what do I buy?!

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by melissa_arcuri|1, Mar 11, 2009.

  1. I am starting to shoot weddings again after a two year hiatus. I still shoot film(which I always will for my own stuff) and realize that I need to go digital by the summer. I have read all sorts of stuff, most of which I dont understand. I am not trying to sound pretentious,even though I will, but bottom line...I am a good photographer. I have the ability to anticipate a great shot. My downfalls? I have little to no knowledge of the technical jargon, despit e my degree in photography. I dont care about it. I read these posts about the best cameras and I don t understand what the heck people are talking about.
    I want a SIMPLE explanation to why any given camera is the "best".
    Can anyone help me?
    I have two requests...it must NOT have an on camera flash and must be full-frame.
  2. What sort of film camera are you using? Are you already invested in lenses that might cross over nicely to the Nikon or Canon full-frame bodies? That's a good place to start your thinking. Otherwise... a pair of Nikon D700 bodies, if you're looking for rugged. Perhaps the Canon 5D MKII, if you're more of a Canonite. You really need to physically pick these two bodies up and touch them. They'll both produce stunning output, and work in low light situations that you (as a film shooter) will find remarkable. But wedding work is about speed and having the equipment not get in your way. The physical ergonomics of the camera would strike me as central to your decision making. You've got to touch them, see where the external controls land under your fingers, etc. And of course, the lens issue.

    You may also find Nikon's remote strobe capabilities to be extremely useful. The D700's built-in flash (which you don't have to use as part of the exposure!) can control their pro speedlights, off-camera. Very handy. But there are many ways to tackle that issue, and more every day.
  3. Nikon D3
    Nikon D3x
    Canon 5d
    Canon 5d Mark II
    Canon 1ds
    Canon 1ds Mark II
    Canon 1ds Mark III
    Sony A900
    None of them have a built in flash, all are full frame and they're all the, "best." Is this simple enough?
  4. Josh...you are the best! Thank you!
  5. Unfortunately for the OP, the D700 has a built in flash. And as Matt points out, it's great for controlling remote speedlites if nothing else. Unless the OP has Canon lenses, I would have said the D700 was perfect: Nikon's "best" metering, AF points (as opposed to Canon's 2nd best in the 5D Mark III) and a more rugged build- but it has the undesired built in flash. That leaves the Sony A900, the Canon 5D Mark II or the Canon 1Ds Mark III. Personally, I would keep it between Nikon & Canon for various reasons. And that leaves the two Canon cameras. The 5D Mark II is more of a (very good) prosumer camera while the 1Ds Mark III would be a pro camera. The difference being that the 1Ds is better built and has Canon's better metering system and AF system.
  6. I'm not entirely sure why the built-in flash (especially if unused) is a show-stopper. The reason to look at the D3 (over the D700) isn't the lack of the built-in flash/controller, but the presence of the second CF card slot and the permanent vertical grip. Otherwise, it's really more of a sports camera. The D700 is ideal. And that built-in flash can actually save your bacon, sometimes. Otherwise... just don't ever pop it up!

    The lens and budget issues seem like the drivers here, and we don't know what the back story is.
  7. Matt,
    THANK YOU as well. All your info is helpful and easy to understand. I currently have a nikon n80 with a few lenses and a flash. I do prefer the least amount of equipment that is possible.
    You are so right, everyday I read or hear something new and different and more mind boggling than the day before.
  8. I agree with Josh's answer except that both Nikon and Canon have a huge system of lenses, flashes and other accessories and Sony has a more limited selection. Also, Nikon and Canon have much more third-party support of their systems.
  9. I promise I'm not letting my personal Nikon-ness polute my thinking here, Melissa... but the fact that you're a Nikon user already (which means you're used to the way their lenses mount, handle, etc), means that juggling bodies/lenses in the heat of battle at a wedding while using something like a D700 would feel completely second nature to you. That's a strong factor, here. If you plan on getting into these new tools before your coming season, the last thing you want to do is introduce any more variables than necessary.

