Friday, April 12, 2013

Alternatives to the Nikon D7100

Nikon D7100 + Nikkor 28-105 3.5-4.5D.
Are you tired of reading all these posts about the Nikon D7100?  Well don't worry, I'm taking a break from the D7100 posts.  Last week, when I was doing tests on banding, I could not find a satisfactory solution to the banding issue.  In my frustration, I actually returned the D7100.  Ironically, right after I did, I found out from the Flickr D7100 Group about RawTherapee, which pretty much solves the banding problem and puts the D7100 back on the top of my list.  So, yes I will repurchase it.  But in the meantime, before I found out about RawTherapee, I considered several alternatives to the Nikon D7100.

Here are the cameras I considered:

Nikon D7000.  Known for having incredible shadow recovery capabilities.  Even though its high ISO is not as good as that of the D7100, it still has one of the best high ISO capabilities among APS-C cameras.  Now available used for $600+ or sometimes less.  Even the Nikon refurbished one is only $750.  Possible concerns: some have complained about the autofocus.  Some have also complained about having dust or oil spots on the sensor.

Nikon D5100.  Same incredible sensor as that of the D7000 but adds a tilting LCD screen, which I want for unusual shooting angles.  Available refurbished for a very reasonable $400.  I have a long list of concerns: this would be the first entry level Nikon for me, and it lacks many of the features I have gotten used to such as having two command dials and having a built-in commander.  Most importantly, it doesn't have AF fine tuning.  It also doesn't have an autofocus motor and I have some lenses that don't have built-in AF motors (Tokina 10-17, Tokina 11-16, Nikon 28-105 and who knows what else in the future).

Nikon D700.  For the longest time I had wanted a D700 but I ended up getting a D3 because of the high prices for a used D700.  Prices have now come down since then, and I've seen it a few times in the $1200+ range, although more typically it is a little higher.  Great high ISO performance and shadow recovery.  Good AF system.  Doesn't have video but I can live without that.  "Only" 12mp but that's still more than what I need.  My concern is that because it's full frame, I will have to change some of my lenses.  But some of the choices will be easier.  For example I could use the Sigma 35 1.4 on the D600 and Nikon 85 1.8G or Tamron 70-300 VC on the D700.

Olympus OM-D E-M5.  My coauthor MShafik loves his.  See here.  The biggest attraction for me is the fast and accurate autofocus.  I would also like the tilting LCD.  I also wonder whether the small size would change my shooting style (perhaps I might try shooting candid street photos).  My concerns are that I would have to change some of my lenses, and might have to buy an m4/3 flash.  I am also a little bit concerned about reselling it in the future because there are fewer m4/3 shooters than Nikon shooters.

Fuji X-E1.  I have heard very good things about the image quality (which are in part due to the excellent lenses in Fuji's X system) and the autofocus.  It also looks very stylish (I can't believe I'm saying that!  But at least I do know my wife would love to use it).  Just like the OM-D I would have to replace some of my lenses, and the X system has fewer lenses to choose from (and no fast telephoto lenses yet).  Obviously resale is a big concern.  Also, no one knows if the X system will still be around down the road.

Nikon D600.  I would love to have a second one but obviously it costs too much.  The funny thing is I saw a used one advertised on craigslist for just $1350!  But when I read the details -- supposedly "shipped to me by Adorama" but "was given as a gift" and therefore has no box, etc. etc.  It was obvious there was something fishy going on.

In my next post, you'll see which one I chose.