Monday, 4 February 2013

The Perfect Camera System - Part 2

A rocky, reefy ledge - Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

As you may remember in Part 1, I went through my requirements for a suitable camera for the this project. Now I am going to concentrate on the finer details that separate each camera from one other. I was hoping to get to try at least some of these cameras before writing this, but unfortunately it did not work out that way. It was decided that a digital SLR with a full frame 35mm sensor was the ideal system. There are only 2 companies that come to mind that currently produce them, and have a wide enough range of lenses to cover both the work I will be doing on this project, and the other work that will be called of them for my other photographic work: Those two companies, not surprisingly are Nikon Canon, This is good in a way, as it means less options to look at, however after much deliberation, I am still struggling to make a decision..

As much as I would like to take the full size pro bodies such as the Canon 1DX and the Nikon D4, I will be upfront and say I don't think I can justify the cost - especially as I want 2 bodies and would prefer if they were both the same. They would be fantastic for my work here, however their added bulk and weight would not be in their favour. There are also some fairly recent offerings from both Canon and Nikon that look ok, but as I have narrowed it down to 2 already (well 3 actually as you will come to see shortly) I will cut to the chase and discuss them in more detail.

The Final Contenders
Well, from Nikon there is the D800, and to throw an extra into the mix there is also the D800E. The Canon 5D MkIII, is the other option. Some people will say stick to Canon since I already own some fairly nice Canon glass, while others would argue that the D800 and D800E with their amazing 32mp Sony Exmor sensor is a much better choice. I prefer to weigh everything up in terms of what system will be best suited for my needs. To be honest I know I could very hap[pily live with either, but I see pros and cons with each. For the purpose of keeping this as short as I can, I will consider the 2 Nikons as one camera for now as deciding between the two variants will be something I do before purchasing if I decide to go Nikon. For those that don't know, the only difference between the D800 and D800E is the fact that Nikon has essentially offered the same camera both with and without an optical low pass filter (anti aliasgin filter). The "E" version does not have this filter, and therefore it does not blur the image at all before recording it on the sensor. It means the camera is capable of extra sharpness, however as a trade off moire (or pattern noise) can sometimes be an issue.

The Deciding Factors
For me, what I currently own has no bearing on my decision as I will be selling all of the equipment I already own to start with a fresh kit. I will be buying the new gear in the next month or so, and therefore need to make my decision fairly soon. Basically I am looking at what both camera systems offer me. I have to say that from a lens perspective, I am strongly leaning towards Canon for a couple of reasons. From a sensor perspective however, Nikon wins hands down. It has higher resolution, and great dynamic range, and the ability to pull shadow detail out without introducing colour noise. All of this is a big plus to Nikon, the only thing that the Canon has in its favour as far as sensors go is better skintones. Plenty of Nikon shooters and their high end clients are satisfied with portraits shot on Nikon, so the skintones thing isn't a deal breaker for me. Well, for the Nikon, that's about it! Atofocus capability finally seems to be in Canon's favour (at least when selectiong from the higher end bodies), and also Canon's impementation of live view.

Canon has a few special lenses that I really would like to own, the TS-E17mm f4L is one of them. I think it would make a fantastic landscape lens and  I would like to use it for some other work too. Nikon still has nothing that compares to it. The Stunning TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II is another, however this time Nikon does have a competitor for it in the PC-E 24mm f/3.5D ED. Unfortunately for it, it sounds like the Canon may be slightly superior optically, and is capable of a greater range of movements. The Canon 85mm f1.2L II is another particularly legendary lens that I have wanted to own for some time

Now, I'm not sure that the 85mm f1.2L would make it in the bag on the flywater Exposed journey due to it's size and weight, but the two TS-E lenses would be put to work shooting a lot of landscapes. If I went Nikon, then I think I would just buy the 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, which would  no doubt struggle slightly in the corners for sharpness, and not offer the creative possibilities, ability to keep vertical lines straight, or extra depth of field offered by the TS-E or PC lenses listed above.

The other main lenses I will be considering at this stage are pretty basic. the latest 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 (IS/VR) zooms from either company. All sound pretty good as far as zooms go, so I won't even bother weighing these into the equation. Other than that a decent macro is about it and things are pretty much covered. The Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS is the pick for me there, while from what I have heard the Nikon  Micro 60mm f/2.8G ED is the one to pick. 

So there we have it - I'm stuck! The amazing high resolution 32mp, high quality files the Sony sensor equipped Nikon is capable of producing, with some very nice lenses, or the still highly capable Canon 22mp senor  with its accompanying superior focusing capabilities both with live view and through the viewfinder, plus those specialiust lenses that come at a hefty price. I know I can't make a wrong decision, but it's tough. Stay posted as I decide once and for all over the next few weeks.

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