Nikon D3400 to Sony a7S – An Amateur Move?

As an amateur photographer with limited funds and already having a DSLR camera, why did I purchase a new a7S?

Oh, lemme tell ya why.

It’s dark.

Screen Shot 2017-10-28 at 9.12.03 PM

No, really. Look outside. It’s dark. As old man winter approaches and natural sunlight diminishes, the Nikon as I am quickly finding out doesn’t cut it. A photographer’s nightmare: blown-out, grainy and noisy shots that lack any bit of detail you were hoping for. Maybe I’ll rise back up from the dead after being killed by my clients and shoot with my Nikon again, only to have it let me down one more time.

The pictures taken with the Nikon during low-light shooting is not very good. The white balance is way off and is either very underexposed with little detail, or is bright enough to see detail, but noise and grain ruin any chances of redemption.

Let me show you what I mean…

Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 4.42.54 PM
Nikon D3400: ISO 12800, 24mm, f5.6, 1/5 sec – Post processed in Adobe Lightroom
Sony a7S: ISO 12800, 55mm, f1.8, 1/200 sec – Post processed in Adobe Lightroom

I edited these two photos as best I can to preserve the quality and detail that I wanted to keep. In the case of the Nikon, I left the noise reduction feature turned off to preserve details that would have been otherwise lost in post. The worst part is that I had all the light I could’ve ever wanted in the Nikon shoot you see above. Sure, the highlights were a little blown out, but the detail on the cars with the ambient lighting was simply not there. Disappointed.

In the case with the Sony, it was very easy to keep all the detail that I wanted whilst keeping the noise/graininess down to a minimum. The Sony also made it very easy to capture lighting very quickly and efficiently, even with little light, such as in a parking lot as you see above.

Sun’s Out — Guns Out!

It goes without saying that any type of camera will have a much better time capturing clean, crisp photos in daylight. Notably when lighting is the softest such as during “blue hour,” or “golden hour.”

When it comes to day photography, I almost would prefer the Nikon, only because the pixel count in the Nikon is much more at 24.2 million compared to the Sony’s 12.2 million. Image quality in between the two is pretty much on par with each other.

Granted, living in Minnesota, the sun doesn’t appear all the time when you want it to, so I chose two different photos. One was early morning with an overcast and the other was an early evening with an overcast, just to even out the playing field in between both cameras. This is what they came up with:

Nikon D3400: ISO 1600, 18mm, f5.6, 1/100 sec.
Sony a7S: ISO 100, 55mm, f1.8, 1/320 sec.

Even with pretty even light in between the two, the Sony is still able to capture more light with a faster shutter speed and lower ISO compared to the Nikon. If you look close enough, the Nikon still has some pretty decent noise/grain action going on the hood of the closest Mazda3, where noise was pretty much nowhere to be found on the R35 Wide-Body GT-R.

Amateur Move? Nah. Good Move? Yarp.

Though the Nikon was a great camera to get started with, my skills and need for quality photos in a wide variety of shooting situations quickly outgrew what the Nikon was able to do. My good friend Rezal S. gently pushed me to get a Sony a7S. Well, he more or less shoved me to get a Sony a7S. I’m super glad that he did. Purchasing one of the best high-end mirrorless cameras that money can buy was definitely a worthwhile investment in my future career as a freelance photographer and digital nomad.

Sony a7S: ISO 1600, 55mm, f1.8, 1/40 sec.

I love my Sony a7S, and I highly encourage you get one yourself and experience the magic!

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