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“Window between Sony and Nikon D820”

Dan M writes:

So there’s a window here between the A7R II and whatever the “D820” will actually be.

Let’s put it this way: if we knew the next D820 or whatever was going to be 50mp or more and had a really good EVF, then the A7R II loses some appeal. But if the next flagship Nikon doesn’t have EVF, well then things get messy and the A7RII looks to be an advantage for the next couple of years, especially for me with the Coastal Optics 60/4 on a shelf. And then there is the sensor difference you speak of....

You would think Nikon would wake up by now and go to EVF. Especially given where the whole product landscape will be in late 2016, early 2017.

DIGLLOYD: Nikon seems to be asleep at the switch. A year ago, the D810 should have been upgraded with in-body image stabilization, an EVF option, a Retina-grade rear LCD, and relaunched as the Nikon D820. Because the dynamic range of the Nikon D810 is incredible, its results at ISO 64 are untouchable by Canon or Sony and those options would quell much of the desire I have in shooting the Sony mirrorless platform. It would not solve lens size issues, but then again the Zeiss Otus family is so large and heavy that a DSLR is the best platform. Just without the hassles please!

To Dan’s point, Canon introduced the Canon 5DS R which at 50 megapixels and no better dynamic range than its predecessor hit the market with a thud and collective yawn. It’s a nice camera and I’m glad to have it over the low-res 5D Mark III, but other than more megapixels and some niceties like improved shutter, it’s same-old same-old. And its dynamic range falls far short of the Nikon D810.

The DSLR still has a lot of legs in it and remains indispensible for a few more years, but what happens when sensor design with built-in focus pixels runs rings around DSLR autofocus? That day is just about here, if not already here in some respects. Then like the wedding photographer and similar crowd, the sports shooters will abandon the DSLR and go nuts for a camera that solves their worst challenge. Well, if the appropriate lenses are there, and they will be before long over most of the range. Nikon and Canon are ceding a big chunk of the market to Sony by inaction, rather than addressing specific areas that people care about.

I for one want an EVF as my #1 priority: I can’t see the rear LCD in dim light any more (presbyopia) and I’m grumpy that I have to carry a loupe just to see the rear LCD. Two years have passed since I wrote Old Geezers Need an EVF: the Rear LCD and Presbyopia are a Bad Combination For Aging Eyes, and yet CaNikon have done squat to address that fundamental usability issue for my needs. There you have it: the fundamental problem is that the CaNikon DSLRs are stuck in a time warp, oblivious to real needs (and still, incredibly, no 4K video in those hulking camera bodies). The same goes for the otherwise excellent Ricoh GR and the Sigma Merrill and Quattro point and shoots—no EVF and not even an EVF option. What are these companies thinking?

Ira K writes:

Speaking as an “old geezer” (60+ y/o), I find the larger body and lens size of the D810 far preferable for studio use than the Sony A7R. My aging hands have an easier time with the larger dials, buttons, and larger diameter lens rings. My ideal Nikon D810 update would have a larger high definition LCD, which is now my primary means of composing and focusing.

The Sony’s smaller size obviously has great appeal in other uses, and I’d love to update to an A7R II for walk around and occasional landscape work. But the lossy raw compression is the main reason I will wait for the next iteration of the camera.

An EVF for the Nikon update would also be a huge benefit, as I then could use the Nikon as a walkabout camera as well (albeit heavier option).

DIGLLOYD: I don’t know if Ira uses Zeiss Otus, but they are heavy to carry in the field. Worth the results, but quite a load with two Otii to carry around, let alone three (when and if a 3rd arrives).

As for the Sony 11+7 bit lossy compression, it may be technically possible for this to be fixed in firmware, if that is really the only issue (versus hardware pre-cooking of the raw data).

I completely agree on the dials/buttons/rings, as I’ve noted in my review on both the A7R and A7R II. My hands are relatively large, and the camera is too small. I imagine that a woman or man with smaller hands might not feel this way about the camera size, but the dials and buttons surely could be improved for all.

The Sony A7R II dials and buttons are too small (and awkwardly placed) even under favorable conditions, and in freezing temperatures with stiff fingers or with gloves on, they are awful.

The worst thing of all is that the front dial is place in an ergonomically awkward position, below the shutter button instead of above it (as with Nikon and Canon). Well, maybe that’s the second worse thing—second to the rotating dial (Control Wheel) around the 4-way controller; that Control Wheel dial absolutely must be disabled to prevent inadvertant changes.

But to Sony’s credit, the grip on the A7R II is much improved over its predecessor and at least as comfortable as my D810. I’d say: size up the camera by about 15%, put in larger and higher quality buttons and dials, and that would be a big win (and it would allow for a significantly longer lasting bettery also). A bit larger and heavier will be more usable, not less.

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