Reader Questions About DSLR versus Z

I've been doing a series of reader email questions and answers. On Thursday, as you might expect, came a slew of questions that dealt with the DSLR versus mirrorless future. So I'll tackle them here so you can all see my responses:

"At 57, a lifelong Nikon owner with over 25 Nikkor/Nikon lenses accumulated, I am concerned that in about 10 years, Nikon will no longer make F monmunt bodies, forcing me to upgrade my entire system . Since some of my lenses lack full functionality even with an adapter, and most of my lenses probably are not suited for sensors greater than 24mp, I purchased my third D700 body recently, and anticipate buying two used D750's over the next year, thus protecting my investment in glass, for the rest of my life. Are others thinking this way?"

I'm sure others are thinking this way. But those same people were thinking similarly when the D1 was introduced ;~). 

We're still early in the ILC evolution from DSLR to mirrorless. There's no real penalty for remaining in DSLR, though, as there was with film. The benefit of moving to mirrorless is lower than it was in moving to DSLR, too. So I expect this to be a fairly orderly transition.

"What will Nikon do IF there will be a successor of the D750 , D5(s)? They could insert a Z6 sensor and introduce live view AF in their DSLRs. Might this be happening next summer? The same applies for the eventual D850 update."

Quite a few readers are thinking the opposite: that there will be no new DSLRs. But remember the F6, which took all the DSLR-learned advances and applied them to film even after we were well into the digital era. I suspect Nikon will do something similar with DSLRs, so your idea is not at all far-fetched. Adding on-sensor PD for Live View to the DSLRs would be a clear advance over our current DSLRs. If you could also add in a hybrid viewfinder, that would be very advanced and keep DSLR sales going a bit longer.

I suspect that Nikon is thinking along these lines. However, the question is for which cameras, because they're not going to do it for the entire lineup of DSLRs. The D850 makes the most sense in this case, but the D750 would be the next best choice.

"With an F-mount lens attached to a new Z camera via the FTZ adapter, does the focal length of the F lens change? I would think so, being the lens would sit further forward by several millimeters."

No it does not. The focal length, close focus distance, and aperture would remain the same with the FTZ adapter for any F-mount lens. That's because the lens is in the same position relative to the sensor as it was on a DSLR.

"When looking at the performance of the cards and people's actual use of the slots the reaction to the Z specs could be irrational. I myself have the D500 and 600 and only use both slots for rare "important" occasions. However a similar reaction is limiting D7500 sales.  Does Nikon really expect this camera to drive sales or is the actual goal to try and exploit a new mount to invent better lenses?"

In retrospect, it does now seem odd that the D7500 doesn't have two card slots. In terms of the DSLR versus mirrorless equation, one of the ways the DSLRs at the top (e.g. D850) distinguish themselves from the new Z mirrorless series (e.g. Z7) is in slot configuration. There are other ways in which the DSLR/mirrorless boundary seems to be defined at the moment by Nikon, but the number of people complaining about slots, first on the D7500, now on the Z models, makes me think that Nikon didn't quite anticipate this right. I'll answer your actual question on sansmirror, but I thought your comment was relevant to the DSLR discussion that's ongoing and now having to take into account Nikon's mirrorless cameras. Simply put, the D7500 should have had two card slots. Any DSLR Nikon introduces at that level or above in the future needs two card slots. You don't establish a norm (D7200, D500, D750, D850, D4, D5, etc.) and then take that away at a time when you want to pick up some last DSLR upgraders.

After almost ten years of photographing with my D700, I've decide to move to a new body.

"My D700 serves me well for people, travelling, low light and a lot of situations that made me feel confortable with this body. I print photos and make big to normal size blurb books—particularly in landscapes—I'm not happy with the results. I'd like to improve resolution/acuity and it's not due to por shooting discipline.

So i think about changing my nikon body in the next few months and have several options. That is the reason for writing to you:

1.- D750 (4 years old) Or wait to see if there's other DSLR 24 MP DSLR?

2.- D850 My heart says go for it! Bit afraid of diffraction problem over f8 and lenses that you say are no so good for it. Plus I'd need a new machine to process those really big files.

3.- Z7: same than 3, and only F lenses? or trading 24-70 and get the combo with new S24-70 + F to S lenses adaptor.

4- Z6: less resolución than 36mp, of course more than D700 12 MP, and back to number 3. 

I completely agree with you that Z7/Z6 are for enthusiasts. Maybe me?

Maybe. I'm seeing a lot of these kinds of emails where the DSLR/mirrorless decision is somewhat problematic given the age of the D750 and the newness of the Z series. 

But so far I'm not backing off my comment that the D850 is the best all-around camera you can buy. The Z7 clearly doesn't exceed the D850, and actually trails it in many ways. The D750/Z6 level seems closer, but mostly because the D750 is four years old.

Thing is, there's a price differential you have to consider, too (at least here in the US). We've got D750's going for US$1500 with extra goodies right now, and that camera works directly with all your lenses. So your cost is US$1500. The Z6+FT6 puts you at US$2150. So you'd be paying a premium for "new".

The landscape comment, though, would tend to indicate that you should go D850. While the Z7 is the same pixel count, the lens situation for landscapes would be completely "via FTZ adapter." I'm not convinced that the Z7 has an advantage over the D850 for landscape work other than it being smaller and lighter overall.  

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