I have had my Nikon 850’s a little more than a week now and people are asking how it’s going. I feel like a student flunking Photo 101. The learning curve is huge and I am reading articles or watching video every day. I feel as if the Nikon is designed by Microsoft, and the Canon designed by Apple. I mentioned that to a friend of mine who has been a Nikon shooter all her life and she said she feels the opposite.
But I have to disagree. On the Nikon you can only switch between the number of focus points by pushing a button on the left side of the camera that is located right be the spot where the lens meets the camera. So if you are holding a long lens and you want to change the number of your focus points, you have to stop holding the lens and move your hand to the button and push. Since you can’t hold a 500 or 600 or even my 150-600 on a camera body with just your right hand that means not only do you have to move your hand but you can longer aim your camera at your subject, you have to switch the points, grab your lens, raise the camera to your, refocus and then you can shoot. With the Canon I could move my right thumb and either change the position of the points, or with another button, change the number of the points and never take my eye off the subject. Which do you think is the better design? And yes, I can program a button to give me one choice in the number of points so that I can easily toggle between two choices, while shooting, but not through all my choices. And there are many more examples such as this.
But so far, I love the quality of the files. I find very little need to bracket for HDR with the Nikon, I can just expose to make sure I don’t blow out the highlights and in the processing I can open up the shadows to see clean detail. I also like how Nikon allows you to save all your Menu settings to a card. This feature is only found on the 1Dx series camera from Canon, and since there are well over 100 menu items that is very handy. I also really like the articulated screen on the back, this great when doing landscape, especially in Live View. And what’s not to love about the megapixels! A 45-megapixel file is gorgeous, although having a file that big shows all the flaws on a lens.
I don’t like to carry much gear and I hate changing lenses in the field. Typically, in the past when I traveled I would take 3 lenses. A wide angle zoom, recently that being my Tamron 15-30mm; my Canon 24-105mm and either my Tamron 100-400 or 150-600 depending on whether or not the trip was based around wildlife. With the Nikon I am able to keep my Tamron lenses, but neither Nikon, or Tamron make a 24-105mm lens. I really like that focal length because I really don’t end up with too many gaps going from my wide of 15mm to my long of 600mm. The only other 24-105mm available to me is the Sigma 24-105 Art lens. So I bought one. But I am not thrilled with the performance. The Canon 24-105 was not a great lens but it was a very good lens. It was never super sharp at any point but the degree of sharpness was fairly uniform. The Sigma is super sharp in the center, but falls off so much on the corners that it is really noticeable compared to the super sharp center. And on top of that I found that the lens profile Adobe built for that lens fixed the distortion ok, it softened the edges even more. This is the only lens I have owned where I could not use the Adobe profile. I had to create my own Presets for the lens at the wide end and one at the long end that I have to apply to my images.
Nikon does make a 24-120 lens but I tested that a few months ago, when I first looked at the D850 and it was no better (and maybe worse) at the corners. So I am in a quandary. Do I break down and get a Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 mm VR lens for $2,500 which is 3 times the cost of the 24-105mm and still leaves me 35mm short on the focal length I really want, and weighs much more when I don’t need the speed or want the weight? Time will tell. I am still playing with the Sigma and will see what kind of images I can get.
Later this week, I hope to micro adjust my telephoto lenses and I’ll let you know how all that works out.
Meanwhile here are a few shots I took at sunset the other night. As I mentioned, to do the same thing (pointing into the sun with the deep shadows), on the Canon would have required me bracketing exposures and processing for HDR, the Nikon handles it in one click!
1/80 sec; f/11; exp comp -1; ISO 64; 24mm
1/40 sec; f/11; exp comp -1; ISO 64; 82mm
1/6 sec; f/11; exp comp -2; ISO 64; 24mm
3 sec; f/11; ISO 64: 28mm