Nikon V1 and FT1 or D800 and crop
I currently use a Nikon D300 and my wildlife (mainly birds) lens is the 300mm f4 with a 1.4tc as required. Sometimes this simply isn't long enough and it's not always feasible to just get closer. As a result, some of my shots end up extremely cropped (eg about 900 x 900 pixels in a few cases). With this in mind, I've been looking at the Nikon V1 with FT1 adapter to effectively make 300mm reach 810mm on the V1's 2.7 crop factor as opposed to 450mm on the D300's 1.5 crop factor.
I don't want to start any 'crop' vs 'magnification' debates. All I want to know (or have a reliable formula for working out) is this: if one takes the extreme case referred to above as an example to work things out (900 pixels by 900 pixels on a DX sensor), which will give me the larger number of pixels on a bird (or better picture) - 300mm f4 and 10mp Nikon V1 with FT1 adapter or same lens on the 36mp Nikon D800 and just crop more?
I tried working it out, but just wasn't convinced I was approaching the maths correctly. I've read a couple of times that the D800 would have to be 75mp instead of 36 to match the effect of using the V1 and FT1, but there was no explanation of how this conclusion was reached.
Spending £4 - 5,000 or more on a longer lens is not an option for me. If I bought a D800, it would be MAINLY for landscape work with wide angle lenses rather than wildlife with tele lenses and it would obviously be more expensive than the V1 and FT1 approach, especially since I would immediately need to add at least a FF wide angle lens. The V1 approach also gives me a 'two birds with one stone' solution as I would get a compact system out of it as well. I realise I would lose C-AF when using the FT1. That's a nuisance, but not enough on its own to make the decision for me. I have considered all of this, and much more, but really just want to know the objective and measurable answer to my question about V1 and FT1 vs D800 and crop to get the picture without the final version being cut down to a tiny crop that equates to a 100% view in Lightroom.
Thanks in advance to anyone better equipped with maths skills and knowledge of pixel density vs crop factor, etc, who can answer this for me.
With the V1 you get 10Mp. Cropping the D800's 36Mp by 2.7x will give about 5Mp. The D7000 would be about the same, but the D300 gives only about 3.7Mp. Another alternative (cheaper than the V1 + FT1) might be to wait for the rumoured 24Mp D3200, which should be a bit less frustrating for birding, and will give 7.4Mp on the same image. Assuming your 300mm is AF-S of course.
How do I do this? Divide an FX camera's resolution by the square of the crop factor of the V1, 2.7x2.7 = 7.29.
Divide a DX camera's resolution by the square of the V1's crop factor, and multiply by the square of the DX Crop factor, means you effectively divide by 3.24.
This gives the number of pixels for the same lens compared to the V1's 10Mpixels.
Aha. Thanks for that. Greenwing, and yes - the 300mm is AFS. If 24mp on DX comes into the equation, then I might watch and wait for a D300 replacement rather than the D3200. I like the D300 size for comfortable handling, but the whole V1 thing came about from looking for more reach on the 300mm f4 and generally looking at some lighter kit for some outings.
The biggest drawback with the 300mm F4 is it doesn't have VR so, using with the 1.4 or 2x converters requires a tripod. I suggest the Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 OS at about £750 might be your best bet. It weighs under 2kg and has a nice balance when attached to a camera. Like all lenses at the F6.3 it requires good light but will give you some stunning shots. I haven't got this lens but do have the Sigma 50-500mm F4-6.3 but without the OS. The advantage of the 50-500mm is it will take a converter but manual focus only and I've used mine with the Sigma 1.4 converter giving me a 700mm at F8. :D
Thanks for suggestions, OldBoy. I considered the Sigma 50-500 OS before getting the 300mm f4 (via a short ownership of the slow and noisy Nikon 80-400) as the newer 50-500 seems to show better reviews and samples than the 150-500.
I don't actually find the lack of VR on the 300 all that much of a problem. Most of the time that I'm using it, it's for something that moves quite quickly, so that plus long lens technique means I'm usually going with something around 1/1000 second anyway. At that speed, I can usually do OK handheld and don't have to remember to switch off VR/OS when I do the proper thing and stick it on a tripod or monopod. It's sharp wide open, but even f4 (f5.6 with tc) often pushes the ISO up to keep a decent shutter speed up here in dimmest NE Scotland.
I've looked at Greenwing's formula and worked out a more graphic version of my own that seems to match his, so the V1's still in with a chance since it will do double duty as tele lens extender and 'stick in a big pocket' compact. I was also looking at M43 with a view to the new Olympus OMD EM5 as either a second lightweight compromise (instead of V1) or possibly even total replacement for all dSLR gear.
The Olympus/Panasonic 70 or 100 - 300 zooms would give me the equivalent of 600mm at the long end, but in a lighter package than dSLR and decent control over non-tele photography as well. The M43 route would also maintain C-AF (unlike the V1 and FT1 combo) which would be good for BIF and anything else with similar movement. However, I'm not sure how realistic it would be, hoping to track BIF and similar on an EVF rather than OVF and how good the Olympus AF would be at keeping up. It's also a more expensive route than the V1 since the OMD body only is nearly as much as the V1 twin lens kit, flash, SD card, FT1, etc package. On the other hand, if I found it was to my liking for birds and all other photography, I would probably flog all the Nikon gear and be quids in, as well as giving my back a rest from lugging heavy gear to places.
Anyway, I feel better informed on the V1 vs other options now.
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