used between the two. It more than meets the standards needed to submit your photos to stock photography sites and earn some cash to pay for all those trips. Add in the incredible in-body image stabilisation and you can shoot at much lower ISO’s than using other cameras without IS. So not only can you shoot at lower ISO’s to give the best possible image quality but you may not need to drag your tripod with you everywhere. The OM-D E-M1 Mark II allows you to get sharp hand-held shots at shutter speeds of 1 second and longer. I have printed 30×20″ prints from Micro 4/3 and hung them and most importantly sold them in galleries. They stand up well when proper technique is used.

Image quality is great on Micro 4/3. Prints up to 30×20″ at gallery quality, more than good enough to sell for stock. What more do you need?

3. Lens Choice

Micro 4/3 offers a huge range of lenses so that whatever your shooting style there is bound to be a lens that fits. The system has lenses from the tiny Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 up to Pro grade zooms like the Olympus 300mm f/4. In general the lenses are very sharp. I love the results from my Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro. I’d go as far as to say it is my favourite zoom lens of any system (and I have used a lot of Canon L glass and the Nikon 2.8 zooms). Want the best value portrait lens in the World? Pick up the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 for around £200 and you got it. That little lens is sharp and incredible value. It also takes up virtually no weight in your bag.

My Olympus prime lenses. From left to right the 25mm 1.8, 45mm 1.8 and 75mm 1.8.
I find that these complement my 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens perfectly.

Take a look at the huge range of Micro 4/3 lenses available here 

4.Electronic Viewfinder.

When you are considering which camera is best for travel photography you have to remember that often you don’t have a lot of time to get the shot. You may be working on a deadline or maybe your family are waiting for you and asking you to hurry up because they want dinner. If you are using a standard DSLR with an optical viewfinder it is quite likely that you will take the shot and then have to check it on your rear LCD screen to see if the exposure is correct, is it in focus, how are the colours etc. I remember shooting with a Canon 5D MK II for years and as good as that camera was, there was a process required to get the shot that I wanted. It involved checking my image on the rear LCD screen, then correcting the exposure, re-shooting and so on. It might often take 5 shots to get everything perfect. All the time your family are giving you that look that says, we are bored now, hurry up. With an electronic viewfinder what you see in the viewfinder is what you get in your final image. No more chimping on the rear screen afterwards. Select your settings and take the picture. You already know that you got the shot. Now it’s time to go and enjoy dinner with a happy family.

5. Image Stabilisation

I cannot overstate how useful it is to have image stabilisation built-in to the camera body. There are so many benefits. It increases your keeper rate. No more blurry photos because you had too much coffee that morning and your hands were shaking. No more worrying about getting sharp food shots when you are in poor light in that restaurant. Simply select the ISO, aperture and shutter speed you want and the IS system will do the rest. Tack sharp food shots and great IQ because you could use a lower ISO setting. Don’t want to lug a tripod around with you. No problem as the latest in body IS has you covered for shutter speeds as low as a few seconds. Not only does this allow you to keep your ISO low but it gives you creative flexibility to use slower shutter speeds in order to blur water or show movement without having to carry tripods. Your travel photography will become more creative and your back will thank you later.

In-body IS means that you can leave your tripod at home more often.


6. Discretion

I have traveled to every continent except the Antarctic. I have lived in many countries and one thing that I have always found is that with a smaller camera you can take photos without gaining too much attention. If you are carrying around a hulking great DSLR with Pro f/2.8 lens attached then you stand out like a sore thumb in many countries. It also feels a little awkward when you are carrying around gear that costs more than the average annual salary of a worker in some countries. Being discreet allows you to blend in (or at least not stand out as much) and get photos that just wouldn’t be possible with a DSLR and huge white lens attached. When people see DSLR’s they get a little camera shy, their expressions often change and they may even wish to avoid being photographed altogether. Pull out your cute looking Olympus Pen F and it is a totally different story. You will look like a tourist, an amatuer but that’s great, Just what you want because you know that inside your ‘cute’ ‘inexpensive’ looking camera the image that you just captured is just as good as your DSLR could have done.



