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DSLR to Mirrorless 2022


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Hi folks. I saw a similar post and discussions from a year ago, but I'm looking forward to hearing your current views on this topic. I'm getting the unnerving feeling that my Nikon D810 is/has become outmoded, as my images are not getting accepted by Alamy due to "soft or lacking definition". Or maybe I need to shoot everything in RAW now and convert to jpg?

 

I've been involved in photography since the 1970's, and I always try to keep apprised of the latest trends in camera technology. When I bought the D810 in early 2020, I could not afford a mirrorless system at that time and as a property photographer, the D810 was still highly recommended. I know of it being a great workhorse as well. Over the past few years as a property photographer, its results have been impressing agents and their clients, and of course Lightroom and Photoshop helps attribute to the quality of those images.

 

But over the past few years, I've also been reading a lot about the LUMIX S5, Fuji T4 and Nikon Z's.  And as other photographers previously mentioned, I'm beginning to wonder if I need to gather up all of my Nikon gear and trade it all in for a mirrorless?  I'm now apprehensive about the Nikon Z's, and I'm favoring the LUMIX S5 with the LUMIX S Pro 16-35mm lens, especially based on this recent article I stumbled upon.

https://www.panasonic.com/global/consumer/lumix/s/daniel_berehulak.html

 

I've been a long-time Nikon fan for years, but I'm just not feeling the love for Nikon any more... not since my Nikon F with NIKKOR 500mm lens (I think I remember Nikon doing something different with manufacturing their lens years ago, but that's another topic completely).

 

I tried searching the interweb and with no luck, but I would love to find someone who has done a side-by-side comparison of twilight images at ISO 400, 800, and 1600 using the Nikon Z7, Fuji T4, and LUMIX S5 -- all unedited in low light, to see how much or little grain each camera produces. I know lenses affect this too, but just would love to hear some feedback on the matter.  My head is spinning!

 

Thanks and cheers!

 

Frank

 

 

 

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Hi Frank,

 

I think you are talking about two issues here but lets separate them to deal with Individually

 

#1 Alamy QC rejection with message "soft or lacking definition" - Are you able to load the photos to the chat or host in one of those free sites and link here. This will help forum members to review and advise accordingly. I take the rejection was in the first batch you are submitting for approval.

 

#2 Nikon DSLR to Another brand Mirrorless - There has been loads of discussions as you have noted. I will not go into the conversion but with respect to Nikon I submit from D810 and majority from a NIKON APSC sensor camera. All gets through QC after the usual review. I doubt highly the issue would be with the camera model.

 

Gnans

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Hi Frank,

"The Nikon D810 is a 36.3-megapixel professional-grade full-frame digital single-lens reflex camera produced by Nikon. The camera was officially announced in June 2014, and became available in July 2014."

 

Sorry, it's not the camera that is the problem for the soft images. You don't need to go to mirrorless for image quality.

 

There are benefits, in that there's less mechanical parts and the camera body is much much smaller. The lenses aren't as small as I was hoping they would be though, even though the flange distance to the sensor is a lot smaller. Also, I really like having an electronic display through the eyepiece that shows all the settings that you've applied.

 

As regards choosing a manufacturer, forget everything that you know about digital SLR cameras manufacturers. The major manufacturers are all at different stages with regards to development of mirrorless cameras and the new lenses to go with them. Sony had a massive headstart, but I believe Nikon and Canon have largely caught up. I don't know anything about Lumix.

 

Steve

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17 hours ago, frankbiganski said:

Hi folks. I saw a similar post and discussions from a year ago, but I'm looking forward to hearing your current views on this topic. I'm getting the unnerving feeling that my Nikon D810 is/has become outmoded, as my images are not getting accepted by Alamy due to "soft or lacking definition". Or maybe I need to shoot everything in RAW now and convert to jpg?

 

I've been involved in photography since the 1970's, and I always try to keep apprised of the latest trends in camera technology. When I bought the D810 in early 2020, I could not afford a mirrorless system at that time and as a property photographer, the D810 was still highly recommended. I know of it being a great workhorse as well. Over the past few years as a property photographer, its results have been impressing agents and their clients, and of course Lightroom and Photoshop helps attribute to the quality of those images.

 

But over the past few years, I've also been reading a lot about the LUMIX S5, Fuji T4 and Nikon Z's.  And as other photographers previously mentioned, I'm beginning to wonder if I need to gather up all of my Nikon gear and trade it all in for a mirrorless?  I'm now apprehensive about the Nikon Z's, and I'm favoring the LUMIX S5 with the LUMIX S Pro 16-35mm lens, especially based on this recent article I stumbled upon.

https://www.panasonic.com/global/consumer/lumix/s/daniel_berehulak.html

 

I've been a long-time Nikon fan for years, but I'm just not feeling the love for Nikon any more... not since my Nikon F with NIKKOR 500mm lens (I think I remember Nikon doing something different with manufacturing their lens years ago, but that's another topic completely).

