Thom Hogan's assessment of a D400

Started Apr 8, 2013 | Discussions
krikman
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Re: What I Like on D200 & D300
In reply to jfriend00, Apr 26, 2013

jfriend00 wrote:

hval wrote:

Friend00,

I really like the D200 and D300. I compromise on the size and weight as I prefer an optical viewfinder and the controls on the nikon D200 and D300.  There have been too many times where the screen on the back of cameras is not visible in bright light.  Also the Sony Nex is not good as the D300 at auto focussing in low light. Am not fond of the Sony Nex menu system and buttons, though this is probably due to lack of practice.  I would possibly buy a Sony Nex, other than I have invested in Nikon and do not want to have to invest so much again, all at one time.

My point was that I'm better off with two cameras a D300 and NEX.  One optimized for max IQ, low light, action shooting - the other optimized for small and portable, but still a very quality sensor.

What lens you use on NEX to call it 'portable'?

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jfriend00
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Re: What I Like on D200 & D300
In reply to krikman, Apr 26, 2013

krikman wrote:

jfriend00 wrote:

hval wrote:

Friend00,

I really like the D200 and D300. I compromise on the size and weight as I prefer an optical viewfinder and the controls on the nikon D200 and D300.  There have been too many times where the screen on the back of cameras is not visible in bright light.  Also the Sony Nex is not good as the D300 at auto focussing in low light. Am not fond of the Sony Nex menu system and buttons, though this is probably due to lack of practice.  I would possibly buy a Sony Nex, other than I have invested in Nikon and do not want to have to invest so much again, all at one time.

My point was that I'm better off with two cameras a D300 and NEX.  One optimized for max IQ, low light, action shooting - the other optimized for small and portable, but still a very quality sensor.

What lens you use on NEX to call it 'portable'?

It's all relative to what you're comparing it to   Almost anything you put on a NEX is small/lightweight compared to my D300 + 17-55 f/2.8 which is what I previously carried on major hikes.  I'm probably going to carry a kit zoom and a Sigma prime for the NEX.  Total weight is a fraction of what I've previously carried with my D300.

I can clip the NEX to my backpack strap with the right attachment accessory and have it instantly available, yet hands free.

The NEX isn't pocketable, but I consider it's lighter weight and smaller bulk (compared to the D300) to be a huge improvement, but since the NEX is APS-C, it's got pretty nice sensor performance (even better than my D300 because it's a much newer generation design).

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krikman
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Re: What I Like on D200 & D300
In reply to jfriend00, Apr 26, 2013

Thanks. I've never think of NEX as compact system because of lens sizes.

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hval
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Re: What I Like on D200 & D300
In reply to krikman, Apr 26, 2013

Kirkland,

The Nex seemed to me to be a nice system.   I was tempted by it over any other cameras of a similar size. I believe that there are rumours that a new Nex 7 replacement due soon.

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coudet
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Re: What I Like on D200 & D300
In reply to hval, Apr 27, 2013

hval wrote:

jfriend00 wrote

My point was that I'm better off with two cameras a D300 and NEX.  One optimized for max IQ, low light, action shooting - the other optimized for small and portable, but still a very quality sensor.

If you try to put both optimizations into the same camera, you get an albatross that is best at none.  If you are only going to buy one camera, then you just have to decide which tradeoffs you want to favor.

I agree totally with what you write.  Is why I am willing to accept the size and weight of the D200 and D300.  I like them, they are robust and they do me.  I sacrifice on size and weight and accept that.

Me, I value good handling (and a couple of other things) that goes with larger cameras. I never want to sacrifice that. D300 size is the very minimum, the smallest, I'd accept for my main camera.

Ideally, I like the good camera + small camera approach. I carry my good camera every time I go out with intention to shoot, and small camera when I don't plan it but just in case. The only problem is that you want something truly small (not smaller), it means that it needs to be pocketable which scratches of all the interchangeable lens cameras off the list. Long term, I think cellphones will do the trick for the truly compact camera. You carry just one device instead of two. Nokia 808 is showing clearly what's needed to make the cellphone with good camera - larger sensor, smaller pixels and sharp lens.

