By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
While Sony, Panasonic, and even Canon dominate the run and gun digital video category with their DSLR and Mirrorless cameras, not very many people know that Nikon pretty much blazed a trail adding video capability to DSLRs. Instead, they’ve been a distant fourth in the DSLR wars. But they want to change all that with the D850, a fantastic camera, and a new kit of accessories that’s sure to awaken the filmmaker in all of us.
The Nikon Filmmaker’s Kit consists of the D850 DSLR, a trio of super fast Nikkor primes. There’s the Nikkor AF-S 20mm f1.8 G ED, the Nikkor AF-S 35mm f1.8 G ED, and the Nikkor AF-S 85mm f1.8 G ED. Some very nice glass to cut your teeth. Then, Nikon tosses in the 4K Atomos Ninja Flame External monitor-recorder, a pair of microphones including Nikon’s ME-1 stereo and ME-W1 wireless microphones, and an extra EN-EL15A battery.
All told, this Nikon Filmmaker kit is an all in one solution for that shooter who’s started out on mobile filmmaking with smartphones and GoPros, but is looking to amp up their content with a more cinematic look. The D850 is a great camera for shooting stills and 4K video, and with the Atomos Ninja Flame support of tap to focus support as well as focus peaking, you can really dial in the sharpness of your subject when having to rely on autofocus isn’t really necessary, which for the D850 is all the time because Nikon still uses continuous 3d track auto-focus that hunts way too much to be usable. The Atomos Ninja Flame also allows shooters to apply a quick and dirty color grade through 3D LUTs that are built in, in order to get an idea what a final color grade would look like.
But you as a filmmaker, you want to be in the habit of using manual focus anyway, except in those times where an autofocus is needed to grab a moving subject. And in that instance, dynamic area auto tracking is where you want to be and the trio of Nikkor ADF-S lenses will compensate for the autofocus shortcomings that the D850 has. With great manual focusing, as well as an AD override when you need to lock in that subject quickly. But for the quality of the image, Nikon has really nailed it in 4K.
Audio wise, the wireless microphones makes it easy to connect to your camera via the hot shoe and grab some great stereo audio. I have no experience with Nikon’s wireless microphone or the stereo wired version that also comes with it, but if it works as advertised, it’s a great addition to the all in one kit. You can even use both in concert, connecting through both the Nikon D850 and the Atomos Ninja Flame for two sources of audio. Ideal when you’re doing an interview.
But the best feature may be the price. At $5500, the Nikon Filmmaker’s Kit saves the user over $700 compared to buying all the products piecemeal.
Nikon has a lot to do to fine tune the autofocus features of the D850, but it’s still a hell of a camera with which to build on as they make their way back to relevance in the video world. And the filmmaker kit, makes it a lot easier to wade into deeper areas of the cinematic pool.