recomendations for my first camera system: D7200 vs A7 II in 2019

rsmoraes

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Hi guys,

So, I've spent the last months look into the photography world and trying to decide what to buy as my first "grown-up" camera. I've been shooting and developing my skills with a "capable" Sony compact for the last six years, and I feel like I reached a point in which I really want to take my photography to next level, buy myself a real system, start learning from local professionals and build myself a portfolio.

What bothers me with my current camera is:

  1. The lack of DOF, the crop factor on this thing is 5.64x and the lens is f/3.5 at its widest, so as you can imagine I cannot get any degree of background separation at all.
  2. The poor low light performance, again, sensor size and aperture play a big role here.
  3. The overall IQ, again, poor glass, and small sensor...
  4. Focus performance, it is really hard to focus on this thing...

So, having said that, I'm looking for a capable body to stay with me for the next years. Some thoughts:

  1. I'll primarily be shooting a mix of pretty much everything I can get my hands on, so we're talking travel, some events, street, and portraits.
  2. I can go up to 2,500USD (or equivalent in your local currency, here in Sweden it is 24k SEK)
  3. Most Full-Frame DSLRs are out of my budget and are not a good choice because of size and weight when traveling. Besides, most FF DSLR lenses are also huge and weight a lot!

The initial idea I had set for myself was a Nikon D7200 with the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8, the Nikon DX 35mm f/1.8G and the Nikon 50mm F/1.8G. It seemed like a good camera with a good selection of lenses for most uses. However, the lack of a fast wide prime, something equivalent to a 35/1.8 on FF, was really bothering me, to achieve that I would need to go for a 24mm f/1.8, which is pretty big and expensive.

However, I've been seeing some pretty sweet deals on the Sony A7 II on Sweden right now. For the same price of the Nikon system, I can get the body (A7 II) + Sony FE 28 f/2 + Sony FE 50mm F1.8 + Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE. This seems pretty nice for me since I'd be getting into the Sony FF mirrorless ecosystem for a bargain. Besides, the Sony lenses are way smaller (49mm thread for all, and 56mm for longest) and lighter, summing up body+lenses I'd be a little over 1kg (2.4lb) compared with ~1.6kg(3.5lb) for the Nikon system. Plus, the 35/f2.8 is just ~35mm long, almost a pancake, ideal for walkaround and everyday use.

I'm aware some people complain about the autofocus on the Sony. I'm also aware of the battery life, which is crap, but the NP-FW50 batteries weight only 50g (0.2 lb) so I could take a few... Has anyone had it and would strongly avoid the A7II?


I've been doing some research and it looks like both cameras perform similarly in terms of IQ and high ISO, so I'd like to hear your personal opinions on this. Any info or suggestion you can give me is welcome. Hopefully, I can learn something new and useful from you guys on this thread. Cheers from Sweden...
 

Derrel

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"For the same price of the Nikon system, I can get the body (A7 II) + Sony FE 28 f/2 + Sony FE 50mm F1.8 + Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE. This seems pretty nice for me since I'd be getting into the Sony FF mirrorless ecosystem for a bargain"


The Sony is a FF mirrorless, at a very attractive price now.
 

Derrel

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The Sony would allow you to use a lot of legacy 3mm system lenses from Canon,Pentax,Nikon, Minolta, etc. with affordable adapters. Let's say you want a 55mm macro lens...you could get a 55mm f/3.5 Micro~NIKKOR in Ugly shape for $35.

Le's say you want a 1979 135mm f/2.8 Asanuma telephoto in Minolta manual focus. Sony lets you buy the lens for 20 Euro and and adapter for 15 Euro, and you are set.
 

ronlane

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We are seeing more and more improvements in technology with the mirror-less systems from all of the manufacturers these days. The weight difference is something that can't be ignored and the image quality is there.

I didn't think I would come around to mirror-less as fast as I have. (I haven't gone that way but I can see myself going there for portrait and landscape photography)

Honestly, I think you'd be happy with either system you mentioned but if it were MY money, I would probably go with the A7II. I haven't shot it but I have shot the either the A7III or the A7rIII last year, I don't remember which.
 

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Sony has made quite a few models in the A7 series, and the big problem? To much similarity in names ! I used to be able to keep them straight, but now here we are several years in to the series, and they are starting to become confused in my mind.

