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August 20, 2007

Comments

yukonjack

I didn't think that LiveView would be adopted by other companies so quickly. Nikon is sure to follow Olympus and Canon and their new models will almost certainly have some anti-dust measures. The 40D does seem to put the boots to the D200 but there is no sense in going out and buying the latest body if what you have now is serving you well. And few serious photographers who have invested in decent lenses are going to switch companies and spend thousands on new glass. Good lenses and ability are far more important than the camera body.

Abiola

"Nikon is sure to follow Olympus and Canon and their new models will almost certainly have some anti-dust measures."

Actually, I'd be highly surprised to see Nikon offer either live view or anti-dust capabilities in its next cameras, given the company's conservatism. Not that the anti-dust thing matters all that much (the 400D's is just a pointless gimmick), but Live view definitely has its uses.

"The 40D does seem to put the boots to the D200 but there is no sense in going out and buying the latest body if what you have now is serving you well."

Unless you want something which can serve you even better.

"And few serious photographers who have invested in decent lenses are going to switch companies and spend thousands on new glass."

Unless, say, they're starting to harbor ambitions to shoot ad campaigns for major corporations ...

"Good lenses and ability are far more important than the camera body."

A nice sentiment, but while I'm sure the average Soccer Mom/Dad won't be winning any prizes even with a 1ds Mark III in hand, no sports photographer's going to get that killer Daytona 500 or 100 meter sprint photo with a daguerreotype and a bunch of wet-plates. You're not going to get the bokeh of a 200mm f/2 lens wide open if all you have in hand is a pinhole camera, or even a point and shoot. In other words, beyond the dabbler level, yes, it often IS the camera (or the lens) rather than the photographer.

The fact is that between reasonably skilled photographers working in challenging genres equipment does matter, a great deal in fact. I myself have far too many photos in my collection which looked great in the field but fell short on closer examination, due to the pokey autofocus of the D50. See, e.g. the following shot.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/abiola/483145486/

Upgrading to the D80 has reduced such frustrations by a substantial amount, and I'm certain that a D200 successor with a more responsive and sensitive autofocus system will do so even further - enough to be worth paying quite a bit for.

Zack

You have bought a D80? I am thinking of buying that right now, as soon as I can make a decision on which lenses to get.

Abiola

The D80 is an awesome camera for the price, and I don't think you'll feel the lack of anything to it unless you're into shooting fast-moving objects (in which case the 3fps and 6 RAW/23 JPEG Fine Large buffer will prove a real issue).

The advantages the D80 offers over the D40/50/70 class are both numerous and important: pretty much all the features you're likely to change during a shoot can be accessed via external buttons, without needing to engage in menu-diving, and besides this it offers both the D200's CLS capabilities and a battery grip option which makes shooting in portrait a lot easier while making the camera feel better balanced with a big lens attached. In addition there are a whole bunch of other conveniences I find myself using on a daily basis which make me reluctant to use the D50 if I can help it. You'll see a lot of D40/x owners spouting nonsense on DPReview and elsewhere about how the D80 is hardly any better than what they've got, but don't believe a word of it!

Abelian

Great blog.

Zack

Thanks, Abiola.

I am a bit confused about which lenses to get. Do you have time to discuss your lens choices? I noticed that you have several prime lenses. Do you find it convenient to change lenses often? What are your thoughts on the Nikon superzooms?

PS. I am a longtime reader. If you would like, you can email me. Sorry for hijacking your post.

Abiola

Zack,

The lenses you should get will depend heavily on what you're trying to do. My own focus is people, particularly individuals, and for that reason my lens collection is heavily weighted towards the telephoto end, but if, say, you were more the Ansel Adams type, you'd want to be looking at wide angles.

As for lens changes, I rarely carry them out when I'm out and about, not just because of the possibility of lens dust, but also because when I head out to shoot I usually have a particular focal length in mind already, with a particular look as the goal: I can always try to take a few steps back or forward if I need to zoom.

Finally, with respect to the superzooms - by which I imagine you're talking primarily about the 18-135 and 18-200mm VR - they're not at all my thing, as I prioritize image quality and high shutter speeds over convenience, but I imagine they'd be perfect for tourists just looking to make personal records of their travels. If your goal is to make "artistic" photographs rather than snapshots, however, I think you'll find that the compromises in these lenses are too much to tolerate. If I were going to buy zooms, and neither money nor weight were issues for me to consider, I'd just get Nikon's 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, the 17-55 f/2.8 and, say, the Tokina 12-24 f/4, and be done with it. With a trio like this I'd have wide apertures between 17-200mm, and near prime (or even better than prime) quality at all focal lengths.

Of course, weight and cost *are* issues in the real world, and spending nearly $4000 on just three lenses (two of which weigh a ton) is out of the question, which is why I like primes so much. With the 85mm f/1.8 and the 180mm f/2.8 (which can be had for cheap secondhand) I get image quality to match the 70-200mm VR without feeling as if I'm missing much in coverage when I take them with me; in addition, the two of them together in my camera bag weigh a lot less than the 70-200mm VR alone would, and after a few hours of walking around my back is grateful for the weight savings (not to speak of my wallet). The only two things I sometimes miss with these two are vibration reduction and the speed of AF-S focusing, but I try to compensate by shooting in AF-C mode and hoping at least 1 of the 3-4 shots I squeeze off will be in focus.

Zack

Thanks, Abiola.

Most of my photography is either of my 3 year old or nature landscapes. Therefore I am inclined towards the 18-135mm lens. In addition I am thinking of buying the 50mm f1.8 and a Speedlight. I can always add more lenses later.

yukonjack

Nikon introduced the D300 today. A significant improvement over the D200. And as I thought it will have LiveView and anti-dust. It's a keep up with the Joneses business. It'll be $200 more than the 40D but it may well have the edge with its 51 area and 3-d matrix focusing system. Let's see how their results will compare at higher ISOs. If I didn't have so much invested in Canon lenses I'd be taking a close look at it.

Abiola

I must admit I'm shocked - pleasantly shocked, mind you - by what Nikon has announced today; I never thought the company would be willing to break with its previous conservative tendencies in such a radical manner. On paper at least the D300 looks to be everything I was hoping for* in a D200 successor and more, and if the camera is able to deliver better noise performance than the D80/200 I'll be in line to get one next year. The superbly specified AF and the 8fps with the battery pack attached makes the D300 a serious competitor with the 1D Mark III for photojournalists, wildlife photographers and sports shooters who would benefit from the higher pixel density of the D300's APS-C sensor, as it would mean greater effective reach: again, the decisive issue, as I see it, will be noise under real world testing.

*The recommended retail price excepted, that is. £1300 is almost the price of a full-frame EOS 5D, so I'll be waiting for it to come down £1-200 before making a purchase.

yukonjack

Hmmm, 1300 pounds for a D300. That's $2600 or $800 more than what it'll be selling for here. Within a short time one will be able to get it in the New York camera stores for $1500 or less. You could fund a weekend in New York and still have some cash left over.

Zack

Oh wow, that D300 sounds really great, though a bit out of my range.

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