Tag Archives: Nikon DSLR

DSLR vs Mirrorless – Nikon D760 Rumors

Today I saw the first rumors of the update of the Nikon D750 that will likely come next year.  Is that a wise move by Nikon, and is the DSLR dead?  My answer to those two questions is yes and then no.  But let me put in a qualifier on if it is a wise move by Nikon.  It is a wise move if Nikon improves the auto focus in live view so that it is at least on par with the current Nikon Z6.  If the back screen gets a bump up in speed then it becomes much more useful.

Over the last six years I have taken under ten videos with my cameras that were not smartphones.  The new iPhone XS Max which I have had now for about two months takes excellent video including 4K up to 60fps.  Apple has an easy to use video editor called iMovie that is free and works well.  And I don’t have to learn all the stuff that goes with bigger cameras like my Sony A7iii like “log” “lut” “gamma” “grading” and so on.  I have shot some test videos with my Sony A7iii.  It is far harder to use than the light iPhone XS Max which I put on a small tripod type holder.  The iPhone XS max also has a far better screen to use with the camera than the Sony.  My point is that one of the Key mirrorless advantages is lost on me.  Better video than a DSLR.

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Shot with an iPhone XS Max.  

The key advantage for me of an EVF is to improve exposure.  Seeing zebras and the histogram in the viewfinder helps.  I mostly use the zebras and adjust exposure compensation using them as a guide.  But with improved live view on a D760 you could see that information on the back screen.  Is that as good as the viewfinder, no, but it would help.  A big advantage of the OVF is it is always on and does not use power.  Plus the D750 I had this year had a much clearer optical viewfinder than the Sony electronic viewfinder I now have.

The rumors I read say the new camera will have a new 36 mega pixel back lighted sensor.  The optical viewfinder will be with a prism and 100% coverage.  The back screen will be flippy and full touch enabled.  Two SD card slots.  (I have also read rumors saying the sensor will stick with 24 mega pixels and the back screen will not be flippy.)  Price between $2,295 and $2,495.

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Shot with Minolta 600si with 24mm 2.8 lens

Even though I wanted the weight to be less when I had the 750 that was only with the 24-120mm f4 lens that was 27oz.  The D750 was fine with the 50mm f1.4.  Now after owning the Sony A7iii for 2 1/2 months I would say I prefer the D750 and lighter lens to the Sony A7iii and lighter lens.  The 750 is a bit heavier but has a much better grip than the Sony.  And the Nikon buttons and co-ordination with the menu on the D750 was much better (actually much much better) than the A7iii.  And if the new 760 comes with the touch screen like I used on the Nikon D5500 then the Nikon D760 will have a far far superior control and handling setup than the Sony.

The other giant benefit of the D760 is that I assume it will come with an F-mount.  That means Nikon’s giant catalog of F-mounts will be able to be used on the new camera.  That means all kinds of specialty lenses but also much better values like the 50mm f1.4 for approx $400 instead of $1,500 on the Sony.

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For the last couple of years uncounted people with podcasts, videos, and blogs have hailed the coming of mirrorless to replace the old mirror system in SLR’s.  I never really saw the reason for getting rid of the mirror.  I have had an Olympus OM2n body I bought in 1980.  In 38 years of use I have had exactly zero problems with the mirror.  And the old Oly has just a magnificent viewfinder with a very simple optical focus aid.  I would hope the new D760 would come with a similar manual focus aid or at least be possible to add one.  I really like focusing manually, but find it harder to do with viewfinders that have no help to let you know when you are at focus.

With these rumored features.

  • Full frame new 36 mega pixel back lit sensor
  • Improved live view focus to at least Z6 level
  • Weight and size no bigger than the D750
  • F-mount not Z mount
  • Price between $2,295 and $2,495

I think Nikon would have a real winner.  Of course something extra like a little electronic screen in the viewfinder with a histogram would be really nice too.

Nikon D5500 DSLR

I have had my Nikon D5500 DSLR for about six months now.  It was an upgrade from a Nikon D3200 DSLR that I had for about 2 years.  Let me start off by saying that I have found the D5500 to be a very good camera and certainly a good value for the money.  In addition to the camera body I bought the new style kit lens that is 18-55mm.

Stock picture of Nikon D5500
Stock picture of Nikon D5500

I also have a Nikon 35mm f1.8 and a 55-200mm zoom.  The zoom has vibration reduction and the prime lens does not.  I was able to sell my two year old D3200 on line at a good price.

The D5500 is like the super deluxe version of the 3200.  The sensors of the two cameras have the same pixel count.  I have mostly taken stills with this camera but it works quite well for videos too.  The video portion of the 5500 has stereo microphones which is an advantage over the 3200.  I take more videos with my cell phone than the 5500, but find the results from the Nikon to be better.  The Nikon lenses are able to isolate the subject much better than the cell phone.  I shoot all my videos at 1080p.  I usually use the setting for about 24-30 fps.

The touch screen of the Nikon D5500 is a great feature.  It is much quicker and easier to use than the older style adjustments of the 3200.  I find the Nikon settings to be very easy to figure out.  Usually they have explanations to help you.  This camera has taken the scene settings off of the top wheels and into the touch screen menu.  There is a wide selection of scene settings and they seem to be quite effective.  ISO settings are now easy to adjust with the touch screen.  But for some reason Nikon put the control for applying auto ISO deep in the menus.  There is also a button now for control of single or multiple shots where you can get to it quickly.

Bodie CA. Two houses come together.
Bodie CA. Two houses come together.

The D5500 has very good color rendition.  I find this to be the case on either landscapes or people shots.  Many of the shots I took this summer using a scene from the menu needed little to no adjustment in post.  I did use the raw settings some of the time, but the D5500 jpeg software does a very good job.  Unless you like to twiddle with the pictures a lot I don’t think you need to stay away from just the standard jpeg settings.  The exception to this is very detailed landscape shots.  I still shot most of those in raw so all of the possible detail would be in the photos.

Bodie CA houses and blue sky.
Bodie CA houses and blue sky.

The picture above was a medium jpeg setting and this is how it came out of the camera.

Why I chose to get the D5500.  As I have mentioned in other posts I like well built cameras that take good pictures and the camera itself has good style.  I especially like the look and size of my Olympus OM2n cameras who’s size and look were based on the Leica M series.  I also have an old Voightlander Prominent from the 1950’s that is the same size as the Olympus with even nicer metal work.  The Voightlander is beautiful industrial design.  In my opinion.

Voightlander Prominent

So when I went to look at cameras I went to a camera store in San Diego that had the Nikon D5500, Nikon D750, Fuji XT1, and Olympus OMD – Em5 II.  The Olympus OMD was the best looking of the four cameras.  However, it weighed as much as the larger Nikon 5500 and would have cost me double what the I paid for the Nikon.  Keep in mind I already have two Nikon lenses.  And the kicker with the Oly is the small sensor.  It is significantly smaller than the 5500 and has less mega pixels.  And then there is no optical viewfinder.  I still like those.  The Nikon D750 is a great full frame camera that is like a big brother to the D5500.  I would rather have a full frame camera but don’t want to drag around twice the weight of the D5500.  The Fuji is a great mirrorless camera, but it costs lots of money to get the body and three lenses.  It is mirrorless, so not through the lens optical viewfinder, and it’s looks don’t do anything for me.

So I picked the Nikon D5500.  A very capable camera that feels very good in my hand.  It is however a lump of black plastic and not in any way a thing of beauty.  I am still waiting for that full frame good looking digital camera that is a similar size and appearance to the Leica M or Oly OM2n.  That I can afford to buy.

Digital Camera Pictures Vary Between Cameras Like Film Varies

I currently have three working digital cameras.  The one in my three month old smartphone, an older Sony compact camera, and a year old Nikon DSLR a 3200.  On our recent trip to southern Utah the Nikon really surprised me how well it adjusted for mid day pictures in brilliant sun.  Normally by far the best pictures are taken early in the morning or late in the day.  My Nikon 3200 when put on the landscape icon on it’s settings dial produced really good mid day pictures.  The camera in my smartphone had a much harder time with this lighting.  I remembered my Sony compact had a landscape setting too and decided I would do a test today to see how it worked with mid day light.

 

Here is the Nikon 3200
Here is the Nikon 3200
The Sony compact
The Sony compact
And my cell phone
And my cell phone

The Nikon DSLR did by far the best job of these three.  The Sony washed out the colors in the distance a bit.  The cell phone decided to focus on the trees in mid range and then put a strange lighter border section between the mountains and the sky.  In my opinion the only acceptable picture is the Nikon one.  But lets try a test where mid day sunny skies are not a factor.

Nikon
Nikon
Motorola Cell phone
Motorola Cell phone
Sony compact
Sony compact

All of the files on the digitals are about the same size approx 2.1-2.5 mega pixels.  In this case in my opinion all three are comparable pictures.  I prefer the color on the Motorola just a bit, and the Sony second.  Which puts the Nikon in third.

Conclusion.  The Nikon benefits from good software.  It has given an acceptable picture in mid day with color that is not washed out.  The Sony compact on the other hand is about six years old and does not benefit from software advances from the last couple of years.  And then the Motorola software has the right idea, but puts a gap between the sky and mountains.  And focuses on an object not in the center of the camera.  For tough mid day bright sun shots I am amazed at how good the Nikon works.  There is no way you could get shots as good as it does unless you are a wizard at post press.  And for this inexpensive Nikon the shots that came out of the camera had the color and saturation right.  Traditionally using film to get good mid days shots called for a polarizing filter.  In my humble opinion with Fuji Velvia 50 and a polarizing filter you would get even better shots of Monument Valley.  But that is only speculation as I did not shoot Velvia when we were in Arizona a month ago.

And for close up shots of flowers in late afternoon any of the digitals I have produced good results.  In this situation any of the shots would be OK, but here I preferred the look of the cell phone camera.