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Roger Buys a Camera System: Refining My Choices

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In the earlier portions of this process, I have:

1) Gotten a quick idea about the relative importance of lens versus sensor resolution

2) Screened for camera systems that might meet my needs

3) Investigated the rough cost of candidate systems

After some preliminary screening I had decided to investigate several full-frame and several APS-C sensor cameras:

I've spent about 3 weeks now doing the things that are most important (other than counting the money hit)  -- actually taking pictures with the various cameras.

I've also spent a lot of time reading reviews, just like everyone else would. Not to mention I took to heart some of the very good comments made in the previous posts (there are really good, non-Fanboy suggestions that are worth your while to look at).

In case you haven't realized it, I'm not reviewing these cameras and making recommendations, I'm just sharing how I figure out the best system for me and how I went about deciding what to buy. There won't be lots of technical information, pretty pictures, or even numerical system ratings in this post.

Ergonomic Factors

Let's face it, it doesn't matter how great the pictures are, if you don't find the camera comfortable to use, you probably won't be using it very long.

Fitting My Hands

The first thing I did was spend a day with each camera and a standard-range zoom, just to get a feel for them. Why putting a camera in my hands is vitally important became quickly apparent. The Nikon D5200 just doesn't fit my hands well. This surprised me a bit, since I'd been shooting an Olympus OM-D with grip for a while, and the D5200 is actually larger than that camera. I used it for a day, thinking I would adjust, but I didn't.

 

My oversize hands just didn't fit the undersize D5200

All of the other cameras on the list fit me comfortably and within an hour or two I was able to find the commonly needed buttons and wheels by feel.

Other Ergonomic Factors

I've shot so long with Canon and Nikon cameras that any comments I have on their layout are minor. While I'd shot a few times with the Alpha and Pentax systems, my experience with each has been fairly limited. Exploring features and menus was first order of the day for both systems.

One thing that I didn't like was the Sony joystick button. Compared to many other cameras I've shot with, the Sony button didn't have a lot of tactile feedback and I found myself having trouble selecting menus and other things with the joystick. I've talked to Alpha shooters who love the joystick so this probably has to do with my overly large and clumsy hands - but it didn't work well for me.

I had heard and read complaints about the Sony menu system. Perhaps because I have shot with NEX cameras a lot, which are similar, I didn't struggle with the menus, although I can't say I find them intuitive.

The Pentax system reaffirmed what I'd already thought during limited use. The menus and features must have been designed by photographers, not programmers, and they were completely intuitive for me. There were little things with the Pentax system that I absolutely loved, like the ability to map out hot or dead pixels from the menu. There are some mirrorless systems that let you do that, too, and I find it a bit insulting that the other SLRs require a trip to the factory for that, especially since hot pixels are something likely to occur outside of the warranty period.

Everyday Use

Autofocus

A lot of people stress a camera's autofocus system a lot more than I do. I didn't find anything with the AF system of any of these cameras that made me want to cast it aside, but I wasn't using Servo mode for action shots, either. For a lot of you who do that kind of thing, the AF system would have been a more important part of their choice.

I felt the 5D Mk III was the most accurate in low light, but there wasn't a huge difference. The Nikon and new SLT Sony bodies were on a par for me. They may not be quite as good as the Canon 5D Mk III in low light, or maybe they were. All were perfectly fine for my needs.

I had heard some questions about the Pentax AF system, particularly in tungsten light, but the K-5 II bodies were supposed to be better. I stressed it in single-shot AF and poor lighting and found it was pretty accurate. AF speed varied a lot depending upon which lenses I was using, and was perhaps a bit slower than the others. Still what I would consider acceptable, though, no question.

Viewfinder and Live View

I was interested in taking a good look at the Sony EVFs and found they were quite nice and I really enjoyed some of the heads-up display features. The horizon level features are particularly well done and I've gotten quite attached to those using mirrorless systems as much as I have. (Again, I'm not doing a lot of rapid-fire shooting of fast moving subjects. The shortcomings of even a great EVF might be more important to you.)

Joey Miller, 2013

 

I also use the LCD for live view focusing quite often. The D800's LCD interpolation artifacts during magnifion are distracting somtimes but didn't prevent me from getting accurate manual focus shots very often. I really liked the articulated LCDs on the Sony cameras during live-view focusing  and I've always loved the focus peaking options. My eyesight isn't what it once was and that allows me to manually focus even through the viewfinder. I liked the Sony's focus-range feature, too, and I'd use that fairly frequently, I think.

