Tom Northenscold Photography | Will I Be Selling All My Nikon DSLR Gear?

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Will I Be Selling All My Nikon DSLR Gear?

September 01, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

It seems everywhere I turn these days I hear photographers pronounce that they are getting rid of all their DSLR gear and are converting completely to one of the mirrorless camera systems. Right now the work table in my office is a jumbled up mess of three different cameras and assorted lenses. The three cameras are the Nikon D700 and D800 full-frame DSLRs and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 micro four-thirds mirrorless camera. Which camera I reach for when heading out shooting is dependent on what I'm going to be shooting. But when I look at that table I get awfully tempted at the thought of collapsing it all down to one, smaller and lighter system. Before I would ever consider such a move though, I've got to think about how I use these cameras.

In the past week I've had occasion to shoot with all three of those cameras. First was our niece's senior portrait shoot. For that assignment I took the D800 with the battery grip. This was a no-brainer for me. The D800 is a perfect portrait, landscape and nature camera. The resulting images are richly detailed and will print out large beautifully.

Next was our daughter's volleyball match. For that event I took my D700, outfitted with the battery grip loaded with 8 AA batteries, giving me a shooting rate of 8 frames per second. When I photograph sports I shoot large JPEGs only, which allows me to shoot in continuous mode without filling the buffer. With the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens and the D700's low-light performance, I am able to get fast enough shutter speeds to freeze the action.

Finally, there was the Minnesota State Fair on Friday. For that outing I grabbed my GH3 with the 12-35mm f/2.8 Panasonic lens. This is a fabulous camera for street photography. The fully articulating LCD made it easy for me to get the angle I wanted when photographing animals in the barns.

So where am I heading with this? My point is that there is a place for each of the cameras that I own. I could shoot portraits or nature with my GH3 or D700, but I would be limited as to how large I could print the images without resorting to uprezzing. I could shoot sports with my D800 or GH3, but I wouldn't have nearly as many keepers. And certainly I could do street photography with my D700 or D800, but not nearly as stealthily.

I have a lot invested in Nikon lenses, so it's no small matter to think about unloading all my Nikon gear. One thing that is interesting though is that if you stay with the full-frame format, switching to mirrorless doesn't buy you that much in terms of weight reduction. A Sony A7R body weighs 1.2 pounds less than my D800. Sony doesn't have any f/2.8 zooms yet for the A7 line, but if you look at comparable f/4 zooms between Nikon and Sony, the weight difference is practically nil. A weight difference of just over one pound is not nearly enough to get me to sell all my Nikon gear and move over to Sony.

So that begs the question of whether I see myself leaving the full-frame world entirely and completely shifting to the micro four-thirds world, which is my current preferred mirrorless system. The three main things holding me back there are resolution for large printing, low-light performance and autofocus speed for action photography. My guess is that they will knock the last item on my list off within the next few years. The first two are going to be tougher given the laws of physics. The last sticking point is the lack of an optical viewfinder. I know that some photographers are saying that everything is going to electronic viewfinders, but I'll admit to being a bit old fashioned in preferring a nice big and bright optical viewfinder.

Based on all this, I am holding on to all of my Nikon gear. I thoroughly enjoy shooting with my Nikon cameras and lenses. The size doesn't bother me one bit. When I need to go lighter, I reach for my GH3. I've also found that shooting with prime lenses on my D800 allows me to lighten the load significantly. Typically, when I go shooting in the Big Woods, I only bring my D800 outfitted with the 28mm f/1.8 Nikon lens. For the type of shooting I do, that's all I need. I truly feel as if I'm getting back to basics when I have that camera in my hands as I'm tromping about the woods.


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