The "ultimate" compact, two-body, APS-C system: DSLR + mirrorless compact!

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by studio460, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. Well, as you may know, I've been playing around with various mirrorless bodies, ILCs, and compact DSLRs in search of a more portable two-body "system" to tote around on a daily basis. Today, I took my two-week old, Sony NEX-3N out for a spin . . . verdict: too slow! Wielding the NEX-3N today resulted in plenty of mis-focused, mis-framed, too-far-away shots I would've otherwise nailed with a DSLR:
    [​IMG]
    Sony NEX-3N + Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN
    [​IMG]
    Sony NEX-3N + Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN
    I know, at first I had initially gushed over the NEX-3N's "superior" AF speed vs. the Nikon Coolpix A's, but using the Sigma 60mm f/2.8 E-mount lens outdoors today, the NEX-3N hunted aimlessly, and seemed to take forever to lock focus. Also, a 90mm-equivalent is still too short for most of my "documentary" portraits. It seems that a bunch of (yet, undetermined) variables appear to be affecting both the NEX-3N's and Coolpix A's auto-focus performance, finally leaving me with the perception that the Coolpix A's auto-focus is somehow more "reliable."
    So, I think I've settled on a hybrid approach: an APS-C fixed-lens compact for "snapshots," and/or wide shots, and a smaller DSLR with a longer DX lens for "portraits." So, I just ordered the 127.5mm-equivalent, AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G (currently discounted by $100, representing a pretty good value at only $396.95). Although this will be my third Nikkor in this same focal length, the new, "plastic-ey" 85mm f/1.8G should fit nicely with the equally plastic-ey, refurbished D3200 I just picked up. But, this time, I'm liking the plastic-ey (read, lightweight) feel of both of these "lower-end" Nikon products. With my AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G mounted, the D3200 certainly "feels" much smaller and lighter than my D7000. Here's what I get optically:
    • Nikon Coolpix 'A' with 18.5mm fixed-lens: 28mm-equivalent @ f/2.8 [i.e., same speed as other DX/FX offerings].
    • Nikon D3200 + AF-S Nikkor 85mm 'G': 127.5-equivalent @ f/1.8 [i.e., "super-fast," mid-tele; <$400].
     
  2. Note that this approach would be applicable to other brands' products as well (e.g., Sony NEX-3N/Alpha A77 APS-C bodies, mounting a wide lens on the NEX, and a mid-tele on the A77). In fact, the Coolpix 'A', Nikon D3200, and Sony NEX-3N all produce very similar-looking files. Of course, the Nikon Coolpix 'A'/D3200 pairing is a particularly good "match," resulting in near-identical metering and imaging characteristics (not to mention, Nikon Speedlight inter-operability). Keeping within the same brand for both bodies, of course, has its benefits.
    [​IMG]
    Nikon D3200 + AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G
     
  3. Shot that you missed focused I am quite sure I could manually focus fast enough on an SLR to get those. So really it still boils down for me that mirrorlless can't manual focus. Yeah right with magified center one can focus accurately but very slow. I don't think it's that much faster with focus peaking either. So really the prime reason for me to use a DSLR is quick manual focusing.
     
  4. In fact, this "epiphany" just occurred to me, and had I not accidentally "won" that Ebay auction for the Nikon 'A' a few weeks ago, I may have never thought of this particular "solution." The fact that Nikon offers no compact, DX wide-angle lenses was (and, is) a problem for Nikon DX shooters. The Coolpix 'A' effectively "solves" this problem. Whenever I took my D7000 out as my "compact" system, I would typically bring my Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 and Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8 with me. The Coolpix 'A'/D3200/85mm yields less focal-length range (28mm/127.5mm-equivalents, fixed), but offers a significantly scaled down package, compared to what I previously thought of as my "compact" system. Also, using two bodies has the added benefit of being able to switch focal lengths instantly.
     
  5. BeBu said:
    So really the prime reason for me to use a DSLR is quick manual focusing.
    I wouldn't necessarily characterize it that way. Even the cheapest DSLRs' AF performs better than any of the APS-C compacts I own. It's just that a compact is very difficult to use in any mode, as quickly as virtually any DSLR, bottom-of-the-line, or not. The ergonomics of shooting with a compact (especially, ones without viewfinders) simply can't compete with even the least-featured, penta-mirrored DSLR.
     
