Up until now my experience with digital cameras that were not attached to smartphones has been 4 Sony’s and 3 Nikons. All have been reliable. The Sony’s up until now have all been compacts. The Nikons have been two crop sensor and one full frame DSLR.
Over the last year I have wanted to step up to a full frame digital sensor as that is what I have been using for many years with film photography and I just like the perspective and subject isolation you get with 35mm. And I have been thinking about going mirrorless full frame to get reduced size and EVF to facilitate exposure.
Last spring Nikon offered me a deal I could not pass up on a D750 full frame DSLR. I bought it with the 24-120mm f4 and a 50mm f1.4G lens. I have to say that the images out of this rig were excellent. Nikon sold me the 24-120mm lens for $500 and that is a bargain.
The above shot was with the 24-120 and shot at 24mm. When you look at this at full resolution it is a great shot except for the top corners. But for me the combo of the D750 and 24-120 was just too big. Plus my experience with the last Sony compact with the EVF and my iPhone and using the Adobe camera app got me used to seeing exposure and over exposure in real time.
So I figured I would look at Sony and Nikon as that is what I have good experience with. I went to the camera store with the intention to buy a Nikon Z7 or Z6 and changed my mind while in the camera store. Why? 1. I have a number of legacy Sony-Minolta lenses that I thought would adapt really well on the A7iii. 2. The A7iii was $2,000 and Z7 was $3,000+. 3. I liked the fact that the Sony was on it’s third generation of A series cameras and figured they had the bug ironed out. 4. I have had recent experience with the Sony HX 80 compact and the menu system is very similar to the A7iii’s. I did not have a problem with the HX menu.
I bought the Sony A7iii and figured if regretted I could always sell it and buy something else. I also bought the Sony – Zeiss 50mm f1.8 lens and the Sony LA 4 adaptor. The Zeiss f1.8 lens is a small, light, very high quality standard lens. It also costs $1,000. In my opinion sharper than the Nikon 50mm f1.4. And it cost $375.
Most of my older Sony-Minolta AF lenses work as well as I thought they would. The 50mm f2.8 Macro which has been one of my favorite lenses. Gives very sharp, colorful, good bokeh results.
The medium tele Minolta works pretty well. I like the bokeh and it is light and easy to use. It is 1/4 the size of the Nikon 24-120mm f4 and about 1/3 the weight. Plus I paid $32 for it.
And above is using the Sigma 24mm 2.8 Macro I paid $80 for a couple of years ago. I have several more that worked well too.
The Sony autofocus adaptor worked quite well with all of the autofocus lenses. Although using the Sony with a very sharp digital sensor did show some of the weaknesses in bokeh a couple of the lenses have that was covered up more using film. Film has more grain usually and tend to smudge the bokeh a bit.
Here are two more from the Sony and the Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro. These have been cropped quite a bit and the details in the full size image are great.
OVF compared to EVF. I like OVF better but EVF offers more information. Being able to see the histogram and zebras before taking the shot makes it worth it. The mirrorless is also far better for taking shots using the back screen. The Sony is much more responsive than a DSLR back screen.
Videos are far better. with the mirrorless than the DSLR. Video was so bad on the DSLR cameras that I almost never used it. The Sony A7iii is extremely easy to use. Although the adapted lenses would not be good for autofocus. The camera would make too much noise using the old lenses. I have tried the Zeiss and it is silent.
I do miss the 24-120 but not the weight and size. Sony makes a 24-105 f4. I have given some thought to buying it, but I don’t want to get back to lugging a heavy camera around. Using the adaptor and the 24mm prime I already have is less than half the weight and size of the Sony 24-105. But not a zoom. I think I will stick with what I have for a while before doing anything more with additional new lenses.
Do I regret not getting the Nikon. I do not regret not getting 45 mega pixels at all. My computer set up is just not ready for lots of big still files. And I have not had a problem getting used to the Sony menu system. I set up buttons for almost all functions and hardly use the menus. But I would have to say that the Nikon EVF is quite a bit better and I would like to have that. I do not love the Sony position of the front and back selector wheels. The D750 was better.
