Help choosing a camera for journalistic work

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by sabina_d., Nov 13, 2007.

  1. I'm trying to choose a digital camera that would better suit me to do photo journalistic work. I would have
    about US$ 5 500 to purchase a camera plus lenses. I have in the past shot a lot of medium and large
    format film and spent too many days and nights locked in darkrooms printing (and have printed digitally
    before, but always from scanned film), but have very little experience with digital cameras and now find
    myself a bit overwhelmed. I have read about the Canon 40D, Canon EOS 5D and Nikon D300 but don't
    know what the best option is. The photographs would eventually be used in magazines, newspapers and
    on the web. Are the full frame cameras (EOS 5D) a better option? Or would one of the other two cameras
    be enough for my needs? What would be your choice of camera and lens withing that budget? Any help is
  2. I say this as a dedicated lifelong Nikon user - the full frame Canon 5D seems to blow away every small sensor digital SLR out there, at least in the reviews I've read.
  3. If I were just starting out with new gear, I might go with the Canon 5D. But if newer technology is important or the 5D is just too big to handle, I would consider the Nikon D300. I would at least wait until the reviews are in for the D300 before making such a big decision. Both Canon and Nikon offer great lenses.
  4. I'm talking about image quality only, other than that the camera doesn't appear to be all that great. I've never touched one so my opinions are based on reviews I've read and comments by users I've talked to. It's the Nikon D300 I am personally lusting after.
  5. Sabina,

    At a recent NPPA workshop that I attended, a majority of the pros and students I talked to
    were carrying Nikon D200 and D80 cameras, most fitted with a fastish zoom lens. The
    D2x was also well represented. Behind but close to the same numbers were Canon users,
    mostly with the 20D and 30D bodies, a smattering of 5D and 1D II bodies as well. After
    that, a number of students had Olympus E500 and E510 equipment; I saw two people with
    Olympus E-1s. I didn't see any Sony or Pentax users. (I had my Panasonic L1 fitted with a
    Nikon 20mm lens... but then I'm a maverick... ;-)

    Those with the D2x and 5D, 1D bodies were all the established pros who obviously had
    the income to warrant the more expensive bodies.

    What this shows is that, by and large, the quality that comes out of anything from the
    mid-line bodies and up is adequate to the task of photojournalistic work. Choose a body
    based on what you need that's specific to the body. Higher end bodies are generally
    targeted to pro use: weather sealing, more rugged construction, faster sequence capture
    are usually what the users are looking for. Larger sensors for better tonal range and low
    light use seem to be usually reserved for those who do a lot of portraiture.

    Personally, I prefer Nikon and Olympus lenses for wide to portrait tele focal lengths and
    would go for either the new D300 or E3 bodies. Smaller, lighter, weather sealed, fast
    enough. Canon's real forte is in long, fast image stabilized lenses so if you're doing sports
    work the 1D IIn might be the right choice. If your work tends to portraiture and very low
    light, the big sensor Nikon D3, Canon 5D and 1Ds II might be more appropriate, but then
    be ready for a substantial increase in bulk and cost for lenses to support those cameras.

  6. I'm not a photojournalist so I won't express an opinion on the issue, but this guy is, and he has a great blog:
  7. I can only speak about the Canon options, but as a 5D owner I think you might want to go with something else for PJ work. The 5D is an absolutely fantastic camera, but it's not very fast. The burst rate is abysmal compared to a 40D, and it's a bit larger and bulkier as well. Perhaps the 40D, or the D300 mentioned above, would better suit your needs. There's always the 1D Mk III, but that's quite expensive and VERY bulky. Once you've got the body down, the real nuisance will be picking the ideal set of lenses.
  8. I'm not a photojournalist either, but I won't let that stop me ... :)
    I think any of the cameras you're considering, and several others as well, could do the job. Great photos are being taken by all of them (save the D300, which isn't for sale yet as far as I know).
    Turning to your question, I don't think there is a single "best option." But there may well be a camera that, because of features, size, weight, ergonomics, lens choices, etc. is best for you.
    You seldom hear anything negative about the 5D -- currently the least expensive full frame dslr by $$ thousands. However, it shoots at 'only' 3 fps (not considered "fast" by sports shooters or others who require a very fast frame rate) and is not said to be sealed against water or dust. The D200 and D300 (when it arrives) are sealed and are faster. Whether those factors are important to you is what matters.
    Hopefully, you'll have an opportunity to handle the cameras you are considering. That will help you decide.
  9. Sorry -- started my post then came back to it later, so I see I've repeated some of what Andrew said.
  10. Coming back to the major constraint:
    "I would have about US$ 5 500 to purchase a camera plus lenses."

