Can a dedicated mirrorless shooter find true happiness with a DSLR?

rbelyell

All-Pro
Location
NY Mtns
well amen to the subjective nature of all of this. it all comes down to what each of us 'sees', and what compromises each of us wants to make. i totally understand rays choice, his compromises and those who dont see much difference between sensors.

for me the more i see my rx1 shots, and web A7 and Df shots, compared to any apsc or m4/3, the more i personally see a meaningful difference at even low isos that increases from subjective to much more objective as iso increases. there seems to me a 'richness' or a depth to the overall look that i see. some agree, some dont and thats what makes the world go 'round, no?

my personal 'compromise' is i make great and constant use of an articulating finder, and i love the one in the rx1, and though id rather be able to change lenses, my shooting and comfort vaults the finder over the versatility (at my preferred 35mm FL). so if i can make a weird compromise like that, i figure anyone elses pales by comparison!
 

vincechu

Veteran
for me the more i see my rx1 shots, and web A7 and Df shots, compared to any apsc or m4/3, the more i personally see a meaningful difference at even low isos that increases from subjective to much more objective as iso increases. there seems to me a 'richness' or a depth to the overall look that i see. some agree, some dont and thats what makes the world go 'round, no?

I totally agree with this, perhaps it's because I am used to a Panasonic G3 and LX5, but my Canon 6D does have a certain richness to the photos taken with it. I have to say that I also noticed it from time-to-time with my now sold Pentax K5, maybe its the better dynamic range and high ISO capability? I have to admit I am pondering a move to Nikon FF or Sony FF just for the better dynamic range, but I personally prefer my 6D's high ISO noise - looks like film grain and there is less colour noise I think.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
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Not too far from Philly
Real Name
you should be able to figure it out...
Dredging up an old topic that's become highly relevant to me again. After all of my tribulations in this thread and elsewhere, I'd pretty much concluded that I preferred the tradeoffs with mirrorless cameras and was happy enough with APS bodies given that the faster lenses available at a similar size largely mitigated the difference in low light capability between the sensors.

But the RX1 and the time I spent with the Df have ruined me, it turns out. Spoiled me rotton. Despite my very clear understanding of the massive role that a good eye and good technique make in good photography and the teeny tiny itsy bitsy little role that gear plays, it pretty quickly became clear to me that I wasn't gonna be satisfied with less than full frame for the bulk of my shooting. Once I re-bought a used RX1 and had those amazing files to play with again, it became clearer than ever. The Fuji X-Trans files started to feel frustrating. I ended up with plenty of photographs I liked with the Fuji, but the files, which I found to be a gift from the gods a couple of years ago, really felt like a compromise I wasn't willing to deal with. So I started looking at full frame gear again.

I thought briefly about the A7 gear but the lenses aren't even close to being there yet, the few lenses that do exist are very expensive, and I don't get the impression that the bodies are fully baked yet either. Not bad, but probably a generation or two away from really well developed. I may give that system another look in a couple of years, or I may not.

So back to looking at DSLRs. When I shot with a Df, I never had ANY problems with the size or weight of the camera and loved all of the small to mid-sized affordable prime lenses that were available. There are so many Nikon (and compatible) lenses around that it's easy to find almost anything used and at great prices. I thik the D lenses are the bargain of a lifetime - really decent little SLR lenses ranging from 20mm up to 85mm and beyond, with apertures ranging from f1.4 to f2.8, decent if not blazing AF, and pretty good to really good optics. All available for relative pennies, and actual pennies when bought used. A 50 f1.8 sells for just over $100 new and much less used. The very nice 35mm f2.0 runs a little over $300 new and much less used. And there are a bunch of higher quality f1.8 primes right in the $500 range. You can spend a fortune and haul tons of weight around if you insist on the high end lenses, particularly zooms and telephotos, but a full frame DSLR setup does not have to be a big heavy expensive beast, particularly if you're a prime shooter who doesn't have Leica tastes.