    If you're not planning on buying two bodies initially, getting a D700 would also allow you to use the same glass on your N80 as a backup solution. That's not a trivial consideration.
  10. What's the problem with having a built-in flash?
    Personally I think they're great. For the most part you'll never use it and of course you can't even see it since it's collapsed into the prism housing and is entirely invisible. But when you've dropped your speedlight and broken the head, and your back-up speedlight has run out of power, you might just be glad there's a plan C ....
    If you use a N80 now, consider a D700. The controls are very similar, in fact the important ones are basically exactly the same. It's a nice small size (for a pro full-frame body) and is untouchable in low light and has faster more accurate focus than either Sony or Canon. Plus you can still use your existing lenses. Older D primes are superb - much lighter and sharper than most zooms. Resolution is 12 Mp - more than enough for weddings. You can make 30" prints if you needed to quite easily.
    If you want dual card slots think about a D3 - basically all the same features in a larger body with benefit of redundancy.
  11. Melissa, it helps to know your budget. Every suggestion made so far may not be applicable.
  12. I am not adament about the built in flash, just a preference I guess. More importantly is how easily it is to learn to use. I am partial to Nikon but once again I hear so many people tell me different things I am easily swayed toward Canon one day and than back to Nikon the next. Than I recently read a very positive review of the Sony a900. I appreciate everyones contributions.
  13. Luis,
    roughly 4000.00 is my current budget
  14. I recently bought a Nikon D700 for $2319 (new, in the US). If you are shooting weddings then you'll need two bodies in order to have a backup if one failed or was broken in an accident. Considering your $4,000 budget then two D700's might work for you.
  15. I recently read a very positive review of the Sony a900.​
    Right, they're all great cameras and have all gotten great reviews. The quality of photography from them will have much more to do with the photographer than any of these cameras compared to any of the others. Pick one and practice with it and test the various setting combination to see what you like.
    From the other details you've mentioned, I would tell you go with the D700 too. Don't worry about the built-in flash (you don't have to use it but it can be a nice feature in certain cases). Cost + physical size + Image quality + you already have some Nikon gear = the camera for you.
  16. Thanks Mike!
  17. Melissa, I don't think anyone here can make the decision for you on what's "best" for you to purchase and use. There are a number of great cameras that have been listed here and all would be great tools for you to use.
    I'm a bit puzzled, though, about why you insist on full frame and no built-in flash, and yet you admit you're baffled by the technical jargon, coming from the analog world of film. It seems to me you had better get a good handle on the digital world and what all of this technology entails before you just settle on one of the listed cameras and start shooting weddings again without a clue on how they work.
    Price is a very big factor in these high-end cameras. Do you want to spend $7000 on a body alone, and then a few more thousand on glass for it? Or can you be profitable and make money shooting weddings, and produce perfectly fine images with a half-frame sensor in a less expensive camera (which will have a pop-up flash that you don't have to use). I've chosen the latter route, using two Sony A700's and glass from Sigma and Minolta. I shoot weddings all the time with this platform, and do very well, and never once do my clients have the slightest idea that I'm not using a full frame sensor, nor do they care. Again, you really need to understand all this technology better to make a decision for yourself.
    If you're just stuck on full frame, you can either spend $7000 or more on a high-end Canon or Nikon like the D3, or you can spend $3000 on the Sony A900 with the same 24 megapixel sensor as the Nikon (Sony sells these to Nikon). The Sony will also have stabilization on the sensor itself, unlike Nikons and Canons which have to use stabilizers in the lenses themselves. What does this mean in lay terms? When you're shooting handheld in low lighting, your hand movements and vibrations can produce blur in your images without stabilization. With the Sony, every lens you use with it can benefit from the stabilizer, which compensates for these vibrations. With Nikon and Canon, you have to buy the more expensive IS stabilized lenses to get that technology. It comes down to how much you have to spend and what tool you want to use. Again, you really need to study this stuff and come into the digital world with the rest of us before you go plunking down big dollars based on our recommendations.
    And, if you start buying high-end full frame cameras, you'd better have plenty of huge memory cards, a very fast computer with terrabytes of storage space, redundant backups, and powerful processor to handle these huge digital image files these cameras produce. An 800 image wedding shot in RAW file format on a full frame camera will result in many gigabytes of data to store, process, and manage, and you'd better have a good batch of pricey software to be able to deal with all of that data. It may be in your interest to lower your sights a bit and work up to full frame cameras by starting with some of the good half-frame models. I doubt that you as a novice would even be able to tell the difference between full frame and half frame in the results, save for the difference in file sizes.
    If you read and study this forum, and pose questions on what confuses you as you learn about the digital world, we will be happy to help you along the way, so you understand this technical stuff better.
  18. Steve...once again alot of what I know is based on what I have read or heard from others. I TOTALLY agree that I need to have a much better understanding of the digital world and I truly appreciate your advice. I am considering going back to school and taking a digital class. I am easily overwhelmed by the barrage of info that is out there and honestly just want someone to say...buy this camera. I also know that is not the best way to go about this process. the info regarding what is needed for a full-frame camera was VERY helpful.
  19. Melissa....a built in flash is actually VERY handy when you want a little fill-in flash when shooting outside.....
    cheers Steve.
  20. Melissa, Steve's advice is well-grounded. With a $4k budget -- just for the bodies -- that eliminates a lot of the recommendations. A question: Is that budget for bodies and lenses, or bodies alone? What Nikon lenses do you already have?
    Your insistence on full-frame propels your minimum 1-body purchase into $3,000+. What about the 2nd body? Lenses? $4k is not going to cover it.
    Minimum lenses would be the Tamron 17-50/2.8 ($450) and Nikkor 80-200 non-VR, ($1,100), and you'd need at least one fast prime, but maybe you already own one.
    That $1,500 for the lenses leaves 2500 for the bodies minus the cost of the 2 flashes: $800. So....with a $4k budget, realistically speaking, that leaves you just enough for 2 D90s.
  21. The on camera flash thing is completely without merit. This is something manufacturers do for marketing purposes, many times--I would discount the presence or absence of it on a camera.
    Wanting the camera to be full frame has merit now, particularly if coming from film. Less to deal with re different format--the focal lengths and DOF, etc.
    Then, since you started with Nikon, basically the camera of your dreams is the D700. I shoot Canon, but if I were to be buying now, I would certainly give that camera a hard look. So I'd say you can't go wrong buying it.
    You can, however, also take the time to learn more before buying. I came from film, and researched and learned all I could before buying. But that's me, and I know there are other, equally valid ways of dealing with the issue, such as buying the most likely camera and learning as you go.
    Still, I would sit down and make a list of priorities. One thing was paramount for me--image quality. And there is a difference between Nikon and Canon. Not that one is better than the other, but things like noise response, etc. I don't know why, but when I look at a Nikon image, it feels more 'transparent' to me than a Canon image. I'll probably get flamed for talking nonsense but there you have it.
    The other thing that is very important to me is handling FOR ME. I can learn to work just about anything, but if I take a camera and it just doesn't feel right to me, I won't buy it. So making a list of priorities can be very eye opening. I would suggest it before proceeding further.
  22. You've gotten some good feedback ...
    Pick out three camera stores, actual camera / photography stores - not Best Buy and such, and set a day to go visit them.
    Ask to see the top two models for Canon and Nikon that are in your price range. Touch them, feel them and see what might "fit" for you. Don't buy on the first visit.
    Think it over for a week or so and do some online research to narrow the choices. It's more about the "feel" of the camera since you've got "skills" as well as the fact that you know you don't want a pop up flash and that you do want full frame. Go touch them and shoot some in the store. (Which is probably what you are already planning anyway ... smile.)
    When you buy something come back and tell us what you bought and why you bought it.
  23. We can be a helpful, albeit opinionated bunch here, but we're glad to help where we can. You really have to make a decision on what brand you're going to settle on and then work within that brand. In our profession, the top camera manufacturer names are Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Pentax, and Sony, not in any order. There is also Olympus, Sigma, and some lesser names, but I gave you the top names that have the widest appeal and broadest product/lens support. Fuji cameras use Nikon lenses and hardware, so they fall in the Nikon category.
