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Author Topic: D300 user, considering switch to Canon 5DmkII  (Read 4731 times)

Aaron Burdick Photography

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« on: May 01, 2009, 02:49:54 pm »

Hi there,

I currently shoot a D300 but have been wanting to move up to full frame.  Really I want to upgrade my lenses but don't want to throw money at DX lens when I know I'll go to FF eventually.  Nikon has great quality FF glass with some minor drawbacks (14-24 - I want to be able to use filters, 70-200 - issues) including that they are all very expensive!

I mainly shoot landscapes (see my website if interested) and occasionally events.  I am very interested in the 5DmkII's 21 megapixels; as a landscape photographer I want to be able to blow my prints up to 20x30.  I also like that Canon has lots of good quality f/4 glass (I would be interested in the 17-40mm, 24-105, and 70-200 or 100-400).  HD video is also an awesome feature!

Questions:

1. How does the 5DmkII compare to Nikon D700?  What size prints does the extra MPs become realized?

2. I notice a lot of nature photographers like the Canon "colors" better.  While I think the D300 has great IQ, sometimes I have difficulty getting the same kind of milky highlights I see in Canon shooter's images.  Thoughts?

3. How good are the Canon f/4 lenses?  How do they compare to the Nikon full frame glass (e.g. 17-35, 24-70 2.8, etc.)?  Are they good enough for 21 MP?

4. Any other advantages/disadvantages to each system?  Why do you shoot the system you shoot?

Many thanks!

Aaron
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stever

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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2009, 04:12:56 pm »

for landscape prints at 20x30 i think you will be better served by using primes with the 5dii.  while the best Canon zooms (probably only the 70-200s, not the 17-40 or 100-400) are essentially as sharp as primes in most of the central area, the edges have substantially lower resolution than primes such as the 50 1.4 (stopped down to 5.6), 100 macro, 200 2.8, etc.

the 24-105, 50-200 f4, and even a good 100-400, all have noticeably better resolution on the 5dii than the 5d, but not necessarily in proportion to the additional pixels.
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NashvilleMike

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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2009, 04:22:19 pm »

I'm curious why you feel a need to upgrade immediately?

You have to think that Nikon will release a prosumer 24mp (D700x or whatever) body at some point within a year (or perhaps, within this year), so why switch over, thus having to relearn an entire system, acquire new lenses, etc, when you could wait it out?

Seriously - I see so many people switch for the wrong reasons. Just to change bodies because one of them is the latest and greatest this month doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Is your technique, tripod/ballhead, and lens collection already at the very optimum, and I do mean at or close to the very best? Are your skills in the "digital darkroom" fully maximized? If you move up to a high rez DSLR (whether Canon, Nikon, or Sony), that's going to put additional "strain" on everything else in the imaging process, certainly the lenses (where, frankly, the rather average 24-105 won't cut the mustard compared to, say a Nikkor 24-70 or 14-24 or a Canon 24 L-II) and certainly the support components and your technique.

Just buying a 21mp body only and not following up with the rest of the equation doesn't guarantee you instant success at 20x30", IMO. Just taking the time to master the new camera will eat up a few months that puts you closer to when Nikon might release something anyway. So unless you have a pressing need for a high rez body right this moment, I can't for the life of me see any reason why you don't stand pat - Nikon will come out with something, and long term it makes little sense to change systems without a business reason to do so.

There always will be some new body in some manufacturers lineup that sounds appealing and is new and fresh, but the reality is most of us haven't fully utilized the camera we now own.

-mike

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Aaron Burdick Photography

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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2009, 05:29:47 pm »

NashvilleMike - you make some good points.  It may be best for me to wait, but I am not really committed to Nikon since I have no real good full frame glass.

I read that full frame IQ is better, hence my decision to step up from a smaller sensor.  I want to invest in some good FX glass (24-70mm for starters probably) but am having trouble justifying upgrading to D700, which is the same 12MP as my D300.  I will probably wait for the D700x (or whatever they call it) and invest in lenses now.  I recently acquired a 70-180 Nikkor macro zoom that I am really liking.  I still have an 18-200mm though but I try to avoid that range due to IQ concerns.  Mainly using a Tokina 12-24mm, which gives good results but is not always that reliable.