I loved much about the Df, but the retro controls on that particular camera didn't do anything useful for me and I found a couple of details about it actually were a bit of a hinderance. I loved the low light capability of the sensor, but I realized that I was always waaaaay more than satisfied with the low light capability of the RX1 and I actually preferred the incredible DR and the higher resolution of the RX1 files. Which led me to check out the D610. It has exactly the same sensor as the RX1 and A7, 24mp of pure high DR goodness. I found a refurbished model for more than $1000 less than I've seen a Df for, just a little more than an XT1 or EM1 body. The size and weight are negligibly larger than the Df - not in a way that I can see or feel. It fits in my hand very comfortably. With a typical prime lens, there's no sensation of a heavy camera. With a beefy zoom, there is, but not overwhelmingly, nothing I'd mind carrying around for the day. I just wouldn't want to carry a whole bag of beefy zooms around for long.

I've been shooting with the D610 for several weeks and I don't find anything about it I don't like. Nikon's controls and ergonomics are wonderful, the best I've used for my preferences. I started seeing that with the Coolpix A and the DSLRs are better since they're not constrained by a tiny size. I can easily configure it to do basically anything I could ever want to do and it'll do it well. And the files are basically the same as those coming out of the RX1 - I simply can't break 'em - they'll handle whatever I throw at them, which I really love because I like to play with the processing possibilities. After a few weeks with it and after playing with a handful of lenses to get an idea of what a full kit would feel like and cost, I put my m43 and Fuji gear up for sale. All of the m43 gear sold immediately, which paid for most of the D610 gear I've bought. As the Fuji gear dribbles out, this consolidation will more than pay for itself.

I have one pretty amazing zoom - a 24-120 constant f4 that I enjoy more than any zoom I've had - just a perfect range for me and f4 goes a long long way on a full frame camera. I think the low light capability and DOF are as good or better than my Olympus 45 and 75 at f1.8, which is part of what convinced me to finally sell off my under-used m43 system. Really sweet portrait lens, even in low light, which is why I may never add an 85 f1.8. I'm gonna have primes from 14 (a big Rokinon that won't get much use but covers the ultra-wide end) to 20, 24, 28, 50, and maybe eventually 85. Not sure about a 35 - I'm definitely keeping the RX1 so I can still go out with a minimalist kit of the RX1 and Coolpix A at times. I may eventually add a cheap Nikon 35mm just to have on those days I don't take the RX1... And someday I'll pick up a used 70-300 just to have a telephoto of some sort available. I never needed the 600mm reach I had with my Olympus 75-300 and a true 300 will be enough for me and won't get used much anyway. Those lenses are only a bit bigger than the Fuji telephoto I'd been using in a similar range, and it won't be in my bag much anyway.

So anyway, a pretty major transition for me, which this old thread contributed to. Seems the only downsides to DSLRs is the size and weight and they're really fine for me with the stuff I'll use with it. They're not silent, but my mirrorless ILCs weren't either.

I'll still have a compact mirrorless or two at my disposal too, so I'm not going anywhere. But I'm bucking the tide, a not unfamiliar posture. Just while everyone else is going from DSLRs to mirrorless cameras, I'm going in the other direction. Maybe that's why there are so many amazing deals out there on DSLR lenses...

-Ray
 

Briar

All-Pro
Location
Scotland
Ah Ray, you make me smile.

Having not really used my Nikon DF very much since it arrived on my doorstep earlier this year, I decided to take in on my trip to Bavaria, along with the Ricoh GR. Everyday I carried the Nikon DF in my backpack but favoured the small size of the GR 90% of the time. Hubby watching me, so I better take a token shot with the big camera so he doesn't think we threw away hard earned cash on a GAS-infused whim! I came home and looked at the "token" shots and immediately wished I had used the DF more. The images from the DF underwhelm me when I flick through them on the camera or if I view them on my iPad Mini but when I load them on the computer back home. Well, wow! It's a completely different beastie. So wish I used the camera more while I was away. I'm now inspired to use it more this summer which is great because I had thought I had thrown away my hard earned cash on a GAS-infused whim because, just between you and me, it would not have been the first time! :blush:
 

retow

All-Pro
To me it`s not the best in class high iso capability of the DF which makes it stand out, but the richness and subtle color/tonal transitions its sensor delivers at low iso. Imo this is were it even (slightly) surpasses the excellent Sony 24MP sensor used in the RX1 and others. And as Ray mentioned, good to excellent Nikon lenses, AF and MF, can be had at very affordable prices.
 

jloden

All-Pro
Real Name
Jay
I agree with most of what you said Ray. Though I ended up with a few zooms anyway, most of what you describe is why my initial dabbling with a D600 eventually turned into a full fledged Nikon setup. I can definitely understand how you could be convinced to go the opposite route in your journey.
 

