Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Switch to Nikon

Decision to switch systems always is a difficult one. Buying new camera is not a problem. Replacing the existing repository of lenses, flashes and other accessories is difficult and expensive. And then there is the factor of just being used to the ways of doing things.

Since that beginning of my photographic adventure I have been a user of Minolta. My first camera was Minolta Dynax 5, and then it continued to Konica Minolta Dynax 7D and Sony A700. In case of A700, I could not even read the menu properly, but almost from the beginning I could operate the camera almost with my eyes closed. A900 would be a logical choice.

Nevertheless, quite recently I have decided to switch systems. The main reason for switching the system turned out to be rumored unsatisfactory high ISO performance of the A900, which could be the possible expansion for my Sony/Minolta gear. It has brilliant performance in the normal condition. But in the low-light high ISO shooting, there was too much noise on the pictures. And really high percentage of my photographing was low light. Actually, recently I was not even using flash in the conditions that would justify using it. I put ISO640 or 800 and took pictures. Of course, they could not probably get to the National Geographic – but they were quite OK.

The original reasons for taking up photography was to photograph aquariums, both public and private. This almost always requires high ISO.

It turned out that the champion of low light shooting is Nikon D700. It offers a fantastic maximum range of ISO 25600. It will probably be of not much use, but that means, that ISO 6400 should be much more usable than on the body, that provides such option only at maximum boost. And it seems, that common sense is right here.

Nikon has made a very bold step not packing a 20+ megapixel in the full frame sensor of D700. On the first sight it is making D700 looking a little bit outdated. However, this is just the price for the unparalleled performance in the high ISO.

There was other minor reason. I was looking in Japan for a very cheap second hand film Minolta body – and could not find anything satisfying. The relative lack of second hand Minolta gear on the market made me a little uneasy. I could find lots of Nikon second hand gear. In end out I bought a second hand medium-format Mamiya 645 Pro. But this in another story.

For some time I am already enjoying my new D700, and I am generally very happy with it. I am generally happy with its low light performance. The colors also look nice.

From 毎日写真

Nikon body is not supporting image stabilization. You have to have a special lens to have it. Sony supports in in their all bodies. Sometimes it can be useful.

Fortunately, it is alleviated by the faster lenses and higher ISO supported. Image stabilization helps with static pictures, but not with the dynamic ones. Te dynamic pictures require anyway faster shutter times in order not to blur the motion. I do not consider it very serious problem.

I have the impression the dials for exposure compensation work the other way round than in Sony/Minolta. I still need time to get used to it – usually I am doing opposite to what I want.

Nikon has always had better battery management. Comparing A700 and D700, it is also true. One of the reasons could be, that parameter adjustments in Nikon usually do not require using LCD, whereas most of parameter adjustments start up the LCD on A700.

The lenses are one of the most important factors. There is no problem with lenses for Nikon. Nikon has probably the largest systems of lenses available. This is because of the fact, that Nikon did not gave up on the mount, when it came time to produce autofocus cameras. All other manufactures has split system, on manual and autofocus lenses.

The problem with Nikon mount is, that because of large focal plange it is not very well suited for using other system lenses with an adapter. For example, I saw adapters for Nikon lenses for Canon. The other way round is not possible without an optical correction elements.

Some of the Nikon lenses has built in focusing motor, the other use camera body engine. The difference is silence. The AF lenses with motors, like Nikkor 50mm 1.4G AF-S, are very, very silent when comparing to classic, camera-body focusing lenses. I have made a test using the above mentioned lenses, and my friend's Nikkor 50mm 1.8D – the result was very audible.

I have acquired following lenses:
  • Nikkor 50mm 1.4G
  • Sigma 24-60 2.8
  • Sigma 70-200 HSM II

In the beginning I was using the Sigma standard zoom. However, very soon I switched to the Nikon prime. I was going to a place, where I needed a rather silent operation. And the I was using this standard prime. On one occasion I switched to the 70-200 zoom, when taking pictures of the dolphin show. I was very happy with it, it was much more usable than on a 1.5 crop body – I mean, 70mm was wide enough for than application.