D-SLR Camera of choice?

What is the BEST D-SLR Camera is the most asked/argued question by photographers Like everything in the world it comes down to personal preference and what your going to use it for. All cameras seem to have a strong point and weak areas.

The first question you need to ask yourself is what is your primary subject matter. Many photographers shoot multiple subject matter which makes picking the perfect camera difficult.

Main features on a camera which will determine if it will be a good fit for your field is “Feet Per Second” (FPS), “Auto Focus” (A/F), Film speed (ISO), Noise, “MegaPixels”MP, Image stabilization (IS) (or VR on Nikon), Dynamic Range, “White Balance” WB, “Full Frame” (FF), and weather sealing.

This blog will be far to long to name off every camera company so I stuck to the primary two: Canon & Nikon. I had far too many Sony products break and Panasonic only has 3/4 crop sensors. For mirror-less cameras I would suggest Panasonic or Olympus. Video the Panasonic GH2 is amazing with the hack (and only around $700).

****This is my personal opinion. I happy to hear your side, but be nice.****

+Plus and -Minuses of camera Canon & Nikon brands

Canon

Plus: 

  • A/F on the new 5d3 and 1dx is amazing!
  • ISO has been raised to new levels on the 5d3 and 1dx
  • Many new extremely sharp lens which will be perfect for high MP cameras
  • Video is still superior to nikon. (but in my eyes Canon has not been innovative enough on the new models) Sony, blackmagic, and panasonic gh3 will most likely take the lead with new models.

Minus:

  • MONEY!!! Canon has raised prices on ALL new products far beyond what they should be. (besides the 40mm pancake lens)
  • 24-70 f2.8 still does not have IS and is almost as much as my 70-200 f2.8IS!! The one thing PRO’s have asked for yet seems to go unanswered. Yet they smacked their PRO customers in the face by making the upcoming 24-70 f4 IS.
  • No large MP camera. One is in the works but rumored at 9k!
  • Patterned noise (almost impossible to get rid of in post production)

Nikon

Plus:

  • Low noise even at high ISO. What little it does have is more natural. (can be taken out in post production)
  • D800 & d600 sensor has amazing Dynamic Range and very low noise. ISO almost matches up with D4 quality up but ends at 6400.
  • Facial Recognition A/F through viewfinder is d800 & d4.
  • D800 format sizes are very usable with a 36MP level! 20.1MP in Medium is perfect for normal shooting. 15MP in DX crop mode at 6FPS with grip!!! This makes the camera decent for sport & concert shooting with the same great dynamic range.
  • No patterned noise like on canon.

Minus:

  • D4 & d800 green LCD tint. Makes WB very hard to determine on camera. Does not effect actual image at all.
  • D600 dust issues on top of sensor.
  • Lack of new pro lens. With the new high MP cameras pushing the limits of lens sharpness, especially in the corners. Canon has been updating many lens where Nikon hasn’t. Canon’s 24-70 f2.8 still is without IS; nikon hasn’t even put out a new lens at all. Although nikon lens use to be sharper then Canons till this new generation so they are not a slouch.

 

Landscape photography

  • High ISO- Because some of the best shots happen when the sun is coming up,going down, or pitch black.
  • Long exposure settings
  • Low noise
  • Good tripod using a timer- clicking the button shakes the camera.
  • Photo stitching? Not sure if any of the pro bodies have this option yet. There are tripod options to help with this.
  • Weather sealing- Stormy weather make the most dramatic images
  • Wide lens work best. F4 Pro lens are perfectly fine for landscape photography since usually you will be shooting at f10 and up to get the most detail.

Wildlife photography

Wildlife is best filmed from a distance. You might not think about us as predators but they sure do. How would you react if you seen a lion sneaking up on you? Most people will freak out if a squirrel walked up to them.

  • Fast A/F- animals don’t stop to let you take the shot you want
  • High ISO – most animals hide in dark areas
  • Macro lens- Discover a whole new smaller world around you.
  • Telephoto lens (70-200mm f2.8, 400mm or higher and a 1.4 teleconverter)
  • weather sealing is nice when your 10 miles from your car and a storm blows in.

Portrait photography

Although a canon 5d3 or 1dx can produce amazing portraits I would suggest a Nikon d800 for this area (if you don’t have a stockpile of canon lens). But remember this will give you a SHARP image.. some people prefer the soft look for portraits which the 5d3,1dx and D600 would be fine with. For studio work you might want to invest more money in your lighting and keep your lens to a prime and/or a pro zoom.

  • High MP 20+
  • Dynamic Range gives some amazing skin tones.
  • Prime Lens – f1.2- f2.0 – 50mm & 85mm are great lens. **Remember if you have a crop sensor camera your lens are magnified. 85mm are standard portrait lens but 135mm are also well respected.
  • 70-200mm f2.8 IS is a great portrait lens.

Concert photography

Concert photography is a very difficult field. With the new fad to give photographers only the first 3 songs you have limited time to get a useable image. Horrible lighting happens all the time. Wish I could tazer the lighting controller when they use red/pink lights or NO front white lighting! Good artist jump around a lot and in dark halls with piercing bright spots that is challenging.

  • 6+ FPS preferred, but many great concert photographers shoot with the 3.9FPS 5d2
  • High ISO is the top option in this field.
  • 12-24 MP is fine. But D800 dynamic range would help out.
  • 24-70mm f2.8 & 70-200mm f2.8 are goto lens. 35mm/50mm primes, 16-35mm/14-24mm, or fisheyes also work great.

News/Journalist 

  • fast FPS – 6+
  • Good A/F- This field is very fast moving
  • High ISO- The news usually happens in the worst time or places
  • 12-20MP- Mostly used for web content or publications
  • Lens- 24-70 f2.8 & 70-200mm f2.8
  • High end flash with defuser.
  • D-slr video is being used in this field more often since hey are broadcast quality

Sports photography

Pro bodies canon 1dx(14fps), 1d mark4 (10fps) & d4(10fps), d3s (9fps) are made for sports shooting. Smaller pro bodies that still work fine are canon 5d3(6fps), 7d(8fps). Nikon d700 (with grip is 8 fps).

  • Fast FPS – 6FPS or faster. More the better.
  • Great A/F
  • High ISO- Remember just because a company says it has 6400 ISO doesn’t mean it is good at that range. Research what is the highest usable ISO before buying.
  • 12-20MP is perfect since most mages will not be printed big.
  • Telephoto lens. Most Pro sports photographers carry a 16-35 or 24-70 f2.8 for beginning and end of games. 70-200 on one body with a blackrapids strap and a 400mm f2.8mm IS or higher with a sturdy Monopod on the second body. Some people use 1.4 teleconverters (2.0 teleconverter degrades the quality quite a bit)
  • Weather seal- Planned event & you never know what will happen.

Research, research, research!!! The internet at your fingertips and you have countless tutorials and product reviews you can watch/read!

I wouldn’t suggest switching companies if you have a ton of lens for one side. Both companies are so close in quality its not worth it.

Currently I shoot with a Canon but am considering switching to Nikon. My reasons are because their sensors have amazing Dynamic Range, no patterned noise on high ISO(which I shoot a lot), and the d800 has enough MP to make large gallery prints and ability to lower formate/file size and still be useable. Many photographers don’t need to make large prints.

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About Leonard Beck

Creative + Photographer

4 responses to “D-SLR Camera of choice?”

  1. Sherbiny says :

    Very good digest about DSL Cameras. Thanks.

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