Nikon D850 DSLR camera teardown: more durable design, significant improvements in many areas

NRC Taiwan has done some amazing Nikon lens restoration work in the past. Logically, the first thing they did after they got their Nikon D850 camera was to take it apart and put it back together. They also documented the entire process - see the pictures in this post in order to appreciate the level of engineering involved in making the D850. I will add the detailed translation next, here are the main points:

Update: Additional pictures of the D850 sensor are available here.

  • The design of D850 from repairing point of view is state-of-the-art.
  • The CPU chips are from Toshiba and made in Taiwan.
  • The front panel of D850 is all magnesium alloy. For D810, the lens release button underneath is carbon fiber, which makes the D850 more endurable on that part.
  • NRC claimed that due to the more durable design of D850 and based on their repairing experience, the D850 would NOT have the issues like:
    • D600: dust problem
    • D750: backlight problem and high speed shutter error problem
    • D800E: focusing problem
    • D810: panel broken and lens release button broken problem
  • Shutter quality: obviously better than D600 and D750. D800E, D810 and D850 are similar materials, but D850 is a step above the D810. D850's shutter is all metal.
  • Front panel quality: D600, D750 and D810: Magnesium alloy + Carbon fibers. D800E and D850: full Magnesium alloy. So D800E and D850 are more durable than D600, D750 and D810. However, NRC also stated that magnesium is not always perfect, it is more prone to salt water and shock.
  • NRC said that D850 is easy and joyful to disassemble. However, it would be very difficult to calibrate the camera after assembly. It takes 1 hour for just calibrating using their own program and advise us not the disassemble if you do not know how to calibrate.
  • Nikon D5 internal design is still better than D850, but D850 is an obviously worthy upgrade from D610, D750 and D800E.

Shutter unit comparison:

Pictures credit: NRC Taiwan and used with permission.

Check D850 availability: B&H | Adorama | Amazon | BuyDig | WEX | Jessops
Facebook: Nikon D850 Page | Nikon D850 Group

This entry was posted in Nikon D850 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • Mike

    Even better than cats!

    • silmasan

      Cats teardown and reassembly?? 🙂

  • Dave Silo

    any word on who made the sensor?

    • Nikon designed, Sony produced.

      • Chris Phillips

        HOW do you know Yoan???? Are you sure its Sony?

        • Shutterbug

          Yes. All you have to do is look at it physically, as well as it’s dual-gain characteristics. It’s 100% a Sony sensor, designed by and/or made exclusively for Nikon. Dual gain, copper wire, BSI, all the Sony tech plus it looks like a Sony. No doubt about it if you follow sensor tech closely.

          • Thom Hogan

            Correct. The real giveaway is the interconnects.

            • Phil Kariatlis

              it may be a Canon sensor?

          • Frank O’brien

            I really don’t care what sensor it has, doubt sony anyway, the connection can have been inherited form the past “real sony” and transposed in this new sensor which also is not Nikon. They just designed it (probably based on sony ones.. For me it can have also ZinghyZinghy sensor I don’t care. If there is a step up above the Nikon D810, as it seems, well done Nikon

            • I agree, some just assume that because the sensor produces good results, it must be made by Sony, which is far from the truth. Sony is not the only player – they have around 50% of sensor market. I prefer to see the proof before make any assumptions.

            • AR_2600

              It’s very similar to D500 on pixel level.

            • Thom Hogan

              No, you don’t understand. The different sensor makers have different methods of tying the silicon itself to the outer pins. This is not something you just decide to do the same was as Sony. It would require you to tear out your old gear and replace it with the same stuff Sony has, and that might have been custom designed.

              So, if you take the same exact sensor design and shop it around to the different fabs, you’ll get the same silicon but with different visible interconnects. Had the same exact sensor design been fabbed by Renaysys, it would have looked different at the interconnects.

            • Frank O’brien

              I understand perfectly and you are right in so deep analysys.But honestly I don’t think is Sony. There wouldn’t be a reason to hide this news. Rather, Since the connetion between Nikon and Sony were broken and since Nikon said that the sensor has beeen manufatcured by another silicon industry (without specify the name), I firmly believe that it is not Sony. Someone pointed the fact that just Sony has BIS. Well, The time pasts and the tecnology shared, it wouldn’t be a suprise to know that other companies will adopt the same tech if better, sooner or later. Further, I believe that it is not Sony sensor cause Nikon intended to prove that they still can withstand even without the help of a company like Sony for their main “engine” but they are able to designed better sensor anyway. Maybe they commissioned Sony to produce their sensors under their instruction?… certainly would be favoured for both, Nikon will get the sensor supply for next years and sony budget will increase anyway due to the “still” collaboration to produce nikon designed sensors. From an economic point of view, it works, but still I don’t believe it is sony. just my idea though.

            • Thom Hogan

              To my knowledge, Nikon has never identified Sony except when Nikon used off-the-shelf sensors.

              BSI at this size is only done by Sony, to my knowledge (it was done in APS-C by Samsung). The others are only doing it with smartphone-sized sensors. There are yield issues in trying to scale that would come into play.