I know there are some specification differences between the LCDs, but there was nothing I could really notice just using them. They were all excellent, but none of them are going to work for me in bright summer sunlight.

400mm Equivalent Images

As I'd written earlier, one of the biggest motivators for me making this choice was being unhappy with the telephoto images I was able to get from a Micro 4/3rds system, so a big part of my comparison was image quality of a 16" x 20" telephoto print.

I did some fairly appropriate and fairly simple tests using the hand-holdable lenses I would be interested in. I shot still subjects at 100 yards distance, resized the resulting image to print at 16" x 20", cropped the centers, and compared. I looked at 100% crops to see exactly how much detail was possibly visible, too. I'm sure there are 692 arguments people will make about the validity of this, but hey, they're my prints and it reproduces what I want to do.

Within each system I experimented with lenses a bit to see what I thought gave me the best images and ended up with this:

 

For the Olympus zooms I even shot at 200mm, 250mm and 300mm, to see how much the increased magnification might translate into resolved detail, even realizing I wouldn't be able to zoom that far on most of what I shoot.
I'm not going to present you a review, I'm not a reviewer. But after looking at all the images myself and then asking 6 photographers who work here to look at them without knowing which image was which, some things were very apparent (all 7 people had the same conclusion).

The D800, when pixel peeping, resolved more detail than anything else and it wasn't even close. Resized to this print size (the D800 is actually downrezzing here) the difference became less apparent, but still 7 of 7 picked it as the sharpest image.

The Canon system was considered very close in a 16" x 20" print, but when pixel-peeping on a monitor the difference was more apparent (so it probably would be more apparent in a larger print, too).

The micro 4/3 images, even taken at 300mm (600mm equivalent) didn't resolve as much detail as the other systems. This is simply about the lenses. One interesting point was that when I zoomed either lens from 250-300mm I got a larger image, but really didn't resolve any more detail. In other words, I could have done that in Photoshop.

The Sony A99 with 70-400 at 400 was weaker than the other SLR systems. The A77, using the 70-400 at just under 300mm resolved better, although it still wasn't as strong as the others. I repeated the tests with the Sigma 50-500 OS at the same focal lengths and it was better, so again this seems to be about the lens.

The Pentax, despite only being 16 megapixels, surprised me positively. It didn't quite resolve as well as the Canon, but was very close. I think the excellent 300mm lens and no AA filter gave it a higher resolution than I expected. I will mention that I tried, and ruled out, the 60-250mm f/4 lens, which I thought would be most useful. It wasn't nearly as sharp as the 300mm prime.

 

While not nearly as small as an m4/3 system, the Pentax 300 f/4 is smaller than the Nikon or Canon full-frame equivalaents.

 

So my conclusions were that moving to a new system would definitely be worthwhile for my 400mm shots. The D800 provided the best resolution, the Canon and Pentax systems were both acceptable, but the Sony systems lagged a bit. I know there are new lenses on the way for the Sony system, but as I mentioned earlier, I'm not considering anything that's not available now.

Macro Shooting

Macro is another area of importance. I found the Canon 100 f/2.8 IS L macro's image stabilization really did make a bit of a difference for me here, probably because it also stabilizes angular shake. I'm the first to admit I use it as a crutch and I should be setting up my tripod and macro rails more often . . . but hey, I like a crutch as much as the next guy.

The Nikon D800e with the 105 f/2.8 VR did show a bit more detail than the Canon did, but I couldn't cheat my handholding exposure quite as much with it.  The Pentax didn't quite resolve as well as the others, but it was certainly acceptable, as was the OM-D system I'd been shooting with.

Dynamic Range and ISO

I had mentioned earlier that ISO 1600 performance was really important to me and ISO 3200 would be useful, but I rarely go past that. Shooting with these cameras it quickly became apparent than none of them particularly limited me at ISO 1600. I would be willing to print jpgs from the camera with all of them. Similarly, there was some noise that I'd want to work on in post, generally, at ISO 3200 but all were usable.

While there were on paper dynamic range differences, at my usual ISO (200 to 400) none of the cameras limited me greatly and I could rescue shadows and highlights reasonably with all of them. The Canon had the known problems with pulling out shadows, but I could pull back highlights beautifully.

From everything I've read it seems D800e files allow a bit more rescue leeway than the other cameras, and the Canon does have a problem pulling out shadows sometimes. But in what I shot, using my usual 'Zeiss, the jet-black dog' dynamic range tests, I'd be happy with any of the cameras.

