Lifelong Nikon user making a switch? Sony A9ii

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I have been a lifelong Nikon user, and jumped from my trusty F5 to DSLRs with the Nikon D1-series cameras and worked through the D2-series. Photography took a back burner during the D3/D4 time, but I still had a D300s and D700 but those got very little use. Just over three years ago I got back into photography, and covering sports for two of the areas newspapers, along with the largest marching/competition band in the state of Tennessee.

I had never touched a mirrorless camera until the Z6 came out. I wanted to see what all this mirrorless fuss was about and the price of the Z6 with 24-70mm f/4 S, and FTZ adapter was too good to pass up so I ordered one shortly after they came out. I really wanted to give the Z6 a lot of use and ran that as my main body and used the DSLRs as my secondary. I have been able to cover all the sports with the Z6 but the camera does have some drawbacks when compared to the capabilities of DSLRs. But even with the drawbacks it is clear to see the future is mirrorless.

Nikon and Canon have been slow to catch on to the mirrorless revolution, while Sony and others took a big lead. I rented a Sony A9ii and their 100-400mm to test out for two weeks and take to the Tournament of Roses. The A9ii handled so well, I didn't find myself think I wish it could do this that my DSLR can do (Notes: I have not tried flash with the Sony). So my choices are to wait and hope that Nikons next mirrorless camera advances to the point that Sony has had with the A9 few years already, or I make a jump now. A full system change is a lot of money, like I said I have been a lifelong Nikon user (lots of Nikkor glass). So I have decided to run a split system that I know some others on here are also doing. I will be lightening my Nikon load, and have added the Sony A9ii, 85mm, and the Sony 400mm f/2.8.

I'm not going to say the grass is all greener on the other side, there are some brown spots. First like every mirrorless I have seen they are too small. I know this is a plus for a lot of people, but I need some bulk. The only way the A9ii feels good in my hands is with a grip, but on a plus side the Sony grip has functional controls. It uses SD cards, I'm not a fan of these. The Sony menu system sucks, there is no other way to put it. I know people say the more you use it blah, blah, blah. Yes the more you use it you find where they placed things, but familiarity doesn't cover up the fact that the menu is laid out bad.
 
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What is the rush?
Nikon/Canon have barely been in the market over a year and their first serious mirrorless cameras are actually very good.

You have to keep in mind that the price for a mirrorless flagship like the A9 series is steep compared to what you'll get. Do you really need to pay the premium for a flagship? I had the opportunity to work with the Nikon D5 last year. Used it for 4 days shooting a premiere sporting event. What it showed me was that while it was a great camera and the battery life alone on it was phenomenal - everything I needed could be found in the much more manageable Nikon D500. it is great to have an FX sensor sometimes, but the only people that truly care about the whole FX/DX thing are photographers. Clients do not care so long as you provide them a product they love.

In the end, though - it is really up to you to decide what it is you really want. What is the A9 series going to give you over a DSLR and it it worth the price premium over the competition. For me, the D500 is just a killer beast and unless there is a mirrorless camera out there that can best it significantly - well then....the D500 stays.
 
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As some members here know, I made the switch back in November and traded in my Nikon gear for a Sony A7R IV and three lenses; later I added a fourth lens. These four lenses are keeping me happy and busy for the time being but eventually I'll be adding another one or two when funds permit.

It took me a very long time to come to the decision that I did, and two months later I do not regret it at all. I am much happier using just one system rather than trying to manage two, and aside from that, funds would not have been sufficient had I not done the trade-in, since I wanted particular lenses (one being a GM, two others being G lenses) and the A7R IV body. Since my primary interest is in macro, that was my motivator for getting the A7R IV and two macro lenses. I went with the 135mm f/1.8 as a fast lens and for its creamy bokeh. I do shoot some wildlife but not extensively and I don't shoot sports or other action-type images at all. Either the A9 and A9 II rather than the A7R IV body would have been my choice in that case.

