Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Camera Thoughts - Part 2 (Nikon D3300 and Sigma DP3 Merrill)

The last thing that I left you with before the weekend was a post where I was considering purchasing either a Nikon D3300 or a Fuji X-M1. I mentioned the Sigma DP3 Merrill, as well.

What I'm trying to do is simplify and improve what's in my camera bag. My Samsung NX200 is what needs to go. Why? Because the prime lens that I'd want for it is too expensive. I'm not a fan of dropping unnecessary money on things just because they'd be cool to have. I can't justify spending money on that lens when there are more important things to spend my money on.

I really want to replace the Samsung camera with the Fuji X-M1 equipped with the 60mm f2.4 lens. Fuji has done a fantastic job of making ready-to-go JPEGs that require little-to-no post-processing. That would save me a lot of time, and I'm all for that. The X-M1 is also superior to the NX200 at high-ISO, and that would improve what is in my camera bag. However, the cost of that camera and lens is too much, totaling almost $1,200. After I sell the Samsung, I'd still have to drop hundreds to buy the Fuji, and I'd really like to avoid doing that.

Scratching the X-M1 off of my shortlist propelled the Sigma DP3 Merrill further towards the top. This is a fantastic camera that has a bunch of frustrating downsides. I know this because I own a DP2 Merrill. The DP3 Merrill would certainly be a great replacement for the Samsung, but its limitations are similar to every other digital camera that I own. When I need something that can do what those cameras cannot, what do I reach for? With that said, I'd be more than happy to have this camera and it is within my budget.

Then there is the Nikon D3300 equipped with a Nikkor 50mm (75mm equivalent) f1.8 G lens. This camera has better high-ISO capabilities than the Samsung, but not quite as much as the Fuji. The Nikon D3300 with the lens costs about the same as the DP3 Merrill.

So it comes down to the Sigma DP3 Merrill and the Nikon D3300 with a 50mm lens.

The DP3 Merrill has a 46 megapixel Foveon sensor (with no anti-aliasing filter), which equates to about 28 megapixels in traditional Bayer sensor terms. The D3300 has a 24 megapixel sensor (with no anti-aliasing filter), which equates to about 26-27 megapixels in traditional Bayer sensor (with an anti-aliasing filter) terms. Resolution is pretty equal between these two cameras.

The DP3 Merrill holds a slight advantage in dynamic range, while the D3300 holds a huge advantage in high-ISO capabilities. The D3300 is faster and has a much longer battery life.

The lens on the DP3 Merrill is slightly better overall than the Nikkor lens. The DP3 Merrill lens is free from barrel distortion, has less chromatic aberration, has better corner sharpness, has less vignetting, and is slightly sharper than the Nikkor lens. With that said, the barrel distortion on the Nikkor 50mm f1.8 isn't terrible (and is easily corrected in software), and the other issues are at their worst at f1.8 (an f-stop that the DP3 Merrill isn't even capable of). At f4 both lenses are at peak performance and there is very little difference between them.

I'm leaning very strongly towards the Nikon D3300. I think it will compliment the other cameras that I own very well.


  1. Hi, have you considered the Pentax K-01 + the DA Limited 70/2.4 ?
    It's a rather compact combo (though heavier than the fuji or the sigma), but I own several pentax lenses and the DA70 is probably the sharpest.


    1. Nick, I appreciate the comment and suggestion. But here is why I'm not going that route.

      I've owned the Pentax K-30 (which internally is exactly the same as the K-01), and while the camera was fine, it isn't an improvement over the Samsung NX200. The Pentax has a slight gain in high-ISO capabilities, but also has less resolution.

      The K-01 has an anti-aliasing filter while the Sigma DP3 Merrill and the Nikon D3300 do not. In reality the difference is small, but there is a difference.

      Then there is the cost. The Sigma DP3 Merrill and the Nikon D3300 with the 50mm (75mm equivalent) lens both cost less than the Pentax K-01 with the lens you suggested. It really puts it at the upper end of the budget, and I really don't think I've gained enough (if anything) to justify that extra cost.

      Again, thank you for the comment and suggestion, but I'll pass.

  2. nice article bro, thanks a lot, and i am in love with Nikon D3300, because i believe that Nikon is the best company that made DSLR cameras.

    1. Thanks for commenting! Nikon makes excellent cameras, as does other manufacturers. It's difficult to find a bad camera nowadays.

      BTW, I've been using a Nikon D3300 for over one year now, and I've created many wonderful photographs with it.