Observations about using a Nikon D7100 for work.

This image is from Balmorhea, Texas. It was shot with 
an Olympus EP-2.

Earlier this year a client took me by surprise. We didn't communicate as well as we usually do or maybe I just didn't pay attention very well but... we did a photo shoot of an actor in a number of different characters in front of a white background. I thought the client would be using the images in print ads and on the web so I was very, very comfortable shooting it with a Panasonic GH4, a camera I had used extensively and knew I could rely upon for just about anything. I used one of the best m4:3 lenses, the Leica Summulux 1.4 and we lit the whole thing with studio flash so we could freeze any action. I shot at the base ISO and metered carefully. The raw images looked really, really good. 

Then, casually, the final client announced that they were very excited to have such nice images to work with on their posters! Yikes! Could an m4:3 file stretch up to 24 by 36 inches and still look great? My old prejudices, fueled by the group hysteria of the web, overwhelmed my ability to evaluate empirical evidence and see the reality that the 16 megapixel files from the GH4 were very much up to the task. Perhaps a Nikon D810 would have given us more detail but what the client produced in the real world was right on target. 

Too bad for me that I am reactive and reflexive and a bundle of anxiety. The minute we finished the shoot, with the fresh information about the intention to produce posters, my mind rushed to the worst case scenario= the files might not work. (The problem with being an anxiety inflicted freelance photographer is that one tends to worry about every detail and every step and works on back up plans to ward off  imagined disaster, always forgetting that photography is rarely a life-or-death undertaking). 

I decided to add camera inventory I could use for future giant blow ups.  I did some quick research, looked at my potential budget and all the vectors crossed at intersection of resolution/cost/no "AA" filter and track record. I rushed up to Precision Camera and bought a Nikon D7100 and some extra batteries.

I bought a 50mm 1.8G, repurposed my Nikon 55mm f2.8 Micro and also grabbed a very well reviewed 85mm 1.8G. With that selection, a 35mm and a couple of zooms I had a kit that I felt was a good candidate for high res, high enlargement imaging. Should I have bought a full frame camera instead? Maybe. But at ISO 100 and 200 (my usually studio ISO settings) I sure doubt that I would see much difference. Certainly third party tests didn't show much (if all all) difference.

Since buying the camera I've done back and forth comparisons with the GH4 and I'm relieved to find that the GH4 is within a nano-whisker of the level of detail and, with the X lenses (35-100 and 12-35) is, overall, very competitive with the Nikon. Finding that out meant additional rationalizations would be needed to justify keeping the Nikon (beside the fact that some clients seem comforted by tradition). The one I settled on was flash performance. Yes, the Nikon has more accurate exposure in flash modes than does the Panasonic. But is that reason enough to keep it considering the few times per year I use on camera or slightly off camera flash anymore? Maybe, but I'm pretty sure I can sort out the Panasonic flash situation, given time...

At any rate I decided to use the Nikon D7100 with the 85mm lens to make the 100 portraits I'd been hired to do yesterday and the day before. We'd be working in a makeshift studio in a large training room at the client location and doing everything with studio flash. The camera seemed appropriate given its crispy file rendition, its double card slot which allowed me to shoot 2200+ raw images to one SD card while simultaneously writing smaller Jpeg files to the second card slot for quick web gallery images. The battery life is really good and the magazines and web sites all say that the PD autofocus of the camera is fast and sure even under low light...

I worked with assistant, Amy, the past two days and we worked together as though we'd practiced... The white background was lit within a quarter stop all the way across. It was neatly framed by two large, black flags just out of the camera's view. We were doing a very particular style which will be subjected to lots of post production so our main light was a large beauty dish covered with diffusion. 

The camera was set up and meter readings taken everywhere. In fact, we metered at the start of every session. We also did a custom white balance each morning---just to be sure. It should have been so easy...

