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Ian Van Halen
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Nikon madness on 04/09/2014 23:56:26 MDT Print View

I really appreciated all of the advice I received on here with my last question so here's my next one...

After agonizing over the sheer number of quality mirror-less and point-and-shoot options out there, I've decided to invest my time and money into my DSLR even though it's the heaviest option available to me.

My current setup is a Nikon D5000 with the standard 18-55 and 55-200 DX kit lenses.

My wife was a photo journalist by trade in the Air Force (pre digital) and enjoys using the camera so between the two of us, any upgrades we make to our system will get used although we are both novice.

With that painfully long preamble out of the way, here's what I'm looking at. As typical for backpacking in the PNW (and most of the US for that matter), I appreciate having the ability to cover a wide range of shots with my lenses and I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving either of my kit lenses at home. So I have two ideas:

Option 1) Nikon will release the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR to the market next month. Apparently it is 10oz lighter than the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR and $100 less. I realize that this is a jack of all trades/master of none lens but in my mind, this lens will be a great compromise of performance, weight, and simplicity for a DSLR. The weight is the same as the 18-200 so unless I hear a good reason why, don't think I'm going to consider that one.

Option 2) Forgo upgrading my glass for the time being and buy the D7100 for a few hundred more than I was budgeting for my lens or a D7000 for about the same cost. I'd then have the option to sell my D5000 to help finance the new camera. The theory with this option would be that I'd be able to take pictures at a higher resolution so I'd just bring my 18-55 and crop pictures (yes purists... heresy I know) as appropriate.

Options 3) I may be missing the boat altogether and I should become more zen like with a single prime lens or other option I haven't considered.

Still trying to figure this stuff out so your expertise and advice is appreciated.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Re: Nikon madness on 04/10/2014 00:26:59 MDT Print View

Grasshopper, I say become more zen like with the 35mm F1.8 and a wisdom book by Masters Ansel Adams, Galen Rowell and John Shaw.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Nikon madness on 04/10/2014 01:29:02 MDT Print View

Number 3.

Mark Cashmere
(tinkrtoy) - M

Locale: NEOH
Re: Nikon madness on 04/10/2014 04:56:17 MDT Print View

+1 Rick & Adam -- the 35mm F1.8 is an amazing prime lens. Check out Ken Rockwell's site if you need more convincing....

Ian Van Halen
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Nikon madness on 04/10/2014 09:11:13 MDT Print View

Thanks for the suggestion; I've been deliberating on which prime to buy. My understanding is that this lens will perform (probably not the right word) as a 50mm with my DX crop sensor?

I'm sure that lens would work for 80% of my pictures but what do you use to photograph wildlife in the distance?

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Re: Re: Nikon madness on 04/10/2014 09:36:10 MDT Print View

Hey Ian.

Nothing wrong with wanting to stick with a DSLR, but if the reason is primarily for your wife's benefit as a PJ, it might not be the best move for you. I once shared a system with my wife too, eventually she got her own (it took some time due to the associated costs of course) and this made life a whole lot easier for us both :) You could argue that a mirrorless would work for her just the same, and would lighten your load for backpacking trips.

Here are a few random thoughts, to confuse you...

- It's hard to come up with any advantages to using a DSLR with kit lenses, over say a high end point and shoot camera. The image quality from those lenses won't make the most of the APS-C sensor in your camera body, and they're not fast enough to produce shallow depth of field for subject isolation (the "slr look").

- Using a single prime is fine, but it's not a shooting style most casual photographers are comfortable with. It takes a lot of practice and discipline and may be frustrating. Pairing a fast prime with a zoom lens however is a good minimal kit.

- 35mm lens is roughly the equivalent field of view as a 50mm lens on a full frame camera. It's not wide, nor does it have much reach. That's called a "normal lens".

- Shooting wildlife in the distance is a niche. This is the kind of stuff 300mm - 800mm lenses are made for. They're big, heavy, expensive. Depending on how far away, 300mm just starts to scratch the surface. Ask yourself how important this is because it's one of the few reasons to still use an SLR (due to availability of telephoto lenses). Unfortunately you have to be fairly committed to carrying a heavy kit once you go down that road.

- DSLRs are still a viable platform, but unless you need advanced AF system, telephoto lenses, or simply cannot work with the ergonomics of any of the mirrorless bodies out there... it's hard to think of a reason to go that route.

Ian Van Halen
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Re: Nikon madness on 04/10/2014 10:13:17 MDT Print View

I'm not totally opposed to upgrading my P&S or trying out a mirrorless but as you've alluded to, I'm trying to upgrade this system not only for backpacking, but for other reasons as well. At the moment, I'm very tempted to buy a Sony NEX 6 along with their 35mm lens but for the same amount of money, it seems that I can upgrade my lenses for my DSLR. Of course after spending a lot of time, energy, and money to get my base weight under 10lbs, the mirrorless option starts to look better and better... ugh this is a tough decision.