Mirrorless definitely is the way forward, all indicators are pointing that way, and I realized that a while ago, instinctively knew that I did not want to purchase another DSLR when it was time for new gear. I waited to see what Nikon was doing with its Z series but since there were no signs of a macro lens on their "roadmap," I decided that I did not want to wait around several more years on the off-chance that one would appear. I also had reservations about the FTZ adapter and all that. I much prefer using native lenses. I had seen images from Sony's highly-regarded 90mm f/2.8 macro and had read user comments and professional reviews. Early-on I decided that no matter what, I was buying that lens, and I did, along with the 50mm macro.

Every time I looked out the window at the geese and ducks on our little lake I thought about the 200-600mm and knew that sooner rather than later I'd be buying that lens, too, and now have done, a few weeks ago. Again a decision I'm very happy with and the lens is ideal for my situation at home; I've got to get a new Wimberley gimbal pretty soon, though before going out-and-about to other places with that lens. It's not exactly a lightweight!

For me the adjustment to Sony wasn't all that difficult since I had already had a Sony NEX-7 and also several of Sony's compact little RX100 series cameras as well as the Sony RX10 IV. The menu is, yeah, not the best laid-out but I'm used to it by now. Thankfully there are custom buttons and such available so that one can set up the camera body in the way that works best for him or her and then not have to menu-dive for most-frequently used functions.

I have small hands so the A7R IV feels very natural and comfortable to me, and so I haven't gone with a grip. I appreciate the two card slots and I don't mind the SD cards, but I do think it interesting that Sony is still using them in their cameras rather than the newer QXD or CF Express, which they actually helped develop.

The important takeaway in all of this is that each of us must make our own decisions about what camera bodies and lenses will work best for what we want to do, and for some photographers using two systems works out best, while others are simplifying and going to one system. Some people my age (74) have already just gone to only a bridge camera, and I can understand that. I've been using the RX10 IV for about a year and a half and dearly love it, but the time came when I wanted to do more than that camera could really give me.....hence the move back to an interchangeable lens system.

I was sad the day I said goodbye to my Nikon gear, but I've still got wonderful memories of shooting with various Nikon cameras through the years, and I've still got photographic images from some darned good lenses. I learned a lot with my Nikon gear and that is something which will never change......
 
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Using a mirrorless camera is very different from a reflex camera. Perhaps I could get to where I could process the image in my head as it appears in a mirrorless viewfinder as fast as with a reflex. A Z6 I handled a week ago was just too radically different for me. There are some technical things I like about mirrorless. The short image plane to flange distance makes the design of short focal length lenses a lot simpler. In lens VR has been the main failure point for me so moving to in camera VR would be nice.

Perhaps Nikon's next generation of mirrorless cameras will do it for me.
 
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I am in the process of doing what you are considering. I am 72 and do not want to wait a few years. AF and weight are major reasons.
Allan
I suggest looking at the DX Z50 or micro 4/3.
I changed from DX dSLR D7200, to an Olympus m4/3 EM1 as my primary system.
Weight reduction was about 40-45%. Size/bulk was also reduced, but harder to measure.
I use a 75-300 on my m4/3 camera. The equivalent 150-600 on a FX camera is too big/heavy for me to carry.

AF depends on what you are shooting and which camera.
The EM1-mk2 has a better AF than the older EM1-mk1. I think the EM5-mk3 has the same AF system as the EM1-mk2.
Having said that, I had zero issues with the AF on my EM1-mk1 on vacation. It was only when shooting sports where it stumbled.
 
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As I've mentioned on here previously, I'm running both Nikon and Sony. In fact I'm pretty comfortable with my setup now. Nikon handles zooms and long telephoto lenses, with an emphasis on daytime action and flash. Sony handles fast primes for portraits and travel where serious flash work isn't needed. I'm still young enough that I can wait to see where Nikon ends up with mirrorless. Though if I'm on a limited time frame, I'd get the best tools available now and enjoy!
 
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I was going to do that for a while, using a D850 and an 800 mm lens. But, when I saw a Sony 600 for sale I sold my 800. The difference in weight between a gripped D850 with an 800 lens and the Sony with the 600 and a tc is almost 4 pounds.

I also think two systems my be confusing. At the moment I am keeping my Z7 and 3 shorter lenses but I may sell those come summer. I will be happy when I sell my few remaining Nike lenses and D850 but will also feel like Connie did too.
 
