Which Nikon DSLR would you recommend for me?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by rexmarriott, May 16, 2018.

  1. I've got a D1X, which I bought quite cheaply second-hand and very much like. Using it has got me wondering whether it would be worth investing in a more recent model. Ruling out the D5 on the grounds of price, which full-frame Nikon would you recommend? My criteria would be:

    Picture quality;
    Ease of use;
    Battery life (I'm fed up with carrying around multiple spare batteries for the D1X);
    Compatibility with a growing collection of F-mount lenses dating from the early '70s to the present day;

    Many thanks

  2. Dear Rex, every full frame Nikon delivers good picture quality, equal compatility with Ai manual focus lenses, similar ease of use and battery life isn't much of a problem with any of them. Aesthetics is a completely personal thing, so none of us can really say what you like or not. And the only one that really looks different from all the others is the Df anyway.

    What kind of money would you be willing to spend? Which specifications of a camera matter more to your style of shooting (speed, resolution, require fast AF or not so much, etc.) ? Those criteria will make it a lot easier to give a reasonable advice.
  3. Rex

    I expect that you are aware that the D1X is not, itself, a full-frame camera. (That started - I think - with the D3). So you'll get a rather different perspective when putting your lenses on a full-frame body!

    For what it's worth, I bought a D700 back in 2010 and am still very happily using it, but you might prefer a higher resolution sensor, in which case the D750 may be something to consider, if your budget can stretch to it. Both are available used and the D750 is available new, here in the UK (on Amazon), for about £1300. Bear in mind that a high resolution sensor will ruthlessly "show up" the optical limitations of some of those old lenses - the D700 is much more forgiving that way.

  4. In decreasing order, I assume, Rex? I won't query the "full frame" requirement, although crop sensor bodies are very good these days.
    • Picture quality;
    Under decent lighting conditions, D850. Although a D800 or D810 are very close at minimum ISO, and the D750 isn't far behind at slightly higher ISO. Above ISO6400, the D4s has a small edge over the D850, with the D5 having a larger benefit. The D4 and Df essentially match the D850 from ISO3200 up. The D8x0 and D750 bodies are best at minimum ISO, with the D5 being worst. The D8x0 range have many more pixels than the others, with the D750 in between.

    But it depends how you measure quality. All these cameras will produce a reasonably low-noise image up to, I'd say, ISO6400 or so. If you pixel peep, the higher-resolution cameras look worse (as with magnifying film grain), but then the pixels are a smaller fraction of the total image. The big benefit at minimum ISO of the D8x0 and D750 bodies is that they have a lot of flexibility for pushing shadow exposures in raw, which can be very useful for dealing with awkward lighting - but in terms of an unmodified capture of the scene, they're all decent. The D5 (and D4/D4s/Df) is designed to take a photo in terrible (low light) conditions and deliver it quickly to an editor, without a lot of post-processing. While, like everything else, the D5 output gets worse as ISO raises, it gets worse more slowly than any other body. The D800 and D810 make the reverse trade-off - although they're still remarkably respectable (I'd say a stop better than a D700) at moderate ISOs.

    Basically no Nikon (or anything else) has bad image quality these days. Unless you're in very low light (way worse than the D1x could handle) or doing extreme image manipulation, even the D3x00 range will produce images you could make into a poster without concern. If you make smallish prints, all image quality concerns are largely irrelevant - but I tend also to assume that people peer at pictures on computers these days, and that lets you zoom in a lot, so I claim that detail still matters.
    • Ease of use;
    I assume you're not a novice if you've successfully been using the D1x - the low-end DX bodies have "guide modes" if you need that. Nikon have a few interaction styles:
    • The D3x00 and D5x00 budget range have a single dial and a bit of menu diving to change things - everything else has two control dials for faster interaction.
    • The D7x00, D6x0 and D750 have two control dials, a separate mode dial, and "scene modes".
    • The D700, D8x0, D300/s and D500 have two control dials and a mode selector button, with a dedicated AF-On button (or the option of one).
    • The D3/D4/D4s/D5 have integrated grips (available as accessories for many other cameras) and multiple rear screens, like the D1x.
    • The Df also has dedicated dials for ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation.
    Newer models also have tilting and/or touch screens. All of them take a little adapting to, though I'd say it's not especially tricky; Nikon do bury things in their menus a bit, but you don't need to go into the menus once the camera is set up how you want it. I suggest you have a play in a store and see what feels sensible to you - the D1x is now old enough that there have been a lot of minor changes even within a range (and it was based on a cross between an F5 and an F100), so I wouldn't necessarily jump to a D4. For what It's worth, I've had zero difficulty switching between an F5 and my progression through D700/D800E/D810/D850, other than frustration with some of the elderly technology on the film camera.