              I don’t know why everyone is so worried about calling this a sensor fabbed at a Sony plant. That’s the way it was with the D1, and the way it’s been with most of Nikon’s sensors with only a couple of exceptions.

              not much of the pins are visible, but the back of the sensor is visible

            • Frank O’brien

              It makes all sense, I don’t have so deep knowledge to recognize a sensor brand from another just seeing the pins or from the back side, so. Well, If Sony, no problem; if Nikon with other manifactured brand, even better. Basically it is not a problem for me made by Sony Thom, I guess it is just a “HOPE” that I still have in Nikon to redim themselves producing or work good things, like it wasn’t for the last years until the D500 came out. The cameras in the past decades were not…. the best, and I always hoped that Nikon woke up from its numbness, FINALLY, it seems they have understoood how to work, body construction, features, seems a well step forward compared with D810, D750 or D610. So, Let’s pray nikon will keep this road even for other low lines DSLR…. For me think that Nikon has cooperated with another brand for sensor give them a bit more meherit than used sony’s, prove that they have the capability to still plan something good in which I almost gave up to believe. Anyway the sensor is incredible better in DR, seeing some test. noise more or less is there but great job this Time. let’s just wait for the side “Reliability in long term” if it works too.

            • Thom Hogan

              That’s not the back of the sensor ;~). It’s a board that is soldered to the back of the sensor. It’s one of the reasons why sensor ID is so tough visually: we don’t have sockets as we do with CPUs because we need a firmly established plane with which to align the sensor to the lens mount. The chip that comes off a fab doesn’t have mounting holes.

        • sickheadache

          Sony. Dont ask again. Sony!

          • Chris Phillips

            ROFL I think its probably a Sony

          • silmasan

            Y nos?
            No importa!

        • No, we are not sure, just guesses until we see any proof.

          • akkual

            On Photons to Photo’s measurements Sony’s A7r II sensor’s DR follows quite the same path that D850 sensor, but D850 is adjusted to higher DR on low ISO vs. A7r II’s higher DR on higher ISOs. But the resemblence is there (expanded ISOs ignored) and they are both FF BSI sensors at +40mpix, so…

            • jtang128

              Sony played game on the sensor Nikon has been wait for years, so Nikon designed by their owner sensor which is Sony made.

          • Thom Hogan

            No, we’re pretty sure it was Sony fabbed.

      • We don’t know that for a fact, just guessing.

        • Carleton Foxx

          If only it were a Kodak sensor….

    • I asked the guys at NRC – I am waiting on an answer.

    • Pablo And-Jennifer Gabetta

      Nikon said on their live show that it was their own.

      • Todd Davis

        Pretty sure they just said it was “Nikon designed”

        Not that it really matters… because it’s how the data is processed that matters… which is why Nikon always outperforms With Sony sensors compared to Sony cameras with their own sensors… because Nikon is better at processing that raw information than Sony is.

        • Lala Song

          Toshiba Sensor Manufacturing also own by Sony. D850 used Sony engine. No suprise here

          • What Sony engine? Sony did not buy Toshiba, they bought heir sensor division.

          • Piotr Kosewski

            Of course. Nikon is a lens / camera manufacturer. Why would anyone expect them to manufacture the electronic parts? 😮

            As for the Toshiba sensor business – it is owned by Sony, but AFAIK without a full integration yet.
            Sony simply owns the business, i.e. they control it and earn a dividend.

            So yes, if anyone wants to buy sensors from “Toshiba Sensors”, Sony will be the deciding party. But at this point sensors made by Sony and by Sony-owned Toshiba still are different chips, designed by different people.

    • br0xibear
      • ninpou_kobanashi


      • silmasan


      • Dave Silo

        It’s called curiosity, you should try it sometime. If more people had it maybe the world wouldn’t be so dumb.

        • br0xibear

          It’s called a sense of humour, maybe you should try it sometime. If more people had it maybe the world wouldn’t be so dumb.

        • silmasan

          It’s called a sense of humor (UK: humour), maybe you should try it sometime. If more people had it maybe the world wouldn’t be so dumb boring.

        • ITN

          Who made it is not the question we should ask. That is the question presented by those who believe in authority (i.e if it is a Sony then they sleep easy) rather than what was made and how it works, and what are the results and why they are that way.

          • Thom Hogan

            I don’t really care who makes the sensor, though this does give us clues as to what things to look for in the low-level performance. Certain technologies have tells in the low level data.

            • I got new close up pictures of the D850 sensor but there are no markings – I will post them online shortly.

            • Thom Hogan

              There never are markings at this level on the front of the sensor (though there may be stamping on the back). The only true way to see the fab is to look at the disassembled sensor. There will be etched markings toward the edge.

      • Lol 🙂

      • A. F.O.

        Peter should pay you something!
        nice 🙂

        • Peter(and we) pay,,,, compliments.

          • br0xibear

            Hi umeshrw,
            On your flicker site you have an interior image shot on a D200 (chairs and tables) what is that location and where in India is it ?, I’m assuming it’s in India.

            • There are 2 shots that fit the description. One, the dark and modern looking one is at acres club cafeteria. The other with cane furniture and rustic look is restaurant at club exotica at Madh, Mumbai. I have a feeling that is the one you are thinking about. Have you been there before?

            • br0xibear

              Ah ok, it was the restaurant at club exotica at Madh, Mumbai image I was looking at, no I’ve not been there.
              I did notice you had Borivali as your hometown, I have been there…some people I know live on S.V. rd. I was only there for a few days and Bombay (still prefer that name, lol) isn’t a place I know that much…maybe next time I’m out that way.

            • The world is surely a small place. S.V. Road is quite near to where I live. Give me a buzz if you come again. It would be real nice to meet an internet friend in person.

      • Nesto

        I am totally, without a doubt, unsure of who made that sensor

    • Mike

      The cats.

    • Nikkor300f4VR

      Designed by Nikon, made by [>insert any reliable sensor manufacturer here<].

