Move over to Z?

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Leif
I’ve been selling unused F mount lenses, and a D600 body, and I’ve raised about £1600 thus far. Lenses have been a reasonable investment, the camera body not so. I photograph mainly fungi, but also wild flowers, insects and landscapes. I sometimes do other stuff such as the local steam train. I use a D500 and a 105mm F2.8 AFD micro lens most of the time, plus a 20mm F1.8 G lens for landscapes. I’m considering buying a Z6 + FTZ + 24-70mm F4 S lens. And I’d probably sell the D500. But I keep asking myself whether it‘s worth it.

Benefits:

IBIS
I get a zoom lens, which is more versatile than the 20mm prime (30mm equivalent on the D500).
The zoom lens is as good as the F mount 24-70mm F2.8 VR lens ie very good without the weight and bulk.
A smaller and slightly lighter camera.
Auto focus shift shooting with my 60mm F2.8 AFS lens, and the zoom.

Cons:
Not so good AF, but I don’t need top end AF anyway.
Cost.

Alternatively I stash the money, and wait a couple of years, and buy a Z6 II when it’s cheap, or its successor. The Z6 III is expected at the end of next year ie in approximately one year. I considered the Z fc, but that 24-70mm F4 lens is an absolute bargain and a cracker by all accounts. There is no DX equivalent. I am retired, age 58, so money is an issue, but obviously I have enough for a few toys.

Have I missed something? Anyone else done similar, in which case how did it go?
 
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
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I added a Z6 sometime back to my DSLR kit. I do a lot of church photography and wanted a camera with a silent shutter that I could use at eye level (via the EVF). The Z6 has become my most used camera. I knew that IBIS would be useful and while I was expecting the 24-70 f4 to be acceptably sharp, it exceeded my expectations. What I didn't expect was how useful the EVF would be. Not only does it allow me to nail focus with all my old manual focus prime lenses, it also is a wonder during low light shooting. All of my cameras are excellent in low light situations, but the EVF in the Z6 allows me to compose and focus in lighting where I can barely see the subject in an optical finder.

I find the Z6 autofocus quite good. Reviewers I respect report it is actually better for static subjects than that of DSLRs and, if set up correctly, is fine for active subjects. So the Z6 is the one I grab if I don't need the resolution of my D850 or the speed and focus performance of my D5.
 
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When you sell your D500, how would you do your macro photography? I don't think your 105mm macro lens will auto focus when using it and the FTZ with a Z camera. If you don't need the auto focus, that's fine. Otherwise, plan on the expenditure of buying a native macro lens to mount onto your Z camera.
 
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Andy
All of Luke's comments are spot on. I would add:
  1. The ability to place your AF target almost anywhere in the frame is quite handy
  2. Relying on the imaging sensor for focus eliminates the need to fine tune AF for every lens/body combination. That is a task I do not miss at all.
  3. Much better video capability.
The D500 may retain its used market value for awhile longer, but not forever. I sold mine earlier this year since I no longer shoot sports, and wanted to help finance the purchase of a second Z body.
 
Joined
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I suggest you don't sell any extra batteries you have from either the D600 or D500. They will both still work on the Z6 and/or Z6II.

I assume you have an XQD card from the D500? You will need that especially if you get the Z6 instead of the Z6II. My XQD card works fine in the Z6 as long as it is reformatted in camera.

I actually wouldn't sell the D500 just yet. It is still one the best DX camera for shooting action and I think they are going to hold their value for at least the next year or two. It is the only DSLR I still have and just can't part with it.

Luke give a good summary above.
 
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Walter Rowe
All of Luke's comments are spot on. I would add:

  1. Relying on the imaging sensor for focus eliminates the need to fine tune AF for every lens/body combination. That is a task I do not miss at all.
The D500 may retain its used market value for awhile longer, but not forever. I sold mine earlier this year since I no longer shoot sports, and wanted to help finance the purchase of a second Z body.
This one isn't necessarily true. Nikkor Z lenses certainly don' require it, but older lenses can get out of spec and AF Fine Tune can help them.
 
Joined
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Leif
Thanks for the replies, lots of useful information there.

I agree that the pleasure from using a camera is important, it has to feel right, which is why I like the D500. The body is good in the hand, and it’s well laid out. On the negative side it is a bit heavy and bulky. I never did like my D600, not good in the hand and too many compromises were made to reduce the cost.

I don’t use AF for macros, I normally use a tripod, and manually get critical focus on the area of interest. Sometimes I’ll take two or three shots and focus stack them. So my 105mm AFD lens will be fine, at least for a year or two. Maybe someone will produce a fully compatible adapter too. I also have a 200mm F4 AFD micro lens.

