This post is going to be a little different than the norm. I don’t typically post about gear (although I might start doing more of it in the future) but after the last few weeks of experimenting with both the Canon 5d Mark III and Nikon D800 I felt that it might be a good topic to talk about. Before I go any further I want to make clear that this isn’t a technical comparison between the two cameras. This isn’t a side-by-side image comparison. In fact, I wouldn’t really even consider this a review at all. This is more about my experience over the past few weeks and the decision I made based on my photography and how I shoot. I don’t expect this post to make anyone go out and buy one or the other but I do think it may help people realize that in the end you have to determine what camera works best for you. Not what camera works best for Annie Leibovitz or your friend or anyone. It all comes down to what works best for you! I hate having to mention all of this but I know how heated Nikon vs Canon debates can be!
A quick backstory on my camera progression. I started shooting a few years ago with a Nikon D60. It was a great camera but after a few months I had outgrown it and decided to pick up a Nikon D300. I spent about a year working with that camera and really loved it but I started picking up some commercial jobs and didn’t feel like it was the best fit for the job. This was back in 2010 when the rumblings of a D800 were about and I thought about waiting (I did for a few months) but ended up realizing that I could be waiting for a very long time (little did I know it would be a VERY long time!). I decided to switch over to Canon and pick up the 5d Mark II. It’s a great camera and the resolution jump was exactly what I needed for some of my upcoming projects. Of course there were some quirks and some things that I missed about Nikon but overall I was extremely happy with my decision.
Two weeks ago I finally felt like I made up my mind to go with the Canon 5d Mark III. I’ll admit that part of that decision was made by the fact that I just didn’t want to go through the hassel of selling off all of my Canon gear to go back to Nikon. After playing around with the 5d3 for a day I was super happy with my decision. The focus was so much better than the 5d2 and it just felt so much better in my hands. But, I hadn’t put it through a proper test so I took it with me on a job that weekend. It performed great but it wasn’t my typical job and that’s when I started questioning my decision. The following weekend I used it again on the same project and that’s when I was convinced I had made the wrong choice. The big benefits that the 5d3 has going for it is the Autofocus and High ISO capabilities. It worked great for the job that I was working on but for the most part I’m in a studio setting at ISO 100… So now I started realizing that I had paid about $1000 more for the 5d3 than I did for the 5d2 and really the only advancement I was taking advantage of was the better body style. Not really worth it in my mind. At the same time I had a shopping cart ready to pull the trigger on a Canon 24-70mm F/2.8L II but I started to think again about how the upgrades didn’t seem to warent such a high price increase. Although the 24-70mm is the main lens I use, it still didn’t seem worth the price tag to me.
While all of this was going on I still was thinking about the Nikon D800 and how I felt like it just fit my photography style better. It’s a prime camera for studio work and landscapes and that’s pretty much what my whole portfolio is composed of. I’ve begun to build up a lifestyle section that my not be best suited for this camera but at this point in time I’m not making any money off that work so I didn’t let that influence my decision. I also knew in the back of my mind that Nikon has a bunch of great High ISO cameras that would work great as a backup and for these situations. The two things that I kept coming back to about the Nikon was the 36mp for commercial work but honestly the thing that intrigued me more was the dynamic range. Dynamic range definitely plays a huge role in my photography and it’s something that I think is going to really help me out in all of my photography.
On Monday I headed to the local camera store and exchanged my 5d3 for my D800 and I’m completely happy with my decision. Now with all of this said I still haven’t taken the D800 out for an official shoot yet so maybe I’ll end up hating it and switch back to Canon! Sorry, that was a bad joke! All along I had this feeling that I was settling with the 5d3 and that’s the last thing that I wanted to do. I really didn’t want to make a decision based on it being easier to go with the 5d3 because I knew it’s something that I would regret down the road. So far I’ve only picked up the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 but I’ll start to add lenses as I sell off more of my old Canon gear (so if any of you are looking for Canon gear or have Nikon lens recommendations let me know!).
As I mentioned at the start of this post, this may be the first of more to come “reviews”. In all honesty, I want to find something else to call them because it’s more about my thoughts on how different pieces of gear fit into my workflow and what I think of them. Just because the Canon 5d3 doesn’t really fit me doesn’t mean it doesn’t fit into your photographer. I know a bunch of wedding photographers who would absolutely love this camera. If you take anything out of this post I want it to be that in the end it doesn’t matter what the reviews are or what other people say. You are the one who has to work with the camera and thus you should only make a decision based upon what you feel is best for you.
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