Thom Hogan's assessment of a D400

Started Apr 8, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP jfriend00 Forum Pro • Posts: 11,330
Re: What I Like on D200 & D300

hval wrote:


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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