First issue. While the camera and lens say f8 the light absorption of the optical system is probably two or three tenths of a stop. It's hard to evaluate that on the rear screen (which always looks cheery and perky!!!) but when you pull files into a raw converter it's pretty obvious. Since there's no review in the finder (where the image would be protected from ambient light contamination and screen reflections) you really are at the mercy of histograms while in the field and I find that the histograms are calibrated to keep jpegs from blowing highlights which means that relying upon the histograms in cameras means darker raw files. Not that big of an issue at ISO 100 or 200 as there is a ton of headroom in the raw files from the magical Sony or Toshiba sensor. But still it's an extra pain in the butt. 

With a well set up GH4 you would see the disparity between measured light and light on the sensor immediately in the post review in the EVF, along with info about aperture and shutter speed settings. Not so on the Nikon. When I stopped to bring up a review at one point I mis-used the four way control on the back of the camera and inadvertently changed the f-stop by 1/3 stop and the shutter speed by 1/3 stop. I didn't catch the mistake until our next break but there really wasn't much change on the camera's rear screen, only on the computer monitor back at the studio. On the GH4 the exposure change would have been immediately apparent on the EVF. And the f-stop and shutter speed are constantly shown on my rear screen between shots. Not so on the Nikon. If your camera is at eye level on a tripod you cannot see the top window with its indications and you can only see the technical information if you go into the preview mode and then toggle the view to see more information. Operator controls seem crucial to basic photography and at this juncture the EVF just spanks the hell out of the OVFs for relevant control. 

I haven't really thought about camera buffers since the days of the Nikon D100 and the Fuji S2 but man oh man does the D7100 ever come crashing against its buffer again and again. I initially had the camera set for lossless compressed raw files at 14 bits with lens distortion correction enabled. As I hit the buffer again and again one after the other settings were compromised. First I switched to lossy compression of the raw files. Then I switched to 12 bits. Then I turned off the distortion correction. Even then I would still hit the buffer when shooting quickly to catch a fleeting expression or gesture. Yes, I know it's 24 megapixels. Maybe that's why Canon lets you choose raw image sizes....

But if you never used a better camera it might not bother you. Using the GH4 means super fast processing and a much deeper buffer. It's very raw to hit the wall with that camera. The immediate comparison was eye opening.

Next issue. All of the moonlights we use have 100 watt modeling lights. While the illumination is sufficient to quickly focus a new GH4 the D7100 seemed to struggle a bit to lock focus in the same basic light levels and it was a bit frustrating. Since this metric (fast focusing)  is the crux of all arguments in favor of traditional camera designs I was more than a little stumped. Maybe it's a sinister case of marketing over reality. Maybe the only thing DSLRs really do well in the focus realm is AF-C. They sure aren't a step up for in-studio AF-S....

At one point yesterday I was photographing a person who was easily six feet, six or seven inches tall. Remember, I'm the optimum height, five foot eight. I stood on my little Pelican case and stretched but it was clear that I needed to use live view in order to really be able to frame and shoot the images well. After years of using great live view in Panasonic, Olympus and Sony cameras the comparison with the Nikon live view was-----stark. Really stark. Snail focus. Long lags. Crappy live view boost. Took me right back to the early, ugly days of digital. I got the shot but I was miffed at the low level of tech being delivered by my camera.

So, bitch, bitch, bitch. The bottom line is that the files are very pretty, we're experienced enough to catch and work around the issues and the job got done with little muss and fuss. And the files are very, very good. Nice tonality, no burned highlights, great dynamic range. But all in all, for the use in mind I will reach for the GH4 or the Olympus EM-5 next time. Even if only for the lovely implementation of live view on the rear screen for photographing tall people. I believe that, at ISO 200 with good lenses on both cameras, both would exceed all quality parameters with ease and headroom to spare. So why not work with a camera that makes shooting easier and more fluid?

Will I keep the Nikon and the flurry of lenses I've gathered in? Hmm. I guess so. Unless you want them... But it's hard to imagine any shoot other than a flash centric one or an "ultimate possible resolution" one in which it would make more sense than an m4:3 camera.