I actually find the size of the Leica M240 a really good size for me.

It's still pretty large, but it doesn't have the handling of the modern DSLR, since its shape is inspired by your average brick, only with rounded off edges.

Unfortunately it just does not do what I want Very well.

It doesn't do what a lot of people want, but it does mount some nice lenses. Still waiting for something that will give me the quality of Leica 50/1.4. Maybe the new Zeiss will do just that (as they claim it will).

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coudet
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Re: What I Like on D200 & D300
In reply to krikman, Apr 27, 2013

krikman wrote:

Thanks. I've never think of NEX as compact system because of lens sizes.

You can fit smaller lenses on it.

And, you can do that with a DSLR too, of course, and you won't sacrifice handling or the performance. For example, a DSLR + 2 small primes and you're golden.

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hval
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Re: What I Like on D200 & D300
In reply to jfriend00, Apr 27, 2013

Jfriend00,

I tried the multi camera approach by using a compact camera or a micro four thirds camera. It just did not work for me.  I found that I still wanted to do the same photography as at home but was unable to do so due to limitations of the camera kit, and me not being able to get used to the menu system or button layout of the micro four thirds camera.  I did enjoy the size and weight of the Panasonic GH-1 though.  I also liked the tilting/ rotating rear screen which is great for low level macro, or videoing over the heads of a crowd, and whilst taking photos but not looking like you are.

I already compromise on having a DX sensor camera.  This is a compromise I am willing to accept for the reach I get for wild life, birds and a few other things.  The lenses tend to be physically smaller and lighter than FF cameras as well.  I really can not afford to go for two camera bodies.  If I go Full Frame I shall have to replace three of my five lenses (something I may be doing anyway). Also, I am unable to afford the D4.  The D800 doesn't really do it for me;  too many megapixels (I have two tripods, one monopod, mini tripods, but still shoot hand held most the time). Also the number of frames per second is not great With the D800. But then the full frame sensors offer better low light capabilities which would be of use to me.  If I could get a DX "Holy Trinity" with the same F 2.8 as the big version, I would go for it. The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 is an example of a lens I will probably get (depending upon reports).  I am scratching my head though of how it would fit in to my planned range of lenses. Here is a list of photography I like to do:

  • Wild life
  • Birds
  • Landscapes
  • Sun rise/ sun sets
  • Macro
  • Street photography
  • Reportage style photography at events, parties etc (I am generally not a an of poised photography)
  • Airshows/ aviation
  • General opportunist photography of anything that might catch my attention (sheep doing tap dancing in bowler hats and a bow tie for instance)

Due to my preference for reportage style photography I don't use a flash. This is an example of where a Full Frame sensor would be better.  Having said that I am able to get some reasonably low light photographs with primes on the D200.

 hval's gear list:hval's gear list
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hval
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Re: What I Like on D200 & D300
In reply to coudet, Apr 27, 2013

Coudet,

Yes the M240 is still quite large, but it is  smaller and lighter than many DSLRs.  Those Leica lenses are also smaller and lighter, but extremely good quality.  By the way, try an M 240 with the grip on. Nicer to hold.

You want a bigger heavier camera, I want a smaller, lighter camera.  Perhaps Nikon have got it just right with the D300?

 hval's gear list:hval's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 Nikon D200 Nikon D300 Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR +15 more
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Tomas36
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Re: Thom Hogan's assessment of a D400
In reply to Tomas36, Apr 27, 2013

Tomas36 wrote:

A lot has been said here. Many things make sense. I would like to see that D400 finally arrive just like one next to me. But I just don't see it coming.

