Six years after release, Nikon releases new firmware for the D850 DSLR to improve skin tones

Jan 25, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Six years after release, Nikon releases new firmware for the D850 DSLR to improve skin tones

Jan 25, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Nikon has released a new v1.3.0 firmware update for the Nikon D850 DSLR, six years after its initial release in 2017. Widely regarded as one of the best DSLRs ever made, it’s largely been usurped by the Nikon Z7 II, but there are still plenty of Nikon D850 bodies out there, and they’re still available to buy new. So, Nikon continues to support them.

The new firmware update introduces the Portrait Impression Balance feature, which was introduced with the Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II mirrorless cameras. This feature allows photographers to correct skin colours in-camera using hue and brightness adjustments. And while this won’t be a big deal to those who shoot raw, it will be for those who shoot jpg (or raw+jpg) or video (certain conditions apply).

The complete patch notes for Nikon D850 v1.3.0 firmware look like this:

  • Added [Portrait impression balance] to the photo and movie shooting menus. For more information, see Supplementary Firmware Update Manual. To view NEF (RAW) pictures taken using firmware version 1.30 or later on a computer, you will need to update NX Studio to version 1.3.1 or later and Picture Control Utility 2 to version 2.4.14 or later.
  • Fixed an issue that resulted in attempts to initiate [Lock mirror up for cleaning] in the [SETUP MENU] causing the camera to display the message “Disable [Network connection] in the Bluetooth menu” and lock the mirror in the down position, preventing it being raised for cleaning, when [Enable] was selected for either of the following [SETUP MENU] items:
    • [Bluetooth] > [Network connection]
    • [Airplane mode]

To read more about how the Portrait Impression Balance feature works, check out Pages 8-10 in the Z6 II and Z7 II Portrait guide from Nikon. enabling the feature allows you to adjust the hue and brightness of portraits with three different “Mode” presets. These can then be applied to raw images you’ve already shot that you want to process in-camera and save out as a jpg, or they can be applied automatically to new jpg images you shoot (or raw files processed with Nikon’s NX Studio software).

While the effects are only really applied if you’re shooting jpg, many photographers shoot raw+jpg so that they have a selection of jpgs to quickly scan through on a tablet or to post to social media while leaving the heavy lifting of raw processing to be done on the computer at home. So, it’s not just for those who only shoot jpg. It’s also quite handy for those who use the D850 to shoot video and want an easier time colour-correcting in post, especially for things such as interviews.

The adjustments you make using Portrait Impression Balance are unavailable if “Monochrome” or “Creative Picture Control” is selected for Set Picture Control. You also can’t use it if N-Log or HDR (HLG) is selected for HDMI output.

You can download the new Nikon D850 v1.3.0 firmware from the Nikon website.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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5 responses to “Six years after release, Nikon releases new firmware for the D850 DSLR to improve skin tones”

  1. John Wojciechowski Avatar
    John Wojciechowski

    Will they be able to have the same update for the D780? It uses the same sensor as the Z6. For photographers who don’t need the larger MP of the D850.

  2. Daniel Shanley Avatar
    Daniel Shanley

    Video I see, please don’t get an 850 and shoot jpeg….

  3. Mohamed Ali Avatar
    Mohamed Ali

    I don’t shoot Nikon, nevertheless, it’s commendable that Nikon didn’t abandon the product despite the years.

  4. Frank Nazario Avatar
    Frank Nazario

    This body is my dream camera… i’m a photographer not videographer, I’ve dreamed of having this camera since it came out. Unfortunately I cant afford it even though I already have the two lenses that for my work a Sigma art Prime 35 and the 85… being used in a Nikon D7200.
    Then again… That body has being paying rent for the past 3 years.

  5. John Beatty Avatar
    John Beatty

    HEY CANON!! Look what Nikon is doing…