    You need to just study up on these cameras, talk to some pros about specifics (we're a good place to start), and get your hands on some of these cameras to get a feel for them. And as I said earlier, don't let full frame and no pop-up flash be your only criteria. There are other more important areas to learn about and consider, such as quality (and quantity) of glass available, high ISO performance (the better the performance means less graininess and digital noise when shooting in dark churches), high-speed shutter capability (this function lets you shoot in bright sunny conditions with fill flash that will sync above 1/250 sec. to do shots you could not do in the film days). and good ergonomics with a well-placed button/function layout so you can make adjustments fast as you shoot. I particularly like the Sony platform, because it's got discreet buttons for all the most-used functions, where many cameras bury the functions in a rotating wheel or menu.
    Again, do your homework and you'll pick something good. Several years ago, I could not imagine what great gear we'd have to shoot with today, so these cameras all have a lot going for them.
  24. "I am considering going back to school and taking a digital class"
    What is the difference between film and digital.....? Use a CF card instead of film. Ability change ISO on the fly (where using film falls flat on its face). Composition and exposure is identical for both. So in terms of using a digital SLR versus a film SLR there is about 5 minutes worth of learning - how to load a CF card and how to navigate the menu. Job done.
    Learning the post processing side is much, much more involved. Very expensive too, you need to budget for a beefy computer if you don't already own one. Then there is Photoshop, Lightroom or whatever you choose to edit you pictures in. In particular, learning how to use Photoshop is not an inconsiderable task. Every single digital shot requires some sort of post processing.
  25. Hey Melissa,
    I agree, the jargon can be confusing, and I didn't think it was important either. I read up on all the cameras in my budget, and learned the jargon out of self defense. Google was my best friend. Then after settling on two (Canon Rebel and Nikon D80) I went to the store and tried them out. The sales guy was great - he even let me test it out outside - he came with me of course and he put different lenses on the bodies so I could really get a feel for it.
    After I made my choice (Nikon D80) I promptly forgot all the jargon and just enjoyed taking photos.
    You might consider a class though, I am just discovering shooting RAW and post processing...and I have to say, I find that more overwhelming than choosing a camera.
    Good Luck!
  26. Maybe I missed something but WHY do you feel the need to go digital? Film is still a perfectly viable solution for many photographers.
  27. Pete S, film is like the dinosaur, slowly but surely going extinct in professional photography. Laugh at me now, but look back in years to come and it will be all but gone with just a few die-hards holding the fort. Just my opinion...
    Digital offers so many advantages over film once the initial outlay and learning curve have been met. Very hard to argue against, but of course we still have a choice and if your preference is film then of course that is fine.
  28. Melissa, you will not make a mistake if you buy a full format Nikon, You use nikon and have nikon lenses. You only need to decide which one. Looking at you budget you need the D700 this will leave you money for a new lense if needed. I have Canon but if I were you I would buy Nikon. Its a head on head call both are equal. Take your pick.
  29. WHY do you feel the need to go digital?​
    Workflow? Cost of film? Cost of processing? Honestly, I love my F100 to death, but it seems to me that wedding photography is a "business" and that business owners need to make decisions that lead to making "profits".

    Speaking of digital vs film..... The OP is probably going to need a copy of Photoshop. Tack on around $500 to that budget.
  30. "The OP is probably going to need a copy of Photoshop. Tack on around $500 to that budget."
    That's for bare minimum starters. A couple of backup external hard drives. A more powerful PC and better display. She's going to need digital darkroom lessons and buy some reference books. $2500 on top of that $600 for Photoshop CS4... if not $1,500 more.
    I am not even talking about a printer and all of their $$$ inks & papers yet either. ;-)
  31. I will add here that there is a good selection of 3rd party stuff for Sony without the need for VR or IS lenses and high quality glass with the Zeiss lenses from Sony.
  32. Stay with film and you have low cost for very few weddings: the modern bride wants modern.
    Go with digital and work weddings to pay off the initial start up costs which need to be paid by anyone who starts a digital era business.
