Upgrade path to full frame - DSLR vs. mirrorless

Discussion in 'Nikon Cameras' started by adamhiram, Aug 28, 2020.

  1. adamhiram

    adamhiram TPF Junkie!

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2015
    Messages:
    4,294,967,294
    Likes Received:
    4,294,967,295
    Thank you for the great feedback and discussion, it is definitely some good food for thought. I am in no rush to switch, but have been considering available options for a long time and have commented on countless threads where others have had these same questions. I thought this thread would be a good opportunity to dive deeper. Please pardon the long post!

    These are my main reasons for switching to full frame. I did not want to sideline the main discussion on the merits of this rationale, but figured it would help with the conversation.
    • Shallower depth of field: This would be immensely beneficial for cluttered indoor spaces where I want to hide the background, as well as location shoots where I may not be able to find a clean background. This is just not possible on DX. For example, to get the same field of view and depth of field of an 85mm f/1.8 lens on a full frame body, I’d need a 50mm f/.95, which doesn’t exist.
    • Better working distances: I like to shoot headshots with an 85mm, full body shots at 50mm, and smaller group shots as wide as 35mm. At home I have about 24’ of space to work with, but as soon as I go on location, I rarely have this much room. That means I am now taking headshots at 50mm, full body shots end up being 35mm or wider. Any group shots are often at the wider end of my 17-55, and often require some lens corrections in post.
    • Better lens options: Nikon never fully built out their DX lens range as much as I would have liked. I love my 17-55, but it’s not nearly as sharp as a 24-70, especially in the long end. I have a Tokina 11-16, but it’s not even in the same ballpark as a Nikon 14-24. And I have almost purchased a 70-200 several times, but 70mm is just too long to be practical for things like indoor sports.
    The big catch for me is autofocus performance. I am currently using a D500, and it really doesn't get better than that for autofocus. It's the same AF system in the D5 and D850. It's better than the D780 without switching to live view. And it is better than any of the used offerings worth considering. Almost anything else non-mirrorless would be a downgrade in AF performance, and I know this going in. What I really want doesn't exist; a full frame D500, without the higher resolution of the D850.

    Some additional comments:
    • @JBPhotog: I agree for the most part, but would want to consider a longer-term strategy as well, not just something to tide me over. I question whether it makes more sense to buy a used F-mount 24-70, or spend twice as much on a new Z-mount version, which ironically is almost the same size and weight (why are we moving to mirrorless again?)
    • @smoke665: I definitely agreed with the cost of full frame or Z-mount lenses. At least with Nikon's F-mount, there’s a great used market if I don’t need the latest versions. Z-mount will inevitably be more expensive than new F-mount, and with no used market for a long time.
    • @Strodav: I have considered this as well - Nikon isn't doing so well financially, and they are trailing other manufacturers in mirrorless performance. Other brands certainly look appealing, but Canon and Sony have much steeper price tags to get into their mirrorless systems.
    • @Quassaw: Thank you, this is exactly the information I was looking for. Unless I want to pickup a D850, mirrorless seems to be the best option without sacrificing AF capabilities, and you nailed the 2 use cases I would be looking at. I’m still not sold on mirrorless, but am pretty intrigued by EyeAF and better 3D tracking.
    • @mjcmt: Thanks! For the price (at least a few months ago) it almost seemed like a no-brainer, but I was hesitant to give up my D500 for an older body with lesser AF capabilities. I agree about lens size - I never really understood the point of a smaller body with the same large glass, and mirrorless lenses seem to be getting bigger, not smaller (look at some of Sigma’s recent offerings).
    • @ac12: Excellent points about there being a growing second hand market for F-mount lenses. Of course this means treating lens purchases as a sunk cost with no real expectation for decent resale value.
    • @Derrel: While the lenses might have longevity, I'll probably want a new body in less than 10 years, and by then I'll need to either re-buy Z-mount versions or use them adapted. It’s really hard to tell if mirrorless is really the future, or if it’s mostly marketing hype, amplified by review sites and youtube personalities. It definitely seems like F-mount development has slowed though. For example, I have my doubts whether Nikon will ever update their 50mm f/1.4 for F-mount when they have yet to come out with one for Z-mount. It really feels like we’re in a 3-5 year purgatory for camera technology.
    • @Destin: I'm glad you chimed in, as I remember you being a D500 user for a while. I think we shoot pretty different things, so size and weight aren’t my main concerns. Of course I question how much utility I’ll get for these cases I mentioned above, and whether it’s really worth the cost and effort.



     
  2. mjcmt

    mjcmt TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Messages:
    529
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    NC, USA
    Looks like Sony full frame is calling you if AF is key.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. mjcmt

    mjcmt TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Messages:
    529
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    NC, USA
    Looks like Sony full frame is calling you if AF is key.
     
  4. adamhiram

    adamhiram TPF Junkie!

