Last Updated: May 24, 2021

Nikon D500 vs D850: Battle Of The Pro Cameras

PRODUCT COMPARISON

Nikon D500

  • Size: 3.2 x 5.8 x 4.6 in
  • Weight: 1.9 lbs / 0.86 kg (Body Only)
  • Sensor: 20.9 MP DX-Format CMOS Sensor
  • Autofocus: 25, 72 and 153 AF points / 99 cross-type points
  • View Finder: Optical pentaprism viewfinder
  • Stabilization: ✗
  • Video: 4K: 30p, 25p, 24p 1920 x 1080 (Full HD): 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p; 1280 x 720 (HD): 60p, 50p
  • Live View: ✓
  • ISO Options: 100 - 51,200
  • Shutter Speeds: 1/8000 to 30 sec
  • Continuous Shooting (fps) Max.: 10 fps
  • LCD Screen: 3.2" 2,539k-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
  • Flash: Hot-shoe (syncs up to 1/250 sec shutter speed)
  • Audio: Built-in stereo & external 3.5mm jack
  • Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Battery Life: 1,240 shots (CIPA)
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Nikon D850

  • Size: 3.1 x 5.8 x 4.9 in
  • Weight: 2.02 lbs / 0.92 kg (Body Only)
  • Sensor: 45.7 MP FX-Format CMOS Sensor
  • Autofocus: 9, 25, 72, or 153 point dynamic-area AF, 3D-tracking, group-area AF
  • View Finder: Optical pentaprism viewfinder
  • Stabilization: ✗
  • Video: 4K: 30p, 25p, 24p 1920 x 1080 (Full HD): 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p; 1280 x 720 (HD): 60p, 50p
  • Live View: ✓
  • ISO Options: 64 - 25,600
  • Shutter Speeds: 1/8000 to 30 sec
  • Continuous Shooting (fps) Max.: 7 fps
  • LCD Screen: 3.2" 2,539k-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
  • Flash: Hot shoe (syncs up to 1/8000 sec shutter speed)
  • Audio: Built-in stereo & external 3.5mm jack
  • Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Battery Life: 1,840 shots (CIPA)
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With the recent release of the Nikon D850, it is worth seeing how much better this camera is than the D500, especially given the large price difference.

Both these cameras are top-end cameras that produce stunning images, and there are only a few notable differences between them.

The biggest one being the sensor size (45.7 vs 20.9 MP). That is full-frame 35mm vs APS-C. Which means quite a big difference!

But as always, the devil is in the detailed Nikon dD500 and figuring out what is worth the money for you.

The Difference In Features & Specs

Nikon D850 vs D500 Top

The following are the main differences that are worth noting:

D850 over the D500

  • Sensor size: The insane 45.7 Megapixels on the full-frame sensor produce stunning image quality with great dynamic range.
  • Battery life: CIPA tests show 1840 vs 1240 shots. So 50% better. (70 vs 50 min on video).
  • Viewfinder Magnification: A better overall view is possible with 0.75 vs 0.67 magnification
  • Slow Motion Video: 120fps with 1080p gives that extra slo-mo we all love on our videos
  • Time-lapse: Some cool built-in time-lapse modes with 8k (interval timer) and 4k (sequences)

D500 over the D850

  • Weight & Size: 0.1 of a lb. lighter, and over 1/3 of an inch in height smaller
  • Burst Mode: 10 vs 7fps (although the D850 can do 9 with the battery pack)
  • ISO Range: Again a bit of a shift here, with 100-51200 on the D500. But 64-25600 on the D850. So, better on low light.

The Difference In The Body & Layout

Nikon D850 vs D500 Back

Nikon D850 vs D500 Back

When you take a look at the comparison images below, you will see that apart from the size, these cameras are very very similar in layout and body.

There is a slight height and weight increase on the D850, but considering its full-frame sensor with over double the pixels, you might just think it’s worth it.

Both cameras are weatherproofed against water and dust, so for those spending a lot of time shooting outdoors, this is great news. Don’t go dunking them in the river just yet, but a little rain is not going to ruin your camera!

Shared Features

nikon d500 d850 vs review

Nikon D500 vs Nikon D850

Aside from all those differences, what do these cameras have in common?

  • Weather Proof Body: both have decent weatherproofing. Don’t throw it in a river just yet, but mild snow/rain and dust should not be a problem.
  • Dual SD Card slots: Great for having extra space, shooting, and backup options. All pros love this feature.
  • Quality LCD: The 3.2 inch tiltable, touch screen LCD gives you lots of shooting options and angles, although it does lack the full front-facing flip all vloggers would love to see. And, they both have the live view option, to help prepare exposure and framing for shots.
  • Connectivity: Both wifi and Bluetooth options for connectivity, helps to get your photos off asap.
  • Connections: Audio has both the earphone and external mic connections, as well as the Type-C HDMI and USD B connectors and the Nikon 10-pin remote.
  • Hot-shoe: Ability to add an external flash (no built-in flash) via the hot-shoe

As you can see the fundamentals of these cameras are like two peas in a pod, but the other details in terms of sensor, time-lapse, ISO, and shutter do differ a little. The bigger D850 also has a longer battery life too.

Nikon D850 Video Review

Nikon D500 Review

Is The Extra $1500 Grand Worth It?

If you can afford it, the D850 is definitely worth forking out for. Just bear in mind that being a full-frame you do need to have a stack of FX lenses to go with it, adding to the cost of course. The image quality and extra dynamic range are usually worth it, but ultimately it’s up to you.

The D500 will be more than enough for most people, but if you want those extra 25 Megapixels, the slo-mo video, or longer battery life, the decision might get a little tougher.

And keep in mind you get nearly 1/3 less on the max burst for the D850 unless you add the battery pack. Only a detail, but for sports or wildlife photographers, it might make or break the deal!