    Keep it simple.
  33. I agree with many others on this. The only thing I would say is buy a couple of cheap compact flash cards somewhere, go to a camera store where they will really let you play without pressuring you a lot to buy. Ask if you can take some pictures on your compact flash cards (1 for Nikon, 1 for Canon, 1 for Sony if you really want to) and then take those cards home and look at the sample images you took.
    This way you will know
    -how the camera felt to work
    -what you can expect for image quality from each camera you tested
    -you'll start to get somewhat of a feel what its like to work with digital AFTER taking the pictures
  34. Someone who is used to shooting film is used to having someone else make the proofs and do the lab work. There is no reason, whatsoever, that Melissa has to arm herself with a soup-to-nuts full-on super-duper speed digital darkroom. A simple ($<500) PC or laptop and a couple of $100 external drives, and she can do what she needs to do in order to back up her work, and burn the optical media she needs to hand the post production work over to someone else, just as she used to do with film.

    If she wants to get more directly into it herself, she can take advantage of a tool like Capture NX2 (which she'll get for free with a D700, and which will work very well with the files she'll produce with that camera). Yes, she'll want to spend $100 or so on a display calibration widget, and probably $50 on some more RAM so that her computer can move along quickly enough when dealing with a wedding's worth of files. You do NOT need a $500 copy of Photoshop and $2000 worth of computer in order to fly WELL past the level of image handling that Melissa was used to with flim. A used ("last year's") gaming computer from the local neighbhorhood nerd is going to be PLENTY of machine. A decent display, backup media, and she's good to go, especially for now.

    Or, she can simply get a third party involved, just as she's used to. It's not that hard, folks. With the revenue from a few weddings in hand, she can decide how much IT infrastructure to purchase, and how much schooling she wants along those lines.
  35. Well said Matt Laur - I agree totally. No need for a Porsche when a VW will do. Both German, both excellent, the one is just faster than the other and a load nicer to drive. But both get you to point B!
  36. The downside of buying the most expensive bodies can be that you have to keep them longer and can fall behind in terms of having the most up-to-date image chain.
    Every new camera has probably been tweaked all through the chain from sensor to card. If you are two generations behind you are very behind.
    That said, I wouldn't buy any new body until it's been on the market for a year. I have worked in manufacturing so I know new products can be tweaked quite a bit during the first year.
  37. Melissa;
    my recommendation is to go to a store that rents camera's and rent the D700, D3, D300(not full frame), and see what you think. Play with them for a weekend and learn digital by doing.... it's a lot like film.... an aperature is an aperature is an aperature :)
  38. my recommendation is to go to a store that rents camera's and rent the D700, D3, D300(not full frame)​
    That's like $400 per day in rentals (for all 3). But I do agree.... it probably wouldn't hurt to rent one of them for a weekend (especially if you get Sunday free) and go have some fun with it.
  39. Canon 5d is full frame and does not have a built in flash: cost approx. $2200. Now you can practice and shoot with a lovely camera; if you like it then it becomes a backup as you grow your system and eventually buy a slightly higher level Canon and you have a great camera, the 5d, as a backup which you'll certainly need.
    Buy a nice 580ex II flash unit for this camera: $420 and you've go some light. Get some rechargeable batteries and a charger to for a few more bucks.
    Purchase a Demb Diffuser to soften light from the flash:$39.95
    A battery pack (cp-e4) to help supplement the flash batteries: $150
    Get several CF Cards and you can go out and shoot a wedding for less than your stated price for just the camera. Maybe: Sandisk Extreme III cards are very nice and reliable: cost appox. $30 for a 4 gb card and you should get several which could cost a total of $300 - $400 to start and add more as needed. Definitely will need more eventually.
    All the above would cost you Approximately: $3,140 and add some for tax ... that leaves you with some left over for a nice lens: like a fish eye which looks lovely on the 5d full frame sensor or a nice wide angle like a 24mm f1.4 which is also lovely with the 5d full frame sensor. Of course there's the camera bag and a lot of little stuff but you're ready to go. Full frame sensor is a good thing imo.