    • TwoStrayCats

      Br0xibear already posted this. It is made by Doesn’t Matter.

  • Elbert Jan Achterberg

    This is so the opposite to what I am going to do when my copy arrives tomorrow!

    Kudos to them though for being able to do this!

  • humenbean

    Hmm as someone who just had his D800 shutter repaired, I’m afraid to know the price it will be do to a D850 repair… durability is nice, but double repair bills are questionably worth the trade off. My D800 took 5 years of beating too, before I had it repaired.

    • davestavros

      I’m planning to use silent shutter where possible. No timelapses using the mechanical shutter on this one.

      • From what I have checked in my silent shutter checks, it is best used in natural light. Anything with a flickr, and you get big bandings in the photo. Haven’t tried it yet with motion but I suspect the rolling shutter effect will be prominent.

        • Captain Insane-O

          Lightroom would make millions off Canon users if they made an anti-banding slider

        • fanboy fagz

          yes, I noticed at weddings led lighting causes weird exposures. if you shoot 2 in a row, one will have the lights on and one off. 1/100 shutter fixes it, but I cant shoot 1/100 shutter when the bride is coming down the aisle at night in the ceremony. yes, the ceremony here starts at around 9pm+

    • fanboy fagz

      for me, a shutter in my cameras almost always go within 3 years of heavy use.

      when I buy a camera, its always bought with a 3 yr mack diamond warranty. its an all risk type even for impact and water damage. ive had my d3/d3s mirror aperture mechanism and shutter replaced and the d4 is going to die soon. well worth the peace of mind. they dont offer a 5 year diamond but they do offer a 5 year regular warranty that would be better for you should you not have had any impact damage.

      • Proto

        does 3 yr mack cover proper focus calibration back to factory specs? Because the focusing table, software and tools needed to do that for new camera usually stays with Nikon for few years when a body is released, and then they give it to their authorized repair shops. Or does Mack send the new body to Nikon for repair during this time period on their own dime?

    • Thom Hogan

      NikonUSA uses Prix Fixe for repairs. They have A, B, and C level repairs, and they’re generally all the same price at the same level. Sometimes there is an additional charge for a part, but usually not. So, no, a D850 shutter repair isn’t likely to cost double a D800 shutter repair.

  • silmasan

    GREAT! The mirror box & lens mount frame looks like the good old metal/mag alloy (maybe less than D800/D700 but looks sturdy enough, definitely better than D810’s). I take my words back. This is better than D810. They should’ve advertised this and showcase the naked frame. Gosh the evidence is mounting, I might join the D810 sellers soon this way… :-/

  • Eric A

    Just one sloppy connection from the factory – seventh frame up from the bottom.

    • Chris Phillips

      Well spotted Eric …I wonder is it from the factory though or was it caused during the disassembly process?

      • RMJ

        Factory error. I don’t see how you could accidentally pull that out.
        It’s marked with arrow also, so it’s likely the reason why they opened this particular camera (it was faulty).

        • akkual

          The connector is open. Could be that it has been left open from the factory and the flat cable has then moved out of it during the transit. These kind of errors will quickly reveal themselves, in most cases on the final QA phase, and if it manages to hold on over that, then most likely it will reveal itself as DOA. Closed connectors won’t be popping out by themselves and typically these kinda errors are on like 0.x% of the units.

          • RMJ

            Yes, it was left open or half closed (not tightened enough). Known problem with these type of connector.

            What comes to closed connectors, for example my old Fuji had faulty (loose) connector which let the cable slip out every month or so until I glued it in place. It’s not a common problem but it happens.

            • akkual

              Those pictured here (what I can see) won’t be or become loose without someone or something breaking the connector (assuming they have been properly attached at the factory). But there are many kind of flat cable connetors and some are indeed utter carbage (Sony NEX had many).

            • silmasan

              Right. It’s as I’ve explained to RMJ in the other comment. Reading the sequence properly, the NRC man made a mistake by loosening a screw at the front side which was also securing the flat cable’s connection in place. It’s only apparent when observing from the backside where the cable’s connector has set loose.

        • silmasan

          “so it’s likely the reason why they opened this particular camera (it was faulty).”

          Or.. maybe not. I mean, being familiar with the new camera is just part of their job. As I understand it, they’re a specialist “Nikon Repair Center” (3rd party / not official).

          • RMJ

            Well, that’s exactly why I guess it was faulty and they chose to open it instead of working camera. Wouldn’t you do the same ? They have the same parts inside them anyways even if the other one is a brick.
            They opened it and fixed it on the way building it back. Makes sense to me at least.

            • silmasan

              Sure, however it’s still just an assumption. You’ll have to ask the guy. Just because it’s loose doesn’t mean it’s entirely not connected (as long as there is contact on each line it’ll work). Also we don’t know if that was the exact position before disassembly. And if it was faulty / something didn’t function to begin with, I’m sure they would’ve noted in the start.

            • silmasan

              OK I took a look again and the translated text/caption of that image goes like this:

              Remember that I should not split the front of the broken screws?

              Caused by the displacement of the cable pin, but fortunately before the assembly and then carefully read!

              Which tells us that it happened because of something he had done previously. So I searched back up and found this relevant sequence at the images #22 and #23 (from the start):

              * Please do not split here, I made a mistake!
              * I loosen the screws here, causing the back of the cable loose, later explained ~ ~ ~

      • akkual

        I google translated the picture text. It is quite cryptic but judge by yourself:

        “Remember that I should not split the front of the broken screws?

        Caused by the displacement of the cable pin, but fortunately before the assembly and then carefully read!”