    This basically eliminates all the cameras you are asking about. To get start a Rebel XTi or Nikon D40 with a kit 18-55mm lens is a reasonable starting point. Both will offer good images. You could also go the Konica/Minolta route with the in-camera stabilization. All will give you good images, it's just a matter of which 'system' you want to start your investment in. Look at what those around you are shooting. Always better to be in the majority if you need help.

  11. I'm not a photojournalist either, but this link gets tossed around a lot. It's worth reading.
  12. Jay,

    I don't know what you mean. I read the question as being "I would have about US $5,500.00 to purchase a camera plus lenses."

    What I see as a 'standard photojournalist basic outfit' that handles a lot of work is a body, preferably weather-sealed, along with a fast wide to portrait tele and fast portrait tele to long zoom lenses. That's all available for under the $5500 price mark:

    Nikon kit with D300, IS long lens:
    Nikon D300 body $1,800.00
    Nikon AF17-55mm f/2.8 ED-IF $1,200.00
    Nikon AF VR 70-200mm f/2.8 $1,625.00 (kit total $4,625.00)

    Pentax kit with two lenses, all weathersealed, IS in-body:
    Pentax K10D body $700.00
    DA*16-50mm f/2.8 $900.00
    DA*50-135mm f/2.8 $1,000.00 (kit total $2,600.00)

    Olympus kit with two pro lenses, all weathersealed, IS in body:
    Olympus E-3 body $1,700.00
    Olympus 12-60mm f/2.8-4 ED SWD $950.00
    Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 $850.00 (kit total $3,500.00)

    Canon kit with two lenses, long zoom IS, lenses weather-sealed:
    Canon 40D body $1,300.00
    Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L $1,450.00
    Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS $1,575.00 (kit total $4,325.00)

    I'd consider any of these four to be perfectly good starting points and capable of handling a tremendous amount of what a photojournalist needs to do. Higher end Canon or Nikon bodies are a plus, of course, but usually not particularly warranted.

    - I'm not familiar enough with the Sony system nor have I seen it proven in the field like the above so I didn't list it. But I'm certain you could assemble a similar kit with Sony brand gear.

    - The Pentax is an interesting choice as it represents a lot of functionality for the money, but the longer lens options are not ready yet (60-250, 200 and 300 mm lenses are due within th next six-seven months). The two current DA* kits are quite solid and respectable. I shoot with this kit, adding the Limited series prime lenses, and find it very competitive on performance for my work.

  13. Jay Hopkins, Nov 13, 2007; 12:26 p.m.
    <br>&gt; Coming back to the major constraint: &quot;I would have about US$
    <br>&gt; 5 500 to purchase a camera plus lenses.&quot;
    <br>&gt; This basically eliminates all the cameras you are asking
    <br>&gt; about.
    <br>Jay, I think you mis-read that constraint. The limit is USD$5,500.
    <br>A typical setup to cover a lot of situations would be, imo:
    <br>Nikon D300: $1800
    <br>Nikon 17-55/2.8: $1200
    <br>Nikon 70-200/2.8 VR $1700
    <br>Nikon SB800 flash: $320
    <br>So that's about USD$5000 right there. Maybe find a used D70 as a backup (uses same battery and cards as D300).
    <br>If you need a super wide lens, have a look at the Sigma 10-22 or Tokina 12-24/4 for around $500 or so.
  14. You have tw oreal choices: Canon 1D mark 3 or the new (and more expensive) Nikon D3.
    BNut you could get away with any number of cameras.
  15. LOL ...

    Ellis, while the D3 and 1D III are wonderful cameras, it is *certainly* the case the the vast
    majority of photojournalists "get away" with others! ;-)