Should I just be investing in good Nikkor glass, then, and wait for the D700x?

Now if I can find enough cash to get some Singh Ray 4x6 grads and an LB Warming Polarizer...
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NashvilleMike

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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2009, 07:02:04 pm »

Quote from: Aaron Burdick Photography
I read that full frame IQ is better, hence my decision to step up from a smaller sensor.  I want to invest in some good FX glass (24-70mm for starters probably) but am having trouble justifying upgrading to D700, which is the same 12MP as my D300.  I will probably wait for the D700x (or whatever they call it) and invest in lenses now.  I recently acquired a 70-180 Nikkor macro zoom that I am really liking.  I still have an 18-200mm though but I try to avoid that range due to IQ concerns.  Mainly using a Tokina 12-24mm, which gives good results but is not always that reliable.

Should I just be investing in good Nikkor glass, then, and wait for the D700x?

A few more thoughts...

There always is something better out there, and there always will be. The bigger question is at what point do we hop off the constant upgrade train, or, perhaps, where should we be concentrating our energy when we do upgrade, and also, if we have really maximized everything our current camera is capable of doing. My own situation is similar to yours I think - I own D2X and D300 bodies and while I considered and evaluated a D3, because I only shoot at low ISO I didn't see any advantage to the D700/D3. Of all the bodies Nikon makes, for what I do personally (which is studio and some landscape), the D3X would be the best, and the D2X would be my second choice, with the D300 and D700 or D3 coming in closely in third place (in the Nikon line). Of course if I were a wedding and event shooter where I needed a lot of middle and high ISO, my answer would be completely different. For what I do I found that building a very high quality lens collection first made more sense, and that's the approach I have taken. Bodies will come and go and there will always be a new toy that everyone in the forums will be talking about, compelling many a user to feel they need to upgrade long before they have ever maximized what the "old" camera is capable of, but excellent glass has longer staying power. Incidentally, my reason for staying Nikon personally is that in the focal length ranges I typically use, neither Canon nor Sony has what I prefer - even if I won the powerball tomorrow, I would not change brands simply because of this; however, someone else might have different focal length needs and then Canon or Sony might be the better option - it is not always so clearly stated that one is better than the other in absolute terms - depends on the ranges you need as each manufacturer has strong lenses, just not across the board.

You've picked up a very desirable lens in that 70-180 macro - I've never heard a bad thing about it. If you are happy with the Nikon ergonomics and after an honest talk with yourself feel you can wait, I really can't see why you would need to change systems. On the flip side, if you have a client situation that is demanding a higher resolution file and you need to produce this right now in order to get some much needed business, than certainly you have to make a move. And while I absolutely loathe anything Minolta ever did and in a 30 year span in photography never found their gear reliable, I'd also have to honestly suggest taking a long look at the Sony A900 since I believe their glass, particularly in the Sony/Zeiss offerings, while not offering as broad a set of choices compared to Nikon and Canon, is a step ahead of where Canon is at currently in terms of lens quality at a few popular focal length ranges.

My best "guess", not knowing every aspect of your situation, is that you wait for the D700x and slowly build a lens collection, unless you need high ISO capability today, in which case it would be worth it to pick up a D700 (and then pair it with a D700x when it comes out). In the mean time, peruse the writings of folks like Thom Hogan in the dpreview forums and at his website and you'll see he often mentions that the differences between the D3X and D3 are not always clear, dependent on the lens, subject matter, support, and so forth, and that other times it's quite clear. The more I read, the more I see that just buying the higher resolution body is only part of the overall package in terms of being able to produce larger, better prints.

Good luck with your choice and don't let the equipment rule you, rule the equipment !

-mike
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Aaron Burdick Photography

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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2009, 08:16:21 pm »

Thanks for your well thought out reply Mike!  The more I think about it, the more I'll probably just hold off for the next Nikon offering, especially since I recently got an SB-900, which is really really awesome!

The 70-180mm is a really cool lens.

Personally, the reason I would like a higher res camera is so that pictures I take today can be made into large prints in the future as my print volume dictates.  I've just started selling my prints and showing my photography so right now my D300 is fine, but if I find wonderful lighting I don't want to be limited in the future on how I can display that photograph.  What do you think the limit is for a 12mp landscape image?  16x24?


