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Nikon D850 vs Sony a1 Comparison

Storage & Battery

Nikon D850

Nikon D850

Sony a1

Sony A1 product image
Nikon D850
Sony a1
Refers to the year this camera was officially made available for sale.
Announcement Date
Refers to the date the manufacturer publicly announced the upcoming release and general specs of this camera.
August 23, 2017
January 26, 2021
Camera Type
Camera Size
Camera Weight

The Sony a1 takes the lead with a score of 86/100, while the Nikon D850 trails behind at 82/100. Both cameras share similar features, such as their announcement in the 2010s and their high launch prices. However, the Sony a1, a mirrorless camera, boasts a more compact size at 129 x 97 x 81mm and a lighter weight of 737g, making it easier to handle and carry.

On the other hand, the Nikon D850, a DSLR, was released in 2017 and has a lower launch price of $3300. Although it is larger (146 x 124 x 79mm) and heavier (1005g), some photographers may prefer the DSLR format and appreciate the lower cost.

Considering the scores and specifications, the Sony a1 stands out as the better camera. However, the Nikon D850 may still be a suitable option for those who prefer DSLRs and are looking for a more affordable choice.

Nikon D850 vs Sony a1 Overview and Optics

The Sony a1 outperforms the Nikon D850 in optics, scoring 89/100 compared to the D850’s 79/100. Both cameras share some common specifications such as CMOS sensor type, full-frame sensor size, and similar lens mounts (Sony FE and Nikon F FX). However, the Sony a1 surpasses the Nikon D850 in certain aspects, while the D850 has its own advantages.

The Sony a1 boasts a higher megapixel count at 50.1, compared to the D850’s 45.7, allowing for more detailed images. Additionally, the a1 has a significantly faster shooting speed of 30, while the D850 only reaches 7. The Sony a1 also features a dual Bionz XR processor, which contributes to its faster shooting speed and overall performance. Another advantage of the a1 is the presence of image stabilization, a feature lacking in the D850.

On the other hand, the Nikon D850 has a DXOMARK score of 100 for its sensor, slightly higher than the Sony a1’s score of 98. This indicates a potentially better overall image quality. The D850 also uses an Expeed 5 processor, which, while not as advanced as the a1’s dual Bionz XR, still provides reliable performance.

In comparing the optics of these cameras, the Sony a1 emerges as the superior choice due to its higher megapixel count, faster shooting speed, advanced processor, and image stabilization. However, the Nikon D850 still holds its own with a slightly higher DXOMARK sensor score and a dependable Expeed 5 processor. Ultimately, the choice between these two cameras depends on the specific needs and preferences of the photographer.

The higher the number of megapixels, the more detail the cameras sensor can capture.
45.7 MP
50.1 MP
Image Resolution
Image resolution is measured in pixels and megapixels, width by height. The higher the number, the higher its resolution.
8256 x 5504 px
8640 x 5760 px
Sensor Type
The camera sensor captures light and records the image. Sensors vary in physical size, the number of pixels, and quality.
Sensor Size
The sensor size contributes to the overall quality as well as the dynamic and tonal range a camera can capture. As a rule of thumb, the more surface there is to read the light, the more information it will capture.
23.9 x 35.9 mm
24 x 35.9 mm
Sensor Format
Refers to the most commonly used sensor sizes.
Full Frame
Full Frame
Frame Rate
The number of sequential frames per second the camera can write to the memory card when shooting in burst or continuous mode.
7 fps
30 fps
Lens Mount
The lens mount will tell you what type of lens range you can fit onto the camera body. Often the same camera company will have different lens ranges for different cameras.
Nikon F FX
Sony FE
Image Processor
The image processor in the camera converts the information collected on the sensor for digital storage on the memory card.
Expeed 5
Dual Bionz XR
Aspect Ratio
The aspect ratio refers to the proportional difference between width and height. The most popular aspect ratios are 3:2 and 4:3.
Minimum ISO (Native)
Refers to the lowest native (or 'base') ISO setting. Lower ISO are less sensitive to light but make a cleaner image.
Maximum ISO (Native)
Refers to the highest native (or 'base') ISO setting. Higher ISO is necessary for low-light situations or night photography, but higher ISOs often introduce grain or noise.
Minimum ISO (Expanded)
Expanded (or extended) ISO is a digitally enhanced feature available on some cameras. It allows you to push beyond the native ISO range if necessary.
Maximum ISO (Expanded)
Expanded (or extended) ISO is a digitally enhanced feature available on some cameras. It allows you to push beyond the native ISO range if necessary.
Minimum Shutter Speed
The minimum shutter speed will tell you the longest exposure your camera can take without using an external accessory.
30 s
30 s
Maximum Shutter Speed
The maximum shutter speed tells you the length inside 1 second the camera will capture. These can sometimes be extended with accessories such as extra external batteries.
1/ 8000 s
1/ 32000 s
Autofocus Points
Autofocus points show where the camera is focusing graphically as squares or brackets in Live View or on an electronic viewfinder. These points are also used for light meter readings.
In-body Stabilization
In-body Stabilization means the camera has a certain technology embedded that counteracts camera shake.
Viewfinder Type
The viewfinder type is either electronic or optical. Electronic viewfinders will have a small screen in the viewfinder. Optical viewfinders will use prisms and mirrors to look through the lens.
Optical (pentaprism)
Viewfinder Resolution
9,437,184 dots