Far left is Olympus OM2n, the Voightlander Prominent, Minolta 600si, then the A7iii. Of the four I prefer the Oly. I put a a leather ever ready case around it and it becomes very easy to take and carry with you. I also have an ever ready case for the Voightlander. The 1953 leather is looking a bit worn, but still very serviceable. The Sony A7iii above has the Zeiss 55mm lens on it which is a small lens. But it is easy to see from this picture that what we think of as a small lens in 2018 is much larger than the other three. Much bigger than the Zeiss and the Sony is not an easy camera to tote around. I am giving some thought to getting the Zeiss 35mm f2.8 or the Sony FE 28 f2 which are even smaller than the 55mm. But since I have a closet full of film I can just use some of it with the smaller SLR’s.
Final comment. Olympus is the only one of the larger camera companies that have not come out with a full frame camera. If they were to make a smaller full frame and smaller lenses I think it would sell. Maybe even to me.
Yes it does. A couple of weeks ago after thinking about doing it for a year I bought a full frame mirrorless digital camera, a Sony A7iii. I chose the Sony A7iii over the Sony A7riii because of price and the fact that the bigger files would overwhelm my current computer setup. I chose the Sony over a Nikon Z7 or Z6 mainly because the 24 mega pixel Sony is available now and I have a number of Minolta/Sony/Sigma AF A mount lenses I like a lot.
I also bought the Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8 when I got the camera from a local camera store. No surprise the Zeiss lens works great with the Sony A7iii. The above shot was taken last weekend in full sun with a sun shade on the lens and a polarize filter. This shot was taken in raw and converted to black and white in Lightroom Classic.
The Zeiss does a good job with color too. But this is a well reviewed lens from one of the best suppliers that was designed for the A7 line of cameras and cost $1,000. So you expect it to be good. It is also light and smallish. Plus has a 49mm filter size which I have a lot of lenses that size. In fact that is the standard filter size of many of the Minolta lenses.
But when I got this camera the real question in my mind was how well my favorite Minolta – Sony A mount glass would work. These lenses are;
Minolta AF 50mm f1.4. A splendid lens at least as good as my Nikon 50mm f1.4 G lens or my Olympus Zuiko 50mm f1.4. But not as good as my Voightlander Nokton German Made 50mm f1.5. The bokeh on the Voight is beyond beautiful.
Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro. I have loved this lens since I first got it with my Minolta 600si film camera a few years ago. It is very sharp and goes to 1:1 or short focuses to .18 m or .62 ft.
Sigma 24mm f2.8 Macro that is also able to focus down to .18 m. A great wide angle lens that is quite sharp with little distortion.
Minolta 35-70 f3.5 – 4.5. A shockingly sharp unexpected gem that I got for free when I bought a Minolta 70 – 210mm from ebay. When I got my first samples back from this lens I immediately looked it up as the results were so good. This is a plastic excellent light small mid zoom. Don’t laugh till you see the photos.
Minolta 70 – 210mm 4.5 – 5.6. Both this lens and the 35-70 were made in Japan. This is a very good plastic lens. It is very light and very small for the zoom range. This is not the same as the all metal “beer can” Minolta with similar zoom range but f4. This lens is also quite sharp although not quite as good as the 35 – 70. But it will fit into your pocket if you are wearing cargo pants. Try that with the Sony 70-200 f2.8.
I also bought the Sony LA-EA4 adaptor that is designed for the Sony A7 series of AF lenses with screw focus.
As I found out immediately the A7iii with LA-EA4 adaptor worked very well with both the Minolta lenses and the Sigmas. As you can see in the shot above the 24mm gives a very good still shot. I used center focus and center exposure for this shot. It was taken a few minutes before sunset.
This shot above of the purple geranium is about a 50% crop and was shot at 55mm f8 @ 1/00 ISO 800. It is very sharp, good color, nice bokeh, and I got this lens for free. This is my best purchase yet. I got the 70 – 210 zoom and this lens for $32 dollars plus shipping. A laughable amount. This 35 – 70 focuses almost instantly with the A7iii and adaptor. As with all of the adapted lenses I am reviewing here I would suggest manual focus if you are going to shoot video. The adaptor and lens will just be too noisy for video in AF.
