Starting with a lens and working backwards

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by lewis_henning, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. Any advice would be really helpful!
    I'm looking to buy a new camera but the most important thing to me is image sharpness. I started off looking for a camera and then looking for a lens, someone in another tread, said that really, I should be choosing the lens first. I currently have a Canon 10D and I want to update it as cameras have moved on quite a long way now. I'm not fussy about sticking to Canon. I would be quite happy to switch brands.
    All I really want is a 35mm equivalent of 30-55mm anything within that range would be fine. Probably a prime lens but a zoom lens is fine as long as it didn't compromise the image quality. I would quite like it to be fast too, maybe F 1.4 to F2.
    I will be using it mostly for night scapes with a tripod, I know I don't need a fast lens for that but I would like to have that shallow depth of field for other photography. Trying to just buy one really good lens rather than a range.
    Currently I have been looking at:
    Pentax K5
    SMC Pentax-FA 31mm F1.8 AL Limited
    Sony A580
    Sony 24mm f2.0 ZA SSM Distagon T*
    Panasonic GX1 (I know it's not out yet but looks like it should be good.)
    Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7
    At the moment, in most cases the lens cost more than the body I'm not worried about fancy tricks the camera can do. I would be quite happy with a complete manual really. Although, I would like to be able to print the images about 800mm wide. Low noise in the shadows is important too.
    If anyone has an opinion or experience with this kind of thing, I would be most grateful.
  2. I would like to be able to print the images about 800mm wide.​
    Have you looked at medium format?
  3. You will get better quality at lower price from a non-retrofocus lens, i.e. not wide-angle, such as a normal 50/1.4 or Pentax 43/1.9. (Unless your purpose here is to show how rich you are, rather than take good pictures.) The Sony 24/2 ZA and Pentax 31/1.8 cost around $1300 whereas the 43/1.9 is under $600 and the Canon 50/1.8 is around $100.