If you’re a striving creative who wants to add to their skill set and portfolio then you will probably want to get in to video. It is a great way to bring your audience with you and show them the beauty of the places that you visit. Micro 4/3 offers all of the above benefits while giving impressive video quality. My OM-D E-M5II offers full HD video at up to 60 frames per second. That allows for some slow motion capture . It even has the ability to create slow motion in camera. Combine the decent video quality with in built image stabilisation and it is no longer a chore to set up and create travel videos to go along side your photos. The Olympus OM-D Em1 II offers 4k video with excellent quality. If you are really serious about video then Micro 4/3 offers the best video camera below a full blown pro rig in the form of the Panasonic GH5. It gives you Internal 4K/30p 10-bit 4:2:2, 4K/59.94p and 50p shooting with 10-bit 4:2:2 external output or 8-bit, 4:2:0 internal at 150Mbps IPB, 1080 video at up to 180p, Pre-config rack focus mode, Waveform and vectorscope monitors, Paid upgrade for V-Log video capture with preview display using luts. This will be my next investment as I get more and more in to video work.

So there you have 7 reasons why Micro 4/3 make the best cameras for travel photography. I didn’t even mention that they offer some of the best built and most weather sealed cameras, the benefits of the 2x crop factor for wildlife shots or that manufacturers such as Olympus often upgrade the cameras throughout their life cycle to add improvements and new features. That is the sort of customer service and product support that gives me confidence to buy their cameras.

If you want to look in more detail at how Micro 4/3 compares against APS-C sensors then I did a comparison here

Want to make sure you get the sharpest photos possible then check out my article here

If you want to buy any of the cameras mentioned in this article then you can do so at no extra cost by purchasing through my Amazon links. Thank you if you make any purchases as it really does help me to keep this site going.

What camera do you use for your travel photography? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Nikon D850 review by Russ Barnes

These days I shoot almost exclusively with mirrorless cameras (Panasonic GH5 review coming soon) so I asked Russ as a dedicated and highly respected landscape photographer to write up a Nikon D850 review based on his experience shooting it professionally in the beautiful Peak District.

Here is his Nikon D850 review which will tell you everything that you need to know about the D850 in the real world. If you appreciate this review and the work we put in to it then please buy your Nikon D850 or anything at all using the links below. We will earn a small commission from anything that you buy using the links an it wont cost you a penny more.


Buy the Nikon D850 from Wex in the UK
On paper, the Nikon D850 promises much, it’s certainly a camera that I think Nikon have aimed to disrupt the whole market with by seemingly packing in as much as it possibly can. There are one or two other manufacturers out there lately who have fallen into the rather questionable habit of trying to pass off ageing tech in a ‘new’ body but with the D850 Nikon feels like they are going all out to deliver a dynamite combination of speed, resolution and flexibility. Amongst the questions I will attempt to answer here is does that spec sheet deliver real world improved outcomes over what has come before, and how?

You should know I mainly shoot landscapes, so that will be the main subject focus here. In particular, the 45MP resolution on offer from the D850 lends itself perfectly to this remit, delivering highly detailed files. My experience with Nikon goes back many, many years now and I’ve owned a whole series of their DSLRs and a huge number of lenses. More recently these bodies have included the D800, D800E, D810, Df, D500 and now of course the D850 so I’m fairly well placed to make comparisons of feature sets and image quality. I currently retain three of these – the D850, a D500 and a 720nm converted infrared D800 for my day to day shooting. I should also say in passing that I’ve plenty of experience with the Fuji X Mirrorless system too, though I no longer retain any of it.

Before recently picking up the D850, my ‘main’ landscape camera was the Nikon D810. It was in many ways the camera that everyone really wanted the D800 to be when it was originally released back in 2012. The D810 is a highly refined shooting experience compared to the D800, has a nicely dampened shutter release, delivers that wonderful ISO64 setting for ultra clean files, has an improved rear LCD display and is generally a lovely DSLR to use. I suppose until someone puts a pile of improvements in front of you in a new package it is the sort of camera that many people would continue to be highly satisfied with.

But then things inevitably evolve. Nikon definitely disrupted the marketplace with the rather unexpected release of the D500 right at the start of 2016 in which it grabbed some of the top of the line pro level features from the Nikon D5 and created a DX (crop) sensor high-performance 20.9MP 10 FPS beast at an altogether accessible price point, intended for the mass market. As a landscape photographer I always want a secondary body because frankly the risk of damage to gear is elevated given the occasional dangerous environments and outdoor shooting scenarios that you can encounter. Until the D500 was released I had been using the Df in that role but while the Df produced gorgeous files it was also a deeply flawed and frustrating user experience on many levels all at the same time. The D500 looked to have resolved many of those flaws to me (autofocus and handling being particularly significant improvements) and so I traded my Df and I really haven’t looked back.