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2015
    Messages:
    4,294,967,294
    Likes Received:
    4,294,967,295
    LOL, how quickly that went from an $800 used body with a $900 used 24-70, to a $3500 body with $5k+ in new lenses!
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. malling

    malling TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2020
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    10
    Older Sony bodies are available either new or used so spending that much might not be necessary. All of my GM and G lenses are actually bought used, so you don’t need to spend $5k+ on lenses either.

    That said changing system to Sony from
    Either Canon or Nikon doesn’t really make much sense today.
     
  6. mjcmt

    mjcmt TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Messages:
    529
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    NC, USA
    I guess you'll have to keep what you have and not upgrade if you want everything the D500 has, but in FF for $800.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  7. Destin

    Destin TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2010
    Messages:
    3,837
    Likes Received:
    1,357
    Location:
    Western New York
    “What I really want doesn't exist; a full frame D500, without the higher resolution of the D850.”

    This absolutely exists. It’s the D5.. just ignore the price tag lol
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  8. weepete

    weepete TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    Messages:
    5,761
    Likes Received:
    2,174
    Location:
    Glasgow, Scotland
    I can't really add to the brand information but I switched to full frame last year and I'm really glad I did. The better quality glass really shines and makes traditional focal lengths really useful.

    I think if your primary interest is portraiture or landscapes then the switch is well worth it, but do it bearing in mind that the cost of good quality lenses is significant. If you are more field based (like I am) I'd go DSLR, but if you are more studio based then mirrorless is probably the way to go just because of battery life.

    I really don't like EVFs, to me they put me out of the scene too much but many people don't mind them.

    If you really need the AF perfomace then mirrorless is probably better, for me I could live without the extra fps, but that's me and down to what my primary focus is (landscapes)
     
  9. adamhiram

    adamhiram TPF Junkie!

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2015
    Messages:
    4,294,967,294
    Likes Received:
    4,294,967,295
    Isn't that the truth! I had high hopes when they announced the D780, but it turned out to just be a D750 with an updated processor, and some mirrorless functionality if you use live view.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. adamhiram

    adamhiram TPF Junkie!

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2015
    Messages:
    4,294,967,294
    Likes Received:
    4,294,967,295
    Thank you, this is very helpful. Battery life was another big concern I had - the Z6/Z7 are rated for something like 300 shots per charge, which might not be enough o make it through a full shoot in some cases. I've heard in practice it is much better, but I'm used to around 1000 shots before my battery runs out as long as I don't chimp too much. What has your experience been like?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Destin

    Destin TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2010
    Messages:
    3,837
    Likes Received:
    1,357
    Location:
    Western New York
    I’ll chip in here, though I don’t have experience with z series.

    When I went mirrorless with Fuji, everyone told me the battery life was terrible. As a result I bought 4 extra batteries and carried them with me on every shoot. I too was used to 1000+ shots with my DSLRs.

    I adapted quickly and it’s been no big deal. 300-500 shots with minimal chimping is easy. Even shooting landscapes in live view the battery lasts an hour or so.

    I’ve only changed batteries mid shoot a few times, and it’s usually easy to plan a convenient time to do so. I guess the battery life may be an issue if you’re a professional wedding or sports shooter, but otherwise I’ve come to see it as a non-issue.

    Even when I got 1000+ shots on my DSLR I’d swap to a fresh battery before it got low on critical shoots, and I’d always recharge after a shoot even if it was close to full.. so my workflow hasn’t changed much.
     
  12. ac12

    ac12 TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2017
    Messages:
    2,173
    Likes Received:
    691
    Location:
    SF Bay Area, California, USA


    Battery life on a mirrorless is VERY different than a dSLR, and much shorter.

    You need to change how you think and plan for battery life.
    With a dSLR, it is not draining much power until you press the shutter.
    With a mirrorless, while the camera is on, the EVF is sucking power, and the processor is running the video to the EVF.

    With my D7200, I can shoot all weekend and Monday and still have battery power left.
    With my Olympus EM1, I will drain the battery to empty in 4 hours (continuous ON), 2-1/2 if I use a power sucking lens.
    Where I did not carry a spare battery with the D7200, I carry FOUR spares with the EM1, to get me through a FULL day of shooting. And that is only ONE day, the next day of the weekend would need another four or five, for a total of NINE or TEN batteries. So I have to charge every night, using at least two chargers, and charging in two shifts, to start the day with all batteries fully charged. Definitely a logistical issue.

    Based on my experience, mirrorless battery life is not based on number of shots, but on POWER ON TIME.
    Example1, I shot about 2,000 shots at a tennis meet, but in less than 2 hours. And I still had battery life left.
    But, at a basketball game, I shot less than 800 shots in 3-1/2 hours, and the battery went empty.​
    Example2, On vacation, I could reliably predict when I would need to change batteries in my EM1, at 11am and 4pm +/-. About 4 hours of continuous use. It did not matter how much or little I shot.

    I don't know what the battery life of the Z6/7 are like, but you get the idea.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2020

Share This Page

Search tags for this page

best camera upgrade path