    I think you would be nuts to buy micro 4/3 for large prints. Peter is correct, the best image quality at semi-reasonable cost is from Pentax 645D, I believe.
  4. "I would like to be able to print the images about 800mm wide. Low noise in the shadows is important too."
    The absolute minimum you are looking at is a 5D MkII and 35 f1.4L. Looking at sensors smaller than the 135 format is just wasting time and energy.
  5. According to what I have been told by medium format photographers, not too many stores will carry the Pentax 645D due to a shortage of promised new lenses. In fact, the current B & H Winter 2012 catalogue does not even list the 645D. It seems that many medium format users prefer the Hasselblad H4D-40.
  6. Lewis, I have both the Pentax K-5 and the Panasonic Lumix G2 with Panny 20mm f/1.7 (trying to sell, in fact), and I can say without hesitation that the Pentax K-5 with a good optic such as the Pentax DA limited 70mm f/2.4 or the Pentax DA* 55mm f/1.8 will give you much sharper, more noise-free images than any m4/3 system, despite that beautiful Panny 20mm f/1.7 pancake! That said, the other posters are right in that the larger format Pentax 645D would be tops for image detail and low noise. For night work, I would also invest in a very good tripod and ballhead such as the Really Right Stuff carbon fiber systems. They exhibit the lowest resonance, best rigidity and stability, and will allow you to get the most out of your sharp lenses and high-quality sensor.
  7. Thank you for everyones responses.
    I have looked at medium format but I don't really have that sort of budget, £10000 it a little too much, although I would like one!
    Scott, interesting you should you say that I would need a 5D MK2 minimum. In another post, I started of trying to decided between the 5D MK2 and the D700. People on that post were saying I don't need a full frame and I would get better noise handling with a smaller sensor, like the K5.
    Maybe I'll just have to make smaller prints, not be quite so ambitious.
    It's helped to hear that you all I'm mad to think about a micro four thirds.
    Are there any other brands or systems people could recommend I look at?
    Thanks again.
  8. Lewis, your approach of selecting lens first and body second is probably a good one. However, before you select either, you should select your format. If you're doing low light photography and want shallow depth of field, a larger format is certainly something you should consider. The topic comes up a lot, so I wrote an article to save myself typing about it over and over. For a discussion of the various differences between formats, look here:
    You can extrapolate the arguments to any format, if you might be interested in larger than the 24x36mm "full frame" of the 5DII (and other cameras).
    Once you decide on format, then you need to select your manufacturer. I suggest you select a brand based on the overall design philosophy, the feel of the cameras, how you get along with the user interfaces/controls, and the "whole" of the lens and body selections. This is an indication of what will be available to you in the future and at what price. Then when you've decided format and manufacturer, pick your lenses and camera body.
    BTW, it's OK to consider a Canon or Nikon too, unless you have a particular problem with them. There's nothing wrong with Sony or Pentax, but why rule out the bigger players?
