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Equipment

Roger Buys a Camera System: Screening for Candidates

Published February 5, 2013

As I mentioned in my last post, I have more time for photography now than I have for the last several years so I’m buying a personal camera system. While I can ‘borrow’ stuff from Lensrentals for a specific shoot I can’t just take a system and keep it at my house permanently.

My rule of thumb has always been if I need something 2 or 3 times a year, I’ll rent it, but if I need it more frequently than that I should buy it. Over the last few months I’ve found myself shooting with something different than my current system (Olympus OM-D E-M5 based) at least once or twice a month. It seemed time to investigate my options.

The purpose of this post is NOT to convince you that my choices are right for you. What I need and want in a system isn’t going to be what you need and want. The process I use to reach the decision may be interesting to some of you – I certainly get a half dozen emails a week asking how to choose a system. For most of you, though, who already are locked into a system, these couple of articles will not be very interesting. I apologize and we’ll return to our regularly scheduled blogging in a week or so.

 

Image courtesy Lensrentals.com, 2013

Meet the Purchaser

As I wrote once upon a time in The Rashomon Effect, every one of us is going to have slightly different priorities and therefore make slightly different decisions. To make this useful to you, I’ll have to let you know a bit about me so that you can note where your priorities are different. If your photographic priorities and opportunities are far different from mine, my thoughts about selection will be of zero benefit to you. If what you need is somewhat similar to me, you might find my thoughts to be of some benefit.

I’m looking for serious hobbyist level equipment that will handle most of my needs. I’ll ‘rent’ for specific needs every so often.

I shoot occasionally with everything – that’s my job after all. That being said, I’m most experienced with Canon, Nikon, and Micro 4/3. But I think I’m fairly brand agnostic. I don’t think there’s any clearly best system, at least not right now — some have better cameras, others certain great lenses, and some have better service.

My photography skill level is moderate to good, definitely nowhere near great (If it was great I’d shooting bikini models on Ferrari’s nickel or on the sidelines at the Superbowl instead of writing this).

If I was a better photographer I could probably get by with lesser equipment. Since I am what I am, things that let me rescue borderline images, like image stabilization, extra megapixels, and a strong dynamic range may be more important to me than to you.

I have a good budget, but price is very important to me. I’m cheap. Plus within 6 months my wife will ‘mention’ whatever I spend on this system in comparison to a new piece of furniture or some home improvement. I’ll pay the man for something that’s clearly better, but if I can get 90% of the benefit for 60% of the price, I’ll head that way every time (A concept that my wife doesn’t quite understand).

I’m also a reliability and customer service fanatic, and I expect to be treated like the good customer I am. I consider reliability and service at the top of my list when I buy a car, and a camera system can be a ‘near car’ expense. I realize very few of you are going to let that influence your decisions like I do, so I should definitely mention that.

Finally, I want to take pictures now, so I’m not going to worry about what may come out in 6 or 12 months. It’s never what I expect it to be, anyway.

So What Am I Looking For?

The most important part of my search process will come last. By that I mean that using the camera, looking at images, seeing how the camera handles and focuses, etc. are going to be the final word in my decision.

But, at my last count, there are 50 odd cameras I might consider. I’m not going to shoot with all of them for a week. First, I’ll list out what I want, then do some screening research and come up with a list of systems that appear to meet my needs. Then I’ll rank and test out what’s on the list.

I should mention I’m a sucker for the cool features (the Canon 6D‘s wifi being my most current infatuation). I know myself well enough to realize I need to start logical before the bells and whistles make me loose my train of logical thought. I’ll also look around the edges of my list because sometimes I don’t realize I want something until I see it.

Nearly Absolute Requirements

I have a few requirements for my new system.  (Focal lengths I use below are full-frame equivalent.)