I'm actually anxious to get my hands on a test body of the NX 1 from Samsung as it might meld the best of both worlds when it comes to handling and resolution. I've never tried on camera flash with a Samsung camera so I would guess that's a whole other adventure.

I imagine the only sensible reason for Nikon to continue to make traditional cameras lies in the low light performance and much narrower depth of field of the full frame sensor. It get the appeal of the full frame cameras having owned six different varieties but I find it interesting and revealing that all six of them are in someone else's hand right now while I have a rich bounty of smaller, EVF enhanced cameras that seem to swirl back to me over and over again. While Sony's A7 series is a bit compromised it is my idea of one path to the future of photography. (Fix the shutter noise, the focus speed, the vibration issue and the battery issues, please!!!).

I'm interested to hear from those of you out there who have gone in the other direction: from EVFs and mirror-free back to the older technology. What drove you to accept all the compromises of the older technologies? What is it about mirrored cameras that has their claws in you? I'm not really very interested in hearing how much people who've never extensively used EVFs love their viewfinder cameras. That's like people who've never tasted chocolate protesting their love for brussel sprouts instead. Really though, I change my mind occasionally. I like the "romance" of the older tech. It also reminds me of twenty or so years of shooting. Nothing wrong with it if you really like it....

Just a note. I'll be out of town from tomorrow till the end of the weekend and posts might be light. The only electronics I plan to take on the trip are contained in my iPhone and I'm not about to start writing long posts on that. If you see me in Saratoga Springs be sure to flag me down and say hello.

Kindle book now on sale!


Anonymous said...

Kirk, I have both a Panasonic G3 and the D7100. I would love to be able to use a smaller camera but I am just uncomfortable with EVF. Never could get used to it. The second reason for having to haul the D7100 is that I mostly photograph wildlife (with some landscapes thrown in) and for wildlife, I am not sure there is anything in my budget range that currently beats the performance of a D7100 + Nikon's latest 80-400 lens (ok, Canon has the equivalents, but its cameras and lenses are just as big and also DSLRs).

However, for the record, I detest the D7100s crappy buffer - it's like Nikon intentionally crippled it (though they still don't have a more "upscale" DX camera with a deep buffer they could have sold to me and others, which makes Nikon's decision to limit the buffer puzzling to say the least).

On an unrelated note, just ordered your book last night and looking forward to reading it.

Regards, Ken

Unknown said...

You want comments from a group that has zero members?

Racecar said...

It's obvious that Mirror-less EVF is your true love, but you have off-and-on "affairs" with OVF cameras. You know you'll never leave the EVF for an OVF, but still you have a wandering eye so to speak. This go around was an expensive fling. The most telling phrase in your confession was: (six other FF-EVF flings) "are in someone else's hand right now". Reminds me of a George Strait lyric - "You're in someone else's arms in Dallas...etc." Thanks for the excellent Blog Kirk.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post. I'm wondering how the creative results would compare using an Olympus 45mm f1.8 vs a Nikon 85mm f1.8g lens? I get a sense that the photographic experience of using an EM5 vs a D7100 could possibly play or make a subtle influence on the aesthetics of composition and intuitive response to lighting and exposure. Kirk, do you think that the EM5 would feel more fluid with that combo or is the romantic notion of using the Nikon D7100 and the 85mm the preferred method? I guess time will tell with rejection on the two systems. -Dan

Kirk, Photographer/Writer said...

Thanks for getting the book, Ken. I hope you like it!

I'm gonna say that maybe the Panasonic 100-300mm on a GH4 or EM-1 might change your mind but you probably already considered those.

Kirk, Photographer/Writer said...

Dan, the EM5 with the 45mm 1.8 would be the romantic choice while the 42.5 1.2 would be the sensual choice...

Anders said...

I started out with an E-P1 without a view finder and then upgraded to an E-P2 with an attachable EVF with a 17mm lens and 14-42mm lens.