  9. I'll also mention that my first DSLR was a 10D. It's antiquated by today's standards, but mostly because it's slow and relatively less sensitive in low light. Otherwise it was a very capable camera, and I could get very good enlargements from it, including some very nice looking 20"x30" (508mm x 762mm) prints. More modern, higher resolution cameras will of course do better. Are you finding the image quality of your 10D lacking? What lenses do you have?
  10. 20x30 could be done with most brands FF, aps-c or even m4/3rd if conditions are good and one is not too critical of IQ. On the olther hand, if one is too critical, go MF. But there's always compromises, with any camera/format. There's no best:
    MF doesn't AF fast,
    5d2 AF slower than d700 but has more MP,
    The sonys have IBIS (so does pentax) and use zeiss lenses.
    APS-C utilizes the middle part of FF lenses so sharpness is better FF, at least in theory.
    Nikon and Canon both have a larger selection of lenses etc, etc...
  11. Lewis, if you don't have the budget for medium format, consider large format. LF cameras and lenses from a few decades ago can be inexpensive. but capture images that compete with new digital gear. A modest scanner converts LF images to digital for contemporary use. LF photography is not suited to those who capture many images with minimum inconvenience. Fast lenses for LF are expensive. The gear is larger and heavier to transport. For some of us, it's worth the effort.
  12. Lewis, if you don't have the budget for medium format, consider large format. LF cameras and lenses from a few decades ago can be inexpensive. but capture images that compete with new digital gear. A modest scanner converts LF images to digital for contemporary use. LF photography is not suited to those who capture many images with minimum inconvenience. Fast lenses for LF are expensive. The gear is larger and heavier to transport. For some of us, it's worth the effort.
  13. I agree that obviously all formats and systems involve compromise, and the the large format systems yield the best
    ultimate image quality for extreme enlargement. However, I find that the Pentax K-5 does enough things right, and
    combined with their awesome, light, weather-resistant and extremely sharp DA* and Limited optics, would satisfy one's
    needs for "high quality" prints. Again, coupled with good technique and a high-quality tripod system such as Really Right
    Stuff, I think you'll be pleased with the resulting image quality. For example, I use the Pentax DA Limited 70mm f/2.4
    (among others), which I find razor sharp across the field! See sample images at my site. Good luck
    choosing a system!
  14. Sarah, your write up is was most helpful, I didn't quite make all the way through but I found the bit about the sweet spot of the lens really interesting. I always thought it was better to have a wider lens and then just use the middle. - I think Bill Tuhill was making the same point earlier. If I have understood you correctly, it's not so good to use a wider lens because, you're effectively trying to get more information out of a smaller piece of glass.
    My current Canon kit is, a L 17-35mm F2.8 and a L 200mm F2.8. The zoom is a little bit broken but I think could be repaired. It does make sense to stick with Canon but I was just researching to see if there was anything better suited before I buy more Canon. All my equipment has been second hand, so I haven't spent that much. The reason I want a new camera is because I've been looking at my old shots from the 10D and I just feel they are a bit soft once I've blown them up to 50MB. I don't really like having to keeping up-to-date with camera, I would prefer to buy one good camera and have it last a good few years.