Above is my Macro 50mm 2.8 Sigma. A well built lens that is quite sharp and can focus as close as .62 of a foot. I have used this lens a lot with my first Minolta 600si as that camera came with this lens. I have seen this lens on ebay recently for around $75.
And finally we have my Minolta mid range – longer zoom. This is a very small compact zoom for the 70-210 range that might be 11 or 12 oz. Is it as good as one of the large 70-200 2.8 lenses, no. But I already own this lens and it works up to a very good standard and you can own one too for less than 50 dollars. Here is another example below of this bargain.
The above is not a good photo but does show that the lens can give a sharp and acceptable result.
My point is that the Sony A7iii is a very flexible tool for getting high quality stills with a wide variety of expensive and low cost lenses. Sony bought Minolta in 2006 and still makes cameras that use the Minolta A mount plus A mount lenses. There are a lot of A mount lenses for sale now at attractive prices. The ones I have work fine for still photos. And for that matter there are quite a few used E mount Sony lenses for sale too. Although so far I have found some of the better E mount glass to sell at relatively close to new prices. I have been looking for a 35mm Zeiss and in a couple of ebay auctions found the used sold for about 80% of new. If you want to use video without the noise of the older style auto focus you are going to have to get some native quiet glass.
A7iii. So far I like the Sony A7iii quite a bit. Since I have had several previous compact Sony cameras including a HX80. I am used to the menu and find the A7 easy to operate. Now I have set up buttons to operate all of the major functions directly and adjustments a very quick. This camera with reasonable size lenses makes for a package of camera and lens similar to my film SLR’s like my Olympus OM2n, Voightlander Prominent, and Minolta 600si. The Minolta is now my largest body. But it is only a bit bigger than the Sony. I have no plans at this point to buy huge heavy glass for this camera so that it is hard to travel with and carry around. If I had not had any of the older glass that works easily with the A7iii I might have made a different choice of a full frame mirrorless body. I like the fact that Nikon with the Z mount has come out with some pretty light and smaller glass. But the Sony already has done this. The Sony 55mm f1.8 like I bought is about the same size and weight as the new Nikon Z 50mm f1.8. But the Nikon 35mm f1.8 is over 13oz. The Sony 35mm f2.8 is 4.4 oz and the Sony 28mm f2.8 7.1 oz.
Enough for now. I have a bunch of rolls of the new Kodak Ektachrome and am waiting for the first finished roll to come back from the developer.
So mirrorless full frame cameras are now going to be a common thing. Sony has had most of the headlines in this category for the last couple of years. Leica has long made mirrorless full frame cameras too, but they are a very high cost device and their announcements for reasons of price and also features have been muted. I personally have been waiting to see what Nikon and Canon announce as at this point I really do prefer the full size 35mm image capture either film or digital to other sizes. Why, it is what I am most used to and also seems to work best.
Last Spring I rented a Sony A7riii with a Zeiss 55mm f1.8. At the time I was not thrilled with this camera except for it’s images. When I rented the camera they did not include an operators manual (even though I likely would not have read it) and I found it quite confusing even though I have had four compact Sony’s and the menu system is similar to the A7.
I blundered along using the A7riii for a day and of course used it in the most harsh condition of full sun mid day. But I did get a few shots of subjects I had taken with other cameras and found the jpegs from the Sony to be excellent. I only shot jpeg and did not do anything but shoot in aperture priority. This was before I bought a Nikon D750 and was used to the weight and size of a D5500. I found the Sony to be heavy and hard to hold. But then for a month after I got the 750 I found it heavy and hard to hold. Since I used this A7riii there is a Sony A7iii that is cheaper than the r model. But now we are down to 24 mega pixels and not up at the r’s 42.
My overall impression of the Sony was good and not so good. The images looked very good when I figured out how to operate the computer, oh I mean camera. But I am sure I would learn how to operate it just like I figured out how to use a MacBook after 20 years with Windows. What I might not get used to is the grip. Not nearly as nice as my Nikon D5500 or D750. But then my favorite camera is an Olympus OM2n which has no grip at all. The Oly is just a flat case like the Leica M’s.
