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Michael Erlewine

The Mirrorless Nikon D850

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Posted (edited)

That’s how I use the Nikon D850, with no mirror (or mirror-slap) and only LiveView. I never was infatuated by the mirrorless concept just because it was a smaller camera. I like the size of the D800E, D810, and D850. If anything I liked about the concept of a mirrorless camear was the “idea” of using alternative lenses, getting perhaps a greater field of view out of some really fine lenses.

 

I was disappointed with the Pentax K3 and K1 (which I owned) and how little they lent themselves to alternative lenses. Same goes for the Hasselblad X1D (which I bought); although they have some nice lenses of their own, they did not care about all my lenses. As for the Fuji GFX (which I also bought), I held out hope for it accommodating the many great lenses I have, and they did do a so-so job, IMO; they kind of came half-way, but certainly not like I had hoped or imagined.

 

I sent all the above cameras back or sold them and was left with my Nikon D810, which did work for me and which I appreciated. But my thirst for what I imagined mirrorless might bring was still there.

 

Then along came the Nikon D850. It was everything I could hope for in a mirrorless camera other than it was heavier (which I did not care) and it had a mirror (which I never have used, other than to test it). The Live View LCD on the D850 was just enough better to be fully usable by me and those few extra pixels (45.7 Mpx, which don’t seem like much, are just enough to quench my thirst for a larger sensor.

 

Then it dawned on me that most of my search for a medium-format mirrorless was about the EVF and not about the presence or absence of a mirror, a larger sensor (or so I thought), being smaller, or anything else. Give me a workable LiveView screen, an electronic front-curtain shutter, silence, and turn the mirror-up off and I am a happy camper. I am.

 

So, the bottom line for me is that I am interested in what Nikon will come up with in their potentially forthcoming mirrorless camera, but I don’t need it. Yes, if it is 100 Mpx I would turn my head and if it had an even better EVF that might interest me too. But I doubt we will see in it THAT large a sensor and actually I don’t really need it. My very fast computer is already chugging on the D850 files.

 

For me, the Nikon D850, as I use it, IS the mirrorless camera I always imagined AND it has all the other goodies that I have learned to love in a Nikon DSLR.

 

If I had to guess, I’ll bet that the forthcoming Nikon mirrorless will NOT add up to what I have right now in the Nikon D850.

 

Your thoughts, other than that I may be crazy. LOL.

 

Shot with the Nikon D850 and the Schneider Macro Varon 85mm f/4.5

 

_8500239-2-MV85-777.jpg

Edited by Michael Erlewine

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It's a very emotional topic for many. Why, I cannot say, but after the spats that have transpired between members who left Fotozones because of my views on this subject, I am loath to offer much more in the way of my opinion. What I can say is that the Canon 200D (DSLR) that I have also only gets used as a mirrorless camera. Looking through a prism to do my work now is not possible for me anymore. 

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Since moving to a mirrorless system I’m finding I use the rear LCD screen far more than when using my old Nikon system!

 

Do you not find your Olympus rear LCD good enough for a live screen view?

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If they have just about got it right with the D850 live view, then the prospect of new mirrorless options is looking good.  I've only ever played with older, cheaper versions and there is lots of clattering and movement in a live view exposure.

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6 hours ago, Dallas said:

It's a very emotional topic for many. Why, I cannot say, but after the spats that have transpired between members who left Fotozones because of my views on this subject, I am loath to offer much more in the way of my opinion. What I can say is that the Canon 200D (DSLR) that I have also only gets used as a mirrorless camera. Looking through a prism to do my work now is not possible for me anymore. 

 

But then , for all my confirmed adoption of the proper digital camera design, there are things that cross my path that well and truly upset the apple cart ;)
J0Ozv4n.jpg

 

Interestingly enough it has proved, along with the two Prakticas and one Zenit 35mm cameras I have now acquired (with an Olympus OM1 on hold for me to examine next time I'm in town) that I have not forgotten how to use a mirror/prism finder... :D:D . I now have a collection of Soviet Bloc lenses that exceeds my Fuji XF lens collection in number as well. I hasten to add that all of this Communist gear cost less in total than one Fuji X-T2 body. 

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6 hours ago, Mike G said:

Since moving to a mirrorless system I’m finding I use the rear LCD screen far more than when using my old Nikon system!

 

Do you not find your Olympus rear LCD good enough for a live screen view?