My other question: how come almost all my favorite landscape photographers shoot Canon rather than Nikon?  Is it in the image color/quality or for some other reason?  I was having trouble getting good color from my D300 RAW files and Lightroom until the DNG profiles came along (now I typically use Adobe Standard or Camera Standard as a base for editing - ACR 4.4 sucks!).
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NashvilleMike

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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2009, 10:42:43 pm »

Quote from: Aaron Burdick Photography
Personally, the reason I would like a higher res camera is so that pictures I take today can be made into large prints in the future as my print volume dictates.  I've just started selling my prints and showing my photography so right now my D300 is fine, but if I find wonderful lighting I don't want to be limited in the future on how I can display that photograph.  What do you think the limit is for a 12mp landscape image?  16x24?

My other question: how come almost all my favorite landscape photographers shoot Canon rather than Nikon?  Is it in the image color/quality or for some other reason?  I was having trouble getting good color from my D300 RAW files and Lightroom until the DNG profiles came along (now I typically use Adobe Standard or Camera Standard as a base for editing - ACR 4.4 sucks!).

1) That's a hard question and entirely subject matter dependent. Personally, being that I've shot 4x5 as well as MF in a prior life (lol), I'd say on an average subject of landscape that 16x20" is nearing the breaking point for *me*. If the scene has a lot of fine detail, that's about the limit, if it's not a field of fine detail, you could go larger. But that's *me* - this question is always asked and you'll get tons of different answers and none of them is really wrong. A guy who posts gorgeous landscapes in the dpreview forums, Roman Johnston (hope I'm spelling that right) has gone quite a bit larger with some nice images from his home state of Oregon, and shoots with a D300. Leping Zha, who posts in these forums, is extremely detail/resolution oriented and might have the opinion that 11x14" is it (just guessing - maybe he'll pop in with his thoughts). Might just be that both of these guys are right. Viewing distance to the print, and quite importantly, the quality of your post processing technique (and choice of raw converter - see below) make a difference when you get to 16x and beyond.

Even more importantly: I've never seen a really well done shot (artistically) get panned because it wasn't shot on a 60mp digital back. Go to the late Galen Rowells moutainlight gallery in Bishop, CA on your way to Yosemite some time and this point will be hammered home. Doing 40x60" from 35mm chrome is way beyond what the 35mm chrome stock is really capable of from a purely technical standpoint - there's grain, the print isn't tack sharp from close viewing distance and so on. But when you look at his LARGE print of the horses running in front of the mountains in Patagonia, trust me, you won't be giving a rats ass about the technical stuff. Sure - it would have been great if he could have hauled an 8x10 Deardorff up there, but the reality is, he couldn't. And he got shots that while maybe not up to perfect 30x40" print standards technically, artistically they smoke most of the stuff we do these days - so the mantra of location, location, location and the importance of artistry is not to be forgotten.

2) Until the D3X, Canon was the sole player in the higher megapixel FF club - hence, you see a lot of nature/landscape shooters shooting Canon. Funny thing is, a lot of the guys I like (Pete Turner, Jay Maisel, Frans Lanting) are Nikon shooters, and some are Canon shooters (Art Wolfe). Some of the best guys (David Muench) shoot primarily large format film. As for color quality - color is highly personal and frankly highly adjustable. Particularly in your D300, it's capable of producing anything from horrendous color and tone to gorgeous color and tone; the key is learning the camera and how to set it. In terms of raw conversion, I belong to the school of opinions who feel that none of the Adobe products are the optimum raw conversion for Nikon files, although I will totally say that the ACR/Lightroom with the DNG  profiles went a LONG way in terms of getting the color right. I'd suggest Capture NX2, even though it's frankly a poorly written, buggy, annoying application, and Capture One, which I think is very good but way over priced. In my testing, both are superior raw conversion products for Nikon files compared to ACR/Lightroom. (Note: I have  nothing against Adobe - have been using their products since '98, but I'm just not sold on their raw conversion efforts). However, raw conversion choices are like religion and everyone gets real defensive about their favorite. I'd strongly suggest you experiment (using trial versions) and see which works best for YOU - ask a room full of photographers which raw conversion is best and anymore a fist fight is likely to break out!

