Thinking of downsizing... what am I likely to miss the most?

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Hi!,

So many of you have far more experience with cameras and photography than I do and I wanted to get your opinion/advice.

I've been thinking about downsizing for a while now. I've been shooting with a D700 (D200 before it) for years and a collection of high end/mid level glass (24-70 2.8, 28 1.4, 80-200 2.8, tamron 90, bigma, etc) and I find that I just don't shoot as much as I used to. These days, I take pictures of my dog, photos of the house my wife and I are thinking about, and shots on vacation and.... well that's about it.

I suppose it's the house that's really pushing this thought process from idle musing to full thinking about selling a bunch of gear. Maybe the money in glass could be better used elsewhere?

But back to the original topic :) What would I lose if I downsized to say a Nikon J2 or a Sony NEX or even one of those P+Sy Leicas? For one thing, it'd be a heck of a lot easier to carry around when traveling. And if I did downsize, what would you recommend as (maybe not a "replacement" since that can't exist) an "appoximation" of the kit I'm using now in a smaller, cheaper version?

Thanks for all your help!,
Richard
 
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I borrowed a friend's V1 for a week and I just can't see myself doing it. First thing I missed was the ergonomics. I shoot a lot of my kids' school plays and there's no way I'd handle a tiny camera for hours without cramping. The mid-sized DSLRs like the D700 and D800 feel very nice in my hand and I feel confident that I WILL get the shot. Second thing I missed was the overall speed (focusing and acquisition). DSLRs are just more robust in general.

What I don't like is the weight and bulk of DSLRs. When I travel, I always end up lugging a big backpack and I'm starting to get tired of it. However, when I get back home and start downloading the images, I start feeling that lugging all that weight is worth it, because I am happy with the images I get.
 
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"what am I likely to miss the most? "

The weight! Seriously, I picked up a Sony NEX7 kit with a couple of lenses (18-200 and the 10-18 to augment the kit 18-55) and the body, the 2 lenses plus a tiny Sony flash and a tiny Demb flash bracket fit into a very small fanny pack. Wonderfully convenient for times when carrying the big rig gear is just not an option. Image quality is excellent.

What you will lose is the fast glass, the ability to shoot action (AF and frames/sec are not up to the pro SLR standards) and the ability to mount fast, long lenses. I shoot mostly sideline sports and some wildlife and the NEX is not a substitute for my D3 and 400/2.8. I also miss the flash power and versatility of the SB 800/900. The Sony mini flash is ok for some fill flash, but it is not something I would use to shoot a wedding. Understand that you can buy adapters to mount excellent Sony pro glass on the NEX and you can also mount the pro flash, but that defeats the entire purpose of going small. If I was going to mount an Alpha 24-70/2.8 and the big Sony flash, I would just stay with my Nikon gear. (Yes I can mount my Nikon glass on the NEX with an adapter, but no AF or metering controls).

But for a walking around rig - the lightweight NEX kit is wonderful.
 
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Thank you for all the replies so far!

Sponner - I will check it out and see if I can find some samples somewhere.

Joseph - You bring up a great point. The D700 just fits great in the hand and it feels solid holding it. The confidence that comes with shooting with such a marvelous piece can't be denied. Your photo point is a good one too. Maybe the only way to settle it is to give a NEX or something like it a shot for a couple weeks.

Rick - I find more and more than the shooting I do is "walking around". My biggest concerns would be exactly what you point out - the lack of reach and the lack of fast precise shooting. My full kit was instrumental last year capturing animals in Australia and I KNOW I would have missed out on at least 1/3 of the shots with a NEX. That being said, how many times am I going to Australia? Especially right after a house purchase...

Richard
 
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I didn't like the weight of the big lenses either. So I decided to do some research and buy some third party lenses that were highly rated for vacation shots. Now my FX wlakaround/vacation kit consists of

*Tamron 17-35 2.8-4 - it's a lot better than its small pricetag (if you can find a good used copy)
*Tamron 28-75 - it's 90% as good as the Nikon 24-70, but weighs a LOT less.
*Nikon 70-300VR - not quite as sharp as the 70-200, but smaller and lighter.

I plan on purchasing the Sigma 35 1.4 sometime in the near future to complete a 4-lens kit. With the exception of the Tamron 17-35, all the lenses will use the same 67mm filters - which is a big deal if you use CP or ND filters (I do).