 

I tried searching the interweb and with no luck, but I would love to find someone who has done a side-by-side comparison of twilight images at ISO 400, 800, and 1600 using the Nikon Z7, Fuji T4, and LUMIX S5 -- all unedited in low light, to see how much or little grain each camera produces. I know lenses affect this too, but just would love to hear some feedback on the matter.  My head is spinning!

 

Thanks and cheers!

 

Frank

 

 

 

 

You certainly sound very confused so let's take it bit by bit. I am a long term Nikon user currently with feet in both camps (F and Z mount Nikons)

 

1. I am guessing that the reason you are failing Alamy QC is because you are using a high MP camera. When Nikon first introduced the D800 and the D800E in 2012, a lot of people were getting soft images because it takes a bit of extra skill as well as very good lenses to get properly sharp 36MP images that can be viewed at 100% (1:1) on a computer which is how Alamy QC is viewing your images. In fact the last time I failed QC was in July 2012 when I didn't take sufficient care with my then new D800 camera having come from using a 12MP D700. So you need to make sure your shooting technique is perfect and the lenses you are using are up to the job.

 

2. You should definitely be shooting raw with that camera. Not doing so is a travesty. You can't control noise, white balance, highlight and shadow detail recovery, sharpness etc.  If you don't know how to process raw images then it's time to learn. It's not difficult.

 

3. Why are you concerned with low light performance? Are you not using a tripod for property photography?

 

4. The D810 and other full frame Nikons (D850, Z7, Z6, D750 etc) have excellent low light performance in any case. I doubt you will find the comparison you are looking for and I doubt that either of the other cameras you mention will measure up to the Nikons for low light performance if you compare raw images and process them properly. In-camera JPEG performance is neither here nor there. These Nikons have massive dynamic range and noise is easy to control in Lightroom.

 

5. Reasons to go mirrorless: lightness (but that depends on the lens you stick on), much better video features, the DSLR is dying and all new development is aimed at mirrorless.

 

6. Reasons to go mirrorless and stick with Nikon: the Z cameras are superb for image quality, the new Z lenses are in a class of their own, you can use your F-mount lenses with an adapter, Nikon is putting everything into the Z system. 

 

7. Reasons to not go mirrorless and stick with Nikon: why do you need to change if you get your technique right with the D810? Don't get caught in the mirrorless hype. If all you are doing is property photography then you should be fine with the D810 (and a tripod).

 

 

Edited by MDM
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I too would want to get images through QC as a matter of professional pride, but that doesn't pay the bills, and for stock there's no disadvantage in downsizing. I see no reason ever to go above 20MP. The returns here will never pay for new equipment anyway.

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Shoot raw, from a tripod if the ISO is going over 2000.  Mirror lockup might help.   Size of the sensor seems irrelevant above 12 MP.   I've had photos taken with a Panasonic GF1 pass QC (12 MP, couldn't be cropped) and photos with a Nikon D50 and Nikon D100 all also passed.  D100 was APSC.   Currently shoot a Sony a7 original model (full frame) and a Sony a6000.  They work.   One Sony a7 body turned itself into a one shot and video camera, wasn't worth fixing, but since it works fine in video, a friend got it as a gift.

 

I changed from Nikon to Sony because I sold all my earlier gear when I left the US.  Sony at one time had a store in Managua where I could buy gear.  At this point, I've got what I've got.

 

My two cameras are 24 MP.  The D100 was less, but I've been able to crop those and still have the file large enough for Alamy QC.

 

Main reason to change gear is mechanical failure as the cost of repair may be more than a new body (especially for older cameras still in production or in stock somewhere).

 

Reason for smaller mirrorless is weight.  

 

 

Edited by Rebecca Ore
tense fix
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If the OP's main paid work is property photography, then having a camera that looks professional (such as the Nikon D810 or any other Nikons mentioned above) might be important for impressing potential and existing clients. 

 

He is not asking about a camera suitable for stock photography as far as I can see. He is asking about whether his D810 is out of date and if that is why he is failing QC. Clearly it's not. His technique is at fault. Alamy QC has its uses.