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I was going to do that for a while, using a D850 and an 800 mm lens. But, when I saw a Sony 600 for sale I sold my 800. The difference in weight between a gripped D850 with an 800 lens and the Sony with the 600 and a tc is almost 4 pounds.

I also think two systems my be confusing. At the moment I am keeping my Z7 and 3 shorter lenses but I may sell those come summer. I will be happy when I sell my few remaining Nike lenses and D850 but will also feel like Connie did too.
I took the plunge and bought a Sony A7III. Sold most of my heaviest Nikon lenses.
Not really pleased with the Sony with flash indoors.
It is great for videos though. I did not do that much video in the past.
My D3S is not worth that much anymore so I decided to keep it to use with my 28-70 F2.8 and 70-200 VR1.
Not too too heavy but doable.
 
I knew that I would be confused with using two systems and it just seemed redundant in my situation, so I decided to make life simpler for myself. I knew that even if I kept some of the Nikon gear that I'd still be leaving it in the bags and Pelican case while I was using the new stuff anyway. That's pretty much what happened back when I got the NEX-7. Also I figured that I'm not getting any younger, might as well enjoy photography while I still can, as who knows what the future brings...... Further, I realized that now might be a good time to do the trade-in while value on some of my gear was still decent. It is likely that as time goes on more and more people are going to be selling or trading their current F-mount lenses and bodies if they're switching to mirrorless, whether it be Nikon's Z series or Sony's E-mount series, so values will drop even further as the market becomes glutted.

One thing I have not addressed yet is lighting, except for buying a couple small LED light panel thingies to use when shooting tabletop macros. I rarely use flash and in fact have never even bothered checking out the on-board flash that comes with the RX10 or the RX100 cameras. Obviously the A7R IV does not have a built-in flash. I much prefer natural light when possible. That said, though, there are times when one does need a flash system of some sort, and eventually I'll get around to that. I've been noticing that a lot of people like the Godox system.
 
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Further, I realized that now might be a good time to do the trade-in while value on some of my gear was still decent. It is likely that as time goes on more and more people are going to be selling or trading their current F-mount lenses and bodies if they're switching to mirrorless, whether it be Nikon's Z series or Sony's E-mount series, so values will drop even further as the market becomes glutted.
Funny, I'm finding as people are trading up, they're dumping some excellent and practically new equipment! In fact the discounting is so low, I feel better just selling some of my Sony gear to re-buy Nikon gear! Also, I've been finding that Samyang AF lenses for Sony are an amazing value and there's just no way the Z mount lenses can compete with these in price. I currently have the 18mm 2.8 and 45mm 1.8 for my small walk-around primes, and the 35mm 1.4 and 85mm 1.4 AF lenses as my main portrait primes. These 4 lenses cost about the same together as 1 Sony GM lens! Also, Samyang allows focus tuning via their USB dock, so I'm very meticulous about tuning my lenses to perfection.

In a strange way I find it cheaper just to use two systems as opposed to trying to cram everything into one kit. Lastly I don't suffer much from ergonomics confusion, I'm mostly an aperture priority and auto ISO shooter, so it's pretty easy for me to switch back and forth between different systems.

I've been noticing that a lot of people like the Godox system.
I think Godox or Flashpoint (Adorama branded Godox) is the best way to go with Sony when it comes to flash. I'm probably going to add an AD200 off-camera flash soon and on the plus side, I can get radio triggers for both my Sony and Nikon cameras and share them between each other.
 
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I was going to do that for a while, using a D850 and an 800 mm lens. But, when I saw a Sony 600 for sale I sold my 800. The difference in weight between a gripped D850 with an 800 lens and the Sony with the 600 and a tc is almost 4 pounds.

