Switching From Sony to Nikon for a Photojournalistic Trip Through Southeast Asia

Switching From Sony to Nikon for a Photojournalistic Trip Through Southeast Asia

Allan Hinton, also know by his Instagram alias Chaiwalla, just returned from a trip to Southeast Asian nation Myanmar. For the journey, he swapped his Sony a7R II for a Nikon D5600. Here’s how he found the experience.

A fan of Southeast Asia for its cultural differences to his native UK, self-taught Hinton already had a trip to Myanmar in the diary when Nikon came calling about a collaborative project. For the trip, he was tasked with utilizing the features of the D5600 along with the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G and AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED VR lenses.

Speaking exclusively to Fstoppers, Hinton says that before embarking, he was fascinated with the way of life lived by the locals of Myanmar — the tribes, the tattooed faces, their attitudes to life. He had seen images from National Geographic photographers that he found significantly more compelling than photos from anywhere else in the world. Upon arrival, he wasn’t disappointed, as the people were even more welcoming and friendly than he had imagined.

Hinton admits knowing little about the country before traveling there. With parts of the Western side — close to the border — facing increasing tension and unrest, Hinton found the locals he met were largely unphased. But how did they react to having their portraits taken?

By and large, most were happy to oblige. Hinton credits the D5600’s articulating screen for the success of a number of his portraits. One example he gave was during a session with a group of fishermen. The screen allowed him to shoot with a much lower perspective than usual. A feature he now calls an “absolute necessity,” the screen gave him more to play with when maneuvering a small canoe boat on an open lake. “I could get [the camera] lower to the water and bend the screen towards me to see what I was doing,” he explains. It was also a great asset for street photography; Hinton recalls how he would hold his camera at waist-height — again with the screen tilted back towards his line of vision — in a move he found was more discreet when trying to capture spontaneous moments. By not raising the camera to his face and pointing it at others, he found people weren’t so deterred at the sight of him snapping away.

A seasoned Instagram pro, he was also seeking out images taken with different angles. “It’s hard to stand out on social media when everyone’s doing the same thing. The screen helped massively […] it meant I could get lower.” The touch-screen ability of this camera also meant Hinton was able to tap the screen to auto-focus when positioning his camera in an unusual stance, something he said made self-portraits feasible when traveling alone.

One of his biggest motivations for the change in equipment was the portability of the Nikon. Hinton says his usual Sony set-up included an adaptor for his various Canon lenses — a situation that was impractical while on the road. The Nikon lenses, he says, were light and durable. Using a lighter body meant the camera spent more time around his neck than in his bag. Thus, he found himself taking more images.

A keen traveler, Hinton also spoke about the task of editing on the move. He confesses to uploading phone photos in place of his DSLR images on previous trips — something most of us are guilty of — due to tight time constraints and for convenience when hopping between accommodation. However, for the Myanmar trip, he said using the in-built Snapbridge camera software technology, he could edit his images instantly before posting from his phone. He talks more about the process in his blog post here

Of course, we're comparing cameras of differing pricetags; cameras that are usually used by photographers of varying skill levels. But the images are undeniably beautiful and memorable. Should you wish to see more of his Myanmar trip, there's a gallery below, and a broader spectrum of his work at his website and Instagram.

Images used with permission.

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Alex Armitage's picture

I'm slightly confused. What was the real purpose of downgrading from an A7RII to the D5600? I can't imagine it was the slight weight difference.

Yeah, it's kind of an odd thing to switch from a Sony A7RII to the 5600. I also like how everyone is always saying that they are "self taught". That simply means they most likely either watched a boatload of YouTube, attended workshops or learned via some other online means such as Creativelive. Not that there is anything wrong with learning that way (that's how I learned).

user-156929's picture

So you're self taught? ;-)

self taught to me is pre computers with trial and error

user-156929's picture

What if you did that pre-computers and then supplemented it afterward? ;-)

Self taught means you didn't spend $100k to go to The Brooks Institute, The Art Institute or any other overpriced photography school for that matter.

I agree photography schools tend to be overpriced . However , I doubt he learned his photography in a vacuum .

user-156929's picture

According to the article, the weight savings presumably would be due to going from FF glass to APS-C glass but they don't really dwell on it. Also, they hint at Nikon approaching him but not whether it was specifically for this trip or ???

Alex Armitage's picture

This is just my speculation but to me it seems like Nikon was like, hey guy with 150k+ followers. Take our camera and shoot with it on this trip.

The D5600 is 160g lighter and has better battery life. That's it. Something seems fishy here to me.

*edit - Should be known that I don't care if this is what he shot with and posted about it. I just want it to be clear that it was basically sponsored by Nikon if that's the case.

Nikon came calling about a collaborative project. For the trip, he was tasked with utilizing the features of the D5600.

Allan Hinton's picture

Hello Alex, Allan here (the chap that took the photos). I do a hell of a lot of travelling (on this particular trip I was on the road for 3 months) and the combined weight of the camera and lens makes a huge difference to me personally. If the camera is light enough I wear it around my neck all day without bother and tend to take more photos and photos more impulsively. When I have heavier equipment equipment I neck ache and I can be lazier at taking photos as I am always taking the camera in and out of my bag etc.

For me it is also important to mention being self taught (didn’t go to art school etc) as a way to encourage others that its possible to become a photographer this way

>> Hello Alex, Allan here (the chap that took the photos). I do a hell of a lot of travelling (on this particular trip I was on the road for 3 months) and the combined weight of the camera and lens makes a huge difference to me personally.

Allan - the article says that you were contacted ("tasked") by Nikon with an offer to do the shoot. So forgive me if I think the reason for swapping the Sony for the Nikon was because you wanted the money...

