Home Camera Nikon D850 vs Sony A9: Which Full Frame Camera is The Better?

Nikon D850 vs Sony A9: Which Full Frame Camera is The Better?

Two camera models you have to add to the “cameras to consider” list if you plan to buy a full frame camera: Nikon D850 and Sony A9. But first, a fundamental thing you need to know. They adopt a difference system. Nikon D850 is a DSLR camera while Sony A9 is a mirrorless camera. Speaking of quality, there is no doubt about Nikon D850 and Sony A9. The two are one of the best models on their segment.

Nikon D850 — which earned the score of 100 on the DxOMark test — is one of the best DSLR cameras existing today. So is Sony A9. It is one of the best mirrorless cameras from Sony. As the cameras that are designed for professional needs, both Nikon D850 and Sony A9 are equipped with high enough specs and more advanced features. By the time this article is written, be it Nikon D850 or Sony A9 is still relatively new. They were released, respectively, on August 2017 and May 2017.

Nikon D850 and Sony A9 are two of the best full frame cameras existing today, so there will always be a comparison between them although they are basically different systems. Nikon D850, due to the existence of mirror component, has a larger body than Sony A9. Let’s find out which is the better between these two full frame cameras.

Specs comparison: Nikon D850 vs Sony A9

 Nikon D850Sony A9
AnnouncedAugust 2017 April 2017
Sensor45.7-Mpix BSI CMOS full-frame FX24.2-Mpix stacked, full-frame CMOS
DxOMark score10092
Color filter arrayRGBRGB
Resolution8288 x 55206024 x 4024
ISO32 - 10240050 - 204800
Fastest - Slowest speed (s)1/8000 - 30.01/32000 - 30.0
Frame rate (fps)920
Mount typeNikon F FXSony FE
Weight2.22 lbs1.48 lbs
Battery typeLi-ion, EN-EL15a, 7.0V, 1900mAhLi-ion, NP-FZ100, 7.2V, 2280mAh
Number of autofocus points153693
Autofocus modesSingle-servo AF (AF-S), Full-time-servo AF (AF-F), Continuous-servo AF (AF-C)AF-S (Single-shot AF), AF-C ( Continuous AF)
StorageXQD, SD, SDHC, SDXCMemory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Memory Stick Micro(M2), SD, SDHC, SDXC, microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC
Image formatJPEG, RAW (NEF), TIFFJPEG, RAW (ARW)
Other featuresLive view, tropicalization, mirror lockup, articulating screen, touch screen, exposure bracketing, WB bracketing, USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, sound recording, extermal micro, histogram, live autofocusLive view, stabilization, articulating screen, touch screen, exposure bracketing, WB bracketing, USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth sound recording, external micro, histogram, live autofocus, video stabilisation
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As usual, the first aspect we are going to compare is the specs and features. We have created the table above so you can compare the specs of Nikon D850 Sony A9 way more easily. In some sections, Nikon D850 is better than Sony A9. Conversely, Sony A9 offers better specs on certain sections. Nikon D850 and Sony A9 have several things in common. For instance, be it Nikon D850 or Sony A9 is equipped with a Wi-Fi feature to allow you transfer photos to smartphone/tablet more easily without involving any cable or releasing the memory card.

Let’s start the specs comparison from the ISO range. In this section, Sony A9 offers higher ISO range. It comes with the ISO range of 50 – 204800 while Nikon has the ISO range of 32 – 102400. A camera with higher ISO range is not necessarily better since you are not going to use a high ISO all the time. You will only need to use a high ISO when taking photos on an extremely dark condition, with the consequence of unsharp photos.

On the shutter speed range section, Sony is the winner. You can set the shutter speed up to 1/32000. With a proper triangle exposure setting combination, it would be useful for photographing moving objects. Speaking of photographing moving objects, Sony A9 also offers more autofocus points than Nikon D850: 693 compared to 153. Also, Sony A9 is also capable of capturing more photos on a single shutter press on the continuous shot mode.