  6. Ralph, just because your Sony doesn't work like a DSLR, that doesn't necessarily mean you should rule out other compacts. I had been using an Olympus OMD EM5 over the past year and now upgraded to their OMD EM1 and for the most part, both are as good as most DSLR bodies, low or high end (and no I am not claiming they are as good in every way).
    Any camera using a single AF point in the center of the frame could have easily missed AF in a situation such as your first shot.
     
  7. I was working out how to jam my old XSi into the bag with my 60D, spare lens, flash, etc.
    I gave up, and noticed I did have enough space for my EOS-M, so I slipped that in there and it's
    a 22mm semi-wide-angle second body. I've found that the autofocus performance seems to depend
    on contrast (duh, right?), and don't have any problem focusing when there's suitable content in the frame.
    Some of my favorite stock background type shots, though, like the undersides of an overcast, has the poor thing
    hopelessly confused.
    I've taken to leaving it set to manual focus, and it's actually a fun little camera that way. I may even buy an adapter so it can share some of my EF glass.
     
  8. Ralph, for AF performance, you really should give the m4/3 a try! Since your subjects are mostly people, the face detection on these cameras, and those from Olympus in particular, is outstanding. It works outdoors and indoors. When people's faces are turned away, it remains mostly locks on the head of the person. The new sensor in m4/3 should be close to the performance of the the D7000 and their cameras plus a lens is very small indeed.
     
  9. I don't think that what Ralph needs is another camera system to buy.

    Ralph, I don't know anything about that Sigma lens but the Sonys are competent at focusing. You didn't say what mode
    you had it in.
     
  10. Elliott said:
    Ralph, just because your Sony doesn't work like a DSLR, that doesn't necessarily mean you should rule out other compacts.
    Certainly, high-end compact ILCs such as the Fujis and Olys likely perform as well as DSLRs. I'm only comparing to what I have.
     
  11. Andy said:
    I don't think that what Ralph needs is another camera system to buy.
    Ha! You've got that right!
    Ralph, I don't know anything about that Sigma lens but the Sonys are competent at focusing. You didn't say what mode you had it in.
    Good point! Perhaps the OSS-enabled Sony kit lens was the case where I noted the high-performing AF on the NEX-3N. I was using the Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN in this case, in single-point, "positional," continuous-AF. In the first example, the focus-point was positioned frame-left.
     
  12. Ralph, if you really feel the need for a quick compact and don't absolutely need APS sensor high ISO quality, try a J1 and kit zoom while they're available at blowout prices. Ultra-quick AF, comparable to any good dSLR.
    Yeah, yeah, I know, I know, yet another camera system. But just consider it the ultimate P&S digicam that happens to have interchangeable lenses. You don't really need to buy other lenses just because they're available. So far I've held out against buying the 10/2.8 and 18.5/1.8 System 1 lenses, tho' I'm sorely tempted by both. But the 10-30 VR kit zoom is plenty good enough for most purposes.
    "Shot that you missed focused I am quite sure I could manually focus fast enough on an SLR to get those."​
    Not with one hand. Most mirrorless cameras with small primes and zooms can easily be handled with one hand. I probably use the V1 one-handed for a third of my photos, especially when snapping pix of public events and crowded street fairs. Less worry about jostling someone nearby in crowds. And it's terrific when I need the left hand free or to carry a shopping bag. Can't do that easily with most dSLRs, other than the smallest and lightest models.
    "So really it still boils down for me that mirrorlless can't manual focus."​
    Even without focus peaking or other focus confirmation aids I can quickly and accurately manually focus the V1 with my AI and AIS Nikkors. The screen isn't quite up to the quality of my Nikon F3HP with E grid screen, but it's not bad either. And this is with candid photos of people, even at night in dimly lighted areas.
     
  13. no such thing as the "ultimate" system, unfortunately. also, the Nex 3n's slow AF can be explained by the simple fact it doesnt have PDAF, which the Olympuses, newer Fujis, and DSLRs have.
    a compact is very difficult to use in any mode, as quickly as virtually any DSLR, bottom-of-the-line, or not. The ergonomics of shooting with a compact (especially, ones without viewfinders) simply can't compete with even the least-featured, penta-mirrored DSLR.​
    that's not necessarily so. the external dials of the Fujis (i have x100 and XE1, which both have VFs) make them very easy to configure. i've started taking my x100 along with my pro FX set-up as a dedicated candid shooter. the Fuji is particularly good at fill-flash with no fuss.

    to me what it really comes down to is maximizing the strengths of each camera set-up you have. a D3s+24-70 is bulky and obtrusive, but it's great for action and moving subjects. i recently broke out the d90 with a 12-24 UWA and the d300s with a 50-150 telephoto as a two body system and that all fit into a shoulder bag. the d90 isn't my first choice for action, but it did ok, and saving weight was important because i was shooting in a situation where i had to do a lot of walking (documenting a tree-planting event, which included a dance performance by indigenous dancers). i was able to get wide-angle shots with deep DoF and tele shots with shallow DoF as necessary. i ended up not needing to take all that many shots with the 50-150, so the compact size was a blessing, and it worked just as well as my 70-200 for that situation; however the 70-200 would have been a lot of extra weight to carry that wasnt really necessary.
     