That's how I would downsize. If you don't have paid shoots or shoot low light sports, there's really no real reason to keep the expensive lenses. I've been tempted to sell mine, but everytime I decide to sell, I get a paid gig.
 
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I have recently added some manual focus Nikkor lenses to my kit, which are much smaller and lighter than AF lenses, and far less expensive. With the grip removed from my D800E, I end up with a very lightweight kit that gives me all the advantages of the DSLR along with greatly improved portability. Of course, these lenses are not as effective for fast moving BIF's or similar situations that strongly benefit from speedy autofocus; but they add a special kind of enjoyment to non-action photography because of the need to slow down and work more directly with the gear while composing and shooting. Maybe some manual focus lenses could provide a compromise solution to your dilemma, or at least a cheap alternative to try out before selling off all your nice AF lenses. (NB: Another benefit of these legacy lenses is that -- if you decide they are not your cup of tea -- you will be able to sell them for as much as, or more than you paid for them.)
 
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I sold my D3, D700 and set of lenses for the NEX-5N and then NEX-7. The only thing I miss is a fast NEX-based wide-mid zoom and long zoom. As you can see from my signature I'm using Sony Alpha DSLR lenses instead. What's the point you might ask? The NEX-7 body is very tiny and even the LA-EA2 converter still makes it a handy kit. Frankly I don't miss the DSLR suite of products. It's a hobby and I don't earn a living from it. I don't see any real deterioration in my images.
 
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And here I am trying to get used to the size of my D300 with grip before I go to my photography workshop :)

I do have a P7100 as a carry around as it goes into my handbag nicely.

Carole
 
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A Nikon V1 makes a nice auxiliary camera to your DSLRs, but in order to take advantage of it, you have to have an all AFS lens kit to retain full 100% AF compatibility with your DSLR camera. The only system that can replace all your lenses in a smaller format is Micro Four-Thirds. The OM-D is tiny compared to even the smallest Nikon DSLR and they have the lenses to back it up.

Nikon to M43 Equivalents:
24-70 = 12-35 2.8
28 1.4 = 12/f2 or 17/1.8
80-200 = 35-100 2.8
90 Macro = 45 2.8 or 60 2.8 (both macros)
Bigma = 100-300/4-5.6 or 75-300/4.8-6.7 II

Plus the OM-D's 5-axis IBIS literally makes any lens you put on the camera stabilized and you can see the stabilization in the viewfinder as well. You also have the option to adapt every lens from every manufacturer with full stabilization (no AF though, but full metering and auto ISO). For example you can an adapt a Nikon 800mm MF lens and it will stabilize that no problem!

Here's a picture illustrating body size difference:
https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-f2HPX5RBJQE/T5YIDJiG-QI/AAAAAAAAB_A/Kt-dFtcR5b8/w1358-h642-no/trinity.jpg

I've tried almost everything, and so far I've settled with the V1 because it gives me both lens and battery compatibility with my entire kit. Plus it's the only mirrorless camera that allows full continuous AF for both their native and adapted (AF-S only) lenses.
 
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I have made the decision to transition to the 4/3rds system for most of the reasons stated. The DSLR set-up, with either the D800 or the D7100 is simply too bulky and heavy for an aging guy with a weak back to continue schlepping around. The very thought of leaving the house with my Retro 20 loaded down with the D800, 70-200/4 (with TCs), lenses and a tripod is enough to keep me on the couch or simply take shots of my dogs, the view from the BY, floral macro captures or simply be content to do some bird shots with the tripod-based 300/4 around the house. Soooo...after considerable due diligence (including the Café threads, FM and the Mu-43 site) I made the plunge. Mr Brown should arrive on Monday with my Oly OM-D, kit lens (12-50, which doubles in FM focal length as Jonathan has more than adequately pointed out), 75/1.8 and 9-18. Already received is the 75-300 which is less than one-half the size and weight of it's Nikon counterpart. On deck are the 45/1.8 and the 17/1.8, with a macro to be decided upon.

