Times change, opinions change, and even a hardcore film shooter like me has been seduced by the qualities of the D800E. This camera is really something. My previous DSLR, the D700 was (and still is) a great camera, but there was no way I would choose it over my medium format gear for landscape or other “serious work” I was doing. The 12 megapixels and dynamic range sure could not compete with my 6×7 or 6×9 cameras.
Even when I purchased the D800E, I kept using it only for subjects that were difficult to shoot with film. But after a few months, I realized that I was getting prejudiced and kept wasting film even in situations where the D800E was the camera to use. And then, it was also the speed and convenience it offered me compared to my MF or large format gear.
So, I slowly began to use more and more the Nikon until I reached to a point that I was packing the D800E first, and then chose complimentary film gear according to what I was planning to shoot at my trips. The digital DSRL provided me the assurance that I had pretty much covered any possible subject and I would choose a film camera only when it was worth it (or I found it was suitable for a specific subject).
The D800E with a set of lenses, requires a large and heavy bag, but so is my large format or panoramic 6×17 camera combo. I don’t walk long distances, most of my images are made within a close distance from my car, so I can cope with weight. And for hikes, I can only carry the Nikon with the 24-70 and the 50mm or 135mm.
The 36mp and dynamic range of the D800E are really on par with my 6×9 camera (I have tested this many times). Of course I prefer the color of film or the unique looks of Fuji Velvia, and sure b&w film is still in a league of it own, but I still own my film camera, and for those special situations I will use them.
The wide range of focal lengths for the Nikon (14mm to 300mm or 450mm in crop mode) allowed me to discover new subjects in revisited areas and that sure is a good thing. High ISO performance and flashes also create new opportunities for images. And let’s not forget the ability to shoot time lapses or video.
So, do I enjoy shooting the D800E more than my film cameras ? No, I still prefer the whole process of shooting a film camera, but not if this makes me lose a good shot. A good image is a good image, and no one really cares what camera you used. I may draw more satisfaction from a great photo taken with a film camera, but the final images is all that matters.
The Nikon is here to stay, and my film cameras are still going to make lots of images at the future, but clearly the first choice now is the D800E.
Of course, these are my choices when I am “seriously” shooting. For a travel with friends or family, a walk in the city or when I just want to have a camera with me, I will always use either the Sony NEX or Leica M8. These area small and light cameras more suitable for everyday situations.
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