        • Semaphore

          Google translation is awful. He said: “Remember I said I removed a wrong screw earlier? It caused one of the connectors to come loose, but fortunately I checked before re-assembly.”

          • Chris Phillips

            good so that says it was NOT a factory production error

        • silmasan

          That’s right. The sequence follows from captions at the images #22 and #23 from the start, where he said

          “* Please do not split here, I made a mistake!”
          “* I loosen the screws here, causing the back of the cable loose, later explained”

    • akkual

      At least most of them seem to be locking ones. Sony used some push in -only ones in NEX series. I dropped mine and it stopped finding memory cards. Disassembled it and found several of those push in flat cables loose and one completely snapped out. Reconnected everything and got it working again.

      • A. F.O.

        nice to know that!

    • silmasan

      No, it was NOT factory error! Take a look at the images 22 and 23 from the start.

      It’s as I’ve explained to RMJ in the other comment. Reading the sequence properly, the NRC man made a mistake by loosening a screw at the front side which was also securing the flat cable’s connection in place. It’s only apparent when observing from the backside where the cable’s connector has set loose.

  • ninpou_kobanashi

    I just got a new shipping update from Amazon of September 13th!

    • PhilK

      That comment about magnesium is correct.

      People like the idea of an “all metal” camera body, but metal is not necessarily superior in certain respects, and people would complain mercilessly about the camera’s weight if it were built like a traditional all-metal camera body eg from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s.

      Personally I like the idea of a continuous rigid metal shell from lens mount to sensor in order to help maintain optical alignment, but this can be A) very heavy, and B) as NRC points out, not necessarily superior in areas like shock resistance, RF permeability (important for cameras that have internal wireless ability), corrosion-resistance, etc. And there are lots of different types of metals and alloys, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

      • ninpou_kobanashi

        The translated wording is what I was lolling about (^_^). Not the actual intended message.

        I did not realize that Magnesium had an active affinity for salt water and shock.

        • PhilK

          Aha, gotcha.

          Perhaps it likes to eat salt-water taffy while riding a roller-coaster, or watching a horror movie. 😀

      • ZoetMB

        The first time I picked up an F4, I was shocked at how freaking heavy it was. I think my father’s 4×5 Graflex Press Camera was lighter.

        • PhilK

          I owned an F4 for a while. It had 2 major negative points IMHO: its weight, and its weak AF system.

          On the other hand, I consider it to be the most visually beautiful F model ever made, and the pinnacle of Nikon analog control design prior to the switch to electronic buttons/menus in the F5. (I also have a couple of those. 😉 )

          It can also probably serve as a backup if you need to pound a few nails and can’t find your usual hammer. 😀

          And while the AF system was terribly imprecise and ‘hunty’ in low-light, the speed of focus when the sensor had a good lock was lightning quick, due to an in-body AF motor that could probably also double as a high-speed electric drill if extended to a nice chuck. 😀

      • Captain Insane-O

        From an engineered materials standpoint, metal is quite poor. Carbon fiber is vastly superior.

        I’d much rather have a full carbon fiber monocoque chassis with a captured titanium bulkhead/bayonet mount.

        You can make it overall stiffer and lighter, as well as design certain areas to flex upon impact to protect the camera.

        People whom want all metal frames remind me of those old timers that say, “there aint no replacement for displacement!” Literally, 1.6L turbo engines are making 1000 hp, while 6.2L supercharged v8s are at 800 nowadays. Likewise, those turbo v6 1.6L engines rides on a carbon fiber chassis.

      • Thom Hogan

        Also, metal tends to remember distortions. So you whack that mount of alignment on an all-metal frame, it stays out of alignment. The current Nikon designs isolate the lens mount from the inner frame for a reason.

    • akkual

      Plastics have a feature that you can bend them and they snap back where they were. Metals are much worse on that and tend to adopt the form they are bend to. That is, you might have possibility to bend your magnesium body to misalignment when dropping it with lens attached. Plastic will likely stay in its form or break visibly. However, I’d assume they cast the front piece so that it has enough structural support against any disformations.

  • RMJ

    I doubt it’s a big problem.
    In general those kind of cables are pain in the ass. Sometimes the connectors are too loose (more of third party problem).

  • lol awesome mines on order but only 3 days ago, dont expect it for a while

    • Sports

      Your wife’s on order? LOL

  • silmasan

    Btw, the use of tilting LCD actually makes the back frame stronger/more protective of the innards as it is not hollow (where the LCD is housed) like with the previous cameras incl D700/D800/D810 or even D# series.

  • Lemme guess: a million self tapping screws?

  • Pablo And-Jennifer Gabetta

    If it is a better built, why is it rated for fewer shutter actuations?

    • TurtleCat

      Better doesn’t always mean more. It could be more reliable for the actuation it has. Consider the fps involved as well. Besides, those actuation counts are shrouded in mystery. They aren’t MTBF but rather a general expectation based on internal testing — the methods of which are never revealed.

    • Eric A

      Probably because it looks a lot more complicated mechanically and the higher frame rate.

      • PhilK

        There is one significant known added mechanical mechanism: the D850 has a special shutter balancing system which reduces shutter vibration quite a bit compared to previous D8xx models.

        This was a common complaint about the earlier models and the balancer should make it easier to take sharp images than the previous models, a particularly important aspect for a camera with a high-resolution like this one.

    • silmasan

      What are you comparing it to? 200k is the same as D810/D800, right?

      • PhilK

        The D800 and D810 are both rated for 200k actuations.

    • Without knowing what you’re comparing to…it probably runs a faster frame rate than most things you could compare it to.

      • Pablo And-Jennifer Gabetta

        I’m a little confused, I thought I read somewhere that the cycle life of the d850 wasn’t as much as the d800.

        • PhilK

          Wrong. Same as the D850: 200k.

          • Proto

            D850, D810, D800/E — all have 200K shutter

        • You may have read that somewhere. And it may or may not be correct. But even if it were, it wouldn’t mean much.

          If it really is slightly less, it means they traded durability for the wear and tear of running faster. If you run it at lower frame rates, it might last longer.

          If it’s about the same, I’d say that means it’s actually more robust, since it is capable of flapping it twice the FPS.

          Either way, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

    • PhilK

      Because it’s not, the shutter life rating is the same as the D800/D810.

  • A little googlin:

    “TMPM440F10XBG and TMPM440FEXBG are high performance and low power
    microcontrollers in which ARM Cortex™-M4F core with a built-in FPU is
    embedded, and a coprocessor PSC (Programmable Servo/Sequence Controller)
    is also incorporated. By performing effectively parallel processing at
    the same time such as filtering operations and arithmetic operations for
    various sensor’s outputs, those MCUs can be applicable to wide usage,
    for examples, precision equipments, industrial motor controllers, mobile
    machines to detect motions of people or objects, home appliances, etc.”

    Also see a single Samsung 3gb DRAM chip.

    SD socket is from:

    • EXIF information usually doesn’t include timezone information – the date/time is local time zone. Right now, it being 20:00 UTC, it’s already “tomorrow” anywhere beyond UTC+4.

      • Sorry, I misplaced my sarcasm tags…

  • Fernando Gimenez

    Great! It must last long for the price!

  • MB

    As far as I can tell this is very different motherbroad than D5, Expeed architecture may be the same 5 gen but this is much larger ARM CPU made by Toshiba (not traditional Fujitsu/Socionext) outside the Expeed ASIC …

    • See my link above with chip specs.

      • MB

        Ok … it is below actually for me because I sort posts differently… but what am I supposed to see?

          • MB

            Thank you, I already saw your post but I thought you wanted to show me some specifics …
            For example it is obvious that this Toshiba chip is not main CPU, it is microcontroller with only 56 KB or RAM and without MMU so it is most likely used for AF and some similar tasks … and image processing is not done on it …

            • You mentioned that Toshiba CPU, so I thought maybe you hadn’t see that link.

              Yeah, that was my impression too. I wonder if that Nikon branded chip is something, or there’s something on the other side of the board? I’m surprised and disappointed they didn’t show the other side.

    • Thom Hogan

      Nikon cameras have had as many as four, maybe more “CPUs” in them for quite some time. They do different things.

  • akkual

    DSLRs are amazing electromechanical stuff from inside. No wonder they cost so much. I disassembled one Sony NEX and that was quite dull and also very poorly designed in durability wise (ok, they cost next to nothing). I guess mirrorless like Sony A9 give way higher profit margin, as they are simpler in construction.

  • CaMeRa QuEsT

    Great to see that Nikon stopped the cost cutting wrecking ball before it would compromise the D850’s development. That magnesium mirror box is the most inspiring sight since Nikon (lead by Canon: look at any 5D series’ mirror boxes, they’re all plastic) started their cost cutting push. They finally re-learned (Nikkorex F anyone?) that it’s cheaper to build a product right from the word go and keep the recalls and class action suits away than to build a product cheap and then deal with the problems later.

    • PhilK

      Personally I doubt that a metal alloy mirror box is a guarantee of higher reliability but it certainly does have a higher perception of quality amongst the public.

      My reason for preferring a metal body between lens mount and sensor is based on my feeling that it helps ensure optical alignment between lens and sensor, but even that depends on the actual details of how a product is built with particular materials and the quality control during production.

      • CaMeRa QuEsT

        The NRC guy writes that he’s very ecstatic about the return of the magnesium mirror box, the all metal lens release innards and overall attention to durability and ease of repair that the D850’s engineers dedicated on its design. This is definitively a very well thought through design focused on serviceability both in field use and at service centers. If Nikon is still doing cost cutting, it’s at least doing it intelligently, aiming at a reduction of post-sale costs.

        • PhilK

          I read all of the post, thanks. 😉

          I also know that his is one person’s opinion, and IIRC, a Nikon “fan” as well. Since observations of manufacturing details are to some extent subjective, and opinions based on such observations vary about the value of particular design/construction details, I take each opinion with “a grain of salt”.

          So while I certainly think that this NRC organization (person) has made many valid observations, I don’t necessarily consider all of their comments “gospel” on the matter. That is all. 😉

          So, for example, I’d like to see what other well-known “deconstructors” like and iFixit have to say after a D850 teardown. They may disagree on some points.

          • CaMeRa QuEsT

            I actually appreciate the NRC guy’s show of sincere frustration when pointing at the D800’s and D810’s failure points (I’m reading his OP in Chinese, no translation) and then his overt joy for seeing that Nikon has addressed them on the D850. Apart from these shows of emotions towards something that helps his trade (or make it worse), I wouldn’t expect his findings to be much different to what Roger Cicala would say if he gets to talk about his D850 disassembly experience, if he does ever get to write about it: sound engineering and bad design choices alike show clearly to the eye of somebody with deep experience who’s tasked to make repairs on the actual product on a daily basis.

            • PhilK

              Once again, while the NRC guy’s assessments are certainly interesting and useful observations and opinions, they are not necessarily 100% correct universal truths.