 

I do use it a lot, Mike, but when outdoors it can be difficult to see what's in the frame because of reflections. If I had some kind of a hood for it I would probably use it much more outdoors. Having said that, whenever I do use it I am finding that often I can't get the screen far enough away from my face to focus on it properly. :) 

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Posted (edited)

I've yet to see any Color-LCD-Display that satisfies me in bright daylight. So I'm bound to remain a through-the-viewfinder type of guy - unless shooting-positions dictate otherwise...

That said, I love the 0.2 sec shutter-delay with EFC on my D850 to avoid any mirror/shutter-slap with a 40+MP sensor!

So I agree with you, Michael: "If I had to guess, I’ll bet that the forthcoming Nikon mirrorless will NOT add up to what I have right now in the Nikon D850. "

Edited by Tom
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It has been a LONG time since I posted anything on this webpage. However, in reading about using the LCD screen on cameras, has anyone tried using the "Cowboy" LCD screen hood? It attaches via magnets to a metal rectangular "stick on" frame, allows for full LCD screen shading, has a comfortable eyepiece that is adjustable for vision and form fitting, and easily removable. I went this way quite awhile ago when I first started using the rear LCD screen for composing and focusing my shots...

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I'll check that out, @jonny56, thanks for the heads up. I have seen some collapsible ones that fold up like a bellows before, but I am not sure how compatible they would be with a tilting screen like mine. Might get snagged on the eye-piece. 

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The one I have is “rigid”, innthat it does not fold up; yet it does have an adjustable diopter, which is great for “tired” eyes. 

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Dallas, I have the same issue with my E-M1.  As a younger person I was  short sighted, but as I have become older and my eyes have aged I am now long sighted - a not uncommon change in people I am told.

 

This means that whilst I can now legally drive a car without spectacles, I need spectacles for everything else.  WIth the EVF I can at least adjust the camera to suit my eyes.  On the other hand my arms are not long enouh to use the rear screen without spectacles and usage of this screen is often compromised by the strong light we experience in this part of the world.

 

 

On 03/04/2018 at 22:51, Dallas said:

 

I do use it a lot, Mike, but when outdoors it can be difficult to see what's in the frame because of reflections. If I had some kind of a hood for it I would probably use it much more outdoors. Having said that, whenever I do use it I am finding that often I can't get the screen far enough away from my face to focus on it properly. :) 

 

 

 

 

 

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Interesting to hear that your sight has changed, Hugh. I think I am going through something similar as I get older. I am mildly short-sighted and have been so since I was in my mid-20's (I was about -1 in both eyes). My eye-sight has however, been changing considerably in the past few years. A few years ago my dominant left eye went as bad as -1.75 while the right eye went to -1.25, but then I started struggling with near vision (presbyopia), so my optometrist had me try something they call "mono-vision", which is where I use only one contact lens in the dominant eye for distance and nothing in the right eye, which lets me see close perfectly. It takes a few days to get used to this, but it works and provides me with the least amount of hassle when it comes to dealing with things and not relying on specs. 

 

If there was one thing from my youth I wish I could get back it would be my 20/20 vision. :( 

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Dallas, there are lots of things from my 20/30s that I would like to get back, eyesight is not least among them. I’m developing cataracts now but apparently not enough to warrant an op! One day perhaps.

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I've been very blessed with good health for most of my life, so I can't complain about too much in that regard, but it doesn't look good for me longevity-wise. My uncle passed away suddenly last Saturday at the age of 76 (Mom's older brother). He lived a pretty full life but his younger years, like so any of his generation, were spent engaged in unhealthy habits such as smoking (and possibly drinking too much). Out of 6 siblings he had lived the longest so far. His older brother died in 1995 aged only 56. We're not sure what he died of. My Mom was next at the age of 52. Her older sister died in December 2015, aged 70. Their surviving 2 siblings are both in their 60's and not in the best of health. 

 

The story of my father's family is much worse. He died of a stroke aged 63, but all his father's brothers (3 of them, I think) died of heart attacks in their 40's. My paternal grandfather was different though. 20 years prior to his death doctors told him to get his affairs in order. They gave him 6 months to live due to chronic emphysema, but he just quit his 80-a-day smoking habit there and then and lived on until 82, dying coincidentally on the same day as my mother-in-law in 2001. As you know my younger brother had a heart attack last year.

 

All of this has made me very aware of my own mortality. I give thanks to God for every day and I pray that if I do go young, like so many of my relatives, that it happens quickly. Not so much for my sake, but for those I will leave behind. 

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Posted (edited)

Dallas,  take strength from your 82yo paternal grandfather and if you are not already doing so start getting your medicos to check you out annually or even every six months.  Men tend to maintain their cars far more often than they do for themselves. 

