I feel very passionately about this advice:
Do not find "deals" on backs/cameras and then evaluate if they are right for you. Instead find out what back/camera is right for you and then go find a "deal" on that. This will likely be a system you keep, shoot, expand, and upgrade for a long time so jumping in to save a few k on a particular deal on a system that doesn't fit like a glove will only waste major money down the road. In my (highly biased) opinion a "deal" should also include an evaluation of which dealer/source you trust with a large purchase and with the many after-sales questions, concerns, issues you may have as well as your future expansion and upgrades of your kit. I would (selfishly) offer us (Capture Integration) as a dealer with a history of highly rewarding customer relationships (here is a partial client list
from across the US).
There are very few (if any) "bad" solutions in this market, but each solution will have its own advantages and disadvantages and as a few people have mentioned above you can have a very frustrating experience if you find a system weak in an area you find important. To suss out these subtle-at-first huge-in-the-long-run differences there is no substitute for actually shooting with the system. Many dealers, including us, offer free in-person testing of any system and discounted rentals anywhere in the country which can be counted towards purchase.
Some differences to look out for:
- How does it "feel" (highly personal/subjective and highly important)
- Focal Plane vs. Leaf Shutter vs. Both
- Finish/Color/Look (may or may not be important to you)
- AF speed in low light, AF tracking for continuous subjects
- Does it support dSLR raw processing / tethering: if so what are the limitations and quality of the support
- How stable/fast is the software, how fully featured
- Do other techs know/like the dedicated software (in case you need help on a shoot will they know what to do)
- How well does the line of lenses perform
- Are there less expensive legacy lenses which can help fill in your lens kit
- Are there strong performing fast lenses (e.g. f/2.
- How much does each lens weight, how large is it, is the weight balanced to the front or rear
- How quickly do the lenses exhibit diffraction when stopped down
- How fast can you change important settings like ISO
- How fast can the back shoot a sequence of images
- Can the back accommodate your particular needs for ISO and long exposures
- What is the build quality of the back and what is their reputation for reliability
- What is the history of the manufacturer's upgrade paths, have they ever been discontinued or suspended?
- What is the cost of the entire system including tax, shipping, a few lenses, accessories, warranty, batteries etc
- What discount/specials/"deals" are available; what is the difference between street and list prices for each system
I'm just gonna stop the list here as it's becoming obvious that I can't ask unbiased questions (actually several of them are so heavily biased they even make me twinge a bit :-P but raise valid points), and the list is too long and too specific to each photographers needs. Only highlights the fact that nothing other than personal testing will suffice for such a large/important purchase.
Head of Technical Services, Capture Integration
Phase One, Leaf, Cambo, Canon, Apple, Profoto, Eizo & More
National: 877.217.9870 | Cell: 740.707.2183
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