Lenses

  • A reasonably lightweight 400mm telephoto lens (zoom or prime)
  • A high-quality macro lens (I prefer 100mm but am flexible)
  • A high-quality 24-70 f/2.8 (I might consider f/4 with stabilization)
  • A standard to slightly wide focal length, wide-aperture prime lens
  • A wide-angle to ultra wide-angle lens (20mm acceptable, 14mm preferred)

Camera

  • At least 16 megapixels resolution
  • A viewfinder (optical preferred, good EVF acceptable)
  • Shoe-mount flash
  • Excellent ISO 800 performance
  • Accurate Live View or contrast-based focus assist
  • 3 frames per second minimum in RAW
  • Microfocus adjustment

 

I won’t say the above are completely non-negotiable, but there would have to be a reasonable alternative for each of these requirements. But I’m not completely ruling out any system at this point.

One note about my megapixel requirement: I know people get wonderful 60 inch prints from their 12 megapixel cameras. I’ve got a wonderful 60-inch print from my 1 pixel camera. I call it “Snow Bank in Fog”.  Print quality depends on a lot of things including how good the initial shot was in-camera, what the subject matter is, viewing distance, and more.

I wouldn’t hesitate to make a big portrait print from a 12 megapixel camera. But my macro images, heavily post-processed and often viewed from a foot or two away, really need at least 16 megapixels for a 20 inch print, especially if I’ve done a lot of post-process manipulation. I’ll accept that a more skillful photographer may never need over 16 megapixels so we can avoid a 50-comment argument about it. But this is my camera and I would like more freedom to crop for composition, post-process more heavily if I desire, or makeup for a slightly missed shot.

Things I Would Like

Lenses

  • A tilt-shift
  • A true supertelephoto (300 f/2.8 minimum, 500 f/4)
  • A selection of reasonably-priced, high-quality prime lenses
  • Good 70-200 image stabilized zoom

Camera

  • At least 20 megapixels
  • Excellent dynamic range
  • Excellent ISO 1600, adequate ISO 3200 performance
  • 5 frames per second in RAW
  • Excellent single shot AF performance (realizing this is somewhat lens-dependent within each system)

Preliminary Camera Screening

I could eliminate some systems that clearly aren’t going to meet my wants now but I’d like to do a little more research first. I might find something that warrants further investigation.

I mentioned earlier that I can make most of the prints I want to from 16 megapixels, but sometimes feel I’m right on the edge there for what I print. Plus more pixels might let me crop a bit more aggressively if my composing is a bit off. I knew it would also make up, to some degree for a lens that doesn’t resolve quite as well, which I confirmed in my last article.

There are sensor factors other than pixel count that are going to make some difference to me, too. I’m not going to test those factors because DxOMark has already done that work better than I could.  DxOMark is not The Word; nothing that tests a single sample can ever be The Word. But it provides excellent sensor data (please don’t twist this remark to claim I said something about their lens reviews; I’m talking sensor data) very nicely presented and easily used.

The Overall Sensor Score is a very blunt tool; I don’t find much benefit in compressing umpteen data points into a single number. However, I do find the three specific scores for high ISO performance, color depth, and dynamic range quite useful. I should mention I’m not looking for which camera has the absolute top score; I’ll leave that for Fanboys. I use it to compare cameras, find a range I think is excellent and good, and later compare those cameras for other factors.

Let’s start with the simplest benchmark, high ISO performance. The graph (color boxes are mine) simply shows the highest ISO setting at which each camera kept a 30dB signal to noise ratio, 9EV dynamic range, and 18-bit color depth. If you don’t care what that stuff all is, then simplify it by saying the ISO at which the camera was still giving really good images right out of the camera.

One of the nice things about the DxO graphs is they show the cameras by year of release so it let’s me know that the Nikon D3s (green arrow at the top of the page) has as high ISO performance that’s as good as the newer cameras to it’s right. This is a great tool to find 2 or 3-year-old camera that might fill your needs at a bargain price on the used market.

 

DxOMark Sensor ISO performance www.dxomark.com

 

Again, I’m not looking for the very best camera. Real-world factors are going to make splitting hairs between the Nikon D600 (green arrow in the top corner) and the Canon 6D (green arrow along the right edge) a pretty silly thing to do. Rather I roughly thought everything in the red box is really, really good, the ones in the yellow box were certainly going to be acceptable to me, and those close to the yellow box would probably be just fine.

I repeated the exercise with the DxO Dynamic Range Score – (the DxO DR scores are measured at baseline ISO and I don’t always shoot there, but it’s still a worthwhile thing to look at).   One EV equals about a stop of light. My red box for this graph shows cameras within 1 stop of the best (the Nikon D800) and my yellow box within about 1.5 stops of the best.