It is Thom Hogan that keeps the hype alive, and I have a firm opinion on why it is the case. You see, just like DX line makes the majority of Nikon DSLR sales and consequently the profits in the same range, so does Thom Hogan with his books. His books are one of the major sources of hos income, and if you just briefly examine his books portfolio, soon you'll discover that he's writing ONLY DX books, not FX. Among those, my guess is that the best sellers were enthusiast and pro level camera books (D70/80/90/7000/200/300/D2). It is quite logical that users of these cameras would be most interested in additional reading, much more than entry level photographer would be. Having said that, I leave you to imagine for yourself how significant it would be for Thom Hogan if Nikon was to abort a line that brings a fair amount of his book income. Maybe I'm wrong, but I just think it's Thom's wishful thinking on the subject that plays the major role here.

Just my 2 cents..

After careful reconsideration of what i wrote here, i would suggest now that it's all crap and beg you to ignore it completely (as many of you do already). Sometimes I'm just so full of s..t that I'm really ashamed of myself!

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PatMann
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D300 is about the minimum size for an ergonomic pro digital camera
In reply to coudet, Apr 27, 2013

I agree that the D200 and D300 are about as small as you can make a camera to get ergonomic direct controls you can use with gloves on, all the inputs and outputs to a digital camera with flash, remote control, etc., lens, finder, display all in one box. Mirrorless and wireless will ultimately make it thinner and lighter with the need for fewer interface connections and less mechanical stuff inside, which will be nice, but for a pro camera you can use quickly and directly with human hands, this is the size. You can't fit all that on a D7000 size frame, unless you're building a camera for a person with small hands only.

The Coolpix A needs to be just a bit wider to provide some more direct controls and bit wider still or taller for a finder. Other than that, it's a nice form factor for that compact mirrorless camera I've been waiting for.

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jfriend00
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Re: What I Like on D200 & D300
In reply to hval, Apr 27, 2013

hval wrote:

Jfriend00,

I tried the multi camera approach by using a compact camera or a micro four thirds camera. It just did not work for me.  I found that I still wanted to do the same photography as at home but was unable to do so due to limitations of the camera kit, and me not being able to get used to the menu system or button layout of the micro four thirds camera.  I did enjoy the size and weight of the Panasonic GH-1 though.  I also liked the tilting/ rotating rear screen which is great for low level macro, or videoing over the heads of a crowd, and whilst taking photos but not looking like you are.

I already compromise on having a DX sensor camera.  This is a compromise I am willing to accept for the reach I get for wild life, birds and a few other things.  The lenses tend to be physically smaller and lighter than FF cameras as well.  I really can not afford to go for two camera bodies.  If I go Full Frame I shall have to replace three of my five lenses (something I may be doing anyway). Also, I am unable to afford the D4.  The D800 doesn't really do it for me;  too many megapixels (I have two tripods, one monopod, mini tripods, but still shoot hand held most the time). Also the number of frames per second is not great With the D800. But then the full frame sensors offer better low light capabilities which would be of use to me.  If I could get a DX "Holy Trinity" with the same F 2.8 as the big version, I would go for it. The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 is an example of a lens I will probably get (depending upon reports).  I am scratching my head though of how it would fit in to my planned range of lenses. Here is a list of photography I like to do:

  • Wild life
  • Birds
  • Landscapes
  • Sun rise/ sun sets
  • Macro
  • Street photography
  • Reportage style photography at events, parties etc (I am generally not a an of poised photography)
  • Airshows/ aviation
  • General opportunist photography of anything that might catch my attention (sheep doing tap dancing in bowler hats and a bow tie for instance)

Due to my preference for reportage style photography I don't use a flash. This is an example of where a Full Frame sensor would be better.  Having said that I am able to get some reasonably low light photographs with primes on the D200.

This is why we have many, many different form factors from the D4 to smartphones.  If you want the absolute best IQ without regard for cost, size or weight then you can get either FX or medium format and lug around a gaggle of lenses to support your various endeavors.

If you don't want to spend quite that much, but still want the advantages of a dSLR, you get a DX system and probably use some zooms so there aren't as many lenses.