    I was thinking that the 5D Mk2 would be the way to go but people have been telling me that the dynamic range is not so good compared to other cameras.

    Thank you to everyone who has recommend medium and large format camera. As much as I love film, I think all the benefits that digital bring can't be overlooked. I don't know if I will have a lot of set-up time that Large Format would require. Most of the shots I want to take will be in urban areas. Plus, I can use a digital camera for my work.

    After all of this, I'm now thinking I need to buy a FF camera. If start buying lenses, I don't want to buy lenses that are only suitable for an APS-C camera. And for FF, it seems only have three makers, Canon, Nikon and Sony.

    Canon, like said, I've heard that 5D MK2 might not be right.
    Nikon, the D700 is only 12MP and the others are a bit pricey.
    Sony, the lenses seem to cost a bit more than Canon and Nikon and it's noise handling is not so good at high ISO speeds.

    I was liking the idea of the K5 with the 31mm F1.8. I have seen some fantastically sharp shots with that set-up. If Pentax were to bring out a FF camera, I would still have a good lens to go with it, wider of course. Still not sure.


  15. After all of this, I'm now thinking I need to buy a FF camera. If start buying lenses, I don't want to buy lenses that are only suitable for an APS-C camera. And for FF, it seems only have three makers, Canon, Nikon and Sony.​
    You can use FX lenses on DX cameras. And it is better in that you are using the middle part of the lens, say, if you are paranoid about IQ. I advise you to just get a camera and shoot. With 100 or 200 ISO on a tripod at f8 or so, I really doubt you can tell what format or brand you actually used...
  16. Leslie:
    Yes, good point. I'm sure I could get good results with most cameras... I know I didn't specify it in the beginning but I'm just trying to think ahead, what else might I need the camera for... A fast lens would be handy for work and other shots. And if I am buying into a new brand, I just want to make sure it's got everything I need.
  17. I assume you mean you have the 16-35/2.8. That lens and the 200/2.8 are very good. They probably far exceed the resolving capacity of the 10D, at least when stopped down a bit. A 5DII with those lenses would certainly give you more resolution. You might want to pick up a 50/1.4 as your normal lens. (You'll need to rethink your optics when moving to full frame, as they will all yield a much wider field of view.) A step up from that would be the 50/1.2L and then maybe a manual focus Zeiss. The 5DII will give you magnified liveview, which you can use for fine tuning focus. Use a good tripod, mirror lockup, smaller apertures, etc., etc., and that's about as good as you'll get for a 35mm format digital camera. It all depends on what lengths you want to go through to get the absolute crispest shot. However, I think a 5DII would open up a lot more possibilities for you.
    I can't comment as to dynamic range in practical terms, as I don't own the camera (yet). However, I've seen enough brilliant images from that camera that I wouldn't be too worried about it.
    You understand my assertion correctly about sweet spot of a larger format lens vs. the entire image circle of a native format lens. Some have argued this point with me, to be fair, and I've seen some very impressive images from medium format lenses on full frame cameras. However, I maintain that quality for quality, the native format lens is going to yield the best performance. I think that's why the L lenses (all of them being full frame format) on crop bodies sometimes do not perform as well as the native format EF-S lenses.
  18. "Scott, interesting you should you say that I would need a 5D MK2 minimum. In another post, I started of trying to decided between the 5D MK2 and the D700. People on that post were saying I don't need a full frame and I would get better noise handling with a smaller sensor, like the K5."
    Those people don't know what they are talking about! In that other thread I pointed out I print at the sizes you want from both cameras and that the 5D MkII is much more capable.
    Look at this link, select 800 iso and RAW, put the yellow crop square over the yellow feather thing in the bottom right with some black background, then try and tell me where that additional DR is in the Pentax shot.