  16. Or you could spend $200-300 at KEH on a camera mentioned in the Alex Majolis article in my link above. :)
  17. Sabina,
    first excuse my terrible english. Second - what kind of journalistic work will you do? A lot of
    press-conferences or other work where a lot of other photographers and TV-teams are
    around? Choose fast-frame-rate body and a f 2.8 70-200 zoom and a really wide angle
    zoom. Or will you work alone or with a writer? If this is the case you could trade the bulky
    zooms for some small primes - 2.8/20 or 2.8/24 + 1.4 or 2.0/35 and a tele between 85 and
    135 mm. An Eos 5D would be perfect if youre not working under deadline-pressure. Or does
    your work include a lot of theatre- or music-work? Sports? Think about your needs. BTW ,the
    typical photojournalist in my area uses two bulky Canons 1D Mark 2 or 3, a 16-35, a 70-200,
    a 2.8/400 and a fisheye. The classic 28-70 or 24-70 seems to be not en vogue.
    But these guys have a lot to carry and someone with less equipment could be faster and shoot
    a picture or two while the others schlepping their big rollercases upstairs.
    And handle the cameras and lenses you would like to buy - ergonomics are important too.
  18. It seems absurd to suggest that because a world famous Magnum photographer used* an Olympus SIX Olympus 5060s (sometimes alternating between two hung around his neck)..that the 5060 would now be an appropriate camera for newspapers, and magazine articles. The web perhaps. But unless you really are Alex Majoli, do you think you are going to get your 5mp jpeg past a magazine editor or art director?

    * (I think past tense might be accurate.. seems to me I read Alex Majoli is using the Leica M8 now)

    Just my $.02
  19. "It seems absurd to suggest that because a world famous Magnum photographer used* an Olympus SIX Olympus 5060s... that the 5060 would now be an appropriate camera for newspapers, and magazine articles. "
    My point was not that Sabina should use the exact same model as Majoli and voila, be as good as Magnum photographer. My point was that the specific type of camera, be it a P&S, DSLR, M8, Zorki, Rolleiflex TLR etc, has little influence on one's abilities to succeed as a PJ.
  20. Sure, but my point was that you had better be as good as Majoli if you hope to get your 5meg p&S files past the realities of art directors etc.Personally I'm all for it, there's a lot of creative potential in using those cameras, but there's a lot of publications that have demanding file size/resolution requirements. The Zorki would probably be a better bet.
  21. Dean- I get your point, but once again, I was not suggesting that the OP use any specific
    type of gear, be it 0.2 MP or 200 MP, 35mm, MF, or 8 x 10 LF... so your point about editorial
    requirements for file size/resolution is understood but tangential. Actually, I think we are
    agreeing: being a good photographer is the primary determinant of success as a PJ, NOT the
    equipment specs.
  22. sabina,
    there are as many different styles of journalism as there are types of photographers. i would give a lot of thought to your photographic style and also to what lenses you need the most, then think about what system will allow you to accomplish that the best. a 5d would seem to be a no-brainer choice, unless you shoot a lot of telephoto stuff, but then, you could easily take "journalistic" pics with a used nikon d50 or d70 and a 50/1.8, which you could probably get for $500-$600. bodies are interchangeable; the real investment is in the glass. knowing what you need can go a long way with any camera system. for PJ work you need to choose a main lens or two-lens combo -- 17-55 + 70-200 is the basic 'pro' setup on DX -- but on FF, a 24-70 or 28-75 will get you roughly the same focal range; also, on FF, the 70-200 becomes more useful as a portrait lens, but less useful for shooting sports. then again, a "normal" prime becomes indispensible for candids and low-light work, and there are definitely occasions when a w/a lens or fisheye are the way to go for PJ stuff. without knowing more about your style, it's difficult to be specific, except to say there are a lot of options out there. i would get s 5D over a 40D, but the d300 is somewhat in-between the two. if you dont need the faster fps and 1.5 mag factor of the d300, go with the 5d.
  23. Photographers where I work (I'm not one of them) carry two (work-issued) Canon 1D Mark II bodies, one equipped with a Canon 16-35 f/2.8 and one with a 70-200 f/2.8IS. These two lenses, in my opinion, are a must for the day-to-day photojournalist. They allow you to get the wide-angle action (or big-group grip and grins if that's what your paper is looking for) as well as tight detail shots and great candid portraits.

    For starting out, I think a single Canon 40D would be ideal. With the 16-35 and 70-200 lenses, it should leave you just enough for a couple extra batteries and a couple CF cards.

    I shoot with a Canon 10D because I can't afford to upgrade. It's a nice camera, but the time between shots is longer than I'd like and the buffer only holds 9 shots. That means I shoot nine shots and it has to write to the card before I can shoot again. But it's my understanding that the 40D is MUCH better in that regard.

    I have seen the Canon 5D and I really like the large LCD screen and small size. The down side is the price.

    For most sports, you'll need a much more telephoto lens. One that cost more than you have for a startup kit. But, depending on where you work/freelance, they may have one that you can use.
  24. Thanks everyone for your opinions and responses. This has been really helpfull. I'm gonna go
    to a store in person and see what feels better to hold before I make my final decision.
    Thanks a lot!

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