Those photographers looking for a versatile full frame camera but not needing the blazing speed afforded by a pro sports body (and who are not interested in a mirrorless option) will likely be considering either the Canon 5D Mark IV or Nikon D850 DSLR camera.
Both DSLRs are the mature, durable, refined culminations of their respective camera lines. But which is right for your particular needs? Read on to find out.
Shared Primary Features
Advantages of the Canon 5D Mark IV
- Full-frame sensor
- Exposure Compensation: +/-5 EV
- Shutter Speed: 30-1/8000 sec., Bulb
- Viewfinder Coverage: approx. 100%
- 3.2" size-class touchscreen LCD
- No pop-up flash
- Continuous Shooting Speed: 7 fps (Nikon D850 can achieve 9 fps with optional battery grip)
- 4K recording up to 30 fps
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- SuperSpeed USB 3.0, 3.5mm headphone & microphone jacks, HDMI Type-C
- Dual memory card slots
- Weather sealing
- Similar size & weight
Advantages of the Nikon D850
- More Selectable AF Points: 61 vs. 55
- More Selectable Cross-type AF Points: 41 vs. 35
- More AF Points Supporting f/8 (total/selectable): 21/21 vs. 15/9
- Live View Focusing: Dual Pixel CMOS AF vs. contrast detection
- NFC vs. N/A
- Built-in GPS vs. optional accessory
Other Differences: 5D Mark IV vs. Nikon D850
- Higher Resolution: 45.7 MP vs. 30.4
- More AF Points: 153 vs. 61
- More Cross-type AF Points: 99 vs. 41
- Larger AF Working Range: EV-4 to EV 20 vs. EV-3 to EV 20
- Larger Metering Range: EV -3 – 20 vs. EV 0 – 20
- Lower Selectable ISO (native/expanded): 64/32 vs. 100/50
- Better dynamic range
- More Registered Custom White Balance Settings: 6 vs. 1
- Higher Resolution LCD: 2,359K dots vs. 1,620K
- Tilting LCD vs. fixed
- Faster Flash Sync Speed: 1/250 sec. vs. 1/200
- Full Sensor Width 4K Recording vs. 1.74x crop
- Bluetooth vs. N/A
- Battery Life: 1,840 shots vs. 900
- Shutter Durability: 200,000 shots vs. 150,000
- Automated AF Fine Tune vs. manual Autofocus Microadjustment
- 8K in-camera time-lapse vs. FHD 1080p time-lapse
- Negative Digitizer Mode vs. N/A
- Backlit buttons vs. N/A
- Focus Shift mode vs. N/A
- More Auto Exposure Bracketing Images: 9 vs. 7
- Limited Focus Peaking vs. N/A
Who should opt for the Canon 5D Mark IV?
- CompactFlash, SDXC vs. XQD, SDXC
- 4K DCI 4096 X 2160 vs. 4K UHD 3840 X 2160
While the advantages of the D850 listed above may seem pretty long, if you're already heavily invested in the Canon system, you have to ask yourself whether or not those benefits are worth the high cost of selling used items to fund alternate gear and the time investment required to acclimate to the new system.
For some, the advantages may be worth the tradeoffs. For others, the 5D Mark IV's feature set makes it a more than worthwhile addition to their kits.
If you are a videographer who plans to use autofocus tracking while filming, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV will be the best option by far
Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology is significantly better at locking onto subjects compared to the contrast detection sensor AF utilized by the Nikon D850.
While many will not like the 5D Mark IV's heavy crop with 4K recording, some videographers (especially those shooting wildlife) may find the crop beneficial for more tightly framing distant and/or smaller subjects.
Want to shoot with the widest aperture lenses possible? F/1.2 aperture primes with autofocus are a reality for Canon DSLR and mirrorless customers; Nikon users will have to invest in a Z 7
/ Z 6
and wait for the release of the manual focus-only Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct to use an aperture wider than f/1.4.
Who should opt for the Nikon D850?
Those with Nikon-based kits who do not need the benefits of Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor have little (if any) reason to switch brands; the Nikon D850 is one of the most feature-packed and versatile cameras available today.
While the advantages listed in the Nikon D850 column seem strong, both of these cameras are highly capable of tackling a wide range of situations with nearly equal proficiency.
As I said in the introduction, these cameras represent the culmination of generations of camera design. The technological innovations, durability and user interface refinements that come with that time and attention to detail are apparent the first day you use the cameras.
Those heavily invested in either system will likely want to stay with their familiar respective brands, but those with fewer ties will likely opt for the Nikon D850 for primarily stills use while those prioritizing filmmaking and want the benefits of solid AF performance will likely opt for the 5D Mark IV.