-mike
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neil74

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« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2009, 07:03:48 am »

Wedding work is my main bag so I buy my equipment with weddings in mind and then use them for Landscapes.

I have a number of D700's and one D300.  I do not like to take my main wedding bodies into the field so I use the D300 for landscapes usually with the 16-85. The 16-85 is a lens I would not even take to a wedding but it works well with the D300 and makes a very nice combination.  If 12mp was enough on the 5D (which I used to own before I switched back to Nikon) then it is enough on the D300.

If I was gearing up purely for landscapes the A900 is hard to ignore but I'd guess we will see a D700x at some stage this year.  Then I'll have to consider whether I want to risk my Nikon 24-70 on it out in the field

Oh and I'd agree that Adobe RAW (LR or PS) are not the best for Nikon files.  I love the Lightroom workflow but I have been playing with the Capture one pro trial and the image quality is noticeably better.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2009, 07:08:05 am by neil74 »
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Geoff Wittig

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« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2009, 09:28:53 am »

Quote from: Aaron Burdick Photography
What do you think the limit is for a 12mp landscape image?  16x24?


My other question: how come almost all my favorite landscape photographers shoot Canon rather than Nikon?  Is it in the image color/quality or for some other reason?  I was having trouble getting good color from my D300 RAW files and Lightroom until the DNG profiles came along (now I typically use Adobe Standard or Camera Standard as a base for editing - ACR 4.4 sucks!).

1) I've taken some shots with the original Canon Eos-1Ds at 11 megapixels that still look really good printed at 24x36". I can't get away with such a huge enlargement for images with lots of distant fine detail, but it's amazing what you can accomplish with very good technique (rather than more megapixels).

2) I think Canon's (rapidly diminishing!) dominance of landscape photography was an artifact of the 1Ds and its remarkable image quality plus full frame access to legacy lenses when it came out...what is it now, six or seven years ago? There was nothing remotely competitive available at the time from Nikon, and Kodak's tragically flawed 14n never really made it out of the gate. Nowadays it's clear that the Nikon D3x exceeds the best Canon makes in low ISO image quality, and Nikon's wide zooms are also superior; so it probably makes sense for you to sit tight and build on your Nikon system.
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Tony Beach

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« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2009, 03:01:11 am »

Quote from: Aaron Burdick Photography
Nikon has great quality FF glass with some minor drawbacks (14-24 - I want to be able to use filters, 70-200 - issues) including that they are all very expensive!

Show me a 14mm lens that works on FX or 135 format and takes filters.  While you're at it, show me one that's as good as the 14-24.  If necessary, I'll settle for two lenses (one for image quality, the other for taking a filter); then we can discuss the cost.

FWIW, I also have a D300, and I'm also waiting for an affordable, high resolution FX DSLR (a "D700x").  I've collected the lenses, and as you say, that has been expensive; now I'm saving up the money for the body, which I expect I'll have well before it arrives (probably this November).  In the meantime, I am getting lots of high resolution images with my T/S lenses, pano-head, and Autopano software -- files large enough to thoroughly choke my computer.  When the "D700x" does eventually arrive, I will enjoy using the lenses I've collected for it; if it had arrived last fall I would be saving up for some of the lenses instead of for the camera, and in retrospect I figure it is better to have the lenses and a D300 than a "D700x" and not have the lenses.
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EdRosch

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« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2009, 09:17:59 am »

Quote from: Aaron Burdick Photography
..................
I mainly shoot landscapes (see my website if interested) and occasionally events.  I am very interested in the 5DmkII's 21 megapixels; as a landscape photographer I want to be able to blow my prints up to 20x30. ..........
Aaron


I did go to your site.  Very good work indeed and I can see why you'd wish to be able to make gallery size ( 20 x 30) prints.  With that in mind, I'd like to suggest that you need to be thinking more broadly and consider the entire system from the camera body to the final matted and framed print.  It sounds like you don't have an endless fount of money to draw from and need to really consider how you're going to make investments in your photography to get the most 'bang for the buck'.  With that in mind, I'd like to suggest the following areas for your consideration:

1)  Your education as a photographer and printer.  I would suspect that your D300 is capable of a lot more quality than you're currently getting from it in terms of the final prints.  I know for a fact that it, and even cameras that most would consider 'inferior' to it, are well able to create 'knock your socks off' 20x30's as I've seen them.  The effort involved in learning to make dynamite images and great prints from your existing equipment will stand you in good stead when you finally do upgrade as well as being a lot of fun.  For starters,  Michael and Jeff's "From Camera to Print" download is well worth the rather modest cost.  I would tend to avoid expensive workshops from famous photographers- they tend to be like drinking from a firehose.  Buy the books and set aside several hours a week to study them.  Most important, find knowledgeable people that you respect who would be willing to honestly critique your work.

2)  Where are these 20x30 prints going to come from?  Who is going to do the framing and matting?  No matter what, there will be costs involved.  If you plan to outsource you'll be truly shocked at how far a grand doesn't go when making gallery prints.   You need to have a consistent,  reliable, high quality way to create your final output.  Which leads to...

3) Color management.  There is no escape.  I'd suggest Andrew Rodney's book for a start and you will need to get a decent monitor that will hold calibration.  My NEC monitor, while costing as much as a Canon L lens was worth every penny and of the various investments in my photography I've made over the last several years is the one I would not care to do without.

Just a few things, but my sense is you've got considerable growth potential left in your camera gear and would benefit from serious reflection about where exactly you think you're going and what's the entire package you'll need to get there.  T

Ed

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MichaelAlanBielat

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« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2009, 09:59:11 am »

This may be one of those up in the air answers but hopefully it may help...

I was a digital Nikon shooter (with a D100 and D200 when released) from 2001 up to 2005. I had an array of the cheaper kit glass and a 50mm f/1.4 lens. I was frustrated more with the lack of Nikon product supply from all dealers and online stores and decided that Canon may be a better bet when my business is concerned... If I needed a backup asap then I could ensure that Canon would be in stock. I also wanted to give CMOS sensors a try because all Nikon bodies (except their flagship at the time) had CCD sensors...

So I switched to Canon when I started my business in 2006 and owned, 20Ds, 30Ds and then got into the full frame lineup with the original 5D in 2007 and even a Mark III in 2008... I purchased their top end glass, 16-35mm f/2.8 II, 24-70 f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 IS and some primes like the 50mm f/1.4 and the 85mm f/1.8 and really dropped a lot of coin into my equipment for a change...

My experiences were not so hot... Issues issues issues. I went through three soft copies of the 16-35mm, the 24-70mm was soft at certain focal lengths, my AF crapped out on my Mark III body after approx. 15,000 clicks, my AF died on my 85mm f/1.8 prime and my 580EX flash cracked off at the hot shoe. This isn't from me crowd surfing with my equipment or scaling small buildings either... these issues were from just normal usage...

I really think that Canon shooters should go with prime lenses over their zooms. My 70-200mm was a very sharp lens so it got used the most with my 5D... If you get the 5D mark II then you can fix any front/back focusing with the microadjustment setting with those primes to make them even sharper if need be.

I had enough and moved back to Nikon with the D700 and I can say that the zoom lineup of their is VERY sharp! I have the 14-24mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm and they are absolutely stellar out of the box.

The resolution of the 5D Mark II is really nice, especially for landscape or things that will blow up to big prints...

If you are just getting into selling your prints, you could always stick with Nikon and invest in more of their higher end lenses and get their full frame D700 body for smaller sub 16x20" prints and sell those until you get enough $$$ from sales because making money is much more rewarding than losing it from a business perspective (surely that is opposite from a photographer's NAS perspective on things). You can always up rez your images from a 12mp camera and get those 20x30" prints you are looking for.