Edited by MDM
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I gave up shooting my Nikon D800 years ago, after buying my first mirrorless, the Fuji X-T1 when it first came out. At once I noticed an increase in sharpness. I didn’t just notice it, I was shocked by it. I’m now shooting the X-T4 and the 26.1 mp is perfect for stock. I still have room to crop a vertical from a horizontal if I want.

Some of the difference, but not all, was coming down from a high megapixel camera to a 16mp camera. MDM is right that shooting high MP cameras require dedication to technique. (He’s also right about your needing to shoot RAW.)  I really concentrated on my technique with the 800 but still failed QC on a regular basis. I think in all the years since going mirrorless, I’ve failed once, and that was more the camera focusing on something else besides the subject, (a flower with the leaf the sharpest) which was still fairly sharp. I thought because “something” was pin sharp I could get away with it. Wrong!

Everyone has their own story and experiences, nothing is perfectly right or wrong, because some of us are better at what we do than others, and that plays a bigger part than one would think. After all, a camera is a tool. It’s who holds and works the tool that counts for a lot.
I think my competency muddles along in the high middle, where MDM is in the better/best category. I’m only speaking of my own experience.

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Just to be clear, Frank already owns a great Nikon camera and is asking if he needs to buy a mirrorless camera, as he is wondering if his camera his out of date. The answer is a definite no if he is doing mainly property photography. He is not going to get better results going mirrorless. There is no harm except financial in going mirrorless but he does not need to do so to get sharp pictures, he just needs to adapt his technique. 

 

Now if he was thinking of doing action photography as well then the answer would be he does want to be thinking about something with a bigger buffer and better AF than the D810 but not necessarily mirrorless.

Edited by MDM
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The Nikon D810 was and remains an excellent camera body, and I'm a Fuji convert. A better question for this forum would be for help with explaining why these pictures are getting rejected, it won't be because of the D810.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Harry Harrison said:

The Nikon D810 was and remains an excellent camera body, and I'm a Fuji convert. A better question for this forum would be for help with explaining why these pictures are getting rejected, it won't be because of the D810.

 

 

One thing with DSLRs with optical finders is sometimes, they need to be calibrated for the lenses.   I very vaguely remember doing this once with the D100 and a lens.   This isn't an issue with mirrorless.

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13 hours ago, MDM said:

If the OP's main paid work is property'photography, then having a camera that looks professional (such as the Nikon D810 or any other Nikons mentioned above) might be important for impressing potential and existing clients. 

 

I used to know a photographer who undertook a wide range of photography for a large company. His company contact was an amateur photographer and camera snob who always upgraded to the latest camera. When the D6 was released he felt obliged to upgrade as he feared the possibility of loosing his largest client by not using the 'latest and greatest' professional kit.

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7 hours ago, Rebecca Ore said:

One thing with DSLRs with optical finders is sometimes, they need to be calibrated for the lenses.   I very vaguely remember doing this once with the D100 and a lens.   This isn't an issue with mirrorless.

Yes, there are number of factors that could conspire for any individual to get less than optimum results from a DSLR, for example it might just be too heavy to hold comfortably. For the problem that you describe it would likely only show up on a particular lens so would be relatively easy to diagnose and fix with a suitable target via the menu system. However none of these factors could be put at the door of the technical specification of the D810 camera body itself which still measures up very well today. In any case no camera body could possibly be blamed for being 'soft or lacking any definition' so there must be some wires getting cross here.

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45 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

. In any case no camera body could possibly be blamed for being 'soft or lacking any definition' so there must be some wires getting cross here.

 

Hostage to fortune there Harry 😀:

 

The exception here (assuming that the camera body is not damaged) is in using a high MP camera (such as the D810) and assumng the same rules with focusing. For many years I used hyperfocal focusing with the barrel marks on the lens to indicate what was in focus from x metres to infinity. This worked perfectly with all 35mm film cameras and my earlier digital cameras ( the 12MP D700).


So when I got my new 36MP D800 in July 2012, I just assumed it would work just the same. I did two trips abroad and shots 1000s of images before I realised to my horror that the old rules do not apply for hyperfocal focusing with these then totally groundbreaking 36MP cameras. I was using quality manual focus Nikon AIS prime lenses. An Alamy QC fail (SoLD) woke me up to the fact that something was wrong. I had checked the images at 100% in Photoshop and had just assumed that images from 36MP cameras would look a bit soft when viewed at 100% - wrong. 

 

Fortunately after some experimentation I realised that downsizing did work so all was not lost. In fact the images when downsized to 12MP equivalent were actually slightly sharper than those from the venerable D700. So I processed those images and downsized so they would pass Alamy QC and they did with no problem. Subsequently I did a load of experiments to determine working hyperfocal distances for my prime lenses that I used back then for landscape work. 