I also think two systems my be confusing. At the moment I am keeping my Z7 and 3 shorter lenses but I may sell those come summer. I will be happy when I sell my few remaining Nike lenses and D850 but will also feel like Connie did too.
I use two systems, and yes, it can be/is confusing to switch between them.
But there are ways to reduce (not eliminate) the confusion.
  • Reconfigure the frequently used controls to be similar.
    • I have the ISO adjust configured on both my Nikon and Olympus as the red dot 'rec' button. While they are not quite in the same place, it is the same button, so confusion is reduced. I use this all the time.
    • The dials on the Olympus and Nikon are same; front=aperture, rear=shutter speed.
  • Nikon and Olympus zoom rings turn in opposite directions. This can be fatal for sports/action shooters. But I accidentally figured out a solution that works, for me. This seems to minimize the muscle memory confusion when I switch between them, because the hand/thumb is going in the same relative direction.
    • Nikon, I hold thumb forward and wrist back.
    • Olympus I reverse the hold, wrist forward and thumb back.
    • Note, this technique does not always work. I used a Sigma zoom which turns opposite of Nikon, held it like the Olympus, and kept turning it in the wrong direction. :confused: :mad:
I do my my configuration work at home, before the shoot, where I have more time deal with figuring out where something is hidden in the menu.
 
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Well this is the thing. The A9 II significantly bests the D5 and D500 on a number of issues. What has hampered Sony from real success in the pro level market for birding and sports has been a (lack of tele) lenses. And now they have them: 100-400, 200-600, 400 F2.8 and a 600mm F4.

But back to the A9 II (and mostly the A9 I as well)
The kind of best in class features, that matters to nature and sports photographers:
  • 24 MP, 20 fps and no blackout. The A9 I and II are the only mirror less cameras (I think) that have no blackout.
    • When you are shooting a bird that is either flying or turning around this becomes very important for one to be able to anticipate the moment when the pose is just right and press the shutter just the moment before to get the image just the way one wants it.
  • Very good buffer despite using only UHS-II cards
  • Fantastic Eye AF, including Animal Eye AF
    • This is of course the killer feature, My friend who has one told me that he shot an owl through the trees and it still tracked the eyes of the owl as it was flying through and behind the branches! I shot a series of a bout 50 shots and every image of that crow was n focus, I have never had that before.
  • Small and light cameras and class leading (together with Canon) weight of the tele lenses
    • I calculated that the Nikon D5 and the Nikon 600mm F4 FL weighs 11.5 lbs while the Sony A9 II with a grip and the new Sony 600mm comes in at 8.8 lbs, thats a big difference when you have to carry this around a whole day
  • All isn't perfect though, ergonomics and UI isn't as good as Nikon and Canon yet
Canon and Nikon just plain aren't there right now, is the assessment of three of my closest shooting friends here, and they have all bought new Sony's.

What is the rush?
Nikon/Canon have barely been in the market over a year and their first serious mirrorless cameras are actually very good.

You have to keep in mind that the price for a mirrorless flagship like the A9 series is steep compared to what you'll get. Do you really need to pay the premium for a flagship? I had the opportunity to work with the Nikon D5 last year. Used it for 4 days shooting a premiere sporting event. What it showed me was that while it was a great camera and the battery life alone on it was phenomenal - everything I needed could be found in the much more manageable Nikon D500. it is great to have an FX sensor sometimes, but the only people that truly care about the whole FX/DX thing are photographers. Clients do not care so long as you provide them a product they love.

In the end, though - it is really up to you to decide what it is you really want. What is the A9 series going to give you over a DSLR and it it worth the price premium over the competition. For me, the D500 is just a killer beast and unless there is a mirrorless camera out there that can best it significantly - well then....the D500 stays.
 
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Joined
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Well this is the thing. The A9 II significantly bests the D5 and D500 on a number of issues. What has hampered Sony from real success in the pro level market for birding and sports has been a (lack of tele) lenses. And now they have them: 100-400, 200-600, 400 F2.8 and a 600mm F4.