    If you truly want to print to 100 cm and are looking at low light images nothing short of medium format will best a 5D MkII and a 35 mm f1.4L. The only negative of the 5D MkII for your use is AF, if you will be relying on AF instead of manual focus via live view then another camera might be more suitable from an image capture point of view, not from an IQ point of view. Don't forget APS sensors are around two and a half times smaller than ff ones, that is a bigger difference than between ff and most digital medium format cameras, even the most stalwart advocates of crop sensor cameras admit that at higher iso or big prints the larger sensor always trumps the smaller one.
    Here is a low light 5D MkII sensor shot, handheld with a 50 mm, f3.5, 1/6 sec, 400 iso.
  19. My Canon 10D served me well for several years and I made plenty of good night shots with it. Consider a Canon 28MM 2.8.
  20. "My Canon 10D served me well for several years and I made plenty of good night shots with it."
    How many did you print to 40"x 27"?
  21. Anyone shooting ISO 800 on a tripod or handholding a (landscape no less) 1/6 sec @400 is not a guy you want advise from.
  22. the current B & H Winter 2012 catalogue does not even list the 645D.​
    Today, Henry Posner of B & H Photo-Video has clarified in another post of mine under Casual Photo Conversations that B & H indeed carries the 645D. He advised to check B & H's website for up to date information.
  23. "is not a guy you want advise from"
    It was a location scouting shot and handheld, it did what it needed to, though is probably not useful in this thread, I had intended to crop a small dark section and post that as well but couldn't be bothered.
    Here is another that might be more appropriate, if, of course, Leslie approves. It is a tripod mounted 594 second exposure, no NR, f4 iso 100. This file prints superbly at 36" x 24".
  24. The K-5 + one of the better primes (FA31/1.8, FA35/2, DA35/2.8 Macro, FA43/1.9) are pretty good choices and should best any of the current micro 4/3 offerings. If you're still thinking m4/3 however, I imagine that you might might consider the Panasonic/Leica 25/1.4 as well.
    I imagine the 5D Mk II plus a good prime might have the potential for better results, and it should considering it costs $1100 more for the body. I'm not sure just how much lens you need to realize the results you're looking for though something like a 50/1.4 will probably cost less than the better Pentax primes listed above and may actually be better suited for your purpose than the 50/1.2L. One might also consider manual-focus zeiss.
    Once you get pretty good lenses and camera though the photographer often becomes the bottleneck as it takes increasingly careful technique to get the best focus and avoid vibration that will become apparent at larger enlargements.
  25. some aps-c sensors are already being rated higher than some very good full frame sensors (such as 5d ii) ( i am referring to dxomark ratings), what do you all think of that? it seems a larger format sensor is not necessarily a superior one?
  26. tarck,
    "what do you all think of that? it seems a larger format sensor is not necessarily a superior one?"
    I think anybody that believes that has not used the cameras or looked at readily available comparisons (like I linked to above), they also don't understand what DxO is testing or saying or the limitations of comparing their test results against different sized sensors.
    Here are some interesting links you might find helpful.
    Kidding. This rightly points out that in medium sized prints at base iso with suitable subjects and dynamic range there is no difference between P&S and medium format cameras. But read the conclusion, P&S's can't replace bigger format cameras the vast majority of the time.
    DxO test results explained. This points out the limitations with DxO test results and methodology. If you look at endnote 27 you will see that on a per area basis (when the article was written) the Canon S90 P&S had the highest noise rating per sensor area besting the Nikon D3s! Anybody suggesting Lewis is better off with a P&S would be rightly chastised.
    Just look at RAW file comparisons, select the 5D MkII and 400 iso, then drag the crop box to the watch, or to the yellow feather to the left of the watch. There is no comparison in IQ, the 5D MkII is substantially better, if that difference is enough to be important to you then you need the Canon, if it isn't any number of crop cameras can do the job you want.
    If you compare same generation sensors, bigger will always be better, that is just physics, that does not mean smaller isn't good enough, each person can only decide that for their own application.
    For Lewis' declared intent, to print at 100cm in low light with detail in shadows being important and close viewing distances, a 5D MkII is a minimum sensor requirement.
  27. > Some aps-c sensors are already being rated higher than some very good full frame sensors.

