Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Old farm silos and the Nikon D5300

click photo to enlarge
For the past few years my photography has involved the use of a Canon 5D Mk2 and a Sony RX100. The Canon I chose for its reliability and versatility and it has given me that, courtesy of a very capable body and four high quality lenses. However, it's heavy. And I'm not getting any younger. Hence, I bought the Sony for its mixture of compact form and pretty good quality to use as the "always with me" camera, the one to be taken when we're shopping or out and about without photography specifically in mind. I also thought it would be useful when we do long walks or visit cities such as London. For the latter purpose it is excellent; it's unobtrusive and the 28-100mm (35mm equiv.) focal length lens suits my photography fine in the streets and parks of the city. However, when it comes to walking in the countryside of, say, the Yorkshire Dales or the Lincolnshire Wolds, on the Fens or even by the sea, its maximum focal length has proved somewhat limiting.

Consequently, at the end of last year I bought what I thought would be a reasonably small and light,  "in-between" camera with a versatile lens - the Panasonic G6 with the 14-140mm (28-280mm 35mm equiv.) lens. I got it at a good price and began to use it. Within a couple of days I realised this was not the camera for me. Why? Well, at quite commonly used focal lengths and shutter speeds it would not produce sharp images when using the mechanical shutter. It has an electronic shutter too and that always produced sharp images but at the cost of restricted usability. The problem was "shutter shock", an issue that has affected a number of mirrorless cameras. It is caused by the way a camera without a flip-up mirror cocks the shutter and introduces vibrations just before the shutter fires and makes the exposure. This seems to be a particular issue with this specific body and lens, though my letter to Panasonic resulted in no acknowledgement of the issue; this despite the fact that quite a number of photographers have reported the same problem. The fact that the body was so small and designed with quite a few buttons that I kept inadvertently hitting was also a problem, but one I would have persevered with. Blurred shots I wouldn't countenance, and so the camera was returned to the seller.

My response to this was to buy a Nikon D5300 with the 18-140mm lens (27-210mm 35mm equiv.). The size of this camera is approximately the same as the Olympus E510, the camera that I've had most pleasure out of in the past ten years. It's heavier than the Panasonic (and much heavier than the Sony), but quite a bit lighter than the Canon. You might wonder why an enthusiast wouldn't choose the Nikon D7100 or a mid-priced Canon to make use of my existing lenses. The answer is - weight, and a curiosity to try another brand. Moreover, I intend to restrict this camera to one lens only, so if I had chosen a Canon I'd still have to buy a lighter EF-S lens and so there would be no real saving.

Today's photograph is an example of the output of the Nikon. I'm quite happy with the camera which, incidentally, seems to have the same sensor as all Nikon's newer APS-C DSLRs regardless of price.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Nikon D5300
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 38mm (57mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/320 sec
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On