Final decision on my camera brand

March 24, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Both Nikon and Sony make great photographic gear that suit my needs. There are things about each company's offerings that I wish were different. At the end of the day, decisions typically involve compromises and tradeoffs. Here are the negatives about each brand, for me and my specific shooting requirements.

Nikon

  1. I really do not like the size of their Z8 and Z9 cameras. I know I am in the minority, but I am still the one that has to live with my decision. My hands are the size they are and I cannot change that. With bird photography one sits with the camera in hand for hours. Comfort matters. If Nikon did not have the Z8 and only the Z9 was available I would not even have looked at Nikon. Gear is expensive as it is, I don't have extra money laying around to hire a Sherpa to haul a Z9 around.

  2. It would have been really nice if pre-capture could shoot in Raw. The Z9 does! Perhaps a future firmware update would make this option available on the Z8. Since the Z8 just had a massive firmware update without including this feature, I somehow doubt that it would come along in the future. Nikon has to keep some differentiation between the Z8 and the Z9. Nikon seems to be listening to their users and one can only hope that this will be fixed.

  3. Nikon seems to always be taking their sweet time to manufacture their goods. There are stories of people waiting for ordered gear for faaaaaar toooooo long. A similar situation exists right now regarding the 180-600mm lens. You cannot get it anywhere. I have either been to or communicated with various camera stores and all of them seem to have waiting lists. I can't even find this lens used; which is understandable since it is a newly introduced lens. I know that my up coming trip is my problem but I am not going on that trip without gear. After all, part of the trip is a safari for photography. If I cannot get the 180-600mm lens then I cannot go with Nikon. They will loose not only the sale of this lens but of everything.

Sony

  1. Pre-capture. The Sony A1 does not even offer this feature. For bird photography, this is a great feature. I will not be happy to pay over $4,400.00 for a used body without having this feature. Sony has officially promised a firmware update for the A1 but the promised feature list does not include pre-capture.

  2. Price. The Sony A1 (which is the only option in the Sony camp over 33MP and capable of shooting at more than 12 frames per second) has been on the market since January of 2021. It is arguably getting to the end of it's run before an updated camera model takes over. Yet, the price has not dropped from the eye watering price of $6,500.00. I am really hesitant to buy a camera for this much, so close to it getting replaced. Once it gets replaced it will obviously still continue to work as well as before but it's value will take a significant hit. Even on the used market they tend to go for around a hefty $4,400.00 now. How much will I get back for it once a new model is released. Not that I will change right away but it is something to consider. Then I will still need to add CF-Express type A cards at double the price.

          So here is what I need to consider. Can I even get Nikon's 180-600mm before my trip, without which I cannot consider Nikon at this point? Will I be able to get a used and discounted enough Sony A1 to make financial sense? I am searching for both options, far and wide, on a daily basis. At this point it is all about availability and price. If I get the Nikon 180-600mm before I can get a reasonably priced Sony A1, then I am switching to Nikon. If I happen to get the Sony A1 first, then I will be staying with Sony. It is reasonable to argue that I should not be making such an important decision all based on the timing of an up coming trip. Yet, I feel that both brands are so good and offers what I need (mostly) that I cannot go wrong with either. Since the price that I am going to pay is very similar, between going to Nikon versus staying with Sony, I don't feel that I am making a mistake either way, regardless of the trip; the asterisks being depending on price and availability.

          Sony has been a good brand for me. People complain about their menu system. I simply placed the items I use regularly in "My Menu." I assigned one of the custom buttons accordingly and with the press of that one button I have instant access to all the items I use, no searching for anything. Problem solved. People complain about Sony's lack of weather sealing. I have used my gear in rain for years now without any issue. The equipment has held up very nicely and looks as good as new. I know my Sony well. I love the exposure comp dial where it is. It works well with how I shoot. I am amazed that Canon and Nikon don't have such a dedicated dial.

          If I migrate to Nikon I will have to climb a learning curve. Things may frustrate me, like not having Zebra lines when whites or blacks are blown. I fail to understand why Nikon does not have this. It is super useful. I read a comment in one forum stating that these Zebra lines can take up a large portion of your view, hindering you from watching what is going on, and preventing you from capturing the image at the right moment. My response: why would you want to take any image if large portions of the image is blown? Besides, features that bother you can be turned off. Missing features cannot be turned on. But, given Nikon's stellar reputation and major firmware updates I am excited to give Nikon a try too. It has been said that one should date your camera but marry your lenses. I do feel that in this department Nikon is the winner, for what I shoot (long reasonably priced good primes).

          It has boiled down to a wait and see game of watching availability with Nikon and price of used gear with Sony. But what will I do if both come true; I find a Nikon 180-600mm AND the Sony A1 at a more palatable price? If that happens I will probably move to Nikon. I make this decision based on the fact that Sony cameras are just very expensive (A9 III and the A1), and because the A1 is nearing the end of it's run. So not only am I asked to spend a lot now but I will take a second hit the day I sell it because of it's age (at least more so than a newer and still current model Nikon). I will also get a new warranty on everything for the same price. Lastly, a clear upgrade path to wonderful and reasonably priced long prime lenses are attractive, something Sony does not have at this stage. Ideally, I would love to stay with Sony, if only they would release a real top notch APS-C body for bird and wildlife photography and or release a full frame stacked sensor body at a price that competes with Canon and Nikon. As a bonus, it would be nice if Sony also develops such nice long primes without costing human body parts.

          Thank you for taking this journey of decision-making with me. I will let you know what happens.


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