  14. Lex said:
    Ralph, if you really feel the need for a quick compact and don't absolutely need APS sensor high ISO quality, try a J1 and kit zoom while they're available at blowout prices. Ultra-quick AF, comparable to any good dSLR.
    Yes, the deeply discounted Nikon 1 series was tempting for just that reason. Certainly, the CX-series Nikons have the edge in AF speed, but I was specifically looking for large-aperture, large-sensor subject isolation in the "portrait" length body/lens combo.
     
  15. Eric said:
    . . . to me what it really comes down to is maximizing the strengths of each camera set-up you have.
    Yes, as I said, the higher-end, PDAF-equipped compacts, I would assume, perform much better. The next-generation of high-end compacts such as the Fuji X-T1, and upcoming Sony A6000 are likely to exhibit very impressive real-world AF performance.

    However, in lieu of investing over $3,000 in a slick new Fuji APS-C system, I've purchased two end-of-the-line APS-C cameras at considerable discount. The Nikon Coolpix 'A' turned out to be a very practical "accidental" purchase as well. I have the reasonably responsive Nikon 'A' for wide shots (where focus is less-critical), and the DSLR-speed AF of the D3200 for mid-tele shots, where focus is critical. As I said in your other thread, if I could wave a magic wand, and instantly convert all of my Nikon DX gear into a new Fuji X-T1 + 23mm f/1.4 + 56mm f/1.2, I would do that without a doubt. Now, I think that would be the "ultimate" compact system!
     
  16. Ralph,
    I totally agree Nikon DX is possibly the best value and better quality for now.
    I currently own a m4/3 system (Olympus/Panasonic) in addition to my D7100. There is a ring in the front corner of my Olympus 45 f1.8 lens just dropped off a few days ago. I never hear such a poor quality in my more than 20 years experiences with Nikon, not even once. And Olympus 45mm f1.8 is one of highly regarded m43 lenses.
    A lot of the mirrorless is sold on hypes.
     
  17. Eric C. said:
    I totally agree Nikon DX is possibly the best value and better quality for now.
    Yeah, I've got to say, I'm actually pretty impressed with the Nikon D3200. It has only a handful of AF points, but they're kind of in the "right" places. Plus, its 'G' lens-only AF is plenty fast. Almost makes me wished I held out for the D3300 (which has a measurably higher DxO low-light score, faster EXPEED 4 processor, plus a 1-fps faster frame-rate). But, I think I paid only $271 for a body-only refurb (after a $50 Amazon Visa promotional credit). The other benefit is that I can mount pre-AI lenses on it. However, where Nikon fails, as everyone is already painfully aware, is in its DX lens offerings.

    The only other "affordable" option which piqued my interest was Sony's just-announced, A6000. Comparing the A6000 to the D3200 at camerasize.com, there's little size difference other than thickness (the A6000 is considerably "thinner" than the D3200). Claiming to have the fastest AF in an APC-C ILC, I'd be interested to give this a trial run (but, still, Sony offers no fast mid-tele for E-mount).
     
  18. Perhaps the OSS-enabled Sony kit lens was the case where I noted the high-performing AF on the NEX-3N​
    Yep, that's it. My Sony kit lens is lighting fast and pin point accurate on the NEX 6. The Sigma 60mm is not bad but slower to acquire focus and in low light it's more fussy. Sony lenses with the hybrid sensors=amazing focusing speed.
     
  19. Louis said:
    Yep, that's it. My Sony kit lens is lighting fast and pin point accurate on the NEX 6. The Sigma 60mm is not bad but slower to acquire focus and in low light it's more fussy . . .
    Ah ha! I knew that Sony's PDAF, for whatever reason, worked only with Sony lenses, but I wasn't aware that even CDAF-only Sony bodies like the NEX-3N auto-focused more slowly when using third-party Sigma AF lenses. Thanks for clearing that up. Now, the question is, do I want to keep my 90mm-equivalent, Sigma 60mm f/2.8 lens for its extra length, or return it for the faster (but, shorter) Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS?
     