I had a D700 at the same time and it was quite hard to accept the lacking image quality from the E-P1 and E-P2.

I liked the size, but man what a horrible amount of noise in the shadows even in broad daylight. And the AF was more or less useless in low light.

I also think the EVF was mediocre at best and the 17mm I owned had incredible amounts of distortions when shoting raw (corrected automatically for jpegs as far as i recall).

Another thing is the image format. I'm from the film days and does not cope very well with the 4/3 image format.

The bar has been raised a lot since the E-P1/E-P2 for micro 4/3 cameras, but the same goes for DSLRs.

I now own a D810 and I can't see my self getting a 4/3 camera again, because they are simply not good enough when shooting outside ISO 800 or 1600 which I do a lot.

ODL Designs said...

Hey Kirk,
I was using the Olympus 43rds system for my shooting for a few years and enjoyed it just fine. The a big account wanted to know about resolution, and like yourself I did some reading online, looked at some images and got the A850.

I then sold off my 43rds equipment, but then the m43rds started to appear... Now the A850 doesnt have live view, has very few focus points clustered in the middle and for "fun" on smaller projects I started using my EP2 with the 50mm f2 macro for studio work and I liked the results. It was a breath of fresh air being able to see what I was doing and not chimp so by the time the EM5 came around I bought it and the sony equipment went on the chopping block.

At the time it was for reasons of live view and focus accuracy (I was having some issues).

So I bought into m43rds 100% and have used it for years now, but, for a short period I bought an E-3 for nostalgic reasons I supose and took it on a portrait session with a local politician. I was shocked at how spoiled I had become by the EVF, in this particular shoot it was the lack of a quick review... Did I get the shot? Hold on... press play... hmmmm, yup! It was hell on the flow of the shoot. So the E-3 went on the chopping block and I am 100% mirrorless all the way today I even bought the EM10 for their innovative live composite which I am testing out for product work, as well as remote live view for setting up product shots while still "seeing" from the cameras perspective.

It has been revolutionary.

Kirk, Photographer/Writer said...

Your last paragraph describes how I felt all day yesterday. "Interrupting the flow."

Glen Birdie said...

I've managed to play my momentary camera whimsies on my employer's bank account over the past couple years and it's been a convenient test bed to determine which flights of romantic fancy have the potential to stick and which become quickly disused and begrudging marks on my bank account.

Case in point, having traded from Nikon DX into mirrorless back when the GF1 came out in 2008, by 2010 I had curiosities about whether or not the likes of the D7000 would compel me to return to the OVF for sake of its genuine depiction of the world through a chosen lens. So... I convinced my employer to buy me one and an assortment of lenses for documentary purposes of the work we do.

My experiences were not unlike yours. Fantasies of a truly optical "live" view and false clamor of phase detect AF superiority did not take long to be dispelled through use. Autofocus is, frankly, slow (albeit accurate), and for on-tripod work I find it enormously cumbersome to use. Its image quality is okay, but having spent 3 years now accustomed to the punch of Olympus' JPG engine I can't find myself excited by the drab color rendition preferred by Nikon.

I flaunted the idea of buying into the Nikon Df and assorted primes, thinking my next camera NEEDED to be full frame. Practicality saw me spend that money on the E-M1 and 12-40mm f/2.8 instead. To a degree, I still wonder about the Df, think perhaps it would be an OVF equipped camera that may still have appeal to a certain style of shooting. But not all styles, and certainly not for work. Logically, I don't think I can ever pull away from M43 given the direction I've taken my business, no matter how compelled I may be by facets of romanticism.

Clarice Heuson said...

Kirk, Forgive me but I got to say this, you didn't do your homework before the shoot and now your blaming your pencil....
The D7100 would never be recommended for such a job due to it's buffer, it's not a camera aimed at professionals and that's not a secret!
As to the files being underexposed, surely you did at least one test shot and loaded it to your image editor before the full 100 portrait shoots?
I just think you approached the shoot without knowing your tools. For example, if you were to do a similar shoot you now know to add a half stop exposure over what your light meter says or set your camera to do this by default (exposure calibrate).
I think you have a lot of cameras and all the swapping between systems doesn't make it easy to understand them all.
I say all this with a smile so please don't take it too seriously!

