Nikon D850 review part 2: interstellar experience – eye vs. sensor

… I wish! Although you can get close with a 46 megapixel DSLR sensor and a spot somewhere in the Great Bear Rainforest where there are just mountains, rivers, bears, and salmon a almost no people or buildings to light-pollute the sky.

Before I went on my trip I was wondering if I should bring my Nikon 14-24mm with me or not. It was the first lens I had ever bought (what a lens to start with…) and it’s probably the least-used lens in my collection. It’s a great lens, but I prefer my 16-35mm f/4 because of the ability to hold filters and its VR. Anyway, even though the 14-24mm weighs a ton, I decided to bring it with me because ‘you never know.’

On our first evening we went to test the D850’s features around time-lapse and night sky photography; something I had never done before. I took the D850 and placed it on my RRS ball head and Gitzo tripod, which all went well. What did not go so well was the condensation that was sticking to my 14-24mm and the D850 as the Great Bear Rainforest does live up to its name: rain means humidity. A lot. After some continuous wiping I finally managed to get a couple of decent shots. What I did not expect however, was the difference between what our human eyes can see when we look up to the stars in the night sky, and what the D850 sensor is capturing in those huge 46 MP files.

When I was young (long time ago) I remember our first Dutch astronaut (in the Space Shuttle) telling about his experiences. And that he was so mesmerized about the different colours out there in the universe. Starts and galaxies are not just all white as we see them in the night (very few starts probably for those of you who live in the cities like myself), but they rather emit all sorts of colours, covering all ranges in the spectrum. I didn’t think too much of it, but I remember thinking it would be kinda cool to see that myself one day. Well I’m still not up there in space, but the closest I came to that experience was to take a shot with the D850 and late in the evening take it through some post-processing after which I was quite surprised…

So here we go: I’ve only applied some minimal formatting to the ‘original’ image to make it appear as close as I can to what I perceived that night looked like to my naked eye:

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G on Nikon D850, f/2.8, 20 s., ISO 3200

And here is what the D850 sensor actually captures… quite a bit different from our human eyes.

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G on Nikon D850, f/2.8, 20 s., ISO 3200

It’s as if almost each of those 46MP have been receiving photons of at least one planet, star and/or galaxy. Blue ones, red ones, orange ones… It even captured a small meteorite that was completely invisible to my eye and on the original RAW. To me, the more I look at this image and try to see all the unique stars and galaxies, the smaller I become. Until I realise we are just such a tiny speck in something so unimaginable bigger…

Well, I guess that was the more philosophical view on the D850 and its amazing sensor; my next review articles will again focus on the beauty of the (wild) Life/Nature of the Great Bear Rainforest captured with the Nikon D850. Stay tuned!

Please note that these images are protected by copyright and are not allowed to be used in any commercial way. If you’re interested in personal use only (like using as personal desktop/tablet/mobile background) then that’s fine; however any other use is prohibited by law.

And as usual, for any questions, comments or feedback, simple add comments below (preferred) or otherwise drop me a note at:


2 Comments on “Nikon D850 review part 2: interstellar experience – eye vs. sensor

  1. hi, thanks for the review. Have you compared with other cameras? I don’t see any difference to other high-end cameras I have seen.

    • Hi Anton,
      While I do not have any Canon or Sony etc. DSLRs I do still have the Nikon D4S and the D500. And I will be doing some comparative analysis while I’m busy writing these initial review articles on the D850. The IQ is great but some of the lead medium format sensors are obviously even better (for which you’ll pay tenfold). What they will not give you however is an excellent focus system that works in all sorts of crazy outdoor conditions and 9 46-MP sized frames per second. So the real difference with other high-end cameras (to answer your question) is the combination of key features that are now in 1 camera where they are/were not in different cameras before.

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