That’s a good point about the D500 value potentially dropping over the next year or two. I might put the sale value towards the new 105mm F2.8 MC lens, but not yet.

I don’t have any XQD or CFExpress cards, and yes I factored in the cost of one card and a reader. I considered a Z6 II which can use SD cards, but it’s too expensive.
 
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Geoff Brown
I've just done exactly the same, I sold all my Nikon DSLR'S and the DX lenses, and bought the Z5 with the 24-70 f4, and then bought the 14-30f4, I've kept the Sigma 105 macro and the 150-600, I'll probably get the Nikon Z 105 later on.

I'd toyed with getting the Z6, but I didn't need the higher FPS or the better video function, as that's something I've never used on my DSLR'S, and although the Z5 hasn't got the top LCD screen that the Z6 & Z7 has, I'm not finding it a problem.

I'm finding having just the one body is better for me, instead of working out which of the DSLR'S to take with me, the Z lenses are super sharp.

One camera I couldn't sell was my little Nikon 1 V1, it got some bad press when they were released, but the images I get from it are superb, even Getty images accepted some images I took with it.
 
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Thanks Geoff. I considered the Z5, and I do prefer SD cards. I can get the Z6 + 24-70mm F4 + FTZ for a good price, it’s hard if not impossible to find a Z5 kit with the same lens and the FTZ.
 
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Based on your interest in macro/closeup have you considered jumping camp to another brand, or do you want to stay with Nikon?
Which brand and why?

I have the Nikon 105mm F2.8 AFD micro, 60mm F2.8 AFD micro, 60mm F2,8 AFS G micro and 200mm F4 AFD micro lenses. I also have an SB800 flash and the macro flash kit. Oh and the 20mm F1.8 AFS lens. I won’t get much selling them, the 200mm has internal lens separation (a known problem) for example, works fine when stopped down, but unsellable. The older 60mm also has lens separation! The 105mm lens is unpopular and sells cheap despite having superb optics IMO. I did once own a Tamron 90mm F2.8 macro lens, truly superb optics, but I didn’t like the soft look (not a lack of sharpness, just a bit warmer and less contrast, kind of Zeiss like).

I considered Canon, but their lenses are pricey compared to Nikon and the cheaper ones are so so. I’d end up paying a fortune to change. I considered Sony, but so many people make disparaging remarks about their ergonomics, and from what I’ve seen the Nikon Z lenses spank Sony lenses, including many Zeiss ones. The Nikon 24-70mm F4 lens is stunning value, and the 14-30mm F4 S and 105mm F2.8 MC lenses are class leading. Many criticise the Nikon Z bodies, but most Nikon Z lenses are as good as you can get. I really don’t understand why gear forums and YouTubers are so down on Nikon given the quality and value of Z lenses. (Click bait headlines is my guess.)
 
Joined
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Which brand and why?

I have the Nikon 105mm F2.8 AFD micro, 60mm F2.8 AFD micro, 60mm F2,8 AFS G micro and 200mm F4 AFD micro lenses. I also have an SB800 flash and the macro flash kit. Oh and the 20mm F1.8 AFS lens. I won’t get much selling them, the 200mm has internal lens separation (a known problem) for example, works fine when stopped down, but unsellable. The older 60mm also has lens separation! The 105mm lens is unpopular and sells cheap despite having superb optics IMO. I did once own a Tamron 90mm F2.8 macro lens, truly superb optics, but I didn’t like the soft look (not a lack of sharpness, just a bit warmer and less contrast, kind of Zeiss like).

I considered Canon, but their lenses are pricey compared to Nikon and the cheaper ones are so so. I’d end up paying a fortune to change. I considered Sony, but so many people make disparaging remarks about their ergonomics, and from what I’ve seen the Nikon Z lenses spank Sony lenses, including many Zeiss ones. The Nikon 24-70mm F4 lens is stunning value, and the 14-30mm F4 S and 105mm F2.8 MC lenses are class leading. Many criticise the Nikon Z bodies, but most Nikon Z lenses are as good as you can get. I really don’t understand why gear forums and YouTubers are so down on Nikon given the quality and value of Z lenses. (Click bait headlines is my guess.)

I take quite a few macro/closeup images each year out in the field, and the following comments are based on my experience.

Nikon Z bodies, excluding Z fc, have a tilt screen, which has limited angle when tilted down, i.e., if using LV and shooting above your head. This is important to me as many of my subjects are at ground level and I’m usually taking photos with the camera inverted on a tripod. If you decide to get into focus bracketing, then Nikon only allow it to be controlled via the camera, you need to go into the menus and start the process from there. Again, if doing focus bracketing, Nikon blank the LV screen while the process is happening. As the majority of the subjects I photograph are quite small, I need the magnified view to see if the subject moves while the shots are being taken.

