Nikon D850 vs Sony a7R III Underwater Camera Comparison – Full Frame Showdown

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Over the last few months, we’ve had a chance to test two of the world’s most popular professional camera bodies, the Sony a7R III and the Nikon D850, to gauge their strengths and weaknesses shooting underwater. Backscatter CEO Jim Decker and media producer Robin Dodd sat down to discuss camera features, lenses, and a few of the drawbacks of each. Check out the video below or scroll further and read on.

We’re trying out a bit of a new format with this video. It’s a long format but the discussion is filled with the kinds of details that us underwater photographers need to know. We hope you enjoy and please leave us some feedback letting us know whether you’d like to see more content like this!

Topic Time Codes
0:30 – Why are we looking at these two cameras?
0:50 – What makes them cool?
1:40 – Dynamic Range
2:42 – Autofocus (Wide-Angle)
5:46 – Autofocus (Macro)
8:07 – Manual Focus and Focus Peaking
10:43 – Shooting Speed
14:39 – Lens Choices
17:20 – Metabones Performance
22:17 – Field Test Report
23:59 – Field Test Report: Roatan
30:15 – Field Test Report: Little Cayman
34:26 – Video Performance
42:24 – Sony a7R III video examples and discussion.
46:20 – Favorite things and weak points.
49:01 – Which one is for you? (conclusion)

KEYWORDS: Nikon D850, Nikon 8-15mm, Sony a7R III, Canon 8-15mm, Nikon 16-35mm, Sony 16-35mm


Tom Park says:

@backscatter I’m amazed with that purple slider on the Sony – can you please confirm which purple slider you’re using? I have this issue on occasion and have no idea how to correct/ what slider you’re using?

John Park says:

Using a third party lens with a metabones adapter will have drastic effects on focusing speed and keeper rate, hence your issues with the a7Riii. Put some native mount (Sony, Sigma, Samyang etc) glass on there and it will focus faster and better than the Nikon.

alienxyt says:

Excellent! How do you look through a viewfinder with a mask on??

keeping it real AF says:

Well done gents.


good video.I really liked watching it.
Keep going please.I follow your channel.
I will welcome it when you support me too 😊😃 ❤&✌

kurtyhearty says:

That was a very good review, so detailed and with such interesting results from your subsea experience, rather an unusual and exciting review I think

Mike Albanese says:

Holy cow guys. Very detailed review about the cameras. Great info here. I watched the whole thing and never got board. Great job guys.

Vitomir Maricic says:

uw topics are awsome. Cool.

Vitomir Maricic says:

uw things kick ass. Cool.

Denver Maddux says:

Fisheye lenses don’t make a camera system viable or non-viable. Marking down Sony because of that is fairly poor reviewing. Also the fact that you didn’t compare the cameras using native lenses, like a very popular 16-35mm selection for both systems, is unfortunate. The housing size matters for travellers. Every kg counts. Battery life? Ease of access in the housing? Button layout? Menus? Thanks for the amount of detail provided, though.

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