 

My dog 'Zeiss' is my standard dynamic range test. He's trying to hide the rawhide he isn't supposed to chew on the carpet. 

The Wide End

There were no suprises here. Then D800 with the 14-24 f/2.8 AF-S was simply better than any other zoom combination. With prime lenses like the 14mm f/2.8 or 17mm TS-E, the Canon could hold it's own against the Nikon, but with the Canon 16-35 f/2.8 the difference was quickly apparent.

 The 14mm f/2.8 quickly replaced the 16-35 f/2.8 in my shoot around.  Joey Miller, 2013 

 

The Sony 16-35 f/2.8 lens was much like the Canon 16-35 f/2.8. OK, but clearly not competitive with the Nikon system. If I were to go with the Sony system, I'd really consider a RokiBowYang 14mm f/2.8 lens. It's sharper and wider than the zoom, way less expensive, and at 14mm manual focusing wouldn't really be an issue, especially with Sony's peaking filters. For that matter, I might well consider it an option with the other systems, too.

I didn't have access to a Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 in Pentax mount so I didn't do a hand's on with this system and ultra-wides. The 15mm f/4 was quite nice, but I'd want something wider.

Where I Stand Now

Nikon D800e system: Meets or exceeds all of my needs.

Canon full-frame system (I'm still doing the 5D Mk III vs 6D tap dance): Meets all of my needs.

Pentax K5 IIs system: Meets my needs, but not quite as easily as the first two.

Sony Alpha system: While I love some features, and lust after the 135mm f/1.8 lens, it's a bit weaker at 400mm which is a major motivating factor for me.

At this point I'm leaning towards either the Canon or Nikon full-frame systems, although I'm still considering the Pentax. I like some features of the Alpha system, and some of the lenses are awesome, but for what I wanted most to do, it wasn't quite as good as the others.

I'm going to do some system exploration, as in what lenses I'd actually buy with each system (the initial cost lists were simply trying to put things in perspective from the m4/3 system). I'm also going to consider one of the earlier suggestions about keeping my Micro 4/3rds system and simply buying a dedicated camera - telephoto lens combination. I'll make my final decision in a few days, but there were and are plenty of options that will fill my needs perfectly.

I think the takeaway point is that the process I used made me look at a system (Pentax) that I hadn't really considered on the front end. The process also ruled out (for me) some cameras that I thought would be good choices on the front end. My goal with every major purchase is to avoid buyer's remorse and I think this has helped me do that.

I'll put a brief post up in a couple of days with my final choices. Uwe Steinmueller of The Digital Outback Photo has volunteered to write a counterpoint post, about what he would choose for his own system to publish at the same time. I think this will be a nice contrast and perspective: one gearhead hobby photographer and a full-time working professional photographer doing a similar exercise. We'll publish them simultaneously on Friday.

Roger Cicala

Lensrentals.com

February, 2012

46 Responses to “Roger Buys a Camera System: Refining My Choices”

Tuan said:

Thanks for writing all this up!

A question - can you please elaborate on what made the Nikon wide zoom so much better than the competition? And/or why the Canon 14mm prime is superior to the Canon wide zoom?

BU said:

How about the Tokina 16-28mm f2.8 on the 5D Mark III? I've found it superior to the Canon 16-35mm and a lot closer to the Nikon.

Jonas said:

Interesting write-up.
In your Sony featured items you write the following about the Sony 70-400G:

"Using it is a pleasure: It is sharper and focuses much faster than the Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 HSM OS for Sony and is light enough that hand-holding it for the whole day didn’t leave me tired. It is a great all-purpose telephoto lens that I recommend highly—better than the equivalent Canon and Nikon telephoto zooms."

I am curious to know why your opinion apparently has changed so much. It seems to be a highly regarded lens among Sonians :)

Kind regards,

Jonas

Kevin Foster said:

Thank you for even considering Pentax!

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Jonas,

I was suprised a bit at the 70-400, it was weaker at 400mm than I recalled. The Sigma 50-500 OS (not available when I wrote the Sony comparison you note) was a bit better. But on Nikon and Canon, the Sigma didn't do as well as the prime lenses (even with the 1.4x converter on the Nikon prime). The difference, I think, is largely comparing a zoom to primes on the other cameras. But Sony doesn't give me a 300 f/4 or 400 f/5.6 prime to compare.

