Choices, Choices, and more Choices.

So I'm in the mental market for a new camera.  That means that I don't have my credit card out, but I'm doing pros and cons in my head.  My scrappy 5D which has been my faithful companion for over two years is getting a bit long in the tooth.  I love that camera, it's like a good friend. Just think about all the photos I've shot with it, including at least 330 of the 365 Portraits last year. All the places it's been in Europe and across America and the people I've met with it, like my hero James Burke.  <sigh>

I added it up and estimated that I shot about 100,000 frames last year, plus what I shot before 365 and after, and that's on a camera who's shutter is rated for 100,000 cycles.  So I'm working on borrowed time here and I can't afford to have it break down on my on the job.

So, basically it comes down to 3.5 options.  Buy a 1Ds Mark III ($8K), switch to a Nikon D3 ($5k) to get the supposedly great high iso performance, or wait for Canon to release their new 5D ($3-4k).

First the Canon/Nikon question.  I've used Canon since my first SLR, in fact it was an Elan7 film body.  And I've got a half dozen Canon lenses in my kit, so I lean towards sticking with Canon.  But that's not my only problem with switching to the D3.

First off it's 12MP so, I'd pay $5k to get no upgrade in resolution, which seems a bit silly.  I never shoot continuous so more frames per second are of no use.  I'd like the high iso capability but I'm not sure it's worth switching just for that.  Plus there is the lenses.

I've found myself using 2 primes lenses for a lot of my work.  A 50mm and a 28mm.  And the 28mm is the problem.  Nikon doesn't sell a good one anymore.  They did, about 5 years ago, but for some reason they took it off the market.  It was fast too f/1.4, and from all accounts had exceptional image quality.  It's so good in fact that used ones on Ebay go for $4000.  I wonder why they stopped selling it, but that's another question for another day.  Anyway, I'm not going to spend four grand on a used prime lens on top of the five grand for the camera. And then still be at 12MP, that's just silly.  If I was a Nikon user, it's a no brainer, the D3 is the first camera they've put out that really competes. It's a winner.

Ok, so that leaves us back in the Canon court. And I've been waiting for the new 5D successor (probably called the 5D Mark II) for a long time now.  Rumors say it'll be 16MP, better high iso performance (which is already pretty good on the 5D), 14bit Raw files, and maybe even weather sealed.  Nearly perfect for my needs. But how long can I wait?  I need a backup body and my current 5D would be great for that role.

Plus there are a few things that I'd love to have the 1Ds for.  First off it's 21 megapixels, which is just crazy stupid.  Enough to crop half the image away and still have a 10MP photo.  It's also, however enough pixels that focus and lens quality become CRITICAL to getting high quality photographs. Not to mention the fact that it's built like a brick; as one review said 'if you need a camera that you can drive nails with, this is it'.  However, the big thing that draws me even more than the resolution is the viewfinder.  It's huge and bright and it shows 100% of the image you're going to take.  Something I've gotten addicted to on my Leica (even seeing beyond the framelines on the rangefinder).

The other half option is to just buy a cheap or even used Rebel XTi for $400 or so and use that as a backup on the off chance my 5D fails.  And then just wait and see how good the new 5D Mark II body is.

So many choices, so little time.  It may sound like I've just got a camera fetish and that I'm a gear whore.  But I don't think anybody can claim that I don't use my cameras.  I really am looking for the tool that'll be in my hands for the next couple years of my life.  It's a big decision and a lot of money, and I thought that putting it on paper might help clear away the cobwebs in my head. If anyone's got anything to add to the conversation, comment away.