 

So to summarise: good focusing technique is necessary with high MP cameras, quality lenses are essential for sharpness across the field, tripods are advisable if possible as camera shake can be a problem (stabilised lenses or in the case of many new mirrorless cameras in body stabilisation help). 

Edited by MDM
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28 minutes ago, MDM said:

Hostage to fortune there Harry 😀:

Well in a way I suppose! I can quite see that everything you say is true but I wouldn't put that at the door of the technical quality of the camera, and in particular the sensor of the camera used, much more to do with the focusing and/or quality of the lenses. We agree in any case, the OP shouldn't imagine that his 'softness' problems are the fault of the camera per se, it is not 'outmoded'. If I was him and really wanted to try mirrorless I'd be looking at a Z series Nikon as well I think.

 

Digital pixel-peeping certainly makes one very conscious of depth of field. I use a sort of zone-focusing with my X100 with its '35mm equiv.' lens, I never use AF (that's very slow anyway on the original X100), instead I use MF and the back-focus button to quickly focus on something at a suitable distance, often not the subject, then I know how close I need to be to my subjects (this is for people of course), I'm usually using f8 or thereabouts. I also like the '50mm equiv.' view so have a 35mm f1.4 on another Fuji. It's a fantastically sharp lens but I'd have to be very careful to use the same technique with that. The fact that it is so sharp makes it more obvious when it's not quite there. I think we've both scanned our film originals and found that our old slides aren't quite as sharp as we'd like to think they were also.

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I know it's not the camera's fault 😀 . In my case it was my fault for assuming that hyperfocal focusing would work in the same way as with 35mm film cameras or low MP cameras. But it seemed like a good assumption at the time. It was a very powerful lesson in fact. Do not use new technology without testing it throroughly first.

 

In relation to scanned slides, I am inclined to disagree that these (mine at least 😀) slides are not sharp. The problem lies in the digitisation (however that is done - camera or film scanner). I have printed (chemically that is) many of my 35mm slides and negs to large sizes and they are perfectly sharp when viewed at an appropriate distance. Same when they were projected. It's not as if everything we did before the digital age was bad. The optics have not changed. I still have lenses from my film days (well one only now - the very venerable 55mm Micro Nikkor) and it was just as good and my focusing was just as good back in the day with a film camera as it is now. That may not be the case for everyone of course.

 

 

Edited by MDM
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11 minutes ago, MDM said:

when viewed at an appropriate distance. Same when they were projected

That's the key though, at an appropriate distance, the beauty of scanning slides at highish resolution, say 24MP, is that you get to view them in a way that was never possible back in the day, even when projected or printed. Zooming in on a 6000 x 4000 px scan at 1:1 is liking looking closely at a print about a meter wide at close distance. I am talking about sharp slides taken with sharp high quality lenses incidentally.

 

I was using the Micro-Nikkor 55mm just last night on my Fuji, great at 1:1 and great at infinity also. A super lens.

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6 hours ago, Harry Harrison said:

In any case no camera body could possibly be blamed for being 'soft or lacking any definition' so there must be some wires getting cross here.

Not necessarily especially if it's a DSLR?

Several possible causes.

Focusing sensor array not at same focal distance as image sensor, or mirror(s) not seated correctly when using AF

Image sensor and focussing screen not at same focal distance or main mirror not seated correctly when using MF

Mirror or mirror damping defective causing vibration - although technically that should be fail for motion blur I suppose

Lens mounting flange not parallel to sensor plane

 

Mark

 

 

Edited by M.Chapman
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21 minutes ago, M.Chapman said:

Not necessarily especially if it's a DSLR?

Yes, but...I'm really assuming that his D810 is functioning as it should. If the Alamy QC problems are because his camera body, or lens come to that, is defective then that's a different matter altogether, something we could advise him on if we had more information. His reason for wanting to replace his D810 was because it was outmoded, not because it might be broken in some way.

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Thank you all for your insightful replies. When I first started to reply yesterday afternoon, I was stopped by the dreadful news of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing. As a new resident of the UK, my heartfelt condolences go out to every British citizen and those her knew her. It is sad indeed.

 

I found several possibilities that may have been attributing to my “lack of definition” issue with Alamy.  Many of you are more technically savvy whether any of these settings are factors or not, but it seems to be a start for me.  One of the first three images I submitted to Alamy was accepted, but that image was taken with my old Nikon D5100 using an 18-55mm lens at ISO-200, f/16, 300dpi 4928x3264. The image was also heavily edited in Lightroom and Alamy accepted it, yet the more recent images taken with my Nikon D810 failed.  Since posting my question, I have since resubmitted two JPEG images that were taken with the D810 and my £1,035 Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR wide/zoom lens, and those images passed. I only corrected for vertical lines and boosted the colors a little in Photoshop, no Lightroom, no noise reduction. So yay! I’m in!