Nikon D850 vs Sony a1 Video Performance

When comparing the video capabilities of the Nikon D850 and the Sony a1, the Sony a1 emerges as the winner with a video score of 86/100, a 16-point lead over the Nikon D850’s score of 70/100. Both cameras share some common video specifications, such as having 4K video resolution and built-in time-lapse functionality. However, the Sony a1 outperforms the Nikon D850 in several aspects, while the Nikon D850 has its own advantages.

The Sony a1 boasts an impressive 8K maximum video resolution, which is double that of the Nikon D850’s 4K. This results in significantly higher video quality and detail. Additionally, the Sony a1 offers a maximum video dimension of 7680 x 4320, which is also twice the size of the Nikon D850’s 3840 x 2160. Furthermore, the Sony a1 excels in video frame rate, reaching up to 120fps, while the Nikon D850 is limited to 30fps. This makes the Sony a1 ideal for capturing fast-paced action and producing smooth slow-motion footage.

On the other hand, the Nikon D850 has the advantage of built-in time-lapse functionality, unlike the Sony a1. This feature allows photographers to create time-lapse videos directly in the camera without the need for additional software or equipment.

Taking these factors into consideration, the Sony a1 clearly outshines the Nikon D850 in terms of video resolution, dimensions, and frame rate, making it the superior choice for videographers seeking the highest quality footage. However, the Nikon D850’s built-in time-lapse functionality may appeal to those who prioritize this feature in their work. Ultimately, the choice between these cameras will depend on the specific video requirements and preferences of the user.

Indicates if this camera is capable of recording video.
Max Video Resolution
The best resolution this camera can capture video in. Modern cameras can capture up to 8K video.
Max Video Dimensions
Video resolution measured by the greatest number of pixels possible in each frame, width by height. A higher resolution means more detail or clarity in your video.
3840 x 2160 px
7680 x 4320 px
Max Video Frame Rate
How many frames per second your video will capture. Most cameras have options for multiple frame rates, depending on the resolution you shoot in. For a general video, 24p or 30p is the standard, but more serious filmmakers may need a higher frame rate for creative effect.
30 p
120 p
Time-Lapse Built In
A built in time-lapse mode will allow continuous shooting throughout a prolonged period of time to be compressed into a sped up video.
Video File Format
Different cameras can record in various video file formats. The File format you record in can impact how you edit and use the files.
LPCM 2ch(48 kHz 16bit), LPCM 2ch(48 kHz 24bit), LPCM 4ch(48 kHz 24bit), MPEG-4 AAC-LC 2ch

Nikon D850 vs Sony a1 Features and Benefits

The Nikon D850 emerges as the winner in the features comparison with a score of 87/100, while the Sony a1 scores 83/100. Both cameras share several specifications, including touchscreen functionality, WiFi, and Bluetooth connectivity. Neither camera has GPS capabilities.

The Nikon D850 outshines the Sony a1 in screen size and resolution. Its 3.2-inch screen is larger than the Sony a1’s 3-inch screen, providing a more comfortable viewing experience. Moreover, the D850 boasts a higher screen resolution of 2,359,000 dots compared to the Sony a1’s 1,440,000 dots. This difference results in a sharper and clearer display on the Nikon D850, allowing photographers to better review and edit their images.

