I'm on DX. Should I upgrade to FF or Mirrorless?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by stsadasdsad, Oct 5, 2020.

  1. I currently have a Nikon D7500 with a ton of specialty DX lenses (wide-angle, fisheye, standard zoom, telephoto zoom, macro, primes). I only have two FX-compatible lenses: Nikon 50mm and Tokina 100mm.

    I'm trying to decide whether my next system should be Nikon FF or Nikon Mirrorless. I mostly shoot landscape & walking shots in cities, but also have started to do some introductory astrophotography and moon shooting. For creativity and variety, I like to occasionally dabble with other specialty lens cases like macro, wildlife, etc. I don't really do any people photography.

    A couple of considerations from my end:
    1. I like Nikon and prefer to stay with them.
    2. I know that I will need to buy at least a couple of new lenses to start on either system. I tend not to buy the most expensive lenses in a given category and instead have been happy using lenses that rate very well but also don't break the bank: e.g. Tokina (e.g. 11-16, 100), Nikon (35, 18-140, 70-300), Sigma, and Tamron.
    3. While I know I can't use my DX lenses on either system without quality loss, ideally I'd love to be able to carry over those 2 FX lenses to the new system, so I at least have a few additional options beyond the core lenses I'd have to buyt. But it's not an absolute requirement, since neither is a heavy-use lens for me.
    A couple of questions:
    1. For the type of stuff I shoot, would full frame and mirrorless be a toss-up? (i.e. either system would be good for what I do)
    2. In the year 2020/2021, is it smart to make a big investment in a full-frame camera and FX lenses, or is mirrorless the smarter long-term bet?
    3. I know that more mirrorless lenses are hitting the market, but, realistically if I upgrade in 2020/2021, would I be forcing myself into pretty expensive Nikon lenses vs. waiting for the Tokinas/Tamrons of the world to catch up?
    I'd really appreciate any gut-level reactions and advice. Thanks!
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

  3. Question does not compute: alternatives not mutually exclusive.
    William Michael likes this.
  4. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    The question to ask yourself is where you feel DX is not meeting your needs. I use Nikon DX and FX interchangeably with no significant difference in outcomes. I do feel FX lenses are generally somewhat superior to DX, so I use FX lenses with the D7200 most of the time. I went to FX because of a trove of old Nikon lenses - that was my "Need" factor.
  5. What would a full frame system do that your current DX system cannot?

    Or, to put it another way, why do you want to switch?
    SCL and charles_escott_new like this.
  6. I have friends who are on the D850, and they've sworn by the additional landscape detail and dynamic range that the full frame and the 40+ megapixels (D850/Z7) provide. They've also noted overall better performance in astro in terms of ISO/noise management.
  7. If those are screw-driven AF lenses (quite sure the Tokina is), then they won't AF on the Nikon mirrorless Z camera bodies. Maybe eventually Nikon (or a third party) will release an F-to-Z-mount adapter that has an AF motor build-in - I wouldn't hold my breath though.

    AFAIK, so far neither Sigma, Tamron or Tokina are offering lenses for the Z-mount. They eventually will, but at this point you will have to be content with what Nikon offers (or some third party manual focus lenses). You can, of course, adapt F-mount AF-S or AF-P lenses - but that's an interim solution at best.

    These aren't, as has already been pointed out, mutually exclusive but alternatives. Each has its advantages and disadvantages but common consensus is that mirrorless is the path forward and DSLR is on it (slow) way out.

    Answered above. Whether it is smart to do so now (or at all) is each person's individual choice. Getting a D850 or Z7 (Z7 II) plus a few lenses adds up rather quickly - so it also depends on your budget.

    If you want to go with native Z-mount lenses, then for the time being you are going to be stuck with the limited set Nikon has released so far (and some third party manual focus ones).
  8. If you have DX glass that’s serving you well, you probably don’t need FX. The recent model APSC sensors are excellent, and a D7500 can easily give you enough image for use on a screen or any printer you’re likely to have at home.