In fact, the D500 was so good, something unexpected started to happen – the D500 was becoming my DSLR of choice over the D810 because it just did things so much better, despite having a significant resolution disadvantage. The sheer speed capability and zip about the camera with XQD was a huge revelation, the touchscreen provided a much improved shooting experience while big autofocus, white balance and punchy colour output improvements made me genuinely start to wish I could just somehow have those features combined with the greater 36MP resolution of the D810 along with its ISO advantage. If only….


Does the D850 prove dreams come true? I would have loved to have been in that Nikon design meeting when someone said “Why don’t we try and make a camera that brings the D500 and D810 together in a single package?”. And then someone agreed. When the spec list was initially leaked to the world I don’t think many camera lovers could believe that Nikon were about to do just that – take the power and sheer performance of features drawn from the D5/D500 and combine those with a higher resolution body built on the pedigree of the D810. Could it be we finally had it all, the goldilocks camera; speed, precision, high resolution, handling. Let’s see…

So let’s get down to brass tacks with the D850 and start with the outside and work our way in:

Presence, Handling & Basic Usability

Out of the box, it probably won’t surprise you to hear that first impressions are that the D850 honestly doesn’t look too different to anything Nikon has made before in this series. When sitting alongside my D500 in particular I can barely tell the two apart by sight and it’s definitely more D500 than D810 in its shape and physical presence. There is only a small height and shape difference when you get to the top of the camera where changes are just about apparent. The D850 is more angular with a pinch of extra height (in order to facilitate the new pentaprism viewfinder) but I expect to keep picking up the wrong camera for a long time while the two are in the same bag!

As I reported at the start of this piece I’ve used a plethora of Nikon bodies but I also mentioned the Fuji X System. One of the reasons why I didn’t get on with Fuji at all was that I couldn’t get my hand comfortably around them (I used an X-E2 and X-T1); they were just too small and if I added a more substantial lens up front the X System was a very poorly balanced experience in my view. To a degree, the Nikon Df suffers from a similar narrow grip problem too which is where the D500 totally delivers, and yes, the ‘D500 grip experience’ is carried into the D850, and marginally improved upon. It’s a fantastic substantial feel which you can comfortably hold with larger lenses whilst giving the confidence of being very well balanced, a joy in truth.

There are weight differences which are more apparent however. There is a bit of additional heft about the D850 and for comparison I’ve listed the respective weights together below (all include a loaded EN-EL15 battery):

Nikon D500       860g
Nikon D810       980g
Nikon D850       1015g

Now, to anyone other than the most sensitive of people, the D850 won’t feel any different to the D810 weight wise but holding a D500 in one hand and the D850 in the other with my eyes closed, I know which one is which. I put the 155g difference down to the body make up – the D850 comes with a magnesium alloy shell with advanced weather sealing (similar in construction to the D810) while the D500 definitely has more lighter weight plastics used in its bones.

One particular component which is all new in the D850 is its optical viewfinder. It’s technical specification here is that the pentaprism delivers a 0.75x magnification which won’t mean much to most people without a frame of reference. Nikon say that this is the biggest and brightest viewfinder in a Nikon camera yet and from my point of view it is indeed rather gorgeous. I don’t really have anything else to say about this other than from my point of view it remains a key advantage over mirrorless cameras. If you want the ‘mirrorless experience’ you can switch to Live View and Bob’s your Auntie, the best of both worlds.

I’m going to cover the LCD Touchscreen in its own section further below but I should mention the basic accessibility of controls right here. Once again Nikon doesn’t try to do anything too ambitious with its control layout on the D850 and sticks to a very tried and tested button formula which works fantastically well for me. In designing the D850 they pretty much took an identical button layout from the D500 and applied it, including the splendid autofocus point selection joystick which the D810 lacked on the back and the dedicated ISO button on the top near the shutter button which I love. (By the way, you can program the D800 and D810 to change the function of the Movie Record button to do exactly the same). The only thing I continue to take issue with here is the rather confusing application of an ‘i’ button which resides directly next to the ‘info’ button. Even as I write this now I can’t tell you which button does what until you press one. That single nuance aside, all of the main functionality is easily accessible as always and Nikon have a very nicely tuned layout for me.

