Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: Which way to go - have 1DsII, might switch  (Read 4240 times)

Dan Wells

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1036
Which way to go - have 1DsII, might switch
« on: September 18, 2008, 12:39:16 pm »

The new bunch of high-MP bodies have me wondering where the market's headed. I'm a landscape (many of them closer-up than the traditional landscape, ranging right into the macro range) shooter and photography teacher and would love to have a Phase One or equivalent, but just can't afford it. I'm shooting the 1DsII now, which is great in many ways, but has some notable weaknesses (many of them ergonomic). When I bought it several years ago, there was nothing close on the market - now there are several options. My Canon glass (plus the body) is worth enough that I should be able to finance a transition to whatever I want (within reason - I am obviously nowhere near a Phase system).

What I'm looking for:

Better ergonomics (I'm a good-sized guy, but I have one hand). The 1DsII is a big, heavy camera, right at the limit of what I'll carry around. There are also several control placements I don't like, foremost among them the clunky ISO selection, the focusing point selection and the push-and-hold menus and image review. None of these are impossible, but all are annoying. Strictly ergonomically, give me a modern Nikon over anything else I've ever touched! Shame they're all 12mp, when I want modestly MORE resolution than I have, not less.

Even better low-ISO image quality. I never go above ISO 400, but I'd sure love to do even better than the 1DsII (which is already very good) at 100-400. I'm not willing to take a downgrade, and an upgrade would be nice. I want to at least keep the resolution I have, hopefully adding some, and I'd love to add dynamic range (again, I won't take a loss, and I'd prefer a gain).

Better glass in the modest focal length ranges. The Canon wide and mid-range lenses (L glass) I have are decent, but they don't strike me as special. The Zeiss lenses on the old Hassy I used to shoot before I gave up on all the scanning were special, as is the Nikon 105 VR Macro. The one Canon lens I really don't like as much as its competitors is the 100 Macro - the only one they make.

What I know so far:

The new Sony Alpha 900 looks awfully attractive - I sure can't fault the lensmaker (Carl Zeiss) they chose for their high end glass, and the ergonomics look pretty good. I want to see some test shots that show the dynamic range - it's clear that it has a ton of resolution, and what isn't clear is how the DR holds up in RAW files (I simply haven't seen a test shot that stretches the DR). I also want to make sure that it doesn't have noise issues at modest ISOs (I don't care that it doesn't do great JPEGs - my dream system is a Phase that doesn't do ANY JPEGs)... Besides the image quality questions, I also don't know what I think of Sony lenses in the ranges where the glass isn't Zeiss - I'd end up with 2 Zeiss lenses, but a Sony macro and a Sony 70-400. I also love the body-integral image stabilization, because I sometimes shoot handheld  especially when I'm out with a class and squeezing my own shots in among helping students. I often get surprisingly nice stuff out of shots I took to show a student something.

The 5DmkII is out of the question, strictly because of my disability. The depth of field preview (which I use all the time) is on the wrong side of the body, and I can't reach it at all. I originally thought that the live view might reduce the need for this, but THAT is another left-side control (looking from the back) that I can't reach.

The 1DsIII is an option - I'd have to toss in some money to trade up to a used IDsIII body, but maybe not that much... I'm sure I could get $2000++ for my 1DsII, and I've heard of nice IIIs selling used for $4000. I'd gain some image quality, significant ergonomics and lose over half a pound.

The wild card is what Nikon's up to?!? A D700x would be very close to my dream reasonable camera. If they just used a full-frame version of the D300 sensor, it would be 27mp with superb image quality up to ISO 800, with a fully usable 1600 as well. It would fit my hand like any modern Nikon.

Perhaps even more exciting than the possibility of a D700x is the "Nikon MX" rumor. There are twitterings of a 40 mp (?!?) Nikon (perhaps using electronic viewfinding) that uses a sensor significantly larger than 35mm (and perhaps square, which I've always loved, to boot). If it were a mirrorless body, it could be in the weight range of a D700 easily - the Mamiya 7 is exactly the same weight as a D700, and this is much smaller than 6x7. The rumors I've heard focus on a "giant rangefinder" body like the  Mamiya 6 and 7, with a sensor somewhere in the range of 48x48 mm, and a resolution between 40 and 50 mp. I'm guessing that its primary composition device would be a 4 to 5 inch version of the D3/D300/D700 screen with resolution scaled up to match - it's always running Live View because a giant rangefinder would have no mirror. I'm well aware that this would be expensive, but I'm thinking 1Ds level expensive rather than Phase level expensive (I just can't see Nikon making a $30,000 camera). If it's real, it's a game-changer for what I do. I hope the ergonomics would be something I can use. The versatility of this monster appeals to me - it's perfectly usable handheld, but if I stick it on a tripod with a tilt/shift lens on the front and throw my focusing cloth over my head, it becomes a view camera (that LCD is the size of a ground glass)! I would assume that the low-ISO image quality would at least approach 4x5 film, because everything else in high-MP medium format does (the P45+ is a 4x5 competitor of the first order).