There are at least two sections where Nikon D850 is better than A9. They are battery life and monitor. On a single charge, Nikon D850 can be used to take about 1840 photos, compared to Sony A9 which only capable of capturing about 650 photos. The gap is almost threefold.

 

Nikon D850 Sony A9
 

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Both Nikon D850 and Sony A9 adopt the LCD technology on their display. They also offer an articulated display that support touch operation. But, the screen of Nikon D850 is slightly larger, 3.2-inch compared to 3-inch belong to Sony 9. In addition, the screen of Nikon D850 also delivers sharper image since it has a tighter pixel density: 2,359,000 dots compared 1,440,000 dots.

The video recording capability?

You might will love this one. Be it Nikon D850 or Sony A9 is capable of recording 4K videos (3840 x 2160). They also also have the same frame rates of 30 fps. One difference, Sony A9 offers video stabilisation feature while Nikon D850 doesn’t. In addition to Wi-Fi for wireless communication, both Nikon D850 and Sony A9 also offer a Bluetooth.

Sensor comparison: Nikon D850 vs Sony A9

Nikon D850 and Sony A9 have a full frame sensor, meaning that they have a large sensor which is great for any sort of photography needs. The sensor of Nikon D850 is slightly larger, but the difference is not too significant. Only 1 percent. The sensor of these two cameras have the same crop factor of 1.0.

The significant enough difference can be seen on the photo detectors (resolution). The sensor of Nikon D850 has the resolution of 45.75 megapixel, while Sony A9 is 24.24 megapixel. Thus, Nikon D850 is capable of generating photos with a higher maximum image resolution. Up to 8288 x 5520. As usual, we created the image below to allow you compare the sensor of Nikon D850 and Sony A9 easier way.

Body comparison: Nikon D850 vs Sony A9

Body is the most visible difference between a DSLR and a mirrorless camera. Because a DSLR camera has a mirror component, it has a larger body than mirrorless cameras. In this context, the difference between the body of Nikon D850 and Sony A9 is about 33 percent. Of course, Nikon D850 has a larger body, and heavier. Take a look at the images we created below to compare the body of Nikon D850 and Sony A9.

Despite its small body, Sony A9 offers a viewfinder in case you are the member of photographers who can’t live without this feature. Just keep in mind that all mirrorless cameras use an electronic viewfinder instead of optical viewfinder like DSLRs.

Photo results comparison: Nikon D850 vs Sony A9

There are a bunch of websites you can take advantage of to find the examples of photos taken using certain cameras, including Pixabay. The good thing about Pixabay is that you can filter the photos based on camera model. In case you don’t have enough time to find the examples of the photos taken using both Nikon D850 and Sony A9 but need ones, we have selected the best examples below.

We also added the EXIF data so you can guess the lens used on each photo by seeing the focal length. As you know, in addition to sensor, lens also plays a vital role in determining the quality of the photos.

  • Nikon D850

  • Sony A9

Conclusion

The hardest part of comparing two cameras is deciding which is the better between them. Every photographer has their own parameters to pick which is the camera they eventually want to buy. Be it Nikon D850 or Sony has a high score on DxOMark. They also have high enough specs, but there are some details differing them.

If you prefer a camera with a compact design for traveling then the choice is clear, Sony A9. However, you have to carry a backup battery to be able to take more photos since one battery is only capable of capturing about 650 photos from fully charged. On the other hand, the battery of Nikon D850 is capable of capturing up to 1,840 photos on a single charge, which is great for traveling although this will make your bag be a bit heavier. Overall, the capability of these cameras are not much different. They can cover nearly all kind of photography needs thanks to the full frame sensor.

The matter of price, Sony A9 is more expensive than Nikon D850. The body of Sony A9 is sold about $4,000 while Nikon is only about $3,000.

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