  20. Since I was only looking at E-mount mid-tele primes (for the sake of speed), I had completely overlooked these f/4.0 Sony E-mount zooms:
    • Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4.0 G OSS [27-158mm equivalent]; $598.
    • Sony Vario Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4.0 ZA OSS [24-105mm equivalent]; $998.
    I would be more inclined to get the Sony 18-105mm for both its longer focal-length, and lower price. I have to say, however, the Sigma 60mm f/2.8 (which I'm now thinking of returning due to its slower AF) is tack-sharp, in fact, impressively so. But with a 27-158mm equivalent zoom, I'd never really need take this lens off of my NEX-3N (but, f/4.0 sure is a lot slower than the 50mm f/1.8).
     
  21. do I want to keep my 90mm-equivalent, Sigma 60mm f/2.8 lens for its extra length, or return it for the faster (but, shorter) Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS?​
    personally, i would go for the 1.8 over the 2.8, even if there wasn't an AF speed advantage.
    however, this being the nikon forum, i will now devote some pontification to what nikon missed in the Coolpix A and how to rectify that in future models. i'd really like to see lenses of at least f/2 or faster. they need to have better CLS capabilities, i.e. remote commander, optical stabilization, and an improved grip, along with faster, more accurate AF. also, how about differentiating the product line with 28mm, 50mm, and 85mm equivalent lenses? if nikon wants to charge $1100 for these things, they need to be at least as good as the fuji x100s. otherwise, i dont see what the point is.
     
  22. Yeah, right now, I have my AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G mounted on my Nikon D3200, and I am really liking it. Fast is good. Although the Sony E-mount f/4.0 zoom is tempting, the Sony 50mm f/1.8 seems the more practical choice.
    As far as the Coolpix 'A' goes, I'm actually really quite happy with it, and prefer shooting with it over my Sony NEX (however, to be perfectly honest, I probably wouldn't have purchased the Coolpix at its normal retail price--as good a camera as it is, it's simply priced too high). Sure, faster, better, etc., would be great, but I think it's an excellent everyday camera, as-is. I highly doubt that Nikon would follow on with Sigma's DP-series, dedicated fixed-lens approach, but that would certainly be a product I would be interested in buying. Say, a Coolpix 'A' at a 28mm-equivalent, a 'B' at 50mm-equivalent/macro, and a 'C' at a 105mm equivalent. Had there been a "Coolpix 'C,'" that would've solved this whole problem (but, likely at a price I would've also probably balked at).
     
  23. the Sony 50mm f/1.8 seems the more practical choice.​
    just looked at the photozone review, sounds like a winner. plus it's stabilized, which is a unique feature for a fast 50.
    to be perfectly honest, I probably wouldn't have purchased the Coolpix at its normal retail price--as good a camera as it is, it's simply priced too high​
    looks like you got a really good deal on it. but with the x100s occupying the high-end position and the ricoh GR at around $600 and change currently, it's hard to justify that high price for the Coolpix A. too bad, because otherwise it seems like a fine camera.
     
  24. I said:
    • Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4.0 G OSS [27-158mm equivalent]; $598.​
    Nevermind. This lens is HUGE!
     
  25. Eric said:
    . . . but with the x100s occupying the high-end position and the ricoh GR at around $600 and change currently, it's hard to justify that high price for the Coolpix A. too bad, because otherwise it seems like a fine camera.
    Agreed. I got lucky. But soon after I bought it, I saw a number of refurbs selling for around $799 at various resellers, if anyone else is interested (the Nikon Store currently has Coolpix 'A' refurbs for $899). Again, I'm pretty happy at the moment with this Coolpix/DSLR combo. I should receive my AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G soon for my D3200. I carried both bodies to work today--not bad. Once I get the 85mm, my Sony NEX-3N will become sort of a fifth wheel, but I'll probably still keep it, and alternate between my D3200 and NEX-3N for my longer-lens stuff.
     
