Photographer and YouTube content creator Thomas Heaton has been testing different cameras, looking to replace his Canon 5D Mark IV. In his most recent video, he gets some surprising results when testing the Nikon D850.
He claims the Nikon D850 is a clear winner in resolution tests, both on screen and in test prints. This isn't a particularly surprising result, given the 15+ megapixel advantage of the D850. The resolution differences, even after YouTube's heavy compression, are still visible in fine details like the fence line in his sample image. The resolution test doesn't go very in-depth, as he doesn't mention test results for different apertures, focal lengths, or classes of lenses- but given his very positive attitude to D850's performance, I expect he was satisfied with the performance.
Moving on to dynamic range, Thomas tests the two cameras under identical settings, in a strongly backlit forest scene. Here is where Thomas breaks with the typical view of this camera matchup he declares the Canon a clear winner in dynamic range. He thinks the foreground's boosted details are muddy in the Nikon, and points out the "sharper" Canon image.
I think there are a few issues with this test, including weather conditions, exposure settings, and post processing. Weather and exposure are intrinsically linked, and in this test, Thomas kept all the settings between the cameras identical. This would put the D850 at a disadvantage, as it is not being used at its strongest base ISO. Further, if the lightning conditions changed between shots, the exposures may be even less comparable. Finally, a number of comments pointed out that the lens may either be a bad copy, subject to shake, or focus was missed on the Nikon shot, all potentially contributing to the poor performance.
Thomas mentions he still has a number of cameras to review, and that the D850 is a competent contender. It sounds like he is a bit unsure of the Nikon given its apparent disappointing dynamic range, but even he mentions something may be off about the testing.
I haven't shot with a D850 yet, as I use a D810, but even given my older generation body, I've seen much more impressive shadow and highlight recovery from my files. I'm pretty surprised at the results. What do you think? Have you been surprised by a piece of gear before?