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Roger Buys a Camera System: Finally

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OK, I’ve taken a long route, but narrowed things down to a Nikon D800e based system, a Canon full-frame system, or a Pentax K-5 IIs system. All of them met my needs just fine, although the D800e system gave me better image quality and the Pentax a bit less.

Let’s Begin With: Don’t Do What I Did

Sometimes the main purpose of my life is simply to serve as a warning to others. By now it should be apparent that I made some major mistakes.

Foremost was that I overreacted. Following my lifelong philosophy of ‘Anything worth doing is worth doing to excess’ I decided to exit Micro 4/3 when I found it didn’t fit all of my needs. Despite the fact that I said, very clearly, when starting this that I knew there was no perfect camera system, even for one individual. The grass will always be greener in some area on the other side of the fence.

In retrospect, it would have made more sense to buy a new camera and lens to fill my major need at 400mm and then decide if I wanted to move entirely. I used a shotgun to kill the fly that was irritating me.

Several people have suggested 400mm options for micro 4/3, though, and I do want to mention that so far there hasn’t been a suggestion I haven’t tried. They just didn’t work for me, But in retrospect, at this point I should be buying a body and couple of lenses, and not have gotten rid of all my Micro 4/3 stuff. Then I could have decided if I wanted to completely migrate or continue with both systems.

Show Me the Money

I spent some time looking at lens combinations I would likely buy, to reevaluate expenses. Camera, macro lens, at least one fast prime, standard zoom, at least one wide aperture prime, a wide-angle zoom, and 400mm equivalent lens were absolute necessities. I had decided to keep my system under $9,000 so a little modification of my initial lists was in order.

The first modification knocked roughly $1,500 from my Canon and Nikon purchase prices. I had initially planned on the Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 because it’s the world’s best wide zoom and the Canon 16-35 f/2.8 as the closest match. During my evaluation time I had decided I preferred the Canon 14mm f/2.8 to the 16-35mm f/2.8 because it was sharper and because when looking at what I actually shoot it became obvious I use my wide zooms at the widest end almost all of the time.

After realizing I rarely shoot architecture this wide I decided I’d save $1,500 either way and pick up a RokiBowYang 14mm f/2.8 lens. It has more barrel distortion (5.2%) compared to the Nikon (3.9% at 14mm) and the Canon (1.7%) but it has resolution every bit as good as the brand-name lenses. I don’t mind manually focusing at this wide angle (truth is I usually set this kind of lens at it’s hyperfocal distance and then shoot away). I know, because I’ve taken them apart, that they aren’t going to hold up well, and I know they are about impossible to get repaired. But buying a replacement RokiBowYang costs less than a standard repair on a Nikon 14-24mm, so i almost consider it a disposable lens. This choice, very obviously, might not work for you.

The second modification had to do with camera bodies. On the Canon side I truly waffled about whether I preferred the 5D Mk III’s extra pixels and better autofocus or the 6D’s built in Wi-Fi, which I really found useful. So I saved $1,100 and went with the 6D. The Nikon decision was tougher. I could save the same $1,100 choosing a D600 instead of a D800. For me, the major attraction, even though I don’t absolutely need it, was the big megapixel images. It gives me some flexibility in cropping and even lens selection. So on the Nikon side I decided I’d pay the difference.

Finally, I decided to leave off a 70-200 f/2.8 lens. I don’t shoot action sports, and would be fine with the f/4 versions for either Canon or Nikon. The 70-200s tend to be travel / vacation lenses for me, and for right now I’ll just rent one for vacation. I may add one in a few months, but might rather prefer 85mm and 135mm primes instead.

When the dust had settled, it was pretty easy to meet my $9,000 budget with any system and I can probably save a few hundred off of the list prices below with some smart shopping.