RT Panther

All-Pro
Ray,
Nothing to be ashamed of.

The bottom line whether or not you're happy.....:)

I sold all of my Micro Four Thirds gear & am 100% totally loving my Dƒ - not one regret. :)
 

Archiver

Top Veteran
This is an intriguing and thought-provoking series of events, as I moved away from DSLR's to mirrorless cameras about four years ago. And it's funny, because my everyday camera for well over a year was the 5D Mark II with 24-105L, or 35L. Since then I've acquired many more cameras, from the Leica M9 to the Panasonic GH3 and now the GM1, and while I do recognize the compromise in image quality, richness and 'look', I find that having an aps-c compact like the GR rounds things out a lot.

One day I might get a RX1, or more likely the next gen RX which ought to sport better AF and have a tilting LCD (fingers crossed). That will scratch my full frame digital itch without burdening me with the bulk of a DSLR or even the M9. Sometimes I pick up the 5D2 again for a day, but end up putting it away again due to the size and weight. It's just not cool; it weighs down my bag and my shoulder hurts after a few hours. The day I bought my GM1, I handled the RX1 for a bit and noticed that I would definitely need a grip. The body is too slim and the lens too disproportionately large for it to work comfortably for me. The more I walk around with cameras, the more I dislike having bulky or heavy gear, which is why I'm often out with only the LX7 and GR in a light nylon Lowepro bag.

Ultimately, it's all about what level of image quality you are happy with, and the 'look' of the files, too. For general purposes, I'm even happy with the Panasonic LX7, especially after I apply my own Lightroom preset to the files. While it lacks the full frame or even aps-c look, I've arrived at a Lightroom preset that pleases me very much, perhaps even more than m43 cameras like the EM-5 and GH3. Certainly, I can see the difference when comparing their output, but the 'look' of the processed LX7 files really works for me.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Location
Not too far from Philly
Real Name
you should be able to figure it out...
To me it`s not the best in class high iso capability of the DF which makes it stand out, but the richness and subtle color/tonal transitions its sensor delivers at low iso. Imo this is were it even (slightly) surpasses the excellent Sony 24MP sensor used in the RX1 and others. And as Ray mentioned, good to excellent Nikon lenses, AF and MF, can be had at very affordable prices.

Yeah, it's a close call. The Df / D4 sensor is really sweet in ways that the D610 / RX1 sensor isn't QUITE as sweet. And the D610 / RX1 sensor is really sweet in ways that the Df / D4 sensor isn't QUITE as sweet. I suppose if I could have gotten a camera with the Df sensor in the D610 body, or just change a few of the controls on the Df, I'd have preferred it, but only very slightly. I've never felt that the RX1 sensor was anything but amazing and it's just as good in the D610 (although without that Zeiss glass in front of it!). There are times I'd prefer the look and high ISO of the Df sensor and times I prefer the higher resolution and greater DR of the D610 sensor. Having to choose between the two is waaaaaay beyond a first world problem! But the cost difference was definitely part of what drove this. I never let the difference of a couple hundred dollars drive a purchase decision, but I got the D610 for more than a thousand less than I'd have paid for a Df body - that's enough to influence a decision! Particularly when it's a pretty much 50-50 call as to which I prefer.

On balance, the D610 is a better overall package for me, but not by a huge margin. Although, I gotta say, having the U1 and U2 custom slots right on the mode dial is HUGE for me and this is the only FX camera that has them, being the "beginner's" model. I do most of my shooting in A mode with single point focus, but depending on lens I'll play around with the ISO settings (mostly auto ISO settings). But I have U1 set up for street shooting with just the right combination of aperture, auto ISO setting, minimum shutter speed, etc. So if I've got the 28mm f1.8 mounted and I'm doing some general AF shooting in A mode but want to do a little street shooting, I just flip the mode dial over to U1, flip the focus switch (on either the lens barrel or camera body) to manual focus, adjust the focus distance and I'm good to go. The transition to or away from these settings takes a second or two. I have U2 set up for focus tracking using the "AF on" setting on the AEL button and with different AF settings. On the Df, these switches required setting up custom settings in two different banks of settings and then choosing two different custom sets for each situation. I could automate that somewhat using the "my menus" feature, and I didn't hate it by a long shot, but I really like the U1 and U2 slots for instant access. So far, the only thing I don't like about the D610 (and this would be true of any Nikon DSLR except the Df) is that working with lenses with an aperture ring kind of sucks because the pentaprism / flash front "overhang" makes it sort of difficult to see what aperture you've set.

Regardless, either are great choices for anyone who wants to do the DSLR route but doesn't want the bulk of the D4(s) or the huge files of the D800/810.

-Ray
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Location
Not too far from Philly
Real Name
you should be able to figure it out...
I agree with most of what you said Ray. Though I ended up with a few zooms anyway, most of what you describe is why my initial dabbling with a D600 eventually turned into a full fledged Nikon setup. I can definitely understand how you could be convinced to go the opposite route in your journey.

Hi Jay,

I saw that you'd sold your RX1 but didn't realize you'd gone with a DSLR setup. Is that why the RX1 went? I'm not sure what you mean by me going the opposite route - sounds like we may have gone in a pretty similar direction? Or maybe you just meant the prime vs zoom thing?

-Ray
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Location
Not too far from Philly
Real Name
you should be able to figure it out...
Ray,
Nothing to be ashamed of.

The bottom line whether or not you're happy.....:)

I sold all of my Micro Four Thirds gear & am 100% totally loving my Dƒ - not one regret. :)

Never any shame about any of this. And I've always been happy with whatever gear I've had. But I'm always open to something else if it works better for me. I was happy with my old film SLRs in the film days, thrilled with the original 12mp m43 gear I had when I got back into photography, and happy and amazed at each step along the journey. I guess the only thing that was keeping me away from a DSLR was my mis-conception about the size and weight, which the month I spent with the Df changed my perception of. Right now, it's the best game in town for me for full frame. Maybe someday mirrorless will be there with significant bulk and weight savings, but I'm still skeptical - it's only big lenses that make a DSLR feel large or heavy to me and I'm not sure the lens options will be much different with mirrorless.

-Ray
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Location
Not too far from Philly
Real Name
you should be able to figure it out...
This is an intriguing and thought-provoking series of events, as I moved away from DSLR's to mirrorless cameras about four years ago. And it's funny, because my everyday camera for well over a year was the 5D Mark II with 24-105L, or 35L. Since then I've acquired many more cameras, from the Leica M9 to the Panasonic GH3 and now the GM1, and while I do recognize the compromise in image quality, richness and 'look', I find that having an aps-c compact like the GR rounds things out a lot.

One day I might get a RX1, or more likely the next gen RX which ought to sport better AF and have a tilting LCD (fingers crossed). That will scratch my full frame digital itch without burdening me with the bulk of a DSLR or even the M9. Sometimes I pick up the 5D2 again for a day, but end up putting it away again due to the size and weight. It's just not cool; it weighs down my bag and my shoulder hurts after a few hours. The day I bought my GM1, I handled the RX1 for a bit and noticed that I would definitely need a grip. The body is too slim and the lens too disproportionately large for it to work comfortably for me. The more I walk around with cameras, the more I dislike having bulky or heavy gear, which is why I'm often out with only the LX7 and GR in a light nylon Lowepro bag.

Ultimately, it's all about what level of image quality you are happy with, and the 'look' of the files, too. For general purposes, I'm even happy with the Panasonic LX7, especially after I apply my own Lightroom preset to the files. While it lacks the full frame or even aps-c look, I've arrived at a Lightroom preset that pleases me very much, perhaps even more than m43 cameras like the EM-5 and GH3. Certainly, I can see the difference when comparing their output, but the 'look' of the processed LX7 files really works for me.