 

DxO Dynamic Range performance www.dxomark.com

 

Color depth is a bit less important to me than to many people; I tend to postprocess in LAB space and false colorize regularly. But it’s worth checking the same way since DxO makes it easy to do. The cameras above the red line, BTW, and a few inside the red box, are Medium Format cameras that I’m not considering.

 

DxOMark Color Depth performance www.dxomark.com

 

When the dust had settled, there were 7 cameras that rated in my ‘best’ boxes in all 3 categories. There were 5 more cameras that rated best in dynamic range and color depth, ‘good’ in ISO performance, and several more that were at least in my ‘good’ boxes in every category and a couple that were ‘best’ or ‘good’ in two areas, but barely missed ‘good’ in Dynamic Range. I did eliminate those that had less than 16 megapixels and the medium format cameras from my list.

All Red (Best)All Yellow (Good)Near Miss (DR too low)
Nikon D800Nikon D3xCanon 5D Mk III
Nikon D800eNikon D7000Canon 6D
Nikon D600Nikon D3200Canon 5D Mk II
Nikon D4Nikon D5100Sony A900
Nikon D5200Pentax KII
Sony RX1Pentax K-5 IIs
Sony A99Pentax K-30
Pentax K-01
Sony A77
Sony A57
Sony NEX-7
Sony NEX-6
Sony NEX-5R

 

I looked at this list a bit and noticed a couple of things that were reassuring. First, the Olympus OM-D just barely missed the list, being just under my ‘good’ box in all the categories. I know that camera well. It fills many of my needs, although I will occasionally bump against its limitations. The list, then, contains cameras that should fulfill my needs, at least in theory.

Since I had decided the OM-D didn’t quite meet all my needs, I didn’t put it on the list. (Don’t get me wrong, I love the camera and have used it extensively for months. It just isn’t meeting enough of my needs now.) I should also note the Fuji X-Pro was not tested by DxO so it’s not here for that reason. But again, it doesn’t have the lenses that meet my absolute requirements list, so I won’t consider it further.

The table surprised me in several ways. First, was the dominance by Nikon cameras. I knew the D800/600/D4 cameras were highest on DxO’s rankings. I was a bit taken aback by how many Nikon APS-C cameras made this list and that no Canon APS-C cameras were even close. The current Canon crop sensor cameras are all older models due for replacement, but the gap still surprised me. Having shot with them, I know they meet my needs fairly well so perhaps my selection criteria was a bit tighter than it should have been. I certainly am not ruling them out just based on some numbers.

I wasn’t surprised by how well the Sony bodies did. After all, Sony’s sensor technology and patents are leading the pack right now. I was a bit surprised at how well the Pentax sensors rated. Again, I knew they were good, but perhaps didn’t realize just how good they were. While I wouldn’t rule out any camera just based on this list, the Pentax showing makes me very interested in looking at them a bit more thoroughly.

Narrowing Down a Little

I’m not ready to make a final list yet, but think it’s time to focus down a little and do some further comparisons.

Going back to my absolute needs the NEX system doesn’t really fill them. NEX doesn’t give me the telephoto I want at the quality I desire, nor the standard range zoom. Sure, I could rig up some things on adapters and make something that works, but I’ve got too many other options to consider that a prime choice.

I’ve been using the Olympus OM-D as my ‘home camera’ for a while and on paper it meets all my requirements except the 400mm lens one. This is going to set some Fanboys off, I know, but having shot extensively with the Olympus 75-300 and Panasonic 100-300, neither makes it for me. I’m sure someone has used that combination to shoot a mountain lion for the cover of National Geographic. Unfortunately, the image quality I’m getting with either can’t compete with good telephoto zooms on an SLR. I’m going to use the OM-D system as my baseline comparison. I expect my new system to meet my needs better than it does.