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DonWeston

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« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2009, 11:11:59 am »

Having similar experiences to MAB, I also gave up on Canon and switched back to Nikon awhile back. 12mp cameras are 12mp cameras. One is not going to give you much over another. At this point I too will wait for a D700X. At which point my D300 maybe superfluous, in that with 24Mp, if that is what it has, D700X images will be cropable in half to achieve what the D300 does natively, albeit with whatever advantages come through at that point. I often note that large prints from the D300 may look more detailed than the D700, and this I have concluded is DUE to smaller pixels, but could be wrong, and it might be that the DX lenses I own are sharper then the FF lenses I currently own..fwiw...jmho. Don
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Aaron Burdick Photography

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« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2009, 12:56:29 pm »

Quote from: EdRosch
I did go to your site.  Very good work indeed and I can see why you'd wish to be able to make gallery size ( 20 x 30) prints.  With that in mind, I'd like to suggest that you need to be thinking more broadly and consider the entire system from the camera body to the final matted and framed print.  It sounds like you don't have an endless fount of money to draw from and need to really consider how you're going to make investments in your photography to get the most 'bang for the buck'.  With that in mind, I'd like to suggest the following areas for your consideration:

1)  Your education as a photographer and printer.  I would suspect that your D300 is capable of a lot more quality than you're currently getting from it in terms of the final prints.  I know for a fact that it, and even cameras that most would consider 'inferior' to it, are well able to create 'knock your socks off' 20x30's as I've seen them.  The effort involved in learning to make dynamite images and great prints from your existing equipment will stand you in good stead when you finally do upgrade as well as being a lot of fun.  For starters,  Michael and Jeff's "From Camera to Print" download is well worth the rather modest cost.  I would tend to avoid expensive workshops from famous photographers- they tend to be like drinking from a firehose.  Buy the books and set aside several hours a week to study them.  Most important, find knowledgeable people that you respect who would be willing to honestly critique your work.

2)  Where are these 20x30 prints going to come from?  Who is going to do the framing and matting?  No matter what, there will be costs involved.  If you plan to outsource you'll be truly shocked at how far a grand doesn't go when making gallery prints.   You need to have a consistent,  reliable, high quality way to create your final output.  Which leads to...

3) Color management.  There is no escape.  I'd suggest Andrew Rodney's book for a start and you will need to get a decent monitor that will hold calibration.  My NEC monitor, while costing as much as a Canon L lens was worth every penny and of the various investments in my photography I've made over the last several years is the one I would not care to do without.

Just a few things, but my sense is you've got considerable growth potential left in your camera gear and would benefit from serious reflection about where exactly you think you're going and what's the entire package you'll need to get there.  T

Ed


Ed,

Thanks for checking out my work and your kind words.  Your suggestions I think are all quite helpful to me (and all photographers).

1. I should try making a 20x30 from my D300, I have actually not yet tried that.  I'll also check out Mike's "Camera to Print" tutorial.  I have the Lightroom tutorial which is excellent.  Lightroom is great but I have since started using Capture One for certain images where Lightroom doesn't cut it.

2. Where do you order large prints from?  I was using A&I is Hollywood, CA because they were close and supposedly "pro" but last time they screwed up a $300 order and didn't return my phone calls so I don't really want to support them anymore.  Do you use a mail order place or larger prints?

3. I have been calibrating my monitor but it is a cheaper viewsonic.  Considering upgrading soon.  Recommendations?  Which NEC do you have?  Should I go for one with a larger gamut (i.e. closer to full AdobeRGB)?

Thanks!

Aaron

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Aaron Burdick Photography

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« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2009, 01:23:51 pm »

Quote from: NashvilleMike
Even more importantly: I've never seen a really well done shot (artistically) get panned because it wasn't shot on a 60mp digital back. Go to the late Galen Rowells moutainlight gallery in Bishop, CA on your way to Yosemite some time and this point will be hammered home. Doing 40x60" from 35mm chrome is way beyond what the 35mm chrome stock is really capable of from a purely technical standpoint - there's grain, the print isn't tack sharp from close viewing distance and so on. But when you look at his LARGE print of the horses running in front of the mountains in Patagonia, trust me, you won't be giving a rats ass about the technical stuff.

I'd suggest Capture NX2, even though it's frankly a poorly written, buggy, annoying application, and Capture One, which I think is very good but way over priced. In my testing, both are superior raw conversion products for Nikon files compared to ACR/Lightroom. (Note: I have  nothing against Adobe - have been using their products since '98, but I'm just not sold on their raw conversion efforts).