When I wrote the Sony blurb, the only comparisons were the Nikon 80-400, which the Sony is clearly better than, and the Canon 100-400.

Roger

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Tuan,

I don't know how Nikon did what they did, but the 14-24 f/2.8 is widely recognized (by lots of authorities, not just me by any means) as probably the best ultra-wide zoom ever made. It isn't perfect, nothing is, but it's amazingly sharp. The Canon 14mm f/2.8 is about it's equal in resolution at 14mm, and doesn't have as much barrel distortion. The Zeiss 15mm is superb too. But the Nikon zooms, and the others don't, which makes it amazing.

The Canon and Sony 16-35 f/2.8 lenses just don't quite have the resolution of those others, although they're really good lenses.

Mark Olwick said:

You might also want to consider the ancillary requirements of choosing a system: It would seem that you're leaning towards the D800E, which will require considerably more disk space, larger cards, possibly even more memory and a new desktop computer.

Something to think about.

Mark

proteek said:

@Mark: You have a point here.
However, Roger can take advantage of promotions to reduce his estimate by at least $400 if lenses and body are bought together.

Kenji S said:

Roger, on the 100L Dont think of the IS as a crutch, its not, I have done a LOT of macro shooting and 99% of it is handheld with the 100L, Many times i simply couldnt setup a tripod because there wasnt space or the tripod would disturb the subject im trying to shoot... Now you might not be like me (Crawling around in the dirt and such looking for bugs and interesting things to shoot down in the mud) but still.. I disagree with the opinion that "all GOOD macro shots are done with a tripod period" that some photogs like to shove down everyones throats... I personally prefer to use a flash, but its less to do with stopping the subject from moving/camera shake and more to do with getting the right -kind- of light on the subject im shooting...

For my worth... I'm a Canon shooter currently using a 7D and I admit its a hard choice between switching to Nikon and the D800 or sticking with Canon and a 5DIII, For me the 6D is right out due to the ergonomics, I simply hate the position of the "joypad" for switching AF points and thats something i use quite frequently, I tried it and it hurt my hand after 5 minutes, So i hate to think what it will be like after a full day shooting... For the types of things I shoot (a huge variety of subjects, including wildlife and a lot of macro) the D800 really does appeal to me, as the higher pixel density gives FAR more leeway to crop and such (One of the things I adore about my 7D is the awesome pixel density, Which the D800 comes really close to) I'm not big into high ISO really (I only go up to 3200.. not due to my 7D being "bad" at 6400 or anything, I just dont use it..) so its pretty much a non factor in any of the cameras I'd choose (Almost all of them rock at 3200)

For me it does come down to lenses, and the 100L is actually my sticking point.. many of my current lenses I can get -better- options in the Nikon system, But the 100L is not one of those lenses, the Hybrid IS is important to me, as I noted, I shoot primarily handheld... the 100L is also a lens I use a LARGE percentage of the time... Cost is really not a huge issue, I'd have to do a little switching around on Canon after all and a few of the Nikon lenses I'd choose are less expensive... But I'm holding off to see if Nikon upgrades the VR in the 105 or Canon comes out with a 5D Mark IV that offers the resolution I want (Provided they dont want $4500 or something for it)

Love the series, Hope this helps in some way :)

proteek said:

Here is an idea. Have you tried using Nikon TC-20E III with either Nikon 70-200mm f4 or f2.8 VRII? I dont know about wildlife shots, but the combination might be good enough at 400mm on D800E for landscape shots.

Uwe Steinmueller said:

> But the 100L is not one of those lenses, the Hybrid IS is important to me, as I noted, I shoot primarily handheld

Love this lens too because of the Hybrid AF

derek said:

Extremely intersting to hear what you've been going through this time and manythings I agree with what you've said but I'd like to comment on the Nikon AFS14-24 lens as an ex-user of that.

that lens is great in a lab. but in real life use, it is not really much sharper than the Zeiss 18mm or Nikon 16-35f4VR for many many apps due to its extremely huge front element.
because of its huge front element ,you cannot use any filter with it and it is very prone to flare and ghosting(also extremely prone to scratches).
so I replaced it with the AFS16-35f4VR and replaced it with the Zeiss 18mmf3.5 lens. the 18mm Zeiss really underrated imho and it is really just as sharp as the Nikon 14-24 ,without annoying scratch/flare prone front element issue.

but in the end what really matter is like you said,"Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how great the pictures are, if you don’t find the camera comfortable to use, you probably won’t be using it very long".