    The metering and, especially, autofocus on all of these is leagues ahead of the D1x, if that factors into your definition of ease of use. There's a substantial weight difference between the lightest (Df, I believe) and heaviest (single-digit D series), but that may or may not be a factor depending on your choice of lenses.
    • Battery life (I'm fed up with carrying around multiple spare batteries for the D1X);
    I'm going to stick my neck out and say you won't have a problem. I've got hundreds if not thousands of shots out of anything in the D700 to D8x0 line. The D850 gets rated better, but then it doesn't have a flash, which is part of the tests, so it's "cheating". The battery on the D4/D5 series is big and (slightly) heavy (it appears to be three 18650s), but lasts for thousands of shots. I'm slightly fighting my D850 to try to ensure its bluetooth is actually as off as I've told it to be (so I've seen a little drain while I get used to it), but otherwise I've been able to go shooting at least once a week with a D810 and only charge my battery monthly.
    • Compatibility with a growing collection of F-mount lenses dating from the early '70s to the present day;
    If everything you've got is at least AI, all the FX cameras will work fine. The Df can uniquely also meter (in, in my opinion, a slightly clunky way) with pre-AI lenses. Whether the older lenses hold up to the latest 40-ish megapixel sensors is another matter, and allegedly the reason the Df only has 16MP. You need electronics in the lens to allow the camera to set the aperture, but if you're happy using the aperture ring on the lens, all is well.
    • Aesthetics.
    Highly subjective. The Df is the most distinctive, looking like an F3 owned by a mechanic that customises cars. Personally I don't like it, but others do. Everything else is very businesslike, in a similar way to the D1x.

    I hope that's a help. I do suggest you find a store to try them in, though - we might end up costing you a lot of money with an absolute answer.
  5. Price/value/ features/performance winner is arguably the D7200. Should be some discounts to sweeten the deal, too.
    DavidTriplett and steve_g|2 like this.
  6. If you can afford the D850 and it feels good in your hands, you will be amazed by how well it can do everything. If the price is too high and/or you want a lighter full-frame body with excellent autofocus and a very good sensor, get the D750, which is what I have and mostly use in FX. It will also amaze you with the improvement of its capabilities over the D1X.
    steve_g|2 likes this.
  7. I'd rather not go over £1,000, Wouter. I'm an enthusiastic and relatively experienced amateur more used to film to this point. I would say that ease of use, ie logical/smart design, is more important to me than having the absolute tops in terms of resolution, speed, number of FPS, etc.
  8. Really appreciate the time you've put in to your response, Andrew. Will take some time to read and digest.

  9. Rex, the Nikon 750 or 610 are the least expensive full frame Nikon dslrs currently sold at B&H. Their image quality is very good. For double the price you can get the D850 which is more capable and faster as well as higher pixel count. Those of us who own the 800 and 810 cameras pine for the D850. The D1X has a pro quality build and the D850 is much closer to that build.
    Your D1X is a crop sensor so if your willing to try a crop camera the Nikon D7200 will impress you. It's one of the very best crop sensor bodies made and is currently well under $1000 at B&H. If your budget is tight I would go with the D7200. If your on a budget but you must have a full frame then I would go with the D750. Good hunting.
    DavidTriplett likes this.
  10. Agree with the idea of the D7200, and if you want full frame, indeed D610 or D750 (though it will be hard to find within your budget, but IMHO well worth stretching the budget a bit). You may find a D700 within your budget too, and though they're really great bodies, they seem a bit overvalued in the 2nd hand market (so the value for money is questionable, I think).
  11. I see the prices of used D800's have gone down remarkably! Good ones seem to be going for around €1000 and >€900 seems very well possible (Netherlands/Europe).
    Still own and use one, bought new in 2012. No complaints at all, except maybe that AF could be a tad better.
    So: recommended!
  12. I have a D1X myself so any Nikon FX camera would deliver better image quality than it.
    Ease of use I think the high end are easier to use than the lower end so any of the 1 digit would be ease of use for me.
    I don't know about battery life but I know the D1X battery life is terrible so I think any would have decent battery life.
    Aesthetics it's all in your eyes. Personally I only think the 1 digit cameras and the Df look good.
    If your price is 1000 pounds then I think the D3 would be it.
  13. My suggestion would be a used D750 or a used D800E. A D7200 would be a significant upgrade over what you have too, and you already have the lenses for DX. All three of these are smaller cameras and would be easier to carry and use.

