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April 30, 2012
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The Best Camera

:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2012
The "Best" Camera...

Generally speaking, there is no such thing. Without even getting into specific models, different kinds of cameras are better for different types of photography.

SLRs are good for all-around-general photography. That is to say that while they CAN do most kinds of photography, there are some of those kinds that they do rather poorly and others that they are very good at. Rangefinders are better for other kinds of photography and can outperform an SLR by a quantum leap at those. The same can be said of TLRs, view cameras, and even the much disparaged point-and-shoot camera.

I collect, restore, repair, and use. I have 125 cameras at present, and I have (or have had) one or more of each of the types mentioned in this journal entry. I have had occasion to use all of them and some of them are definitely better than others AT SPECIFIC TASKS. However, NONE of them are good at all types of photography.

In general, small format SLRs are good for nature photography, action photography, any situation where you need to shoot quickly, they generally have more of a lens selection, and they are great for macro photography. They are not very good for architectural photography, they are only fair at landscapes, and there are better choices when shooting people. Most of them are very difficult to focus accurately when doing night photography. Below a certain light threshold, many autofocus systems won't work.

SLRs fall into two categories: manual and automatic. In general, manual cameras are FAR more accurate and give the user far more artistic control of his images (also, the batteries last longer). Modern autofocus systems are a lot better than they used to be, but they still have a way to go. In numerous tests even the best autofocus systems were not found to be particularly accurate (and they are easily confused), when you are shooting rapidly moving objects autofocus is almost a necessity.

Again, speaking in general, rangefinders are better choices for posed studio photos and most people photography. They are quieter (and thus less obtrusive) and a coincident rangefinder is very easy to focus in low light, making them ideal for night photography. Some of the cons are that few of the older models have through the lens metering (there are exceptions to this, like some of the Yashica G-series) and there are only a handfull that have interchangable lens capability. They do not work well for macro photography because, while there are auxilliary lenses available for a few models, these don't usually work very well at all. The stuff that does work generally isn't worth the effort to use (complicated). There is a myth that the main reason they don't work as well for macro photography is because of parallax error. While this was a problem in very early rangefinders, nearly all of the later models have built in parallax compensation.

Point and shoot cameras have their place too. They are good for vacation photos, travel photography, backbacking, and any time when you don't want to deal with a lot of gear. They are also unobtrusive and are good for candids. The cons mainly involve loss of artistic control and the way autofocus and autoexposure can get confused in many situations.

Now speaking of point and shoot cameras, there is a fairly recent introduction to the world of photography called the APS camera. These are 24mm instead of 35mm and pretty much everyone these days who sells them has discontinued them like they did the disc cameras. It was an interesting idea, with shutter speed, aperture and such recorded for each shot and exposure correction being automatic during processing for each frame, but these seem to have gone the way of the dodo bird. Some APS cameras were SLRs instead of point and shoot, but the smaller film size pretty much ensured that the photos would be grainer and generally of lower quality than you could get with a properly set up 35mm.

In medium format, you have the TLRs, SLRs, toy cameras and rangefinders. There are even a few digital medium format cameras out there. There are also a lot of old folding cameras out there. The big advantage of medium format is that the larger negative gives you a much sharper image, particulary in enlargements, and grain is reduced substantially. When comparing the SLRs and rangefinders, you have pretty much the same pros and cons that you will find in their 35mm counterparts. However, although medium format cameras all use 120 film, there are a number of different negative frame sizes that you can choose from. There is the 645, the 6x6, the 6x7 and the 6x9. The larger frames give you sharper photos, but you get fewer photos per roll. With some of the SLRs you also have the option of changing backs. This means you can shoot polaroid film, switch from color film to B&W in mid-roll, or switch from film to digital at any time. They are very versatile cameras.

In medium format, that leaves the TLRs, toys and the old folding cameras to discuss.