Another physical feature the D850 inherited from the D500 are buttons which light up on the top and down the back left of the camera (though notably not the buttons to the right of the LCD on the back). Pre-dawn shoots are positively improved here for me – less guesswork and more certainty in very low light improves the shooting experience. Once again, it’s a very useful feature that the D810 didn’t enjoy and another tick for the D850.

The pop-up flash may be gone, but I bought the rather splendid alloy Nikon ASC-01 hotshoe cover to crown my D850

One of the key physical differences I should mention between the D810 and the D850 is the loss of the pop-up flash. It’s true that one or two people will lament this change by Nikon maybe but from most landscape photographer’s point of view I expect it represented a weak point in the D810. It’s sheer presence on the camera compromised weather sealing in my view (I used to regularly mop moisture from under the flash unit after rain or seascape shoots) and so I am very pleased to see it gone. Other opinions will apply here of course(!) but the D500’s design had already done away with it so in my view it also made perfect sense that this particular trend would continue. One or two may find it hard to agree but I genuinely see the removal of the pop-up flash as progress, not a retro-step which downgrades the spec of the D850 in any way.

My verdict on Presence, Handling, & Basic Usability: The D850 definitely has a fantastic grip and all over solid quality feel to it. The design is robust and I see the non-inclusion of the pop-up flash of the D800/D810 as an advantage adding to that strength, but others might see that differently. One or two might find the overall weight unappealing but if so looking at a DSLR in the first place probably isn’t the right choice for you. For those that want the best quality this segment of the camera market has to offer, I challenge you not to be happy with the D850 – it delivers a superb viewfinder experience and all of the right controls are in all of the right places, indeed it improves on everything that has gone before it for me. A big win in this section of the review overall, especially when compared to the D810.

The Touchscreen Experience

More improvements here for the D850. Nikon took the excellent D500 application of the tilting LCD and built on it. This is where some product differentiation starts to show again between models;

  • The D810 has a fixed LCD screen with no touch controls at all. In itself it was very much a big improvement over the original D800/E in Live View and enjoyed a 3.2” 1,229,000 dot resolution.
  • The D500 by comparison to the D810 has a nicely robust tilting 3.2” LCD but enjoyed a resolution boost to 2,359,000 dots, almost doubling the look of image sharpness on the back of the camera. Another big introduction here was touch controls but significantly these do not work in menus, something which I think Nikon could potentially address with Firmware (I won’t hold my breath though!). It is only really useful in landscape orientation though, it doesn’t tilt and flip for use in portrait orientation.
  • Finally, the D850 also enjoys the same predictably strong tilting 3.2” LCD and 2,359,000 super-sharp resolution but now has additional touch controls not only for Live View use but for the camera menus too. Just like the D500 you can touch to focus, touch to release the shutter, pinch and swipe controls (just like your smartphone) in image review etc. It’s still only really best used in landscape orientation but it all adds up to a very predictable and tidy experience – I love it and it was one of my key reasons to buy the camera.

The D850 solution is inevitably the most rounded and usable of all three, so much so I’m now somewhat irritated my D500 doesn’t have quite the same functionality because it’s definitely the right experience on the D850 and I’ve now been spoiled by the improvement. It has been said down the years that tilt screens are a point of weakness and could easily break. In my experience Nikon’s implementation couldn’t make this further from the truth – it’s definitely NOT a flimsy execution and I have no concerns whatsoever. There are plenty of videos on YouTube of photographers swinging their Nikon by the flip-out screen (not something I would generally recommend!) but these just go to support what I’m talking about. I should say that I also frequent one or two photography forums and I haven’t seen a single complaint of LCD screen failure or damage at all in the D500 or D850.

Just as a side point, I put a GGS Larmor LCD protector on my touchscreen to add to its general defence (I did this with my D500 too) – I’ve had a situation on a previous camera where I was pleased it had been there. There is no change in touchscreen responsiveness with this additional protection though obviously you add anything like this at your own ‘risk’.

Pinch to zoom, swipe, double tap, the touchscreen is not only beautifully sharp but fully functional

Some might cry foul here based on my scathing assessment of the pop-up flash on the D810 being a weakness but the truth is that the flip out screen closes very securely to the camera back – you wouldn’t necessarily know it was a tilt screen unless someone showed you how to pull it out. The D850 and D500 share the same robustness here and for landscape photographers like me means I can get really low without having to lie in the undergrowth or puddles. It’s a very welcome addition indeed and a massive improvement over the D810 which lacks all of these features.

