Specialist Techniques & Processes 3 – Comparing & Contrasting equipment

6th October 2015

Equipment used:

Studio backdrop and lighting
Nikon D700 (with 24-70mm lens)
Canon 5D mk ii (with 24-70mm lens)
Canon 650D (with 18-55mm lens)

In this class exercise we were comparing equipment (different cameras) but using the same lens and same settings on each camera, each test. We tested two extremes with each camera when adjusting the settings – shooting at f2.8 (or the lowest aperture possible) then f22. We also shot at an average aperture of around f10/f11 as you would in the average studio shoot (to see how each camera dealt with light/colour etc). We adjusted the brightness of the actual light (blub) on the studio lights to be able to do such extreme settings. Here are the results:

Canon 650D

Canon 5D mk ii

Nikon D700

As you can see here there are definite comparisons to be made between equipment.

I found the Canon 650D to be quite easy to use – then again I am a Canon user anyway. However it was light weight and small, and the buttons/menu were quite self-explanatory. When reviewing the images on screen afterwards, they appeared very contrasted and the whites looked brighter and the darks looked darker. This made it a little confusing as to whether the exposure was correct or not, however the images seemed to come out ok afterwards, although some appeared a little dark and needed brightening in post-process. The colour on auto white balance is a very good match to reality and the colours are very vibrant/rich. It has a pretty good range of ISO settings, going from 100-6400. It is compatible with SD cards and it has a touch screen, which is also able to detach and move up, down, and to either right or left. This is a handy feature because even if photographing from a low or high angle, you can still see the screen on live view/to check your settings whilst you shoot from different angles – and not necessarily have to always be at eye level with the camera. Overall I would say it is a great light weight DSLR camera that is reasonable in price for what you get.

The Canon 5D mk ii was a little different. It still had the contrasted screen like the 650D however the images were more ‘cold’ when taken using auto white balance. They tended to have a pink hue to them compared to the other cameras. When reviewed on a computer screen afterwards the images seemed flatter than they appeared on the LCD screen on the back of the camera. This could have also been to do with the fact that they were shot in RAW then converted so maybe because of that they are less contrasted on a computer screen. However I have noticed that in general Canon cameras shoot at a higher contrast level than other cameras, especially when comparing to the Nikon. The weight of the 5D mk ii is much heavier than the 650D, but a little lighter than the D700. Also comparing these three cameras, one has to take into account that the 650D is not a full frame camera, but the other 2 cameras are. So when first shooting on a full frame camera, it is easy to underestimate the size of the image that will be produced (if one is used to using a cropped chip camera, such as the 650D). I was fine using the full frame cameras with regards to framing because I have a 5D mk iii, however for others it took some getting used to. One thing I am not a fan of with this camera is that it is only compatible with Compact Flash cards and not SD cards – unlike the 5D mk iii – which has slots for both. This camera has a very wide range of ISO settings, going all the way up to 12800. However the settings on this particular camera meant that we could only shoot from ISO 200 upwards – I think because someone had set it wrong, because usually it is possible to go from ISO 100 upwards.

The Nikon D700 I found to be quite difficult to use (probably because I am more familiar with Canon cameras). The buttons and menus I found very complicated and couldn’t always find the setting I was looking for/wanting to change. The images on the LCD screen appear quite a bit lighter than they are on a computer screen, and they look very flat and not contrasted when looking on the LCD screen. The images have an extreme yellow/warm tint to them on Nikon cameras in general but especially this one. When attempting to set custom white balance it was very difficult and so we had to use the auto white balance. This camera was the heaviest so it was difficult to keep a steady arm/hand when photographing a headshot. The sharpness on all of these cameras are strong but I would say the sharpest is the Canon 5D range. This camera also only had a slot for a Compact Flash card – which is quite limiting because they are more expensive but the files are bigger so the memory got full quicker and we had to keep changing the card.

I conclude from this session that the 650D is easiest to use because it is light weight and produces good quality images with good contrast and colour, as well as having a decent range of ISO and compatibility with SD cards. However for quality and use I would use the Canon 5D series because of the depth of quality, and with the mk iii having both slots for SD cards and Compact Flash cards there is more option for the user. The Canon cameras in general, I believe, are also much easier to use than Nikon cameras.

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