Have you considered going back to a DSLR?

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by Andrewteee, Jul 16, 2010.

  1. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    I am as devoted a serious compact follower as anyone. I moved from a Canon 5D to an Olympus E30 and then to serious compacts almost exclusively (the Ricoh GRD2 was my first serious compact and I was hooked). Every now and then I pick up the E30, but it's pretty much been compacts for a long while now and it's been great. For most purposes compacts fit the bill, but indeed they have limits. I've also dabbled with film and there are times when I wish I still had my Zeiss Ikon. But film was time consuming to deal with and expensive.

    But... those Zeiss lenses! Oh my! So as a little more time is opening up for photography (slowly, slowly) I'm getting more serious about some of my landscape work. And I'm having dreamy thoughts of what I could do with a Nikon D700 and a couple of Zeiss manual focus lenses... Wondering... One thing I know is that lens quality counts! And since I do a lot of B&W work dynamic range and a useful range of tones is important to me, and compacts can have limits in those areas.

    Then again, at other times I think well why don't I simplify my collection of serious compacts and use them to focus on the art work itself. The quality may not be up to my critical eye, but in truth I really shouldfocus my work on what I want to do with my photography - focus on the message, not the messenger.

    As a serious compact enthusiast have you ever considered "up" grading or returning to a larger camera for specific purposes?
  2. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus SC Top Veteran

    Jul 6, 2010

    I like the phrase, focus on the message, not the messenger. Excellent. I had a long period using DSLR's until being taken to hospital in the back of an ambulance with my back in agonising spasm caused me to finally seek other alternatives. I share your enthusiasm for Zeiss lenses, having used them with a Contax system years ago. I still have a couple of M-mount ones which I use on my Leica and on m4/3 via adapters.

    However, with care I've found it possible to to obtain top-grade results from smaller cameras. My m4/3, Samsung NX10 & X1 cameras give me results that stand up against the results I was getting with a D700.
    If I need higher resolution for my landscape images then I usually shoot multi images and combine them in stitching software.

    With regard to smaller sensor cameras, like you, I see one of the main problems as dynamic range. Shooting landscape needs a good rendition of the light conditions and when shooting a very contrasty scene this is where they tend to fall down.

    Don't know if you've seen the Michael Reichmann article at Luminous Landscape comparing a Canon G10 with a Hassleblad H2 with a Phase One P45 back. Kidding Its a good read. Though the image he uses is shot in flat light and wouldn't demonstrate the problems that more extreme lighting would throw at a camera such as the Canon.

    Theres also the Charlie Waite video and the David Clapp article here:- Panasonic GF-1 Review in the Landscape

    I do still have a small DSLR for situations where I need that kind of a camera, but I've made that a Canon 550D, about as light as you get get, while still producing high quality images. I won't go back to using DSLR's on a regular basis, and probably never for landscape work. Its fortunate that I can use high quality small cameras. I didn't come to the decision quickly, as I make my living in the main from shooting landscape and travel images. I feel that I am able to produce quality work without the need for a DSLR, and I certainly enjoy what I'm doing a lot more. I've been able to produce very sharp, very high resolution images with these smaller lighter cameras and I sell just as many taken with them as with DSLR's.

    Charlie Waite believes he can print to A3 using a compact camera, and indeed I've sold pictures for use on 48-sheet advertising hoarding posters shot with one.

    I'm sure you can find a non-DSLR camera that works for you in Black and White, with
    care in exposure and raw conversion, you would be able to obtain a dynamic range that kept the range of tones that you are looking for.

    Ultimately as you say its whats in the picture rather than what you took it with thats the important thing, but I don't think its impossible to get the results that you want from a camera that doesn't weigh you down. I've found a few that work for me, and I see no reason why you shouldn't as well.
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  3. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    No, though I always wished I'd had a viewfinder camera - there's nothing like ground glass but those days are gone for me, however I am not a professional photographer. I suppose one should never answer an unequivocal "No" to a question like yours, Andrew. If, for example, I ever felt I had the need to print large sized prints, then I might need to reconsider.

    I see I missed your post David, so perhaps I can say that unequivocal "No" with extra help.:wink:
  4. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    Thanks, that was a great post. Lots to consider and I appreciate the response.
  5. Archiver

    Archiver SC Top Veteran

    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    I use a combination of small, aps-c and full frame sensors cameras. I use the 5DII for work, as it has the speed, flexibility and lens range that I need for landscapes, interiors, architecture and the occasional portrait shoot. I use the Leica M9 for my personal work, and just last week I returned from a three week trip to Japan using the M9 and and Ricoh GRD III. I use small sensor compacts like the GRD III, G10 and S90 when I want a small, discreet camera, but it is not often that I use them for work. I often want a shallow depth of field that can't be achieved with a small sensor.

    There are times when I dislike what I call the 'small sensor look', which includes noisy higher ISO, low dynamic range, long depth of field and a certain 'flatness' to the images. But there are other times when I want it, like times at night when I want everything to be in focus. Also, the GRD III's dynamic range is particularly good for a small sensor camera, especially when processing the raws with Lightroom 3. When the conditions and exposure are right, GRD III images are as good as those from an aps-c DSLR, IMO.

    Before I bought the M9, I would often go out with the GRD III and either the Sigma DP1 or DP2. I still do this from time to time, but the speed and image quality of the M9 trumps just about everything outside of a DSLR, autofocus notwithstanding.

    Andrew, if you like the Ikon and Zeiss glass so much (and I know what you're talking about, because I have that setup as well), then save your money for a M9 or thereabouts. I can tell you that I won't need to buy film for a very long time because of it. I also find that the Sigma compacts create very filmlike images, but suffer from relative slowness. They also have GREAT dynamic range for black and white images, something else to consider.
  6. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    When I bought my Panasonic GH1, I anticipated that it would be my "mid-sized" system, complementing the Nikon D700 and my pocket camera (at the time, a Fuji F200EXR). What I found was that I chose the GH1 over the D700 so often, that the rare use of the D700 and lenses were no longer worth (to me!) the few thousand dollars tied up in them.

    I've now been shooting with Micro 4/3 and smaller cameras for about a year, and I don't see myself going back to a DSLR. Last week, my father offered me his 5D II and a set of nice Canon lenses. His reason for giving them to me was that he felt like gear that good ought to be used more than the once a month he pulled it out. My reason for turning it down was that I would almost certainly use it less than he was using it.

    Incidentally, my dad now has his eye on the Sony NEX system, although he'd probably be better off with Micro 4/3 since his main usage of the 5D II is with the 100mm f/2.8 Macro II IS, for which their is no similar lens in the NEX lineup.