If Nikon is going to make either of these moves(D700x or giant live-view rangefinder), I'll happily wait for them (I'd prefer Nikon over Sony on a very similar camera - although those Zeiss lenses are tempting)... If it's the big rangefinder, I'll find the money somehow (assuming it's not $20,000)! If not, though, I want to move soon before my 1DsII loses too much value... What would you do in my situation?

Is it the Sony with the Zeiss glass?
The 1DsIII for better ergonomics and a modest uprate in image quality?
Or wait to see if Mr. Nikon changes the game?

How long to wait for Nikon? I'm certainly not going to do anything before Photokina opens, because even a mockup of the MX (if it is anything like the rumors) with a "wait for me, coming this spring" sign on it makes the decision for me. If nothing shows up next week, though, I have to decide whether to wait for November (or possibly March) losing value on my present body, only to see whether Nikon's offering makes a difference. If they let me know what might be coming, I can decide if I'm interested and move to a present option if not.


                                 -dan
Logged

seangirard

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 55
Which way to go - have 1DsII, might switch
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2008, 02:51:45 pm »

I have always used two hands to operate dof preview on any camera (not that I use it much), so to me it seems that whichever side would be difficult with one hand.

Maybe another way is to to put the camera in Av mode and spin the dial to bracket aperture when selecting optimum dof is that critical (like when you move close up).

Other than that one issue the 5dII seems like a good candidate for you.
Logged

Tony Beach

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 452
    • http://imageevent.com/tonybeach/twelveimages
Which way to go - have 1DsII, might switch
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2008, 03:08:33 pm »

Quote
If Nikon is going to make either of these moves(D700x or giant live-view rangefinder), I'll happily wait for them... What would you do in my situation?
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

At the very least, wait until November because there are rumblings of something really "big" coming from Nikon -- last year that ended up being the D3 and D300, and that was pretty darned big.  If you are more patient and that Canon glass is really bothering you (I have to wonder if investing in more megapixels makes sense if you are not happy with the lenses), then I fully expect an 18-24 MP small body DSLR from Nikon next summer and probably the same sensor in a larger body will be available by this spring or even earlier.

I'm getting two things from your lengthy post.  First, it's about the lenses and Nikon delivers the goods with their tilt/shift lenses -- I just bought the 45/2.8 PCE and I can tell you that thing is amazingly sharp just like my 14-24/2.8 and 70-200/2.8 VR (they all resolve near the limits of the D300, which as you say would scale up to 27 MP on an FX sensor), and not only is the 45 PCE sharp, but it has a creamy bokeh:



The other thing I got from your post is your need to print large.  I think that megapixels are less effective when the pixels are fuzzy and that having more of them is a wasteful way to get to really detailed, large prints.  I guess what I'm suggesting is that you can get as much detail from 18 million better quality pixels as you can from 24 million poorer quality pixels, and this morning I just read a post on another forum that gets at that very point:  [a href=\"http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1021&message=29378457]http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp...essage=29378457[/url]  Having read Thom Hogan's speculations about Nikon's future offerings, I would not be surprised if they came out with an 18 MP FX DSLR; from a purely marketing standpoint that would probably not be wise, but from a photographic standpoint it might be an excellent choice (especially if you could remove the AA filter).

Quote
I have always used two hands to operate dof preview on any camera (not that I use it much), so to me it seems that whichever side would be difficult with one hand.

Maybe another way is to to put the camera in Av mode and spin the dial to bracket aperture when selecting optimum dof is that critical (like when you move close up).

Other than that one issue the 5dII seems like a good candidate for you.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=222431\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

On Nikon's latest cameras this is "no contest."  You can program any number of buttons on the D3/D300/D700 to perform the DOF preview function; in fact, I have DOF preview on my D300 set to the AE-L/AF-L button since I would otherwise not even use that button at all.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2008, 03:14:38 pm by Tony Beach »
Logged

aaykay

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 359
Which way to go - have 1DsII, might switch
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2008, 03:44:44 pm »

Quote
The new Sony Alpha 900 looks awfully attractive - I sure can't fault the lensmaker (Carl Zeiss) they chose for their high end glass, and the ergonomics look pretty good. I want to see some test shots that show the dynamic range - it's clear that it has a ton of resolution, and what isn't clear is how the DR holds up in RAW files (I simply haven't seen a test shot that stretches the DR). I also want to make sure that it doesn't have noise issues at modest ISOs (I don't care that it doesn't do great JPEGs - my dream system is a Phase that doesn't do ANY JPEGs)... Besides the image quality questions, I also don't know what I think of Sony lenses in the ranges where the glass isn't Zeiss - I'd end up with 2 Zeiss lenses, but a Sony macro and a Sony 70-400. I also love the body-integral image stabilization, because I sometimes shoot handheld  especially when I'm out with a class and squeezing my own shots in among helping students. I often get surprisingly nice stuff out of shots I took to show a student something.

There is some very good information on the Sony on the dyxum.com forum.  There are some beta testers (kiklop) too on that forum, who also shoot with Nikon Full-frame and are extremely impressed with the A900.

I understand that there are some additional wider Zeiss AF (with SSM/USM) primes that are coming up in the Alpha mount too.....one of them might very well be released during Photokina (in addition to the 16-35mm f/2.8 Vario-Sonnar Zoom).  Also, initial reports from beta testers seem to indicate mind-blowing performance, corner to corner, on Full-frame, from the Zeiss 16-35 (frankly, I would be terribly disappointed at anything less than "best of breed" from the Zeiss range).
« Last Edit: September 18, 2008, 03:46:45 pm by aaykay »
Logged

mas55101

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 77
Which way to go - have 1DsII, might switch
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2008, 04:16:17 pm »

Looks like you've gotten good info so far.  Here is further opinion:
You're right, modern Nikon is ergonomically wonderful.  I would definitely get a D700 as your keep forever DSLR.  It has reached the design level of all the best SLR film cameras and gives good prints into the 30 & 40" range, assuming lens and shutter speed are adequate.  Even when you go to a high res camera, the D700 will be good to keep.  I shoot it one handed all the time.  If you hang it on your neck, you'll have no trouble.

Lenses:  Look at Bjorn(?) at Naturgraf.  His lens tests have never failed me.  He seems to think the new Nikon 60mm macro is top of the line.  I can tell you it's extremely sharp.  It's also not a small lens.  (62mm filter)  Beyond that, the 85 1.4 is legendary.  Anyway, with these larger sensors, you'll want to stay in the upper range of focal lengths.

Phase One: Prices are dropping or have dropped on the plain P's since the P+'s have come out.  Your two best choices are P21 (18mp) and P45 (39).  That said, the cameras they go on are clunky.  I'm using my P21 on a Mamiya 645 and even with two hands, I keep it in the studio.  The prices however are well under 10,000 for a refurb.  Also, don't let the numbers fool you, the digital backs still seem to have better IQ, mainly because of wider dynamic range and full 16 bit processing.

Talk to Dave at Capture Integration.  He sells both Canon and Phase One.

Good luck.

Michael
Logged

Dan Wells

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1036
Which way to go - have 1DsII, might switch
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2008, 06:29:59 pm »

Assuming decent test shots off of the A900 (still waiting to see some low-ISO RAWs and just downloading the new ACR now to play with them), and assuming that Mr. Nikon doesn't say anything much at Photokina, I'm inclined to try and find a 700 to play with and see how I like the ergonomics, then order the 900 with the Zeiss glass if I like the handling (I imagine that, unless I'm REALLY lucky, I won't find a 900 in stock to play with - it'll be a preorder item). I'll probably order an Alpha late next week if the things I want to know go well. One thing I'm realizing is that that body IS is a huge advantage at high resolution - I probably lose more shots to shake at massive resolutions than to anything else... I find my Canon 100 macro very hard to use except on a tripod, because it's so darn hard to hold steady - it's also not the sharpest lens in my kit, even when locked down on a tripod. Even if the MX is real, I'll still probably want a nice 35mm DSLR around as well, and the lighter Alpha may well complement the MX better than the huge 1DsII...
   Of course this could change if I hear from Nikon soon (I might go for the MX first, forgoing a 35mm for a while), but the more I think about it and the more I read (thanks for the Dyxum suggestion), the more I think I like the Alpha option - it's actually less expensive than trading my mkII for a1Ds mkIII, and I'd rather have Zeiss glass and body IS than the video mode of the 5DII (with no usable DOF preview - the Alpha's appears well placed). It sounds like the D700x is a ways away, and that if anything Nikon should figure in my decision, it's the MX.

                                           -Dan
Logged

aaykay

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 359
Which way to go - have 1DsII, might switch
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2008, 06:37:06 pm »

Dan, there is an A900 available in the Manhattan Sonystyle store, where you can play with it and they will also allow you to put your own CF-card into it and take pictures.  

So you can maybe fire off a few RAW pictures and take it home and see it for yourself...assuming you can get to the store in Manhattan.  
Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up