    Of course: you could get higher ISO in your camera by buying the newer Canon 5d MkII but that has video capability which is probably not a function you need or want (yet): cost: ~$3000 but I really think the full framed Canon 5d is a great starter and eventual backup so that you can get started and see how it all feels before you make your next move.
  40. Melissa:
    I would not leave the d300 off your list. It is exceptional and exceptional glass for it is reasonable in cost.
  41. Melissa,
    What computer are you using? Cheap monitors are hell; you'll need a decent monitor .iMacs have great displays, and the new iMacs are out. Maybe you can score a discount on an older 20" or 24" iMac.
  42. Hi Melissa,
    I agree with Owen. Do not rule out the Nikon D300. I have shot with Nikons for years. Before I switched
    to digital I was using my F6's for all my event photography. Last year I bought two D300's with the vertical
    battery grips. They have been outstanding! My files are beautiful. You can purchase two of them for the
    price of one D700. That would leave you plenty of money leftover for CF cards, a couple of SB800 or SB900
    flash units, if you need them. BTW, I didn't take any digital shooting classes. Just practice heavily before you
    need to use them for a job. As it was pointed out earlier, learning the capture is the easy part, establishing
    the work flow takes much more effort. One more thing, the pop up flash will only engage if you choose to do
    so, it does not pop up on it's own.
    My current wedding kit consists of:
    The two D300's, Lenses- Nikon 17-35 2.8, 24-70 2.8, 70-200 2.8 VR, 50 1.4, 85 1.8, 180 2.8 and Sigma fisheye.
    along with 3 SB800's and 12 Sandisk 4gb extreme III cards. Works for me.
  43. As of right now...
    If you want video, the 5D2
    If you want the best files in a small form factor, the D700
    If you want nearly the best files, with dual card (self backing up your images) and a Pro size body, the D3
    Overall, if you can handle the weight, the D3 is the best camera for the job IMO.
    I have all of the above and still mostly use the D300's though. Why? well here is my criteria.
    Weight (got to be able to lug it all day w/out back ache or dreading bringing it up to your face to shoot)/ size.
    Files (need clean iso up to 1600 for weddings IMO).
    Accurate auto focus (D300 nails it more consistently than even the D700 IMO).
    Lens choice (again, this relates to weight and size, but also means more options). I love using the Tokina's I have for the crop bodies.
    Pop up flash (can save your butt in a pinch where your on cam fails, not that mine have, but they could), which can also be used in commander mode for off cam units.
    Price for features, the D300 is on top IMO. After having the D700 for six months now, and the 5D2 for a couple moths too, I still reach for the D300's 95% of the time. Can't wait for a D400 with video and decent 3200iso/usable 6400iso.
  44. No one can answer this question for you, but I have been looking at the Canon 5D II and I think I see its real strength: it is perhaps the perfect "compromise" camera of both the Canon and Nikon lines at present.
    That is, whereas the D3/D700 choice gives the best fast shooting and low-light performance, and the Nikon D3X is superb with regard to (1) lots of megapixels and (2) superior in-camera processing, the Canon 5D II is not really slow (unless one really is in action photography), and its low-light performance closely rivals that of the D3/D700 cameras--with the added benefit that it does give plenty of megapixels. Considering the number of megapixels, the low-light capabilities are quite striking.
    In addition, it is not really made for rough weather, but it should be okay for either wedding or studio work. The good side of that is that one does not have to pay the $6-8K for either the Canon 1Ds III or the Nikon D3X.
    Therefore, though it is not the very best camera for anything, it is a very capable camera for just about everything--short of shooting in pouring rain.
    In addition, it does meet your other stated criteria: "it must NOT have an on camera flash and must be full-frame."
    Just my opinion, of course. I have never shot it, but I do have the 5D and the 1DsII. I am basing my comments on what I see on these forums as well as the very helpful reviews and comparisons of dpreview.com as well as the personal website of our own Bob Atkins.
