I’ve had a Nikon DSLR by my side for the most part of four years now, starting with the D40 and, over time, settling comfortably on a D700. I am a geek; and geeks, by nature, develop relationships with the things we own–the sort that artists are prone to dismiss as too bourgeoise.
But, we geeks care about that harmonious confluence of design and use; there is as much joy in being creative as there is in handing the instruments of that endeavor, like a craftsman and his favorite chisel or a chef and his trusted knife. The best of these tools become extension of ourselves.
The D700 is one of those rare things that fall into that last category. 12 megapixels? I’ve never needed more; and they are twelve glorious megapixels, every one of them.
Five years after its introduction, the D700 still rivals some of its contemporaries in image quality, noise handling, dynamic range and overall usability. Paired with the sublime Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G or a Zeiss ZF.2 35mm f/2, there is little standing in one’s creative way.
So, it was not without great deliberation that I settled on a decision to replace the D700 with a mirrorless system as my new walkabout, primary camera. The D700 was just too heavy to lug around; and for all that weight, it lacked video which has increasingly become a medium of concern.
I am taking my time to explore the options. This week, I’ve been playing with the SONY NEX-6 and the Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 that I rented from lensrentals.com. I love those guys! Here are some first initial thoughts:
- this thing is bloody light compared to the D700, even when paired what seems to be among the beefiest all metal, high-end Zeiss glass for the NEX system
- The EVF is good; much improved over the earlier ones found in the Alphas. But, it’s still goofy to me, I can’t get over the lag.
- Image quality seems very good; I don’t think you can go wrong here; dynamic range is impressive; noise characteristics are no where as nice as the D700, but at ISO 3200 the images seems as usuable as stuff coming out of a D7000.
- The Zeiss is awesome; if the new 16-50mm kit lens is halfway decent, it might seal the deal but that’s a lot to ask.
- Video? Stunning. It’s really the one thing that has me spellbound; I fiddled with a little at 24p, 1/50sec with the Zeiss and I am already itching to try a stablized lens and some external (stereo, yes!) mics on it.
- oh wait, WTF, proprietary mic jacks!
- Handling. Well, here’s the thing, it is smaller, easier to carry around but the haptics are terrible. The dial and button presses feel too sensitive and unpredictable, and the clicks are annoyingly unhelpful as feedback.
- The menu system is relatively clean, thank goodness, and it didn’t take long for me to familirize myself with the button layout. But it’s hard to get to functions easily without reprogramming a couple of buttons. This isn’t a deal breaker but it doesn’t feel as ‘sure’ in one’s hands as the D700. This bummed me out a bit, I admit.
The NEX-6 goes back tomorrow. I’ll have to say that I wanted to love it, but so far, though it hasn’t been very long, I think the best I can say is I respect it. I am going to try out the Olympus EPL-5 next.