Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Decision Day

I have to finally decide - do I get the Pentax 645D now, or wait for an unknown unannounced camera which may or may not be made, and may or may not be suitable for my needs, and may or may not require a whole new set of higher quality lenses than I currently use on the Canon 5D2.

There have been comments from Canon that with the 1DX only being 18 mp, they are in no rush to produce a higher resolution camera, but it may all come down to what Nikon does. If they do produce the rumoured 36 MP camera, this will push Canon to do something similar.

It occurred to me that Canon may well have a 5D3 or equivalent in the wings, with more than one possible sensor, to be switched in shortly before mass production as needed depending on which way Nikon goes.

Manufacturers never put all their cards into one basket - it doesn't make economic sense, they need to have something in hand to justify the next model round the corner.

Adobe have been leading us on with hints of camera movement removal software in the next or next after Photoshop - just the same. Lightroom 3 doesn't have proofing, even though it's in Photoshop, so it isn't about can't, it's about when, and what will it take to persuade us to fork out money for the next iteration of camera or software.

So, what am I going to do?

Go with the Pentax. I have already ordered the used lenses, and a bird in the hand... and if in a year, or two, there are better cameras than the Pentax and I can't sell the used Pentax and lenses for more than $5000 total, well I will still hopefully have some great images that can make large prints without excuses. if the camera pays for itself in that time (in terms of sales of large images), well so much the better.



Royce Howland said...

George, for what it's worth I think you're making a solid call. :) I faced the same choice a year ago and decided to take the plunge on the 645D. It was a year further back in time with no real sign of where Canon was going, and I didn't see an appealing ($ or quality) step forward from my 5D Mk II within the Canon lineup. Now a year later, the announced (but months from shipping) 1DX is probably not what many people were expecting, especially not as a model to consolidate both the previous 1D and 1Ds lines. The 1DX has little appeal for me.

Back then, as now, I could have switched to Nikon for the D3x, which had some appeal. (Sony full frame, not really.) But high-end Nikon availability always seemed a bit iffy and has gone totally south as a result of Nikon's hardship in the disasters in Japan and Thailand. And a Nikon switch would have involved a pretty sizable $ outlay in its own right... so if I was going to look at that level of expense, I wanted to throw the net wider.

I researched the 645D but less was known about it back then, outside of Japan. (Lloyd Chambers' info is a great resource, now.) As soon as the 645D hit Calgary for real I decided to try one out hands on, like you've done. The camera was a treat to use and most importantly the images blew me away compared to what I had seen from the 5D Mk II... so I went for it. A full year in I've been extremely happy and have zero regrets.

It's not a flawless camera (what is?), nor even a flawless system. But it's a solid, well-designed working camera. Mine has taken some hard miles in the field already, from -35 C to +35 C, pouring rain to deserts, mountain windstorms to Caribbean islands... and it's still humming along. I do miss Live View a la Canon's implementation (with live DOF preview), and image stabilization to a lesser extent. But no matter, I'm willing to deal with those shortfalls to get the fantastic image results. I'm having a blast with it and I suspect you will too.

If some future camera or system comes out and is better, well, that's the nature of things, especially in the digital era. However, I feel the 645D hits a price-performance sweet spot in a similar way that the original Canon 5D did for 35mm full frame (and the 5D Mk II did to a lesser extent). As such, I think the 645D will have a lot of legs to it no matter what happens over the next few years with Ricoh-owned Pentax, or in the 35mm arena if some player moves upward, or in medium format if any of those remaining players choose to compete with Pentax's move...

Frank Field said...

George --

Seems like a very good call and a very natural next step for your work. We will be anxious to hear more of your evaluation and especially to see some of your images.

It is indeed hard to figure what Nikon and Canon are doing these days. Nikon seems to be chasing raw numbers of units shipped; certainly the natural disasters in Japan and Thailand have been a real hit. I don't follow Canon too closely but I did have that "huh?" reaction to the 1Dx announcement.

From a business school perspective, it is interesting to see how the evolution of technology can lower entry barriers. For instance, you have decided to switch from Canon to Pentax, believing that any eventual entry from Canon will require a lens system upgrade thus making your next body decision invariant to prior body decisions. In the past, the lens system has been a powerful driver to stay with the system you already have. If others start to see it the way you have, it will become an interesting opportunity for suppliers other than Nikon and Canon.


Sandy Wilson said...

Hi George,

I see your slowly working up to that Hasseblad. Go luck and good shooting with Pentax.

Hey guys never mind what Cannon and Nikon are doing, what has Sony got up its sleeve to replace the A900 full frame.

Maybe a full frame 36 million model, watch this space.