  26. I would've otherwise nailed with a DSLR​
    How about...risky idea!.... using your D3200 with a standard zoom lens instead of a handful of mirrorless gizmos :)
     
  27. Thomas said:
    How about...risky idea!.... using your D3200 with a standard zoom lens instead of a handful of mirrorless gizmos
    That's what I have the NEX for!
    [​IMG]
     
  28. Thomas said:
    . . . using your D3200 with a standard zoom lens instead of a handful of mirrorless gizmos . . .
    But, seriously, the whole point of this downsizing effort was to significantly reduce the bulk of my previous "compact" kit (my D7000, plus my Tokina f/2.8 screw-drive zooms, neither of which will auto-focus on a D3200). My AF-S Nikkor 17-55mmmm f/2.8 (which still isn't quite long enough) is a relatively large lens, compared with say, the AF-S 50mm f/1.4G prime which I have mounted on my D3200 right now. My planned lens, the 85mm f/1.8G will still be on the big side since it's actually an FX lens. So, again, part of the problem is that DX shooters are forced to use Nikkor lenses mostly designed for FX bodies, so the size benefit of Nikon's DX format largely ends with the body.
     
  29. Louis said:
    Yep, that's it. My Sony kit lens is lighting fast and pin point accurate on the NEX 6. The Sigma 60mm is not bad but slower to acquire focus and in low light it's more fussy.
    Yup. That is it. I just compared my Sigma 60mm f/2.8 E-mount lens to my Sony kit lens. The NEX-3N's AF performs much faster with a Sony OSS lens than with a third-party Sigma lens.
     
  30. I said:
    My AF-S Nikkor 17-55mmmm f/2.8 (which still isn't quite long enough) is a relatively large lens, compared with say, the AF-S 50mm f/1.4G prime which I have mounted on my D3200 right now.
    I just mounted my 17-55mm f/2.8 on my D3200. It's friggin' HUGE. I had originally purchased it for a "second" body when shooting events. This was before I decided to shoot with dual FX bodies instead. Now, I have absolutely no use for a heavy, mid-range DX zoom. I've GOT to sell this thing!
     
  31. The problem with a large sensor is always going to be that longer lenses are big. To the best of my knowledge, people aren't generally making normal and medium-long lenses in extreme telephoto designs; I don't even know how practical that is. Until they do, getting a 75mm equivalent (FoV) lens on a DX form factor is going to require the thing to be 50mm long. Of course, you can use a shorter, wider lens and just crop the centre out of it, at the cost of pixel count.

    This is why I've always been a bit dubious about larger sensors on mirrorless cameras. Fine for wide angles (like the X100), but when the lens extends beyond a DSLR's mirror box, the camera isn't really any smaller.
     
  32. I suppose for me nowadays it is like this:

    A Samsung S3 in (and quickly out) of my pocket. And a
    DSLR with 50mm loosely thrown in the bag on my
    shoulder. Obviously, the mobile phone gets the most use..
     
  33. To the best of my knowledge, people aren't generally making normal and medium-long lenses in extreme telephoto designs; I don't even know how practical that is.​
    Olympus has a 45/1.8 and a 75/1.8, which equivocate to 90mm and 150mm. i wouldn't be surprised to see Fuji come out with a 90/1.8 or a 120/2 in a year or two, which would = 135 and 180 focal lengths on 35mm. if they could be stabilized, they'd have a leg up on conventional FX lenses (of course the OM-D bodies have the advantage of in-body stabilization, but you get a smaller sensor and all that implies). i've been generally very surprised at how good the Fuji x-bodies are in low-light, the XE1 is maybe only a half-stop behind my D3s up to 6400. that's kind of making me rethink the entire paradigm.
    if you read Thom Hogan's latest rant, which is super-wordy, he essentially says that Canon and Nikon dictate the DSLR market because of their legacy lenses, and they havent innovated with DX lenses because they dont have to. which creates a paradox, where there's room for innovation but no real impetus for the Big Two companies to do so.
     
  34. (Belatedly...) Sorry, Eric, I meant telephoto in the technical sense - i.e. shorter than the focal length suggests (insert something about nodal points here). I've not seen, for example, a 90mm lens that's much shorter than 90mm long. (I do have a tiny Leica 90mm f/4, but it's still 90mm long!) That's irrespective of crop factor - yes, I can get the behaviour of my 200 f/2 with my micro 4/3 camera using only a 100mm lens, but until someone makes a 100mm f/1, I'm not biting with that comparison however fond I may be of my GF2. If I'm comparing long lenses to DX, I need to allow for my TC-14 in how big these lenses are.

    I was looking at Fuji. Thom has a bit of a commentary on extracting information from the X-Trans and how much chroma bleeding you can get, which was enough to worry me. I'm impressed by the low noise, though - but it may be at the cost of smearing. I'd kind of like an X100s, but they're still quite expensive; the X-Pro1 looks very due for replacement, and I can't quite bring myself to ignore the optical finder options when looking at the rest. I may reconsider if I have an ill-advised bout of retail therapy at some point.
     

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