October 18, 2018
How Much Camera is Enough?
Feature image shot with the Nikon Z7 | 400 ISO | f4 | 1/200s
Back in 2003, I was shooting weddings on a Nikon D2H that cost me $3,999. It was amazing and I thought How could this get any better? After shooting film for almost 10 years with Hasselblad and Nikon F5S, this was a dream camera.
I used the D2H for almost 3 years before adding a D3, and that’s when everything about digital changed. It worked—It was amazing and, in most ways, much better than film. After the D3 I sold all my film gear and never looked back.
Just as a reference, you can get a “like new” D2H today (October 19, 2018—15 years later) for just under $500.
As you might recall from my last post, I recently got my hands on Nikon’s new flagship camera, the Z7 mirrorless, when it arrived at Samy’s Camera with my name on it. The camera and lens kit totaled $3,999. I’ll mention now that this isn’t a Z7 review—there are a lot of those already out there. I will say, though, that this is the best camera I have ever used. Sure, it has its shortcomings (and all gear does), but as a complete package, the Z7 is truly a pleasure to shoot.
Why mention those two cameras?
Well, I decided to take them both out and do a shoot to compare what 15 years of camera evolution has really given me. And I say “me” because I can’t speak for anyone else’s use. No review can tell you how a camera will perform in your hands and react to your photographic demands. If you really want a true review, get your hands on one.
The first thing I noticed is the size and weight. Man, those mirrorless cameras have a lot to love when it comes to wear and tear on the body.
Looking through the viewfinder was another striking difference. The D2H is dark and small and the Z7 was large and bright. It didn’t feel like I was looking through a piece of equipment at all. I love when gear gets out of your way and the Z7 does that amazingly well.
I digress—Not (really) a Z7 review.
The real point of my sharing this is to highlight a question I think we need to ask ourselves: How much camera do we really need? If you’re shooting for an Instagram post and don’t plan on printing much over an 11″x14″, a D2H could be an amazing camera for you. On the other hand, if you make your living shooting images that will regularly be cropped, edited, and printed large, the D2H may not be your best choice.
All things considered, it’s just cool to look back at what gear was like and what I used to make a living with. I regularly printed 30” prints from the D2h and they looked amazing. I wouldn’t trade in my Z7 for a D2H, but a D2H could certainly perform in the right environment.
Looks at these specs. WOW, what a huge difference.
D2H Native image size
8.2” x 5.4” at 300dpi 4mp 1.5 cropped sensor
Z7 Native image size
27.5” x 18.3” at 300dpi 45.7 full frame sensor
Keep up the awesome posts—they are informative & fun!
Interesting comparison. While the building pictures from both cameras were reasonable, when I am trying to justify the next camera purchase I’ll point to the cat picture.
Thanks James. Of course I was having a bit of fun making the point between the 2 cameras.