The used route is a brilliant way to upgrade your kit while sticking to a budget, and specialists such as MPB can guide you through the process every step of the way. We asked their expert team to answer a selection of questions that relate to the second hand market.

Q I’M WORKING WITH what is now an elderly Nikon DSLR camera (D700), which is still capable of producing excellent results. However I know I need to upgrade and I’m torn between staying with a DSLR system or moving to a Nikon mirrorless model, probably the Z6. Can you give me the pros and cons of each system please and how much might I need to invest to move to mirrorless?

 A: The Nikon D700 is still a great camera, and there’s no shame in sticking with it. However, it’s always good to keep up with innovation, as often as you – and your funds – are willing. The Nikon Z6 benefits from a decade of advancement in sensor technology. So, your images will be cleaner at higher ISOs and the camera has much better video capabilities, autofocus and dynamic range.

However, the biggest difference between the Nikon D700 and Z6, as you mentioned, is that the Z6 is mirrorless. This means you can see your image, composition and exposure ‘live’ in your electronic viewfinder – it’s just a smaller version of what you’d see on your rear screen. There’s no need to review your images as often, you can just get the shot and move on. It’s a much quicker way of shooting.

Budget Kit

Q I’VE GOT A BUDGET of sub-£1000 but am looking to piece together a camera outfit that could deliver pro results. I’ve already got a Canon 5D Mark II and a 50mm but what could I add to this within my budget to upgrade the outfit?

A: It depends on what kind of pro-level work you’d like to do. If this involves event or wedding photography, then a Canon Speedlite flash would be handy. As a general all-purpose lens, the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 is great. It comes with a fast aperture and offers a good usable focal length and robust construction – perfect for most pros. You can buy a Canon 580EX or 600 series Speedlite flash and Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L for under £800, leaving you with some room in your budget for accessories, replacement batteries and filters.

If you’re clever with your use of lenses, your mirrorless setup will also be much more compact. If you’re using pro-level zoom lenses, you won’t see much of an improvement in portability, but if you’re usually running around with a small prime then a mirrorless set-up will almost definitely be much lighter. Another benefit is that they’re much quieter and can run slightly longer shutter speeds, as there’s no mirror slap to create vibration. In particular, the lack of a mirror can also be noticed with wide lenses, while the rear element can be within just a couple of millimetres of the sensor.

Going back to technological advancements, the bulk of most camera manufacturers’ investment is now going into mirrorless tech, so it might be worth jumping aboard sooner rather than later. On the other hand, some people simply prefer shooting with an optical viewfinder on a DSLR, and the cameras tend to enjoy a much better battery life as well. Lenses are also an important consideration, and some pros prefer DSLRs for their greater range of niche lenses in different focal lengths. In terms of investment, you’ll also need to consider whether to sacrifice autofocus speed by adapting non-native lenses to a mirrorless body.

Adding Pro Spec Video

Q I WANT TO ADD pro-spec video production to my business and am considering investing in a Panasonic GH5, since this seems to offer really high quality video while also delivering high end stills. I also like the IS it offers, and would prefer it to the GH5S, which I consider to be more of a bespoke filmmaking camera. What’s your opinion?

A: If you’re looking for pro-spec video, then we’d recommend the GH5S over the GH5. While it has a smaller resolution, that doesn’t affect video – in fact, it benefits it. By ‘only’ having 10.2MP that means that each pixel is larger in the camera’s smaller sensor, so they’re better at gathering light. This means less noise at higher ISO, which could make all the difference between footage being usable or not.

But by far the most important factor, in our opinion, is the bitrate and colour gamut difference. The GH5 offers 8-bit 422, while the GH5S has 12-bit 422 -an enormous difference for filmmakers.

A B-CAMERA FOR MY A7R III?

Q WHAT WOULD BE an ideal B-Camera for a Sony a7R Mark III? I’ve got a selection of lenses to go with this so would prefer to stick with a Sony a-series model if possible, but are there alternatives perhaps?

A: As you have a very high-resolution camera, you’re probably shooting highly detailed work and you’ll be looking for crop options or might need to print big. If budget isn’t an issue, then the Sony a7R II is a great choice in terms of image quality and it can do 95% of what the a7R III can. But if you want to keep it under £1000, the original a7R is still an excellent choice. While it ‘only’ has 36MP, it’s one of the finest back-up cameras around for that kind of money. Just remember to pack a few spare batteries.

While it’s only on a MFT sensor, it’s getting closer to cinema-level quality in terms of bitrate and colour, and this means greater editability and flexibility in post. In terms of stills, the GH5S has less resolution but, again, it provides 14-bit colour files over 12-bit on the GH5. That means quite a few billion more colours, allowing smoother gradations between colours for things like the sky, portraits and anything in-between where there might be a requirement for great detail.

X Series Choice?

Q HAVING WORKED WITH an X-Pro 1 I’m a big fan of the Fujifilm X-Series cameras, but what, in your opinion, might be the best option in the series for professional use, priced at around the £700-800 mark? And what lenses should I be considering to buy to go with this?

A: Within that price bracket, the Fujifilm X-T2 wins hands down. It really changed the tide in terms of mirrorless tech as a viable option for pros. Keeping within a £800 budget, you could team it up with a Fujifilm 18-135mm f/3.5-f/5.6 – but if you can stretch it to £1000 then you can buy a 16-55mm f/2.8, which is a truly amazing lens.

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