Dave Jenkins said...

I wish I could use my Oly EM5s for everything, but I photograph a lot of wedding receptions with flash in very low light, and really, the EVF just doesn't cut it for that work. Maybe someday. . .

Seriously, in most other conditions the exposure accuracy and auto white balance of my OMDs make my Canons look sick.

Unknown said...

Kirk, I am a Nikon shooter for work - D3S and D800. I have been dabbling in M43 for a couple years now with GF1 and the EM1. I have a good selection of lenses for the M43 with the 12-40pro, 75 1.8, 25 1.4.

I really ENJOY shooting with the EM1. I want to love it and feel as though I can use it for everything, but two huge killers in the system thus far.

I shoot lots of low light, available light stuff - often between iso 1600-3200. The difference between a D3S and M43 at these iso's is huge.
This is an understandable shortcoming and I can accept that for high iso, you will always be better off with a larger sensor when all else is equal.

The bigger issue for me and the one I understand less is the M43 autofocus tracking. The continuous autofocus on the EM1 is horrible. It is unusable and that makes the camera a non-starter for much of what i do. I don't even pull it out if I want to shoot my kids running around the yard because I have zero confidence in the AF C mode. Why can the Nikon V series have blazing continuous autofocus and M43 not??

I think if you are shooting somewhat stationary subjects and close to base iso, the image quality is great. But if the shoot doesn't fit into that criteria, Nikon all the way at this point.

I really want a mirrorless Nikon D750. I want a full frame mirrorless body with a great EVF (like the EM1) that has the same autofocus capability as top-end Nikon SLRs. And if we were using a 35mm sensor, obviously the high iso would be great.

John Gillooly

Anonymous said...

I have good eyesight with no chroma noise, unlike most EVFs, so if I want to shoot manual focus in low contrast, low light, situations I prefer an SLR camera over the Sony NEX-6/A7r bodies I've owned.

That and the fact my A7r is in the repair shop so I'm stuck with the 5DII for the next couple of weeks...

Chris H said...

Alongside my mirror-free cameras, I still have a Canon crop body. It only gets used for sports anymore, and for the continuous autofocus. Which, works almost as much as I'd like. That is, on a good day.

I also like having the reach of a really long lens for sports. I know there are some decent/recent long reach lenses out for some of the new systems, but it's not enough to spend on if I'm only getting what I have already, even if the size and bulk are less.

For *everything* else, it's mirrorless APS-C or a digital/analog rangefinder for me.


Rod Thompson said...

After 20+ years of SLR use and sales, I switched to the M43 system after a positive experience with an EPL3.
After a couple of years I got the itch again to have a different look (sometimes I feel the EM5 lacks the "glow" of the Canon images, so I tried Fuji (XT) and Canon (6d) again). Both fell way short of "getting the shot" with the accuracy and ease of the M43's. So, after a bit of a confusing year, the Olympus EM5 won again and the issues with glow were balanced with a balance of qualities and very friendly post process flexibility. Lenses, highlight handling, sharpness, manual focus, handling, stabiliser, colour, white balance, jpegs..... All better.

Kirk, Photographer/Writer said...

Clarice, I can handle most of your critique ( although having owned plenty of Nikon Digital cameras over the years and having spent months with this one I'm not sure the homework one sticks....) but the buffer......I wasn't shooting football (American or other) or some fast moving competition. Just portraits. Regular portraits. Not even fast moving fashion portraits. Just regular portraits. Not enough buffer for portraits? I don't think we need a D4s to shoot stuff like that.....

Dave said...

I've vacillated back and forth a few times. The EP1 originally lured me in and Olympus instantly had me. The glass wasn't quite there at the time and the high ISO banding drove me back to a DSLR. I kept finding myself dipping into M43 with an EP2 and later a GH2. I'd have stuck with the GH2 but a few issues became show stoppers (odd software lock ups and not being able to use auto-ISO in manual mode). My latest dalliance was with Fuji for their high ISO and those awesome lenses they make.

For my studio portraits it was nice but couldn't dislodge my D7000 from the starting line up. The XE-1 auto focus was like going back to my old D200, so off it has all gone to the big auction site.

I still covet the Panasonic GH series but the new generation is still pricey for a ham and egger enthusiast with three kids in college. Love the new Oly's but their video is only modestly better than Fuji.

Perhaps I need to lower my expectations.

So I sit here pondering the GH4 and the siren call of used full frame bodies that are at an all time low. Maybe I'll just wait it out til Black Friday and see what drops down the bargain chute (the sales on some gear really are quite good).

JH said...

Hi Kirk,

Thanks for your post. Confirmed a few things that I've been seeing over the past few years. I was an early adopter of the m4/3 system. I had a Canon 400D lugging around a 24-70 and a 70-210 (the USM one, remember that?). At some point it got too heavy for me and I decided to go for something lighter. After a short detour to a bridge camera, I ended up with a Panasonic G1

That was a little bit of a shock. At lower ISOs the output matched the 400D (both on kit lenses). But high ISO was atrocious. Later I got the GH1, but it wasn't much better.

It was until last year when I picked up an EM-5 that things got really good. High (1600 and up) ISO was decent, IBIS was great, and the X lenses (both of them) were sharp. The EVF was nice and bright which is a bonus, I could see clearly in low light conditions due to the boost that the EVF does.

So last month, I got myself a GH4. It was another leap forward with ISO 3200 printable to poster size with a little work. Mirrorless has moved forward in leaps and bounds in the last few years. Sure, APS-C has a larger sensor with the other attendant benefits of ISO performance and bokeh. But the convenience of mirrorless and m43 in size and weight, plus image quality makes it a winner in my books.

Rod Thompson said...

After 20+ years of SLR use and sales, I switched to the M43 system after a positive experience with an EPL3.
After a couple of years I got the itch again to have a different look (sometimes I feel the EM5 lacks the "glow" of the Canon images, so I tried Fuji (XT) and Canon (6d) again). Both fell way short of "getting the shot" with the accuracy and ease of the M43's. So, after a bit of a confusing year, the Olympus EM5 won again and the issues with glow were balanced with a balance of qualities and very friendly post process flexibility. Lenses, highlight handling, sharpness, manual focus, handling, stabiliser, colour, white balance, jpegs..... All better.

Michael Meyer said...

Kirk, I literally go back and forth. This morning I was shooting portraits with my a850. For portrait projects I absolutely prefer the OVF (as well as the files I get from this sensor).

This evening I was shooting a post-screening conversation. In situations like this the EVFs on my X-Pro1's have proven useful tools. (And with my X-Pro1's I get an OVF as a bonus not to mention really good high ISO performance...)

Right now the one camera I'm lusting after has no viewfinder at all... I loved my Ricoh GR2 and am keeping one lustful eye on the newest incarnation of the GR. Too bad there's no business justification. Yet.

Anonymous said...

A similar thing happened to me. Back in September I did a portrait for someone, using a Panasonic G3 and a Sigma 60mm DN. A few days later I was told the portrait was going on a billboard - yikes! Was it going to work? I walked right up to that billboard a few weeks later, and took a close look at a five foot high enlargement - no problemo! The technology is amazing.


Iftekhar said...

Kirk, I find that a D7100 with a pair of fast memory cards is usually capable of not grinding to a complete halt. I use 45MB/s cards on mine and once the buffer fills up, I'm still getting between 2 and 3 frames a second using 12bit compressed. Shooting RAW means that distortion correction, etc are largely irrelevant, anyway.

I've never shot mirrorless pro-level bodies, so I wouldn't be able to relate to the GH4/EM5 though.