My verdict on the Touchscreen Experience: Nikon have implemented an excellent solution with its D850 touchscreen. There is little to complain about – resolution is sharp, responsiveness is predictable and accurate and the tilting capability makes for much easier usage (in landscape orientation at least). You can now access menus as well as Live View controls and its touchscreen is as good an implementation as I have in my iPhone which can only be the best possible reference for Nikon here.

A few minutes on Memory Cards

This might seem like a bit of an odd thing to focus in on but all will become clear in a moment. When Nikon decided the spec for the D850, they once again took the D500 model and replicated the memory card choices – two slots for resiliency or overflow (my preference is for resiliency), one being dedicated to the XQD format and one to the latest UHS-II SD card format. The problem here is that at present both slots operate at different maximum speeds and there’s a bit of debate across the internet about Nikon’s continued preference in respect of the use of XQD.

So far, Nikon have very successfully used the XQD card format in the D4s, D5, D500 and now the D850. I see XQD as a super-fast data card format delivering (at the time of writing) a maximum of around 440MBs per second. That’s a whopping 4Gbits/s of data transfer potential and make no mistake that’s HUGE speed and power. All of this muscle is of course needed to facilitate the native 7 frames per second (FPS) bursts of 45MP images, up to 9 FPS with the additional MB-D18 grip and EN-EL18 battery combo.

So what’s the issue? The issue is one of potential supply issues right now. The story goes that Nikon got together with Sony and Sandisk to develop the XQD format, yet Sandisk still don’t make an XQD card for reasons I can’t explain. Lexar did however enter the market and manufacture these cards right up until they closed their retail division recently, leaving Sony, as the sole supplier. Curiously Lexar have re-emerged claiming they will now continue to produce XQD after all, but for how long who knows. Some see the whole situation as problematic and I can understand why, a narrow market is rarely good news for consumers where specialist items are concerned. The rather quizzical situation is confused further by the fact that Sony (despite being one of the key partners in designing this fantastic card) have not implemented XQD in even the recent release of the A7R MkIII, reserving the cards for only a handful of their high-end video cameras. Bottom line – do I really care about all of this? In a word, no, but it’s context worth pointing out I think. Cards look like they are available at reasonably fair prices and are not in short supply. I personally use Lexar cards in my D500 and D850 for both the XQD and UHS-II SD slot and I can highly recommend them while they are still available. A 64GB card has capacity for around 640 lossless compressed RAW files on the D850.

My choice of memory cards was easy – independent tests has Lexar as the top performer

Here’s the rub though: whether you use XQD or UHS-II SD (or both together), the best cards with highest write speeds unlock the full performance of the D850 and turn it into a lightning fast proposition. It’s spectacular. Don’t put slow cards into this camera because you will positively kill its potential – I shoot with a Lexar 2933x (440MB/s) XQD card in slot 1 and the Lexar 2000x (300MB/s) UHS-II SD card in slot 2. Fast cards ensure that the buffer empties quickly so for those who are trigger happy they will get the most out of it by buying the fastest cards possible. Frankly the 7fps (9 with grip) performance of the D850 absolutely trounces the D810, the D810 is not in the same league at all and these card choices enhance the speed of operation in the camera significantly including image review, download, in-camera re-touching and so on.

My verdict on Memory Cards: Yes, I would much rather actually have both slots utilise the same card format but in real world shooting it’s still a very high performance experience regardless, vastly improved over the D810 and nothing at all to complain about. Just perhaps buy enough XQD card capacity to keep you good for a while…

Let’s get into image quality and the shooting experience now, which is absolutely critical.

Sensor Resolution and ISO Performance

Nikon created a brand new 45MP Back-Side Illuminated (BSI) sensor for the D850 and suggested there would be visible improvement that came with that package. Pinning sensor resolution and ISO performance together for this part of the review is therefore important because these aspects of the camera usually trade off fairly heavily against each other.

Anyone investigating this end of the DSLR market should already understand the reason why lower resolution cameras perform better at higher ISO (and if you don’t you had better look it up elsewhere first!) which is why the 16MP Nikon Df, with its hand-me-down D4 sensor performs so beautifully at higher ISO and why the D810 struggles to deliver usable quality images over ISO6400 (my opinion of course). Resolution and High ISO continue to be in contention no matter how good the implementation is, though clearly as time moves on and technology improves every camera company is seeking the holy grail of good quality High ISO with the benefits of higher resolution. The question is, did Nikon really manage to pull this feat off and improve the performance over the D810?