I loved highISO and DR of my D600 and base ISO IQ of my D800E but I am selling both for the Canon 5DMK3 because I really hate Nikon ergomomics,especially the D600 grip that really hurts my right hand.

Like you , I had the OM-D for a couple of months but I really hated its UIF and menu system , I also agree with you on Sony joystick issue, as much as I love the EVF of the Sony A99v , I could not justify the poor menu design and strange joystick navigation system(I think the joystick on the A900 was much better).

I think all systems are compromise of some kind ,and there is no perfect system for all of us. so we just need to find the best compromise for our particular needs.

For me though, if money is not any issue , I 'd just get a Leica M and 21, 35, 90 , 135mm primes in addition to Canon 5DMK3 based system but I cannot afford that beautiful Leica.
So, I guess I must get the Canon5D3 or maybe 6D + Fuji X-E1 system with the M-X adapter, also I am very interested in the RX-1 but I personally dislike Sonys service and quality conrol issue.

Finally in case you go Nikon, you need a set of many many extra harddrives(for me this was one of many reasons why I gave up my D800e).

derek said:

one more thing, many say if you get D800e you need larger CF but this is not true ,just need a set of maybe 16 or 32gb CF or SD cards, that's all.
no need 128gb or 64gb ones unless you are really into video.
I personally hate CF cards and use 5 fast 32gb SDHC cards a day but that's me.
oh and I second that the 70-200f4VR3 + TC2.0 might be a good option, I still have that lens and 70-200f2.8VR2 but I do much prefer the smaller f4 since my copy of the f4 is actually sharper than my VR2 at f5.6 and on.
Good luck to you.

Ian Anderson said:

Roger, this has been interesting to follow along and I look forward to seeing your & Uwe's posts on Friday.

Brian said:

Kenji, an updated 200/4 micro (with VR) might be what you want -- if Nikon ever makes one (lots of people are waiting for it). Most bug photographers cite the longer working distance as a big plus.

Grant said:

Hi Roger,

Could you comment on the AF speed/performance of the 70-400 compared to the 100-400L when comparing the A77/A99 to the 6D/5Diii? Also, I was wondering why you would rather go for the 100-400 L over the Canon version of the 50-500?

Thanks.

David said:

Thank you for your write up of your analysis. I have not shot M43rds, but still think your jumping the gun to a new system too quickly. From your articles, it seems to me your lacking in the High ISO range and the telephoto range with your OMD. Have you tried the super cheap old Olympus 43rds 70-300mm lens? This lens which I do use with my E3 is really good. At F8 its very good. It might just be worth while to test it with an adapter on the OMD. It should also focus well, as it was in the good list for M43rds.
But if you do think you need to jump ship, sounds like your new 800E will work well for Telephoto and high iso, so you may only need to buy two lenses for it. Then save the OMD for Macro with the 60mm, wide angle with the Panasonic 7-14mm and normal shots with pan 12-35 f2.8 and 35-100 f2.8.
Then your future purchase is not that bad.

Phil Davison said:

I've recently gone for a Canon 6D after using a Pentax K-5 for a long time. I couldn't see anything in the 5DIII that made me want it over the 6D (90% of the function at 60% of the price).
Overall I really like the experience of using the 6D, so I'm happy with my purchase (and I still have the K-5), but there are a couple of points that the Pentax system still has in it's favour. The in-body stabilisation means that all your wide angle lenses are stabilised. I guess it depends on your shooting style, but I've found that useful. Of course the 6D has a better high ISO performance, so that compensates. If you do video work the Pentax stabilisation works exceptionally well as a stedicam substitute.
And if you use the Samyang lenses they integrate with the Pentax's electronics, so you can view at max aperture, and it will record the aperture EXIF data. Not an essential point, but it dos make life with a Samyang more pleasant.
It strikes me that the noise pattern created by the 6D at high ISO is not as objectionable as some other cameras. For example, the Pentax does pretty good at high ISO's but when the noise kicks in it's pretty nasty. On the 6D it seems to look more like film grain, or at least doesn't bug me as much, and seems to be easier to remove.

A really interesting thread!

David Stock said:

As far as your macro issue goes, the new Tamron 90mm VC might give the Canon 100L a run for its money. DxO isn't blown away, but LensTip loves it.

It's not out in Nikon version yet, but should be available any day now. I plan to rent it to try it with the D800 when it is.