At any rate, while hiking in some foggy days last year on the Wonderland, I quickly discovered the limitations of my P&S small sensor and lost some great wildlife pictures to excessive noise. I'm downloading Aperture next week to see if there's anything I can do to salvage some of these pictures but I really don't want to repeat that experience this summer regardless of which platform I go with.

I may just delay this purchase for another month so I can do more research and ponder how important it is to me to have telephoto capabilities.

Jeremy B.
(requiem) - F - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: Re: Nikon madness on 04/10/2014 16:15:37 MDT Print View

A 35mm f/1.8 is quite decent and inexpensive; you'll get the field of view of a 50mm but the depth of field* of a 35mm. It's good for street and travel photography.

For your zoom lens, if you want shallower depth of field you can simply use your zoom at 300 and step back until the subject fills the screen. This can somewhat replace the "need for speed", as long as your subject is close enough to allow you to step back.

Personally I don't see a strong need to move to the D7000/7100 for image quality; the gains are likely only incremental relative to photographer skill. (I think this applies to most any modern camera, and even lenses as well.) I do think the extra reach of the 300mm zoom would be useful.


* Assuming you're standing the same distance from the subject as you would using a 50mm lens on a full-frame camera, the depth of field will extend slightly further in front of the subject and much further behind the subject when using the 35mm lens on a crop camera. (The field of view will be similar.) You can correct for this by shooting with a larger aperture than you would on the full-frame, if you have enough stops in reserve.

Ian Van Halen
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Re: Nikon madness on 04/10/2014 17:49:31 MDT Print View

Thanks for the food for thought Jeremy. I agree that I need to place more emphasis on skill than on gear but on the other side of the coin, I want to be the weakest link in my system. Not saying that about my D5000 as much as it's directed towards the P&S I used last year. While entry level, the D5000 still outperforms me by a large margin.

I guess my primary thought about going from a 12.3MP camera to a 24MP camera, shooting RAW and paired with a 35mm lens, is the perceived benefit in post-production to crop wildlife pictures to compensate for the lack of telephoto. I'm sure there's more to it than that that I'm failing to understand out of ignorance.

One of my goals for this year is to force myself start using manual mode which will hopefully get me out of my comfort bubble and to a place where I have a better understanding of how the camera processes light (that sounds suspiciously like an infomercial for Fred's Online Camera Schoolin').

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nikon madness on 04/11/2014 10:03:41 MDT Print View

Ian,

If you ever come over to Pullman, I'll let you check out my Nikon gear/lenses.

I recently upgraded from a D80 to a D7100 and noticed an improvement just from the technology. I still carry it backpacking/hiking since my Olympus TG-2 just doesn't cut it for me for hiking pics. I still prefer the SLR option except when I do water stuff which is what I bought the TG2 for...

That said, I'm strongly considering a Sony A6000 camera this summer for the weight savings. I hate to have to learn another system (and pay for it), but I want the lighter option! I carry my camera with the capture system on my chest and the Nikon is very heavy there....

Ian Van Halen
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nikon madness on 04/11/2014 11:15:05 MDT Print View

I have an Army/Hiking buddy who lives in Moscow so I may just take you up on that offer. Found a great BBQ joint over there a few months ago. I'm trying to talk him into an extended trip through the Sawtooths but doesn't look like that will happen this summer.

Did some more research on the NEX 6 and it's starting to look more attractive to me every day. I previously read some conflicting information as to whether or not it could do time lapse photography and from what I could see, there was a kludgy way to make this happen. From what I read yesterday, it looks like the camera itself can download aps and one of them is for time lapse. If this is true, man... it's not making this choice any easier.

Unfortunately our selection of camera stores here in the Tri is nonexistent and I think the only mirrorless they had at Best Buy the other day was the NEX 5 (I think). They don't even carry the Nikon 1 in the store anymore. There was some kind of Sony DSLR but I don’t remember the model.

Ian Van Halen
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Went mirrorless on 05/13/2014 14:16:44 MDT Print View

Agonized over this decision for a while and decided to take my D5000 on one more trip. Long story short, I returned home not overly satisfied with how the kit lens performed but also not convinced that at single 35mm would have been the answer either.

I'm putting the DSLR on the shelf for a bit and look forward to putting my A6000 to good use.

Thanks all for the suggestions and feedback.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Went mirrorless on 05/16/2014 15:13:17 MDT Print View

Congrats on the new camera, Ian.

Were the deer photos you posted on the "RX100 UL Case" thread from the A6000... or something else? I'm talking about the ones that turned out blurry that you weren't happy with.

Ian Van Halen
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Went mirrorless on 05/16/2014 15:28:43 MDT Print View

That was last year with a very small Canon P&S. I'll dig it out later as I don't remember the model number. Great size and nice features but it struggles in low light conditions. iPhone had similar problems.

As I've learned the hard way, value is personal and cannot always be measured in grams.

I'm taking the A6000 out to a local wildlife refuge this weekend for its maiden voyage.