All TLRs are 6x6 square medium format (there are two exceptions to this rule - a Yashica TLR that will convert to use 35mm film and a few older models that use 127 film that is not generally available except by special order). TLRs will give you very sharp images, but bear in mind that if you want to make prints in standard sizes you are going to have to crop them (nearly all papers, negative holders and easels come in rectangular formats). They are very good for studio and landscape photography but they are very slow in use and are thus poorly suited for shooting objects in motion. Also, there are no interchangable lenses for these cameras and this rules out telephoto and macro photography.

There are also several makes of toy cameras in medium format that have developed a cult following. These are generally very low quality cameras with plastic lenses and light leaks and some people appreciate the element of chance that they introduce into their photography. Some of the more popular types of toy camera are the Holga, the LOMO or Lubitel, and the Diana and the numerous clones it has spawned.

There are exceptions, but the old folding cameras are not usually very good regarding focusing. This is because most have really tiny prism or mirror viewfinders with no focusing aids whatsoever. If you are shooting using zone focusing (guessing at the range and using depth of field to compensate for error), this may not be a problem, but when focus is critical they are poor choices. The exceptions are those cameras with rangefinders. With folding cameras these rangefinders are not usually coupled to the lens and they are slow to shoot, since you have to transfer the data from the rangefinder to the lens manually. While this won't be a problem if you are shooting portraits, you may find yourself in difficulty if you are trying to photograph a motocross race.

Large format view cameras. These are the ultimate in image sharpness and lack of perspective distortion. They are GREAT at landscapes, architecture, statuary and anything else that is big and doesn't move much. The large film size also makes them good for posed studio portraits when you want hyper-sharp photos with lots of detail. However, they are big, cumbersome, can't be used without a tripod, and they require a lot more training to use. They have two additional controls, tilt and shift, that are not found on other cameras. By adjusting the tilt and shift, you can eliminate the exaggerated perspective that you get with other cameras. This is what makes them ideal for architectural photos. Some of the 4x5s have the option of using medium format rollfilm backs. With the exception of those capable of using the aforementioned rollfilm backs, large format cameras use film that comes in sheets instead of rolls, and they have to be manually reloaded after every shot. If you want to make lifesized enlargements that will allow you to see the hairs in Cindy Crawford's mole, with no visible grain, or if you are shooting photos of a cathedral, this is what you should get. Large format cameras generally fall into two main types: Monorail and field cameras. A monorail camera is a bit more cumbersome and its lens board slides along a tubular rail for focusing. These are more suitable for studio work (Cindy Crawford's mole). Monorails are really too bulky for field work. The field cameras fold up in a fashion somewhat similar to the old medium format folding cameras and the lens board slides along a sort of dual track for focusing. These are more suitable for field work, as the name implies. focusing is done by looking at an upside down and reversed image on a sheet of ground glass, which can make focusing somewhat tricky except in bright light.

Now for the biggest waste of time ever: the Nikon vs Canon debate. It's the lenses, people, not the cameras. Both Nikon and Canon make good cameras. So do Pentax, Minolta, and several other companies. The differences between the top grades of Nikon and Canon lenses are so marginal that they can't be seen without a jeweller's loupe or in extreme enlargements that are beyond the acceptable limits of 35mm. Both are consumer level cameras. If you are that critical, get some Zeiss glass, otherwise, you'll never notice the difference. That said, if you are getting an older used camera then Nikon would get the edge simply because they didn't change their lens mounting system for a very long time and there are more lenses available that will fit. When deciding what camera to get between Nikon and Canon, look at the lenses you will need, find out where you can get them cheapest, and then pick a camera to fit them. That said, the sole exception to the "no such thing as a best camera rule" is that Canon and Sony, as of the time I write this, make the best compact cameras. Canon makes good compacts for general use and Sony makes good compacts for daylight use. Pretty much everyone makes at least one good DSLR though.