As far as I am concerned, as a person who grew up with the full frame 35mm format as a standard, I am very well familiar with exactly what a 24 mm, or 28, or 35, or 50, 85, 105, 135, 180, 200 mm, or a 300 mm lens will give me ,so to me I vastly prefer full frame. I spent the period from roughly 1975 until 1999 shooting mostly 35mm cameras and I spent the period from 2001 to 2006 shooting crop-sensor digital.

simply put I have a lot of experience with framing pictures mentally, using a full frame lens on a full frame 35 mm sized capture medium. Except for Fuji, the crop frame offerings are somewhat limited, as lenses go,for crop frame sensor cameras.
 

Jeff15

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Always but the best one you can afford that way you will not want to upgrade so often.......
 
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rsmoraes

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The Sony would allow you to use a lot of legacy 3mm system lenses from Canon, Pentax, Nikon, Minolta, etc. with affordable adapters. Let's say you want a 55mm macro lens...you could get a 55mm f/3.5 Micro~NIKKOR in Ugly shape for $35.

Le's say you want a 1979 135mm f/2.8 Asanuma telephoto in Minolta manual focus. Sony lets you buy the lens for 20 Euro and adapter for 15 Euro, and you are set.

Hum, interesting, I have seen people using Canon L and Sigma glass on Sony bodies using the Metabones and the MC-11 adaptors respectively. Haven't heard about anyone using Nikon lenses, but I guess it should be possible since the E-Mount has a smaller flange distance, right? There is, however, the AF problem to be taken into account, Canon and Sigma lenses can be adapted and not lose a lot on AF speed (or the AF itself for that matter)... I guess I should look a little more into it...


Except for Fuji, the crop frame offerings are somewhat limited, as lenses go, for crop frame sensor cameras.

Exactly, that is why I'm considering jumping directly into FF, most APS-C specific lenses are entry-level/kit zooms. Digressing a little, most photographers say sensor size doesn't matter and you can take great pictures on crop sensors, a statement which I totally agree with. The problem most seem to forget is you can do that provided you have good lenses for the format, which you usually don't. Manufacturers force you to use FF glass on crop bodies, which totally defeats the purpose since APS-C specific lenses could be potentially smaller than FF ones... The only serious manufacturer I can see supporting the format with pro/prosumer glass is Sigma with the 17-50/2.8, the 50-100/1.8, and the 18-35/1.8 lenses.
 
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rsmoraes

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The weight difference is something that can't be ignored and the image quality is there.

Agreed!

Honestly, I think you'd be happy with either system you mentioned but if it were MY money, I would probably go with the A7II. I haven't shot it but I have shot the either the A7III or the A7rIII last year, I don't remember which.

From what I've read there have been huge improvements from the A7 II to the A7 III /A7R III, especially on AF performance and battery life, which are the big "problems" of the A7 II according to most reviews... So I would guess your experience with Sony mirrorless was really great !! I wish I could find someone to tell me if the "problems" with the A7 II are really that bad or if they are just annoying for someone that came from the DSLR world (not my case).
 

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For adapted lenses you NEED to do the research to MAKE SURE that it works as you think it will. Do not ass-u-me anything.
Example, a Nikon lens on a micro 4/3 camera loses ALL automation; no autofocus, no control of the aperture, no VR.​

As for battery, again you NEED to do the research, and not get caught afterwards.
As you said mirrorless battery life is crap, compared to dSLR battery life.
  • The battery in my D7200 will last me two DAYS of shooting.
  • The battery in my Olympue EM1-mk1 will last me 4 HOURS of continuous on time. That means I need 3 to 4 batteries to shoot an entire day when traveling. Then I need to charge those 4 batteries at the end of each day. If you forget to charge, you are in trouble the next day.
  • And it gets worse. That 4 hours of run time drops to 2-1/2 hours if I use my 12-100 zoom, with Sync IS on. That lens sucks power.
You have to learn to turn the camera OFF, as much as possible, to extend the battery life.
But then you have to wait for the camera to start up, whenever you want to shoot, and possibly loose a shot waiting. When I shoot events, I leave the Olympus on.

For the Sony, why would you get a 28 + 50 + 35? In that kit, the 35 does not make sense to me. For primes, I would go 28 + 50 + 105/135. That is, if someone makes a 105 or 135 prime.
 
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rsmoraes

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For adapted lenses you NEED to do the research to MAKE SURE that it works as you think it will. Do not ass-u-me anything.
Example, a Nikon lens on a micro 4/3 camera loses ALL automation; no autofocus, no control of the aperture, no VR.​
Agreed, however, I'm not considering adapted glass at this point, I'm aware that it can be a pain the ass and I was planning to stick with native E-Mount glass if possible.

