Recently Kasper reached out by email to his fellow photographers to get some advice on how to replace her Nikon D700 full frame camera. Having a lot of Nikon glass in her kit already Canon was not a consideration. He had been shown the following possibilities a Nikon Df, D800, D610 and N1. He has been shooting with a full frame camera and once you have done that you can really see the limitations of smaller sensors. What follows is my response to Kasper.
Here are some things to consider
Hi Kasper good to hear from you. I also had a D700 a wonderful camera. When the D800 came out I opted to get the D800e and I have been amazed at the detail I have been able to get from the camera. I was able to create three 50 by 33 inch prints that were stunning. The 36 megapixels and the lack of a low-pass filter was like suddenly I owning a medium format camera for the price of a 35mm digital camera! The strength of the D800e over the D800 is it does not have a low-pass filter, that sits in front of the sensor and defocuses the image to prevent moire, essentially you get a 10% bump in resolution without the filter. Moire with the post processing we have these days is not really not an issue and in all my experience I have never seen the problem. I think these days what ever you buy it should not have a low-pass filter there is a growing trend to remove them and as you may know medium format cameras never had them.
Neither the D610 nor the Df have removed the low-pass filter, I am not sure why Nikon is so reluctant to remove this filter as they have already done it in some of their APSC sensor cameras like the D7100. However if you are consider a camera with this filter I would suggest the Df over the D610 as it is essentially a D4 in a smaller container, much like the D700 was a smaller version of the D3.
If you have been shooting with a full frame camera I would exclude the N1, it would make you very unhappy as the sensor in this camera is quite small as you can see from the diagram I created below. I bought a 4/3 mirrorless and sold it three months later because of the poor resolution, and an N1 has much lower resolution than a 4/3 camera. (Panasonic and Olympus make the 4/3 mirrorless cameras.) There are better mirrorless options see below the chart.
Mirrorless Cameras APSC
I own a second camera for travelling light, a Fuji X-E1. I bought the camera because it has a unique technology behind it’s sensor that gives it a resolution well beyond what any other APSC sensor gives. In other words it can out shoot the D7100 Nikon’s top APSC sensor camera. It also tests better than the old Canon Mark II full frame camera, with the exception of extremely high ISOs. The resolution of the camera is not up to my D800e, but it is exceptional for its size. The lenses for this camera are amazing, their 55mm equivalent standard lens is an f/1.4 and sharp they also have a stunning 35mm equivalent also 1.4! It is my understanding that their company supplies all the glass for Hasselblad lenses, so their lenses are professional grade, and in many cases better than Nikons glass.
Their latest mirrorless camera the X-T1 is probably the best mirrorless on the market today in the APSC sensor size. I believe this will become the camera of the year like the previous version I own the X-E1. One more advantage of this camera is their lenses that cost $600 to $1000 are equivalent in quality to Nikon lenses that might cost $1500 to $2000.
My business partner has now sold her Mark II and is shooting only with the X-E1 camera, she prefers the much smaller kit, and tells me that the colour from this camera is much better than what she was getting from her Canon and she likes it better than the colour coming from my Nikon. She finds the resolution also better than her Mark II. Essentially she can put her three lenses and camera in a purse, so now no need to carry a separate camera bag.
Sony does make a mirrorless APSC camera but if you are wanting to use interchangeable lenses a Fujifilm X series camera is a much better value, as it gives you access to some stunning lenses.
Mirrorless Cameras Full Frame
This is an emerging market that Nikon has not entered. However using the same sensor system that Nikon uses in the D800e Sony has produced a full frame mirrorless camera, with 36megapixels without the low-pass filter! It is called the Alpha 7R and boy is it small. The Nikon Df is around $2,750 and the Sony A7R is $2,300 so financially and technically I think it is a better buy! (To view more camera comparisons visit camerasize.com.)
I have been debating whether to replace my X-E1 with this camera. The only other full sensor interchangeable lens camera of this size and quality is a Leica and that $7000 dollar camera has an outdated sensor and processor technology, its saving grace is the stunning lenses. Keep in mind when you are not travelling light you could be using your Nikon glass on the Sony using an adaptor.
So why haven’t I jumped at the Sony yet, well the weak side of Sony is there is a very limited lens line up at the moment for this camera. Although I have tried this camera with the 35mm Zeiss lens made for the camera and it is really almost pocketable it is so small, and tests very well. This combination does make for a very small full frame 36 megapixel camera.