On the other hand, the Sony a1 has an advantage over the Nikon D850 with its flip screen feature. This enables photographers to shoot from various angles with ease, which is not possible with the D850’s fixed screen. However, this single advantage does not outweigh the benefits offered by the Nikon D850 in terms of screen size and resolution.

Evaluating both cameras, the Nikon D850 proves to be superior in features due to its larger screen and higher resolution. This enhances the overall user experience, making it a better choice for photographers who prioritize display quality. Meanwhile, the Sony a1’s flip screen offers flexibility in shooting angles, which may appeal to some users. However, this advantage alone does not make it the better camera when compared to the Nikon D850.

Built-in Flash
A built-in flash will often be positioned right above the lens. This will automatically pop up when you activate it.
External Flash
External flashes are often connected through a hot shoe at the top of a camera, or a cable at the side of the camera.
GPS features in a camera will include location metadata to each of your photographs.
Weather Sealing
Weather sealing capabilities will give you more confidence when shooting in unfavourable conditions.
Screen Type
Touch Screen
Touchscreen allows you to change camera settings and access menus with a swipe of your finger, instead of using buttons.
Screen Size
Screen Resolution
Screen dots indicate the resolution of the LCD screen by including each sub pixel.
2,359,000 dots
1,440,000 dots
Flip Screen
A flip screen (or articulating screen) is a second screen which can flip out from the side or top of the camera. This rotating screen allows you more freedom to take photos at different angles.
Live View
Live View feature allows you to see a continuous live video of what is being seen through your lens.
Bluetooth capabilities allow you wireless control of your camera with other external devices.

Nikon D850 vs Sony a1 Storage and Battery

The Nikon D850 outperforms the Sony a1 in storage and battery with a score of 84/100, while the Sony a1 scores 73/100. Both cameras have two memory card slots and are compatible with UHS-II SD cards. The Nikon D850 accepts SD/SDHC/SDXC and XQD cards, while the Sony a1 accepts SD and CFexpress Type A cards.

The Nikon D850’s battery life is significantly longer, providing 1840 shots per charge, compared to the Sony a1’s 530 shots. This advantage makes the Nikon D850 more suitable for extended shooting sessions. However, the Sony a1 offers USB charging, which can be convenient for on-the-go charging or when a dedicated charger is unavailable.

Despite its lower score, the Sony a1’s USB charging capability is a valuable feature, especially for photographers who need quick and easy charging options. Nevertheless, the Nikon D850’s superior battery life and storage options make it the better choice for those prioritizing longer shooting sessions and versatile storage solutions.

Storage and Battery
Storage and Battery
Memory Card
SD / SDHC / SDXC (UHS-II compatible), XQD
SD,CFexpress Type A (UHS-II compatible)
Dual Memory Card Slots
Battery Type
Battery Life
Approximately how long this cameras battery will last measured by how many photographs you will be able to take.
1,840 shots
530 shots
USB Charging
Photography Genre
Graded from the first-hand experience of one of our writers
Beginner Friendly
Sports and Action
Value for Money
Sensor scores tested by DXOMARK
Overall Score
DXOMARK overall sensor score.
Portrait (Color Depth)
As described by DXOMARK 'The Portrait score in our camera sensor reviews defines color depth performance and its unit is a number of bits. A color depth of 22 bits is excellent; differences below 1 bit are barely noticeable.'
26.4 bits
25.9 bits
Landscape (Dynamic Range)
As described by DXOMARK 'The Landscape score in our camera sensor tests defines the maximum dynamic range of the camera sensor and its unit is an exposure value (EV). A value of 12 EV is excellent with differences below 0.5 EV usually not noticeable.'
14.8 EVs
14.5 EVs
Sports (Low-Light ISO)
Described by DXOMARK as 'The maximal value of ISO sensitivity needed to reach a given value of Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR). The greater the value, the better'

Alternatives to the Nikon D850 and Sony a1

Nikon D850 vs Sony a1 Comparison image.

Are you still undecided about which camera is right for you? Have a look at these popular comparisons that feature the Nikon D850 or the Sony a1:

User Scores
B&H photo video
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