If you still want interchangeable lenses, but want smaller size and weight, you can go with one of the mirrorless systems like NEX or micro four thirds.

If a single dedicated zoom meets your needs and you want even smaller, you can go with a compact camera.

If you really just want to shoot with something you always have with you and you'll accept the limitations of a smartphone camera, then you'll shoot with your smartphone.

There are lots of choices at lots of different tradeoff points in cost, weight, lens availability, ability to shoot action, reach, low light, dynamic range, camera controls and other aspects of IQ.

A fully outfitted FX system can certainly do everything you have on your list, but it will take a range of lenses, add up to some weight and cost some good money.  If you want to compromise some in any of those factors (take less weight or spend less money), then you have to evaluate where the right tradeoffs are for you personally.  There is no single right answer as it really depends upon what you're most trying to optimize for and for what type of shooting, you're most trying to optimize for.  If you're not ever willing to sacrifice the qualities of a dSLR in order to save weight or size, then obviously you should always shoot with a dSLR.

When I'm hiking for 3 straight weeks over a dozen passes above 10,000 feet, I'm not carrying the weight of a dSLR or it's lenses.  That's my personal optimization.  So, I've chosen to get something that can produce similar IQ for many types of shots (though not all), but is much lighter weight for that trip.  This is an entirely personal choice with no single right answer for everyone.

For my dSLR shooting, I take some of the hardest things I shoot (action sports like soccer) and I optimize my choices for that within my budget (weight and size don't matter to me for most of my other shooting).  I then adapt with other lenses for the other things I like to shoot and I may not be entirely optimal for those other things, but with the quality of the gear today, it's pretty darn good.

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PatMann
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Re: No - My D400 must be an all-around camera
In reply to olliess, Apr 27, 2013

My most demanding shooting is wildlife, and I don't want to be doing that with half the image area on my retina. I don't know if you've ever tried to shoot or focus anything in the DX crop area of a full frame camera, but it ain't pretty - far different than shooting it with the higher magnification of a D300 or D200 finder. If all you're doing is finding the frame and not trying to check your image or focus, then it's probably OK, but for critical work, it's definitely suboptimal.

If I could afford a second camera for the other subjects I like to photograph, the D800e would meet those needs nicely with my old AIs lenses, and eventually maybe if the cars hold together another couple if years I will go that way as the prices fall, particularly if Nikon continues to underserve the DX format with lenses. However, I would much prefer to have a great all-around DX camera that provides a sensor competitive in the current field, and the lenses for that format that serve the entire spectrum of photographic subjects.

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Funduro
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Re: Will you buy if Nikon went crazy high ISO & not MP?
In reply to jfriend00, Apr 28, 2013

There are plenty of ways that a D400 would/could be differentiated from a D7100, particularly for the action photographer:

  • 8fps
  • Buffer for 20-30 14-bit RAW files
  • Shorter mirror blackout time (gives you better AF when shooting at max fps)
  • D800 AF that both has more advanced algorithm than D7100, but also works to f/8
  • More AF CPU horsepower than the D7100 (like the D3 AF is more powerful than the D700 AF)
  • Compatibility with 10-pin pro accessories
  • Dedicated AF-ON and AE-L buttons (so you can use AF-ON full time and still have AE-L)
  • Larger body style
  • Viewfinder shutter
This camera would be an excellent companion to the D800 because it would look and feel and operate the same, except it would shoot fast.  Also a logical upgrade to any current DX body owner who wants both modern sensor and shoot fast.  If Nikon executes and prices it around $1500, they could sell a lot and it could be another one of those cameras that lasts in the marketplace as a great camera for 5+ years (like the D300 did).
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Now were talking ! This is definitely a possibility, but cost, in my estimation(SWAG really) would be around US$2K. I do like the D7100 extra crop factor and 24MP sensor size. let's hope all the good specs you wrote do get implemented in the D400( my next DSLR).

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FYI avatar image is by Steve McCurry

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