    Kent in SD
    DavidTriplett likes this.
  14. Full-frame body under £1000 with picture quality the first thing you list? As above, I'd suggest a D800. Battery life isn't a problem. Aesthetics are subjective, but it's better built than the lower tier bodies, though this solidity means it's not the lightest dSLR you can buy. I don't think there's much to choose between the various full-frame cameras for ease of use. They also have similar lens compatibility, working with AF-S, 'screwdriver' AF and AF-D, VR, G, E type electronic aperture, and manual focus AI lenses. The only issues are with a small number of recent AF-P lenses with stepper motor AF, where the D800 and other older bodies have restricted compatibility: https://www.nikonimgsupport.com/eu/BV_article?articleNo=000035705&configured=1&lang=en_GB . The only real minuses are a relatively low framerate, and that some early cameras had an AF calibration issue that required a (free) service to fix (mine had documentation that this had been done when I bought it secondhand). It's worth checking for any issues (test the central and side sensors separately): How to Quickly Test Your DSLR for Autofocus Issues - Photography Life.
  15. I've got the D1-X also and it keeps on going but you are right, battery life is lacking. My solution to full frame is the D800. Good build quality, excellent image results, easy to find your way around the menus and just make it work. I imagine the 810 and 850 are even better. I have shot an all day wedding with mine and had no battery issues at all. I also picked up a D4, much more money and a different beast but I like it as well. In your mentioned price range I'd go with the 800, get the 810 or 850 if funds are available.

    Rick H.
  16. Given the £1000 limit, I'd also suggest a used D800 (ideally E). If you're really lucky you might find a D810 in the same ball park - I was considering trading mine in recently for the D850, and was told this is the maximum the store would give me (although their selling price is higher). MPB seem to have them fairly cheaply, although I've not checked condition; I've used Mifsuds for used gear in the past too. I'm sure you'd do better on an auction site, but I'd rather have a retailer who's checked out the camera! The D810, on specs, is only a minor improvement over the D800 - but they do add up to a nicer camera to use, and I didn't regret my D800-to-D810 upgrade.

    The D750 is well worth a look, too, although new prices aren't anywhere near £1000. I prefer the D8x0 series handling, but you may prefer the way the D750 works - and it is significantly lighter if that matters to you (I'd handle both - the D750 feels like a toy to me having been used to the bigger bodies). Bear in mind the D750 is moderately likely to be replaced (just based on how old it is) this year, although possibly by a mirrorless model (again, we're speculating); the D810 has already been replaced by the D850, which is affecting its price. I'd ignore the D610 - it's a decent camera, but the D750 is worth the premium.

    The D4 series are lovely cameras, and handle closest to the D1x, but they're built for speed, not image quality. Unless you're actually shooting sports, I doubt they're the right choice. The D3, which is much more affordable, even less so - the image quality (matched by the D700) is significantly behind the more modern sensors, and the resolution is much lower; even the D3s, which was historically amazing at very low light, no longer has an edge. I loved my D700, but time moves on. There are definitely handling variations between the D8x0 range and the single digit bodies, but I suspect you'd acclimatise - and all of these newer systems are going to be more responsive than a D1x.

    Good luck!
  17. I agree on a D800 at the £1K price point. At least in the US, nice used ones are bringing under $1K. I'm speculating, but I suspect that the D810 wasn't "enough" of an upgrade for a lot of D800 users, but the D850 is. That's flooded the market with D800s and dropped the price down $300-400 relative to this time last year.

    The D1X has its good points, but you will be amazed at how much sensor technology has progressed in the past 18 years. I had mine out this weekend, and I don't like to take it to ISO 800. I don't think twice about going to 800 on my D800-I'd put ISO 6400 as roughly the equivalent of a D1X at 800.

    I was criticized not too long ago for focusing on dynamic range, but a D1X at base ISO is a lot like slide film and I'd guess gives 5 or maybe 6 stops of DR. The D800 is among the top cameras in this department(although newer ones do better, as do Nikon's low light kings the Df and D3s) and can give a bit over 14 stops at base ISO without losing much at higher ISOs. That's better than a lot of color print film, and highlight recovery is astounding(no more weird color fringing like you get when you blow a highlight on a D1-series camera). Really, though, all the full frame Nikons and even recent DX format ones have great high ISO and DR performance.
  18. I would suggest D7200. Its a good camera in the budget you mentioned. I had used it along with D750 as a second camera usually for close ups and when doing post processing personally I found its low light performance better than D750. It also has no optical low pass filter and speed goes up to 1/8000 of second as oppose to the D 610 and D750 (which indeed are full frame) and have 1/4000 sec limit. image quality is quite good, I also have used D7100 and found the image quality of D7200 way better than D7100.
  19. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If we are talking about using old lenses, even pre-AI ones, AF capability shouldn't be an issue so that the D610 should be just fine. Used D800 or D700 are fine also. If you pixel peep, the 36MP in the D800 may expose the drawbacks of old lenses some more. IMO 12MP is sufficient, but the D700 is older using only one CF memory card and the viewfinder is not 100%.
  20. Rex, my original post was in regard to new cameras only. If you are comfortable buying used or refurbished gear you can save some significant money on full frame cameras. Additionally keep in mind that the image file size created by your D1X is small and with new and more current dslrs you will need processing power and storage space to handle the load. I currently use an 8 year old 1st or 2nd generation i7 processor that runs at 3.3ghz with 20 G of memory and at the beginning of the year cloned in a solid state hard drive to speed things up. It's just keeps up with the 105 mb files that my D800e creates. I have 6 terabytes full on 8 terabyte back ups and I'm just a serious amateur. It's crazy. Good hunting.

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