Nikon D800e$3,097Canon 6D$2,099Pentax K5 IIs$1,197
Nikon 300mm f/4 with 1.4x TC$1,879Canon 400mm f/5.6$1,339Pentax 300mm f/4$1,370
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro$899Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS L$1,049Pentax 100mm f/2.8 Macro$847
Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC$1,299Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 Mk II$2,149Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 $1,470
Rokinon 14mm f/2.8$399Rokinon 14mm f/2.8$399Sigma 10-20 f/3.5$599
Sigma 35mm f/1.4$899Sigma 35mm f/1.4$899Pentax 31mm f/1.8$990
TOTAL $8.472 TOTAL $7,934 TOTAL $6,473

 

Other Things I Considered

Service and Support

I mentioned in the first post that I’m a fanatic about customer service and repairs. That’s a big edge to Canon USA compare to Nikon USA right now (it’s different in different countries), and right now is when I’m making my decision. Fanboys can go off as much as they want, but I handled several thousand repairs last year. Nikon takes, on average, three times as long at double the cost.  (Lensrentals insider joke: What do you call a D800 with a scratched sensor? Parts. Because at $1,800 for a sensor replacement . . . )

I haven’t had many Pentax repairs so I looked into their service and got good news and bad. The good was a really nice customer support system with live chat and quick, knowledgeable phone support. The bad news was when I asked how long repair turnaround time would be the answer was 20 to 30 days. So I ranked them between Canon and Nikon.

My Personal Rant

This may not bother you at all, but it does me, at least a bit. If I buy Nikon right now, I’m in effect saying it’s fine that you stopped selling parts, made most of the independent shops stop working on Nikon, upped your repair prices, slowed your repair service, and lowered quality control. You were right to do so, because here’s my money.

I say one part of me because there’s another part that shrugs and says ‘if it’s the best equipment, it’s the best equipment’. So myself and I had a long talk and reached a compromise. When Nikon clearly has the best equipment (D800e, for example) or best value (28mm f/1.8) then I’ll buy Nikon. But when things are close and there is an alternative, I’ll buy non-Nikon. The Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC and Rokinon 14mm lens choices made me feel better. I might also go with a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 OS macro instead of the 105 VR Micro. On the other hand, I really did prefer the Nikon 300 f/4 and 1.4x to the Sigma 50-500 OS zoom.

Buying Used Equipment

I don’t hesitate to buy used equipment if the price is right. There’s lots of used Canon gear out there, but often the prices aren’t that great. Nikon and Pentax are a bit less available, but often at more attractive prices. However, the repair part plays into this too. If I get a great deal on a Nikon lens but then pay $500-$800 for a repair (typical cost for a 24-70 f/2.8 or 14-24mm f/2.8 rebuild) I’ve probably paid more than I would have for a new lens. The end result is I would be more likely to buy used Canon lenses and might save a few bucks. Like repairs, though, this wasn’t a major part of my decision, but something I considered a bit.

Cool Things

I’ve already mentioned the 6D’s Wi Fi hit my cooness button pretty hard. So does Nikon’s gazzillion megapixels. So did the Pentax menus and the ability to map out hot or dead pixels from the comfort of my recliner. Of course, it would be even worse if I had the opportunity to buy a Pentax K5 II in one of the 100 horrible color combinations the Q cameras come in. What a great anti-theft device. OK, that might be just a bit too cool for me.

 

copyright Pentax Japan

 

If the coolness thing affected me, it was in the 6D versus 5D Mk III decision, I think. I believe I overcame it elsewhere.

Lens Selection

I mentioned earlier there were lenses I would buy to keep in my kit, but there were other lenses I’d ‘rent’ too, on occasion. Pentax falls a bit behind here for things like tilt-shifts, supertelephotos, and to some degree even wide-aperture primes (there are lots and lots of them, but many have slow AF, buzzy little motors, and other leftovers from older designs). You can get most things you want, but there isn’t an all-you-can-shoot buffet like there the other two have.

I found this an interesting contrast from mirrorless systems where the I consider Pentax to have the strongest lens selection. It’s the exact same set of Pentax lenses, which gives a nice perspective about the gap between mirrorless and SLR lens selection. Yeah, I’m probably still trying to make myself feel better for my all-or-none attitude when I started this.

There are a couple of lenses on the Canon side that I will definitely use a few times a year like the MP-E 65mm and the 17mm TS-E that just aren’t available in Nikon or Pentax. I also use a 500m f/4 or 300mm f/2.8 a couple of times a year, but they’re available for both Canon and Nikon. Ditto Zeiss lenses, which I do use fairly often. There is a 560mm f/5.6 available for Pentax but it’s not available for occasional rental.

The Bottom Line

It should be pretty obvious that I decided against going with the Pentax system. It met all of my needs, there were things I really liked about it, but in the end the flexibility of the other two systems really attracted me. It was close, though, and if I had decided to just add an SLR with 400mm equivalent lens to a mirrorless system, I might well have gone with the K-5 IIs and 300 f/4.

Despite the better image quality of the Nikon system, I decided to go with the Canon. I waffled back and forth for days on this decision. In the end the biggest reasons were minor things that would not apply to many of you: availability of used equipment at lower risk, availability of a few specialty lenses that appeal to me, and a strong preference for the Canon 100mm Macro’s IS system. I have to admit the 6D’s built-in Wi Fi pushed my buttons, too. It’s not just a toy, I really do use it quite a bit. I’m actually in pictures now instead of just taking them.

The system I got was not the best for image quality. Heck, I didn’t even get the best Canon camera from an image quality standpoint. This did surprise me a bit because I spend all day looking at minute differences in image quality. I think I got the best system for me — a hobbyist who likes to shoot some macro and hand-held telephoto.

If I shot differently, I would have made a different choice. You do shoot differently and will certainly make different choices.

Uwe Steinmueller, who runs the Digital Outback Photo blog has been kind enough to look at the same issue from a photographer’s (rather than a gearhead) point of view and has written a nice counterpoint article.  It’s definitely worth a read (and the photographs certainly worth a look).

I’d love to say I’ll not have any buyer’s remorse, but I probably will. There are several D800 shooters working here that will show me images to make certain I do every chance they get. But overall I’m already happy with what I decided to get.

In retrospect, though, if I’d kept my Micro 4/3 system I probably would have bought the 6D, 400mm lens and 100mm macro, used both systems for a while, and then decided if I wanted to sell the Micro 4/3 system and add lenses. That would have been the more practical thing to do.

This long series is, at last, mercifully over. I appreciate the comments of those who enjoyed it and the patience of those who didn’t. The simple reality is writing about it helped me organize my thoughts and my processes, and in this case I think helped me make a more informed decision.

 

 

Roger Cicala

Lensrentals.com

Fevruary 2013

 

 

70 Responses to “Roger Buys a Camera System: Finally”

Dave D said:

2012? Roger, you have been so consumed with this decision you forgot what year it is!

Chris Jankowski said:

Roger,
As we all know camera bodies have much shorter lifespan than lenses these days. Canon is under enormous pressure to catch up with Nikon in resolution. They may even start using Sony sensors, as Nikon did. Your choice of Canon system may look even better in two years time, as the lens kit you’ve chosen for your need sis excellent, I think.

David said:

What an incredibly hard choice. Better system or better body? Plenty of arguments for either.

I don’t think a choice is a tacit endorsement of every characteristic of that product. Nikon’s service sucks. Canon’s obsession with product differentiation sucks too. I voted with my wallet in avoiding the 6D, but if I had been less concerned with moving and off-center objects, I might have opted for it.

Anyway, thanks for letting us in on your process.

Anthony said:

Roger, thanks for this peak inside your head. I just wanted to let you know that I truly appreciate the great work you put into this blog. It’s always an enjoyable and informative read.

James said:

Roger,

As always, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts throughout this process. Having you chose a 6D over a 5DIII is going to make me evaluate it more closely. I am, finally, going to be upgrading from my old XTi as I have a nice set of lenses. Thankfully I know a nice rental shop that can help me with my evaluations.

Thank you,
James

Jode said:

Roger,

thanks for your insightful article series.

I think in your earlier articles you mentioned that you might prefer the Canon 100-400L over the 400/f5.6L for its flexibility advantage vs. the ever so slightly image advantage of the prime.

Can you shed some light on your final decision here?

Disclaimer: I love my 100-400

Brian Leighty said:

Roger, can you explain why you went with the 400 5.6 over the 100-400 IS?

ginsbu said:

I had a feeling you were going to go with the 6D: cool gadgetry to go with the lenses you prefer. Enjoy the system. Canon will surely introduce a higher resolution body before too long, so you aren’t condemned to indefinite taunting from the D800 crowd.

