Nikon D850 Week - Part Two - Conventional Wisdom

on May 14, 2018
One of the current buzz phrases is " Elephant in the room ". When we are accused of ignoring something that is glaringly obvious, the implication is that we are remiss in this. Far from it; willful ignorance is one of the most useful social and diplomatic tools we have - it allows us to navigate difficult situations. I use it all the time at family birthday parties. Even the elephants are grateful sometimes. Take the question of the size and weight of full-frame DSLR cameras vs that of APS-C. Further, the supposed discrepancy between the DSLR system and the mirror-less cameras. Well, I've got two elephants right here on the shooting table, and we can poke their wrinkled grey hides... Disregard the Sunwayfoto Arca-Swiss rail on the bottom of the Fujifilm X-T2. It's lovely, but you can get one for the Nikon as well, and it hardly makes a difference to the size. The basic relationship is what you see - both cameras are wearing lenses that see normal fields of view for their respective sensors. The difference in size and weight is considerable and would figure in any assessment made by someone who was going to hold the things up for hours on end - wedding workers, sports coverage shooters, etc. Bigger lenses would tend to exaggerate the disparity. Note, however, that the largest of lenses that are made by Nikon are not yet available within a mirror-less system. Does anyone still believe that smaller cameras are less visible in street photography? If you think this, you will get the smaller one, and try to hide it with friction tape and subterfuge. If, like me, you think that street cameras are always seen anyway but that most people just don't care...well, you can use a DSLR just as well as the smaller ones. It is the attitude and action of the street shooter that calls attention - not the actual camera. Until you get to the point where you are pushing a Kodak Century Studio down Hay Street, no-one notices. Is the D850 noisier than the Fujifilm? Without fighting the micro-decibel boys over numbers, I'd say no - I can poke both of them on the table and hear comparable sound levels. Turn off the mechanical shutter of the X-T2 and it goes dead quiet, but you can get pretty soft by parking the D850 mirror up anyway. If you want to mask the sound of either of them, plus a jackhammer and an Oerlikon gun, get an old Topcon D and fire it off while you are shooting. Wear earplugs. Which is more convenient to operate with the fingers? The answer is yes. As long as those fingers are connected to a brain that has studied the owner's manual and tried out all the various settings, the camera in hand - whichever one it is - is fine. I used to use Nikon and got used to the thumb and finger wheel way of altering aperture and shutter speed, but now I am back to the more traditional layout location of the Fujifilm and it is just as fast or faster to operate. It'd be a curse to operate two or three systems at once with different location of controls and direction of movement - but then that is found in any collection of cameras. Get one system, get used to it, and get busy. Which has the more convenient menu system? Well, I think the Fujifilm scores for quick settings but the Nikon has more comprehensive options buried in the commands. Fujfilm also wanders off into confused use of language sometimes when you wish to specify custom programs and settings - it is all there and makes sense to someone but frequently that someone lives in Sendai. When it comes to the actual instruction manual, Nikon is the clear leader, both in diagrams and in indexing the booklet to let you go to a question instantly. Which one is easier to operate on a tripod out in the wheatbelt at 1:30 AM? The Nikon. The LCD repeat screen on the top lights up and you can see to change the settings. If you take the Fujifilm you need a pocket torch. One question is still up in the air...will the handgrip covering of the D850 part company with the body in two or three years? My Nikon D300 bodies had this happen - as did the Fujifilm X-T10 recently. It is a material problem, or a user problem, or a sweaty hand problem - not the maker.