I’ve not checked the menus yet, but when I take photos using Z bodies with the camera inverted, the images on playback, and computer import remain inverted. They are the correct way up when taking the photos.

I know you prefer manual focus, I on the other hand prefer auto focus. The Z bodies I have, struggle to AF on many of the small subjects I like photograph.

Moving to a FF sensor, your DOF will be shallower than using an APS-C sensor.



For closeup/macro in the field I use an Olympus E-M1 MK III with 60mm macro lens. As the Olympus is m4/3 the effective focal length of the lens is 120mm. The Olympus as an articulated screen, in body focus stacking and bracketing, and bracketing can be turned on or off via a programed button. The process of stacking or taking individual photos can be done via a remote. Geo tagging of the files is much simpler than Nikon using the Olympus app. AF is amazing, particularly on small subjects.

If interested you should be able pick up an E-M1 II or E-M5 (not sure which model has the focus stacking built in) and 60mm macro for a great price, particularly when sales are on.

I gave up a few years ago trying to make one camera a Jack of all Trades. These days I use Olympus for 99+% for closeup/macro.
 
Joined
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If you decide to get into focus bracketing, then Nikon only allow it to be controlled via the camera
Just to clarify that, that's true when using Nikon's focus bracketing. However, third-party external devices can be used to make the focus bracketing happen that don't use the Nikon focus-bracketing software. Thus, viewing the camera's LCD is not necessary in that situation. I consider it more of a workaround than a solution, but at least it works.
 
Joined
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Leif
I take quite a few macro/closeup images each year out in the field, and the following comments are based on my experience.

Nikon Z bodies, excluding Z fc, have a tilt screen, which has limited angle when tilted down, i.e., if using LV and shooting above your head. This is important to me as many of my subjects are at ground level and I’m usually taking photos with the camera inverted on a tripod. If you decide to get into focus bracketing, then Nikon only allow it to be controlled via the camera, you need to go into the menus and start the process from there. Again, if doing focus bracketing, Nikon blank the LV screen while the process is happening. As the majority of the subjects I photograph are quite small, I need the magnified view to see if the subject moves while the shots are being taken.

I’ve not checked the menus yet, but when I take photos using Z bodies with the camera inverted, the images on playback, and computer import remain inverted. They are the correct way up when taking the photos.

I know you prefer manual focus, I on the other hand prefer auto focus. The Z bodies I have, struggle to AF on many of the small subjects I like photograph.

Moving to a FF sensor, your DOF will be shallower than using an APS-C sensor.



For closeup/macro in the field I use an Olympus E-M1 MK III with 60mm macro lens. As the Olympus is m4/3 the effective focal length of the lens is 120mm. The Olympus as an articulated screen, in body focus stacking and bracketing, and bracketing can be turned on or off via a programed button. The process of stacking or taking individual photos can be done via a remote. Geo tagging of the files is much simpler than Nikon using the Olympus app. AF is amazing, particularly on small subjects.

If interested you should be able pick up an E-M1 II or E-M5 (not sure which model has the focus stacking built in) and 60mm macro for a great price, particularly when sales are on.

I gave up a few years ago trying to make one camera a Jack of all Trades. These days I use Olympus for 99+% for closeup/macro.
I had a look at micro four thirds and Olympus. Their lenses are extremely good, and the 12-40mm F2.8 is impressive. I’m glad you mentioned Olympus. Some thoughts:

The greater or reduced DOF is a wash, you just adjust the aperture to compensate.

I do a lot of photomicrography (photography through a microscope) and the smaller sensor and increased sensor noise would be a big disadvantage. APS-C is okay when using the x100 objective (giving x1000 with the x10 eyepieces for visual use). FX is even better. A tilting rear screen is essential for this use.

I also do a lot of photography at ground level. I use an L bracket and Gitzo Explorer tripod that allows me to keep the camera upright, or on its side.
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Occasionally it can be hard to see the rear screen in portrait orientation. In this case I can use Nikon’s SnapBridge utility. I can use this to focus bracket too when using a macro lens. Typically I only need 3-4 shots. This is an example:
ocus%20Merge%20_DSC6527-6536%20Lachnum%20virgineum.jpg
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I don’t do many focus stacks as I sometimes take so many photos in a day that I can’t spend the time doing it for each specimen.

For my subjects AF is useless, it doesn’t know where to focus. I adjust the focus manually to get as much of the specimen as possible in focus. In some cases I carefully align the camera relative to the subject:
_DSC1407%20Marbled%20White%20Butterfly.jpg
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I agree that an articulated rear screen would be nice. I thought about the Z fc, but the dials and absence of pro grade DX lenses made it a no go.