Well, my answer is yes, and no. I’m really not sitting on the fence here, it just depends what your definition of ‘improvement’ is. Some people are looking for the unicorn ‘one stop improvement’ with every camera release which frankly was never likely here and has definitely not been delivered. However, the way I see things is that Nikon took the D810’s excellent class leading 36MP sensor (which Canon shooters would still probably trade a kidney for!) and re-engineered it to deliver a 9MP resolution bump to 45MP. That’s a 25% pixel level boost which I think is pretty significant in its own right. Nikon not only delivered this boost while protecting the lower ISO performance (which would have been a REAL concern to me if they hadn’t) but in addition, from what I can see, also managed a marginal higher ISO improvement (which is subtle, but present). Probably the more significant improvement is Nikon managed to deal with the removal of the magenta cast that is usually present in blacks and is experienced at high ISO settings in the vast majority of digital cameras. I’m not clear whether they managed to deal with this at a circuitry level (benefits of the BSI sensor perhaps) or whether it’s dealt with via software as the RAW file is recorded but whichever way you look at it, that is also an improvement.

The sensor delivers exceptional detail and colour, the combination of ISO64 and 45MP is staggering

For landscape purposes the camera operates at its optimum level at ISO 64 where it continues to produce super clean files with huge available dynamic range (a whopping 14.8 EV). I can certainly see the resolution advantage over the D810 on my 5k iMac screen but whether that translates to even the largest of prints is debateable. What I do know is that this performance is definitely real competition for certain Medium Format cameras making the D850 look like a bargain in real terms.

My verdict on Sensor Resolution & ISO Performance: Nikon may not have delivered immediately noticeable vast improvements in image quality but that does not mean significant improvements have not been delivered over a camera like the Nikon D810, a DSLR which already provided outstanding image quality, particularly at low ISO. For me, a resolution boost to 45MP whilst retaining its world class low ISO performance was already an achievement but there are high ISO enhancements too which makes the D850 sensor the benchmark against which all other camera manufacturers will want to compete.

Focus Modes & Tuning

As part of the hybrid D810/D500 collision approach to building the D850, it inherited the same Autofocus (AF) module used in the D500 (and D5). It has 153 AF points (99 of those being highly responsive cross-type) and the camera also has its own dedicated AF processor which in theory speeds everything up (which it definitely does).

My experience with all of the D800 series is that autofocus never felt that ‘secure’. Low light performance could be hit and miss, and tracking was always good without being amazing. The performance of outer AF points could sometimes be unreliable too, depending on which lens was used. All of this experience changed when I got my hands on the D500 and so I was pretty excited to hear that the D850 would get the same module.

I’m not going to lie, it’s not something I’ve extensively tested in anger so far and a lot of the time my subject matter doesn’t really push the camera in this respect, however I do see a reliability improvement for sure over the D810 so far. If you’re really interested in the finer detail of AF performance it may be best to seek out a D850 review from say a wildlife photographer who can go to town on this particular element but suffice to say I’m very satisfied regardless.

However, I’m not throwing in the towel just here on this section because there are indeed other exciting changes to the focus system that are genuinely big reasons why the D850 was an easy choice for me:

  • Manual Focus:A really big deal this for me – as a landscaper I have four all manual lenses; three Zeiss offerings and a Nikon Tilt Shift PC-e. The news is Nikon finally implemented focus peaking in the D850, a feature which is usually synonymous with mirrorless cameras and finally means that accurate manual focussing can be easily achieved (Live View only). Often new features need a couple of generations before they are great, but I have to say that from where I’m sitting they executed it perfectly first time…

Basically, instead of just using the rangefinder style ‘green dot’ focussing method for manual focus through the viewfinder, you can now switch to Live View, activate Focus Peaking and select a red, blue, yellow or white highlight to demonstrate exactly where in the scene you are focussing and how much depth of field you have. These different colour highlight options make it a breeze to use, particularly fantastic for Tilt Shift and narrow depth of field lenses like my all manual Zeiss 100mm f/2 and 85mm f/1.4. This is genuinely a significant game changing feature on its own for anyone who loves to shoot manual primes, and critical to get spot on with so much resolution at your disposal.