Finally let's discuss another waste of time: the digital vs film debate. These are entirely different tools and they are designed for different tasks. As much as some people would like to believe it, and in spite of the advertising hype, they are not interchangable. Digital photography is a great tool for photojournalism, where it has almost entirely supplanted film photography. If you are going to show your photos on a video monitor, it can't be beat. In amateur art shows, where enlargements usually only average 8x10, it will be marginally adequate; it might or might not work for you, depending on the camera and the subject. If you are shooting competitively, for pro-level art exhibits, where enlargements can run to 5 feet by 7 feet, a digital camera that is anything short of a Hasselblad with an 88mp back is not going to be your best choice (and the Hasselblad is marginal -- using ultra-high resolution film in a 6x7 fim camera, you can reach the analog equivalient of 512mp). If you do a lot of night photography, you are going to be limited as to how long an exposure you can make. After a length of time, which can be as short as 4 seconds (on some of the less expensive compact cameras), the sensors will overheat and start to generate "noise" (the digital equivalent of dirt on a film negative -- it looks like "static snow" on a TV screen).
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Devious Comments (Add yours)

:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2014
Okay, first off, posed studio portraits are not necessarily, or even usually, head and shoulders. If they were, then yeah, an SLR would be better. They are usually full length, head to knees or even groups. For those, a normal lens is the lens of choice. Rangefinder lenses are simply easier to make than SLR lenses and even a mid-priced rangefinder lens tends to be superb, compared to an SLR lens. Coincident rangefinders and split image rangefinders are far easier to focus accurately at 10 - 20 foot ranges, particularly compared to SLRs with autofocus. If you want to try this out, go on eBay, pick up a cheap Argus C3 or a Yashica Electro 35 GS (both are often under $20), clean it (those two are easy), and give it a shot. You'll see.  
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(1 Reply)
:iconjimmyjjohn:
jimmyjjohn Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014
That's true, but only to a point. The best camera is the one that can do the job you need it to do. Some can't.

Cyprus Wedding Photography
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014
Just had to throw some spam in there didn't you?
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:iconanorexianevrosa:
anorexianevrosa Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
I really don't care about the camera. In my opinion, photography plays the most important role. Apart from that fact, there is a load of Image - Editing programs, that help you to make a photo better. Anyway, really helpful post, as I learned so much things about cameras! Thank you!
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014
That's true, but only to a point. The best camera is the one that can do the job you need it to do. Some can't.
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:iconanorexianevrosa:
anorexianevrosa Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Absolutely, but, even if some camers cannot do the whole job, the use of some helpful programs is allowed. But you're totally right. The most important is the fact that the camera is able to do most of the job. This is the point of top - quality cameras.
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014
Well, that's true, but only to a point. Two cases in point (large format view camera versus small format DSLR camera):
1. Let's say you have a custom built $15,000 8x10 large format Ebony view camera (one of the very highest quality view cameras out there), but the fastest you can shoot with it is about a photo every two minutes. If you need something with tracking autofocus that can shoot rapidly moving subjects at 8 frames per second, that isn't going to be able to do it -- not by a long shot. It's hopeless, no matter what programs you have.
2. Now let's say that you have the very best small format DSLR that money can buy and you have struck the photography lottery and are offered the chance to shoot for what will be a series of 6x9 foot framed photos of moving racecars, shot in excruciating detail, that will be displayed in a museum. Sorry, but your camera will not be up to the job, because no small format lens or sensor ever made has adequate resolution to make sharp and detailed 6x9 foot prints. The cars are moving, so you can't zoom way in, shoot a couple of dozen photos and stitch them; you only get one shot. Not even a $10,000 Hasselblad medium format DSLR can do that. Once again, it's hopeless.

