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From Nikon D500 and 300mm to A6600 and 200-600mm? (1 Viewer)

Winterdune

Well-known member
Hi all,

I'm more a birder than a photographer but I particularly love the challenge of taking pictures of passerines in flight during migration. I currently use a Nikon D500 with the 300mm PF lens and a 1.4 converter. It's a beautiful walkabout setup and it only weighs 1.9kg for both camera and lens.

However I don't like the Nikon for video, I find the fixed prime lens somewhat limiting, and I'm not totally happy a number of other small things relating to the setup.

So I am seriously thinking about switching to the Sony for the flexibility of the 200-600 lens and the video possibilities of the A6600, but am a bit worried about a few things. Firstly, I last had an EVF camera a long time ago and I hated it compared to the optical viewfinder of a DSLR. So is the viewfinder adequate for quickly locating small fast birds in bushes these days? Secondly does the EVF black out when taking bursts? If so does this make tracking a fast flying finch or similar in flight too difficult? Thirdly how many shots can you take in a row before the buffer fills and you have to wait? And how long is the wait?

If anyone has made a similar switch and wishes to chime in with their answers to these questions, or any general comparative observations, I'd be super happy to hear from you (but please don't recommended I get an A9ii - that's way beyond my budget!).

Many thanks
Sean
 

Zackiedawg

Well-known member
I haven't made any switch from Nikon, so can't help in the comparison, but can say that I've worked with Sony mirrorless models alongside DSLRs for many years, and as the mirrorless systems started to catch up to DSLRs (and pass up my particular DSLRs) I made the full switch to only mirrorless about 3 1/2 years ago. My primary camera now is the A6600, and I use it with both the FE 100-400mm GM and FE 200-600mm G lenses. I shoot all kinds of birds and wildlife, but being in Florida, birds are a central focus as we're filled with them, and I've particularly enjoyed BIF photography for the past decade; I do enjoy the challenge of shooting smaller birds such as passerines in flight along with the larger waders and raptors.

Personally, I never had an issue adapting to EVFs - I used OVFs since the mid-1970s, and EVFs since 1996 (on video cameras then digital still cameras)...and until mid-2016, I was using BOTH, interchangeably. Some people have a harder time adapting to what they're not used to, or sometimes can't get used to one or the other - but I never had that problem. EVFs have come a fair way in the past 2-4 years - early ones had slow refresh rates, lots of lag, poor contrast, color separation, etc. Most newer ones, even the small size ones, are much better, with 120fps display rates, no sequential displays that have color lag or tearing, and some of the newer models have eliminated the lag and slideshow effect.

The EVF on the A6600 does not have black out when taking bursts - if shooting at the 8fps frame rate, it has a live view refresh, meaning you are seeing a very brief black frame flicker similar to the shutter actuating on a DSLR, but when the bird is being viewed between each flick, it's real time, as opposed to the last frame taken...so tracking, panning, etc is not a problem with fast and erratic birds.

As for the buffer - if you're one for holding down the shutter button for 20 seconds at 8-12fps in RAW, you're going to hit the buffer for sure. The camera doesn't stop shooting when it hits the buffer limit, it slows down - a lot if you're really cramming it full. If you shoot in JPG and hold the shutter down continuously, the buffer will fill in about 100 frames at 11fps, and if shooting at 8fps about 125-130 frames. In RAW, 11fps will fill the buffer in about 45-50 frames, and around 65 frames at 8fps. Note that the buffer will clear constantly throughout the burst...so if you shoot 20 frames, pause, and reshoot, you will extend the time before you hit the buffer wall. Once the buffer limit is reached, the frame rate will slow significantly...back off for a few seconds to clear a little room, and it can burst faster again until you hit it. So technically, it's not a matter of waiting for the buffer to entirely clear, but waiting for it to clear enough. I personally don't hold the shutter down and fire off hundreds of bursts at once, and I can say I've actually HIT the buffer twice in over a year. Shooting at 8fps (my preferred mode as 11fps is overkill for me), I usually only burst for a few seconds at a time, staccato style, on and off again as I pan with a subject.
 

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