FX for a casual shooter?

Started 10 months ago | Discussions thread
Penny123
Regular MemberPosts: 296
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Re: Beautiful gallery!
In reply to windsprite, 10 months ago

windsprite wrote:

I also live in an area with short days and gloomy weather much of the year, and like you, I enjoy shooting my dogs (two whippets, as a matter of fact -- love your pretty Penny! ) plus landscapes and a hodgepodge of other stuff. FF works great for me, especially when trying to do action shots late in the day. I thought you might be a candidate for a larger sensor as well, but looking at your gallery, it seems you walk your dog in some very wide-open spaces and try to keep the DOF fairly deep in order to show off the lovely backgrounds, so you might miss the reach of DX and would be stopping down much of the time anyway if you had FX.

I definitely would not say FX is overkill for your photography, though. You have some stunning photos in your gallery. I think you are being too modest, or you are shooting to a higher standard than you realize. You have a good eye and seem to work hard on acquiring new techniques. If you have only gotten "serious" in the past few years, then -- wow -- there's no doubt that you will quickly grow into the highest-quality gear you want and can afford, and IMO you shouldn't be shy about acquiring it now, rather than waiting until you're "good enough," whatever that means. It's just a question of whether to go FX or DX.

I see the D800 isn't on your list of candidates, but I think it's worth considering. With 36MP you can do an in-camera DX crop and still have 16MP, which is more than what you have now, and the crop-mode DR, high ISO, and resolution will be like a D7000, which should also be an improvement over your D90 (though the D7100 will of course be even more of an improvement). Plus you will have the added DR and noise performance of the FX sensor when you need it.

This is why I went with FX four years ago when I came from Olympus. It seemed to me to be the more versatile format. In a sense, you can have the benefits of both FX and DX in one camera. Most of the lenses available are built for the FX sensor (or film). For example, you can put an 85/1.8 on a D800 and do a DX crop to get 128mm EFL with a very workable 16MP (or even 102mm and 24MP with the 1.2x crop mode), but you can't do the reverse and get 85mm or 102mm with that lens on a D7100.

The D7100 does have more resolution than the D800 in DX crop mode for telephoto shots, but the question is, do you need it? How much will you be cropping in post, and how large will you be displaying your images? And the other side of the coin is, the 36MP D800 will have more resolution than the D7100 when you aren't cropping. (But do you really need 36MP for uncropped shots?)

I realize the D800 is a lot of money and requires some new lenses, but I think it is a camera that will serve you for a very, very long time. I and a lot of other people are still using the D700 and D3, and those are 5-6 year old cameras with only 12MP and noisier DR-limited sensors in comparison to the D800. In this sense, if you can afford a D800 right now, I bet in the long run it will have better cost performance than a D610 or D7100. Especially if you are like most people I've observed here who waffle between FX and DX and initially decide to go DX because it seems to be the more economical option, but then they can't get the larger format out of their heads and wind up eventually going FX anyway!

I'm not saying everybody who buys into DX really wants FX because it is the "superior" format, but generally the longterm DX shooters know from the beginning that FX is not for them, and they don't come over here asking which format they should buy. However, if there is any doubt in your mind now, I think it highly unlikely to go away if you buy DX.

If you build your lenses around an FX system, you can always add a DX camera later if you feel you need even more reach (which is what I've done), but if you buy dedicated DX lenses and decide at some point that you want to go FX, then you are going to want to trade in most of your lenses, at a loss. So if you think there is any chance you will still want to go FX in the future, IMO it's better to just do it now, because frankly the chances are next to nil that you will buy a D800 (or even D610) and decide to junk most of your FX lenses for DX ones, while I've seen many, many people do the reverse.

Here is a good (and entertaining) essay along similar lines:

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2010/05/letter-to-george.html

And his followup post:

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2010/05/ps-but-not-to-george.html

All that said, I think a D7100 is a great camera that would also serve you just fine, especially if you are often shooting long. I wouldn't worry about the buffer unless you intend to shoot dog racing. I just thought it was worth mentioning the potential benefits of the D800, and the longterm implications of DX vs. FX.

Julie

Thank you for taking the time to to post such a detailed response.  I am amazed how many whippet owners  are in this thread   I guess I am quite hard on myself and always rather obsessive about getting shots just the way I want.  I am still learning and there is still situations I get frustrated with when the shot didn't work.  I was out at the weekend and there was a lovely view but the sky was rather blown out so I had to take three exposures and create a HDR to get the shot.

To try and answer some of your questions.  I hadn't really thought of the D800 due to the price and because I only use the camera for personal use I thought it seemed a bit high along with having to buy at least 2 fx lenses to match what I have now.  I completely see the benefit of what you say.  Having a fx camera that gives you 16mp in crop mode gives you the best of both worlds especially at the longer end I would get the same field of view with my 70-200 at 200mm as i do on the D90.  16mp is more than enough for me as I happily crop my 12mp D90 shots and they hold the quality especially compared to my old D40 which had limited crop ability.

I do crop quite a few of my photos as once I load them in to lightroom and play around with them I start to see some shots a little different or something pesky is in the corner of the frame but as I say, I have always managed ok with the 12mp so I can't see cropping being an issue with any camera.

There is pros and cons for me with both types of cameras.  The pros of DX are the reach for when I do shoot long, for many shots of my dog I do like to show where we are so that is easier to achieve with DX, the extra focus points which I have became accustomed to using in portraits, I would need to start using the af-on button and recompose more.

Then there is the pros to FX, higher iso ability, the narrower dof when I do want those kind of shots which I can't quite get at the moment, although shooting full body shots at 200mm and 2.8 helps, the higher dynamic range and the ability to grow in photography.

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