Yes, you read that correctly.
It’s not because I need the money. It’s not because it’s too heavy. It’s not even because I’ve decided to once again switch sides and go back to Canon (I’m not).
No, it’s none of those.
On the way back from a long trip I was thinking about what I want Lens Shark to be and I came to the realization that owning at $6,500 camera body and teaching my audience (who mostly have consumer-level gear) was hypocritical.
Even though it’s not entirely true, there really is a lot you can do with a manufacturer’s flagship camera body that you can’t do (or do as well) with bodies in their consumer or even enthusiast lines.
These beastly, über expensive flagship bodies are what many photographers aspire to own one day…and I’m selling mine.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s an AMAZING camera and it’s tempting to keep it, but I don’t think it would be right to do so.
Sure I’m going to miss its 11 fps burst rate when I shoot sports, but honestly, I rarely burn that many frames at a time anyhow. In fact, I’ve only done so twice. Once was to hear what 11 fps sounds like and the other time was during a football game recently to see what shooting like that yielded. What it yielded, by the way, was way too many photos for any human with a life to go through. My former go-to body, the D700, shoots 8 fps with the grip attached and I don’t think I ever burnt that many frames. Again, to hear what it sounds like and test it all of once.
This likely has to do with being raised on shooting film and having shot cameras not capable of such feats. That, and many years of being a photojournalist, trains you to shoot fairly conservatively. You just don’t have time to drill through thousands of files later when you’re on deadline.
So I’m on my way back home on a long, desolate road pondering the Nikon D4s purge and realized that I got the job done for years with the very capable D700. And while I longed for higher (and cleaner) ISOs, I can shoot most sports at 6,400 ISO all day long and come away with the shots I need. While I’ve enjoyed the ability to go as high as 25,600 ISO with those two additional stops of latitude, it’s a luxury.
For those still new to photography, this means that rather than shooting at 1/250 of a second at dark football fields, I could bump that up to 1/1000 of a second! Or, alternatively, I could just go to 1/500 of second at 12,800 ISO and have cleaner files since there’d be less noise in the images. As you know, as you go higher with your ISO, your images get noisier. While noise reduction in software helps, there’s nothing like shooting at the lowest ISO you’re able to get away with and coming away with cleaner images.
That kind of latitude is great to have! I consider things like that as having additional tools in my toolbox.
Ok, so back to my drive…
In that moment I came to peace with removing two stops of latitude (among other great features) from my toolbox and going back to shooting with my trusty D700. Wow. Am I crazy?!!! I might just be, but it’s important to me that if I’m going to teach, that I do so with tools similar to my students. And that means no D4s. If you have a D4s you’re either a working pro and know how to use it already…or you’re a dentist.
Not 10 minutes later I get word that Nikon is rumored to be announcing the Nikon D750 at Photokina in Germany. Will this be the long-awaited replacement for the D700 or some sort of hybrid of Nikon’s D610 and D810 bodies…time would tell.
I pulled over to check the rumored specs and by all indications the top ISO would be 12,800 and have a lot of very useful features (some which my D4s doesn’t even have). These days, I shoot high school football at 12,800 ISO anyhow so no problem there.
We’ve since learned with the actual announcement of the Nikon D750 that it will have 24 Megapixels to the D4s’ 18 Megapixels. Ok, not too bad. I’m not a big fan of high megapixels. For portrait photography that’s wonderful, but if you’re shooting a lot of action, it’s not ideal. I’d much prefer 18 Megapixels TOPS, higher ISO capability and ever-cleaner ISOs in what had previously been noisy. Now we know from physics and paying attention to these things that 24 Megapixels will mean a noisier 12,800 ISO on the D750 than on the D4s. That’s not a deal breaker. It’s just not ideal. Remember, I can always go back to 6,400 ISO and that should look cleaner than on my aging D700.
So, as I’m in the middle of nowhere driving home, I decided to ditch the D4s in favor of my D700 and minutes later the universe rewarded me with a more reasonable camera. I don’t entirely believe that of course, but still…
So it’s official. I’m replacing my beloved, amazing Nikon D4s with a Nikon D750. If I’m going to be teaching photography enthusiasts, it can’t be with the best Nikon body money can buy. Sure I could keep it, but knowing me I’d likely never use it again. In my mind, it’s the D750 or nothing now. Something clicked in my head. I have a whole new perspective and it feels good.
Time will tell if this was the right thing to do. As a pro who still shoots a fair amount of sports and other challenging assignments, the D750 looks to be plenty capable. The D4s is a wonderful camera, but not “necessary”. Before I bought the D4s in early 2014 I was getting the job done just fine with the D700. The D750 looks to be suitable upgrade. If not, there’s always the option to rent one from BorrowLenses.com or the like. (That’s not an ad by the way. They’re a great outfit. That’s my unbiased opinion.)
Will I miss the D4s? Probably. But I’ve decided that it makes more sense to my readers of this site and listeners of my podcast to own a camera more like what they have. And honestly, the D750 might be out of reach for many in my audience. But as a pro shooter, I need a body with a certain feature set. So this is a happy medium between the D4s and a more consumer offering.
Update (11/2014): I’ve since worked into the mix, the awesome Sony a6000. At 24 Megapixels, 11 fps and plenty of ISO to work with, it’s proved to be a very capable body. Hit the search box above with Sony a6000 and read more about it and see what all I’ve been able to easily cover with this little, inexpensive body. Blows my mind.
I’ll have a full review of the Nikon D750 in the near future.