PHOTOOG Photography writings by Olivier Giroux


Off my chest

Q: So why did I choose the D700 over the 5D Mk-II in the end?

A: A wedding photographer’s sample images showed me what I needed to know. That is that the 5D Mk-II doesn’t really eclipse the D700 at ISO-800+. It is better, yes, but it doesn’t have a commanding lead over the Nikon.

Why is it relevant how big the lead is? When is better not better?

I agree that an imaging lead is a strong selling point, so long as the list of other pros and cons for each camera is comparable. The reality is that it isn’t that close however. The Nikon is a modern professional camera bristling with Nikon's latest technology, and much of the 5D Mk-II is from a twice-warmed-over 20D.

Here the relevant features of the D700 are:
1) Solid metal body with weather seals
2) 51-point grid AF with luminance/color tracking
3) Built-in i-TTL wireless flash commander, with free fill flash
4) Configurable Auto-ISO that combines intelligently with A/S/M modes
5) Coupling to Zeiss ZF with all metering modes, focus indication with direction and EXIF

If the sensor doesn’t make the sale on its own merits, then the 5D Mk-II has little that’s compelling in comparison. Its live view mode is more intelligently designed, okay.

Of course the wildcard here is the video feature. I will be the first to admit that I was really looking forward to it. I may be a very conservative photographer, but I relish the challenge of making professional-quality video with everything that entails (e.g. planning, lighting, placement, focus, editing).

This said, still photography comes first and the 5D Mk-II was not the best still camera package from my point of view, so my amateur career in video will have to wait.

There. It’s said.

Comments (2) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I believe most of 5D mark II that are providing samples right now are pre-manufacturing/prototype versions.

    Therefore, why don’t you wait for the test of officially released 5D-II before drawing such conclusion?

    Besides, if you admit that pictures at 800+ have better IQ, don’t you think it is quite an achievement with 21 M Pixels?

    Can you also explain what 51-point grid AF compared is bringing to your photography to be so decisive?

    I usually appreciate the sharp opinions you share on your blog, but I am a bit surprised with this one.

    Please keep writing

  2. When I say that I see better IQ from the 5D Mk-II, I already account for the fact that it has 21.1MP. Per-pixel the D700 has similar noise but better definition (e.g. for dark hair in particular).

    It's not the AF that tipped the scale singlehandedly. All the factors weighed together. To be honest the built-in wireless flash commander (which works with strobes I already have paid for) weighed more on my mind. It was instrumental just last night when I made the illustrations for the first of a series of new articles I'm writing.

    Part of the point I wanted to make in my article is that both the 5D-II and the D700 have nice sensors. The question every individual considering these cmaeras must ask, in his/her own personal context, is whether that positive increment on the 5D-II outweighs the laundry list of productivity enhancing features on the D700.

    >> Please keep writing

    Thanks, I plan to. ;^)

    Coming up will be a beginner series of photography articles, a sort of Photography 101. They will focus on essentials for new SLR users. Aimed at my family.

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