Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Thoughts On Camera Systems

I've been asked to comment on the merits of the various systems and how resolution compares.

Nikon D800e

remember that I use live view 95% of the time, tripod mounted, low ISO, manual focus, manual exposure, and if I forget the remote, then the self timer.

- I bought the 85 1.4 Nikkor because of its superb resolution, then used it wide open with an extension tube for dreamy soft garden photographs - go figure. haven't taken a single image where it's resolution would be important. I now have the 24-70 so whether I'll keep the lens remains to be seen.
- the 70-200 is excellent - I stopped carrying alternatives like the 180 sigma macro and the 200 micro nikkor as there was little to be gained. Its sharp up close and that is important to me.
Zeiss 15 - damn this thing is sharp.
- focusing live view at f11 is challenging, f16 impossible so I tend to open the lens part way to focus, then stop back down for the shot - wish it was easier but I also recognize that this eliminates focus shift errors with fast lenses.
- the self timer makes no noise and the only indication is at the front of the camera, which you can`t see from behind - come on guys. I normally use a radio remote but it wasn`t in the case yesterday.
- I like the definite controls for iso and self timer and so on and switching from Canon wasn`t difficult - but why do lens caps screw on the wrong way?
- battery life isn't great - I can run out of juice in a couple of hours - so now have 3 batteries and was beginning to think I might need four - don't remember that ever being a problem with Canon
- with focusing live view stopped down, the noise on screen in low light and even normal room light is a significant issue - not enough to switch cameras, but sure wish it weren't so.
-  image quality is stellar - 100% with judicious sharpening looks like you are looking at the whole image, not a tiny corner. High ISO is excellent but base ISO is definitely best.

Canon 5D3

Didn't have it long but it's a lovely camera and had the 36 MP high dynamic range Nikon not been available, and had I not run into some very noisy shadows I was opening up, I wouldn't have switched and of course live view is terrific - I spent a year deciding against the Nikon, only to eventually decide that sensor quality trumped good live view.


Damn but I like the small size and light weight and canvas camera bag combination. A general zoom would be nice though that 60 mm. Sigma is absolutely stellar and resolution with this camera and lens combination is excellent - yes there is some noise even at base ISO - rather like film grain, but overall image quality is top notch and the camera at ISO 1600 is entirely function for any purpose, making the camera versatile. Image stabilization on the 60 would have been nice and I will be inteterested to see just how decent the new Zeiss 16-70 turns out to be. I have been known to change ISO accidentally and so have learned to check on a regular basis. I have never! accidentally shot a video or even got the message to come up asking if I want to - they must have done something more than just software = perhaps a harder spring in the video button. Although I set up the camera so a centre button push brings up the PSAM screen, I do wish I had a simple dial so I'd always know instantly what I had.

The viewfinder is contrasty and therein lies a problem - you can't see into shadows and highlights both through the EVF, fine for pointing the camera, less than ideal for assessing an image. I can live with it but since the sensor records good dynamic range, I don't see why I can't see that in the EVF - surely something could be done.

Will I keep the Nex -7? Of course things have been complicated by the recent announcement of the Alpha 7 and 7R, the latter a 36 megapixel full frame camera. The good is it has a separate PSAM control, a newer sensor, the capability of putting on all my Nikon lenses and use at full frame (even my 15 Zeiss) so its a great backup body. It will even take my current Nex-7 lenses, albeit cropped to 16 megapixel. So the question is, do I want a high megapixel backup to the Nikon, or do I want the small lenses of the apsc size, either at 24 megapixel current Nex-7 or 16 on the Alpha 7R?

I really don't want another large lens system with 20+ pound camera bag so I'm not sure that I will rush out and get the 7R, never mind the expense. I might just work with the Nex-7, the 10-18 (that I have) and the Zeiss 16-70 that has already been ordered, and maybe the Sigma 60 because it's so darn sharp to the corners. But then again... A matter of do I want a backup for my Nikon lenses (ie. a second body) or do I want a backup system weighing a fraction of the Nikon gear.

Image quality wise, the Nex-7 is terrific. Had I made Saturday's image with the Sigma 30 (I did) but with tripod and base ISO I wouldn't have thought to return for a reshoot - after all 36 just isn't a lot bigger print than 24 MP.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your comments on your cameras and lenses. It is always good to hear real world opinions from someone who’s work you admire. Would appreciate your comments in the future once you take deliver and begin use of the Zeiss 16-70.

I am considering the Sony APS-C lines as a lighter travel camera. Your insights are helpful.