Mike,

I have downloaded the trial of Capture One and have been quite impressed so far with the results.  Its saturation looks more natural and colors look better overall than Lightroom, not to mention the increased details at 100%.  I'll probably buy it after my trial is over.

I have been to Galen Rowell's gallery in Bishop, CA.  He is one of my favorite photographers and his prints in his gallery are simply stunning.  Anyone who hasn't been here needs to check it out!  Go in October to photograph the fall colors in Bishop Creek Canyon.
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EdRosch

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D300 user, considering switch to Canon 5DmkII
« Reply #15 on: May 05, 2009, 01:44:57 pm »

Quote from: Aaron Burdick Photography
Ed,

Thanks for checking out my work and your kind words.  Your suggestions I think are all quite helpful to me (and all photographers).

1. I should try making a 20x30 from my D300, I have actually not yet tried that.  I'll also check out Mike's "Camera to Print" tutorial.  I have the Lightroom tutorial which is excellent.  Lightroom is great but I have since started using Capture One for certain images where Lightroom doesn't cut it.

2. Where do you order large prints from?  I was using A&I is Hollywood, CA because they were close and supposedly "pro" but last time they screwed up a $300 order and didn't return my phone calls so I don't really want to support them anymore.  Do you use a mail order place or larger prints?

3. I have been calibrating my monitor but it is a cheaper viewsonic.  Considering upgrading soon.  Recommendations?  Which NEC do you have?  Should I go for one with a larger gamut (i.e. closer to full AdobeRGB)?

Thanks!

Aaron

Hi Aaron,

My own conclusion is that if I wish the best quality prints,  I need to print them myself.  I recently purchased a 3800 as an intermediate step, as the 7900 is a big jump up in costs.  The quality is excellent, and with the rebate at the time the printer only cost about $900, which when you factor in the $450 worth of ink is a real deal on a professional quality printer.  Frankly, and sadly, I don't think that any lab around is able to print at the quality I can do myself once I've built up my skills.  High quality printing is it's own artform and well worth pursuing.  There is simply no substitute for thoughtfully running a lot of ink and paper if you wish the best possible prints.  I typically print 2-5  8.5x11's before making a big print, and often print several large ones before I'm happy.  Very difficult to do with a lab.  The difference between a 'good' print and a great one is in that fine tuning.

I had a good Viewsonic.  The problem was that it didn't hold calibration all that well and worse..... when you move your head slightly, the color shifted which for precise work was unacceptable.  I 'bit the bullet' and purchased the NEC 2690 with the Spectraview calibration system.  As I said, probably the single best thing I did in terms of improving my output.  Without a high quality monitor, attempting to get your prints predictable and consistent was akin to attempting to cook by adding spices and ingredients without ever tasting the result.  

Ed
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NashvilleMike

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D300 user, considering switch to Canon 5DmkII
« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2009, 07:08:12 pm »

Hey Aaron,

A few last comments:

1) Good to hear you're exploring other raw converters.

2) I echo the other replies in terms of the benefits of a proper monitor - moving up from prosumer stuff to the NEC was huge - monitors are one place where you can really see the difference and I firmly believe it's worth saving up to get one of the really good ones.

3) Lab wise, I print my own work on an Epson 3800 and haven't used a lab in years, but it can only go up to 17x22", which is a bit short for what you want. In the past I've used Chromatics here in Nashville, Ivey-Seright (perhaps now called Ivey imaging?) in Seattle, and have always heard good things about Duggal in NYC. There's a good place in CA too - West Coast Imaging, I think, that has a good reputation. The importance of a properly color managed workflow is key here of course.

Have fun!

-mike

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ErikKaffehr

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D300 user, considering switch to Canon 5DmkII
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2009, 01:16:27 am »

Hi!

I'd guess that some of the reputation Sony/Zeiss glass has may be undeserved and that there is a lot of Canon bashing which may also not be deserved. Regarding wide angles Nikon seems to have a winner with the 14-24/2.8 which seems to be excellent. I happen to have a Sony Alpha 900 with the Zeiss labeled 24-70/2.8 and the 70-300/4.5-5.6 as my main lenses. I like the the 24-70/2.8 but it's no way perfect. (I also have a Sigma 12-24/4.5-5.6, Minolta 20/2.8, Konica-Minolta 28-75/2.8 (a good lens based on Tamron design), Minolta 80-200/2.8, Minolta 400/4.5 (with extenders) and a Minolta 100/2.8 macro.

Test and sample shots are here (these are full res JPEGS, check original size):

http://www.pbase.com/ekr/a900_test

My input may be that:

- With good lenses APS-C should be good enough for A2-prints.
- I don't think that going from 12 MPixel APS-C to 12 MPixel FF will improve sharpness or print size greatly.
- Lenses matter and your mileage may vary
- The main advantage of the D700 over the D300 is probably high ISO. The D700 is probably the best affordable option if you need high ISO.
- Nikon will sooner or later arrive with something like a D700X and Canon will have a 3D announced before the D700x hits the shelfs. The present 5DII seems to be built so it will not compete with the 1DsIII. My guess is that Canon has a 3D on the shelf with fast autofocus, weather proffing and so on...
- A 20+ MPixel full frame camera makes quite stiff demands on both photographer and lenses, presuming that you really want all those pixels sharp.


All that said, I love my Alpha 900 and those 24 MPixels...

Best regards
Erik

Quote from: NashvilleMike
A few more thoughts...

There always is something better out there, and there always will be. The bigger question is at what point do we hop off the constant upgrade train, or, perhaps, where should we be concentrating our energy when we do upgrade, and also, if we have really maximized everything our current camera is capable of doing. My own situation is similar to yours I think - I own D2X and D300 bodies and while I considered and evaluated a D3, because I only shoot at low ISO I didn't see any advantage to the D700/D3. Of all the bodies Nikon makes, for what I do personally (which is studio and some landscape), the D3X would be the best, and the D2X would be my second choice, with the D300 and D700 or D3 coming in closely in third place (in the Nikon line). Of course if I were a wedding and event shooter where I needed a lot of middle and high ISO, my answer would be completely different. For what I do I found that building a very high quality lens collection first made more sense, and that's the approach I have taken. Bodies will come and go and there will always be a new toy that everyone in the forums will be talking about, compelling many a user to feel they need to upgrade long before they have ever maximized what the "old" camera is capable of, but excellent glass has longer staying power. Incidentally, my reason for staying Nikon personally is that in the focal length ranges I typically use, neither Canon nor Sony has what I prefer - even if I won the powerball tomorrow, I would not change brands simply because of this; however, someone else might have different focal length needs and then Canon or Sony might be the better option - it is not always so clearly stated that one is better than the other in absolute terms - depends on the ranges you need as each manufacturer has strong lenses, just not across the board.

You've picked up a very desirable lens in that 70-180 macro - I've never heard a bad thing about it. If you are happy with the Nikon ergonomics and after an honest talk with yourself feel you can wait, I really can't see why you would need to change systems. On the flip side, if you have a client situation that is demanding a higher resolution file and you need to produce this right now in order to get some much needed business, than certainly you have to make a move. And while I absolutely loathe anything Minolta ever did and in a 30 year span in photography never found their gear reliable, I'd also have to honestly suggest taking a long look at the Sony A900 since I believe their glass, particularly in the Sony/Zeiss offerings, while not offering as broad a set of choices compared to Nikon and Canon, is a step ahead of where Canon is at currently in terms of lens quality at a few popular focal length ranges.

My best "guess", not knowing every aspect of your situation, is that you wait for the D700x and slowly build a lens collection, unless you need high ISO capability today, in which case it would be worth it to pick up a D700 (and then pair it with a D700x when it comes out). In the mean time, peruse the writings of folks like Thom Hogan in the dpreview forums and at his website and you'll see he often mentions that the differences between the D3X and D3 are not always clear, dependent on the lens, subject matter, support, and so forth, and that other times it's quite clear. The more I read, the more I see that just buying the higher resolution body is only part of the overall package in terms of being able to produce larger, better prints.

Good luck with your choice and don't let the equipment rule you, rule the equipment !

-mike
« Last Edit: May 06, 2009, 01:25:49 am by ErikKaffehr »
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Erik Kaffehr
 
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