Nikon had their somewhat low key intro for the Z6 & Z7 just over a week ago. I still have not held one in my hand as is the case with nearly every other prospective buyer. But a fairly big number of youtube personalities have and like almost every news caster today spins their opinions in lots of different directions. To me the main reasons to get mirrorless over a DSLR is that you get an EVF and WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) plus much improved video ability. I like WYSIWYG. It is very useful so see what you are going to get in a viewfinder before you take the shot. This is one of the main reasons cell phones are so popular for photos and video. It is easy to get great shots if you know what you are going to get before and when you are taking it. Plus good video ability. My two Nikon DSLR’s are hard to use for video so I don’t. I use my iPhone.
Pros of the Nikon Z’s
Looks like a typical easy to hold camera body like my existing two Nikons
My Nikon glass adapts easily to these cameras
I have had very good experience with Nikon. Their cameras have been very reliable
Touch screen has full control of menu settings. This is a big deal. I have that on my Nikon D5500 and it is very fast and easy to adjust settings. However, my Nikon D750 has marked dedicated buttons for major functions like ISO and Image quality. The buttons make up somewhat for the fact the 750 screen is not a touch screen. Sony’s screen is not a full featured touch screen. Sony’s buttons are not marked. That means I have to assign the functions and remember where I set them. Overall I would have to say that Nikon’s choice to go with full featured touch screen on the Z’s is the best one. Sony’s the worst.
Nikon introduces a good working inexpensive adapter for Nikon’s F mount lenses.
Nikon comes out with 3 lenses that are relatively small and relatively well priced with new cameras.
Very good set of video specs. From the video I watched on youtube last night it seems like the video focus works quite well as does the stills focus. But so does Sony.
Z7 has basic ISO of 64. The best of any of the new mirrorless full frames.
The bodies are smaller and lighter than my D750. But so are the other new mirrorless full frames.
High resolution EVF
Cons of the Nikon Z’s
One card slot and the one card is not SD. My D750 has two SD card slots. I like two slots.
Screen does not fully articulate like my D5500. In fact it is exactly like my D750.
New lenses are high priced. Why does the new 50mm f1.8 cost more than my recent 50mm f1.4?
Z7 more costly than D850 which is the king of DSLRs at the moment. If you don’t care about video the 850 seems like a better buy.
No built in flash. I have one on my D750 and it works very well.
Canon announced their full frame mirrorless EOSR a few days ago. Orders can be placed this week and deliveries very shortly after that. I have never owned a Canon camera so my comments are just armchair ones. I would like to say that my sister has had Canon for years and is happy with it. My son who is a professional camera man for movies and TV has both a Canon 5Diii and a Sony A7s. He likes Canon. He likes Leica lenses better.
Pros for Canon
Canon has a habit of making cameras that work well without problems.
30 mega pixels vs 24 for Sony and Nikon (The lower Sony and Nikon)
Fully articulated screen
Inexpensive adaptor seems to work very well with Canon legacy glass
Made in Japan
Cons for Canon
One card slot
4K video is cropped
No high megapixel option
Two of the new lenses are huge. Small size is one of the major benefits of mirrorless and huge lenses defeat that. Those two lenses are also very expensive.
Panasonic has made it their speciality to make excellent mirrorless mirrorless micro 4-3rds cameras that are known for their video capability. They have indicated that they will announce a full frame camera in a few weeks. Since good video is one of the prime reasons to go mirrorless this might be a dark horse winner.
Olympus has made a very popular line of micro 4-3rds cameras along with Panasonic the last ten years. In the past Olympus has introduced some very innovative cameras. The OM line of 35mm film cameras offered a very capable 35mm body that was smaller and lighter than the competition. The XA compact film 35mm camera was a miracle of miniaturization for full frame image size in a pocket camera. The EM5 digital camera of 2012 started the trend of making retro digital cameras with in body stabilization, advanced video, and a high quality lens line. So anything could happen from these guys.
Fuji has been rumored to be introducing a larger than full frame sensor rangefinder camera at Foto Kina in Germany later this month. Prices for the body are supposed to be in the $3,000 – 3,300 range. If so that could sway Z7 and A7riii buyers to look at the Fuji. We will have to wait for announcements to see how all the Panasonic, Olympus, and Fuji cameras turn out.
If you need a camera today you need to buy a Sony. And that might not be such a bad idea. They have three mirrorless models and also the A 99 which is mirrorless but different. Sony now has a very good lineup of lenses for zoom or prime buyers. And with an adaptor you can easily use the older Minolta AF lens line at a much lower price point. I have a number of pieces of Minolta glass and can tell you that some of it is excellent. I would put my Sigma/Minolta 50mm f2.8 macro up against any comparable lens for sharpness. And Sony is a huge company that has the resources to forge ahead with new models. They currently also have a line of excellent crop sensor cameras that use the same E mount.
For Nikon and Canon I would say that if you have Nikon or Canon lenses now that you should likely stick with that brand and go with mirrorless if you plan to do both stills and video. If you are going to mostly shoot stills I would stick with DSLR’s. Two of my friends bought Canon full frames recently at very good prices. I bought a D750 because Nikon made me an offer I did not want to refuse. And sticking with a DSLR means you can use the existing lines of glass new and used without adapters and at much lower price points than any of the mirrorless full frames. I came very close to preordering one of the Nikon bodies the first day. But then I just decided it would be better to hold one in my hands and maybe even rent one before buying. I suspect the Nikon bodies will not be fully sorted out for a while. For that mater Adobe won’t have raw conversion when the first production models come out.
The last three, Pana, Oly, and Fuji, their offerings are not known yet and only rumors.
Oh, and to leave the best for last there is Leica. I would love to have the budget to buy an M10 with autofocus. But I don’t have the budget and they don’t sell them with autofocus. I actually like focusing my old Olympus OM2n bodies because it is so easy when it is light outside. I like the look and feel of a Leica M10 better than any other. I love the small size of the bodies and especially the lenses. But at about $8,500 for an M10 and a 50mm Summicron is that really a wise purchase in 2018. I suppose you could make the case that an M10 and an iPhone X paired is all you would need. But realistically you would want a 50mm, 28 or 35mm, and a 135mm for your kit. And now we are up to about $15,000. But going back to the first though, an M10 with 50mm Summicron + the optional electronic finder, paired with an iPhone X would be a pretty good set up. And you could call it quits and just know you were carrying two of the World’s best cameras. Keeping in mind that the Leica does not shoot video. So if a lot of video is in your future a Leica M10 is not.
But think about this. A Nikon Z6 with a Nikon new Z mount 50mm f1.8 could be bought for about $2,800. It includes EVF and video. The size is similar to the Leica, but with the lens the Nikon will be longer from back to lens front. The grip is likely more comfortable than the M10 that does not really have one. That said I find no problems when I hold an M10. And with my similarly sized Olympus OM2n I have been using it for 38 years and it is my favorite camera. So is this a better camera setup than the Nikon D750 or Canon 6D or 6D II? For just stills, maybe not.
Added the next day September 10
I write this blog to keep track of my thoughts and maybe once in a while put up something that helps out someone else. And in no way do I make any money from this or intend to ever do that.
It is amazing the amount of chatter and people involved in photography today and the storm in information and opinion going on about the new photo tools coming out this year. The year 2018 is almost 3/4 over, but it is like a building crescendo of noise from all the new cameras coming out. It seems like Sony started the noise back at the end of last year with the really capable A7riii. Then Sony upped the ante and added the cheaper but also very capable A7iii in the Spring. Now Nikon and Canon have introduced their full frame mirror less bodies and the noise is gone way up without any production units shipping. A few blogger-youtubers say they have production model Canon’s but to me real production units is when many regular users get their cameras.
What all of this reminds me of is when computers were something everyone was getting and general use of the internet was fairly new. Say about 2000. Every few months performance and new applications were introduced and Microsoft would make changes on their system. Many people including myself bought a new computer frequently. In my case I had both a desktop and laptop. I got a new one at least once a year. And Apple was starting to make a comeback. Today’s computer-cameras right now seem to be changing a lot and their is a lot of noise going on as to what the changes are and what is best.
All of this excitement is good for photography and video. But it is not the same as computers in 2000. Back then many of the computers and computer software being sold was crap. Remember the blue screen of death. For those too young to remember that is when Windows crashed yet again and you had to restart your computer. What is different is that there are all kinds of very good cameras being sold today that do not have problems and the new bodies are just improving things a little. Keep in mind the new Nikon and Canon bodies are also taking things away, like the 2nd card slot. And going with shorter battery life. Even Sony has an excellent legacy system. The A mount that has the same sensor and mega pixel count as the top end A7riii.
WYSIWYG is a big deal if you take the time to consider and adjust your shots before taking them. Blown highlights are still an issue with digital sensors and being able to tone them down before taking the shot will help you get better shots with fewer tries. WYSIWYG is not new except for Nikon & Canon in the viewfinder. Even with Nikon’s exposure setting for highlights it is helpful to be able to see in the viewfinder if you are going to blow the highlights in advance. I do that with my little Sony compact. I set it to aperture and look at the zebras before I take the shot in the viewfinder. I turn down the exposure when I see zebras. It saves ruined shots and saves time in post. So I expect EVF’s are going to take over. Eventually.
The big German camera show Photokina is going to be here shortly and I expect more announcements from more camera makers. But here is the thing. Until these new devices get released and in the field no one will really know how good they are. My favorite blog this morning after singing the praises of Nikon a couple of weeks ago and basically saying Fuji can now go back to making film. Sony can go back to TV’s and toasters. Now this morning is changing their mind as says buy Sony A9 for sports and action and Canon R for everything else. Now I am paraphrasing here and condensing the last couple of weeks of this blogs postings plus this is just my opinion of their postings – but if you had followed this blogs advice you would have placed both the A7 and A6 on preorder. Now we are told that in fact Canon is the best one except for sports and action. So you have $6,000 worth of Nikons coming in that are now not recommended. But the blogger would have been paid a commission if you had used the links on the blog.
My advice. Spend your time and money learning to use the image capture devices you already have and concentrate on improving your ability instead of trying to improve your images and video with new systems. When there are units in the field and you can go to a camera shop and hold one then that is a good time to maybe buy one. Or not buy. All the camera makers are giving big money off their existing models and Fuji just introduced their XT3 body for less money than the XT2. And the XT3 is mirror less. (crop frame though)
After thinking about it for 3 years I finally bought a full frame Nikon D750 camera. When I looked at new DSLRs just over three years ago I went to a camera shop and had them put the Nikon D5500, Fuji XT1, Olympus OMD EM5 II, and Nikon D750 on the counter. I went for the D5500 as I had been using a D3200 for two years and got very good images from it and no repairs. The D5500 added new features including a very useful touch screen. I checked out the Fuji as many reviewers were talking about it having a very high quality body with direct dials on it to make the most important adjustments. I looked at the Olympus because I have been the happy owner of several Olympus cameras since 1980 and really liked the brand. I looked at the Nikon D750 as I had been shooting full frame film for many years and liked the perspective of that size image capture media.
The D5500, Fuji, and Olympus all were about the same size and felt like they weighed about the same in the hand. The Nikon D750 was a lot bigger and a lot heavier, and critically, would have been much more money than in my budget at the time for a new camera once lenses were included. The Olympus had a smaller sensor than I wanted. The Fuji was nice but not smaller or lighter than the D5500 and would have been a lot more expensive for me to buy with lenses than the Nikon D5500. At the time I thought that if money was not a problem I would have bought the D750.
So after three years I had the bug to buy a new camera before our summer motorhome trip this year. I bought a Sony compact last year that fits in my pocket and gives me great results that are a step up from my iPhone X. So I thought, why not try a Sony full frame. I rented an A7rIII and Zeiss 58mm f1.8. I got some really great files from that rental. I would have stepped down to the A7iii though as the file size from the R were just bigger than what I want/ need. I did not find the A7 comfortable in my hand. I did like the size of the body. But when you add lenses much of the time it is the same size as a DSLR. The Zeiss 58 f1.8 is much bigger /longer than the Nikon 50mm f1.4 and costs more than twice as much. And there is the Sony menu system. I have used it through all of my 4 Sony compact cameras. I find the Nikon menus & controls easier to use.
