Monday, December 19, 2005

Which camera do I get rid of now?

I'm not sure people understand my question. I have an S2, an S3, a D-70, and may have just acquired a D2x. Which ones should I keep?Henry F. Smith Http://

I saw that question on dPreview's estimable Fuji SLR Talk, and thought,hmmm...I'm in almost the same boat.
I have a 20D instead of an S3,since in February of 2005,instead of $2499 for the Fuji S3, I spent $2,531 to buy an EOS 20D body and accessory grip, a 50mm 1.8 EF, a used 100mm 2.8 EF USM Macro and a Sigma 18-125 walkabout lens, for $2,531. But I still have my S2, still have my D70, and have the D2x. So....which camera to get rid of?
Since Mr. Smith is a landscape shooter, I would say, ditch the D70,for sure, unless you need a camera that shoots very small,compressed RAW files to the tune of 5 megabytes per frame. The D70 is a master of file size economy in its always-compressed NEF capture mode. On a weekend getaway, one can shoot the D70 in RAW mode and be assured of the maximum of post-production WB correction, as well as the best moire-resistance, and just,well the wonderful way Nikon NEF images can be adjusted in Nikon Capture. With Capture, your original NEF file is never actually modified; only the CHANGES you make to it are recorded, and ride with the file as it is modified. S2 JPEGS in 12MP mode are larger than other cameras,and the D70's compressed NEFs are smaller in size than the S2 or S3's beefy SuperCCD JPEG files.D70 raw files are smaller than S2 or S3 JPEGs for approximately comparable resolution. But, for workability, the Fuji RAW images are superior to D70 NEF images,usually. Color-wise, the Fuji cameras S2 and S3 have more-pleasing color in daylight than D70 images do. It's hard to define actually, but for some subjects Fuji's S2 and S3 cameras have an overall "look" that's very pleasing,very compelling,and very "Fuji".
Not knocking the D70, but for a fellow who owns an S2, a D70, an S3, and a D2x, clearly I think the camera to move along would be the D70,particularly if the owner is an experienced landscape shooter...the D70's forte is speed of handling, small and economical files, and flash photography,and particularly bright-sunlight fill-flash; the D70 and SB800 allows very flexible,good flash performance, and Nikon has figured out a pretty pleasing way to balance ambient and flash with the D70 and SB800 combo. High synch speed of 1/500 second minimizes the chance of double exposure "ghosting" when shooting fill flash in bright sunlight with rapidly-moving people (kids,sports fill-flash,etc.), or fast-moving macro subjects like butterflies in the bright,summertime months when flash + a macro lens equals great pictures--it is THEN that the D70 is vastly superior to a camera which syncs flash at 1/125 or 1/180 second. Despite ISO 200 as its lowest ISO setting, the D70's 1/500 flash synch speed makes it a very useful tool for shooting synchro-sunlight flash.There is NO substitute for raw,actual shutter speed when subjects are in fast motion under bright ambient light levels and you wish to shoot flash to provide fill-in lighting.What is truly a tragedy is when people shoot flash in daylight at 1/125 or 1/180 X-and then find that they have an AMBIENT LIGHT GHOST image,plus a flash image--this is a crushing image flaw when it occurs,and it occurs all too often at 1/125 second,but almost never at 1/500. ISO-speed "equivalence" arguments about how a camera that goes to ISO 100 and 1/250 X-synch is "equivalent" to 1/500 at ISO 200 are missing the absolute,simple fact that at 1/125 in bright sunshine, it is easy to accidentally get a ghost image at 1/125 second; it is less-likely to get blurring at 1/250; and at 1/500 second, the shutter speed itself is fast enough to stop "MOST" motion in the daylight part of the synchro-sunlight exposure equation. ONE-burst flash photography in bright sunlight is safer at 1/500 second by FAR, than it is when there's a 1/125 or 1/180 second ambient exposure being made in concert with the flash pop.High-Speed or repeating,strobospcopic-like High Speed Flash protocols actually render fast action in sunlight with a lot of blurring,at times. Suffice it to say, the D70 is a better synchro-sunlight machine for some tasks than the D2x is,and certainly far,far better in sunlight than the Fuji S2 is. AND, 1/500 second in daylight is a motion-stopping speed. 1/125 second in daylight will record blurring is ambient makes up a lot of the exposure. Most people don't understand the nuances of speed and ISO and absolute shutter speed and motion stopping WRT to flash used as fill-in, but quite a few people do. It's hard to decribe all the ramifications of why a 1/500 second, non FP-flash camera holds benefits when using flash in bright lighting. Most people are kind of baffled by the way there are two exposures,combined, when flash+ ambient light is mixed.