I hear you and I can't guarantee that I won't tire of the DSLR at some point. My Nikon Coolpix A isn't going anywhere, nor is the RX1 and if I find myself always taking those out and not the DSLR once the dust settles, maybe I'll jettison this whole business. At this point, though, the less than perceived size and weight of the DSLR setup has been a pleasant surprise and doesn't feel like it will be an impediment. At least with the small primes. When I put a beefy lens on it, I can see tiring of it pretty quickly. But the three beefy lenses I own or likely will own are the Rokinon 14, the 24-120 zoom, and some sort of slow 70-300 telephoto option, of which there are a few. All of those are specialty lenses for me that I'd take out on occasion for a particular event but wouldn't be part of my day to day carry around kit. For primes, the D lenses are all small. I have a 28mm f1.8 G lens that's a bit larger but not enough to bother me, and I'm considering a Sigma 24mm f1.8, which is similar size, but I may just stick with the D version of the 24 f2.8. 24 and 28mm are kind of my wheelhouse and I'd like to go a bit faster than f2.8 with those for low light shooting, but maybe just one of them at f1.8 will do because I love the size and feel of those little D lenses. Whichever way I go, walking around with my usual 2-4 prime lenses shouldn't be a burden...

But if I change my mind, I'll let you know! :)

-Ray
 

jloden

All-Pro
Real Name
Jay
Hi Jay,

I saw that you'd sold your RX1 but didn't realize you'd gone with a DSLR setup. Is that why the RX1 went? I'm not sure what you mean by me going the opposite route - sounds like we may have gone in a pretty similar direction? Or maybe you just meant the prime vs zoom thing?

Nah, I've had the DSLR setup for a couple years now - I use that for most of my event shooting. Still shooting mirrorless as well, just attempting to thin the gear collection a bit :)

I just meant that you went from a mirrorless to a DSLR instead of the other way around like seems to be more common on the forums. I did the same thing starting with m4/3 originally, then I tried a D600 and ended up hooked by the a lot of the same features you did.
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Real Name
Nic
I took the opportunity to try out a DSLR again on the weekend, which must have been the first time for me in about 18 months. I came away feeling the same as I did then; that a camera which essentially forces you to use an eye-level optical viewfinder provides an unsatisfactory means of composing and exposing an image compared to a modern live-view optimised camera. Back when DSLRs were the only show in town I was very happy to use them but those days are in the past for me.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Location
Not too far from Philly
Real Name
you should be able to figure it out...
I took the opportunity to try out a DSLR again on the weekend, which must have been the first time for me in about 18 months. I came away feeling the same as I did then; that a camera which essentially forces you to use an eye-level optical viewfinder provides an unsatisfactory means of composing and exposing an image compared to a modern live-view optimised camera. Back when DSLRs were the only show in town I was very happy to use them but those days are in the past for me.

There will be occasions when I'll miss the flip up screen - of this I have no doubt. But while I used to use those a LOT for all types of shooting, I've lately gotten to the point of only using them for ultra-wide shooting when I want a really low perspective. But I've gotten less and less fond of ultra-wide over time - 20-21mm is wide enough for me in any day to day shooting and I only take my ultra-wides out on occasion just to have a play with them and see what I can come up with. But when I have the Nikon 20 or Fuji 14 in the bag, I've never found myself wishing for anything wider. And I find I don't use the flip screen for much at all in the past year or more. Since EVFs have gotten so good lately (starting for me with the RX1 and then getting better and better with the EM1 and XT1), I've found myself using them nearly all the time, something I wouldn't have predicted a couple of years ago. That's one of the reasons I decided this would work for me. In a perfect world, I'd have an OVF and a flip up screen, but so far nobody's making that. And given the alternatives, I'm happy enough with just an OVF and an LCD I might use the once or twice a year I pull out a tripod...