I'm deferring any final decision to jettison the entire Nikon DSLR setup. We'll see how it plays out. Among others, I thank Jonathan fro getting the ball rolling with his initial thread on the Café and a number of others for their ongoing posts, all of which have contributed to my decision. I might add that by selling a number of my lenses and cameras not being used I've covered my initial 4/3rds kit. Fortunately, there now is a viable alternative for those of (mainly hobbyists) who no longer wish, or can, schlep around the heavy and cumbersome DSLR package.
 
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The very thought of leaving the house with my Retro 20 loaded down with the D800, 70-200/4 (with TCs), lenses and a tripod is enough to keep me on the couch

That's problem #1 Arnie.... if you buy a huge bag, the tendency is to fill it up (am I right on this? :wink: ) I know because I do it, LOL. Get a small Retro 5 - it fits the D800 with your two small zooms or two primes and it won't kill your back.
 
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Joseph, I really do not carry all of those lenses....I just wanted to make a point. Actually, carrying only the D800 and the 70-200/4 with the 1.4TC was burdensome for me last weekend as I strolled about a local park doing some birding.....even with my Rapid Strap. I look forward to doing the same sometime next week with my OMD and the Oly 70-300. My back should be able to withstand that relatively light weight. I will report back in due course.
 
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Kalamazoo, MI
I think you need to give mirrorless a whirl before selling off any gear. Dip your toe in the water with a refurb'd body, kit zoom, and fast prime. I shoot for fun in a variety of situations (travel, family, etc.) and find uses for my DSLR, mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses, and point and shoots.

I get the most enjoyment out of shooting my D600 with only one or two lenses to worry about. The most lenses I'll carry are 3 primes, and occasionally I just use the 24-85 zoom. I use this kit either at home, local events (especially if flash is needed) or when travelling with just my wife.

I use my mirrorless bodies and lenses for travel with kids where I want to be more inconspicuous or less burdened. In this case I'll carry 2 bodies and 4 tiny prime lenses, all in a small bag weighing less than the DSLR kit.

I use my point and shoot for a night out on the town, or when I'm in an interesting place but don't plan to actually take photos. Just in case....

It comes down to what you're willing to carry, and what ergonomic and use compromises you're willing to make. The good news is that the IQ of all of the recently released mirrorless bodies (mFT, NEX, Fuji, Samsung, etc) equals or trumps everything up to a D300S, and I find the NEX files to be on par or better than my D700 at base ISO.

Check out the subforum for non-Nikon gear, lots of discussion and examples over there. Since you're used to the good stuff, and Jonathan has laid out the lens choices for mFT, let me fill you in on the NEX.

There is no native fast constant aperture zoom yet for the NEX that equates to a 24-70/2.8 or 70-200/2.8. The 10-18/4.0 is a great native wide zoom. The priciest and probably best primes are the Zeiss Touit 12/2.8, Sony-Zeiss 24/1.8, and Zeiss Touit 32/1.8. The native Sony primes are the 16/2.8 (meh), 20/2.8 pancake (meh), 35/1.8 (nice, with image stabilization), and 50/1.8 (nice, with image stabilization). There are also excellent Sigma 19/2.8 and 30/2.8 lenses that can be had cheaply. Lastly, there are a myriad of slow zooms.

The NEX is one of the most adaptable platforms, allowing you to take lenses from virtually all manufacturers and attach them to the camera via a cheap mechanical adapter. You can use all of your Nikon glass on a NEX, which is what I did when trying it out. The NEX cameras are very easy to manually focus with, much faster and more accurately than with any DSLR. I only use one kit zoom on my NEX-6, and otherwise use adapter M-mount (Leica mount) and F-mount glass.

Hopefully someone else can fill you in on Fuji, another great system with some of the nicest native fast primes, great photographer oriented design and ergonomics, and excellent output right from the camera.
 
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If all you shoot is snapshot type photos in good light, you won't miss anything. I've got a V1 and I would compare the image quality and ISO performance to a D200.

Per the previous post, you can forget about high speed action like sports or BIF shooting. Not saying it can't be done, but it's a crap shoot.

I took nothing but the V1 and the Nikon 1 lenses on vacation to the desert SW last year and was fine. There was plenty of light and I wan't shooting any wildlife. It was sooooo nice not hauling a bunch of heavy gear. I did take a tripod and it weighed three times what the rest of the kit did.