I’d also like to thank you for the micro 4/3 WA and standard lens comparisons you’ve done. They are a valuable resource for those interested in the system. I realize that switching away from m4/3 likely means you’ll write less often about that system, but I hope you’ll continue to post imatest results on new lenses as they’re introduced. I’m eager to see how the Olympus 17/1.8 compares!

derek said:

great post and great conclusion but I am a bit shocked you chose the 6D based system.
well, the 6Dis a good camera but I never thought about it seriously.

I guess I download some RAW samples from it tonight and conisder if it can replace my lousy D600.
I’ve quite liked D800e for serios tripod work. but I hated tripod or MF prime for casual candid shooting and for that kind of use I got my D600.
But simply by now , after having used the D600 for 3 months , I am sure it is not a camera I was seeking for, it has terribly poor lowlight AF (even the center one does not work well), it is a dust magnet, it is slow and always in writing mode and the yellow card lapm alwyas turns on after shoot some shots in a row, the D600 is a very annoying camera in reallife use ,especially if you are coming from a D800 or a D700.
Anyway, congrats on your new system and report back how good your 6D based system is to us.

Thanks for this very interesting series.
I am very interested in the 6D and Canon TSE24mmf3.5 and Samyong 14mm f2.8.

Stefan said:

Roger, congrats to the decision.

Impressive moves with the lenses to bring down cost and weight. Btw, who really asked to clarify the budget during the decision?

Also, to count in the service quality and the ecosystem size likely gives a better feeling after the fact. Not to be underestimated.

Actually, what about condensing the steps down to one page and make it default reading for every sales person out there?

Enjoy your photography,

Stefan

Martin said:

Excellent report, Roger, and always a pleasure to read good, stylistic writing. As a delighted Canon 6D owner I am unsurprised by your choice. We all know that this camera was pretty well dismissed by the reviewing community because of it’s apparent ordinariness but for me, as an enthusiast club photographer, it is the business. The wifi remote in particular is a huge boon. I do a lot of landscape work with the peerless Canon TSE II 24/3.5 and live view is pretty well essential for critical focus. However, this is not straightforward at tripod height below a couple of feet and the effort of juggling tilt and focus simultaneously while balancing a Hoodman between eye and screen is enormous and, no doubt, comical to watch. This is much easier to do using EOS Remote with my Samsung Galaxy S3 which can be held on the tripod with a wimberley plamp. Macro work benefits in a similar way. Resolution is fine for me and, to my eyes, superior to the 5DII which it replaced. Noise performance is great, too, supposedly topping the 5DIII in this respect. Of course, the AF capability is limited by comparison with the MkIII or the 7D but the centre-point AF sensor is as responsive as that on the former in normal light conditions (higher in low light) and better than the 7D. Since I use centre-point focusing for tracking birds in flight this works well for me but I accept it wouldn’t if I was photographing action-sports. So this is an ideal camera for my purpose. All I need now is a similarly specced crop camera to extend reach, ie a low noise, high iso 7DII, and I shall be kitted out. No need for higher resolution as what the 6D provides is more than enough for the A3 print size I typically use, even when cropped quite aggressively.

Christoph Breitkopf said:

I wonder when the follow-up costs will appear. After stepping up to a higher-resolution digital camera, many people suddenly realize they need a new computer, software, a better tripod and head, …

That was actually why I got a D600 instead of a D800E – I wanted to get a really nice tripod, too. Somehow, this turned into a really nice and shiny new laptop instead of a tripod, but you get the idea.

Samuel H said:

CLAP! CLAP! CLAP! CLAP! CLAP! CLAP! CLAP!

Jeffrey Friedl said:

One thing I don’t think you mentioned in this series is that because Canon has a physically wider mount than Nikon, with an adapter you can use Nikon lenses. It’s not appealing for common lenses, but for specialty lenses (e.g. if your Sigma 200-500mm f/2.8 was a Nikon mount, or for the Nikkor 300 mm f/2, or for the Noct 58mm f/1.2, etc. etc.).

I’d love to be able to mount a 85mm f/1.2 on my Nikon, but there aren’t any.

L.P.O. said:

This has been a fascinating journey, Roger, and I thank you for inviting us all to enjoy it.