  45. I'm surprised that there are so many people who are discounting the built-in flash. While I do not use mine very often (D700) it has saved me in numerous situations where I have planned on using available light but could not get enough where I needed it. And...if you set it up correctly you will not get red-eye at all. Which brings me to another great feature on the D700 - auto ISO. It works, and it works very well.
    That said, the pop-up flash on the D300 saved a photoshoot for me as well. I used to shoot Canon. I was doing a family portrait on location and they really wanted me to shoot at their barn with their horses in the background. It was a hot, very sunny day, with glare and shadow all over the place. I had my 5D, 580EX, 24mm 1.4 & 35mm 1.4 plus a few more lenses. I tried every setting I had on the 5D and flash to get a decent exposure. No luck.
    I had just purchased a D300. I had it in the bag. I pulled it out, did not have my SB800 with me, put a 20-35 2.8D lens on, set the D300 on P mode...yes P mode...used the pop-up flash...and voila...evenly lit exposure from the very first shot. SOLD!
    I now have three D700 and one D300 cameras. There's nothing better in my book. Nikon metering has always been reliable for me from the old FTn days right up until today. With any system though the secret is to play with every setting that is available to you so you know what the camera can do for you and what it can't. Why spend thousands of dollars on sophisticated technology only to say....well I never use that feature?
  46. Melissa, you HAVE to get your head around the technical side of photography...especially digital. A digital camera will only get you 2/3 of the way towards a shot that you can sell.
    Good photographers can make a great image from a point and shoot. Good equipment can't help bad photographers. You need to understand about light. Thats what its all about. Take some trouble to do that then go on a course and learn how to make your camera produce good images.
    All digital SLRs have the option to disable the on camer flash, so I would go with something cheaper than whats recommended here. Nikon's D90 is almost as good as the pro version, but you still have a dial to select different scenes, like Portrait. That will give you the best chance to get goos results.
    Put an inexpensive 50mm f1.8 Auto focus lens on it and you can shoot groups as well as tighter individual shots. Thats the combo for weddings. With your limited knowledge, there is no reason to spend any more money.
    If you want the canon equivalent, its the 50D, and the same sort of canon lens.
    (And if you are successful and get commercial engagements, then let us know, so we can all jump off the cliff together!)
  47. If your current system was good enough two years ago, what's changed?
    The digital "revolution" happened several years ago, definitely more than two. Were you able to compete two years ago? If so, then you should be able to compete now.
    Stick with what you know. If people want digital, have your lab scan it and you're good to go.
    Of course, you could go digital and then you're not just learning a new camera, but post processing, printing, etc.
  48. Priority #1) I would lean towards anything with a dual card slot.
    Priority #2) Depending upon the quality of your glass... choose that system.
    Having shot both extensively...
    I prefer Nikon cameras
    I prefer Canon Primes, otherwise flip a coin on zooms.
    I prefer Nikon flash systems followed closely by Metz. Canon... barf!
  49. ughh do not get a sony lol.
    If I were you, I would purchase either a used 5d or a new 5d. Then I would buy a 24-70mm, 50mm 1.4, 135mm 2.0
  50. My biggest concern is that you are starting from ground zero digitally.
    Why shoot weddings?
    Why not just shoot portraits, invest a quarter of what it will cost to enter the wedding arena, spend about a tenth of the time investment and probably net the same amount of money.
    Most aspiring wedding newbies have no clue as to what they are getting into... and I mean this respectfully... I think you are one of them.
  51. Shucks....I'll take one of each :) Going away now.
  52. Kay, I'm curious why you said "ugh" to Sony? Do you know anything about the upper end of the Alpha line? If so, you know they're a serious contender and produce gorgeous images. I've built a career on this platform and will put my shots next to anything by Canon or Nikon and have no compunction about it.
    Stephen Asprey touched on a great point. A pro can use a point and shoot and produce quality work. When you're shooting 30 or more weddings a year, buy what you want, spend all you like, and have the best. If you're just getting into weddings, you can build a business with less expensive hardware and put all your money into glass that can transition to better more expensive bodies later.
  53. I think we lost Melissa.
    Here's a question Melissa....what system do you have now? I assume you didn't sell everything two years ago???
