Monday, August 19, 2013
I have to give credit where it's due; the Vivitar extra capacity EN-EL15 battery works very well. Lasts a long time, just like the Nikon one does. I was miffed that Nikon went to a new battery, but the long life of these batteries in the D7100 is rather amazing. Banging off 1000 shots at a time, even with chimping and VR use, is amazing. On the other hand, the Vivitar VIV-PG-D700 is worthless, as is Vivitar's repair service. The plastic gear inside the thumbscrew assembly which attaches the grip to the body can be easily stripped. Vivitar will not offer a replacement gear, even though the grip can be taken apart and the assembly could be replaced. In short, if you need longevity, buy a used Nikon MB-D10 instead. It did run the camera in its high-speed mode when powered by 8 Sanyo Eneloop batteries and didn't generate any electronic faults with the D300 interface, so I suppose that's one mark in its favor. Vivitar, spend a few bucks more per unit for metal gears please!
Okay, so perhaps I haven't been the most diligent blogger on the web, and perhaps I haven't updated this in six months (precisely, in fact) but I vow that will change. Why? Because I've bought a D600, and like most people, I'm gonna have to talk about it. First, why change from a sharp 24mp D7100 to a sharp 24mp D600? Simple; less DOF. In my quest to make my photos pop, I've found a style I like. Unfortunately, this style revolves around shooting f1.4 lenses on full-frame sensors. Big problem. I didn't own either of those items. So, a change was in order, and Adorama's market-crushing sale price on factory reconditioned D600s packaged with 24-85mm f3.5-4.5 VR lens was just the thing to sway my mind. Second, the larger pixels of the D600 make for better light gathering. How much better? I don't know yet exactly. The D600 uses a Sony EXMOR-R derived sensor, which features a backlit sensor design. All of the signal paths from the pixel sites run through the back of the sensor, so the microlenses onthe front use up almost all of the available space for a huge increase in light-gathering. The D7100 uses a sensor from Toshiba, and I felt that noise definitely crops up in the higher-ISO photos in low light. It's not bad, and certainly not enough to sway people away from the D7100 as it is a very fine camera. Third, did I mention less DOF? Ha! It has become so important to me that I'll say it twice! Here's my thinking... I did the math and realized that, in order for a DX APS-C sized sensor to have 1.5x reach with FX lenses, it must also increase the circle of confusion by 1.5x, unnecessarily blurring lenses which weren't designed to be used that way. Case in point; I've always had a Nikon 50mm f1.8D around, and I've never been impressed with it on my D200, D300, D7000, or D7100 (all the DX cameras I've owned basically). It's just not as sharp as I'd prefer, and has fringing issues. The D600 guys simply rave about this lens though. Clearly there's something going on with an FX lens on an FX sensor which is simply "right". I also crunched numbers and realized that a 24-85mm f3.5-4.5 lens on a D600 will offer less DOF at 50mm and f4 than a 17-50mm f2.8 lens at 35mm and f2.8 on a D7100 (both at 10 feet from the subject). That makes the "kit lens" supplied from Nikon with the D600 a very useful addition. Since prices had been hovering around $1590 for a reconditioned D600, when the Adorama deal dropped at $1599 INCLUDING the 24-85mm lens, I had to jump on it. Selling off my APS-C gear (except for my trusty and fast D300) makes it a complete wash in terms of dollars spent, something I didn't think would be possible at the beginning of the year. In short, I'm going to FX and I'm not looking back. The D300 will stay around though as a very useful track-day, high-speed panning tool where the 1.5x of extra reach is appreciated with my 70-200mm f2.8 lens. It's 51-point AF system and the ability to shoot at 7fps all day with a battery grip and fast CF card make it a worthy companion to the D600. In spite of Nikon's insistence upon releasing only slow cameras (D600 at 5.5fps, D7100 at 6fps, and D800 at 4fps), someday they'll have to either revamp the high end DX line and do a D400, or just straight to a higher speed 24mp FX body (D700X anyone). With my system repositioned now in 2013, I'd be first in line next year for a D700X with robust frame and seals and the capability of doing 7fps. Bring it on, Nikon!