I've been playing diligently with video this year and I'm mixing with bad company. These video guys make photographers look like depression era shoppers. And when they add stuff to their "carts" the prices seem astronomical to me. According to them you can buy a Sony FS7, 4K super 35 video camera for a bit less than than $9,000 but in their opinions the camera requires another three or four thousand dollars invested in cages, follow focus stuff, monitors, memory cards and such before you can really, you know, use it. And then you'll need a lens. Or lenses.
These days all the video guys are excited and fidgety about the newest Sony camera, the A7R-2 and they are lining up only to be told that it's now effectively backordered. Amazon.com had them yesterday but today they are saying "deliverable in one to two months." But you know how those guys over at Precision Camera are always looking out for my best interests so they took it upon themselves to place me at the top of the pre-order list for the Sony A7R-2. Yesterday they called and let me know that they'd gotten a handful in and they had one with my name on the box. Did I
Well, I did and I didn't. The A7 series have never really fired me up and I blame part of that on first impressions. I handled the original A7 duo back in Fall of 2013 and found the shutter noise to be some of the most obnoxious in the history of camera making. Not quite as bad as a Pentax 6x7 shutter but damn close. From that point on my interest in the cameras headed downhill fast. Didn't like the body construction, the half-assed raw files, etc., etc. At some point the thought of Sony's direction toward their full frame version of mirrorless had me selling off my A99, my A850 and all my lesser Sony cameras along with all of the lenses. I do tend to be prone to "all or nothing" decision making....
I find the new A7R-2 interesting because it combines what I think is probably the state of the art in still photography sensor technology together with what is probably the current state of the art in video quality in DSLR/mirrorless cameras. If it works as promised it's an unusually cost effective way to get into full frame, 35mm 4K video. And of course it features a nice EVF which is a big plus. There's a lot to like about the idea of the Sony but I just didn't have the will/stomach to switch systems yet again. Especially after finding so much to like about the current Nikon stuff.
I told the guys at Precision Camera that I would let them know if I wanted to buy the camera this morning, then I went about my regularly scheduled evening.
I woke up this morning and the overnight simmering of "new camera potential" caused a bubbling up of new camera interest in my brain. Here's how my rationalization worked: I have a D810 that I'm very happy with. I like the still image files from the camera a lot and I think it's probably the best 1080p video camera I've played with and shot with to date. In addition to the camera body side of the equation I am, frankly, delighted with the Nikon and third party lenses that I've cobbled together for the current Nikon system. The only thing I wasn't happy about was the video performance of the D610s that I'd collected as "back up" bodies for the D810. For some reason you are unable to change the aperture on those cameras while shooting video. Another limitation is the quality difference in the video between the D610s and the D810. The D610s are not as detailed, have more obvious aliasing and moiré, and lack the "flat" profile of the D810.
As I was swimming that set of 6x150 yards (descending) at 7:35 am this morning I was turning the advantages of the Nikon D750 over and over in my mind. Compared to the D610 the D750 has much better auto focus, much better video, a bigger buffer and one stop better high ISO performance. It also has better battery life and power management. If I traded my D610s for a D750 I'd have a camera that's right on par with the performance of the D810 but just with fewer pixels overall. And I wasn't seeing the reduction of pixels as a bad thing!
By the time I was tossing my wet swim suit into the trunk of the car (left there in August to become a science experiment???) I'd totally forgotten or disregarded the idea of trying the Sony camera. It never crested my minimum threshold for high excitement; but the D750 was a whole other animal.
The trade of the two D610s (which I purchased used at good prices) almost exactly equalled the cost of the new D750 (thank you Nikon for keeping up your desperate rebate strategy) which essentially meant that, had I used the same quantity of cash to buy one D750 versus buying the two used D610s, it would still have been a wash. No money lost. And the D610s were the effective "gateway drug" for getting me back into the Nikon universe.
Now I own fewer digital cameras than I have since around 2002. Just two Nikons and two Olympus. Downsized and simplified. More space in the equipment drawers for the lenses to spread out and relax.
But why even bother with yet another new camera? Because I'm working a series of projects that are "light once, shoot twice." Are more exactly, "cast and direct once, shoot twice." Starting next week and continuing into the Fall. I'm getting a cast into cool, techie conference rooms and shooting them doing executive media training. I'll be manning the still camera (D810) and I'll have partner shooting video with a second camera (the D750). I'll be switching over and shooting some supporting video as well. We'll be able to use the cameras interchangeably since the codecs, the color profiles and the ability to use all of the same lenses allows us to switch to full on video in both cameras to get both wide and tight shots at the same time. Since the video guts are nearly identical the footage from the two cameras should cut together almost perfectly. It's a miracle.
I've been familiarizing myself with the D750 this afternoon over an iced coffee. It's somewhere right between the D610s and the D810. All the video stuff I wanted in my camera and the more manageable files sizes I like for just about anything but advertising photography. The grip feels nice and it's a convenient and cost effective feature that the same batteries work in this camera, the D810 and in my Marshall field monitor.
I'll do a little "shake out" shoot of the camera during a few hours of an industrial shoot tomorrow morning. I'm shooting a few environmental shots of a CEO for a small manufacturing concern and I'm pretty sure I can convince him to stick around for a short interview as well. But if I get stuck on some menu item, rest assured, I'll have the bigger (more familiar) camera there as a "life guard."
No sense pressing my luck.
A little swimming. A little camera buying. Some lunch. I feel lucky to lead the life I've engineered. It can be fun.