I very rarely take video and when I do I use my iPhone. My main reason for wanting EVF is to avoid blown highlights. But Nikon offers an exposure setting that auto reads for highlights and avoids blowing them. DP review and many others place the Nikon D750 and Sony A7iii about the same in overall quality. So why did I get the Nikon? I just could not pass up the deal and I am very happy with Nikon. I still very much like my D5500 after three years. I still think it is the best camera in it’s category. It is so easy to use compared to my Sony compact. It just does not fit in my pocket.
The deal. Nikon sent me an email offering me the D750 plus battery grip plus 24-120 f4 lens for 2 grand. The Sony A7 body was 2 grand. And the Sony 24-105 f4 is $1,300. So if you don’t count the grip and only the lens and body the 750 is $1,300 less. But I bought a 50mm f1.4 from Nikon for $369 (refurbished) and I did get the grip. The 750 was about 40% less than the Sony comparable package. Now I have had it for a week. I made a good choice. What is the single thing I like the best about the Nikon deal, the grip I would have never bought if it was not free. It makes it so convenient to go to portrait mode and has and extra set of controls and one of those easy adjusters for setting focus. What is the thing I like the least, the size and weight up from the D5500. But the Sony A7iii would not have been smaller with the 24-105 on it and would have been just 8 oz lighter. Plus after a week I am kinda used to the heavier weight. Yesterday I went hiking with the 750 and used a Peak snap connector on my backpack strap. The size was fine.
So what do I like about the D750 so far. It gives great images, fast. No waiting for focus or anything else on this camera. The files come up looking really good and the jpegs too. I usually shoot raw, but tried using raw + fine jpegs. I ended up using mostly jpegs of the photos I have taken so far. I tried editing the raws in LR Classic and ended up about the same place between the finished raw and jpeg files. The focus set on auto just seems to find the subject 9 times out of ten. If it does not I just center and reposition. I have been experimenting with the exposure. The no-overexpose setting works about 80% of the time. Bracketing and using LR to merge works well too. I very quickly just set this camera on manual (not manual focus) on the top dial and used the two wheels to adjust f-stop and speed. The individual buttons are faster than the touch screen on the D5500, but not by much. I very much like two adjust wheels. Makes using manual a breeze. And I love love the big viewfinder.
So right now I am very happy with my purchase. The files do seem a bit better than the D5500. Even when I do a lot of cropping the result is fine. So not getting a camera with 40+ megapixels seems the right choice. If Nikon was introducing their mirrorless at the end of the summer I would likely have held off, but a year till next Spring was too long to wait. If Nikon blows me away with a mirrorless that has normal size lenses (normal Nikon size), does not break the bank (Leica style), and comes with reasonable size files and not huge ones, then I might spring for one of those when they come out next spring.
So how does this affect my fondness for film. It does not. The only thing I am going to change with this summers trip is to only take one camera (besides cell phone) on each day and not a film and digital. Last time I took film and larger digital cameras most of the time to compare shots. That is done and now I need to concentrate on working with the tool in hand to make the best composition.
Final comment. Right now I still think my Olympus OM2n and the Nikons from the 1980’s like the FE were a better design than what we have today. I would like to buy an Olympus full frame digital that had a body the size of the OM2n and lenses the same size as the ones I have from the 1980’s. Why is it only Leica seems to get this? If my budget would stretch to a Leica M10 and 50m Summicron? Well one can hope.
About five years ago I started shooting film again after going with digital only for about 7-8 years. Now in May 2017 it seems like film is back in a big way. I have been writing this blog and one other with most of the posts being about photography. My most popular posts are when I write about film and film cameras. Recently I saw a post that was in Photoblographer on 5 great but unknown film cameras. The Minolta 600si was in the five. Within a few days I had a bunch of hits on most two 600si posts. Same with my post on Kodak Gold 200. Few have written about these items and all of a sudden my posts on them have been looked up and read.
