Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Camera system comparison

This morning I was doing some more work on my photo website. I noticed that the contact form for the website was throwing up a lot of errors. But when I looked into it, the problem was actually with the PEAR Mail class I was using. I was using the class correctly, but the class seems to be written for PHP4 rather than PHP5, and is missing the keyword 'static' in front of methods that are meant to be called statically.

I downloaded the latest version of the class, but this still had the same problem. To be honest, I think I might just leave these errors. Correcting the errors in PEAR seems a bit much to me.

I spent most of the day trying to get Mailpress set up, however it didn't seem to work properly. When you subscribed, it would add you to the database as a 'subscriber', but not actually subscribe you to the Newsletter. So I posted to the support group for Mailpress to see if I could get any help.

Here is the camera comparison I was doing yesterday, trying to decide what camera to get next:

Since for some options I listed two or more lenses that could fulfil the same job, I used an orange colour in the spreadsheet to indicate the rows that were added to get the total costs below each option. Lenses priced at £0 are ones I already own, so there would be no cost for me.

The comparison is done looking for the things I want in a camera system. All the cameras have good image quality, so I didn't compare that. I want to be able to shoot from wide angle (sometimes known as super-wide angle) up to low-end telephoto (100-200mm). I also want a full frame fisheye for decent resolution panos in 6 +2 shots, and a wider fisheye for 3-4 shot lower resolution panos, which are better for those with lots of people / moving objects.

The reason I want a new camera / lenses is that my Nikon 18-70mm lens seems to be a bit soft on one side, and I am not convinced that my Nikon D200 camera is autofocusing correctly. I did try adjusting the autofocus, but it is quite difficult, and despite looking to autofocus correctly when doing the adjustment tests, it seems to backfocus in actual use.

My Canon 450D is even worse when it comes to autofocus, and I don't know how to adjust that. It has been to Canon, who certified it within expected tolerances. The Canon does AF correctly in contrast detect (Live view) mode, which is how I used it in Scotland, but I found this too slow and missed some shots.

So with both my current cameras the problem is autofocus. I have tried manual focusing with them, but for anything other than macro, I can't get the focus correct manually. Manual focusing in liveview with the 450D is possible, but it doesn't feature picture-in-picture magnification. So you have to magnify where you want to focus, focus, then unmagnify and make sure the composition is correct. This is nearly impossible if the subject you want to focus on is moving.

I have included manual lenses for the NEX and Canon 5D Mk II in my options to purchase though. The NEX features focus peaking, and the 5D Mk II has a split prism viewfinder available (at extra cost) to aid in manual focus, as well as the larger viewfinder naturally making manual focus easier.

I didn't include the 17-40mm L lens for the Canon 5D Mk II as the wide-angle option, but instead looked at some prime lenses. From what I've read in forums the 17-40 L lens isn't sharp in the corners until f/8 - f/11. A good selection of primes offers the best quality and light gathering ability, but is more expensive, heavy, and large. The 5D Mk II also doesn't have an adjustable LCD screen.

Although I've never used a camera with an adjustable LCD, I imagine they are useful for more discreet street shooting, to enable better shooting from the hip. It should also be good for low angle (e.g. macro), high angle, and any other strange angle shots.

Exposure Bracketing is also important to me, with my D200 I often find the camera doesn't have enough dynamic range to capture a scene in one shot. New cameras are probably better, but I still think there would be situations where exposure blending or HDR would be needed.

The NEX fails in this regard, with no exposure bracketing available. It also doesn't have a viewfinder, though I understand one can be purchased at an extra cost.

The Canon and Nikon options are both pretty similar, however I prefer the Nikon as I already have more Nikon lenses and accessories than Canon. I will also want to be taking my Fuji IS-Pro with me, which is Nikon mount, so the Nikon option allows sharing lenses etc. with the Fuji cam.

The Micro four thirds option is lacking in that I couldn't find any wide fisheyes available for m4/3, only full frame fishes. Also, both the Nex and micro four thirds cameras don't seem to have any macros available. You can use old manual lenses on both, but this would entail either shooting with the lens stopped down (bad in low-light), or having to manually stop the lens down as you come to take the shot (bad for keeping focus when hand holding).

My current preference would probably be either for the m4/3 option (due to low weight and size) or the Nikon option (due to my existing Nikon gear). I don't intend on purchasing anything right now anyway, so will be interested to see what stuff is released over the coming year (but before I go on holiday again and need some new photo gear). I think I should be okay with my current gear until I go on holiday.

No comments: