Firmly into the 1st quarter of the year, traditionally the ‘off-season’ for wedding photography and with my tax return completed it’s time to review my equipment again and see if there is anything available on the market that will give me any discernible benefits.
The key concept here is will give me something extra. As a professional user a new camera or lens is a tool to me, not a status symbol or thing of pleasure as it is for most. It’s like a really complicated spanner for a plumber and you never see those guys drooling over the latest model! In fact, quite the opposite. As a pro you get to know the handling characteristics inside out and switching to a new model requires so much testing, finding the boundaries and changes to lenses, hardware and software there is a lot to be said for sticking with the ‘old faithful’.
I used to buy a new camera every year until I bought my current workhorse, the veritable Nikon D700. It was the perfect wedding camera back in 2008 and at a £2k with a grip and spare batteries, you would expect it to be. Strangely enough, 9 years later it still is. It does everything I need it to do at a wedding and more. Problem is, camera’s don’t last forever and its going to fail eventually so I need to think about its retirement, replacing it in a controlled way.
I’ve looked at other cameras over the last few years. The D4’s are promising but very heavy to carry all day and overkill for my needs. The D800’s had the kind of solid professional body I need but the resolution is simply too high. Great if you are shooting a controlled number of images for a billboard but an infrastructure nightmare to support and process large numbers of images with. What I needed was another D700, but it was discontinued in 2012 without a direct replacement.
Around 2015 I became aware of a new camera that had just come out, but it was so new it hadn’t really been field tested. Now its been through two wedding seasons and the real world reviews are out they make for some interesting reading. The Nikon D750 appears to be the direct replacement for my current D700. Weather sealed magnesium body, solid ergonomics and autofocus. A professionals tool. Robust enough to handle professional use but not so heavy as to be an unnecessary burden.
What is really interesting is that the camera does potentially offer some benefits above my current companion. These are:
- Enhanced ability to shoot in lower light conditions. For weddings my D700 is still more than adequate in this regard, but recently I have been shooting at dance competitions and without a flash, indoors trying to freeze fast dancers has pushed the D700 to its limits. The ability to use faster shutter speeds indoors in low light would definitely improve my results there.
- Face detection. Typically I switch 50 of the 51 autofocus points off, leaving one in the middle so I can choose were to focus and not rely on the camera which will choose the closest subject. However there are occasions, such as walking down the aisle it would be really handy if the camera could focus on faces for me.
- Tilting screen. Handier than you may think. Sometimes to get a low angle shot I will lie on the floor which is less than ideal when its been raining outside! Often I need to hold the camera up and shoot over heads on the dance floor (sometimes even attaching my camera to a large pole to get a birds eye view). Having a tilt screen is very handy in this situation.
- Dual card slots. This is a great feature allowing the camera to back up images as you take them using the spare 2nd card slot. Definitely a great feature for wedding photography.
- Twice the resolution. My current cameras 12 megapixels is more than adequate, close to prefect even but I can see a benefit in having some spare pixels if I needed to crop an image or down sample it reduce noise and still have 12 megapixels to play with.
I think I’m sold on the idea, so a D750 I will order. It’s not a cheap bit of kit, but if it lasts half as long as my trusty D700 it will pay for itself many, many times over!
On reviewing my lenses I find that there hasn’t been a huge amount of change that would call for re-equipping. Particularly as I have bought the odd lense over the last few years to remove weaknesses in my line up. I was interested to lead that DXo who benchmark lenses rate some of Tamron’s lenses above Nikon’s own. This is a surprise as Tamron’s lenses are much cheaper and historically have always been inferior. There are two new mid-range zooms out there that offer a small improvement on my current model at wide apertures, but not enough to warrant replacing it. Particularly as I have favoured fixed lenses of late and the standard zoom has seen less and less action. Other than that I find I’m pleasantly up to scratch, which just goes to show if you buy good quality lenses, they are a good long term investment.