Jason Hindle said...

Prints made from images taken with the 16mp sensors, used in the latest Olympus and Panasonic cameras, stand up to fairly critical inspection at 18" wide. Since your average punter doesn't take a magnifying glass to a poster, I think you're safe to double that (or more :-)).

Mmmmmm.... Samsung NX1. I've got to hand it to the Koreans; they'll become a force in this market, or die trying.

Ron Nabity said...


Last year I sold off all my DSLR gear and committed to M4/3 (Olympus E-M1 + some nice glass). I have no concerns about image quality or "good enough" files. Not too long ago, a Canon 5D with noise above ISO400 and 12MP was good enough for large format outputs.

My wife still has a Canon DSLR and when I occasionally pick it up to use it, I feel like a caveman trying to cook without a fire.

The shoot-flow of using an OVF + screen is way too cumbersome. I have been spoiled by the EVF with its inherent pre-chimping & instant review, all at eye level.

If I want nostalgia, and I sometimes do, I load up some film and "rough it." But the fun of shooting with an EVF makes nostalgia less important.

Jason O said...

I've held on to a DSLR simply because a fair amount of photography I do involves short track auto racing. But I've started to move away from on-track action, which - my ancient D80 handles well enough, and my old D300 did as well as I'd ever wanted.

The worst part, is I've been using my phone for the off-track stuff with decent results.

I sold the D300 b/c I never used it outside of the racetrack and it's weight/size were off-putting to me. The new m43 cameras and their touch screens, wi-fi connections, and so forth just are so enticing to me.

Though I've moved away from the on-track, constant-radius pan shot, I still want the ability to do it when needed. Not sure the AF of the new cameras can do it, though some web reviews suggest it can be done with newer tech.

But as soon as the mirrorless/m43 cameras can do that, I'm out of the OVF realm.


crsantin said...

I do enjoy the form factor of the old DSLR bodies with the viewfinder in the middle and buttons where I am used to seeing them, but that's just from years of using the old style camera, there's a certain comfort level there that I enjoy. I have large hands so a DSLR style body is very comfortable for me. The perfect camera body for me is actually the Nikon F100. It feels like it was made for my hands.

I do prefer an evf now after having used one for the last 18 months or so. I'm still not quite used to the smaller mirrorless style bodies just because of their size.

A modern camera that feels quite nice is the Sony A7. It was very comfortable and the right size for my hands. I really like everything about the Olympus OM-10 except for the size. It is such a small camera with small buttons that I feel like I'm always about to inadvertently press or mash something.

So there are things I quite like about both styles. The evf and the rear lcd of the mirroless cameras are great, but the comfort of the DSLR style and the excellent focusing are very important as well. IQ is more than good enough on all systems so that's a non-issue for me.

Noons said...

I'm still hoping Sony will fix the A7's problems - that's as close to my ideal camera as it gets.
I still got most of my Nikon SLR lenses - still use the F6 a lot - but the camera I use most now is without a doubt the EM5. I rarely need AF-C and in the few occasions when it's needed it can be addressed easily with the age-old pre-focus trick.
I still wish Oly would do something about the weirdness in their EVF in manual exposure mode - it tends to adjust brightness when the difference in exposure goes beyond +-2EV, and that stops the whole WYSIWYG all together!

Brad C said...

From the "performance" page of the dpreview review it shows a paltry 6 images before the buffer is full in raw with continuous hi. But if you are willing to drop to continuous lo (2.9 fps) you can get 100 images in RAW. So if you aren't shooting sports and know to switch to lo it shouldn't interefere with a portrait session. But nevertheless it still falls short of the em-1 or gh4 for large buffers at max frame rates...kind of surprising to me.

RMSBlog said...

Kirk, I came to terms long ago with the fact that I just love buying new cameras, so I no longer stress about finding the ultimate solution.

However, when I saw the Sony A6000 I thought that was IT; mirrorless articulating screen, nice EVF, boatloads of resolution AND apparently brilliant AF-C for sport. When Capture One also gave me a free studio tethering option I KNEW it was the one...

