Nikon D7100 - Six months after joining the "Dark Side"

Started 11 months ago | Discussions thread
wildlifr
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Re: Nikon D7100 - Six months after joining the "Dark Side"
In reply to RudyPohl, 11 months ago

RudyPohl wrote:

Good evening old friends and new FZ200 owners that came on board after I "defected!"

As you know I was, and still am, one of the most vocal supporters of the awesome Panasonic FZ200. I was one of the first people to buy one here in Ottawa and I shot about 15,000 shots with mine before I bought a Nikon D7100 DSLR camera and went over to the Dark Side. Some of you said that you would like to hear back from me from time to time to see what my specific comparisons would be between these two cameras and between bridge camera and DSLRs in general. After 3 weeks on the other side I wrote a post to give you a sense of my first impressions and here's the post http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3467885 .

It has now been six months since I traded in my FZ200 for Nikon's latest DSLR, the D7100, and what has turned out to be their best and most problem-free crop sensor camera to date (That's the general consensus among users). After a reasonable length of time using the camera to gain some credibility I was planning to write a full, comprehensive and meaningful comparison for you and now half a year and 19,000 shutter clicks later I am actually fairly stumped as to what I should write. I could write almost a book on the subject, but for one thing I don't have the time, for another, who would want to read all that stuff, and for still another, I can say it all in just a few sentences anyway.

So here is my verdict after one heck of a lot of shooting with both cameras in all kinds of conditions... also keep in mind that my comparison is restricted solely to wildlife photography because as it has turned out that is about 95% of everything I do.

My bottom line has not changed from before... in my opinion, when you take everything into account the Panasonic FZ200 is simply the very best photographic solution on the market today. Dollar for dollar you cannot buy a more versatile, high-quality, usable camera, and dollar for dollar there is not a DSLR package, mid, low or high-end that can come anywhere near to giving you the images that the FZ200 can FOR THE PRICE.

Now please understand what I'm saying here. I am not saying the FZ200 will give you the same image quality of mid to high-end DSLR like the one I currently use or DSLRs going all the way up to pro cameras. These cameras, of course, can produce considerably higher quality images than the FZ200.... BUT this increase in image quality comes at an EXTRAORDINARY increase in cost. Let's just talk bokeh for example, one of things I really miss about that awesome F2.8 Leica lens. To get FZ200-quality bokeh in the DSLR world you have to buy an F2.8 DSLR lens, and these all start at $2400 (in the Nikon and Canon worlds) and they rapidly skyrocket in price up to $10,000 and more! I'm not kidding, anyone who thinks they can go on the cheap and get great bokeh with entry level or even mid-range DSLR gear is dreaming, it's not possible. But the FZ200 produces "to-die-for" bokeh, something that is key for good wildlife images so you can isolate the subject.

This statement is a bit off Rudy. DOF at 300mm f4 on D7100 (450mm in 35mm terms) at 5 meters = .04 meters DOF. This field of view is equivalent to 81mm (also 450mm in 35mm terms) on your FZ200, which, at 5 meters, has DOF = .11 meters. In fact even the nikon 70-300 at f5.6 has shallower DOF (.06 meters). In a nutshell, its quite a bit easier to obtain shallow DOF and subject isolation with the APS-C sensor size than with the FZ200. And DOF is one of the most important factors that contributes to bokeh for a given scene. Lens design is also important.

As you may recall there are two reasons why I swapped my FZ200 for a mid-range DSLR. The first was that I got an early release model last August that had a number of glitches and I had to return two units and my third unit had to go for repairs. And while the images it produced were great, the store manager felt so sorry for me for all the hassles I'd had he said that if I wanted to he would refund all my money toward another camera of my choice, so I took his offer. The other reason was that I really wanted to see for myself, firsthand, what kind of IQ I could get with some good DSLR gear. So I bought the new Nikon D7100 and their 70-300mm zoom lens ($500) which produced some pretty nice images. Recently I purchased a used, totally refurbished pro-level 300mm prime wildlife lens which retails for $1600 taxes included, plus a high-end teleconverter ($500) which gives me 420mm and with the crop factor it's 630mm, and with the extra resolution of the 24MP sensor my reach is effectively over 1000mm... and as before, I upgraded just to see what kind of IQ I could get from what is now about a $3500 semi-pro kit (almost 7 times as expensive and a huge jump from the $520 I paid for my FZ200!).

Well, I'd be lying if I said that my present gear doesn't produce some exceptionally good quality photos - it does for sure (see my Flickr account for samples: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rudypohl/ )... however at what cost??!! Unless I were to print my images in fairly large format, which I'm not going to do, these images are definitely not 7 times better in image quality. See my point?

Therefore, my advice to those considering joining me on the dark side is this: unless you are really unhappy with your FZ200, plus you have some serious money to burn, or you have some other really good reason for going DSLR you should think seriously about sticking with your amazing bridge camera and forget about a DSLR. On top of that, bridge cameras can only get better as micro-technology advances but this is not so much the case for DSLRs.

Now I'm sure there will be some who will disagree with me, so please know that these are just my own personal opinions and I still consider myself somewhat of a novice. Anyways, some of you asked me to write about this so finally I have managed to sit down and do so.

Hope you find this helpful, and all the best to everyone!

Rudy

 wildlifr's gear list:wildlifr's gear list
Nikon D7100 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D ED-IF Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E II Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G +2 more
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