As far as your lens selection goes, I find it very rational, yet inspiring, and hope you’ll get lots of happy shooting time with it.

Some of your choices, including the Samyang 14/2.8, and your reasons for it, echo mine a lot. For instance, I’ve always wanted to go wider than what the 24/1.4L has to offer. So, I’ve been looking for ages at Canon’s 16-35 and 17-40 zooms. That search ended the day I learned of the 350 euro Samyang 14/2.8. That’s just one sweet lens!

On the other hand, I’m a wide angle to medium tele type, so my supertele needs are less than yours. Thus, after losing my compact 70-300 DO a few years ago, I’ve finally bought the wonderful 70-300L for anything over 135mm/2 needs. If I shot distant objects more, my choice would certainly have been different. As you said, different fourses for different sources!

Cheers!

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Jode,

I went back and forth on 100-400 vs 400 a lot. In the end it was slightly that the 400 is smaller and a bit less expensive but more my individual situation. I’ll use that almost exclusively at home shooting wildlife across a small pond behind my house – I know all of those shots will be at 400mm so the zoom advantage isn’t there for me.

Roger

Chris K said:

I switched to M43 (from Canon) when it was launched to shrink my camera kit, and also had to live with its shortcomings. The way I solved it was to keep enough Canon equipment to satisfy the weaknesses of M43, and slowly sell parts off as M43 increased in capabilities. I switched UWA to M43 with the launch of the 9-18. I switched macro to M43 with the purchase of a 45/2.8 (and an STF-22). My current kit looks like this:

5D2 + Canon 24-70 + 580EX
7D + Canon 100-400
EM5/EP3/GH1/GF3 + a full kit

I hope someday there will be a M43 camera that can match my 7D’s AF capabilities, and a wide zoom that can give me portraits as nice as my 5D2. Considering the rapid improvement of M43 (EP1 to EM5 in just a few years!) I’m confident it will happen some day, but until then I’ll continue to use my old Canon gear when necessary, and my M43 gear when I can. Running two systems is a bit of a bitter pill, but not as bitter as the weight of my old FF kit (5D2, 17-40, 24-70, 100-400, 100/2.8, MT-24EX). I don’t miss the days of a 12lbs camera bag!

Sorry to hear you had to sell off your entire kit to get what you wanted, Roger. I hope FF treats you well.

Michael Steinbach said:

Great series! I enjoyed it immensely. The point of strongest agreement is with Nikon customer support, their really isn’t any. And we have the worst CSR in the country in Michael M******, I’m still trying to figure out what he actually does to warrant his position. As an NPS member and a former CPS member I can say without any question which I would prefer to have. But I suffered through the 1D mark lll focusing issues and switched back to Nikon. Amazing how things ebb and flow, now canon has the better focusing system.

Milan said:

Congrats, you bought a great camera and superb lenses, I hope you’ll enjoy shooting with them!

One question: I’m not sure if you’ve mentioned it, but since you’ve said that you like the hybrid IS on the Canon 100mm I wonder how does that compare to the 5-axis IS in the OM-D when shooting macro with the 60mm. Both IS systems are supposed to work similarly in that they compensate different kind of movement, so did you notice an advantage of the Canon system or are they both equally good for macro?

Leroy Walker Jr said:

I was in a similar situation recently..trying to decide between the 6D & 5DMK3. I had the 5Dmk2 and 7D and was looking to replace the 7D. It ultimately boils down to what to you photograph.. You have to get the camera that excels in what you shoot the most. I needed the autofocus advantages that the 5Dmk3 provided and that’s what I got.

Martin said:

An observation on the 100mm macro choice. I find AF on macro a bit hit and miss. It doesn’t always focus where you want and expect it. So I tend to use MF. I’ll agree that IS is nice for hand held shots but I use a tripod mostly so it is not relevant for me. So, I need neither AF nor IS. This may be a minority choice but, for like minded photographers, the 100mm Zeiss macro is a great choice or, my personal choice, the Leica R 100/2.8 APO Macro which is a stellar lens. Indeed, the ease of adapting Leica R lenses for use on EOS mount is a big plus for Canon. It can be done for Nikon too but is more fiddly.