              As Thom points out above, the usual problems that may occur with a top-tier product like a Nikon DSLR are details in the implementation of a particular design architecture, not necessarily the design architecture itself. (Eg, the choice of metal vs plastic/carbon fiber/etc.)

              However when Canon started using lots of plastics in its designs back in the 1970s/1980s I was turned off in part because the plastics technology at the time made the look and feel of plastics very unappealing to me. Eg the early EOS cameras (and the T70/T90 before them) had these terrible shiny plastic bodies which I found quite ugly and unappealing to hold. (And I have never particularly liked the ergonomics of Canon cameras – to this day. This has been IMHO one of the greatest advantages of Nikon cameras over the years, even moreso in the digital era.)

              Of course the usage of plastics in top cameras has turned out to be an innovation for the time and is now a mainstay of modern camera design. (Helped along by much more sophisticated plastics and hybrid materials technology which works/looks/feels better than what was available in the 1980s.)

          • Thom Hogan

            Some of his “observations” that are pulled out are not accurate (I don’t know if that’s due to the original post or the translation).

            “Durable design” is not the problem behind the D600 dust/oil issue, or the D800E focus issue. One was simply a bad part provided by the supplier, the other a manufacturing mistake. There’s a difference between the design and the execution of the design.

            I also doubt the comment that the shutter is “all metal.” It can’t be and be running at 1/8000.

            Magnesium is not “more durable” than “carbon fiber.”

            • CaMeRa QuEsT

              The author points out that the D850 shutter looks to be an improved version of the D810 with beefed up aperture control parts, which were a weak design on the D810 and the main reason for ERR messages showing up well short of Nikon’s stated 200K actuations before failure number. I can’t find him writing about a full metal shutter anywhere, so you can chalk that up to “loss in translation”.

              He does stress about the all metal mirror box (he calls it “main body”), that he often receives D600/D750/D810 cameras with damaged front plastic mirror boxes, whereas he has barely seen the same problem on the D800E which also had a metal mirror box. But he does say that magnesium rusts easily (as in instantly) when dipped in salt water and that it’s more easily damaged by shock; he then shows a picture of a D800E’s front mirror box from a camera that was dropped in salt water and was dismantled within 3 hours of the event, it was a total loss as he is not able to get spare rear mirror boxes (what he calls the “main chassis”). He again stresses that you shouldn’t subject your D850 to shock, or else the AF module will loose alignment.

              One more thing that impressed him is that he didn’t need to use his soldering gun to disassemble the D850, something that I think will surely help to speed up both the assembly line and the service centers and which will also help reduce QC issues.

        • Yes, this is what I got too – it seems that Nikon did many things right with this camera.

      • Adam Fo

        Canon and Nikon flagship models have always been magnesium for good reason

  • Kinda wish they’d make a clear version of this camera…as in, clear instead of the black outer shell.

    • MB

      You mean transparent instead of opaque 🙂

  • A. F.O.

    really a huge peace of tech/eng/applied physics.
    And we…basically look & and press the shutter….and voilá! really nice pictures we get!
    Besides bad things happening all over the world….we live in great times in terms of PHOTOGRAPHY.

    thanks Peter and the NRC guys.

    • Yes, impressive engineering which you usually don’t see when we just talk about specs 🙂

  • PT

    This may be off topic and if so my apologies. Regarding the RF triggering of Nikon SB5000 speedlights. So the Nikon D850 has the capability in combination with the WR-R10 transmitter to trigger the SB5000 but the above deconstruction of the D850 doesn’t seem to identify any additional hardware to trigger the speedlight. What is it about the Nikon D810 (and other more recent Nikon cameras) that stops it from triggering the SB5000 even when the WR-R10 transmitter is attached. Is it Nikon D810 software related or Nikon D810 hardware related or a combination of software and hardware?

    • MB

      Firmware, here is what Nikon says:
      The WR-R10 can also be used to control radio-controlled flash units with the D5 and D500 DSLRs with firmware version 3.00 or later.

      • PT

        Thanks MB but my WR-R10 transmitter has the firmware vs 3 and no way will my D810 trigger the SB 5000 via RF.

        • MB

          Nope, because camera firmware does not support this and Nikon seldom introduces new functionality to older cameras …

          • PT

            Again thanks MB. One would think that if it is only firmware, Nikon would update the firmware in the D810 and more recent DSLRs to enable the RF capability as I would think more people would buy the SB 5000 and the WR-R10 transmitter.

            • MB

              If Nikon didn’t change 10-pin connector then it must be a firmware, but saying it is just a firmware … I don’t know how many software developers are here but saying it is just a software like it doesn’t worth anything would raise quite a few eyebrows among them 🙂
              The only important recent feature update Nikon made that I think of is tweaking firmware on some camera not to reset AF on AF-P lenses …
              But implementing new “Unified Flash Control” protocol used in latest flashes and RF is obviously out of scope 🙁

              On the other hand I think most D850 users would be much happier if internal WiFi is used for remote flash control and that developer resources are used for developing camera firmware instead of SnapBridge …

            • Sawyerspadre

              It’s a significant firmware change. You need menus, so that changes the UI, which flows through to tech support and instruction manuals, in all the languages. Most Nikon firmware updates are bug fixes for existing features, that have a problem.

              You might need more memory, and the gee whiz flash software might have been written for a newer generation micro, or they may have even started using a new programming language at some point, for the D5, D500 and D850. Porting it back to the old micro, with the old memory allocation, in the old language, testing it thoroughly, on cameras you no longer sell, or at least make,, you start to see why they don’t do it.

