Back to the Future - The enduring lure of the DSLR - Me and Sony - Lens mounts - NIkon Lenses

In a previous post - I wrote about the necessity of my going back to using DSLR's (And this is a genuine need rather than something I just fancied doing) and not only will I be getting another DSLR, I'll be getting a Canon too. And despite all the attractions of my smartphones and mirrorless / CSC / E.V.I.L cameras I'm going to be doing some serious work for the next two years at least, that is mostly DSLR based. And though I'm not abandoning (yet!) the delights of my GoPro, Olympus Air, my various m4/3 cameras and lenses and those phones, I will be DSLRing much more than I have in the last few years.

In the post above you will have also noticed that I seem to be prepared to do pretty much anything to avoid buying a Sony. And considering that I've bought a lot of Sony cameras in the past, used them extensively and even awarded them a couple of soundimageplus camera of the year awards, you might find that surprising. And while it's true that I find Sony's technological advances and what they put into their cameras (VERY) impressive, I've personally never liked the look and / or feel of any of them. To a large extent I've endured what I consider to be mediocre design and aesthetics and a somewhat middle of the road attitude to file creation for the large pixel sizes and ease of operation. But in almost every sense I find them........well frankly......boring. And working on the principle that it's my money, I can choose what I want to use for whatever reason I like and I can get the same elsewhere, that's a perfectly valid reason.

I've particularly taken against the FE system, which should after all be virtually perfect for me. And I did seriously consider the A7r II before opting for the Canon 5Ds. What stopped me was that small body, large lens combination that I really dislike, the thought that Canon have a huge lens range from which I can choose (and they actually have lenses I want) and the fact that I've lost serious money on every Sony camera I've ever bought and sold. There is also the thought that unlike Nikon, Canon and Leica, Sony sling out cameras in every format and every configuration, very quickly replacing (and of course devaluing) their previous models. I was very reluctant to spend close to £2500 on an A7r II, knowing that after using it I would only be able to get back a fraction of what it cost me. Certainly I expect the Canon 5Ds to be 'current' for some considerable time and to hold it's value a lot longer than the Sony.

I'm also fed up with what is one of my biggest concerns about mirrorless / CSC / E.V.I.L cameras, which is that they keep loading more and more power hungry features without increasing the life of the batteries. One day Sony, who apparently have ambitions to eat into the Nikon / Canon professional markets will realise that low powered batteries constantly running out mean missed shots for those of us who earn our living making photographs. And many of us aren't prepared to tolerate that.

Consequently it really wasn't that much of a dilemma for me to pick the Canon over the Sony. And it is the case that for all sorts of reasons, DSLR's still work very well in most situations. They may be heavier, noisier and a bit clunky when it comes to video, but they are fast and they do as a species, keep going reliably and efficiently. And that is why I'm still attracted by and to them as tools for my trade.

By now you will realise that this post is rambling a bit and I thought I'd carry on in this vein and finish off with something that's occupied my thoughts recently. Lens mounts. This occurred to me reading about the rumoured new interchangeable lens Leica, the SL. It apparently has the same T mount as the Leica T (Typ 701) camera. Now either by design or accident, I think this bodes well for the long term future of the system. The T will now have some more lenses and the new SL'full-frame' lenses have an alternative body. Good for both I suspect. Contrast this with Olympus, who made those wonderful 4/3 DSLR lenses and then went with the m4/3 system, which whether they wanted it or not has reduced their 4/3 range to a very small part of their market share. So, in effect, a pretty great lens range has pretty much been mothballed, sidelined and orphaned. Sure there are adapters, but I suspect there are very few people beating down the doors of photographic retailers to get their hands on 4/3 lenses, superb they may be.

Sony also decided to enter the mirrorless market, which again has reduced their DSLR / DSLT range to the level of 'specialist' (i.e. not a lot of people want to buy into it!) with a different mount. They seem to have also forgotten about APS-C currently and it seems obvious that all their concentration is on their FE range. Now contrary to the Olympus situation, I doubt many people will get moist eyed at the thought of Sony's APS-C e-mount lenses disappearing without trace, but it is a consideration for people who have bought into either the a-mount or APS-C e-mount systems, since they appear to be on the verge of being left high and dry.

All of this is leading me (somewhat circuitously I have to admit!) to yet another set of words on how much I like using Nikon F mount lenses. Because there are very few cameras that they can't be used on. Unlike Canon, who changed their mount to accommodate AF, Nikon have stuck with the F-mount for years, for 'full-frame' and APS-C. Only deviating from that for the Nikon 1 system. This has meant that whether or not I've owned a Nikon body, I've had Nikon lenses sitting on my shelf for the last 25 years or so. And I assume that will be the case going forward as well. Regular readers will be aware that I rate them very highly anyway and have used them extensively.

Finally on this I was aware that not so long ago Samyang released some lenses with mirrorless camera mounts. You can get a variety of the lenses they make with Sony E, Fuji X and m4/3 mounts. It did occur to me however, that this was pretty much pointless, since there are lots of adapters available to use the Nikon and Canon versions on any of the above systems. It's not as though the 'native' mount gives much advantage other than you don't have to buy an adapter. You still have to manually focus the lens using whatever means the camera you are using provides and of course the great advantage of those Nikon and Canon fit lenses is that you can use them on different systems. Fancy changing from m4/3 to Sony E and still want to use a Samyang lens? No problem. An adapter from ebay or Amazon and you are ready to go.

And finally finally, I have to say that the notion that keeps getting promoted that using lenses via adapters reduces image quality has no basis in reality as far as I'm concerned, And in the case of the Metabones speed boosters, the adapter can actually boost image quality. I've used lots of adapters and non native lenses over the years and I've never had an issue about a loss of IQ. Some of the cheaper variety have attempted to destroy my lens mounts, but the decent ones, e.g. Metabones, PhotoDiox, Kipon, Bower and Novoflex are excellent. For the majority of my time with Sony FE and for a lot of use with all my other cameras I have had adapted lenses on the front of my cameras. And I have never felt I was compromising the quality of results by doing that. Another internet myth.

Below is a gallery of what I've been shooting lately with my Nikon D750.