Which Nikon DSLR would you recommend for me?

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

  1. Just to be clear... the D810 and D850 have a small edge over the D800 because they can go down to ISO 64 and gain some dynamic range from doing so. At ISO 100, they're all very similar. The Df/D4 (same sensor) and especially D3s have 1-2 stops (respectively) less dynamic range available at ISO 100, although they overtake the D800 above ISO 800. The D800 also gives you more pixels to play with, obviously.

    The D7200 holds up remarkably well considering its sensor is less than half the size of the D750 and it's receiving correspondingly less light, but I've not often heard people claim it's better in low light. I would say it's an example that modern DX sensors are a lot better than you might expect if you're used to old ones, though.

    You would struggle to buy a new full-frame camera for the £1000 budget, though (although you might manage it from Sony). So if you want new, unless there's a big dip in prices when a D750 replacement appears (and rumours are that UK Nikon prices are about to go up), you might have to look at DX.

    Just to be clear, most pre-AI lenses won't mount on any full-frame Nikon dSLR other than the Df, because their aperture rings will foul the AI follower tab. The Df is the only body that allows the tab to be folded out of the way. You can solve this by having your pre-AI lenses converted to AI, but obviously this means modifying them. "Early 70s" suggests you might have some pre-AI lenses, which might point you strongly at the Df, but it's a very esoteric camera and I'd think carefully before committing to that. Bear in mind that many low-end DX cameras can work (without metering) with old lenses as well - they just don't have an AI follower tab to foul on anything.

    The D700 has a very strong AA filter (pixel peeping the images are quite soft unless you sharpen them), it's about a stop worse than the D800 as ISO increases, and it's lacking a lot of dynamic range at base ISO - in addition to having only a third as many pixels as the D800. Plus you'll be looking at third party battery replacements - Nikon discontinued them due, I believe, to regulations about exposed contacts. The D700 is a lovely camera of itself, but the D8x0 range are a large step up. I found myself having many autofocus problems with the D800 just because I could see when I'd missed focus, whereas on the D700 everything was a bit soft anyway.

    And yes, I suspect a lot of people stuck to the D800 rather than upgrading to the D810, since on paper they look similar. Those I know of who upgraded found it worth it, though, so if you can stretch to the D810 I can vouch that it's worth a premium. That said, if I'd got more trade-in money offered for my D810, I might well have picked up a cheap D800 as a backup system; now I believe the price premium for used ones is relatively small (a lot of D810 owners will have upgraded to the D850 too), so I'd take one if I could to avoid the D800's niggles. The D810 has somewhat more reliable autofocus (though it's a little worse in low light), better live view behaviour, highlight metering, some compatibility advantages, etc. - none of which sound critical, but all of which stack up.
    DavidTriplett likes this.
  2. Nobody has suggested the D800 yet, so let me be the first.

    Just kidding.
    Albin''s images likes this.
  3. Andrew I was suggesting low light performance on my experience in same lighting condition, I am not comparing the two numerically. But on my visual experience.
  4. Yes chulkim, I'm seeing a pattern developing here.
    Albin''s images likes this.
  5. I assume you understand that your current camera is not a full-frame camera and that when/if you move to a full frame you will lose reach on your lenses. It might be helpful to know what lenses you have and what you typically shoot. If you are a birder or wildlife shooter, you should stay with a crop sensor camera. if you do mostly landscapes and family events, the full-frame is probably the better choice. You are currently experiencing the 1.5 crop effect on all your lenses and will gain width at the expense of reach if you go full-frame. I recently bought a D500 since wildlife is my primary target but I will NOT sell my D7200. It's that good of a camera.

    However... if you are accustomed to the hand room your camera gives you, you will find the D7200 pretty compact and much less roomy. Might be an issue if you have large hands.

    syed_asad_ali_zaidi likes this.
  6. Coming from a 5 Mpix D1x, the 16 Mpix on a D800/E/810 in DX mode is still a significant upgrade if reach is needed for birding/wildlife.