As for battery, again you NEED to do the research, and not get caught afterwards.
As you said mirrorless battery life is crap, compared to dSLR battery life.
  • The battery in my D7200 will last me two DAYS of shooting.
  • The battery in my Olympue EM1-mk1 will last me 4 HOURS of continuous on time. That means I need 3 to 4 batteries to shoot an entire day when traveling. Then I need to charge those 4 batteries at the end of each day. If you forget to charge, you are in trouble the next day.
  • And it gets worse. That 4 hours of run time drops to 2-1/2 hours if I use my 12-100 zoom, with Sync IS on. That lens sucks power.
You have to learn to turn the camera OFF, as much as possible, to extend the battery life.
But then you have to wait for the camera to start up, whenever you want to shoot, and possibly lose a shot waiting. When I shoot events, I leave the Olympus on.

Thanks for sharing your experience... I'm actually already considering a set of 2/4 extra batteries on my budget for the system. As for the on-off thing, it's already a habit I have since I have the same problem with my current camera (and I don't have spares for that, so I do remember to charge it every day). Another solution I'm considering is having a USB powerbank with me, they are not expensive and even the smallest and lightest ones can provide up to 3 battery charges on-the-go if I need to.

For the Sony, why would you get a 28 + 50 + 35? In that kit, the 35 does not make sense to me. For primes, I would go 28 + 50 + 105/135. That is, if someone makes a 105 or 135 prime.

I was actually envisioning the 85/1.8, anything I could find above 85 costs more than all the other lenses together (including the 35 in the sum). The only "consumer priced" ones I could find are the Samyang 100/2.8 Macro and the Samyang 135/2, but those are all MF and I'm not sure about the aperture control. Besides, the 35/2.8 makes sense to me because of it's price, weight, and size, it is at least 30% smaller and 40% lighter than the 28mm, a good lens to walk around "unnoticed". However, I see your point, perhaps the 85 is a better choice for the starting kit since it gives me more range and a portrait lens, I can always add the 35 in the future if I want to...
 

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If your big issue is DoF then it's more about lens than the body. Put almost any decent lens of f2.8 or wider and you'll get some lovely DoF separation.

Since you said you're shooting a mix of things, a lens I'd strongly recommend would be something like a Nikon 28-70mm f2.8 zoom. They can be had for a good price. Or get something like a 50mm or 85mm f1.8 prime lens. They'll all work with a Nikon crop body. And if weight and size are issues, then get think about one of the Nikon D5000 series. You'll need a lens that has an autofocus motors in it (all of the ones I've mentioned do) but the bodies don't have AF motors so they're smaller and lighter.

What I think the biggest issue will be is this: if size and weight and portability are issues for you, than it's less about the body and more about the lens. You don't want to be carrying 2-3 lens and swapping them on and off depending upon a landscape vs. street photography. And you want good DoF. So focus more on the lens. Find a lens that is at least f2.8 or wider, with the focal range you want (or that fits most of your needs), and then find a body that works with that lens.
 

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I'd go for Fujifilm X-T2 (now around $600 used) with the amazing, very primelike Fujinon 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 OIS (around $400 used); since nobody else has a convenience zoom which is that good. In general Fujifilm is great with zooms, great with prime lenses, and great with wide angle lenses.

Then I'd get a good external flash and remote flash trigger (Phottix 685 for Fuji, and the X-Pro trigger for Fuji), a good travel tripod (Manfrotto BeFree, btw aluminium will already perfectly suffice), multicoated filters (Hoya will perfectly suffice, you can fix any slight color shifts in post), especially a circular polarizer (linear polarizer do not work with digital).

Very important is also a really good monitor, so you can actually see what you're doing, and a good post production software, like Capture One. Personally I strongly oppose the monopoly abuse from Adobe with the Lightroom/Photoshop subscription.

After that I'd check what else I really need. If shallow depth of focus is your focus, get a dedicated portrait lens, like the Fujinon 56mm f1.2. You can probably skip on the hefty price increase for the APD variant. Another idea would be a Nikon F to Fujfilm X adapter and for example the Voigtländer 58mm f1.4 slii.

A different route would be Nikon DSLR for full frame. Then a D800 might be nicely within your budget (around $900 used now). Dedicated portrait lenses cost around $600 for really any system, even if you use old manual focus ones like the AI-S 85mm f1.4. I've recently seen Zeiss Planar 85mm f1.4 go for $500 so that would be a great option. Manual focus however is quite hardcore, especially on DSLR, so maybe better not for a newbie. The D800 by the way is already pretty hardcore for a newbie because it has no green mode and for that matter no mode dial in the first place.
 

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