Long Time Nikon Shooter Going A7

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Mel Snyder
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Long Time Nikon Shooter Going A7
7 months ago

Tomorrow I have a medical video to shoot in Orlando, and as usual, I'll do it with my two D7000s.

It's been months since I used the D7000s, inasmuch as my client for whom I normally shoot videos has had me on consulting work. During that time, I've shot personal stills exclusive with the NEX-6.

I've been shooting Nikon DSLRs for 10 years now. But as I checked my gear before this shoot, I came to a series of realizations:

1. The AF speed of a DSLR just wipes up the mat of anything I could imagine with any mirrorless. It's like "snap" and it's locked on. HOWEVER, it's not always as precise as we think when DOF is narrow. Some tripod tests with f1.8-f2.8 lenses showed that.

2. The benefits of an EVF totally overwhelm all other advantages of an OVF camera. I have to shoot videos in manual mode because much of them is talking heads, and there is no margin for an AF lens wandering off your subject when they move their head.Now admittedly, my living room isn't as bright as where I shoot talking heads - but the advantages of the Sony EVF for precise manual focusing in low light simply blow away the same lenses on my NEX-6.

Focus peaking, magnification, and effective light amplification with the EVF lets me focus on eyelashes with my 85mm f2 AiS Nikkor on the NEX-6 - but not on my D7000s. And an instant after I squeeze the NEX-6 shutter, I see the image and KNOW if it's sharp and properly exposed or not, without my eye ever leaving the EVF. With the Nikon, I have to focus, shoot, then recall the image onto the LCD and magnify it to see what I saw BEFORE I pressed the shutter on the NEX-6 EVF. Then I can switch to Live View for video on the D7000.

3. The Tokina 11-16 f2.8 which I've adored and used for years as my go-to lens in cramped physical therapy clinics is good- but not really better than the 16mm f2.8 on my NEX-6 wide open. The Tokina has less edge distortion than the Sony - a clock that is round on the Tokina frame edge is round, whereas the jpeg of the Sony image is distinctly a bit oval. BUT - BUT - the sharpness of that ;ess-round clock is significantly better than the rounder clock with the Tokina on the Nikon. And since I don't shoot circles on the edges of my business images, that bit of distortion would never be noted.

4. The NEX-6 is less noisy at ISO800 than either of my two D7000s. The general quality of the images are better on the Sony. Now admittedly, I didn't have time to run the RAW files of both cameras through Lightroom, and maybe the jpegs produced by the Sony are simply better - but I was surprised.

My conclusion: The EVF of the NEX-6 has spoiled me. There are all kinds of advantages of the D7000 that I don't see on the A7: twin SD slots, a great menu system, the fast AF focusing, the ability to shoot real bursts etc. Vastly better battery life.

But tomorrow, I will be carrying a big Thinktank bag with two heavy Nikon bodies, 4-5 heavy lenses - and somehow, the NEX-6 with the 16mm and my 35mm f1.4 Summilux. I'll put my tripod in the overhead, and check my roll-aboard (US Airways smashed my good tripod on my last flight, but I had a great old Tiltall from my dad that will do the job tomorrow).

Next trip, I hope to be carrying an A7 and just one D7000 and two lenses - for backup. And eventually, a second A7 or an APS-C sensor in an A7 type body for backup.

I am so done with OVFs. I'll put up with slow focusing, less precise AF lenses on the A7 to get what is clearly superior EVF manual focus/framing/exposure setting under adverse lighting conditions. The A7 has vastly better audio control than the D7000s, and better 1080p HD choices.

It's no contest. EVF beats OVF in my book. Can't wait.

 Mel Snyder's gear list:Mel Snyder's gear list
Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony Alpha 7 Sony E 16mm F2.8 Pancake Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 +13 more
Nikon D7000 Sony Alpha 7 Sony Alpha NEX-6
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