Friday, February 19, 2010

I still don’t shoot weddings but…

The bride
Shooting this wedding in India for a friend made it clear that I needed a second camera body for events where I don’t have time to change lenses.  Or for when the action is happening so thick and fast, that the time taken to swop lenses would mean losing a shot. Ideally, I would want to put a wide-angle zoom on one body, and a telephoto zoom on the other.  That’s a pretty typical photojournalist type setup.
The Groom
I’ve been happy with the cropped sensor of my Nikon D300, but have been eyeing the full-frame D700 for some time.  At the same time, I wanted to keep my setup as lightweight as possible, for shooting serious adventures.  My choice for a second body came down to getting a full-frame format Nikon D700 or a cropped-format Nikon D90 to complement my existing D300. 
Preparations
The advantages of the lighter weight D90 body kind of weighed up evenly against the lower noise images I would get with the D700.  I was pretty much sitting on the fence.  On some days, I would be leaning towards getting a D700, and on other days, the D90. 
Dancing at Home
My breakthrough came with the launch of the Nikon D3s, which although has a sensor with the same number of Megapixels as the older D3, ups the ante with even cleaner images at high ISOs.  I looked at this and started thinking that the creation of a ‘D700s’, using the same sensor as the D3s was imminent.  
Dancing in the Street
This would seal the deal for me.  A D700s would offer a significant image quality benefits over the D90.  It would be heavier, particularly with the lenses I would want to use with this body, but if I needed to go lightweight with just one body, I could always just take the D300.
So now I’m waiting, as I’m sure many others are, for Nikon to start selling a camera that doesn’t yet exist …

6 comments:

telekia said...

Hi, Ken! Thank you for sharing your considerations about ideal photo-equipment with us. I think getting second body is a good idea because changing lenses in most situations means loosing the shot. Photographers always dream about ideal cameras which has yet to come on market. Galen Rowell has written superbly on this theme. I am a Pentax shooter, so my choice about ideal D-SLR was simple. I bought Pentax K-7 camera body. Today I see I will need second body, too. Removing tele-photo zooms from a camera body and attaching wide-angle zooms is quite a slow process. Otto H.

Ken said...

Hi Otto,

Thanks for bringing up Galen Rowell. I'm reminded of a key aspect of Galen Rowell's early photography - what he called 'participatory photography'.

Essentially, this was what he called his photography as a 'participant' of a sport, like running or climbing. The equipment he chose for 'participatory photography' was vastly different from what he would use for a purely photographic assignment.

For 'participatory photography', Galen would use lightweight bodies and lenses, so that they would hardly interfere with his participation of the sport. A D90 with a 16-85mm lens would be a good choice for me. On the other hand, a D700 would be my choice if I was out there on a purely photographic assignment.

Yup... the choice of a second body is not easy.

Thanks for reading.

Ken

telekia said...

Hi Ken, Thank you for a deeper insight into using photo equipment.
Otto

telekia said...

Hi Ken,
what kind of photography do you do more often? "Participatory photography" or purely photographic assigments?
The answer may helps you in chosing the second camera body. If serious photo assigments are only marginal activity for you, you can opt for lighter D90. But that is how I think. You may feel it entirely differently.
Regards
Otto

Ken said...

Hi Otto,

A very good point, and worthy of a blog post of its own.

I do both, hence the quandary. I do more participatory photography where a lighter body would be helpful, although I could tough it out with a heavier body.

I do mostly editorial shoots, but also a little commercial work. The choice of a body for commercial work depends on what body can get the job done, and also what my competition is using. The D700 (or D700s) would be ideal.

I don't have a problem buying both bodies, except that the lenses I would want to use for each are different.

I do see full-frame in my future, and as full-frame technology makes it's way done to the consumer market, I'm pretty sure we will see a full-frame body the size and weight of a D90.

Ken

telekia said...

Hi Ken,
Lenses are problem when shooting with different bodies.
I am a recent convert to digital shooting. I bought only a digital body (K-7)and use my lenses for full-frame. I dislike that my favourite prime lens (20 mm) becomes 30 mm lens on my new camera. So I am going to buy DA SMC Pentax 14/2.8 lens which will fit my needs. I am still not into zoom lenses. The only zoom lens I own is a telephoto (Tokina ATX PRO 80-200/2.8).
I, too, look forward for full-frame digital cameras to come on consumer's market.