A said:

If you don't like the Canon 16-35, I can pretty much guarantee you won't like the 17-40 f4 either. At least not based on my sample.

Another option for the Canon telephoto would be the 300 f4/L IS, and the latest 1.4x EX teleconverter. They're a very good pair. Gives you IS which you don't have with the 400mm f5.6, and it's a bit longer too!

I'm fairly sure it used to be the case (still is the case?) that the Canon bodies remapped stuck pixels when you put them into sensor cleaning mode. Haven't tried it lately, but a quick prod of the forums suggests the feature may have gone away. Worth a try at least!

James Johnson said:

I'm really enjoying this series of articles, especially because I put so little thought into choosing a system; Nikon's D60 happened to be on sale when I wanted an DSLR so I've been with them since. I think you made a wise decision disregarding Nikon's DX. The lens support just isn't there, especially if you're interested in wide primes.

I'm also interested to see what your final lens choices are. I've heard a ton of good things about the RokiBowYang 14mm f/2.8 and have seen comparisons where it stacks up nicely against Nikon's 14-24 and the Zeiss 15mm for a fraction of the cost.

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Grant,

If there was an AF difference between the Sonys and Canons it was too small for me to notice. All were good. The Canon / Sigma zoom thing is a wash in my mind: Sigma has better OS and a bit more range (although not really to 500), Canon is lighter. If there's a sharpness difference it's small enough that I'd call it 'within copy to copy variation'. The Sigma has had more reliability issues and may AF a bit slower at the long end. If the next generation Sigma was out (because I've been led to believe some key electronics will be more reliable) it might sway me the other way.

n/a said:

to rehabilitate d5200 ergonomics - judging by the photo, you are definitely holding it wrong

fully bend the little finger - place camera on to it / bottom of the camera.
to hold onto the grip - use only middle and ring fingers.
and of coarse, index - shutter, thumb - back of the camera.

or add a cheap after market battery grip - there will be more space to hold onto

nikon d3x00 or d5x00 series, or canon rebels whatever, or so on and on small cropped camera - this holding technique might help. quite often I even hold fx camera this way :D

...

other tip would be: turn d800 into dx mode and use it with 300/4 (no tc) - are you happy with photos? I guess you will be (~16mbpx after all). now set the camera back to fx, use 300/4 as you would 400 whatever and crop it in post (it will allow reframing in post, or will be handier with closer subjects).

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

I tried what you describe. I think the real problem is I have a hard time (I'm in my 50s) scrunching my index finger enough to put the tip on the shutter button. With other small cameras I can push it with the first joint of my index finger but with the 5200 the button falls in the middle part of my finger, even with the grip you describe.

Uwe Steinmueller said:

D800 vs. D800e? I think the resolution difference can be minimized buy some fine sharpening but the color aliasing can be a PITA with the D800e I think. That is why I kept my D800.

Ian said:

Hi Roger,
Have you considered keeping the OMD and using one of the 4/3 bright telephoto zooms, or using some good telephoto glass with an adaptor? Of course this means manual focus though.
I have no idea how this combo would stack up against a good crop sensor system.

Ryan said:

5D III vs. 6D tap dance?

I bought a 6D, use ti for weddings and the ability to pull photos of the camera to my phone and send to people or upload to the web is great. I didn't think much of it at first, but I love it now. I think to me, a 5DIII is for someone who needs more autofocus speed than the 6D. Is that worth another $1000?

Duncan said:

"Canon: 400mm f/5.6 (a tiny bit better than the 100-400, but I’d probably buy the 100-400 for the IS and zoom)"

If you do go with Canon then I'd give serious though to the prime. I owned both at the same time, kept the prime and sold the zoom.

The prime feels like it focusses quicker (great for fast subjects), the lens is more compact, and the built in hood is great. Also, whilst there was some difference in the sharpness of the naked lenses, the prime gained usable resolution from the 1.4x TC whilst with the zoom I may as well have enlarged in software. I believe the 5D3 can AF at F8 whilst the 6D can't.

The 400/5.6 is one of the main reasons I can't give up Canon completely. On a crop it gives 600mm effective. To get that on m43 I'd need the Olympus 300/2.8 which is serious money, and that's if there was a m43 camera that could use it properly.

