Nikon D800 / 800E - The DSLR lives? CSC's are taking over - aren't they?

NIKON D800E 24-85mm f/3.5-5.6 VR Lens
All images - NIKON D800E 24-85mm f/3.5-5.6 VR Lens

I don't know if its just where I go, a local thing or what, but whenever I'm out shooting and I see other people using cameras, several things become obvious.

Most people shoot on small compact point and shoot cameras or use their phone.
Of what you might call serious photographers, the vast majority use DSLR's.
In the last two years or so I have only ever encountered three other people using m4/3 cameras, for example.

NIKON D800E 24-85mm f/3.5-5.6 VR Lens

Whether this is typical or not, I cannot say, but there is no doubt that the DSLR is set to be with us for some time to come. Particularly when what is probably the best digital camera(s) ever, the D800 / 800E uses that form.

As I've written often, I've not got anything against DSLR's apart from the fact that I don't like the weight. However, having seen the quality that the D800 can produce, it was an easy decision to move to changing my gear to a system based on that camera. While I'm very conscious of camera aesthetics, ultimately its the results that count. I don't see a camera as a fashion accessory or a manifestation of a photographic philosophy, its ultimately a tool. Yes, it would have been great if the D800 sensor was available in a NEX or m4/3 type body, but it isn't, nor was (is?) ever likely to be.

NIKON D800E 24-85mm f/3.5-5.6 VR Lens

There is also the question of handling. I like light cameras, the size doesn't actually matter that much to me. In fact I have always found it difficult to get comfortable with small cameras. Even the Olympus OM-D, which is a wonderful picture taking machine, doesn't feel quite right to me, in any of its various configurations. Not that the D800 is much better. The grip is somewhat too big for me and it can be wearing carrying it around for long periods of time. Of course that is ultimately the problem that I will always have. To do what I do involves carrying my camera and lenses for long periods of time and for some distance. It also involves my being ready to take shots at all times, so what I'm using has to be constantly primed and ready to go, as indeed am I.

In terms of usability, I do like the NEX-7 though. It feels good in my hand and contrary to popular opinion, I like the fact that the lenses are somewhat bigger. I will be keeping this camera, though only as a vehicle for my Nikon prime lenses.

NIKON D800E 24-85mm f/3.5-5.6 VR Lens

Yesterday I finished photographing everything that I'm going to sell and put it all on ebay. As usual looking at some of my "prettier" cameras and lenses I started to change my mind. However just picking them up and asking myself, "How often am I going to use this?" meant that they got boxed up again. My camera shelf is actually now looking very empty. Two Nikon bodies - D800 and D800E, One Sony NEX-7 body and five lenses. Voigtlander 20mm, Nikon 28mm, 35mm and 50mm primes, one Nikon 24-85mm zoom and a Nikon > NEX adapter. It will of course probably get added to over time, but one thing I did realise when I was working out prices for ebay, was just how much money I've got tied up in cameras and lenses I've hardly used or are likely to use.

However, I've got nothing against these CSC's and I'm not about to become a born again DSLR enthusiast. In the future I would be be happy to consider these systems again. But the problem with that is will they give me 36MP of astounding image quality, superb handling and versatility with incredible high ISO performance should I need it? At this moment in time and with whats on the horizon I can't see the answer to that question as being yes. Will we ever get a 35mm film sized sensor in a CSC? Well we might, but in the near future I can't see it happening. For a start, a new lens range is probably required. Sony could make a NEX with an a-mount, but then the lens to camera ratio would become too much. There is the rumour of Pentax making a small sized DSLR, like the K5, with this sized sensor, but my guess is this will be a 24MP version, which Sony are apparently planning.

My guess is that the D800 / 800E is going to be top of the heap for some time to come. It is already quite a jump forward from what is available already and I can't see this sensor arriving in anything small for years at least. And to be honest most photographers neither need it or want it. Indeed if I wasn't doing this for a living I would probably be happy with a couple of m4/3 cameras.

There is no doubt in my mind that CSC's / Mirrorless / E.V.I.L are the future for many types of photography. The previous unjustified prejudice against them is slowly eroding and more and more photographers, at all levels, are becoming familiar with their benefits. And though I might have become "Nikonman" again, I won't be writing posts about the inadequacies of m4/3 or NEX. The D800(E) came as something of a surprise, though ever since I saw a few raw samples I did know that I would find it very hard to resist. To that end I guess, there is a possibility that the blog could become somewhat less focused on new gear reviewing and more about the process of taking photographs. There is certainly nothing that I see being rumoured or even fantasised about that interests me. Though a Leica M10 with the sensor from the D800, might see me looking for a buyer for one of my organs!!

NIKON D800E 24-85mm f/3.5-5.6 VR Lens

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