Programs are not helpful if your camera can't capture enough for them to work with.
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:iconanorexianevrosa:
anorexianevrosa Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
You're right, and this is the proof. Thank you!
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:iconanorexianevrosa:
anorexianevrosa Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Very interesting and clever post. And personally speaking, I believe that the best camera is yours. The camera that anyone holds..
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014
I believe the best camera is the one you forgot to bring and left at home.
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:iconanorexianevrosa:
anorexianevrosa Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Yeah, sure. I totally agree!
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:iconblooddragons:
blooddragons Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2014  Professional Photographer
Fantastic post.
It really comes down to which camera feels best, each has it's own "personality" so to speak. While I have many antique cameras, and digital as well, I always return to my 4x5 view camera. I am most comfortable with it, like an old friend!
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014
4x5 view cameras, along with medium format cameras and even those vintage and antique cameras are great, unless you need to shoot a lot of photos quickly or are shooting something that is moving fast. Nothing is perfect for everything though, and in an ideal world you really want a selection to choose from. Currently, I have a little bit too much of a good thing though, and I am planning to sell a dozen or two.
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:iconnintendo1889m:
nintendo1889m Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014
Hid my comments to prevent myself looking more sophomoric than I already am, I'm outta here. 
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014
Yeah? So everyone on earth should throw away their cameras and buy Nikon L820s?  Is it any good for astrophotography? Is it good for photographing goldfinches (the size of your thumb) at 100 yards? Is the shutter fast enough to freeze a hummingbird's wings? Can you shoot fireflies at night with it? The point is, that NOTHING is good for every kind of photography. What the best camera will be for you will depend on what kind of photography you are doing and it might not even be a DSLR or SLR or even digital. To cover everything would require a rather wide selection of cameras and the purpose of this article is to show what most of the various types of cameras excel at.
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014
" I don't know why you assumed that I said it was the best camera."

Because the title of this thread is "the best camera."
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:iconnintendo1889m:
nintendo1889m Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014
I should just shut my mouth and never post on there again, since it seems I'm pretty confident I'm on your list of people to hate, right?
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014
Don't worry about it. We all stick our feet in our mouths from time to time.
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:iconnintendo1889m:
nintendo1889m Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014
Well...alright, sorry about that, I'll move on :P
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:iconcarolina-hearts:
Carolina-Hearts Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
I have a Nikon L810 and a Canon Rebel T3 (EOS 1100D) I love them both but favor the Canon. The quality is much better than the Nikon but with the Nikon I can zoom in a lot more. If I want an extreme amount of zoom I go with the Nikon (or use my Canon with my telephoto lens) if I want more quality like for portraits I use my Canon. I'm considering selling my Nikon but I'm unsure if I really want to or not. I just use my Canon a lot more and the quality is superior to that of the Nikon. I might sell the Nikon and get a longer telephoto lens for my Canon. I currently have a 75-300mm lens and the standard 18-25mm.
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2014
Well, you're comparing a p&s camera with a DSLR. It isn't going to perform as well in low light and at anything but ISO 100 and lower, like most p&s cameras. It won't shoot as fast and it won't work well with certain kinds of lens filters either. That said, I use my ancient Canon A630 p&s a lot more than either of my DSLRs (Nikon and Olympus) for the stuff I post on the web. Why? Because it is built like a tank (so I don't worry about something happening to it), it is simpler and easier to use and is far more than adequate for that particular purpose. All of the vintage cameras I restored get photographed with my A630. No computer monitor made is capable of more than about 4mp worth of resolution and no one can tell the difference between photos from film cameras, photos from a DSLR and photos from a p&s, just looking at them in my gallery.
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:iconsandunashan:
sandunashan Featured By Owner May 14, 2014
hi,,