 

But Vincent’s reply also got me looking more seriously into my D810 settings and I found the Active D-Lighting set to High, Color Space set to sRGB instead of Adobe RGB, Number of Focus Points set to 11 instead of 15 points, and High ISO Noise Reduction set to High. But I’m not shooting at high ISO unless shooting properties, and then I’m only shooting at ISO-320. Anyway, I re-set my D810 settings to these recommended settings and I still have to perform some test shots over the weekend.
https://photographylife.com/recommended-nikon-d810-settings

 

Another possibility for my “lack of definition” issue could be the Nikon 70-300mm f4-5.6 D ED AF zoom lens I recently purchased. Although I purchased the lens used, it was purchased from a reputable London camera shop in mint condition for £100 (retails around £535 new?). But after further investigation, I now see the lens only has one extra-low dispersion (ED) lens and the more expensive similar VR lens that retails for £2,300 has seven ED lenses within. So as someone said within this post, and what life experience has shown me, price matters so some of my issue could also have to do with this cheaper lens.

 

The images were shot just after sunset in JPEG at 130mm, ISO-64, 5 sec exposure at f/6.3, tripod, self-timer 6 second delayed shutter release, solid ground, no wind. The image on top has no noise reduction. The image on the bottom has some noise removed and this was one of the images that failed due to “lack of definition”.

FJB_0039-side-by-side.jpg

 

 

But touching on what Betty said, I still say the results from the Fuji T4, Lumix S5, and/or Sony or Nikons, with built-in stabilization in both cameras and lens, produce far sharper images than the D810. The technology is superior. Several years ago when I was shopping for my new camera, I personally previewed side-by-side images taken by the Nikon Z, Fuji T4, and Lumix S1 against the D810. The images those mirrorless cameras and lenses produced just completely blew me away. And there was no question those cameras produced sharper images with A LOT less noise, especially when viewing in the corners of the images. But I simply could not afford mirrorless at that time, so I went with the D810 and I have been happy with it, but not jumping up and down excited.

 

In searching for additional information, I came across this website that I need to review in depth, but this person really went all out showing detailed images between JPEG vs RAW and various stops on the D810.
https://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-d810/nikon-d810HI_ISO_NR.HTM

 

But all said, with your help and input, and with additional testing, I believe I’ll narrow down my clarity issues and I still welcome your thoughts as well. They are very much appreciated and are truly invaluable.

 

Thanks again and keep on clickin! You folks are the best!

 

Frank

 


 

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16 minutes ago, frankbiganski said:

 

But touching on what Betty said, I still say the results from the Fuji T4, Lumix S5, and/or Sony or Nikons, with built-in stabilization in both cameras and lens, produce far sharper images than the D810. The technology is superior. Several years ago when I was shopping for my new camera, I personally previewed side-by-side images taken by the Nikon Z, Fuji T4, and Lumix S1 against the D810. The images those mirrorless cameras and lenses produced just completely blew me away. And there was no question those cameras produced sharper images with A LOT less noise, especially when viewing in the corners of the images. But I simply could not afford mirrorless at that time, so I went with the D810 and I have been happy with it, but not jumping up and down excited.

 

 

 

Putting it politely, that is nonsense. The technology has certainly advanced but, for image quality alone, the sensor on the D810 is superior to any of those cameras mentioned (apart from the unspecified Nikon Z). If one uses a decent lens on the D810 with good technique, shooting raw and with intelligent post-processing then the image quality will be superb from the D810. It has a full frame sensor which still compares with the very best on the market.

 

As I said above it is not a camera for action photography. None of settings you mention above have any bearing on the results if you shoot raw. By all means buy a new camera but don't blame the D810 - check your technique from start to finish and use decent lenses. You can't use a consumer 70-300 on a camera like the D810 and expect good results with excellent sharpness across the frame. Get a 50mm 1.8mm prime Nikkor and see where you go (cheap and on sale at the moment)

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FWIW I've always used "consumer" lenses and Sony non-professional camera bodies. Have had relatively few problems with QC, especially in recent years. Megapixels don't really mean a thing when it comes to passing QC. I've submitted images captured with 10, 14, 16, and 24 MP cameras. IMO the most important thing is to shoot in RAW. Best of luck.

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