Well I've finally done it. I didn't think that I would have been able to make the switch this soon, but it's finally happened - I've gone full-frame. I found a lightly used Nikon D610 along with a grip for sale close to Vienna, evaluated my finances and took the plunge. The nice thing about switching from Nikon DX (crop) to FX (full-frame) is that you can take your lenses with you (provided that your lenses are not DX exclusive), so two of my favorite lenses I get to keep.
Has it been worth it? Yes. Shooting with the grip is really fun and I can put either another battery pack in there or 6 AA batteries - gotta love the flexibility that provides you. The difference in depth of field is only a single stop and while some might question whether it's worth it, you certainly notice the difference and I definitely think it's worth it. The control that the camera body provides you is also a huge improvement over the entry-level bodies and if you like switching everything around really fast then it's one of the things you notice first. The build quality is also vastly superior although considering the price difference you'd certainly expect there to be some improvements in this category. That's not to say that the D5100 is a bad camera - that camera and I have been through a lot and it never let me down. I certainly took care of it but it was with me virtually every single day since I bought it (it still looks new, too!).
Things I've learned with the new camera:
- The controls. Gotta practice beforehand. I was all thumbs at first since I had to adjust my grip and movements, especially with the grip.
- Nikon's menu system is simply fantastic. Unified across all of the bodies with the more "pro" bodies only adding stuff. The organization is the same. After getting the D610 I was able to set it up for me within 15 minutes. No biggy.
- 100% viewfinder coverage means exactly that. On the D5100 I always had to take into account that there would be extra space around the image that the viewfinder didn't show me. Not so with the D610 - what you see is what you get.
When reading reviews for the D610 I often found some people complaining about the focus points being crowded towards the center of the frame and while they certainly are it's not that much of a problem - at least not for me. I can certainly understand how some might find this to be an issue and potentially even a deal-breaker but with a bit of focus and recompose you should be fine. It certainly slows you down when you have to do that, but again, not a huge problem for me - the pros definitely outweigh the cons here.
One thing I am going to miss, though, is my 35mm f/1.8G lens. I love that lens. I have a 50mm f/1.8D that didn't work on the D5100 due to the lack of an AF motor, and it's really nice. Beautiful even. But the 35mm is just so nice. It seemed to have a slightly wider field of view on the D5100 than the 50mm is on the D610, so I think I might have to pick up a 35mm prime at some point in the future for the D610. I have a 40mm for my Konica cameras that is absolutely perfect but alas Nikon doesn't make a 40mm at all for FX bodies, so 35mm is the next lowest. My Tamron 28-75mm is also A LOT wider now, so I have to kind of relearn how to use that lens. Also realized that I wouldn't mind having a longer lens in the lineup that also has AF (my 135mm f/2.8 AI-s is a good substitute for now).
The last week's worth of photos on my Flickr have all been made with the D610 (as was the title image for this post), so head over and check them out. I'm also selling my D5100 (ad is in German) along with a pair of lenses, an SD card and a Lowepro bag for €520 obo. If you know anyone who's in the market for a DSLR, be sure to drop me a line.