    I still think the D800E is the most bang for your buck. I went from a D80 to a D7000 and then to a D610 which I sold when I got a D800 that later got sold when I got a D800E. Each camera offered a notable uppgrade in image quality. Using some really good glass, I am happy with the upgrade from D800 to D800E. The difference in micro contrast and sharpnes is bigger than many would imagine. The D810 is more refined, but not significantly better in terms of image quailty than the D800E. The D850 is better in all aspects, apart from high ISO performance (6400+) where the D800E has less noise.
  7. For highest value within the OP's stated budget, it will be hard to beat a used D7200, which will accommodate and meter with all but pre-AI lenses. If he must go FX, then it's harder to differentiate between the D8XX, D7XX, and Df choices. Prices in the US for used D810 are still running above $1,500 (I know, since I'm shopping). D800's are somewhat less, but most of these are somewhat elderly now and many are heavily used. They do have the 36 Mp sensor, but I wonder if the net product is really that much better than the more advanced, 24 Mp sensors in both the D750 or the the D7200. I'll be very curious to see what Rex chooses.
  8. I'm feeling the pressure, David. I suppose that because of my familiarity with film, I've been equating full-frame with medium format, and maybe this isn't an apt comparison. It seems to be coming down to a simple choice between FX (probably the D800/800E or 810) or DX (the D7200, which seems to be getting unanimous praise).
  9. Among my more recent lenses, Tom, I have several of the D and G series Nikkors. Yes, I've got pre-Ai and Ai manual focus lenses. I think it's unlikely that I'll use them with the camera I get, but I'd like to know that I can if push comes to shove. I like photographing people and am developing a particular interest in portraiture; I've just invested in some studio gear. I have small hands, long fingers. The plot thickens.
  10. AI is fine, but for pre-AI on FX you'd probably need a Df - see:

    Can I use an older F mount non ai lens with a Nikon Dslr?

    You can get a nice D800 or D800E in the UK for under £1000 (Aperture sold a high mileage user D800 for £650 recently). The D810 is still in the £1400-£1600 range at dealers.
  11. All current Nikon cameras are good. Please don't minus D750 or D610 from FX choices merely because of one or two aspects only. D750 is probably the most popular among the FX line. My suggestion of D7200 was only of the budget you mentioned and the crop factor of your previous camera. I only mentioned "my experience" of low light between D750 and D7200, but this does not means I depend solely on D7200. One factor only.

    I had used Medium Format in film for almost ten years, and scanning these negatives are a different kind of output. They are different horses .

    However for Enlargements while printing sizes larger than 16x20 inches the D810 shows a very clear difference than the others and specially the DX models. Here printing large sizes is again a factor only. There are pluses and minuses depending on the use of the cameras mentioned above.
  12. I don't know how much they sell the D750 in the UK but 1000 pounds is $1350 right now and a brand new D750 in the US is only $1500.
  13. Fundamentally, FX digital still looks like 35mm. Yes, the image even from something like a Df(16mp) is technically better in virtually every respect than even the best films made today, but it still looks like it's 35mm film.

    The only way to really get the medium format "look"(which I attribute a lot to the shallower DOF inherent in a large format for an equivalent FOV) is with...medium format. I admit to not really keeping up with it, but I don't think anyone yet has made a commercially available "full frame" MF sensor, and I think most are somewhere 45mm in the long dimension(typical medium format dimensions are around 56mm across the film, although it can vary as much as a full millimeter depending on the camera). Still, though, that's enough to get the "look" much better than a 24x36mm sensor.
    Albin''s images likes this.
  14. Nikon UK's exchange rate calculator seems to be broken, unfortunately. It's above £1700 at most dealers, though there's one selling it at the 'bargain' price of £1605. 20% of that is VAT, but it's still over $1800 USD before tax.
  15. Syed - I'm not disputing your eyes, I just haven't heard others claim that the D7200 sensor actually outshoots the D800's (at the same ISO). It is, I admit, an appreciably newer design - the D800 sensor (and with minor tweaks the D810's) is essentially the Sony one used in the original A7R. That's of a similar generation to the original D7000, with both the D7100 and D7200 giving improvements (and arguably D7500, too). It's also true that smaller sensors tend to behave a little better than a crop of a larger sensor of the same technology (presumably due to read noise over a larger area) - the D7000 behaves a little better than the DX crop of the D800, I believe, and the D500 behaves a little better than the DX crop of the D850. I've never compared to a D7200 myself, but it's been the recommended go-to DX body for a long time for a reason, and I certainly don't doubt it's a good body - if we're not sticking to the DX requirement, it's absolutely worth a look, especially with the D7500 having quite a premium last I looked.