Well of course it isn't!

I've now bought a used Canon 60D to replace the A6000 for photographing my son's rugby team because the A6000 EVF experience doesn't cut it (and because the lenses I can afford are poor)

In my studio the A6000 has done fine, but honestly I just don't like it. Why they chose to wrap such high class electronics in such a nasty plastic body I'll never fathom. Oh and that LCD screen is even nastier - I swear I scratched it by sneezing the other day. So the 60D replaces here too.

For the rest of my photography? Small M43 cameras all the way. I haven't tried a GH4 (yet) but I suspect it won't be as pleasant as my SLR for shooting under 11 rugby.

Keep going Kirk I really appreciate your site ...and OK, I'll buy your goddam book!


Anonymous said...

I agree on this the buffer on the D7100 is tiny and beyond a joke for a "prosumer" camera. The problem is Nikon never increased the memory even from D90 days so even the D7000 had a smaller buffer than that oldie (due to file sizes) situation got even worse moving from 16mp to 24mp again same buffer size less files to do the size increase

Yes Nikon cobbled it so that people would buy a pro level APS-C body that never appeared (I don't doubt the kept the buffer small for a reason)

Honestly the buffer is entry level DSLR size and really would need to be at least twice the size (aka 12-14shots raw) to be acceptable

Craig Yuill said...

You asked about switching from one type of viewfinder to another. I use a Nikon V1 with an EVF and a Nikon D7000 with an OVF. I prefer the D7000 for taking photos because I can get better-detailed, nicer-toned results. Also, the D7000 fires off more quickly when I press the shutter-release button. The D7000 can also lock focus on moving objects better than the V1 can. For video, the V1 is the better camera. I use cameras based on intended outcome rather than what type of viewfinder it has.

Two nights ago I was using the V1 for video and the D7000 for stills. I was trying to take flash photos with the D7000 and its fine OVF in a very very dimly lit area. It was so dark it was hard to determine through the OVF where exactly the subject was. Luckily, the AF illumination light came on to help out. Most of the photos were properly focused, but it was not due to the D7000's fine OVF or PD-AF system. It was thanks to a little light built into the camera.

Anonymous said...

I've owned a Panasonic G6 and loved it, but I am cursed with Frankenstein-size hands and I just can't hold those little cameras comfortably. In fact, I just moved up to a D810 because it's the only one that feels right in my hands.

MO said...

I have a full set of 2 fullframe canon and a full set of the fastest primes. But the last couple of years im used Fuji crop sensor for most of my fotografi. But i just comprimiced sensor size even mor by Selling the Fuji to buy a lumix lx 100 with a croped 43 sensor making use of only 12 of the 16 mpix sensor. Nice to hear its olso great in big prints.

But for weddings i still go back to 2 canon bodys with a 35 mm and a 85 mm on them. But for everyday use thats just to much gear to bring😊

This post made me fell good with my decision going even futher down in sensor size..

MO said...

By the way can u get ur book in Apple bookstore?

Feri Naf said...

I mostly use the Nikon's D7000 and i have to say that for still pictures shot through the OVF i can't find much fault to it. Sometimes auto white balance misses and non-cross-type focus points are not really reliable in low light, but that's it.
The weight and size though, is a pain compared to mirrorless, especially 4/3.

I was looking for a smaller/lighter carry around camera and tried Olympus E-PL3 and sold it after a month or so, because i couldn't bear the drastic image quality decline from D7000.
Later i took a used E-PL5 that's much better if you can look past the banding effect in low light with Lumix 20mm lens.
I still like it, but compared to D7000 the image quality difference is quite noticeable. If you go past ISO 800 it's really no contest.

Regardless of the buffer, if i expect good image opportunities, i take the heavy camera.

But we are getting spoiled though. Remember when you shot film, your buffer would never extend 36 images and 5 fps was already a pro camera.