  54. I'm gonna throw my 2 cent in here. Its not full frame but on his budget the D300 might be a better solution for him seeing as how hw only has 4k to work with. He can pick up 2 bodies and a few extra batteries and maybe even a sb800 head for that assuming he still has is pro lenses.
  55. I'll throw a wrench in the works here. I use a Canon 1DMKIII which is not a full frame camera (but has a larger sensor than all other "crop" frame bodies). I also have a Canon 5D which is full frame. I use both for weddings and get great results with both. I prefer the 1D3 for all shots except the formals (simply because the 5D has a bit more mp). The 1D3 is much more responsive with faster, better autofocus than my 5D. It has more metering options and combined with the Highlight Priority feature and 14 bit processing works great for wedding use. It just works better for me in the hectic wedding format. That said, I prefer to use the 5D mounted on a tripod to take the deliberate composed formals since I have a few more mp and full frame to squeeze out a touch more detail in any large blow-ups.
  56. I would like to see some of your work Melissa. I think that spending alot of money when your work is "just OK" is not a great idea when your developing your talent. Or you're maybe the most amazing photographer at this point and maybe it would be a good idea to invest more funds. Do you have any experience at all with digital photography? I know I started out very slow from lack of funds, but looking back it was better to do it that way.
  57. Hey guys! Thanks for all the input. You did lose me for awhile, only because it became hard to log on at work and my boyfriend has been monopolizing the computer when I am home.
    Thanks for all your input, it has been quite helpful and it is great to see so many photographers offering their advice AND their opinions.
    "WHY do you feel the need to go digital?"
    I dont. Only for weddings. I LOVE film and will never give it up. But, after shooting film at weddings for 5 years I want and need to move to digital.
  58. First things first ... better solve that "problem" of the boyfriend hogging the computer all the time!
  59. hahaha!!! I agree!!
  60. Dolly,
    My work is much better than "just ok", I have been developing my talent for the past 18 years so it is definately time for me to move on to digital. That is part of my problem, I am a bit scared to have to "start over" because that is what it fells like.
    I will upload some stuff as soon as I have the chance. I have used a digital slr while working my part time photo lab job, some studio and outdoor portraits. It is a lower end Canon Rebel, unfortunately I wasnt able to take it home for any extended period of time to become familiar with it and comfortable using it.
    "Most aspiring wedding newbies have no clue as to what they are getting into... and I mean this respectfully... I think you are one of them"...HAHAHAHA!!! I shot weddings for 5 years...I DO know what I am getting into and I am not sure why I am doing it again!! Basically they are friends or friends of friends. I dont want to make them my career but if I want to make photography my full time career, which is better than all the junk jobs I have had, I need to "restart" somewhere.
  61. The Nikon D700 and Canon 5D2 are probably your best choices right now. Both are superb and well-suited to weddings. Great files and great high-ISO ability. Not too expensive and not too heavy. The Sony is likely a fine camera but I'm less familiar with it. I suggest buying one of these 3 and shooting the heck out of it.
    The others are either discontinued (5D, 1Ds, 1DsII), likely too heavy (D3, 1Ds, 1DsII) or way too expensive (D3X, 1DsIII).
    Your backup can be a less expensive, non-full-frame camera like the Nikon D300 or Canon 40D or 50D. A gently-used 5D would make a good backup too. I am a Canon user and really like the 5D2, but if I had Nikon lenses and was used to shooting Nikon, I would likely go with the D700.
    A few related suggestions ... start with a bunch of high quality memory cards, like Sandisk Ultra or Sandisk Extreme (genuine ones only, beware of fakes). Buy some good external hard drives and a DVD burner for backups. Invest in good software (Photoshop and Lightroom) and make time to learn to use them. You'll need a fast computer to deal with those big files. Good luck!
  62. Right now, if you're looking at a Canon camera, it's hard to pass up on the Canon 5D MKII.
    - full frame
    - high ISO with low noise
    - calibrate your lenses
    - better weather sealing
    - and the Canon L lenses. Ya can't beat it with a stick!
    Daniel H.
    MODERATOR NOTE: Website removed.

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