Obviously I’ll want to evaluate the Nikon systems. I’ve demonstrated to myself (if no one else) that the resolution of the D800 bodies can let me use a slightly less capable lens and still get marvelous results. The performance of the Nikon crop-sensor bodies on my little DxO search makes those worth further investigation, too. I’ve historically shot full-frame, but spending the last 6 months with an m4/3 system has shown me I could probably do most of my photography just fine with an APS-C sensor camera and rent a big boy when needed.

I love Canon’s lens selection, so I’m definitely going to consider a Canon system. While I know from experience the Canon crop-sensor cameras are capable, the numbers I’m looking at make me wonder if there’s much to attract me with the Canon 7D or 60D. I certainly am going to look at the 5D Mk III or 6D, though. They’re definitely competitive.

The Sony system definitely requires more investigation, too, and I’m interested in evaluating their improved AF system, which I’ve used only a few times. The surprise to me, at this point, is how well Pentax does by the numbers. I’ve shot with their cameras and been impressed by several features and the ergonomics, of course, but I haven’t really considered it as an entire system. I will now.

I don’t need a 10-frames-per-second pro body for what I shoot, the Canon 1D IV and 1Dx, and Nikon D4 and D3x aren’t on my list. I may revisit things and decide to look at some other cameras later, but for right now this is what I think I’ll consider further:

 

Full Frame:

 

APS-C Frame

I’m not certain the camera I choose will be one of these, but they’re certainly the front runners at this point.
In the next article I’ll look a bit at system (rather than camera) costs before I start actually evaluating things further.

 

Roger Cicala

Lensrentals.com

February, 2012

Author: Roger Cicala

I’m Roger and I am the founder of Lensrentals.com. Hailed as one of the optic nerds here, I enjoy shooting collimated light through 30X microscope objectives in my spare time. When I do take real pictures I like using something different: a Medium format, or Pentax K1, or a Sony RX1R.

Posted in Equipment
  • Justin

    I commented similarly on the other post (just fyi)

    Another consideration is to ditch the heavy zooms. For the D800e (as an example), mount a 24-120 f/4 and pick up a few primes. The trinity of 28, 50, 85 f1.8s are spectacular.

    Add the Bigma you mentioned and you are done. Or if you are in need of a truly ultra-wide field of view, add one more zoom, either the 16-35 f/4 or the 14-24 f/2.8.

    D800e – 3000
    24-120 f/4 – 1300
    28 1.8 – 700
    50 1.8 – 220
    85 1.8 – 500
    Bigma – 1020

    = $8900

    Pretty reasonable for (arguably, barely) the best 35mm provides.

  • Heidfirst

    As already mentioned it’s not surprising about Pentax sensor performance as they use Sony sensors (as do a lot of the Nikons).
    Where they may fall down for your needs is in availability of long (400mm & above) lenses & possibly in AF.

  • JonR

    Your two “system” articles are excellent! I too have been going through this process having decided to adopt a lighter (weight) system (D300 & FX/DX lenses) due to my advancing age and emersion in nature photography requiring fast telephoto lenses. For about two years, I have been shooting with a lot of m43 (EM-5 & GH2 bodies & many lenses), Four Thirds Oly Pro telephoto zooms and my Nikon DX/FX gear (plus the Sony RX100 and the Nikon N1 V1 for special purposes).
    My assessment is similar to yours re the OM-D EM-5: it’s a great camera that meets my needs for macro, landscape, architectural, street and even multi-flash photography using the Pani 7-14mm f/4, 12-35mm f/2.8 & 45mm f/2.8 macro lenses plus the OLY 14-150mm walk around lens. The less than stellar performance of the m43 system comes in the telephoto range especially with consistent AF-C of moving birds in low contrast light. The Pani 100-300mm is a decent lens for nature telephoto work but the not nearly the optic quality of the OLY 90-250mm f/2.8 or the more compact OLY 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 zooms even when the latter are combined with a 1.4x TC. These two lenses are surpurb but were designed to focus optimally with phase detect sensors. On the EM-5 they will focus under 3 seconds in AF-1 + M but not near instantly and continuously as they should.
    Olympus is very aware that they have mostly orphaned their excellent Four Thirds lenses and have repeatedly announced their commitment to solve this issue with a new “pro” m43/43 camera body in 2013. It should have a mirrorless hybrid sensor – I hope – similar to the design used by the little Nikon N1. This little CX sensor has 77 (?) phase shift detect sensors buried in the same plane as the more abundant contrast focus sensors. (The N1 V1 with the TF1 adapter focuses my 200-400 F/4 instantly while producing an equivalent 10MP image @ F/4 and 549-1024mm!)
    Clearly, there is proven technology for Olympus to build a new m43/43 camera with an excellent sensor with a hybrid focus systems. (Note that the new Nikon D5200 has both focusing systems but no micro adjustment capability to correct for front/back focus issues.) Therefor, it seem advisable to wait for the new Olympus body before abandoning ones excellent m43 or Four Thirds gear and investing in more expensive an heavier APS-C or FF systems.