    I'm not sure I'd claim the D750's sensor is "more advanced" than the D800's - it's certainly barely any newer, being essentially the same as that in the D600 and D610 (at least, it tests almost identically). The D750 handles much better and has much more advanced autofocus, and it's certainly a very good camera, but I'd not claim it's a generational step forward. It's also got the AA filter, which makes the pixel-level sharpness lower than a D800e or D810 (but reduces moire).

    MPB have a D810 listed for just over £1100, which to me would be worth it over a ~£1000 D800e. At £1700 it's obviously a harder sell. I've not checked if there's anything subtle wrong with that D810, though.

    The ISO 64 behaviour does give a small but significant benefit to the D810. And I absolutely do find myself shooting at ISO64 a lot. I can't so much vouch for the per-pixel sharpness benefit of a genuinely missing AA filter vs a "cancelled" one.

    I haven't yet had the chance to give my D810 and D850 a proper side-by-side test in low light, but... really? What I've seen so far holds up remarkably well, and the dual-ISO readout design ought to be benefitting the D850. One of the reasons I upgraded was the measurements indicating just under a stop advantage; it may be less than that, but I certainly wouldn't expect it to be worse. I know Shun demonstrated an image with some slightly odd sections in comparison, but my impression was that other areas of the same image looked better on the D850.

    For what it's worth, I don't believe in some magic that gives different formats a different "look". I've absolutely seen a difference between some 35mm film and some 6x6 shots, but that had a lot to do with the microcontrast of the medium. I've seen 35mm film next to DX shots professionally printed at large sizes in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, and the local contrast of even a 12MP DSLR sensor made the 35mm shot look ridiculously soft in comparison; telling DX from FX digital is very much harder. You can argue that effective aperture makes a difference, but then there aren't a heck of a lot of f/1.4 lenses available for medium format cameras, and the f/1.8 DX zooms don't really have an FX equivalent - so that effect can be cancelled out to some extent. It is easier to limit optical artifacts at lower relative apertures (even with more coverage, at least for some lenses), but modern designs are getting very good at handling aberrations anyway; larger sensor areas are a little less demanding on the lens design for sharpness, but not much for the sizes we're talking about. At a given generation, there's an advantage to electron well depth that comes with larger sensors, but we're not dealing with a lot of photons these days - at minimum ISO, the dynamic range of the best sensors hasn't changed much for a few years.

    I do, for what it's worth, shoot exclusively FX myself - the image quality benefit is there over DX (though the smaller format has advantages too) at least with the lenses currently on the market. But I absolutely don't delude myself that my pictures are measurably better than if I were shooting DX except under very extreme circumstances.

    There have, historically, been some medium format sensors that got close to 645 format - The Phase One IQ180 and XF are 53.7x40.4mm, for example. There seems to be a recent move to 44x33mm or thereabouts, which are probably a more sensible price/performance trade-off. None are anything like as refined to use as a premium FX or DX DSLR, though. I suspect Rex will be fairly astounded at the image quality improvements of pretty much any current DSLR over a D1x (although sensor quality obviously doesn't trump the photographer in making a good image) without bringing medium format to the table.
    syed_asad_ali_zaidi likes this.
  16. But if you only talk about DOF then most MF normal lenses are f/2.8 while you can get f/1.4 for the smaller format. Wouldn't that make up for the DOF?
  17. Not really. I wish I had side-by-side examples handy to post...

    BTW, the last few MF portraits I've shot have been with my 150mm f/4 Sonnar, although I also have a few interesting ones taken with the 180mm f/4 SF on my RB67(that's an intentionally weird lens wide open). Usually my grab and go portrait lens on my D800 is the 105mm f/2.8 Macro, although depending on the situation I might use my 80mm f/2 or 135mm f/2.8(the 135mm f/2 DC is still on my want list-my AI-S version I'm afraid is dead...)
  18. Just looks like high shutter count and paint wear, etc. - could be worth going for at that price (the shutter is supposed to be good for 200k shots). They also have a D800 for £634 with fewer shots on the clock, though it looks a fair bit scruffier.
  19. I had two D610's and they both had shutters that put oil spots on the sensor so be aware of this issue. If you use Nikon Capture NX2 as a raw processor, the last FX body supported for NEF files is the D800E. I love this camera and still use it all the time with some old manual focus Nikon lenses.
  20. I've looked at MPB and never bought anything from them. I take it that these comments imply that they are worth considering.

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