-Ray
 
Never any shame about any of this. And I've always been happy with whatever gear I've had. But I'm always open to something else if it works better for me. I was happy with my old film SLRs in the film days, thrilled with the original 12mp m43 gear I had when I got back into photography, and happy and amazed at each step along the journey. I guess the only thing that was keeping me away from a DSLR was my mis-conception about the size and weight, which the month I spent with the Df changed my perception of. Right now, it's the best game in town for me for full frame. Maybe someday mirrorless will be there with significant bulk and weight savings, but I'm still skeptical - it's only big lenses that make a DSLR feel large or heavy to me and I'm not sure the lens options will be much different with mirrorless.

-Ray

Can't help thinking that nikon must have some mirrorless full frame bodies already being tested in the lab and out in the field. Something like the sony a7 but f mount. Another year, two before they release their version? We'll have to wait to see what happens. In the meantime, enjoy your gear Ray. Sounds like a lot of good stuff.

Oh, I had the nikon 70-300 and it was very good. I sold it because it was sitting on my shelf more often than not. I did hear along the way that the tamron version (i think it was tamron) was better and less money. There was some talk, comparisons on the net.

I'm shooting mostly primes on my d700 now. I did pick up a mint 105mm ai-s f2.5. Damn, it's one fine lens if the focal length works for you. I've used it for portrait type work, but it sings for landscape too.

kind regards...
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Location
Not too far from Philly
Real Name
you should be able to figure it out...
Can't help thinking that nikon must have some mirrorless full frame bodies already being tested in the lab and out in the field. Something like the sony a7 but f mount. Another year, two before they release their version? We'll have to wait to see what happens. In the meantime, enjoy your gear Ray. Sounds like a lot of good stuff.

Oh, I had the nikon 70-300 and it was very good. I sold it because it was sitting on my shelf more often than not. I did hear along the way that the tamron version (i think it was tamron) was better and less money. There was some talk, comparisons on the net.

I'm shooting mostly primes on my d700 now. I did pick up a mint 105mm ai-s f2.5. Damn, it's one fine lens if the focal length works for you. I've used it for portrait type work, but it sings for landscape too.

kind regards...

They must be at least thinking about a mirrorless system, but who knows what or when. As long as it works with the lenses, I think they'd be safe from too much cannibalism of their DSLR gear. We'll see...

I suspect any 70-300 will mostly sit on my shelf too, but I have to have SOME sort of telephoto option beyond the 120mm in the 24-120. I won't use it often, but on that rare occasion, I'll be glad to have it. And those are relatively cheap, relatively decent (if slow), and not too large - it will meet my very limited tele needs. I've found decent used Nikon VF copies in the $350 range, so it won't be a big investment to cover that base. Actually the used 24-120 f4 I picked up was semi-pricey and the Nikon 28mm f1.8 was a little over $500, but everything else I've bought has been down in the $200-300 range, with the 50 f1.8 down around $100.

A faster portrait length lens is one future possibility, but I don't know that I'd want to go with fully manual focus for that application and even the "D" lenses are pretty pricy for those focal lengths. I'll have to see how the 24-120 does for lower light portraits. I've been using an Olympus 45 and 75, both f1.8 for that, and my gut feeling is that the 24-120 will be competitive with those up to the 120 maximum, which is a near perfect portrait length. I think I might just go for a relatively inexpensive 85 f1.8 if I feel the need for something faster in a portrait length (albeit a short one). But f4 seems to go a long way with this camera and the bokeh on candids I've shot with the 24-120 is pretty nice and DOF is plenty narrow. So we'll see. Those faster 105 and 120 AF lenses also look relatively big...

Thanks for the thoughts,

-Ray
 

Archiver

Top Veteran
There is nothing immoral in using DSLRs, so use the gear which you enjoy the most, even if it's a DSLR.

There's nothing immoral in being spanked by albino siamese-midgets wearing nurse uniforms, so do what you enjoy the most, even if it is being spanked by albino siamese-midgets wearing nurse uniforms. If they were wearing fire department outfits, that would be another matter. The red helmets. The crisp yellow jumpsuits. The frayed blue suspenders and scuffed work boots. My goodness.
 

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