If I had a lot of money I might try Olympus, maybe hire a kit first. But I’ve learnt how to use Nikon. The balanced fill flash with ambient works well, the white balance works well in forests and other tricky places, and I’ve a big stash of micro lenses. I recently sold the 85mm tilt shift micro lens. If only the Z6 had a fully articulated screen it would be near perfect for me.

Out of interest does the Oly created a RAW file from focus stacks, or just a JPEG? A stacked RAW file would be awesome.
 
Joined
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Geoff Brown
Thanks Geoff. I considered the Z5, and I do prefer SD cards. I can get the Z6 + 24-70mm F4 + FTZ for a good price, it’s hard if not impossible to find a Z5 kit with the same lens and the FTZ.
I was lucky when I bought mine, I wanted the Z5 with the 24-70 f4, but no one apart from Park Cameras had those in stock, Nikon had a promotion on that kit saving me £270, enough to purchase the FTZ, which I still need to buy.
 
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I had a look at micro four thirds and Olympus. Their lenses are extremely good, and the 12-40mm F2.8 is impressive. I’m glad you mentioned Olympus. Some thoughts:

The greater or reduced DOF is a wash, you just adjust the aperture to compensate.

DOF is important to me, I generally use my lenses in their sweet spot.

I do a lot of photomicrography (photography through a microscope) and the smaller sensor and increased sensor noise would be a big disadvantage. APS-C is okay when using the x100 objective (giving x1000 with the x10 eyepieces for visual use). FX is even better. A tilting rear screen is essential for this use.

I only have the capability to go to 10:1, and for that I use an automated Stackshot focus rail in-conjunction with a CamRanger so I can control the whole lot remotely, either wirelessly via a computer or a tablet. In my experience sensor noise is usually an issue of lack of light. I prefer to light my subjects and use the camera at base ISO.

I have been contemplating buying a Novoflex Auto Bellows in Z mount, which will allow me to get more magnification, but I rarely go beyond 1:1, I doubt I’ll get much use out of it.

I also do a lot of photography at ground level. I use an L bracket and Gitzo Explorer tripod that allows me to keep the camera upright, or on its side.

In my experience a large tripod can be a hindrance, particularly for some of the subjects I photograph. Native Orchids for instance you need to be mindful of where everything is as some grow in largish groups, and I don’t want to inadvertently damage other orchids. Likewise, when photographing fungi, a lot of the time there is not much room to setup the camera and a tripod. I gave up a long time ago using artificial lighting either on camera or off. I use natural light nowadays. Sure, some of the exposures are longish, times the number of shots in the stack, but most fungi I photograph are not affected too much by a breeze.

Our needs are not always the same, what works for one may not work for another. For instance, where the nice, coloured fungi grow, it is generally leach heaven. I prefer to have the camera and tripod getting a leach or two while I stand back and take photos. Likewise with the Native orchids, we’re heading into Spring which means more and more orchids are starting to flower. This also means snakes are starting to be on the move, and I don’t particularly like being bitten Bull or Fire Ants. So, I prefer to be away from the camera and keep an eye out for what’s around me.

I don’t do many focus stacks as I sometimes take so many photos in a day that I can’t spend the time doing it for each specimen.

I know that feeling, I generally take between 2,000-3,000 images on an outing. This is the beauty of using the functionality built into the camera. Once you get your new camera, regardless of the brand, if it has focus bracketing built in you will soon see how useful it is, particularly when out in the bush.

For my subjects AF is useless, it doesn’t know where to focus. I adjust the focus manually to get as much of the specimen as possible in focus. In some cases I carefully align the camera relative to the subject:

As I’ve mentioned what works for one may not work for another. I use single point focusing and use the joystick to position where on the subject I want the camera to focus.


If I had a lot of money I might try Olympus, maybe hire a kit first. But I’ve learnt how to use Nikon. The balanced fill flash with ambient works well, the white balance works well in forests and other tricky places, and I’ve a big stash of micro lenses. I recently sold the 85mm tilt shift micro lens. If only the Z6 had a fully articulated screen it would be near perfect for me.

Most if not all my cameras use Sony based sensors. I find very little difference with regards white balance between them.

Out of interest does the Oly created a RAW file from focus stacks, or just a JPEG? A stacked RAW file would be awesome.

The Olympus only focus stacks JPEGs. Although most of the time there is nothing wrong with the results. It also saves the RAW files, which is what I generally use and create the stack in post.

My intention was not to try and sway you from what gear you want to purchase. I prefer to use what makes life easier for me, particularly when in the bush. I don’t worry about what others think when they rock up with their mega expensive, and megapixel setups. I know my limitations, and the limitations of my gear. All I want is a nice photo.
 

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