Anonymous's picture

I'm a proud user of the Nikon D5500, and I have to say that the quality is amazing, especially in low light! I'm glad that a pro photographer would give the Nikon D5600 a chance. The 18-140 lens is also very powerful!!! Here's an image I've taken with the combo at ISO 5000. You can click on it to see the high resolution version.

Mike Stern's picture

I don’t get it. Why did he go to D5600. It’s a complete downgrade from a7rii. Especially for travels. He should have replaced those canon glasses/adapters with a few Sony lenses if he wanted to make it even lighter.

Strange article.

Anonymous's picture

It's not a downgrade by any means. The D5600 is every bit as capable as the A7R II, save the extra megapixels. He was probably just marketing for Nikon.

Different cameras for different purposes. They're each more capable than each other at different things.

Alex Armitage's picture

It's definitely a downgrade. I don't know how you could say it isn't. If that was the case, why would you ever buy the camera that cost more than double?

Low light performance is insanely better on the a7rii, which is highly important for travel or anywhere you don't have control of the light.

Anonymous's picture

That is where you are wrong my friend. If you have never used the camera, please don't bash it. I've shot with many Sony cameras, and I have to say that the D5500 and the D5600 are insanely good in low light. I shoot concerts at ISO 16000 with virtually no noise on my D5500. Even the D750 is just rated about 2/3 of a stop better than the D5500 and in my opinion, that isn't a noticeable difference. Please drop the mentality that crop sensor cameras are inferior and shoot with what you got. Also, I posted an image I took at ISO 5000 if you're interested in proof (and the author of the blog also commented on the low light performance of the D5600).

Oh and I forgot, lemme answer your question about the price. Sony shoots 4K with a high bitrate and fps count. Sony shoots photos at a high fps count. Sony is weather-sealed. Sony is mirrorless, and the Sony A7R II is a 42 MP full frame camera with tons of features. That should explain the cost for you. You're not getting better images other than the extra resolution.

Alex Armitage's picture


Check out the ISO performance difference. Also, you named many reason why it's definitely a downgrade.

We shouldn't be arguing over this in the first place. The A7Rii is a higher quality camera throughout, for multiple reasons like you listed. I'm not quite sure why you're assuming I have something against APS-C sensors.

I don't care what you shoot on, shoot on your phone for all I care. Just be honest about why you're traveling to another country using a camera that's not as good as the one you already own.

Anonymous's picture

As I said before, if you've never used it, then keep your opinions to yourself. If your think the D5600 is a downgrade, then I think you're a lazy photographer; a summary of your style of logic.

Alex Armitage's picture

I'm lost at

1) Why you feel the need to defend the D5600 so strongly
2) Why you need to personally attack me??

If you won a contest and the two choices were these cameras + full set of their respective lenses, you're telling me you'd take the D5600?

Anonymous's picture

I'm defending it because photographers underrate it, and I'm a proud owner of the D5500. I'm not attacking you lol, I'm just trying to use your style of logic. I would pick the D5600. Wanna know why? Cos I can create astounding images regardless of whatever I'm using. I don't care about the gear, I care more about my knowledge of the subject. I have shot with so many cameras (including the D5, 1DX Mark II, Sony A7S II, and others) and because of such, I never see moving to a crop sensor as a downgrade. If you think it's a downgrade, then all the photographers who sold their D750 cameras for Fuji XT-2 cameras foolishly downgraded.

Gear is all about choice, don't let online specs deceive you. Dxomark may tell you that Canon is lagging behind in dynamic range, but I don't see that when I'm editing .CR2 raw files. I'm going to assume that you knew that the ISO score on dxomark denotes the minimum ISO that maintains a dynamic range of 9 EVs, 18 bits of color depth, and a SNR of 30db. It doesn't tell you how the camera performs at the higher end. It's the same way the dynamic range rating works.

Anyways, I'm not interested in debating this anymore. I just want you to know that if any photographer picks up a camera, it's a CHOICE not a DOWNGRADE.

Alex Armitage's picture

You win! Shoot with whatever you like as long as you're happy buddy.

>> If you think it's a downgrade, then all the photographers who sold their D750 cameras for Fuji XT-2 cameras foolishly downgraded.

Nope. The main group to swap Nikon FF for Fuji are people shooters. Fuji gives much better skin tones than Nikon under difficult lighting conditions - you really can stick a Fuji in AWB and do damn all post. If you're shooting weddings, then this gets rid of the hassle of playing with custom white balance and saves a potentially enormous amount of time correcting images after the shoot. And you get a leaf shutter camera as part of the system (so you get easy fill-flash for group shots) and exposure preview (takes the nerves out of wedding dress shots.) You don't get any of these advantages switching from an A7ii to an ASPC SLR, so they're irrelevant.

Anonymous's picture

My point is, switching is not a downgrade, it's a choice. I'm saying this from years of shooting experience! If you're a highly-skilled photographer like I am, then gear should only be a thing of preference to you.

>> 1) Why you feel the need to defend the D5600 so strongly

Because he bought one and he's one of ***those*** people.

To be fair, using an APS-C sensor with a superzoom lens makes sense for travel. I mean, you could only bring one lens and with good shooting conditions, come back with a lot of usable shots. On the Sony, I think the best lens to use for travel is the 24-105, but it clearly doesn't have the same reach. Not sure about the weight.

(But I don't think he would have done it without Nikon's offering.)

Alex Armitage's picture

The only issue with this argument is that the A7rii has an APS-C mode. Dropping the megapixels from 42 to 18 but adding in the ability to use APS-C lenses or adding that 1.6 crop in.

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