Choosing my next camera: Fight it or switch it

Recently, I made a decision to buy a new camera. It was a dilemma we all face at one time or another as photographers: when is the right time to buy a new camera?

You know how it is: you have a pot of gold which, for the average person, often has an expiration date. Sometimes that date is driven by the guilt of spending a small fortune for personal desire or need, or the knowledge that “stuff happens”. Whatever the case, a decision must be made. And, of course, the latest technology is the most desirable, since no one wants to buy something that immediately becomes obsolete. You would like to believe that your new investment will remain viable at least for a little while!

I have been a Canon camera enthusiast since 2004 when I bought (and still use!) my 20D. Then, in 2007, I bought the 1D mark 3. Both of these cameras have been and will continue to be used in an ever-evolving quest for the best image.

So why the need for a new camera? My work has become increasingly dependent upon blending image pieces, at times small crops, together to achieve my artistic vision. The crop quality from my 10mp 1D has become increasingly challenging to use in my new projects. By this I mean, that the crop quality many times has forced me to harvest a different image crop than my original vision required. It was time to get a full frame camera with the most mega pixels I could afford.

I first considered the 40mp Pentax 645, a reasonably affordable medium-format camera. The trouble with this camera was that it just would not be versatile enough for me to use everyday. There are times I need a higher ISO to capture the image I desire.

My hope was that Canon would come through with a new high mega pixel, full frame flagship. There have been a lot of rumors about “something in the works”. But I was just not getting any indication from the industry that any announcement was coming soon.

The same thing can be said for Nikon. This then made me realize that I now had to choose from within current product technology. For me, the choices were between the product offerings of Canon or Nikon for the money I had to spend. But I had to decide whether I fought Canon and stayed within their product listings, or switch to an entirely new camera system.

I realize that mega pixels is not the only criteria to be used for this decision. How these are used by the camera technology is also important as well as how it resolves noise.

After hunting the camera forums like DPReview, Luminous Landscape, google review searches, I made my choice: the Nikon 800e!

my new nikon

There are a lot of reviews about this camera. Here’s one I used from Luminous Landscape. A not-so-glowing review can be found here.

This created a problem for me since I would be forced to buy new lenses as well. My primary lens tool has been the 70-200mm, so this was the first one I selected. In the end, I completed what is referred to as the “holy trinity” of lenses that cover the range from 14mm through 200mm.

So here is my final decision list:

* Resolution is my foremost objective; usability second. At 36 mega pixels, I have one of the best DSLR’s to use to create my visual art.

* I can leverage the best features and lens offerings from two of the best camera manufacturers in the industry as new lenses or upgrades become available.

* The lack of an anti-alias filter in the 800e may allow for slightly better resolution in some imaging situations. This, in my mind, may give me a bit more detail than with this filter.

* My Canon 1D mark 3 will become my sports/wildlife tool of choice.

* My Canon 20D remains my light weight choice for “risky” locations, like photographing the family while at the beach, etc.

* My Nikon 800e will become my landscape/portrait/visual art tool.

Deciding whether to fight or switch between camera systems is very difficult and very personal. The money involved may alone become your deciding factor. But whatever choice needs to be made, once you receive it in the mail, that day will be like Christmas Day for you!. Thanks, mom and dad, rest in peace… Good luck!