    I switched to FX years ago, mostly for the larger viewfinder and so I could use older lenses for the same shots I would use them for on film. I still shoot a D800, which is still excellent and can be had for peanuts. But my other system is Fuji APSC, and the image quality is all I can realistically use. Hell, the most recent 13x19 prints I made were landscapes from a 16mp APSC camera - which has as much DR and resolution as a printer can handle - and one from my iPhone, which actually looks pretty good.
    charles_escott_new likes this.
  9. I'm not sure there's a bad answer. You can use your DX lenses on the Z cameras and get DX crops that should be perfectly fine, though I haven't tried it. IMO, full frame offers better image quality, but it's subtle. The S series lenses are freaky good, so if you got a kit with a lens and FTZ adapter, that would take you a long ways. Other than the screw focusing, the FTZ works well and I don't miss the connections it doesn't offer with older manual lenses. In-body vibration reduction with your old lenses is a game changer. FWIW, I thought I'd use my collection of older Nikkors a lot because I don't like zooms very much, but most of them come in second rate on image quality. If somebody had told me that, I'd have said they were crazy, so you'll have to prove it yourself. I was wary of going from dSLR to mirrorless, but now I'd never want to go back.
  10. You seem to be asking two questions: full or crop frame and dslr or mirrorless. Crop frame always makes me have to think too much deciding what lens will give a desired result while full frame is intuitive. I learned photography mostly in 35mm so full frame comes naturally while I have never fully adapted to crop frame. As for dslr or mirrorless I’ll stick to dslr. I honestly see no practical reason for mirrorless but that’s me. Lens selection has a long way to go as well. Which one fits best into your current lens inventory and how much are you willing and able to spend to get what you want?

    Rick H.
    Mary Doo likes this.
  11. Since you currently have a lot of DX equipment and do not seem to have an urgent reason and desire to go FX and/or mirrorless, I would offer the observation that it's not a big deal whether one shoots FX or DX or mirrorless for any type of photography, even for nightsky photography (where some would recommend FX). Unless one is specialized, the differences can be ignored. I have seen excellent nightsky photography using M43 lenses. Hwvr, DX does have an advantage for wildlife photography because of the crop factor, and this works to your advantage.

    If you really want to invest in FX equipment, it may be a good idea to go mirrorless because DXLRs are on the way out. On the other hand, Nikon mirrorless is still young and seems to be still on the crossroad to move on, so it may be a good idea to wait a little - unless you want to do it now and then upgrade in the future. I personally opt for this route because I am not emotionally attached to equipment and would gladly sell and replace or upgrade, just not doing it fast enough.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
    charles_escott_new likes this.
  12. If you already had a -complete- set of FX lenses, I'd say buy FX. You'll save a lot of money. But you have two FX lenses (maybe the cheapest ones) so you'll not save much money.
    The Z system is different; to me, the FTZ on a FX camera is not a long term option. So if thinking on a new system, just buy looking to the future. If not, you'll be continuously thinking about updating your gear.
    IMHO, I'd think on image quality, not in gear acquisition; jumping to a Z6 may be a big expense but not a big jump IQ wise, but to a Z7 it may be.
    A Z7 or a D850 system will involve a similar big expense (wide, normal, tele zooms, a couple primes). If you're not in a hurry, I'd follow Mary`s advice... wait a little and think on starting a new system.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
  13. I do not know how you currently process your shots and what kind of PC yo are using , but..
    If.. if choosing for FX 40m+ pixels, then also realize that you will need much more storage space and processing power to process and store all thos m-pixelsand tha you may find the free Nikon software not sufficiant anymore.

    Then realize that, for now, there are no primary tele-lenses available for the Z system, so if you need longer lenses, they will have to sit on a FTZ adapter (300mm +) .

    Als , for now, if going FX on mirrorless, you will need the expensive XQD /CF-Express memory cards, all your SD cards are not usable on the Z6 Z7 ..
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
  14. Oops, I wanted to mean that a FTZ adapter -on a FX lens- is not a long term option. My excuses.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
  15. But do those friends produce pictures worth a damn?

