8.06.2015

What sort of camera madness have I participated in today? Oh, I remember, I swam the masters workout and then headed to Precision Camera to buy a brand new camera. I really, really needed one. Hmmm.


August is a dangerous month. Fraught with all kinds of odd impulses. Way too hot for rational thought to prevail. What's a guy going to do? But let's set this up first and at least give me a chance to rationalize yet another zany and seemingly inexplicable camera purchase (full price, no special dispensation for brilliant blog writers...).

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
want it?

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.









20 comments:

Lenya Ryzhik said...

Kirk, do you have to write well about camera and lens purchases? Can't you just try some cumbersome and unattractive prose? You make one want to go out, or rather, click out, a new camera even though I very much enjoy my D600 (regular sensor cleanings notwithstanding), can't find much that is wrong with it (the fault lies usually with the head above the hands that hold the camera), and never shoot video. If you absolutely have to continue doing this, please write about the new Nikon 24/1.8 lens.

Steve Mack said...

One cannot own too many cameras. ( Attributed to Anonymous.) Also, the best way to get a new camera past one's significant other is to bring it home under wraps, and store it somewhere out of sight. Resist the impulse to use it for a week. After the 7-day waiting period, use it freely. Then when (s)he asks, "Is that a new camera?" you can say, "Oh, I've owned this one for a while."

With best regards,

Stephen

Dave Jenkins said...

It was obvious a week ago that the 610s were living on borrowed time.

Gary said...

Stephen, you may have heard about the formula cyclists use to determine the ideal number of bikes to have in one's stable. That number is N+1, where N is the number of bikes one currently has. The value can also be expressed as D-1, where D is the number of bikes that will cause your spouse to divorce you.

AlexG said...

I have the original A7 don't find the shutter that bad, I put it off for a long time then one came up at a very nice price and I gave in. Alas I bought the 55mm as the money was there and damn that its an evil nasty piece of work now I have a pre order in for the 85mm Batis and I said I would not to my self. I was tempted before by the Nikon FF but I prefer EVFs and I have a condition that they would be too heavy to use for extended periods.

Gary alas with cameras and other stuff D would only be hit if it was bought on credit, cash only.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kirk,

I was really hoping to see clips from the Olympus video project you did a while back. Any chance we'll still see those or was the Olympus video "run and gun" experiment a non-starter?

Max Rottersman said...

So much for the "Science Lab" attitude ;) Have you gone old-man "Buick" on us! :)

And blaming the non-purpose at the A7RII on Sony's other $9,000 cameras that need cages.

Cracks me up!





Kirk Tuck said...

Anonymous, thanks for asking. The video went to the back burner for a few weeks to accommodate our crazy, busy schedules. It is now in editing and should see the light of day shortly. Maybe next week...

Kirk Tuck said...

Gone Buick. Love it.

amolitor said...

Nothing whatever to do with photography, but as a swimmer you might enjoy this:

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=129406

Kirk Tuck said...

Very cool story! Thanks for sharing.

W.Shaw Rm1 USCG Retired said...

That's what us Coasties do

neopavlik said...

I still enjoy my D600 very much but even I'm eyeballing the Sony A7RII, or more precisely how different adapters work auto focus on non-native lenses for it.

I'll be surprised if I'm shooting the dream of ~ Canon 85mm 1.2 L II. Nikon 105mm f2 DC, Sony Zeiss 135mm F 1.8 auto focusing on the same body before you ( people can feel free to substitute their favorite lenses as necessary Leica, Minolta, Sigma, etc).

John Camp said...

I was looking at the AR7R2 reviews at B&H today, and it seems that they have a serious over-heating problem in video mode. One buyer said it shut down every ten minutes or so after a heat warning, and another said the most he could get was 18:37 before it shut down, and that was in cool AC conditions...and that it takes qauite a long time before it cools enough to come back up.

Eliot Graeme said...

good... im one higher on the list! ;)

Ian Hubball said...

I was thinking of getting the D810 to cover stills and video quality but the A7r 2 seems very tempting except for the overheating. I also don't have much faith in Sony as I had 2 duff RX10 copies from different stores (unsharp images most of the time, poor contrast and colour, patchy focus on flat surface)

Kirk Tuck said...

Ian, one of my video associates and I have been going round and round on the A7R2 as a candidate for a primary video camera with stills as a side issue. He was all set to buy until the camera started to be delivered and the reports about over heating, etc. started coming in. From an engineering point of view it's hard to have everything you want in one box---especially if you want that box to be small... While the 4K footage looks good some sources are saying that the 1080p footage isn't quite as good as the Nikon D750. I think it's all becomiing one of those: "how many angels can dance on the head of a 55mm Otus lens versus how many can dance on the Sigma Art. Only the truly obsessive compulsive care.

Ken said...

Kirk, I applaud your simplification of bodies to two Nikon and two Olympus. I'm curious, now that video is becoming a larger portion of your work if there are times you wish you still had the GH4's or what if any advantage they may offer you at times that your current setup does not?

Mr said...

i wish theyd make a larger bodied mirrorless sony camera. a9, with a joystick, more buttons and direct controls, better grip that includes yer pinky finger (lol)

Mitch said...

SO after a magazine client flat our demanded a bigger file than my D3s' could provide (they were just fine for publications since 2000-whatever when I bought them) , I just up and grabbed a D750 'cause it's almost a toy-like price y'know compared to a new, ahem, PROFESSIONAL body. Resisting the pains of G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome thank you Zach Arias) for a looong time, I chugged along with my case full of D3s' just fine thank you.

But Geez, this 750 produces a nice file with a lot of substance. Do I really need a D810? Looking forward to your insights into the video it produces as I'm shooting way too many still assignment at the moment to dabble. And with the 750's nice deep raw file, I just might have to grab some German made MF glass ....

I think I have G.A.S. all of a sudden ... because of this camera.