After going back and forth for months (read: years) between Sony and Fuji, never being entirely happy with either one, I ended up with… a Nikon system.
Why would I go back to my first love? Yes, I shot Nikon for ages, first on film and then on digital, before switching to Canon because of they were developing full-frame bodies while Nikon was still fixated on DX only, but nowadays it’s all about going mirrorless right?*
Well, at first my return to Nikon was mostly because I stumbled on a deal almost too good to be true: a used Nikon D800 going for about the same price as a waterproof compact camera. I bought it only to be able to use some of my film-era Nikon lenses on a digital camera other than the Fuji XPro-2. Or maybe just to have a body to take out in really bad weather when I wasn’t too thrilled about putting the XPro-2 at risk.
But once I started shooting, everything just clicked: the colors, the film-like appearance of the tonal values (especially with the right preset), even the handling. I’ve finally found my near-perfect camera. Why “near-perfect” and not “perfect”? Fist of all because this is real life, so there always will be something that is not ok. And because there are, should I nitpick a bit, a couple things that annoy me just a tiny tiny amount.
First of all, the bit of lag when writing images to disk can be a bother if you want to check focus or peek at your results really fast. A super fast card helps, but doesn’t solve the problem. Anyway no big deal, you get used to it. Second, when you use the internal flash (and this might very well be because of some setting I haven’t checked, given I don’t generally use it) even if you push the shutter button it will wait until the flash is ready to fire. Again: annoying but not a big deal if you prefer, like me, people not looking flabbergasted like someone just blasted them with a cold white light straight in their face.
Keep in mind I had to think really hard in order to come up with some cons for this camera. I didn’t even notice the weight and size, which, coming from an a7R, I was sure were going to bother me.
Bonus tip: slap a Nikon DK-17m magnifying eyepiece on it, and manual focus becomes a breeze, even in dimly lit environments and even without relying on the focus indicator arrows.
I use the camera with an array of old and new Nikon glass, and contrary to the Sony a7R, which I gather uses the same sensor, I am having zero problems with the performance on the Nikon—even at the borders, even with really old glass. I don’t mean to say that all my lenses have become fantastically sharp, only that they’ve kept the same behavior (or “personality”) they exhibited on film.
Then again, I’m probably a weirdo considering I like the look I get out of my 50/1.4 pre-Ai Nikkor more than the results from my Sigma Art 50/1.4… so your mileage may vary. But I am now a happy camper.
* wrong: It is, and has always been, all about the images you take.
About the author: Gianluca Bevacqua is a landscape, portrait and still life photographer based in Cosenza, Italy. You can find more of his work on his website, or by following him on Instagram. This post was also published here, and is being republished with permission.