For me personally I have settled into using both digital and film. I have a number of both types of cameras and just pick what I think will give the best images. The exception to this rule is that I carry an iPhone 7+ with me constantly and take a lot of images with it. My most recent camera purchase is a Sony pocket camera. It is a DSC HX80. This is a very new model of super zoom. I have had several Sony pocket cameras over the last 15 years and this one takes the best pictures of any I have had. This is not the highly rated $1,000 one, but looks very similar. I got it as I was trying to find something a bit better than the iPhone 7+ that had a long lens on it. I like shooting wildlife and volunteer at the San Diego Zoo so there are times when a long optical lens is helpful. I have to say the little Sony is a very good camera when you consider what it cost. It even has an electronic viewfinder (the same one as the $1,000 Sony) that is absolutely essential in bright sun. I recently took it with me to Arizona and the camera is a very good bridge between a large SLR or DSLR and a cell phone camera.
On this trip I took my iPhone, the DSC HX80, and my Nikon D5500. So no film cameras. Why, I knew I would be bouncing around between outdoor and indoor, plus back and forth between landscape and people. We did not plan to go to any epic landscape places like the Grand Canyon or Bryce. So I spent several days trying to decide on what gear to take and just left the film at home. I really wanted to take my old Voightlander, but it is just more limited than some of the newer cameras. I got some very good shots with the gear I took.
The cactus is with the Sony, Casa Grande Nikon, and Route 66 with the iPhone. All three were easy to edit and organize with Lightroom and Apple Photos. I pretty much edited the pictures when sitting in the hotel and they organized easily as dates and times were already embedded in them.
Would the images have been better with film? Maybe. I would have needed two bodies for both 100 speed and 400 speed. The 100 would have been Ektar or Velvia, and the 400 Kodak Ultramax or Fuji Superia. I picked these films as I just have not been happy with my landscape shots using Portra 160 or 400. I just don’t like the desert look I get from this film. My two Minolta 600si bodies are just as easy to use as the digitals so I would have taken them. I would have used my two primes a 50mm and 24mm both with macro. The long shots could have been with the 70-205 Minolta zoom I have. Absolutely the 50mm macro is better at close ups than any of the digital cameras I have. The new Sony super zoom really has a long reach. So a couple of the animal shots might not have been as close up.
The added reason I picked the digitals is that I am trying to get certain looks with them in camera and post with Lightroom. I wanted to experiment some more to get the results I was looking for.
These shots of Casa Grande in Arizona I was trying to get the “Kodachrome” look. To me this photo (from the iPhone no less) pretty much nails that. And I could have made the same result with Velvia or Ektar in one of my film cameras. In this case though it is a bit of a pano that is easy with the iPhone 7.
The above is with my D5500 and I get the same “Kodachrome” look. I just used the P setting and landscape mode. I had saturation turned up +2 on the landscape mode. Then in Lightroom I just added a small amount of additional color in the sky with the dehaze slider. And I turned up the shadows a bit.
In summation I would have to say that I have settled into working with both film and digital for stills. There are some things I like about each process. As far as gear goes, I like some of my vintage film gear. Looking at and holding cameras mostly made out of metal and not plastic is a pleasure. And having full frame film cameras that are not heavy and relatively small is also a pleasure. I would like to move up to a digital full frame sometime in the near future, but nobody has made the camera I want yet. The closest is the Nikon 750, but I don’t like the fact that the camera and lens is so large. And the Sony stuff is just too pricy for what you get. Plus the lens cost and short battery life are additional problems. I would really like to get up to the 30 meg area of file size too. At this point the 750 is the same detail as my existing D5500.
Film Video vs Digital Video
While it seems I can get very good results with digital cameras I have to say I am glad that using film in movies is popular again. I hate digital video on TV that has not been processed to look like film. Netflix does that on their in house movies and they look terrible. I can usually spot movies made with film or TV shows. For instance HBO’s Westworld. The cinematography was so gorgeous I figured it was film. And it is.
Thats it for now. I am going to try to get out this weekend and shoot some film. I have some partially used rolls and I want to finish them and send them off to get them developed.
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.
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.
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.
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