    My own experience is that the DX format has distinct advantages for telephoto and macro work - or any other area where you need magnification of the subject.

    Full-frame excels in low light as long as the sensor megapixel count isn't too ridiculously high (say > 50). It can also show a shallower depth-of-field if that's what floats your boat.

    Don't feel pressured into buying full-frame just because others are using it. The upgrade of glassware will cost many times the body-only entry price.

    As has already been said: Ask yourself where your current gear is lacking. It may be that upgrading a lens or two will provide better returns. For example: Your 18-140 is a really good kit lens, but mine is easily surpassed in image quality by my Tamron SP f/2.8 17-50.

    OTOH, my Tokina 11-20 f/2.8 DX wideangle zoom is easily the equal of anything equivalent for full-frame, and continually amazes me with its IQ.

    OK. It can be argued that DX is just the same as a crop from full-frame. Except it would take a 54 megapixel full-frame sensor to equal the resolution of a 24Mp DX sensor. And DX lenses can be made to have a higher resolution, at a cheaper price, than optics that have to cover a much larger image circle.
  16. Changing your system to Nikon's FF options in DSLR or Mirrorless variants will be expensive.
    I'm not convinced it will be a noticeable 'upgrade' for you.

    I personally find mirrorless better for most of my shooting - I use 3 mirrorless systems but only one DSLR system :)
    However I like using adapted glass & shoot quite a bit of IR, both places where mirrorless excels.

    In everyday shooting I doubt anyone could tell from an A4 print which of my shots were taken with FF & which with MFT (and in my case the MFT cameras would be older as well as having a smaller sensor). Sensor size can help but it's not as significant as many want you to think.
    rodeo_joe|1 likes this.
  17. SCL


    It sounds like you have a strong case of GAS. So how deep are your pockets to achieve only incremental results?
  18. Which reminds me of my first experience with FF digital - a Canon 5D. I had no previous Canon lenses and 'cheaped out' by buying a used Sigma f/2.8 24-70 zoom along with the 5D. Sheesh, what a mistake!

    I found results from the 5D + Sigma to actually be very noticeably worse on an A4 print than what I was getting from a digital bridge camera having a sensor no bigger than my little fingernail.

    That crappy lens went back - pronto!
    petrochemist likes this.
  19. Certainly true in many cases - if one purchases the higher-end (and thus necessarily more expensive) FX glass. From personal experience with Nikon FX and DX F-mount mid-range zoom lenses, the 16-80 DX easily holds its own against Nikon's 24-120 and Sigma's 24-105. Similarly in UWA zoom territory, Tokina's 11-16 and 11-20 are every bit as good as what's being offered for Nikon F-mount in FX glass. You have to go to Nikon Z-mount FX lenses to do better.
    Not to forget the Nikon 16-80 DX - which I personally find more convenient in every day shooting than the limited-range Tamron. Unfortunately, the Nikon is substantially more expensive.
    From my tests, it is hard to call a winner in the 11-16 vs 11-20 match - towards the lower end, the 11-16 seems to carry the torch, towards the higher end, it's the 11-20; this simplification doesn't hold for all apertures though and mostly refers to performance in the corners of the image.

    That's the crux - there's no "cheap" FX set of glass that matches what you already have (or could have with one or two lens changes), certainly not when you consider going the Nikon Z-mount route.
    andylynn likes this.
  20. Thinking about this some more, when I upgraded to the Z6 it was from a 13 year old DX body. I had a large number of manual AiS Nikkors, so didn't need much beyond the kit lens, or at least won't until my finances recover. You, OTOH, have a relatively recent DX body and few full frame lenses. A good case can be made for waiting. New bodies will come out, 3rd party makers will bring out more lenses and current offerings will get cheaper as people upgrade to the latest and greatest. I don't see how your photography will suffer at all by waiting. IMO, when the time comes, the future is almost certainly mirrorless.
    charles_escott_new likes this.

Share This Page