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Milan,

I think the Olympus is very good, but the Canon seems even better. That being said, I believe a lot of things like shooting position contribute. Also, when I put on my medical training hat, I have to believe each individual’s frequency, degree, and direction of resting tremor (human’s have a 3/second cycle, but also several secondary frequencies and age and other factors vary it), the way I’m actually holding for a shot and therefore the muscle groups involved (hand tremors are fine and faster, shoulder muscles larger movement but slower frequency) and other things make how well IS works a very individual thing.

Roger

Randy Schwartz said:

Well, I think you almost got it right. lol. But I believe you’ll be sorry you didn’t get the 100-400…you’ll want it when you eventually buy what will be the next generation of the Canon 7D (your backyard pond will appreciate the versatility of 150-600 ;-) ). I can’t imagine Canon will not make every effort to replace the 7D with a really high-tech camera (and you know you can’t resist the latest toy)…otherwise, they can forget about replacing it.

David said:

Just a note on the 14/2.8– it’s not for everyone. I had one and sold it after two weeks. It’s a pain in the ass for event shooting. Even at 14mm, your plane of sharpness is surprisingly narrow at f/2.8. The distance scale is worthless and the focus throw is about three times longer than it should be. It would be a better with a focus confirm chip, but still many multiples slower in use than a 17-40 or 16-35 if you care at all about critical focus, not to mention the lack of versatility for what amounts to an extreme ultrawide.

Thom Hogan said:

I’m glad you led with “Don’t Do What I Did.” That was exactly my thought when you started this series: why’s he doing that?

One irony is that one natural solution–keep the Olympus system and rent the long lens when you needed it–wasn’t in your options. That’s often what I’m recommending to people these days. Most people who own the really big lenses (including me), really can’t justify the expense. We tend to overvalue owning things and end up spending extra money just for that privilege. You really have to have a lot of shooting planned to justify purchasing some of this equipment. But you know that, you have a business that caters to the money conscious.

I’m seeing more and more photographers with Selling Guilt. Again, including myself. I don’t know why I sold my D3x; it was a perfectly fine camera that delivered for me every time I used it.

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Thom,

Someone threw one of my favorite quotes back at me: “Wisdom comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement”. I guess I gained some wisdom. The amusing thing is I started by saying I know no one camera will do everything I want – then went out and tossed away a system because it didn’t do one thing well. I should listen to my own advice sometimes.

I will still rent the big boys when I need, but I did want a smaller telephoto just to keep at the house all the time. We get enough visitors that the 400 will probably be my default-mounted lens just for grabbing quick shots.

kenneth voigt said:

I think you made a BAD mistake.
I take landscapes with wider lenses and shoot animals with a Canon 400 f5.6. I got the 400 several years ago when I was shooting with a 5D MK II.
I was never satisfied with that lens. I tried Canon 300 f2.8L and 400 f4 DO. Not sharp.(I refuse to carry around a 500 f4) Then I got the 5D MK III. Now EVERYTHING is sharp ! IT’S THE AUTOFOCUS.

J Altfas said:

Peering into my gorgeous crystal ball, I see remarkable developments in mFT later this year. Yes, Olympus will surprise you.

Shall we predict that a year from now you’ll be hankering for a return to mFT. It will be all but irresistible.

But please, take your own advice: go slow, a step at a time. By all means, there may be little choice anyway, given what the prices of such temptations will be.

(And without a doubt, I must heed myself what I’m saying to you.)

Enjoy the new things, for now…

JRA

Steven Runyan said:

as a long-time Canon user this is similar to the decisions i would and have made – i have a large back yard with a variety of birds (long tele)but the deer have been fenced out so i can flowers and fruit trees (macro) – but i also like to travel and shoot people, places, landscapes, wildlife, and action (wildlife and grandkids and don’t want to carry a tripod or extremely heavy and bulky as it is a big hassle and often detracts from my shooting experience

for the back yard i have a tripod with 7D, 400 5.6 +1.4xiii can marginally capture small birds using CD AF. i don’t find the 400 to be much use hand-held in the morning or afternoon or shade. took it to Africa last year and had very little use of it. the resolution is terrific corner-corner but i struggle to find a use for it and it’s on the sell list

i use my second (selected) 100-400 extensively with the 7D and 5D3. i have no hesitation printing 17×25 from 5D3 images even to ISO 3200-6400 but pretty much limit the 7D to 13×19 and ISO 1600. this is a hugely versatile lens. i don’t think it’s just the autofocus as it performs much better on both the 5D2 and 5D3 than any of my past and present APSC.