Red highlights in Live View Focus Peaking help to deliver an easy to see view of your available depth of field

And here’s the output – absolutely pin-point focus where it needs to be for all manual lenses

  • Focus Shift:I finally have a real complaint here because I take umbrage with the name of this feature. This option broadly allows you to set a focus point in a scene and will then automatically ‘shift’ an autofocus lens (it must be a G or latest E AF-S series lens, not an older AF-D series with a screw drive by the way) by a number of steps which you determine or until it reaches infinity. The end objective is a focus stack which delivers extended depth of field. It doesn’t combine the frames in camera, you have to do all of this yourself afterwards in a program like Photoshop.

Focus Shift shooting is accessible from a single menu page, remember AF-S lenses only however

Nikon should have just called it ‘focus stacking’ to avoid confusion (I suspect there was probably a copyright issue here somewhere however, hence the mediocre alternative name), it’s a poor use of confused terminology but otherwise this is an absolute boon for landscape (and macro). Critically this is a fully intuitive feature – as soon as you need instructions, improvements like this are lost and thankfully Nikon implemented this well in my view. You may also wish to take a look at a software product called Helicon Focus, it’s probably the focus stacking tool of choice for those who spend a lot of time doing these.

  • New Multiple Exposure Enhancements: Nikon fully developed this and didn’t really say anything about it. It’s finally on par with the Canon experience with a whole pile of new options and that’s great news for trying more creative approaches. This is a genuinely unique implementation in the whole Nikon lineup, the D500 and D5 didn’t get this improvement. If you’re interested in a more artistic use of your camera then this is a great feature to investigate, I’ll be making much more use of this going forward.
  • Automatic AF Fine tuning: This is another useful option that was implemented in the D500 but in truth it’s not all that automatic. Judgement is still required but what matters is that with resolution pushing upwards from the D810, fine tuning your lenses remains very important. Of nine lenses I own, seven of them required a +/- adjustment in AF fine tune so it’s a critical part of the arsenal in ensuring the best possible outcomes for your images.

My verdict on Focus Modes & Tuning: Autofocus has become a lot more predictable with the D850, performance is on par with my D500 experience and well ahead of my former D810. What makes as much impact here for my landscape discipline though is the simple yet highly effective implementation of focus peaking which is a really big deal and something I’ve waited to see for years from Nikon. In effect this gives you the ‘mirrorless advantage’ in a DSLR. The new ‘Focus Shift’ mode makes focus stacking a less cumbersome process while brand new enhancements to Multiple Exposure is more of a catch-up with Canon than anything unique. Automatic AF Fine Tuning rounds off a fabulous package of measures in the D850 which all add to its usability and contribute to assisting in getting at the best quality outcomes for photographs.

Almost as a post-script here I’m just going to write a couple of words on Lens Performance because there is a lot of questionable information on the internet about this. Some people are worried that their lenses are ‘not good enough’ or are ‘out-resolved’ by a higher resolution sensor such as that belonging to the D850. This is simply untrue. I’ve used 35 year old Nikon AI-s primes on the D810 with no Image Quality issues whatsoever. The real world way of looking at this is actually very simple; with increased resolution, ALL lenses will actually look better but there are undoubtedly some lenses that absolutely shine.

In my case, and I put this list here purely for information only without recommendation, the top performers so far have been as below:

Zeiss 25mm f/2 ZF.2 (manual)
Nikon 45mm f/2.8 PC-e (manual)
Zeiss 100mm f/2 ZF.2 (manual)
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E VR
Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR

Final Words

Congratulations for getting to the end of this piece, I hope the information here is helpful. I haven’t reviewed every single aspect of the camera because some of this stuff has been done to death elsewhere already, I’ve only included things which I think are of genuine consequence and anything else not mentioned is either untested, of no interest to me or I simply don’t see my opinion as adding any value to what is already known.

Honestly, I can only provide a very high recommendation for the D850. It’s an overall package that offers a very significant list of improvements over my D810, which I’ve now sold. It certainly is a D500 on resolution steroids to me, though for mainly purposes associated with needing a second camera, I will be retaining my D500 alongside my D850 (and specialist infrared converted D800). The D810 was a great ride while it lasted – the sensor set the bar high for what was to follow but I’m pleased to say that Nikon delivered plenty of all-round improvements which are justified by the pomp that has greeted the camera. If you’d like to see more of my photography, visit www.russbarnes.co.uk

I’ll leave you with a bit of Peak District imagery.


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