Long term thoughts on the Nikon Z7 and system

_PF05987 copy

I’ve now had a few months, a few assignments and what I’d consider a decent amount of time with the Z7: long enough to be familiar with its various peccadilloes and figure out exactly where it fits in my arsenal. Think of it as an extended field test, and perhaps more important than the initial review that people seem to expect me to produce within hours of a camera’s announcement. Truth is, you don’t really know a camera until you’ve had a chance to use it as you normally would, for the kinds of subjects you normally shoot, for an extended period of time – it’s just not physically possible to cover that many scenarios in a short test. Trouble is, not many of us have the time to do that (and especially not sites that have dozens of cameras to cover every month). It also requires consistency in the way one works to provide a baseline of expectations. As usual, I preface my thoughts with the caveat that not everything will apply to everybody, and validity of course increases the more similar your photographic style is to mine. I may not cover some things that matter to you, and I may obsess over other things that are trivial. With that, and assuming we have a mature audience, let’s move on.

[Read more…]

Long term review: Canon 5DSR

_5R00808 copyWhen the stars (trees) line up

These will be my closing thoughts on the Canon 5DSR, first reviewed here. It turns out there won’t be a part two for a simple reason – I don’t see the point. My opinions that follow are going to appear initially conflicting and probably be misinterpreted by the fanboys, so I’m going to state this upfront: I really, really liked the camera. But in the end, it just isn’t for me. Allow me to explain why.

[Read more…]

Long term review: The Nikon D810

_8B03858 copy
Cold forest I

It’s very easy to write a polarized review – positive or negative – about a new piece of equipment; it’s much harder to commit to really using and learning it inside out for months until you are intimately familiar with its peccadilloes and able to extract every last drop of performance from it. It’s obviously not practical to do this for everything; it’s clear that some bits of hardware just don’t quite make it as long term tools after a few days of use. But the ones that stick are probably the ones that are really interesting.

[Read more…]

Long term review postponed: The Nikon D800

I was originally going to post a long term review of the Nikon D800 today, but seeing as my camera has been autofocus-crippled and I’ve only used it under studio conditions with manual focus, it wouldn’t be fair. Instead I’ll roll my conclusions into the D800 vs D800E review which will go up later this month, once my camera arrives – I’m told later this week.

But what I can say is that the sensor is absolutely stunning, and remains one of the best, if not the best I’ve ever used – at least in 35mm format (sorry, I haven’t had a chance to shoot with the H4D-50MS or IQ180 backs). And it definitely provides more flexibility than anything larger; you can use the high ISOs, you can shoot faster than 1fps with it, it can do video…and I’ve not run out of useable dynamic range yet. Yes, the product definitely has some early teething troubles – and I’m not for one minute saying that we should let Nikon off the hook, because it is a lot of money – but if you stop for a minute and think about what we’re actually getting, it’s pretty amazing. Ten years ago, the same money got you a D100: the output from that camera was so soft that you wouldn’t even know if you were having edge AF issues or not; in fact, nobody would think to use the edge AF points for anything other than viewfinder decoration because they were that inaccurate.

I don’t know how many more large leaps in technology we’re going to see at the advanced consumer/ pro level – look at the incremental changes to the flagship Nikon and Canons – but I honestly feel the D800 is a game changer in the sense that it’s now truly made the next step in image quality accessible at a much lower price point than before; forget the Pentax 645D. But the same caveat always remains: just because you can afford the tool, doesn’t mean you know how to use it properly. And no amount of money can replace dedication and hard work in achieving photographic results. Then again, I suppose you could just buy a large print. MT