70-200 f4 is is a great lens and after getting a sore shoulder from some long 100-400 carries realized that with a 1.4xiii it can substitute for the 100-400 in many situations. it also turns out to be a pretty darn good close-up (not quite macro) lens with a 500D converter

love the 100 L – but find that the 70-200 + 500D (and 1.4xiii if necessary) usually keeps it from traveling

use the 24-105 extensively although i don’l love the performance -had high hopes for the 24-70 f4 IS and may yet give it a try

somehow, i can’t figure out what to do with a large aperture 35

i’ve been using the 17-40 and procrastinating over the 14 Rokinon and you’ve pushed me to take action for exactly the reasons you describe

i have a few other lenses that don’t get much use and have sold a number of others that weren’t used or didn’t perform

a 4/3 camera may be in my future, but the Sony RX100 has let me defer that for another generation

what have you decided on for your backup body?

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Steven,

I’m going to wait a while on the backup body. A 5DIII would be nice and the 6D with it’s wifi makes a great second camera set up remotely on a tripod, but that’s pricey. I have to be honest and admit that I’ll probably use a rental second body right now when traveling and see what (hopefully) Canon releases in a crop sensor. Alternatively I may look at picking up a 50D (largely because it has MA) if I found a good bargain used one as a temporary measure.

Sanjeev said:

Roger,
What a great write up and the whole process of choosing and deciding which system to buy was awesome. Very interesting reading, I must admit.
I have two 7D bodies, a 100 L Macro, 70 200 f/4 IS, 100-400 L and 500 II L and 1.4 TX III. I want to trade in one of my 7D and get either a 6D or a 5D III. I was leaning towards the 5D III but your choice of 6D makes me think twice. For wildlife and birds I will have one 7D and for portraits and macro the full frame should serve better. what would you do in this situation? Also, since I have the 500 II, is it worth selling the 100-400 L?
Thanks and appreciate your opinion.
Regards
Sanjeev

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Sanjeev,

I’d certainly trading the 7D for either of the full-frames. But I can’t see giving up a hand-held telephoto unless you just never use it. For travel, if nothing else, I would want access to one. But that’s just me.

Roger

Sanjeev said:

Roger,
Thanks for your reply. I will probably go with the 6D for one of my 7D’s. Oh, I use the 100-400 a lot and it’s great for travel as well. The 100-400 L gets more use than the 70-200 f/4 IS, purely because of its reach, although the latter is sharper. I thought about the 70_300 L as a replacement but the reach the 100-400 gives is very useful.
Regards
Sanjeev

Steven Runyan said:

the 5D3 is quite noticeabley better than the 7D in both low light and resolution and i reserve the 7D for backup and when i really need the extra reach. i think the DP review test of the 6D indicates that there is little if any difference between it and the 5D3 in resolution or high ISO. my guess is that the 6D AF is not much different than the 7D which is really not too bad. i wonder what the 6D battery life is with GPS turned on.

Jeff Reed said:

It’s good to hear that the terrible Nikon repair service figured into your decision to buy Canon. Right on.

As far as shooting wildlife, I’ve spent time in the field – and rented a lot of lenses from LR – and have come to realize that no matter how good the gear is, as soon as we put a lot of glass between our subjects and ourselves, the colors are compromised. I’ve seen a lot of great shots of Scarlet Tanagers in May but none can reproduce the brilliance of the color of the actual bird. Most don’t even come close. But that’s ok because that’s what keep us going back out there – the elusive search for the perfect combination of light, shutter speed and luck to be able to look at an image and think: “that’s pretty good.”

Neal Spero said:

Roger.Always love your choices.Buy the 40mm pancake for walk around fun.You will enjoy . Neal

Rob said:

Thom I wish renting was a real option in New Zealand!

