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Old Oct 1, 2009, 2:58 PM   #11
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I missed that part (so, I quoted you out of context). ;-)

Yes... If I shot a lot of sports, I'd probably lean towards the D3 (even though I really wouldn't want to lug one around all of the time). It's a nice camera. For most other uses, I'd lean towards what I'm using now (my Sony A700). But, the progress that Sony has made with it's CMOS Sensor technology, as well as image processing and noise reduction algorithms is interesting, based on what I'm seeing from images produced by the new A500 and A550. So, whatever Sony has "up it's sleeves" for an A700 replacement will get my attention.
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Old Oct 1, 2009, 3:09 PM   #12
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If you're going to be using 300mm 2.8 lenses then a small body really doesn't matter.
But if you'll be using a 300/2.8 on a FF body, a 200/2.8 on an APS-C body would have the same angle of view and be smaller and weigh roughly half as much.
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Old Oct 1, 2009, 3:12 PM   #13
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But, if you want to shoot at ISO 6400+ (as you might with low light sports using zoom lenses), you'll probably end up with more retained detail (after any noise reduction algorithms) from the full frame 12MP sensor used by the D3 and D700, even though you're sacrificing some in the angle of view area. The Nikon designed, full frame 12MP Sensor used in these models is hard to beat for high ISO speed use.
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Old Oct 1, 2009, 3:31 PM   #14
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That sensor is not just good for low light sports either. Sure, there's a bit of noise at ISO speeds this high, but try shooting in light this low with any other camera without a flash (most of the light was probably coming from the EXIT signs). ;-)

Nikon D3, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 AF-S at 29mm, with the aperture wide open at f/2.8, ISO 25600 (not a typo), 1/13 second. Shot in raw and converted with Bibble Pro. But, I wouldn't want to lug one around all the time.
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Old Oct 1, 2009, 3:32 PM   #15
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True. But that's what this is all about. Picking the system that's ideal for you. If I could have afforded a Sony A700 AND a Zeiss 85/1.4, that's what I'd own right now, instead of a Nikon D90 and a Nikkor 85/1.8. But for about a thousand dollars less, I think I did pretty well, since, in the real world, money is an issue. (It's tough when there are two expensive hobbies in the same houshold.)
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Old Oct 1, 2009, 4:16 PM   #16
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Yea.. But you could buy a used Minolta 85mm f/1.4 AF lens for a lot less compared to the Zeiss, and stop it down a bit for better sharpness. ;-)

Although, for your primary use (equestrian sports, dressage), I'd probably lean towards something like the new Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 DC lens (instead of the brighter Nikkor 85mm f/1.8) on a camera with a Sony 12MP CMOS Sensor like your D90 (or Sony A700, Nikon D300, etc.).

That way, you'd have more framing flexibility at the cost of a stop of brightness, meaning you'd need to use a stop higher ISO speed (with more Depth of Field as a result). You'll have to decide what's the best compromise for what you want in the images.
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Old Oct 1, 2009, 5:04 PM   #17
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Yea.. But you could buy a used Minolta 85mm f/1.4 AF lens for a lot less compared to the Zeiss, ...
Not really. I'd been looking. The Minolta 85/1.4 (non-G) had been selling for >$900. That's about 1/3 off the Zeiss, but that's still a lot.

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Although, for your primary use (equestrian sports, dressage), I'd probably lean towards something like the new Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 DC lens (instead of the brighter Nikkor 85mm f/1.8) on a camera with a Sony 12MP CMOS Sensor like your D90 (or Sony A700, Nikon D300, etc.).
I'd tried the Minolta 135/2.8 at ISO 800 in a better lit arena and still had shutter speeds too slow to prevent motion blur. One stop (from ISO 800 to ISO 1600) wasn't going to do it. I needed two. What I got was three. The Sony A700 + 85/1.4 would have given me four, but the cost was too high.
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Old Oct 2, 2009, 1:51 AM   #18
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Interesting question - first, I was going to not respond, then why not - so here goes....

Almost 40 years ago the Navy sent me to photography school to supplement my electronic warfare specialty - so I could take pictures of the shipboard antennas I was intercepting. That coupled with pinhole cameras and sheet film in high school print shop, gave me an interest in photography. As an engineer, I have designed tracking and pointing systems of one of the largest telescopes in the world, and image exploitation systems combining data from a number of non traditional sources. In the intervening years, affording photography was not in the cards until digital arrived.

So, maybe I am not a absolute beginner - however neither am I anywhere near a master photographer. A smattering of knowledge does not create skill and creativity. I started back in photography about 4 years ago - when my wife suggested I need a hobby for retirement. So that would be my personal basis for this selection.

That said, I like landscapes best. A trip to Alaska, had me wondering how one could even begin to capture such wonderful vistas and scenery on the camera in my pocket, along with only being quick enough to capture one frame of a breaching whale in front of a glacier. Available time for me is after work - mainly in the very late afternoon, early evening and night. So, its sunsets, deep shadows, contrasts of colors with the setting sun, silhouettes, and what ever ambient light that is available. That is my set of subjects.

I will never be a good landscape photographer since I really do not see myself hauling around a 6x7, 4x5 or even a full frame body. The size and weight just do not appeal to me, plus the tripod requirements just grow in proportion to support them. Thus, I am left with the APS-C format, which is just fine - and stitching provides and extra dimension for panoramas.

Trading the APS-C against the 4:3 format, I think pushes me back to the APS because of the field of view issue. In wide angle, you really need an interesting foreground, however swapping landscape for portrait formats certainly does help with that respect - in addition to selecting appropriate focal lengths.

Lenses - Yes, Zeiss certainly is one of the best quality lenses, along with Leica, however I also believe that the Pentax limited lenses are in the running - for me, the 21 and 31 holds the greatest interest. However, they are somewhat slow - 3.2 and 4, so the inbody stabilization certainly helps when hand held. Nikon and Canon certainly have faster lenses in the shorter focal lengths, but they are pricey (which is not suppose to count here - but....). Their faster lenses negates the inbody stabilization with the slower lenses. That said, Zeiss lenses are not extraordinary fast either (2 and 2.8 at the wider ends). So, that leaves Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax in the running for bodies. I also need to consider Leica here in terms of their lenses and rangefinder bodies, the combination which does extremely well with landscapes.

Bodies - Even starting out, I never really used the various shooting modes, so having to have an entry level camera with them, is not a real necessity here. I tried the super light weight plastic body camera of Canon and Nikon - and they really did not appeal to me - a personal preference. The larger full frame bodies of Canon and Nikon did not appeal to me either - being way too large, bulky and heavy. So that narrows the selection down to Canon 500D, Nikon D90, Sony A700 and the Pentax K7. For landscapes, I find I like a bit more solid feeling body. In terms of functionality, there is not a tremendous amount of complexity required. That said, I would like Pentax to handle black frame subtraction slightly differently (for long shutter times), but it is not a deal breaker. I have also found that wider exposure compensations - do give a broader range when I am bracketing - essentially HDR.

ISO - they all do well at 100 where I like to be. I tend to trade shutter speed for ISO speed every time, especially since the aperture needs be more in the sweet spot, as opposed to wide open - again extending the shutter time.

Colors - Canon and Nikon color renderings are nice, however I have a preference for the colors produced by the Pentax lenses. My K100 uses a Sony sensor, and does very well - however, again the Pentax color rendering is a preference.

So, if your still reading - I settle up with a Pentax K7 body with a mixed bag of Zeiss (18, 25 and 35) and Pentax limited lenses (21 and 31) across the lower focal lengths. This picks up the best that both Sony and Pentax has to offer. That coupled with a Leica M8 and the shorter focal length lenses. Price was no object right?

I think I hit all the high points of my thinking - hopefully I did not forget too many points.....

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Old Oct 2, 2009, 2:05 AM   #19
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Thanks interested...I am glad you took the time to put out a significant post. I enjoyed your thought process...but that's the engineer in me ...

I'll have questions later if that's ok...I like to re-read stuff first..
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Old Oct 2, 2009, 3:05 AM   #20
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The original framing of the thread was which DSLR if money is no object.

Assuming a major lottery win say...

Within the photographic domain of landscape, portrait/studio, and travel.

Well then surely I would be looking at one of the new 60Mp Hassleblad systems, or the forthcoming 39Mp Leica S2, which looks like it's going to have the best lenses ever made for any camera system ever. And the current king of the 35mm systems is of course the 24Mp Nikon D3X.

The Hassleblad isn't particularly portable, but the Leica S2 is only the size of a Nikon D3 or Canon 1D.

So, staying within the restriction of "DLSR" I think it would be Leica S2.

If portability is a real issue, and price is no concern, then I think that it makes more sense to move out of the realm of the DSLR into the new M4/3 cameras or of course the Leica M9. Simply moving to a smaller DSLR doesn't quite do it for me.

For any kind of action photography, wildlife, sports, etc. I think that it would be a Nikon D3.

For photojournalism probably a Canon 5DMkII.
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