"Professional" Cameras

22nd February 2015
I have previously elluded to a change in equipment (again) which I have made, but I thought it was worth a piece in it's own right.

When I made the shift to Digital some years ago it was a result of Canon releasing the EOS 5D. This was the first "affordable" full frame camera - a professional grade piece of kit which would rival anything on the market at the time. It has incredible dynamic range (that is to say it could record a wide range of tones and light/darkness compared to much else on the market at that time). It was a game changer, and it was enough to make me jump from Nikon to Canon as the former had nothing to compare with it at that time.

My jump actually took place before getting a 5D to tell the truth as I couldn't afford one right off - but the writing was on the wall so I shifted from my mechanical Nikon which had been all over the world with me to a Canon EOS 3 which I took into the high arctic before switching to digital a few months later.

I loved the 5D, and the "L" series lenses that I had with it. The 5D Mk II came along and I added that as my main camera, all was good. The Mk II gave me more of everything - more resolution, more dynamic range... superb!

Then as I was needing to look at a replacement the 5D Mk III came along and left me entirely underwhelmed. Especially since Nikon popped along with the jaw dropping D800 and, the camera I went for, D800E at the same time. The resolution on these sank anything else out there in the 35mm format right off, and the dynamic range left Canon floundering too. This was a real powerhouse! I was looking at the viability of adding a D810 when that was announced, but it wasn't enough of an improvement to justify the switch - Canon have finally retaliated with it's new 5D version which trumps the resolution but falls short on Dynamic Range which is, I think, a missed opportunity.

However... technology has moved on. Professional grade cameras, whist still offering the peak performance available, are no longer the only show in town. It is more than possible to shoot professional images in any genre using reasonably modest cameras. This realisation sent me down an altogether unexpected route. I started playing around with the Micro Four Thirds system. The small form factor, light weight and small lenses made life easier for me. After a couple of cheap used camera bodies I opted to stick with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 along with a couple of nice lenses.

Since then I have been wedded to the little Olympus. I am using it more, and the Nikon less. It has half the resolution, but it will run the last generation Canon a good run for it's money... which is to say it will trump a Pro camera from 3 or 4 years ago, and if they were good enough then - well this is good enough now. What is more the small size, light weight and discrete nature of the system means that I carry this with me more, and if I am carrying it more then I can respond to more opportunities.

In the next few days the replacement for the E-M5 is due to be released, and this has a feature which I am desperate to try. It will have the capability to shoot 40MP images which the early examples suggest are better than those of the D810. It does this by taking 8 frames in a single shot, all slightly moved using servos attached to the sensor, then combining the 8 frames into a single high resolution file. How this will work with moving images and long exposures remains to be seen, but it is interesting and I shall look forward to seeing how it works in the real world soon.

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