    The DPreview studio comparisons of the Sony A77 and A65 ($899!) show they are competitive with full-frame DSLRs from Canon and Nikon. Better at low ISO, slightly noisier at high ISO. I used to think full-frame was the future, but it looks like I was wrong -- seems to be a dead end.
  28. Bill, just pulling numbers out of the air, is there any reason you would believe a 16 MP full frame sensor would have performance inferior to a 10 MP APS-C sensor (i.e. with the same pixel density, but simply having more sensor area)? Also do you find that large format film cameras don't compete well with small format film cameras in matters of image quality -- grain, resolution?
    I've seen crops from the A65 (just now), and the RAW results look pretty much like what comes out of my 40D, and not quite as good as what comes out of my 5D (original), even accounting for differences in pixel density. I must admit the jpegs do look very impressive -- probably better than my 40D or 5D can produce. I suspect Sony has developed some very nice noise reduction algorithms; however, application of these algorithms always comes at a cost.
    I think the reason this subject gets knocked around so often is that the sensors are not really all that different in size, so the more subtle attributes of image quality (sharpness, noise, etc.) are sufficiently similar that technical advancements (e.g. new noise reduction algorithms) can muddy the comparison. The less subtle attributes (e.g. depth of field, range of usable apertures, cost) are probably better reasons to select between formats -- IMO, of course.
  29. If one wants to make pictures 0,8 meter x something and then wonders, what kind of camera I need, the answer is here:
    It depends from what distance one looks at the prints.
    If You look at that print and the distance is 5 meters, nobody can tell the difference between Canon or Nikon or whatever. Now if You take a loupe and go near and compare two pictures taken with Canon or Nikon one might see a difference, but then WHO looks pictures with a loupe, when they hang on walls?
    If Your picture is clever, visual, stunning etc. it is really no matter which lens or camera You use.
    It is somewhat funny to read thousands and thousands of these questions when all that matters to a spectator is ----what is the visual value of that 0,8 meter picture. Nobody checks the DPI points of printer.
    If You do not calibrate Your camera, screen and printers together, its a total waste to even think which lens or camera body should be used to make 1 meter picture.
    People should focus on visuals, not pixels.
  30. Sarah, I can't answer your questions. I just try not to be doctrinaire. To me the A77 and A65 look better than the full-frame DSLRs in RAW mode as well, until about ISO 1600.
  31. Scott, I'm sure your 5d2 does well. But that doesn't mean other cameras with FF or aps-c can't do the job (which is 20x30 at low ISO). It's not like we are comparing A 5d2 with, say, a canon G12. Now, at base or low ISO...I would definitely choose the new Sonys (aps-c but 24mp) than, say the original 5d or a d700 (both FF) as it has more mp and the noise issue is nil, at low ISO.
    BTW the A77 EVF rocks!
  32. Leslie,
    That is exactly why I have said in this thread,
    "that does not mean smaller isn't good enough, each person can only decide that for their own application."
    I am not a huge fan of the 5D MkII, I am a fan of its sensor. I can only convey my personal experience and that has been, if you want to print 100 cm of dark subjects with shadow detail being important a 5D MkII is a minimum.
    Now go to this link and do what I said before. Even if you leave the comparison at 100 iso but move the crop box to the yellow feather with some black you will see the A77 does not come close to the 5D MkII in IQ, and that is base iso. I am not saying the A77. or any other crop camera, is not a good camera, or that you can't take or print superb images with them, what I am saying is 100cm enlargements are pushing the limits of 135 format sensors, once you include dark subjects, shadow detail and critical close viewing distances, as Lewis has said he is, anybody who has compared actual images can't fail to agree that the 5D MkII sensor is a minimum.
  33. Scott, he's making a 20x30 at most. FWIW, at ISO 100, I think the A900 looks better than 5d2 crop. But the point is not everyone is a pixel peeper. In fact, I really doubt most people could tell such minute differenc(es) when looking at the whole photograph, which was my point.
  34. Valid points made by all. However, IMHO, image quality at print sizes of 2.5 ft. across is subjective and strongly
    dependent, as one poster stated, on viewing distance, lighting, paper quality and texture, presence/absence of over-
    laminate, not to mention the photographer's "vision", camera sensor, stability, ISO, image detail captured, lens DOF, etc.
    My point is that the camera and sensor, while obviously important, are not the "sole deciding factors" when it comes to
    exhibition quality prints. Perhaps the OP would do as well to "focus" on his artistic vision, and impose that on whatever
    equipment he chooses to use at that moment. Regarding sensor size, it's already been shown that generally speaking,
    larger is "better" in terms of resolution and detail preservation. That's one reason why catalog product shots, jewelry,
    cereal box cover shots, to name a few, are most often done with large format equipment. (The other being the awesome
    and precise control of perspective, focus, and depth of field gained with the tilts/shifts/swings of the view camera.) That
    said, sure, I'd love to get my hands on a Pentax 645D and a PC lens from Schneider or Hartblei. However, I still think that
    high-quality enlargements are possible via the "small sensor" of a Pentax K-5, (and quality Pentax DA* or FA Limited
    lenses) for example.
  35. Leslie,
    In this thread Lewis said 80cm, 32", in his previous one that I also replied to he is talking 100cm, 39". Any way you look at it they are above average sized prints, at those sizes, and bearing in mind his other criteria, everybody is a pixel peeper, you can't fail to be, at those sizes every smallest detail is enlarged to be easily seen by anybody.
    Interesting that you have now, after looking at comparisons, given up on the crop camera and are suggesting the A900, I don't care, a FF is a minimum. The A900 also takes the very good 35mm f1.4 G lens so would be a very similar prospect to the 5D MkII and 35 f1.4 L.
    You make many excellent points that I agree with completely, but there is no doubt though that FF prints made from a 5D MkII or an A900 will look better, at those sizes, when subjects are dark, and shadow detail and close inspection are specified criteria.
  36. Sarah: I have the older lens which is 17-35mm.