It boils down to your needs and expectaions.
 
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i bought my 24-70, 50mm f/1.4 & my 85mm from a guy selling his D3 kit to buy 2 OMD's as he thought they were exactly what he was looking for.

3 months later i noticed a wanted ad on the same forum asking if anyone was selling the exact same items he had sold previously!
for him it obviously wasn't the right move...
other people's experiences & circumstances may differ..
 
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I sold all my Nikon bodies and glass and bought a Sony NEX-6 and liked it so much I bought a second. I don't shoot sports or anything fast and I use the old fashion leg method for reach when needed, but I do have a 200 zoom.

I have found I don't miss a thing. I don't see any any difference in image quality and I can fit ALL my gear in a smaller shoulder bag. It makes my shooting a lot more enjoyable not having to lug all that 'stuff' around. No more sore arms or back from shooting all day with that big weight in hand.
 
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Wow! I just got back from a business trip and this thread filled up. Thanks everyone!

I think what I'm hearing repeated over and over is: try it. Try a NEX setup. Try a four thirds setup. Try a fuji setup? (I did not know Fuji had a lightweight kit, but I have always loved their sensors?)

Will respond in more detail shortly.
 
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Which brand is almost a religious issue like filter/no filter, Nikon/Canon, Gary Fong/No Gary Fong. What drew me to NEX was:

- the small size,
- APS lens,
- relatively high megapixel count which permits significant cropping (which turned out to be very useful),
- night time and anti vibration settings, DEZ has taken some superb New York nighttime skylines.
- on screen and viewfinder
- live histogram
- Tri-Nav (goofy name) controls.
- can re-assign controls to different buttons and knobs
- ability to use DSLR lenses with inexpensive adapter (but manual focus only of course)
- Sony LA-EA2 adapter to use Sony DSLR lenses to get faster AF. This is my setup. Two lenses are all I need for travel. A weight penalty which seems to counter the NEX's small size, but my entire travel kit is around 8# instead of twice that.

With the viewfinder, live histogram and control setup I can hold the camera to my eye without bringing it down, make adjustments to ISO, aperture and speed and see the histogram before I shoot it.

The contrast difference auto focus is a bit slow, but Sony has changed that on the NEX-6 and almost certainly will on the NEX-7 replacement. Primary criticism has been the relatively low number of lenses, but that becomes moot with each passing month. Sigma makes several NEX lenses; they are very good and relatively inexpensive.

That said most of the smaller ILC's (Interchangeable Lens Camera) should do you fine. I suggest you carefully read specification and features and try to match them with your needs. Good luck!
 
Joined
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Quick additional note: A major decision component for me will be the strength of the autofocus. My eyesight is not particularly good so manual focus is not an option and the autofocus has to be sharp or I will not catch that it is not properly focused. I know many of you recommended going the MF route with Nikon lenses and that would be VERY attractive if I could trust myself to hit the focus.

Rich - I see! I hadn't realized that the small set ups had such a following and were so interpretable in relation to their pros/cons... but I suppose like with everything camera-related it makes sense. I did not realize Dez's shots were with a NEX. That's shocking and amazing.

williadw - That's a great point you bring up. I wonder whether I'll start carrying my kit around more if it's smaller and lighter and as a result, end up with more shots.

showtime - uh oh :)

Bag thoughts - I agree with the sentiment that the larger bag entices you to carry more stuff. My two bags are a huge kata backpacking bag and a Crumpler $7M home. The first few years I started shooting, I would shove 4-5 lenses in the bag along with the body, batteries, filters, accessories etc and it was just a bear to carry around. Lately, I've been making myself adhere to a 2 lens limit (3 when I can sneak another one in). Unfortunately, the unintended consequence is that my wife now makes me carry all the water bottles and snacks in the unused lens compartments so my bag is no lighter :(

Jonathan - M43s is certainly tempting and I will give it a spin. I do like how it has a fully developed lens line at this point. That being said, I don't know whether it's a good thing? I may end up with a camera and a dozen lenses again :)

BourbonCowboy - Great point. Maybe I would be ok just selling my heavy expensive Nikon glass and replacing it with Tamron/lighter third party equivalents. Definitely worth a thought. I am very very happy with the Tamron 90mm macro.

Thanks!,
Richard
 

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