    There's some excellent details in here, thanks! I saved it so that I could effectively study and think about it again when I've gotten some rest. I'm usually quite bad at different kinds of cameras so this should really help me especially for wedding photography camera.
www.shakkya.com/
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner May 14, 2014
Well, let's see... I like film, so for posed portrait-type wedding photos taken after the wedding (I've done three weddings) using a 4x5 view camera made the most sense for me, but for shooting during the actual ceremonies I mostly used a Voigtlander medium format rangefinder camera. The lighting at most wedding venues usually sucks and rangefinders are the easiest type of cameras to focus accurately in crappy light. I tried using SLRs and TLRs, but the light is usually pretty low and it is hard to get the focus spot on with those. Luckily, I had a rangefinder with me too, during that first wedding. Also (because good rangefinder lenses tend to be really super sharp), with a good medium format rangefinder, and with an ultra-high resolution film (b&w) or with Kodak Portra (color) you can make really sharp 16x20 enlargements if you need to, with no visible lens defects. I've never been asked to make an enlargement of a wedding photo bigger than that, but if I was, I'd probably use an old-fashioned 4x5 Speed Graphic press camera; they have rangefinder systems built into them (each camera has five viewfinder systems), they can take modern Schneider, Zeiss or Rodenstock lenses, and they can be shot handheld, so that would probably work out to be the best for me in that situation.
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:icontriinerg:
TriinErg Featured By Owner May 1, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
There's some great info in here, thanks! :) I bookmarked it so that I could properly read and think about it again when I've gotten some sleep. :D I'm generally quite bad at different types of cameras so this should really help me. 
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner May 1, 2014
You're welcome.
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:iconbdstudio:
BDStudio Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Professional Photographer
I find it kinda pointless to discuss about a "best camera" A photographer for all-round pictures doesn't need a full frame, but if a photographer likes to make big prints, it is wiser do to buy it for the sharpness, better iso performance and mega-pixels (more mega-pixels can be really handy now and then).
Also the skill of a photographer decides the final result ofcourse
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014
Then there's medium and large format, SLR versus rangefinder versus TLR versus view camera and so on. That's what this article is about.
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:iconbdstudio:
BDStudio Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Professional Photographer
Oh not to forget that Full frame camera's give way better colors.
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:iconjensen91:
Jensen91 Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Howdy People! I am planning to buy a Nikon N90s 35mm SLR Autofocus Camera from one of the pawn shops in SLC. Check this out - pawnutah.com/product/nikon-n90… and let me know if is it worth $405.99? Thanks in Advance !
I can't post a new thread that's why I am asking this here... 
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2014
Go down to the bottom of the forum page forum.deviantart.com/art/photo… and you will find the place for posting new threads.

As for whether it's worth buying, you've stumbled on the one guy here who is probably best qualified to answer that question, and you've done it by sheer chance. I restore vintage and antique cameras for a living and the answer to your question is: absolutely not. Someone is seriously overcharging for an old 35mm SLR. It isn't even that good a model (I have it's predecessor, the N8008S). Getting it set up so you can take photos with it is vastly overcomplicated. Ideally, with a 35mm SLR, as you progress, you switch from full auto to the manual adjustments. This camera makes that very difficult. You're going to miss a lot of shots while trying to adjust the aperture and shutter speed. If you're looking at Nikons, there are the N-series, the F series, the FE series, and the FM series (the model numbers start with those letters). With a budget of $400, the F series professional cameras are the ones to look at, and there are several within that budget. The FM2 is another nice one that's within your budget. With Canon, the A-1 and AE-1 series cameras are easily within your budget and many people say that those are the best cameras that Canon ever made, even when you count their professional models. Personally, if I was going to spend that much money on a 35mm camera, I'd get an old Pentax K1000 and have it overhauled though. It has a freaking HUGE selection of lenses, all of which are good, has the best and most accurate metering system of them all, has no quirks at all, is built like a tank, will run without a battery (if necessary), is very intuitive in operation, is purely manual (so if you screw up you can't blame it on the camera), yet it is quick and easy to shoot right out of the box.
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:iconpuffugu:
puffugu Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014  Student General Artist
I'd love it if you could help me!
So I'm looking for a camera to replace this terrible point-and-shoot have! I guess Canon DSLR cameras are what I'm looking for. I'd like a camera that can take nice shots with bokeh and also macro shots, but at the same time being not too big, not costing approx. above $500, and pretty easy to use.
What's a camera model you'd suggest? It doesn't have to be Canon, but it seems like it would be my best choice.
Thank you for your help! <3
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014
Canon, Nikon and Pentax all make good DSLRs. As for which one to get: That would depend on what kind of bokeh you want. All cameras have some kind of bokeh, but it comes in different shapes and in some it's stronger than in others. For example, hexagonal bokeh usually comes from cameras with shutter blades, not DSLRs (unless you can find a lens with a hexagonal aperture and stop it down to f/5.6 or so).
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:iconpuffugu:
puffugu Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014  Student General Artist
wow, thank you for the great help!
i'd say round ones! would DSLRs make nice round ones? : )
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2014
Yes -- and they all would. You need to look up reviews of lenses to see what lenses will give you the best bokeh in the most useful focal lengths for the subjects you'll be shooting. You mostly need to be looking at prime lenses (lenses that don't zoom).
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:iconjmarmck:
jmarmck Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer

A very well written note here. I would agree with you on nearly all the points. But then again there are as many opinions as there are people. The trick is to pick what you need from each inorder to learn.

