DLSR (D850) or Mirrorless (A7R III)?

I finally took the plunge. I dreamt of the day i could ditch my 4 year old Nikon D5300. Don’t get me wrong. Its a great camera in its own right. Considering it’s an APS-C or DX (of which Nikon likes to call it) format, the camera can handle most of my demands except for low-light. Yep, it gets real grainy at around ISO 1250. Other than that, its AF system is quick enough to focus most of my shots. I shoot a lot of portraits so i don’t really need a fast AF system. Oh if you pair it with a very good lens like the 12-24mm and you can get very good images. I personally use a prime lens most of the time with the D5300, specifically the AF-S 35mm f1.8.

Most of the images on my site are shot on a D5300. Some of you camera junkies might think how the hell did I manage to pull off those kind of shots on an APS-C system? Well, the secret lies in composition and post-processing. It doesn’t mean anything at all if you own an expensive camera and your shots turn out really bad i.e blurred/soft images, uneven/unbalanced angles. I’ve seen many who own expensive cameras and they operate only in AUTO mode. Granted, auto mode will let your camera pick the optimal scene settings. However, the camera is not utilized properly enough because the photographer has no idea how to input creative settings in order to compose his image.

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The Nikon D5300. Been using this for 4 years +

If i were to quote my friend “It’s the Singer, not the song”. 

I reflected back and wondered what he meant by that. After pondering for a good whole 5 minutes, i realized that a great picture is composed by the photographer himself, not the camera. Anyone can hold a camera and shoot, but what sets a photo apart is the user himself. Heck it, even a decent mobile phone camera can take great shots, provided that its in the hands of a user with a good eye for taking pictures. So just bear in mind, photographers don’t have it easy, they go through a thought process in order to capture a good image. From vision, to technical competency and artistic approach and lastly post-processing. A good single image alone can take hours to take shape. Oh yeah, we take lots of photos and pick only the good ones.

I have fully maximized the D5300 through and through. It’s got its limitations. I am bounded to its limitations. I needed more juice to feed my demands. That’s where i decided to upgrade my camera. Actually i had that idea about a year ago. I wanted a better gear. I waited for Nikon to come out with a good FX body. I was tempted by the D5. That monster costs about SGD $9k++. Just the body alone. If you were to pair with good glasses. It can reach up to 20k! I’m not ready to fully invest in that. The D500 also caught my eye. However it’s an APS-C system as well. I was looking for a full frame system. Even though the D500 has an excellent AF system, it wasn’t enough to satisfy me.

Along came the D850, now this was everything i needed. A good low-light and fast AF monster. The thing i love most about the D850 is its image quality. The sensor is capable of taking 45.7 megapixels. Plus it has all the bells and whistles of a professional body. I mean it is a professional body. Full-time photographers swear by the D850. The only downside to the D850 is IBIS. It has no in-body stabilization systems on board. The buttons and dials are all on the body itself and i don’t have to trouble myself by going into the menu to make changes. I can make changes on the fly just like that. Oh did i mention the wide selection of good glasses! DSLRs have a good collection of glasses. It also uses a hybrid XQD / SD card system. I bought myself an XQD card to test how fast the image transfers to the XQD, it is blazingly fast. Mind you, one RAW photo is about 100mb. I shoot only in RAW. I do a lot of post-processing.

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The NIKON D850. My current camera

That’s where i looked over to Sony’s A7R III. It has almost the same specs as the D850. It has IBIS and i was already leaning over towards the A7R III. I was ready to make the jump to mirrorless cameras. However there was an important thing i looked back when i used a friend’s mirrorless system, the grip and handling is not to my liking. The mirrorless systems have small builds and it feels weird for me to hold them. My hand aches easily because the weight distribution is uneven. I am accustomed to the weight of a DSLR. It feels great to shoot on a DSLR.

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The SONY A7r III. It sure looks sexy.

That reason alone was enough to convince myself to purchase the D850. I paired it with SIGMA’s ART 35mm f1.8 lens. I love to get into the action, but i also want something wide enough. Hence i settled on that lens. Its super sharp at f2.8 and above but i can get great bokeh if i open it wide at f1.4. I’ve brought around the body and lens for the past 2 weeks and its been exceeding my expectations. I have yet to fully maximise the setup. It might take months to years to maximise its full potential. The recent photos i uploaded here on my website are taken with the camera and lens. You can check out the EXIF metadata to see for yourself.

I bought the body at a very affordable price. Nikon SG has set a RRP of SGD $4999.00. If you want to get the body at a lower price, you can contact me and i will refer you to my friend. 😀 Only in Singapore though!

