tech friday – choosing a camera body

10 years, 1 month ago 0

The most common question I’m asked as a tech rep is, which camera should I buy? That is a question that is a lot harder to answer than you might think. Let me walk you though some things to consider before coming up with an answer for that.

1. Are you professional photographer?
2. If so, what kind of photography do you do?
3. What is your budget for a camera body?
4. If you’re not a professional, how serious are you about photography?
5. What kind of photography do you do?
6. What is your budget for a camera body?
7. Is the weight of a camera a physical factor for you?
8. If you’re a pro or very serious photographer what is the typical size of the largest
prints you make?

O.K. Let’s play this out with a couple of examples.

Caveat, I work for Nikon so with your permission I will make my recommendations with that brand, since I know far more about them than other manufacturers. As always other makers bodies will apply with some study.

Photographer number One is a full time working Pro who shoots mostly sports. He needs a fast camera, with a high frame rate, at least 8 frames per second. He uses his cameras constantly so build quality and ruggedness are very important to him. He often has to shoot in marginal light so very good High ISO noise performance is a must. He makes 24 X 36 prints, and larger, on a regular basis Answer: Nikon D3s That is the camera Nikon made specifically for this kind of user. Cost around $5,000. for the body alone. *If he did 4X6 foot prints I might recommend the D3x at around $7,800.

Photographer number Two is serious hobbyist who does a lot of photography and uses their cameras a lot, at least a couple of times a week. They want the highest quality they can afford,
but frame rate is not a major concern. They will not abuse the camera, but will use it hard. Their number one desire is quality images, number two, good solid construction and longevity. Answer: the Nikon D700 or Nikon D300s. Both are well made cameras capable of delivering first class professional results. D700 around $2,700. D300s around $1,700. The D700 is a 35mm size sensor called FX by Nikon and the D300s a APS size sensor called DX. The biggest advantage of the larger sensor is better low noise at high ISO.

Photographer number Three is a somewhat serious photographer that does not want to learn a lot of photography jargon but does want to make nice images. Their budget is more limited and they don’t want to carry a heavy camera and lens. They will use the camera occasionally maybe a few times a month and ruggedness is not a major concern. Answer: the Nikon D90 with the 18-105 kit lens. Around $1,200.

Now, in the hands of a skilled photographer, working carefully, you would not likely be able to identify the images between the cameras except under the most specific situations. So why would you spend $5,000. if the $1,200 camera is so good? If you have to have 9 frames per second and very rugged construction, plus great low noise performance at high ISO, then the D3s is the only ticket. However if you just want great images, and want and an easy to use light camera then the D90 is the ticket.

I wrote about lenses last Friday, and made the point that you get what you pay for. I made a rather interesting discovery this week. We, (the tech force), have been assigned to supply some images made with various Nikon lenses for catalogs and the website use. They sent us a list of lenses they needed. Fortunately I use many of the lenses on the list on a regular basis so I had plenty of images to send. One lens on the list was a lens, I’ve never used. It is one of our most affordable kit lens the 18-55 VR. It has a very good reputation for a light weight lens, but I had picked the lens up and felt how light it was and lost any interest in using it. This falls under the category of you ”can” teach an old dog new tricks. Since I didn’t have any images with the lens
I took it out and shot some stuff. Wow, was I ever wrong! This lens is spectacularly sharp. Check out the images below.

So you learn something everyday. If a D90 and the very inexpensive, (relatively speaking), 18-55 VR lens can do this, we are in sweet spot photographically indeed……

Now, have a wonderful weekend, I’m on assignment shooting stills and video at the Louisville Slugger factory tomorrow in Louisville, Kentucky, will hopefully get something worth sharing on Monday.

Let me take a moment to thank all of you again that come by and visit with me. I enjoy sharing what the Lord is impressing upon me, and I’m so glad to have you guys as friends, compatriots, and brothers and sisters in Him……


the pilgrim

* Photo note: Top shot, F100 film camera with Velvia, and Nikon’s 105 Micro Nikkor AF lens. Grandfather Mountain, NC, many years ago. I’ve only shot three rolls of film in the last ten years (When Nikon released the Nikon F6 camera).
Shot above, D90 and 18-55 VR kit lens, ISO 800.

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