              Nikon wants you to buy a D859. Just do it!

            • Thom Hogan

              See also my comments on my D850 blog today. I suspect that Nikon has been up against the ceiling of the space they have for the firmware. I see them taking something out to put something in all the time now.

            • MB

              That very well may be … although it is kind of silly with current flash memory prices … even that Toshiba MCU we see here has 1MB high speed flash … but I presume every penny counts …

  • Captain Megaton

    That was a fun read. Thanks for posting.

  • Adam Fo

    I was wrong. the main frame, mirror box and base are all expensive magnesium just like the D5. The Canon 5D IV internals are all plastic and CRP like the D810.

    • Carleton Foxx

      i wouldn’t say the D810 is fragile. Mine has worked fine for the last 150,000 exposures in everything from -10° F blowing snow to 95°F with 100 percent humidity. All I’ve had to replace is the plastic cover on the LCD.

    • Thom Hogan

      There are different kinds of metals, there are different kinds of composites. Each has strengths and weaknesses. Metals, for instance, tends to change more rapidly with temperature. Composites tend not to lose shape on impact damage.

      A good designer is using the right material for the right jobs.

  • XT

    “NRC said that D850 is easy and joyful to disassemble.”

    True geeky engineering types! I can relate.

    • ZoetMB

      Yes, but is it easy and joyful to put back together?

      I can’t help feeling that if Apple made DSLR’s, there would be far fewer parts and much more integration of the electronic components. But it also would be impossible to repair.

      • Eric Calabros

        How a DSLR with full backward compatibility and full manual control can be made with less parts than this?

      • AlCarn

        And you would have to get a new one in a year when the battery died.

  • L ee

    Looks good! But did anyone notice the transmission gear in the 7th and 8th picture? (from bottom up, white one)
    Seems fragile to me. Very happy with the rest, exceed expectations.

  • JJ168

    This is why it is 25gr heavier than the d810. Mag alloy for the mount frame.

    • Thom Hogan

      Probably the shutter mechanism, actually, but yes, the extra metal certainly would be a contributor. But remember, there were things taken out of the D850 (the capacitor for charging the flash, for example).

      • Azmodan

        What about the pentaprism, I assume it’s larger on the D850 than D810 and also a tad heavier.

  • Nika

    Thanks peter and nrc for great technical info.

  • Jim Huang

    How does a durable design got to do with focusing issue?

    • tomskyphoto

      Misalignment of components in the critical optical path of the AF system such as the main/secondary mirror or the AF module itself can happen easier with a less robust design.

      However, the assembly and calibration of a complex multi-part design such as the D850’s or the D800’s is much more demanding than that of let’s say a D750 or D500 with its integral monocoque. D800 left focus issue anyone? See also NRC Taiwan’s statement about calibration after reassembly.

      • Thom Hogan

        Well, I’m a wordsmith, so I’d say this: durable is more about how long it lasts, not how well it stays aligned. Metal will remember an impact and stay bent/dented. Carbon Fiber will absorb the impact and retain shape. And frankly, both are “durable.”

        • Michiel953

          All manufacturers have or should have their very specific performance requirements for every single bit and piece. I’d love to know the technical reasons for the change back to mag alloy.

          • Thom Hogan

            So would I. But one reason could be timing. Faster to do it in metal. So the “when” of the design is also important.

            • Michiel953

              Yep, that’s another variable. Timing, cost, same performance.

  • Aldo

    The bare magnesium….no bueno

  • Delmar Mineard Jr

    Terrific seeing the inside of this camera.

  • Mac

    Some people do a lot of complaining about Nikon, but man, you got to be impressed by the technology and engineering that goes into their cameras. Truly amazing imaging tools.

    • fanboy fagz

      not all cameras. some are half assed. df for instance. this one is impressive. though 2 features will be a pita. no focus peaking in 4k and 2 different memory cards. they realized that video is very important to a lot of still photogs who also shoot video at times. the d4 and d4s have atrocious video quality. even worse then the d3300 the d80 looks great.

      im also glad canon fucked up the release of the 6d mk2

      • Michiel953

        Why would you be glad for that?


  • Dan142

    It is made by a company called Humor.

  • Andrew

    One thing of note with this modern camera, the D850, is that you do not see cables running throughout its innards. It is in part due to the miniaturization of electronic components and clever design.

    • Thom Hogan

      I see cables all over the place. They’re ribbon cables, not wires.

      • tomskyphoto

        There are even some additional wires – of course no fat AWG 16 or 12 power wires, but they’re wires.

  • Patrick Cligny

    Nice post where they said they do no know the BSI-CMOS manufacturer.
    The four main BSI-CMOS manufacturer are Sony, Samsung, Omnivision and Canon. I suppose that this one is not a Sony (if it was, Nikon would said). I suppose this is not a Canon one (the enemy). If I was in charge, I would take Omnivision. This is just a guess… Omnivision is making sensor for smartphones, which are smaller but more integrated.

    • Michiel953

      ‘Designed by’ is more important than ‘Manufactured by’.

      • Patrick Cligny

        Both are important… Reliability depends on Mfg, performance depends on both.

        • Michiel953

          I said the design is more important than the manufacturing. That’s all.

      • Kob12

        Design is process-specific in semiconductor fabrication. You contract a manufacturer and then design to his process capabilities/parameters.

        One can not switch manufacturers after signing-off the design without going through a re-design – a big problem if your fabricator is hit by a natural disaster, for example.

