Gear Sense

One post I’ve read on Petapixel sums up many of the things I’ve often said or thought about photographers and gear. The 11 Stupidest Things Photographers Say About Gear is worth a read, as is a series it refers to on fstoppers.

They compared the same scene photographed on leading Canon, Sony and Nikon cameras and asked people to rate the 3 images and say which camera they came from. And the results showed that there was very little difference between whether they photographed the studio scene on a Canon 5DsR, Sony A7RII, or Nikon D810.

Not only was there no real difference in detail, resolution etc, there was an almost identical colour to the three images. I still think there are differences in colour between the images produced by the three cameras, but these are down to differences in how the auto white balance works rather than anything inherent to the camera. And the differences are easily corrected in post-processing.

But the main differences between the three marques are in handling. How convenient is the control layout, and the menus. Which way do zooms zoom? and where do you have to line up the dots when changing lenses, and which way do you turn them. I’ve used Nikon for over 12 years now, and I still find it much easier and faster to change lenses on a camera that works the same way as Leica does. But the buttons etc on Nikon seem so much better than the interface on Canon. And so on. My ideal SLR camera would still be the Olympus OM4, but no one has ever made a digital version of that – and of course I’d like some updates such as auto-focus and high speed flash sync.

Of course the publication of their results was greeted with controversy, and some valid points were made, in particular about the lens used for testing with the Sony, So this led to ‘We Tested the Sony A7RII AGAIN for All the Sony Fanboys‘ and the results were more or less the same: Most People Cannot Tell The Difference Between Nikon, Sony, and Canon High Res Files. And most of those who tried and mainly got it wrong were photographers.

Perhaps I should be pleased that one of the cameras I use came out marginally top on the test, but quite frankly I could not tell the difference and suspect it was probably not statistically significant. But at least it does reinforce my own feeling that the extra pixels in the 50Mp Canon EOS 5DS R are of no significance.

I’m actually thinking of going back to DX format for my next camera – I’ve always thought there was – as Nikon for some years maintained – no real advantage in the larger FX format. It wasn’t that the results were any better, just the larger sensor meant the cameras had a better and brighter viewfinder.

My ailing D700 is still taking good photographs – at least when I manage to point it in the right direction at the right time with the right lens. But its days are surely numbered (and a service that would address its current faults would cost more than its worth.) I’ll probably replace it by another Nikon, but can’t at the moment decide whether to buy a D750 or, when they get into the shops, a D500. Or perhaps by the time I’ve made my mind up there will be something new available to change it!

3 Responses to “Gear Sense”

  1. ChrisL says:

    I am growing very fond of the D500 already with three stand outs, for me, the white balance which seems to handle mixed lighting with aplomb, the iso button behind the shutter release, I can change all three controls aperture speed and iso without taking the camera from the eye, the autofocus, crudely tested on the dog on the beach I couldn’t find a frame out of focus in several “bursts between hurling a ball. A bonus is the weight, it handles like the D3 but weighs so much less.
    Why doesn’t my photography improve incrementally like the cameras, which is part of your text really, it’s not the tools but confidence and not fighting them must help?

  2. ChrisL says:

    Yes it should fall when the backlog is satisfied but the sensor production issues from Sony, post earthquake, may delay things. Note currently it has issues with third party and some early issue Nikon batteries, Nikon seem to fumble each new model somehow these days.
    I shot at 51,200iso to test of course and with some noise reduction it was very acceptable (ridiculous really shooting at 1/200th f11 inside under small halogen ceiling lights) I would set the limit lower but of course it raises the more than acceptable limit.

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