Moving My (Optical) Cheese

When it comes to coping with change, I’ve had my cheese moved many times. This is especially true in computers where I have moved from punch cards and mainframes to a smartphone over 50 years.

The same sort of process is at work in my photo technology. Above is a photo taken last year with my DSLR and an ultrawide lens. This is the best camera kit I have owned to date – lightweight body with three excellent and compact lenses that feature autofocus and optical stabilization.

And yet if you read Nikon’s marketing info, they’d try to convince you that this kind of camera is totally passe and that a new mirrorless format will be the future. I’d have to start over with all new technology, and no guarantee I’d get better results.

This wouldn’t be the first time I have moved to a new system, of course. For example:

  • In 1970 I ditched my old paper roll based film camera for a 35mm rangefinder.
  • In 1983 I switched to a manual SLR and got some manual lenses.
  • In 2001 I got an autofocus SLR because I was unable to manually focus any longer. My old manual lenses didn’t work with it so I gradually built up a system of Nikon autofocus lenses to make a nice film system.
  • In 2006 I switched over to digital almost completely and the SLR and its lenses went into the closet.
  • In 2015 I got my digital SLR and new DX autofocus lenses. My old Nikon film style autofocus lenses still metered with the camera but I was back to manual focus with those units.
  • In 2016 I got a small travel zoom camera to take on holiday.

That brings me up to the present, where after cataract surgery I can see to manually focus again. My old school film AF lenses work just fine on my current digital SLR if I focus by hand. It’s great fun to use them now.

However, it looks as if Nikon is moving my cheese (again.) There are rumors that they might discontinue the DSLR lineup and go exclusively with mirrorless in the future. To use my newest lenses on a mirrorless camera would require an adapter, since Nikon has changed its lens mount for mirrorless. This lens mount change is the first in 60 years.

Even with an adapter, it is unlikely that all my oldie goldie lenses from the 1980s would work. Some of them could not be focused – even manually.

The bottom line is this: should I be forced to go mirrorless at some time in future, I would be starting over – my current lens collection would have to be sold at fire-sale prices. I would be tempted to give up 35 years of experience with Nikon and go with Sony or Panasonic.

Alternatively, I could just ignore this whole situation and just go out and shoot with what I have. I’m not a pro photographer; I don’t use my equipment harshly. Assuming I don’t drop or submerge my Nikon DSLR it’ll serve me well for some time. If it fails, there’s always the used market for camera bodies if Nikon doesn’t continue with the DSLR.

Either way, it does not look as if my cheese will get moved too far away. That’s a good thing at my age.

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