Not that long ago on the blog, I mentioned that I was beginning a quest to buy a full-frame DSLR. Initial reactions were mostly along the lines of “But this is a Micro Four Thirds blog! Yes, this is true, and it isn’t changing any time soon. My GH2s aren’t going anywhere. They are superb cameras for video, and they’re as comfortable to me as my skin. I love shooting on them.
That being said, I look to buy into a new system. I do have reasons: From the video angle, I’d like access to better dynamic range, and the full-frame aesthetic; shallower depth of field, better low-light performance, that sort of thing. Only place you can get the FF aesthetic is from a FF camera. On the flip side of the coin is stills. I think that shooting still with a GH2 helps make you a better photographer, because it’s very unforgiving of exposure, and its constant preview teaches you very quickly about the effects of shutter speed and aperture – but the quality of the results is adequate only for Facebook sizes. I want more than that, and I want dynamic range that allows for daylight shooting without looking like crap.
So this weekend I’m renting a D800. I’ve got a budget (read: credit card) for buying a camera, but I want to try them out before I buy. Since no one I know owns a D800, really my only option was renting. I got the camera and lenses from lensrentals.com. I’m shooting photos at a wedding Saturday (As a second shooter for lensandpalette.com), and tomorrow morning I’m doing some outdoor portaiture with my lovely sister-in-laws who happen to be free in the morning.
I need to find some time to shoot some video with it, just to see how that looks/feels (even though I already have a good idea from all the reviews I’ve read online), but I can already tell that I do like the D800 a lot. I love the detail in the stills, I love the bulk and the weight in my hands, and I love the optical viewfinder (Which is weird because I also love electronic viewfinders, but for different reasons). There was almost no learning curve to getting the basics down, and all the controls are in logical places. I love how good it is in the 100-1600 ISO range (haven’t really gone above that yet) – not a hint of noise.
But how will it measure up to the Canon 5D mark 3? I hope to rent one of them sometime soon. Meanwhile, here’s my favorite shot of what I took this afternoon:
It’s cropped in quite a ways. Amazing.