    Scott: Nice shots. The first one is close to the sort of thing I will photographing. I agree, in the examples you show, the 5DMK2 is better. Thank for getting the links together.

    A few people have been saying that it's not important to worry about the image quality and instead think about subject. I do agree that the subject is the most important thing. But I would like to upgrade my camera, my 10D is a great but like I have said before, the shots are a little soft once they are blown up. I don't want to spend £1000 or £1500 on a system and then find out I should have spent a bit more to get something that's going to last me longer. I would rather spend an extra £500-£1000 for the right system. Saying that, I don't want to spend all that money, I would rather have a cheaper camera but only if it's going to do what I want. I really want to establish what the best system would be and then start working out the finances and work out where I might have to make compromises. One compromise is that I may only have one lens, this is why I think a 50mm F1.4 is a good option. I can use it stopped down for night work on a tripod but I can also use it for other more spontaneous shots, or for shallow depth of field close ups.

    Andrew: You mention manual Zeiss lenses. I hadn't thought about that. I really liked focusing with my old Nikon FM2 and Olympus OM10. I didn't think about using manual lenses on a DSLR because it's so hard to till if the shot in focus. But from looking at the Zeiss site, they say that you can get split image focus screen for DSLRs. This idea is quite appealing. However, apparently you can't get a split screen for the 5DMK2 which is really annoying! This sort of pushes me towards the D700 but then, it's a bit old now and costs more than the 5DMK2. I don't really want to spend so much money on something that could well be replaced soon.
    Does anyone know if I might be wrong about the 5DMK2 not being able to have a split image focus screen.
  37. GInteresting that you have now, after looking at comparisons, given up on the crop camera and are suggesting the A900, I don't care, a FF is a minimum.​
    Uhm....I have not given up anything. I just said the A900 looks better than the 5d2. You said one need a 5d2 and 35mm f1.4 at a minimum, if I'm not mistaking. FF is not the minimum, The original 5d and D700 is FF and I would take the A77 over them. It's not a FF vs. aps-c isssue solely. If you make it a format issue, why not go MF or even LF? I'm sure they look better than 24x36mm...Just get the 5d2, Lewis, you guys are just too dense for me. I mean, why do one need a split imaging focusing screen when you have zooming in via liveview?
    I'm outta here...Good luck with pixel peeping.
  38. Lewis
    I'm glad the links helped. With all the issues Nikon has had with production interruptions both in Japan and Thailand, it has been suggested that they won't be announcing anything new very soon, and even when they do announce a D700 replacement delivery dates could be much further, I have a friend un-patiently waiting for one! Canon have suffered just as badly with lenses announced many months ago but still not available. Don't forget in my reply to your other thread though, the D700 does not print out to large sizes anywhere near as well as the 5D MkII.
    If you can keep the 17-35 f2.8, it is a great lens. I use the 50 f1.4 a lot, many people hate it but I really really like mine and at f5.6 it is sharper than an L macro (and yes, like all my outlandish claims I can back it up with links and actual user experience).
    With regards manual focus, live view is the game changer here, 10x magnification on a screen is far more accurate than a split screen any day, but more time consuming, not really a problem with tripod and considered shooting though. I do a lot of my work with the Canon manual focus 17 mm TS-E, modern DSLR's are not made for through the viewfinder manual focus though, however much Zeiss might try to convince you otherwise and even if you find a split screen, it normally messes up the exposure readings so you end up losing accurate AE.
  39. Lewis, I'm almost certain you can get split image focusing screens for the 5DII, but research the issue to be certain. Often these must be modified from the larger 1 series screens, which is an annoyance, to say the least. However, there are tiny businesses that modify and sell these screens.
    As Scott says, the magnified liveview is the way to go for achieving critical focus on tripod shots; however, if I were to mount up a manual focus lens on any camera, I'd want the split image screen. I'd also want a microprism surround if I could find it. (It might be available.)
  40. BTW, Lewis, another option is to mount up your old Nikkor manual focus lenses either to a Nikon or to a Canon. As strange as this may sound, manual focus Nikkors tend to be more compatible with Canon EOS cameras than with modern Nikons, given a Nikon/EOS adapter. The EOS mount is so huge that you can mount just about anything in there (except ironically for the old Canon FD lenses). You might be able to do this with other cameras too, e.g. Sony.
    FAIW, I used a Nikkor 105/2.5 on my 5D for a while, but I ultimately bought a Canon 100/2, which I like even more. It is nice to have the AF, which I've programmed to the "*" button button on the back.
  41. "If you make it a format issue, why not go MF or even LF?"