 

I have sold cameras in the past, worked for newspapers, got into the video market at the ground level (and left almost as quickly). Cannon, Nikon, Minolta, Pentax, Olympus, etc.. yes, one body is not necessarily better than another with the exception of how one suits the individual user. I had Olympus gear many years ago and had trouble getting use to the opposite lens mounting system of Nikon. But yes you are correct, in the end it is the glass that counts. I now use Nikkor lens systems with several Nikon DSRs. In many ways I wish I still have old Olympus OM systems. But the Nikon is better for my uses.

 

That said I will state that the new D800e body is a game changer. The more responsive and higher resolution sensor is far superior to any DSLR on the market at the time I bought it. I spend much of my time shooting in near to complete darkness.....lightning, stars, moon, etc. The sensor has at least two EV wider range of sensitivity. Why is this important? Consider a lightning bolt in a cloud. The older D700 sensor will miss much of the detail in those subtlely lit areas adjacent to the bolt. Those darker shadows in a sunset will have detail with the D800e and not the D700. If you can afford it, it is worth it.

 

But, if I ever had a chance to pickup a 4x5, 5x7 or even an 8x10, (contact me if you have one) I would do so in a hurry. Even if it means a purchasing darkroom equiptment an supplys. Of course a high resolution scanner would be in order too.

 

BTY for those of you having trouble with focusing in low light, you can use the "live vew" and associated zoom in to get round it. Say you are shooting the moon. Infinity right? No, some lens will go beyond infinity. Focus on the subject, viiew the image in the live view and zoom in very tight to adjust the focus. This works well with points of lights, stars, street lights, etc. The downside is that live view functions on most DSLR rapidly drain the battery. Carry a spare. 

 

Thanks for the opine FallisPhoto.

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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2014

"That said I will state that the new D800e body is a game changer. "

 

That may well be, but DSLRs are not the only types of cameras out there and are sometimes not the most appropriate choices -- ANY DSLRs. For example, for many types of photography, a rangefinder or a view camera is a far better choice.

 

"BTY for those of you having trouble with focusing in low light, you can use the "live vew" and associated zoom in to get round it."

 

Actually, I think a film camera would be a better choice than any DSLR in low light, and (because of the way it focuses) a rangefinder would be the best choice of film cameras. They are much easier to focus, with great precision, in low light. A film camera will have no noise at all, which is often a problem with DSLRs, you can take exposures lasting hours with no problem, and if you have an ultra high resolution film, then grain is not a problem either and the level of detail will be incredible. You do have to have the whole system though, including an enlarger with a good lens and a darkroom to get the full benefit of it.

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:iconjmarmck:
jmarmck Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer

DSLR are what most hobbiest are using. Just saying. I have been extremely happy with the D800e. But I wish I did have the 4x5 to lug around. It would be better suited for a lot of what I do. I might also force me to be more aware of what I am doing as apposed to clicking off several shots bracketing just to be sure. The DSLR is just easier. Anything that forces me to think about exposure, composition, highlights/shodows, texture and form is a good thing. A 4x5 would do just that. A single fixed lens will too.

I use to shoot lightning as a younger man using the Olympus OM series cameras. Unlike the modern Nikkor lenses there was a stop at infinity. Not so with the newer Nikkor AF lenses.

I used Kodachrome 64 or Ektachrome 100. Both would suffer reciprocity failures to a degree with longer exposures. It was expected. The longer exposures with sensors does lead to noise but many of the modern DLSR have a noise reduction for high ISO and long exposures. The D800 does not seem to be as noisey as the D700. Still I am satisified with the results of both. No so much with the D300.

There is one aspect of DSLR and lightning photography is that you can take many many shots, many of which are simply blank as no lightning happned while the shutter was open. On good nights I can rip off 300 to 600 shots. I could never do that with film.