One thing I've learned from this series is: the D800. It seems quite a camera. Never really paid much attention to Nikon as I started with Canon and was never likely to jump ship to a different set of problems.

heidfirst said:

Like others slightly surprised about your comments on the 70-400 G SSM.
However, the main reason for this post is that I noted your comments about hot pixel mapping on the Pentax & that the others have to be sent to service - it sounds like you aren't aware that Alphas automatically map out hot pixels once a month & if you want to do it manually at any point all you have to do is set the date forward a month, take a few shots & then you can reset the date back.

Trent Grasse said:

Roger I personally reccomend building a camera system over time and not all at once. Buy witch ever you decide keep your m43 gear and buy whatever lenses your most frustrated with on your current system. Make sure and by a standard prime or zoom to so you can use the camera in every day situations. then as time goes buy what ever you feel yourself needing most. sell some of the m43 gear as you replace it. but also keep some m43 gear high quality compact and light cameras are always welcome

abib said:

Roger, Hitech has a filter adapter and wide angle adapter Lucroit System for the 14mmL mk2, I have the ring adapter, the wide angle holder, .6 reverse grad and the .6 soft grade, love them and can't live without all of them. I also use the pre cut Kodak Wratten ND to slo mo water, sky, etc.

Guest said:

Roger, you make me feel bad for choosing Sony.. Hahaha.

Milan said:

So I'm guessing that after all this journey, the option of not switching all at once looks reasonable. Basically, if money is not an issue, to buy a D800 + 300mm f/4, keep m4/3 for other things and then decide along the way how to continue (buy more lenses for the D800 or if a good telephoto comes for m4/3, maybe switch back to it). If money matters, they going K5 + 300mm f/4 seems like a good option then.

Interesting articles, can't wait for Friday to find out what you decide!

Samuel H said:

great, now I NEED some popcorn...

David said:

Roger, thinking more about your problems with the OMD, I would really have expected you to do a telephoto shoot out with the OMD. Or you did and didn't tell us about it.
You are looking for 400mm f4 lens. The first think that pops into my head is the wonderful Olympus 43rds 50-200mm f2.8/3.5. I own this one and the Olympus 43rds 70-300mm f4/5.6. The 50-200 will give you 400mm f3.5 and its really good! Add the MMF3 to get you to OMD and it should work, but I have read the AF is slow. The 70-300 is good at f8, personal experience and many online tests. It should also focus ok on OMD, but have not tested it. Then there are the stellar 90-250 f2.8 and 300mm f2.8 43rds lenses that are huge and expensive, but not outside what your considering with a New system.
In the M43rds front, I have read many times that Ctein loves the Panasonic 45-200mm lens. Either he has an outstanding copy, or this one is good and mostly overlooked.
I don't own any M43rds yet, but I am in 43rds with E3 and E510, with lots of lenses. What I have read online about M43rds is two tele's you tested are not good. But that the 45-200, the 40-150 and the newer panasonic x-175 lens are good. These can get you out near what you were looking for.
But if you don't mind some manual focus, the I would highly recommend the 43rds 50-200mm even with the EC14.

David said:

Huh, I think the D800e is a good choice Roger, it's the one I made... I have the OM-D and a whole bunch of lenses, and the D800e with the 24-70 and 70-200 and a couple of fast primes.

If I wasn't concerned about size, weight or conspicuousness, I would probably use the D800e for everything. Objectively, it performs better, there's no doubt about that. And if you're looking at buying a high end FF camera for that performance, I think you would be best off going with the cadillac, because every step below that is going to narrow the gap between your new system and m4/3 and probably make you question why you're lugging around 3x the weight and size at 2x the cost.

I'm very happy with my D800e, but I shoot most of my pictures on the OM-D. It's my grab-and-go kit, where the D800e is my studio and/or my "I have an idea for a great picture, and I'm going to spend a few hours getting it" and/or my "I guess I'll impress this client with my fancy huge DSLR" kit.

That's just me though. Only you would know whether or not you'll miss that portability giving up m4/3. Good luck!

Uwe Steinmueller said:

>I’m very happy with my D800e, but I shoot most of my pictures on the OM-D.

Good summary. I have the Gh3 and D800 and think the same. The images from the D800 are great but I can live what I get from the GH3 most of the time.

Markus said:

Hi Roger, on keeping the m4/3 system in parallel - if I were you, I'd do it!