    I would! But Lewis has already stated that is not in his budget. By saying the 5D MkII was a minimum I meant that was the minimum generation and sized sensor to do the job, the A900 would work just as well, but as he has a great ultrawide Canon lens it seemed silly to swap manufacturers when there is no need.
    Before you go though, please point to a link that shows the A77 IQ approach that of the 5D MkII or the A900 at the enlargements we are talking about, or explain how an area enlargement in the order of 772 can be approached by one being enlarged 1802 times, that is the difference between the area ratios of a FF and crop sensor at these sizes.
    With regards Lewis's criteria, this is a question of format first.
  42. I've been in your shoes once...bought 5dmk2, Zeiss ZE 35 f2, and never looked back. It does not get any better in 35mm format...
  43. Andre, you may very well be right, as I've always admired the 5DMII and especially Zeiss optics. However, an interesting
    comparison would be between it and the Pentax K-5 coupled with, for example, the Pentax DA 70mm f/2.4 Limited! I've
    gotten some razor sharp detailed images that surpass my old Nikon/Nikkor 35mm film images.
  44. I've been dong a little bit of research into the D800. I think it's best to wait and see.
    But if I were to go ahead right now, I think I would buy:
    Split image focus screen.
    Zeiss 50mm F1.4
    Nikon to Canon lens mount for my old Nikon lenses.
  45. Lewis,
    That is an interesting choice that sounds bourn on an expectation or hope rather than a practical solution based on actual use.
    The D800 has been so delayed it is almost a joke, it seems both the 5D MkII and the D700 are in a race to see who can be announced after the other, maybe both Canon and Nikon have lost their best industrial spies!
    The 5D MkII is the best value available now, especially given your desire to put your legacy Nikon lenses on it and the 17-35 you already have, but I well understand that you are in no rush and there is nothing more frustrating than buying something and the next day a newer model with features that appeal coming out.
    Split image focus screens are problematic in modern DSLR's, I'd be reluctant to sacrifice reliable AE to work with manual focus that is not a patch on AF the vast majority of the time.
    The Zeiss 50 f1.4 is one of the worst Zeiss lenses ever from an image quality point of view, the Canon 50 f1.4 bests it at every aperture, has reliable AF, and is half the price of the Zeiss.
    If you are in the USA why not think about renting a 5D MkII and the Zeiss for a weekend? It will answer a lot of questions that only you can see, and it is surprisingly affordable given the cost of a mistake :)
    Take care, Scott.
  46. I started with a 10D, then progressed to a full frame Kodak SLRn and sports body, Nikon D2X. I bought a 1Ds in the spring to go with my 17 TS-E. Yes, I bought the lens first. Two months ago I upgraded to the 5D II and have not looked back. For the first time resolution from a DSLR reminds me of Kodachrome 25 and Velvia 50. I have now begun stitching shifted images from the 17 TS-E to create medium format sized 42 MP images up to an equivalent sensor size of 36mm x 48mm. I know this technique is not ideal for all photography but results for landscapes and architecture are stunning. Dynamic range of the 5D II far exceeds any of my previous DSLRs. I sold my 4x5 to buy the 17 TS-E. Again, no regrets.
  47. Here is a sample:
  48. I'm having a problem getting the image small enough. Let's try again.
    P.S. Not really worth posting afterall. Too much loss for inline viewing.
  49. Scott: You make a very good point about the metering... I am a little conceded about that too, I've bee reading mixed reviews about the switching the screen. I can always take it out if I don't like it. I'm surprised that you say the Zeiss lens is no good. Maybe I should look for another manual focus lens, if I want to go down that route. I think using a manual lens is something I really miss about shooting with film. - Good idea about renting one for the day.
    I think I should wait, even if I do go for the 5DMK2, the price is likely to drop once there is a new Canon or Nikon. - I always said I would by the 5DMK1 when the MK2 came out... But I never did! Haha
    John, loverly shot. Shame the res is too low on the site for us to see properly. I'm impressed that you could stitch an image like that so neatly! Nice the hear that you feel the Canon is like Velvia 50, I used to use that a lot.
  50. Learn more about split image focusing screens at the FAQ section of the Katzeye site, see "Light metering questions" and "ObtiBrite questions". If one understands how they work and how they may affect the metering of the camera, the potential benefit of the device should outweigh any potential challenges. But for manual focus photographers (which I have always wanted to do more of, and now will), it is a very useful tool.
    I've got a Katzeye on order with the OptiBrite treatment.
  51. Thanks for the link Steve! I'll read that when I get a chance.

    Let us know how you get on with the screen.

  52. I will do that Lewis, but since it's a Christmas gift (shhh, I don't know it's coming, even though I ordered it on my wife's behalf) it will take another month before I can think of installing it. It will be installed on my Pentax K-5.

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