  • sbiessel

    Thanks for the informative posts. I had a similar quandary a while back. I had been shooting with a Canon 5DII and Pentax K5. I wanted the DR of the Pentax K5 in a full frame sensor, so ended up going with a D800. Happy with the decision, though I find the D800 to be less comfortable than either camera. The ergonomics on the K5 are fantastic, and I know I’ll be kicking myself when they finally release a full frame. Though their lens selection has left me pretty frustrated at times. There’s no perfect camera, unfortunately.

  • Great stuff as usual, Roger.

    I went through a similar exercise last year. I had an E-P1 and a good collection of lenses (Panasonic 20mm, Olympus 45, Olympus 9-18, and Olympus 14-150). The easy choice would have been just to get the E-M5 and be done with it.

    I wanted to take the opportunity to reevaluate my needs, though, and see if another system would better satisfy my needs and better serve my growth as a photographer. I only considered full frame systems because I didn’t see APS-C systems offering any significant advantage over a Micro Four Thirds system, except when it came to telephoto options.

    In the end, the full frame options at the time (a used 5D Mk2, used D700, were the only financially feasible options for me since the 6D and D600 hadn’t been announced) also didn’t offer enough of an upgrade to make up for the additional gear cost, the lack of an EVF (I prefer EVF’s to OVF’s) and the multiples in weight/size (smaller/lighter camera gear can often mean the difference between doing all carry-on baggage on a trip and checking luggage). I ended up with the easy choice after all: I got the E-M5 and am quite happy with it.

    That being said, had telephoto been a more significant part of my photography or had the 6D or D600 been available when I was making my evaluation, I might have swung the other way.

    It’s surprising that an Olympus-supported camera system has such poor telephoto options, since the Four Thirds system had so many great telephoto lenses. I hope Olympus, Panasonic, Sigma, and/or Tokina come out with something great in the next few months; it’s the only significant hole left, now that the 12-35 and 35-100 F2.8 twins have been released. A 50-150 constant f/3.5 or f/4 would be killer (and hopefully well under $1,000).

  • Daniel

    Nice blog series. Clear thinking applied to a practical decision. And humor–what a prized commodity in the product review field.

    Hope you will consider a segment on Tilt-Shift lenses, as I have shelved my 4X5 (50 lbs. and slow) but miss the ability to control focus while keeping fairly large aperture settings. A good 24mm Tilt-Shift lens would bring back some of that view camera capability I miss in the 4X5. For your macro shots a 90mm tilt might surprise you by providing a change in relative size in images of parts of your circuit boards — creating an illusion of receding horizon lines all well focused. In the Tilt-Shift area, Canon lenses would seem to have the lead, both for lens quality as well as flexibility of the mount to rotate the tilt and shift functions.

    On a separate issue, I hope you address practical issues of hand-holding a camera, and ergonomics of controls. As I age I find hand-holding a camera to be less steady, and intricate menus are hard to remember. Both affect the outcome of images taken in the field. Image shake is well addressed in tests, but ease-of-use ergonomics are not well addressed. For instance, Zeiss and older Nikon lenses offer aperture rings where my left hand “expects” to find an f-stop adjustment. So a small vote toward older Nikon lenses and Zeiss/Sony. However, none of the VR enabled G series Nikons have an aperture ring. And on the issue of obscure menu settings, the D800/D800e lacks the ability to store and recall custom settings unless I save them on an SD/CF card.

    Best regards and looking forward to more blog entries.

    Daniel

  • Aaron

    Huh, so the 1DX/1D4 didn’t make the cut for the table, but the 5D3 did? I’m really surprised! Even though you aren’t considering them, I would have expected the 1DX especially to make it onto the table.

  • Lynn

    Intrigued you’d get the Nikon D5200 over the Nikon D7000. I know it fits your criteria better, but for myself… the facts that the D5200 has no internal focus motor, and won’t meter for older manual focus lenses, would both be dealbreakers. If I have an autofocus lens, I want to be able to autofocus, and not be limited to focusing manually. And if I want to play around with an old manual focus lens, I want my body to meter.

    Still hoping that Nikon comes out with a replacement for the D300s someday, because I’ll probably always want a crop sensor body, but I can’t see its being the D5200 over the D7000.

    Enjoying this series A LOT! And I’ll keep the “cost” one away from my spouse…

  • Roger Cicala

    I don’t think the 75-300 optical formula has changed with the new version. As I mentioned, though, I’m buying now. I’ve wasted months and months before, waiting for what’s coming out that ends up not being what I’d hoped.

  • Roger Cicala

    Armis, it won’t cover my telephoto needs I’m afraid. Nice camera overall, though.

  • Roger,
    M43/Olympus OM-D system will soon have
    fast telephotos from Panasonic and Olympus.
    Also, Oly has updated the 75-300 that they had…
    Going by the criterion you have, the camera you will eventually choose will have to be pretty much
    an allrounder.

  • armis

    Damn. I was really hoping the X-E1 would make the preliminary cut, I’m really really curious about it and would have loved some of your thoughts.

  • Roger Cicala

    Aaron,

    I think you’re referring to the screening table where I was looking at highly rated cameras. There are several on that list that I decided not to pursue. The D4 made all the DxO cutoffs, like the RX1, but neither are cameras I’m thinking about.

  • lisandra

    Well roger, I hardly post but am an avid fan of yours. Heres what I can tell you: I went through your same process not more than a year ago, and I ended uo with a 1dmk4. My fellow m4/3s shooters would kill me if they knew. At any rate very long story short I spent 2 months getting over the slightly miss focuses (and my editor calling me an obsesive paranoid), I also spent about half a year complaining on the sheer size of the 70-200 f2.8 II (which frankly isnt that big) and lastly I spent just about the whole year crqnky cause I couldn’t fit all the lenses I wanted to fit in my shoulder bag. A shameful year later I have a 1dmk4 sitting on a shelf but bring myself to sell it, and went back with a gh3, an omd, and all the lenses I initially though werent cutting it. Im also very broke after the affair.
    The grass is greener right?

  • Aaron

    I’m a bit confused Roger, you say “…the Canon 1D IV and 1Dx, and Nikon D4 and D3x aren’t on my list.”, but in the table above you have the D4 listed, but no Canon 1D. Is this a typo/mistake that it got left in the table?

  • Roger Cicala

    Blunt, that is correct. K5 IIs actually.

  • Blunt

    I think there’s a slip in the table. Shouldn’t that entry for Pentax K II be for the Pentax K5 II?

  • Roger Cicala

    Gordon, I’m simply using a handy tool to do some screening. I’ll be testing cameras and lenses on my own for quite a while (in fact I’ve already been at it two weeks). But that tool is a very nice way to get an overview. In fact, without it I probably would have ignored the Pentax system entirely.

  • Roger Cicala

    Rich,
    Part of my experience you can see in our last annual repair data article: http://wordpress.lensrentals.com/2012/09/lensrentals-repair-data-january-july-2012

    Compared to other industries, camera companies have generally not been great. Right now I find Tamron (3 day repair guarantee is awesome) and Canon (3-6 day turnaround) are really good, and Sigma (nicely set up customer service online is quite good). Zeiss is very reasonable, too, and often will offer a refurbished lens instead of waiting for repair. Sony, Fuji and Olympus all are OK. Tokina and Nikon are pretty horrid, with looooonnnng repair times and Nikon the most expensive for repairs on average. Voigtlander’s are very difficult to have repaired at all.