But back to the A9 II (and mostly the A9 I as well)
The kind of best in class features, that matters to nature and sports photographers:
  • 24 MP, 20 fps and no blackout. The A9 I and II are the only mirror less cameras (I think) that have no blackout.
    • When you are shooting a bird that is either flying or turning around this becomes very important for one to be able to anticipate the moment when the pose is just right and press the shutter just the moment before to get the image just the way one wants it.
  • Very good buffer despite using only UHS-II cards
  • Fantastic Eye AF, including Animal Eye AF
    • This is of course the killer feature, My friend who has one told me that he shot an owl through the trees and it still tracked the eyes of the owl as it was flying through and behind the branches! I shot a series of a bout 50 shots and every image of that crow was n focus, I have never had that before.
  • Small and light cameras and class leading (together with Canon) weight of the tele lenses
    • I calculated that the Nikon D5 and the Nikon 600mm F4 FL weighs 11.5 lbs while the Sony A9 II with a grip and the new Sony 600mm comes in at 8.8 lbs, thats a big difference when you have to carry this around a whole day
  • All isn't perfect though, ergonomics and UI isn't as good as Nikon and Canon yet
Canon and Nikon just plain aren't there right now, is the assessment of three of my closest shooting friends here, and they have all bought new Sony's.
With only the first generation, I would not expect Canon or Nikon to be anywhere near as good.
But yes, both Canon and Nikon have a LOT of catching up to do. They let Sony get too far ahead, so when the market changed, the Sony gear and system was too far ahead, when they were starting at ground zero.

edit: Well not quite ground zero. They have other mirrorless to leverage from; Nikon has their 'Nikon One' system and Canon their M series.

And they have a LOT of lenses to fill in the lens landscape.

Shooting with the electronic shutter, my Olympus EM1-mk2 does not black out.
I think that is the key. You have to shoot with the e-shutter, to not have an EVF blackout.
 
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That's the main reason why when I decided to go mirrorless I went with Sony. I never buy anything that is a first generation or first run after a major change of anything. Usually many bugs to work out and I will not do that for them at my expense. I don't think this is the case for the Nikon Z series. It looks like they got it right the first time. One of the Ford SUV's I bought a few years ago my wife wanted me to buy the first year since they made a lot of changes and it had a completely different look. We decided to wait a year until the next model came out and it was well worth it. Many buyers with the earlier model were taking their vehicles in for numerous fixes. Ford rectified all the problems on the next model year which is the one we decided to buy.
 
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Even though I sold my Nikon 1V1, my adapter, the lenses and flash, Nikon had some great features:
-the electronic shutter was silent and very handy for time lapses
-the constant recording of images in a loop before depressing the trigger was brilliant
It is a shame that for whatever reasons the platform was not a success.
I don’t think Nikon stopped innovating, they took their chances but lost some costly bets.
Sony in the meantime brilliantly leveraged their Minolta acquisition, lens technology, consumer electronics and components IP.
If I were to start afresh today I would most likely go Sony.
 
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Steve
I don't mean to sound like a troll, but just switch if that's what you want. Shoot what you like. Most category-competitive cameras have one feature or another that anyone can use to justify any decision they make, so just do it. If someone here says something to change your mind, then you likely needed confirmation NOT to switch. The same question on a Sony site versus a Nikon site won't necessarily yield the same answer, go figure. If you switch anyway, nothing anyone here could say would have mattered, you just want confirmation. Just do it and go shoot. The next, next best thing will make you question THAT decision anyway and now you've wasted even more time posting versus shooting. Go shoot, most of us would rather see your images than these same questions over and over. Again, no offense meant.
 
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Most category-competitive cameras have one feature or another that anyone can use to justify any decision they make, so just do it.
I think where the A9/A9II shines is in daytime sports action, but take that same camera to a dimly lit venue requiring flash photography, and I think the D4/D5 will stomp all over the A9 bodies. So yeah, it's very dependent on what one feature seems most important to the photographer. I find no problem running dual systems. It's not like the Z bodies have the same exact AF interface as the F-mount DSLRs, plus once you set the Sony 'My Menu' with all your most used settings, you'll never have to menu dive again. Easy! Run the A9/II with lenses that are most useful, run the rest on a Nikon DSLR kit. I know a lot of photographers on both the Nikon and Canon side doing the same exact thing with a Sony body on the side. Doing a complete switch is like flushing money down the toilet!

On a side note, Sony isn't all rosy. For example their 24-70mm 2.8 and 70-200mm 2.8 lenses are only so-so, while Nikon's 24-70mm 2.8 S and even the current 70-200mm 2.8 VR is best in class.
 

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