I was playing around with part of the Nikon f1.8G trifecta, the Nikon 50mm f1.8G and the Nikon 85mm f1.8G again. I’m intrigued with the similarities and/or differences in the look of a 50mm at f1.8 on a DX APS-C DSLR body like the Nikon D5500 vs the look of an 85mm at f1.8 on an FX Full Frame DSLR body like the Nikon D610.
Namely, is there really much difference?
I mean sure, the high ISO ability of the Nikon D610 is a couple of stops better than the Nikon D5500, but let’s face it, you can work around that. The D5500’s high ISO is best of the best for APS-C and is really VERY good.
Shooting at f1.8, you really don’t NEED anything over ISO 1600 in most situations, and even then you could just add a little off-camera flash to even things up.
Why am I so intrigued with this question you ask?
Well, there’s a few reasons.
First is size and weight. The Nikon D5500 is quite small and very light-weight. It uses the the same carbon fiber type body as the Nikon D750 as I mentioned previously in my article Nikon D5500 UNMASKED: 8 Reasons the D5500 May Be the MOST Under-Rated Camera on the Market Today. The Nikon D610 is small and light-weight for a full frame DSLR, but it’s still MUCH bigger and heavier than the little D5500. Basically, I’m looking for something small, light, and unobtrusive to pair with fast primes, and of course, it MUST have excellent image quality (which the Nikon D5500 has in spades).
Second, there’s cost. I like to get good value for my money, so paying more, A LOT MORE in the case of the Nikon D610 vs the Nikon D5500, has to be justified. In this case, I’m not sure it is. It certainly looks to me like the D5500 is delivering an excellent quality image for a lot less.
Third, and specific to the Nikon D5500, there’s the vari-angle, touchscreen, LCD. I love being able to move the screen around for low shots or over-head shots, and even better, I love being able to tap and shoot. Being able to touch a point on the screen and have the camera focus and fire is AWESOME. You don’t get this with ANY of the Nikon full frame bodies (or Canon full frame bodies for that matter).
Don’t get me wrong. I realize that you get a shallower depth of field from a full frame sensor like the Nikon D610’s, but what I’m looking at here is what the actual visual differences are.
Consider too that I can move to a Nikon 50mm f1.4G on a DX APS-C sensor DSLR like the D5500 and even up the depth of field part of the equation even more. Yes, I can put that same lens on an FX full frame DSLR like the D610, but then you don’t get the same field of view (i.e. the 50mm gives you a 75mm FOV on a DX APS-C DSLR which is very close to the standard 85mm portrait look). Move up to a Nikon 85mm f1.4G for the same low-light abilities, and you’re talking a LOT more money.
So there are some advantages to going with a DX APS-C DSLR body OVER an FX full frame DSLR body, not the least of which being price. I can put together a small, light-weight travel kit consisting of two Nikon D5500 bodies, a fast prime, a zoom, and a small flash like the Nikon SB-700, for the same price as a Nikon D610 and a kit lens. Start looking at the Nikon D750 or Nikon D810, and you’re talking a LOT more money.
With such a kit, I wouldn’t be as worried about losing or damaging a camera while in the field. Sure, I NEVER like to lose or damage equipment, but it hurts less when it costs less to replace.
In any case, take a look at these images. Some of you may prefer the look of the full frame images, and that’s cool. I get that. All else being equal, I’d probably always choose full frame. Some of you may look at these and come away with the same thoughts I am, namely, that there’s not a LOT of difference.
Food for thought. 🙂
Photography Gear Used & Discussed in this Article: