Saturday 7 February 2015

Is FX Worth It?

Sunrise Over Oakwood
D700, 28/2.8 AI

A couple recent announcements and the expected Nikon announcement next week have me seriously considering if FX is worth it for me. Don't get me wrong, I still like my D700, but the reality is I need to buy a solid set of wides for it and a macro before my system can handle my needs and I'm not oversupplied with budget.

I'm pretty much looking at either of the following wide setups: 20, 28, FX fast 35, or wide zoom, FX fast 35. Plus a macro. The first would ideally be the two Nikon 1.8's and the Sigma Art. That's about $900 a pop for the 35 and 20, $750 for the 28 for a total around $2550 before the Macro. The zoom I'd be leaning most towards is the 16-35VR, plus that same 35 Art for $2200 before the Macro. I could knock about $500 off each option by getting the Nikon 35/1.8 FX and selling my 35DX (selling the 35DX isn't an option with the 35 Art because the latter cannot be realistically used as a light carry lens on the D3200).

That's a pretty serious chunk of change.

If I were to go back to DX, I'd be looking at a wide zoom, a wide prime and a Macro. The zoom would almost assuredly be the Sigma 10-20, which can be readily had for $350 used. the wide prime is up in the air, but probably the Nikon 20/1.8 (and could realistically wait for a bit). That's $1250 and at least half of that could be funded by the D700. I'd want a high-end body at some point (D7x00 or D300s or the notional D9300 if it shows up) but that's either relatively far away or not too expensive. I'm expecting the D7200 to be a nice upgrade to the D7100, but not a must-have (Pretty much I expect AF updates, a flip-up LCD, powered aperture for LV/video and double the buffer). Frankly I'd either look to trade my D700 for a D7100 or wait until the fall to upgrade and use the D700 to fund the glass (the D200 will actually handle most of my needs in the meantime and the D3200 the rest).

The gripping hand option is do FX option 1, but go old school with the lenses. I can get a 20/3.5 AIS or 2.8 AI-S for ~$400, a 28/2 for $400 and a 35/1.4 for $500. That's a much more readily achievable $1300 and if I went with a 28/2.8 and 35/2 I'd drop that to a mere $800 or less all-in. The FE would get regular exercise with this option because carrying it alongside the D700 with one lens kit works. I don't enjoy the F80 enough to do that with the all-in FX options.

There's also the fuck it all option. Which is the gripping hand option, but sell the D700 anyways, buy an FM2n and just shoot film plus the occasional bit of digital with the DX bodies. Could even sell off the D3200 and 50/1.8 and snag a cheap mirrorless body for a better light carry option (NEX-5 series with a Siggy 19 maybe, or an E-PM2, or even a Samsung with one of their nice pancakes). Don't see any point in selling the D200 though, not enough value to offset having an airshow body handy.

Do I know where I'm going? Nope. But I'm pretty sure the all-in options for FX are off the plate. I just cannot make the cost/benefit ratio work out, regardless of how nice the options are. What does make sense from a cost/benefit ratio is either all-in DX or my primary kit becomes the D700/FE pairing with AI glass all-around. The fuck it all option has one big caveat, what to do about scanning. My Scan Dual IV is all but dead now so it would need replacement. I could maybe fund that replacement with the D700, but the best option (Nikon 5000 ED) goes for silly money on the used market (about 50% over MSRP). Really it seems to come down to do I want to keep shooting with manual focus glass and film on the side, or go to AF glass and mostly digital. I need to make that decision and the rest will settle out.