Lightening Up on FF Camera

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by michael_dougherty|2, Jan 30, 2016.

  1. I will be taking a trip that involves a lot of hiking and I really wanted to reduce the weight of my primary camera and lens without sacrificing quality. I currently use a D810 with Sigma 24-105 which I consider a big and heavy combo especially with my other equipment. I thought this would be a great opportunity to look at some of the FF mirrorless bodies with a more compact and light weight lens in the 24-70 to the 24-105 range. To my dismay, no such thing exists. I don't really care if the lens is interchangeable or not. What am I missing?
  2. Sony A7 series bodies with the 24-70/4?
  3. Sony and Leica both have mirrorless in 24x36mm sensor size.
  4. A camera which might meet your needs is a Sony A7ii (24 MP) or A7Rii (42 MP), both of which are full frame, about the size and weight of a Leica M. There is a Sony/Zeiss 24-70 f/4 zoom lens, about the size of a Leica Summicron 90 (but lighter). The 24-70/4 zoom is often dismissed as a less than desirable lens. However I think this is relative to other Sony/Zeiss lenses, which are world-class. The build quality of the 24-70 is excellent. It is said to be a little soft at the edges, but again this is relative. According to reviews, it is very sharp in the center, and overall sharper than the Nikon 28-70/2.8 by a substantial margin.
    I have both Sony cameras, which have take the place of my Nikon D3 kit for the same reasons you cite - size and weight. I don't currently own the 24-70/, but do have the 16-35/4, which has the same build and configuration. Both lenses have auto focus and image stabilization. The cameras have in-body image stabilization which works with any lens, including Leica and Nikon with simple adapters.
  5. Don't know about the zoom lenses - a fast zoom (f/2.8)will always be larger and heavier than a smaller max. aperture one -
    but the Sony A7R II AND A7S II get high marks.
  6. Why confine yourself to FX? Put an f/2.8 lens on APSC and it's effectively the same as your f/4 lens on FX.
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Michael, if you want lighter weight, try a smaller format. I believe you already have a couple of Nikon D7200, which use the same battery (EN-EL15) and memory cards (SD) as your D810. Just get a mid-range zoom such as Nikon's 16-80 AF-S VR and you are in business.
    You don't have to have a 36x24mm sensor to generate excellent quality.
  8. Craig, good idea. The A7R + 24-70 F4 is 29.53 ounces. My D810 + 24-105 is 62.24 ounces. Ugh. I had read about the fixed lens RX1R2 but it only comes with a 35mm lens. I was thinking how fantastic it would be if it came with a high quality 24-70 or 24-105 F4 lens.
    Shun, I will be taking a couple D7200's to Patagonia, one with 80-400 AFS (just sold my old 80-400 VR lens) and the other with a Sigma 17-70 C macro lens. I will also take a Nikon 10-24 (accepts ND, polarizer and grad filters)
    For me, this is an expensive trip and I have learned from previous trips that I need a high res combo for the big view, the 7200 + 17-70 macro for the little view, a 80-400 for isolation and wildlife, and a D7100 + 10-24 for ultra tight/closeup landscapes. Of course the D810 + 24-105 is the heaviest component in my bag so I was looking at lighter options. My back pack is currently 22 pounds and the Sony would bring it down to 20. I never change lenses in the field. Probably not enough weight savings for this trip so I'll hang in there with what I already have.
  9. Nikon D7200 with 16-80/2.8-4 weight about the same as Sony A7RII with 24-70/4; both combos are a little less than 2lbs lighter than the D810/24-105 combo.
    A D750 with 24-85 is about 1 lbs lighter than the D810/24-105.
    No dice with the Leica SL and the 24-90/2.8-4 lens - weight is about the same as the D810/24-105 (your wallet will be a lot lighter though ;-))
    Sony A6000 with Zeiss 16-70/4 is 1/3 the weight of the D810/24-105 and about the same as a D750 body alone.
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If you must have smaller FX, try the Nikon D750 with perhaps the 24-85mm/f3.5-4.5 AF-S VR lens or some third-party equivalent. To me, that lens is good enough. IMO your savings with common batteries, common chargers, memory cards ... not to mention a common lens mount such that all of your lenses are interchangeable far far outweights the other options.
    I go on similar trips myself, and I bring two MH-25 chargers to charge those EN-EL15 batteries such that in case one charger fails, I won't be stuck unable to charge my batteries. Occasionally I am at locations where they only have AC power at certain times. Having two chargers means I can charge two batteries simultaneously. (I also bring a cheap, $2 US-style extension cord.)
    It is a big advantage to keep life simple. In case you buy a Nikon D500 in a few months, it'll be using the same batteries and charger, and the SD card will be common among all of your camera bodies.
  11. it


    I am using a Sony A7R2 with Canon 90mm tilt shift for travel. Not too heavy and the files are really nice.
  12. I guess I understand not wanting to change lenses in the field, but if you got an ultrawide lens for the D810 you could lose the D7100 body. That's about 2 pounds.
  13. I have some expensive lenses for my D800E, but I also have one inexpensive zoom that I did not expect much out of. It has really astonished me:

    I got mine for about $250 on eBay. Believe me, it is worth a try, even though it is not strongly built. Nonetheless, the glass and the VR are very, very good. I was frankly astonished.
    It has taken the place of my f/2.8 mid-range Nikon zoom for routine work because it is LIGHT, LIGHT, LIGHT.
  14. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Nikon's 24-85mm AF-S VR is certainly a very decent lens. I reviewed it for about 4 years ago:
    By no means it is the best lens Nikon has ever made nor it has the best construction quality, but I used it on the 36MP D800E and was happy with it. However, lighter weight comes with smaller aperture and lesser construction quality. I traveled with professional photographer Tui De Roy to the Galapagos in November last year. She was using a Nikon D4 with four lenses: 80-400mm AF-S VR, 24-85mm AF-S VR, 18-35mm AF-S, and 16mm fisheye. Since she was mainly using one body (with two spares in the ship cabin), she was changing lenses frequently in the field. In fact, we discussed that very point, and she said that she is well known for changing lenses a lot.
    When the desire is to travel (relatively) light, it is much simpler to add a light-weight lens and/or body, or perhaps carrying one few body, rather than adding a incompatible camera system, which comes with some totally incompatible accessories such as batteries, chargers .... In that context, all the so called "weight savings" is deceptive, not to mention all the inconveniences that come with it, e.g. not all lenses can work with all bodies. If one body or lens fails in the field, the lack of interchangeable components will be painful.
  15. Robert, losing the D7100 body is an excellent option. In past trips, when I know I was flying on a CRJ so I used a slightly smaller backpack that would fit a CRJ's overhead bin, and I was forced to leave the D7100 at home and just take the 10-24 by itself. On this trip, the smallest plane will be a 737 so I am using a little bit larger bag that will fit the 737's overhead bin and I have space for the D7100 with 10-24. I don't change lenses in the field because it is likely to be windy, dusty, and even rainy on occasion. I may still decide to jettison the D7100.
    Shun, as you are aware, I have also been traveling with the relatively light weight Sony A77 II and 70-400 for several years which turns out to be lighter than the D7200 and 80-400 AFS that I will now be travelling with on this trip. I never had a problem but I was at risk if the Sony were to break in the field. It never did, but I do agree that traveling with two different system is a little more complicated.
  16. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Michael, I went to the Galapagos for the first time in 1995. Since then, I have been to a lot of remote locations around the world in the subsequent 20 years. I used to say that I had never had a camera failure in the field, including trips to Antarctica, the Arctic, Africa .... A couple of lenses had failed in remote locations, but never a camera body.
    Eventually around new years day 2015, I was on a Zodiac cruise in a sub-Antarctic island in New Zealand. It was raining and I thought I had my Nikon D750 safely tugged inside a camera bag with the rain jacket on. Somehow a bit of rain water still managed to get inside and was collected at the bottom of the camera bag. The D750's battery compartment got wet. The battery seemed to have leaked and that camera wouldn't switch on again for the remainder of that trip. Replacing the battery didn't help. Fortunately I also had a D810 with me, but its battery compartment door fell off later on that same day (not sure exactly where and when it fell off). Thanks to Nikon's latch that holds the battery inside the compartment, at least the camera was still totally functional without the door. I had duct tape with me and could have taped the batter inside, if necessary.
    In last year's Galapagos trip, a fellow traveler slipped when she was boarding a Zodiac from a beach. Her camera bag briefly dipped into the water. Inside, her Canon 5D Mark III immediately started misfiring non-stop and her Canon 16-35mm lens eventually required a $500 repair after she got home. Fortunately, the incident took place one day before the end of our two-week cruise, and she had some backup. (Several of us on the trip had backup equipment and loaned her cameras.)
    These incidents are not that uncommon. If you haven't had one, consider yourself lucky. That is why I always bring some backup equipment. For me, three camera bodies (always all with the same lens mount and preferably the same battery) is standard for these trips.
  17. There is an 80-400 f/4 IS lens for a Sony A mount which works just as well on the A7Rii with a passive (non-mirror) adapter. There are several f/2.8 A mount zooms too, all expensive but fully adaptable.
    It is inconvenient to have disparate cameras, because you need two sets of mutually (or partially) incompatible lenses. The solution is simple - get two Sony A7's. I bought a Leica M9P as a lighter, more convenient camera than my Nikon D3 system. Then I bought a Sony A7ii as a backup for a Leica M9P, When the A7Rii came out, I retired the Leica but kept the old Sony.
  18. Michael, if you require a light system and can also live with some prime lenses (and eliminate or limit your number of zooms) you may wish to read my viewpoint expressed in Bruce's OP prior to yours.
  19. Arthur, all your points are valid in Bruce's post and I certainly shoot with other photographers who only use primes and are thoughtful and methodical to their approach to image capture. Their packs are definitely lighter than mine. However, I am addicted to zooms as they fit my shooting style (and personality). As I am only 65, I still have a few years to figure how to appreciably lighten the load and hopefully new technology will bail me out, again.

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