    Please note this is for the U. S. only (other geographic areas are quite different) and the last 18 months or so. If we turned the clock back 4 or 5 years, Nikon was tops and Sigma and Tamron the pits. (Which is why I don’t pay much attention when I hear “Nikon has given me great service for 20 years”.)

    I know you can find a Fanboy on every corner who will tell you about their wonderful repair experience with Nikon or their horrid one with Tamron or Canon. I’m looking at 3,800 repairs in the last year, though, and averaging out the experience.

  • I find it curious that your analysis would rely so much on DxO data, especially since you have easy access to any of the camera systems you’re considering and you are exceptionally capable of running your own tests. Why do you place so much faith in DxO data rather than your own first-hand experience? I’m not judging or hating, just wondering…

  • Martin

    Really very interesting blog entry, I agree. But what’ s all the words and time for – I know for 99% that Roger will go for Canon 5D mark III. Im really so sure about it. You will see that I’m right in the end :-).

  • Rich

    Interesting articles.. I find myself at a similar place evaluating cameras; but, having a smaller budget I will have to draw larger boxes… Your requirement about service struck me because that is very high in my evaluation…. I have a hypothetical ranking based on limited experience, a lot of Internet discussion and gleaned from blogs and magazines… So I would be very interested if you would elaborated on the service question and how you view these companies in a future article or maybe provide a link if you’ve already done this earlier. (The reputation Nikon is establishing with their current service is distorting my selection process.)

  • Roger Cicala

    Tony, I believe that one is a Sony NEX, probably NEX 5. I imagine some young engineers that get an exciting job like “go lay out the flexes” put some of their artistic energy into them. But they’re like Easter Eggs in old programs to me, I love finding them.

    I totally agree about oranges and apples. And I think that my overall summary is going to be “these 2 oranges, this apple, and this banana are all ‘best value in class’. Now which one would taste best to me today?

  • Tony

    Roger, you’re reminding me of the way I make major purchase decisions. I end up narrowing the list to “oranges” and “bananas”. Make that really good oranges and really good bananas. But at some point it’s going to be more important to have a round fruit than a yellow one. Or vice versa. The playing fields just don’t overlap completely.

    Very nice macro work. You’d catch me staring at them because I do know what they are, and I’m marveling at the art of their designs. Somebody had some real fun with that routing. Especially that triangular island that has no engineering reason to exist. It’s Art Deco in copper. What’s it from?

  • Why not get a Canon FD 200mm F2.8 with an m4/3 adapter. Bingo, 400mm f2.8! Personally I use the old FD 135mm f2.0 all the time on my GH-2, and it works as a splendid 270mm equivalent at f2.0. On your OM-D it would even be stabilized.

  • Canon 5D Mk III is amazing. Plus the EF mount is very flexible for adapters.

  • Pete Johnson

    Regarding your image links Roger, the first one is easy. It’s obviously the bridge of a 34 string, twin neck guitar, although I’m not sure of the manufacturer.

  • Roger Cicala

    Ben,

    I honestly don’t know yet. It’s a negative, no question. But it’s just one thing to consider. Now, if I was a full-time working pro it would probably be a very high priority for me. That’s why I’ve seen several corporate photography companies leave Nikon – the cost of ownership is too much higher. On the other hand, I’ve seen some full-time individual pros that have switched to Nikon for the camera’s features. These tend to be individual pros rather than corporate pros.

    As a non-pro hobbyist it’s still something I’ll consider, but I don’t have a formula for how much. I do know that if I go Nikon system I’ll have more third-party lenses than if I go Canon because if things are close I’ll avoid Nikon’s service costs and turnaround times. (Tamron and Sigma have much better service but Tokina doesn’t. Rokibowyang has basically no service at all, but at those prices I consider the lenses disposables.)

  • Roger Cicala

    Mark,

    I considered MF a bit, but the size and need for telephoto, along with cost pretty much eliminated it. I also really want to be able to shoot several frames per second.

  • Ben

    Are you going to mentally get past the Nikon service Roger? Not sure I’d trade the DR for the service, infact I didn’t. Bought a 5D3 with 50L, sent them straight to canon for tuning, CPS 3 day warranty service and they came back this morning. Did I mention they were grey market and canon didn’t say a thing? Makes up for a lot for this pro photographer.

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