 

I am 71 and have been under pretty constant medical surveillance for the last 18 years following the detection and oblation of atrial fibrillation, so I just put up with the processes and exercise a lot and try and keep weight with acceptable limits.  My father also had AF and he lived to 80, but died of cancer.

 

Good luck.

 

 

Edited by Hugh_3170
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Quite interesting to hear how usable the D850 is as a mirrorless camera.  Certainly on spec it is Nikon's most capable camera and general all-rounder, and eliminates many of the drawbacks of SLR's such as loud mirror-slap and shutter sound.  Being silent when at an event is more and more important these days, I believe.  I'm also with you on the size issue.  An ungripped DSLR is a joy to hold, completely the opposite of holding a (for example) Sony A7RIII, which I am currently using.  Of course real mirrorless has the added advantage over the Nikon of having a stabilised sensor, which gives you added flexibility in dark venues.  However my dalliance with the Sony A7RIII will come to an end as soon as I can sell it.  Mirrorless is simply a generation behind DSLR still, while having many disadvantages like small body, evolving UI.  In the specific case of the Sony A7RIII things like white balance (incredibly unreliable!), cramped buttons, a menu system from hell, no timelapse, huge file sizes, limited flexibility with viewfinder crops, it simply steps too far back compared to the Nikons..  In a way I'm sad to see the Sony go, because using an EVF is a true joy, whereas the rear LCD is a pain.  As it must be using the D850.  The intuitive control that one has when the camera is pressed to one's eye is still greater than holding the camera away from your face - besides which 3 points of contact versus 2 is always better for stability.  Which will make using the D850 a cludge for me.. But I still look forward to it. All the other DSLR advantages WITH the possibility of mirrorless of a fashion.  

 

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21 hours ago, jd1566 said:

" In a way I'm sad to see the Sony go, because using an EVF is a true joy, whereas the rear LCD is a pain.  As it must be using the D850.  The intuitive control that one has when the camera is pressed to one's eye is still greater than holding the camera away from your face - besides which 3 points of contact versus 2 is always better for stability.  Which will make using the D850 a cludge for me.. But I still look forward to it. All the other DSLR advantages WITH the possibility of mirrorless of a fashion.  "

 

Well, I can't agree with the above. I use the LCD as an EVF and have no trouble at all. I do used the magnify option as assigned to the center-button on the directional wheel and if I am in bright sunlight I use a small LCD magnified like the Zacuto Z-FInder. I have zero interest in looking through the OVF and prism. None. I also did not keep my SOny A7RIII, but sent it packing. The Nikon D850 is just about perfect for my close-up work.

 

 

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Hello Michael,

I'm sure that for your particular application of macro photography the LCD is perfect, certainly preferred to a cramped EVF/Viewfinder.  And in that respect the D850 mirrorless option is absolutely perfect.  I was merely commenting about it's mirrorless implementation for my type of photography, which involves moving subjects and requires me being mostly mobile i.e not using a tripod.  In those situations where you're using your body as a tripod an EVF/Viewfinder has the advantage. Or with concert work where I'm taking slow shutter speed shots and want to be as quiet as possible, the D850 mirrorless option obliges use of the LCD, which means holding the camera with 2 hands and no other support..  However I wholly understand your point of view. working on tripod for macro or other the LCD is quite comfirtable and gives a good view of the subject.  So basically we're talking different usage here.  Quite possibly the attraction to an LCD may be likened to using ground glass backs for medium/large format gear.   In the case of photographers coming from that end of the camera spectrum (large format), as a pose to those who came from 35mm (like me), the natural tendency may be to favour a larger LCD panel than a cramped viewfinder.  But I guess that's a whole other discussion 🙂

 

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When in Silent or Video mode I find the Zacuto Z-Finder to be very useful.  It is a 3X loupe that attaches to the tripod mount and fits tightly over the LCD.  That allows me to shoot with my eye pressed against the Z-Finder eyepiece.  So improved focusing ability and no worries about sunlight washing out the LCD.

Zacuto.jpg

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That's pretty nifty! 

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On 02/04/2018 at 18:51, Michael Erlewine said:

That’s how I use the Nikon D850, with no mirror (or mirror-slap) and only LiveView.

Interesting. I am still running my trusty D700 which chews through batteries very fast in live view and flips the mirror down and up to take the shot. Plus I do not have an articulated screen. So, I have couple of questions and clarifications for you:

 

How is the battery usage when using the D850 this way?

 

Just to be clear when in live view mode the 850 does not flip the mirror down and back up when taking a shot?

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