Here are some of the recent photos taken using the D850 and Sigma 35mm.

Why Am I Into Photography?

This may be a surprise to some (especially those who just got to know me) but it really isn’t. In fact I have had a keen interest in all things photography for a very long time. It predates all the way back in middle school(primary school in Singapore’s context). Now let me tell you why it is only now (or rather 4 years ago) that i started to go amateur. I’m not sure how do they categorize they level of professionalism but as far as i know it is up to you to judge my pictures. A word of disclaimer though, I take pictures to express my creativity.

I am one who loves to create. Not physically create something that is tangible but something that is enough to invoke feelings and memories for people. To specify it further, i love to digitally create, alter or modify photographs and videos. I had my humble beginnings at editing pictures which i totally sucked but when i looked back, I can only give myself a pat in the back for taking that first step. And this i want to emphasize, the first step is always the hardest. Always. 

Yana & Azahar’s Post Wedding shoot

Now, i’m not that different from the first day i held the camera. Granted, i have understood the concept of manual controls and the creative aspects of how to take a proper photograph but there is still so much that i have to learn.

I remembered my first camera. It was a present from my dad and i was responsible for taking “official” family portraits.  I didn’t have a single clue on how to operate it. You gotta give me credit though. I was only 10 or 11 years old at that point of time. I took up the challenge and when it was time for it to be printed, most of the photos were in a wide landscape format. Boy, did it cost a whole lot! My dad gave me a whooping when he had to fork out a lot for the pictures. That dampened my mood and slowed down my drive to continue taking pictures.

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Lenny’s Maternity Shoot

Fast forward to secondary school, you know the drill. Everyone has to get the latest phones at that age. The era of handphone cameras was the in-thing and was there to stay for a long time till today. Now handphone cameras sport f2 apertures and monstrous megapixels packed into a small sensor. How far technology has come. That was when i started to pick up photography again but as a hobby. I did some small time video edits but that’s about it. I was more into editing photos in photoshop. I went as far as digitally attaching Gundam propellers to my shoulders. That was one of the proudest and corniest moment of my life. Wish i still have the photo with me though.

Then came a long hiatus. Polytechnic and on to NS. I was more focused on attaining good grades in Poly as well as ORD-ing as soon as possible. I had lots of free time right after NS and i needed to pick up a hobby because (explained in para 2). I merely thought of getting myself my own DSLR and shoot pictures out of pure hobby. Luckily for me, Instagram was there at that time for me to upload my shots. I just wanted a platform to express and showcase my work so people can comment and critique my pictures. My endgame was to keep on improving. It is a never ending cycle.

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Port Dickson Trip

Now comes the interesting part. As i’ve mentioned, my intentions were to express my creativity and have a collection of photos that i can call mine. My work needs no any salary or payoffs that can motivate me from doing what i love doing. Hence, that is why it is a hobby. Things took a turn when some of my followers on Instagram enquired me whether i can take photos for them. I had my own doubts whether i can perform up to task because now there were expectations set for me.

Like I said, the first step is always the hardest. This was a bold new step for me to take. I knew that if i took on this challenge, i would have to have to up my game. So in preparation for the first official shoot, i looked up online on how to do up my own contract between client and vendor. There were many but my wife helped me to narrow down the simplest and easiest to understand. Once that was settled, I watched tutorials online on how to take proper wedding photos. Generally, good lighting is needed to take quality photos. The creative aspect is the hardest. So i drew inspiration from local and international photographers on how they take photos. Each of them had their own style and preference. In general, its called photo composition. Across the board, they all had good lighting. So I just prayed hard that the sun will be out on that day.

Luckily, the sun was out for both days. So i took as many photos and angles as i could. At the end of the event, i was satisfied. Another aspect of photography is that i takes editing to bring a photo to life.

With Lightroom, I was able to envision what i want in each individual photo. Maintaining colour balance was of utmost importance to me. It depicts the best representation of what really happened on the day. Once I’m happy with that, I have to bolster the mood and atmosphere of each photo.

In essence, all of these aspects help make a good photo. I wouldn’t say i mastered it. I have a long journey ahead of me to be good at what i’m in. There are always people who are way better than me. I respect the craft and the artist behind every photo. Taking a photo isn’t just point and shoot, there has to be careful consideration on how your master photo should look like. Don’t be afraid to take many shots of a single scene. In the end you have cull and edit the best of the lot. It takes guts, patience and skill to make it all work.

To all aspiring photographers, start it out as a hobby and not as something you want to gain something from it. Trust me, you’ll love it even more that way.