I was in a similar situation like you, but sort of the other way round: I used to work as a part time professional landscape, documentary and travel photographer and have built up a Canon system over the years (5D II & lenses reaching from the Zeiss 21/2.8 to the Canon 300/4 IS + Converter).
But times are changing and I'm actually a dad now. Quit the photo job almost completely, concentrated on my other career which allowed me more regular working hours. And my subjects naturally changed to 'portraiture of small human beings'.
So I needed sth. much smaller to take with me on day family trips and vacations. I opted for the OM-D (see how it all comes together?) and to keep it small, I went exclusively for primes (12/2.0, 20/1.7, 45/1.8 - ok, I couldn't let off the 75/1.8, too). What can I say? It's great! It's a mini DSLR with a full set of lenses which fits into a small hip bag (the bag is actually made for a single 70-200/2.8 zoom).
So: Size advantage: Check! Good enough image quality: Check! Similar to DSLR control interface & responsiveness: Check!
But still: I never would let go my FF set and from time to time I have lots of fun using FF 1.4 lenses which does make a difference if you're used to m4/3 1.8 depth of field. And for sure, one day or another in the coming years, I'll be back on some travels, shooting landscapes and documentary professional again - not too often, but it will happen.
Long statement made short: I'm really happy to own sth. of both worlds and that's why you may want to keep both systems.

Sorry for the 'longish' post, maybe it gets some thoughts running.

Markus

Spencer said:

When you add it all up, don't forget to add the cost of accessories you're going to have to buy like extra batteries, eyecups, microscope and telescope adapters, blimps, Arca-Swiss plates, extension tubes, awesome old-school leather ever-ready case, right-angle finder, monogrammed lens caps, bellows, wireless speedlight controllers, GPS units, and all the other thousand things that make a camera work for you.

Massimo Cristaldi said:

Roger,

Really nice sequence of posts. Interesting, for me, that your photographic needs spreads from 14 to 400mm. After many years of photography I ended up to naturally "restrict" myself to a sort of "wide angle" zone, from 17mm to 50mm, just using primes on Canon or on (relatively) old Rollei 6003 (and recently Fuji X). Of course I fully respect your needs, but to me, so diverse focal lengths hide a bit the photographer personality and "signature".
I would suggest you to get the system that you feel more confortable with. To me, the results is also a matter of of physical relationship with the camera. Given your tendency to choose btw the top models, I think that the relationship you have with the camera/lens you'll be using will be more important then some technical glitches or downsides that every system would inevitably have.
Less is alway more.

Looking forward for your final choice,

Massimo

Uwe Steinmueller said:

>After many years of photography I ended up to naturally “restrict” myself to a sort of “wide angle” zone, from 17mm to 50mm, just using primes

Restricting is good but if Roger wants also to shoot wildlife (a desire I understand) you need long glass. I would be fine from 28mm - 200mm and like to use zooms.

Massimo Cristaldi said:

Uwe,

Sure, Roger can decide to use all possible focal lenghts. My point is that I believe that there is generally a preference that emerges naturally along the years and that is linked to the way every single person sees the world. Similary there is a physical relationship btw the photographer and the camera that has nothing to do with the absolute IQ or speedy AF, has to do with the way every single person feels the tool he's using.

Mario Giacomelli used to say: "I don't know about other people's cameras. Mine is a thing I had cobbled up, it holds together with tape and is always losing parts. All I need to set is the distance and that other thing - what do you call that other thing? I'm not a fan of mechanics. I have had this camera, still the same one, since I started taking photos. It has lived with me, shared many moments of my existence, both good and bad. If I ever lost it... well, the very idea of having to live without it pulls at my heart."

So here the logical, sequential, data oriented approach, mixed with some money consideration could be seriously tampered by a simple concept: 'the tool I feel can make me represent the world the way I see it'.

Sorry for being so phylosophic but I think these aspects are equally important in steering a decision.

Massimo

Uwe Steinmueller said:

>I’m not a fan of mechanics. I have had this camera, still the same one, since I started taking photos.

I understand you. But with digital we cannot just put a new film into our older cameras. So maybe digital is a bit different.

Massimo Cristaldi said:

Sure Uwe, it is different. But still the relationship with the tool remains, no matter if to write you use an ipad or a pen.

Last thing: the part you were quoting is from this interview of Mario Giacomelli, one of the most important Italian photographers ever. You can enjoy the whole text here: http://www.horvatland.com/pages/entrevues/03-giacomelli-en_en.htm

Massimo

Fonda Ede said:

After I originally commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is a means you are able to remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!

Douglas O'Brien said:

Just to compare apples to apples and not oranges, could you add some price information? Bodies only. A standard kit.

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