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Too broke for medium format


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Hey there. 
If I wanted to purchase a system that was closest to medium format for dynamic range, high mp etc would I be looking at the Nikon D850? 
Thank you

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Too broke for Medium format.

Heh. You got that right. The D850 is what you are looking for.

The Nikon D850 will get you in the realm of a "Normal Budget," meaning instead of forking out $25,000, you will be in the $3000-$4500 range in the end. (Basic Kit: D850, 24-70 cards and batteries.) I own a D850 and I found out the hard way that it needs really good lenses to be used with it because that 45MP sensor requires it. Also, plan on the infrastructure costs to support the D850, meaning 12TB EHD or larger, XQD cards that are at least 64GB, and a computer that is decently fast that has at least 32GB of RAM. (I'm at 64GB with my fancy iMac.) So if you want those 100MB Raw files, you will need to think beyond just the camera.

That being said, Medium Format is still Medium Format. I don't care what Measurebator on the Internet tells you, there is a "Look" to a photo taken with a Medium Format camera and that is due to a Medium Format Sensor being physically larger, which changes the "Angle of View." Don't think for one second that a D850 is truly a Medium Format substitute...that's Marketing. Especially if you zoom into the photo, with a any Full Frame DSLR, it starts to "fall apart" at around 100% Zoomed in. With Medium Format, you can keep going and it still looks good, at 200% or even 400%. But keep in mind, WHAT are you doing with those Medium Format Images? Posting them to Instagram? Facebook? Flickr? 500px? Or are you printing 5-7 foot photos that will be hung in a gallery? Magazine Cover for Rolling Stone? Nat Geo? It's all about perspective. For the majority of folks out there, a D850 is more than you "Need." The rest is just bragging rights.

So why purchase a D850? More resolution, finer details and more cropping options in post. Also the Dynamic Range, especially at ISO 64...is AMAZING. I also like the fold-out screen, which is awesome for composing from different / unique angles, or night-photography. I will warn you, the D850 takes getting used to, especially when you are shooting with the full 45MP resolution. You will want to keep your Shutter Speed higher, at a minimum 1/250th of a second, unless your lens has VR capabilities. At 45MP, combined with a slower shutter speeds, 1/60th --> 1/200th will result in blurry photos. You will really need to focus on your hand-holding techniques when you first get a D850. I am now just starting to get comfortable with my D850; I had serious buyer's remorse when first got the camera.

OK, so say you purchase a D850. You will also want the latest version of the Nikon 24-70 lens, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR. I have the older 24-70G and it's great on my D4s camera body, but when I used it on my D850, the image quality was fine in the center of the frame, but frankly...it really sucked in the corners of the photo. The 24-70E lens is better in the corners on a D850, and is decent in the center. Overall, you WANT a 24-70E on a D850; I have a feeling that Nikon intended this. Also, the 70-200G doesn't perform that great either. I mean, it's "Okay" but the newest version of the 70-200 Lens is the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens is WAY better. The only thing I hate about that lens is the stupid zoom ring is up front. Everything else with that lens is legendary. Huge upgrade in terms of image quality and sharpness as compared to the older 70-200 VRII G version and right now that lens is a steal!! It's on sale for $2150!! It's normal price is around $2800.


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Let's have some fun!

D850 Shopping List
(Prices as of April 30, 2020)

Nikon D850 - $2996.95

Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 E VR - $1896.95

Nikon 70-200 f/2.8E - $2146.95

Sony 64GB XQD - $129.99 each. (You'll want a couple of these. If you are planning on doing video, get at least a 120GB XQD card.)

SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO UHS-II SDXC - $97.99 each. (I'd just get one and use it for over-flow. The XQD cards are much better to have.)

Nikon EN-EL15b Battery - $54.00 each. (You definitely want to get at least two of these. The D850 likes to go through batteries, especially if you use the LCD a lot.)

OK, D850, the two lenses, two 64GB XQD cards, one Sandisk SDXC Card and two extra batteries comes out to...


Plus Tax and any applicable shipping. That might seem a bit expensive, and it is a chunk to fork out at once, but it's nothing compared to forking $48,000+ on a Phase One Medium Format system.

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