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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2014

Uh... do you know what exactly reciprocity failure is? Every film ever made has it. It's a point of diminishing returns that starts around ten seconds into an exposure. It doesn't mean you can't get the shot, it just means that your 10 second shot is going to take 10.25 seconds, a 30 second shot is going to take an extra 2 seconds and so on. Nothing actually fails though and you can take exposures that literally last a year or more if you want to. What it means, in practical terms is that you will need to look at the reciprocity table for the film you are using and do some simple addition.

With film, you simply leave the shutter open until the lightning flashes.

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:iconjmarmck:
jmarmck Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Yes I know. But my main issue is with the color shifts in the other objects in the frame. Long ago with film I would get a magenta hue with long exposures. It was a film selection issue I am sure. I am willing to go back to film for next years season. I have a mamiya 645 I would like to use but it needs some work on the mat black material in the body. I am checking out the Calumet 400.
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2014

As for the Mamiya, get either some "stove paint" at the hardware store, or Krylon Ultraflat black spray paint. If you get the Krylon, spray some into a can and brush it on where the flocking is missing, Stove paint is the kind of paint that they used to use to paint old-fashioned pot-bellied wood stoves with. Both are extremely flat, stick really tight, and work very well for flocking a camera.

 

As for the magenta tint: You were getting that with Kodachrome? I'm having trouble imaging that, since it was one of the most reliably accurate films ever made. I'd be more apt to attribute that to a poor coating on your lens than to the film. You didn't get one of those crappy lenses with the red lens coating back then did you?

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:iconjmarmck:
jmarmck Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
The mirror box has a metal sheeting with a velvet like material. The metal plating has pealed back to the point of being hit by the mirror.
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2014
In most camas, that "velvet-like" material is flocked paper. You can do it yourself with glue and flocking powder: tinyurl.com/kuleuxy  you can buy pre-flocked paper:tinyurl.com/lalgkcg  or you can try to find some very thin black velvet fabric and stick that in. I would have to see the metal plating and get my hands on it before I would know what to do about that. 
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TrinityWescott Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2013
I'm fairly new to photography.  This was a great explanation.  Though I wish I had enough experience to make more sense of it.  Like, do the "digital vs film" points you made apply across all types of cameras, or just DSLR vs. SLR?  And WHY do those have different specialties?  Isn't that just another part of digital vs film?  Do rangefinders, for example have the same difference in specialty when it comes to digital vs film?
Each camera has it's specialty, sure, but do you have a camera to recommend if you have no idea what you'll be shooting next?  I'm trying to at least try out everything.  As is probably typical for beginners, I'm using an entry-level DSLR.  It might be all I ever need or want.  But if I ever do dive deeper into something in the future, I'll keep this information in mind.  Thanks.
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2013
The digital versus film points apply across all types of cameras. One of the biggest problems with digital cameras is that the longer the shutter remains open, the more errors it makes. Most of these came in the form of noise. Film cameras don't have this problem and in fact there is at least one guy out there who is making three year exposures. Digital photographers can take several photos and combine them in Photoshop to make, in effect, a long exposure, but this only works if you don't mind breaks in the continuity of the exposure. Anyway, film is a far better choice for low light photography.

With a film camera, you can choose films too. For example, there are ultra-high resolution films, like Efke and Gigabite, that can give you the equivalent of about 51mp on 35mm film. They can actually resolve more than this, buy no lens will.

Rangefinders are still different if they are digital or film. All you are changing is the recording media. However, one of a rangefinder's strengths is that they are great in low light; well, digital sensors are not, so you'd be sacrificing that.

If you're going to be shooting everything, an SLR/DSLR is probably going to be your best choice, because (as I said in the article) they are like swiss army knives, they CAN do pretty much everything, even though they do some things a lot better than others.
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FlatWolfFoto Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Professional Photographer
The "BEST" camera is the one that you have, know how to use and most importantly WILL use.
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2013
The best camera is the one you left at home.
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:iconcarolina-hearts:
Carolina-Hearts Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
So true. *sigh*
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:iconfallisphoto:
FallisPhoto Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2014
It kind of goes with the truism that the very best places to shoot from are marked "no parking at any time."
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