Friday, 25 March 2011

The Tough Decisions...

Last post I talked about my impressions of the 5D, having not used it for over a year - compared to the Nikon D300 that I had been shooting with instead.

I'm not going to sugar coat it - the 5D is sub-par in almost every respect when held up to the D300 - bar two: sensor size, and ergonomics. Not that I think the ergonomics of the D300 are bad, because they certainly aren't. And nor is the sensor 'bad' when compared to the 5D's either. So what am I on about then?

Canon 5D with Canon 28-105mm f3.5/4.5
 Lets take the first point: Ergonomics. Talk to any photographer whose been doing this for a while - who has been exposed to both Canon and Nikon camera systems - and they will tell you there is a Canon way of doing things, and a Nikon way. Neither are necessarily better than the other, they just are.

So if you use any one system for a long period (like I did with Canon), you get used the their way of doing things. Simple things, like which way you twist a lens to mount onto a camera body, arrangement of buttons and dials etc. Heck, even just the jargon they use for a particular function. I've been using the Nikon well over a year now, and I still find myself twisting the lens the wrong way, or reaching for a control dial that just isn't there. I've trained my hands to work the 'Canon' way. While it doesn't stop me using other systems, it just never quite feels 'right'?

Canon 5D with 28-105mm
Second: the Sensor. Now again, let me repeat that the D300 sensor isn't bad. In fact it's fantastic! At 12MP I reckon it's just about the perfect Goldilocks size - not too big, and not too small. Just right. Noise is well handled up to at least 1600, and the images I get off of the D300 are punchy, vibrant and saturated when set to the 'Vivid' colour space. All-in-all, no complaints.

But... (isn't there always a but), the sensor isn't full frame. And yeah, I do sometimes wish it was. Even though I've collected an arsenal of seriously good cropped sensor glass, and I dig that the 50mm f1.4 becomes a 75mm f1.4 portrait lens, I still have this nagging feeling that 'bigger' is better.
If I want a cropped sensor, I'd like it to be for my back-up body, not my main camera. Yes, I know that Nikon does have full frame in the D700, D3x etc - but I don't have them, do I! No, I have the Canon 5D.

Same deal. Canon 5D with 28-105mm lens.
So it's really decision time. And it's not an easy one (for me at least).  In oh-so-many ways the Nikon D300 is a much better camera, and I now have a good supply of lenses and flashes for it.
I could just stick with the Nikon, and forget that I've even got the 5D. Or just use two systems. Or just use the 5D for landscapes and D300 for weddings. All possible options.

But a large part of me thinks I really should concentrate on just the one system. And logically that really should be the system I'm most comfortable with... Canon.

So I find myself in the strange position of seriously considering switching camera systems again - this time back to Canon from Nikon! And keeping a camera that I genuinely consider to be inferior to the one I'm selling! Am I crazy?

Of course 'inferior' is subjective. And let's face it, the 5D is/was an amazing camera as well. It's not like I'm chucking all my digital SLR gear in favor of a cardboard box pinhole camera. That would be crazy.

I was very happy with the 5D (which also has my definition of a 'Goldilocks' sensor at 12.8MP) before it died on me, and now that it's back, I'm sure I'll be very happy with it again. The money I get from the sale of my Nikon gear will get me a backup body (probably the 40D) and a couple of nice lenses to go with the 20-35mm and 28-105mm I already have. And with the ability to 'borrow' some seriously pro Canon glass from friends who trust me with their gear - I'll have a superb system back up and running in no time.

Will be very sad to see the D300 go though. I love that camera.

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