Let’s talk about the gear.
I actually took THREE cameras to shoot this wedding. This was not intentional, but i had purchased a Nikon D800E from EBay, and just prior to the wedding day a fault had come to light and it had to be returned to the seller. This left me with just my mums Fuji X100s, not good enough.
So, i ‘borrowed’ a Nikon D610 to go with my 85mm F1.4 lens and bought a Sony A77ii to pair with my Sigma 105mm F2.8 macro lens. This gave me three reasonable focal lengths for a more complete coverage.
I will start with the Fuji. I hated it. I dont know how Fuji went from XTrans 1 to 2 and managed to take a huge step backward in some ways. Now, not being very techy, or a landscape shooter or even well versed in the different ways sensors change from one iteration to the next, I can only speak from my experience, shooting what I shoot. YMMV.
The Good – In RAW, the files provide tons of data to work with, High ISO performance appears to be on par with the D800E. The controls and functional layout of the camera is very good, the IQ is excellent and obviously given its diminutive size, leaf shutter and built in flash that can sync to any shutter speed its useful for so many different types of shooting.
The bad – The JPegs. Over ISO 800 the ‘wax effect’ that so many have spoken of starts to rear its ugly head. By ISO 3200 its abysmal, and given how much indoor shooting there is at a wedding, in less than stellar light, it absolutely fell down. I used it exclusively at the reception dinner and hardly any shots made it through the initial sift. The Fuji XT1 seems to be very similar , and despite many people claiming that they’ve dumped all their Pro gear to shott with the Fuji X format, i personally would not use it for JPegs (which it is renowned for). Oh, and it takes so long to write to card and clear the buffer that even RAW shooting has its compromises.
The Sony A77ii. When i first laid hands on it i couldnt believe how plasticky it was in comparison to the Nikon bodies. it surprised me as not to long along the Sony A77 was my dream camera. Also, in JPeg, i didn’t notice a great improvement in the high ISO performance over the previous model. Its still performed well and the additional AF points and AF C flexible expandable spot tracking thingy ma jig, was fun to play with. I still found the Nikon implementation of back button focus and AFC more consistent and accurate, but I am not a sport shooter and wouldn’t really know how to put it through its paces.
I used the A77ii for detail shots with the Sigma 105mm macro, some high contrast mono shots and tried out some other filters (not great) and switched to RAW. Here’s where the improvements really show up. The noise performance was very good – not Nikon or Fuji good, but certainly god enough for most uses. The EVF is great, the WYSIWYG is obviously the most desirable aspect of this range (and all MILC) as attaining the desired exposure settings is SOOOOO much easier. A good all rounder for sure.
Now to the Nikon D610. I hadn’t been a fan of the D600 and much preferred the D800 at the time. This little camera changed all that. I literally only took receipt of it an hour before going off to shoot The Day, but from the very first shot I was impressed.
The focussing module is criticised in the D6x range as being a little pedestrian and not really comparable to that of the D8 series or the D7100. AF woes have plagued me before so this was a worry, but a needless one. I swear it nailed almost every shot, and when it didn’t it was down to operator error; I had chosen too fast an aperture (F1.4) for the constant motion of the ceremony.
The metering was very good, the white balance too. I could shoot away in RAW and had no issues with write times or the buffer filling up and preventing further shooting. It was just fantastic and of the thousand or so shots i took, i’ll wager that 700 or more came from this beauty.
The ONLY problem i had with this camera was during the first dance. Again, i was probably shooting at too fast an aperture given that I was using flash, I cranked up the ISO to balance ambient light with the flash and reduce the cave like appearance of some flash shots. But, the focus really was inconsistent.
I am a fan of centre point focus and recompose, and trying photograph the fantastic singer that performed James and Sam’s chosen song i hate to admit that I didn’t nail focus with a single shot.
Maybe this is where the more advanced focussing module of the D8x would make a difference. Maybe it was my fault, maybe it wasn’t. I really can’t say.
What I CAN say is that out of the three if I could only have had one for this event it would have been the Nikon without a doubt. Yes, The fuji is supposed to have wonderful SOOC JPegs and yes the A77ii has fantastic AF and brilliant (unsurpassed) live exposure preview, but the Nikon is the excellent all rounder. It did almost everything well.
I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to James and Sam for allowing me to photograph the day – I learnt a huge amount from it and just absolutely loved the whole experience. It was amazing.
Now I want to do it all again!