The bottom line is that Nikon's i-TTL flash protocol is in Nikon digital SLRs and in Nikon electronic flash units. Other cameras are using older prtocols,and Nikon has moved into the era of the multi-unit, remote flash era with the i-TTL protocol and the Creative Lighting System.Nikon is in total control of the Creative Lighting System's development and implementation.
For the landscape photographer, I cannot really see keeping the D70 in a lineup that includes a D2x, or a 20D, or an S2 AND an S3. In SMith's case, ditching the D70 makes sense. Keeping the S3 makes sense. Either keeping,or selling the S2 makes sense. But the D70's gotta' go.
It is indicative of the current state of camera development that there are an ever-increasing number of dedicated,serious practitioners of photography who have bought three,or four,or even five D-SLR's over the past two to three years, and now the time has come to winnow out the less-needed cameras. It's always a personal decision to let a piece of equipment go. Sometimes,logic and reasoning make no sense. But I do see a lot of D70's being let go. I like what my S2 gives me over the D70. I'd rather have what an S2 gives me than what a D70 gives me. Others may prefer the flash capabilities and flash consistency that the D70 can deliver. To each his own.
There are niche areas where one,specific camera has a real edge over most competing models. Software features, file handling characteristics,end use of photographs,quantity of photographs,ease of capturing photographs,color reproduction accuracy, color reproduction acceptance by the client,and overall "look" of the files as they are created--all these things are part of what separates the various D-SLR cameras from one another.Some D-SLRs seem to generate files which are so large that they tax the entire image capturing,post,and archiving solutions we have today; it IS POSSIBLE to have too large of a file size for some uses.D2x uncompressed NEFs are around 20 megabytes per image on CF, on hard drives,on archive discs.Ouch! I shoot compressed NEFs, almost halving that storage requirement for my 12.2 MP captures.
How large is the JPEG size? That is where the Fuji cameras have a pretty big storage penalty,compared with Canon and Nikon models. Although,to be fair, very high-detail scenes shot in JPEG Fine/Maximum Quality mode with the D2x can be 10 megabytes! Almost as large as a RAW file! The S2's in-camera 12MP JPEGs are an easy 4.5 to 5 megabytes per image shot Org-Org-Off. A comparably-detailed Canon or Nikon 6- or 8.2 MP JPEG can be 1.9 to 2.8 megabytes,and have pretty much a very,very similar amount of information, but at half the file size of the Fuji file.In RAW mode, the Fuji cameras S2 and S3 have 12.5 megabyte 12-bit RAW files (standard DR raw you might say), while the S3 has huge 24.5 megabyte WIDE-Dynamic Range RAWs, or 14-bit RAW files as some put it, with the added highlight DR response of the SR sensor in the S3. Basically, D2x 12.2 MP RAW captures and Fuji Wide-DR RAW capturing is a 20- to 24.5 megabyte affair,per shot. Overkill in many cases I think.
I guess the real heart of the matter is that the D2x is THE Nikon camera one wants to be shooting at ISOs of 640 and under. Using a D2H or Hs or 1x or D70 or D100 doesn't bring a lot of advantage to the photographer or to the files until the ISO's get elevated to 800.At which point, the S3 or EOS 20D and 5D start to make real sense as competition for the D2x. The D2x's full-field 12.4 MP image is overkill for a number of uses,and much glass cannot make full use of 12.4 MP worth of sensor. Canon's aim at 8-8.2 MP worth of data in three distinctly different lines of cameras (the 8.0 or 8 mp second gen D-Rebel/ and 8.2 MP 20D and the 8.2 1D Mark II-series' two iterations) hits a very,very sweet spot with good compromises between file size,amount of captured data in terms of CF/storage/CPU processing needs,and lens performance. Stated another way, 6 megapixels might not be enough, but eight is enough,and 12 might be too many MP. Nikon's new 10.2 player sounds like a nice capture size too!
Yuppers, there's folks now who need to thin out their D-SLR stables.It's kind of a hard thing to do.The way I look at it, they're hardly worth selling..they make better shooters than they make as items for sale.
The most annoying part of it all is how beautiful Fuji images look,but what low-end bodies we've been forced to use to get Fuji imager technologies, and how many times the autofocus fails to get a good lock, or how long it takes to write bloated files out to CF media,and so on.I'm praying that 2006 sees the announcement of a Fuji S4. I expect an EOS 20D successor announcement within just a few months from Canon. And I expect legions of D70s to flood the used market very soon.

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