FF goodness and how IQ isn’t all that matters


Has19Oct13-10I often get into heated debates about camera design and aesthetics. Whenever I make a sharp remark on how ugly any particular camera is, there’s always some practical soul to answer that cameras are tools and we shouldn’t care what they look like, as long as they produce good pictures. To which I invariablty answer that all cars are equally traveling tools, taking us from point A to point B, but that car users seem to care very much with what style, design and class they do.

MarlaOct13-37I took delivery of a Nikon D600 yesterday morning, and brought it to the stables shortly after. I’ll make a long story short, it did master the indoor arena horrid light conditions like no camera before it. Here’s proof :

Has19Oct13-01This is ISO 3200, and clean as a whistle.

Has19Oct13-07Yup, beautifully usable.

Of course, being a well specified DSLR, it also offers superior performance in terms of AF and operational speed. So, it is the answer to my needs ?

Has19Oct13-13IQ wise, definitely.

Yet, I still have to make up my mind 100%, but I think it’s going back. First of all, I took a test shot of a sky at F16 (the smallest aperture the 50/1.8 AF-S has to offer), and it does show the dreaded oil and spots on sensor. Nothing huge or that would ever be a problem at the wide apertures I always use, but still unacceptable on the camera this expensive, and brand new. And even if it weren’t for this very severe issue that would justify not keeping it by itself, I have another big problem with it : I dislike shooting it.

Has19Oct13-15PMHow is it possible ?! Why ? Because after 18 months spent mostly shooting unconspicuous, small and sleek looking mirrorless, that big black plastic box of a camera is terribly lacking any charm or enjoyment in my view. Sure, it’s capable. The AF module is not as good as the D700’s, I shot previously, which I was aware of, yet it is still very capable. No issue here. Yes, the IQ, despite not having had time to fine tune my settings and get familiar and proficient with the camera, is stellar. And yet, I have a strong urge to pack it back in its box and return it asap…

Has19Oct13-14Which is a little unrational, really.

Has19Oct13-18It makes beautiful images

Has19Oct13-21It’s responsive and capable, at a great price point

Has19Oct13-11It gives clearer images than I ever got in that place

But I hate holding it. It feels weirdly both heavy and hollow, the plastic texture is horrible to handle. My NEX 7 runs circles around it for tactile enjoyment.




Has19Oct13-03Marla and her buddy Chivas

I think the use of smaller, less intrusive and yet highly capable mirrorless bodies has totally spoiled the DLSR for me. I just can’t seem to be happy with one anywmore ?








Has19Oct13-02I guess what I’m trying to say is that yes, of course, output is a huge criteria of choice for a camera, but if a body delivers tremendous IQ, but you have no enjoyment shooting it whatsoever, it sort of kills its appeal.

Has19Oct13-04So yes the D600 is an amazing proposition that does solve my low light challenge in the indoor arena, but yet I don’t consider the issue taken care of, since I hardly see myself putting up with the bulk, weight, clanky shutter, etc, long term. I’m thinking out loud here, so any input, opinions, thoughts or advice from you guysΒ  are welcome !


About marla2008

Shutterbug. Shallow DOF nut. Mother of Child. Student of the Horse.
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9 Responses to FF goodness and how IQ isn’t all that matters

  1. Oh man, that is gonna be a tough nut to crack (unless you want an OMD…….or GX7 if it performs similarly) but I have yet to discover an MILC that performs like a DSLR in terms of AF, although DR it could be quits. Certainly not in ASPC land. M43 seems to hold the key in those regards, and, in fairness, shallow DOF when shooting riding animals isn’t especially necessary. So perhaps m43 for ‘The Barn’ and ASPC (or FF) MILC for portrait and general usage??

  2. laurent says:

    I also tried the D600 last month, borrowed for a lunch break from my colleague. It had an heavy 70-200 VR f4 lens on it….and, I was shocked by the total weight of the rig. The few bird pictures I took were crazy good though. I also tried to play with the menus for a bit, and had to admit this is out of my league. Too complicated for my basic understanding of photography. Could FF, light, and simple and excellent sensor be one day combined together in an average Joe camera?

    Honestly, the pictures inside of the barn are amazing

  3. laurent says:

    I think Nikon would be happy to clean your sensor, if you send it back to them. As for the rest…..if you don’t like it, no point of shooting it!

  4. marla2008 says:

    I got it from Amazon, they can deal with the problem. And as you say, I don’t enjoy shooting it, so there’s no point. A shame as IQ is superlative, but tactile gratification is an important part of chosing a camera as well, and it just isn’t there for me with the D600. Too plasticky all over !

  5. Hi Marla, I really enjoy reading your blog. As someone who has migrated from camera to camera looking for the perfect blend of a camera that feels good to hold (Nex 6, 7, OMD EM-5, Panny GH-3) to a camera that is relatively good to hold (current body – Nikon D7100) I FEEL YOUR PAIN! The reality for me, is that I do have similar challenges; I shoot low lit arenas and football pitches. When I get to do an indoor shoot with off camera flash, its a bonus, but what I’m finding is that sadly, the DSLR world is one I will be sticking with for the immediate and foreseeable future due to my needs. I’m in serious lust with the Fuji X cameras and feel of their JPEG’s especially, but I would be absolutely mad to invest in that system given that I love shooting sports and may be able to make a hobby job out of it. Anyway, long post just to say that I understand your frustrations πŸ™‚ Have to say I am really liking the D7100 right now. Only thing that sucks is the massively heavy 70-200 f/2.8 VR lens that I tend to lug around 😦

    • marla2008 says:

      Thanks a lot Mark for chiming in !! It’s a real heartbreak to have to stick to a DSLR when I really have NO desire holding one, but if I want top notch performance in that dimly lit barn, it’s still the best option. I’m strongly considering lowering my standards and being happy with whatever keepers I do keep from my NEX at high ISO though…

  6. Ooh, someone after my own heart Mark. I have tried and tested a fair few cameras in the past year, two of my favourites (outside of Sony) are the D7100 and the OMD, for different reasons. I think any MILC would be hard pressed as a workhorse for sports photography, hobby or Pro, or for high DR such as Claire experiences. What can I say? Long live Canikon!! πŸ˜‰

  7. Yes I think there are quite a few of us in that sports / action photography that are longing for something lighter to lug around πŸ™‚ I think as I’ve gotten more experienced, the pixel peeper in me keeps sticking with DSLR’s for my purposes. I just can’t freeze action in low light with a MILC like I can even with the 7100. Having said that some of my nicest portraits have come on either Micro 4/3 bodies with great glass or some really nice stuff out of the Nex-6 with the 35MM. I’m still holding out hope that the “to be announced” full frame Nikon retro camera will be somewhat affordable. One can hope πŸ™‚ I love that full frame look of the photos you have posted here Marla

  8. Sorry, I should have clarified my comment about “freezing action”. What I really meant was focus tracking.. Maybe the EM-1 will be better, but so far, nothing compares to a DSLR with fast glass like at 70-200 f/2.8.

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