Roger, good choice I think for you. Your not buying one thing your buying a system that works together. As a landscaper (mainly) I’d love a D800e , but it doesnt work with the lenses I want so whats the point?

Uwe Steinmueller said:

>As a landscaper (mainly) I’d love a D800e , but it doesnt work with the lenses I want so whats the point?

What lenses do you mean?

Rob said:

17/24tse, 17-40L, 24-105L etc.

The 14-24 is fantastic so long as you love flare. Nikons other wides are either great big heavy expensive or chunky and expensive. Even their midrange zoom isnt great.

I want great primes (tiltshifs) and light decent zooms. Nikon is great for great standard fast zooms (14-24,24-70).

It wouldnt be the end of the world if I preferred nikon but in the end I chose canons system over nikons

David said:

Roger, you’re likely to find a 50D’s image quality such a step down from the 6D that you never use it. I couldn’t even stomach the one I bought to replace my 40D. Dynamic range and noise performance above ISO 800 leave a whole lot to be desired.

Ranger 9 said:

Right from when I read the first article in this series, some instinct made me think: “He’s going to wind up with Canon.”

I’m not sure what tipped me off — maybe the language you used when discussing Canon’s advantages was more vivid and emotional. Now I’ll be curious to go back over the who,e series and try to pin it down.

Franz Szabo said:

Extremely interesting series of articles! Thank you for this time consuming piece of work. I have made my choice long ago and use both Canon and Nikon systems.

Uwe Steinmueller said:

>17-40L, 24-105L

Interesting. Not really great lenses I think. The range is right but soft corners.

Jack said:

The brother I never met. Great summary, and captures the agony of making the selection between tremendously capable systems. Upgrading from my T2i was a really tough decision, and I did consider switching over to the D600 (D800e is just out of the budgetary range). I’m now with the 6D, which works wonderfully with my Samyang 14 2.8, Canon 50 1.8 and Tamron 28-75 2.8.

The WiFi is more useful than I first envisioned. This weekend I did some nature photography: using WiFi with the camera low to the ground was so much simpler.

But it’s the noise that just kills me. Amazing. It might be the definitive event camera. Finally, you didn’t mention much other gear, but I’d recommend a look at the Yonguo 622c wireless triggers–tremendous value.

Patricia Dulaney said:

Wow! Those are pretty cool cameras. Love its colors. I check if there are for rent for those style. :)

Limey said:

Fascinating article but I think there’s a flaw – having just one camera system. Comparing the size & weight of Canon full frame vs a small M4/3 camera like the Pana GF3, there’s no contest. I paid the equivalent of less than USD 400 for a M4/3 body with lens. Compare this with the cost of just a lens for the Canon. I use both systems at different times. For specialised photography use the Canon outfit. For general walkaround photography take the M4/3.

kevin conlon said:

Roger,

thanks for the long series, a little bit surprised Pentax made way to the final. about the telephotos, which would you prefer, 300/4D + TC1.4E2 or 400/5.6L?

Tetsu said:

Hi Roger! I´m a big fan of your blog and your stories, they are a great read indeed and I enjoy the way you analize things!

This is a great article! I love the 6D Wifi technology, is a great really adictive little thing! I bought the eye-fi and now im trying a trascend wifi card because of the 6D!

So I´m also a Canon user, I´m wondering if you can help me with a lens choice specially since you choose the Rokinon 14mm f2.8

I´m looking for a really wide angle lens for astrophotography! I own a Canon 5D III and several lenses, but you know how it is, you always want more lenses!

I´ve been making some timelapses with my 16-35 f2.8 II but I dont like pushing it to ISO 6400 for 30 second shots so I´m analizing buying a really good wide lens f1.4 for my needs, but I dont seem to settle on one!

My options so far are

Canon EF 24mm L f1.4 which seems horrible for chroma noise.
Rokinon / Bower / Samyang 24 f1.4 seems to be the best compromise
Sigma 24mm f1.8 / Sigma 20mm f1.8 i loose 2/3rds of a stop and the sigma quality control problem

Any recomendations based on what you know about this lenses? I dont want to spent too much money on a lens I will only use on specific photo shoots and also I dont mind if they are manual,

Thanks so much!

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