        • Michiel953

          Thanks; didn’t know that. Designing and manufacturing is getting ever more intertwined I guess. I learned that years ago when visiting an Alcoa plant, where car parts were made.

    • MB

      The largest CMOS sensor manufacturer is TSMC last time I checked, even Sony is contracting them sometimes, but they are also a clear evidence that manufacturing is completely different from designing and there are no TSMC branded sensors as far as I know …

    • Thom Hogan

      Again, the simplest way to derive the actual fab used is to look at the interconnects. They are like fingerprints, pretty unique to the fab. The sensor shown in Nikon’s pictures was fabbed by Sony, almost certainly.

  • John Foote

    Careful! This is a family-friendly thread…

  • Nikkor300f4VR

    Amazing! Looks good!
    (btw stop teasing, please.. one more D850 post and I swear you, I will place an order.. 😀 despite the fact I do not even need this beautiful beast.. )

  • I hope it doesn’t face major issues/recall! The D850 is promising!
    It’s the best $2,750 I have ever spent!!

  • Chris Phillips

    BTW price in Dubai 12999AED aprox. 3500 US$

  • Dave

    Gotta say loving my d850, but having to convert to DNG first is very slow, had an insane sunrise this morning, trying to stitch the panorama together and post it to relevant local groups, but apparently formatting my XQD card in camera did not actually format, so it has to convert the 500 I took yesterday as well. Been 15 minutes and only halfway through converting. Will be very happy when Adobe updates lightroom and photoshop:)

    • Thom Hogan

      Uh, Adobe updating Photoshop. Lightroom, no.

  • sickheadache

    My Friend Akihiro from Japan who works at Nikon..sent me the Sensor Data.

    • decentrist

      would you like to edit your post?

  • Matt Comerford

    What’s the word on protecting the touchscreen? My hard plastic covers on previous bodies look like garbage after a few years.

    • Michiel953

      It comes with a foil, like a cellphone. You should be fine, just leave it on.

    • PhilK

      I don’t yet have a touchscreen DSLR, but when that time comes I’d imagine I’d do the same thing I do on my smarphones: apply a screen protector, perhaps a tempered glass one, and if it gets worn, just replace it.

    • Polsloe

      I bought a glass protector from Amazon by fiimi which was actually fitted for D500 but as screen is the same fits perfectly

  • Elbert Jan Achterberg

    Oh Yes!

    Although the. D800E and D500 are looking a bit sad, I think they know they are about to get a new home. Good news is the RRS L bracket for the D500 is an o.k. fit, Bad news: focus shift photography only works with AF-S lenses and not with my 200mm AF micro, I was sort of expecting this, but it is the lens with which I do a lot of focus stacking.

    • Chris Phillips

      Congrats my man , yes I had to re-home my d500 and D810 to fund this. The 200 Micro is simply stunning. I also use it a lot, need to remind myself to use manual focus on the body though, thus I have a red tag on it always to remind me so that I skip screwing up my AF mechanism.
      I know this might sound trivial but the thing that impressed me most on the D850 is the newly shaped grip , deeper and made to fit three fingers under the shutter release area. I find it very much more comfy than the D500 and D810. Everything now falls naturally under my fingers, really welcome surprise! Also hope that Adobe uploads the updates for it soon.Otherwise we will be piling up images on the cards . So far very happy, hope it continues the D810 reliability fame.


    I’ll treat mine like a baby, too — so I’ll wait for nine months to get mine (according to my wife, anyway)

  • Michiel953

    I didn’t get the ‘more metal in the shutter’ bit. Where? Not the blades, which have been cf for decades now.

    • PhilK

      H already referred to the new balancing component of the shutter, which counteracts the inertia of the opening blades of the shutter to reduce vibration. This adds new parts to the shutter mechanism, potentially increasing weight very slightly.

      • Michiel953

        Ahh, thnx for that! Sounds plausible. Who’s ‘H’?

        • PhilK

          Woops, typo. Meant to put “he”. (Dibyendu Majumdar)

          I’ll fix it, thanks.

  • It will be interesting to see how lenses keep up with this new body. The D810 already obsolescence some of nikons “best” and expensive glass (w.g. 200-400)…wonder if lenses will now match what this body can do…guess we’ll find out shortly. That’s my biggest concern really. 16-35 (old), 17-35 (even older), 200-400 (same), 14-24 (getting old)…etc…that’s a LOT of “good” glass nearing (or beyond) obsolescence/resolving point.

    • Bob Thane

      Any lens will still give you more detail with this than on a lower MP body, even if it’s not as much detail as the camera might provide with a different lens. So don’t worry about your current lens not gaining anything – you will get more detailed overall images.

      But I do agree that it would be nice to see many designs updated to take full advantage of the sensor. The 200-400, 16-35, and 135mm especially.

      • Davidvictormeldrew Idontbeliev

        true, hopefully we see all the f/4’s like 70-200, 24-120, 200-400 get an update.

      • Adam Fo test all lenses on a 200mb test rig. The reference lens is a Nikkor AF-S 85 f1.4 which is 1000 in all categories. So a lens scoring 1400 in the resolving measurement is superb

    • Here’s to hoping that a 16-35 2.8 or 17-35 2.8 that weighs as little as the new Canon 16-35 mk3 weighs, and costs less, is headed for the market soon. I always loved the 14-24, but damn it’s unwieldy…

  • This, compared to a disassembly report like the Lens Rentals break-down of the Sony 70-200 2.8 FE GM, should tell you all you need to know about which company knows what the heck they’re doing, (and listens to feedback) …and which company is still in the “let’s see if this works!” phase…

  • Back to top