25 photojournalists: 1 camera

I spent the weekend with 25 working photojournalists.  One interesting tidbit is that nearly all were using the Canon 5D camera body.  The extra ruggedness and resolution of the Canon 1Ds were apparently not sufficiently useful to justify the extra weight and cost.  Nikon was barely mentioned.

12 thoughts on “25 photojournalists: 1 camera

  1. Yeah, I have wanted some of the features of the 1DS line but always felt I would not want to cart around that body. The bag of lenses is enough weight.

    Though all the DSLRs are of the level that you only will carry them if you think you’re going out shooting, unlike compact P&S, which is why you should really have both. But still, the smaller and lighter your serious camera is, the more often you will carry it and thus the more great photos you will have a chance to get.

    I actually wonder if, with today’s tech, if the full 36mm wide frame is the sweet spot for a portable, quality camera. (That was what 35mm was supposed to be in film.) 5D and 1DS go for it because people all have glass designed around it, but we can get 10-12 good quality, low-noise megapixels in a smaller sensor size.

    I was always hoping that something like the 4/3 system might take off in a pro environment, not just for the smaller camera, but the smaller collection of lenses. I would carry that a lot more. But 4/3 seems stalled and mostly consumer right now.

  2. Many of my amateur photographer friends love their brick-like Nikons for their heft (I guess a heavy camera feels more professional or something). They also end up taking fewer pictures because their cameras are too heavy to lug around.

    I love the lightness of 5D, but price was a bit of an issue – the first revision of 1ds can be had for under 2K on eBay, so I bit the bullet, sold my digital Rebel and bought one. Now I just need a good walkaround lens.

  3. I want full frame, mainly for the control over depth of field that it brings. People don’t need bodies to be smaller than they are. They dismiss bodies like the Rebel as “cramped”.

  4. More importantly, what percentage of these working photojournalists use Mac vs. Windows and what’s their main workflow app?

  5. Gen: The Macintosh was heavily dominant among these folks. Adobe Bridge is what they use, by and large, though one guy mentioned “Photomechanic”.

  6. I actually saw a camera-and-lens combo that excited me: Melina Mara at Washington Post has a 5D with the 24mm f1.4.

    24mm on the 35mm format is still the prime wide angle, and its a 1.4! I shot a little with it and it’s actually sharp at 1.4!

    I’d really like to shoot with that set-up except for ONE THING: there’s no wider lens available! No one has a 17 or 18mm f2.8! Not Canon, not Sigma, not Tokina! Grrrr!

    So if I had a 5D with a 24-1.4, I’d still have to lug around a goddam 16-35 f2.8! So it’s a useless set-up for a news photog, IMO. At least Nikon makes a 18mm f2.8 (although it has a serious flaw: one can’t have the lens work in both autofocus and manual modes like Canon and Silent Wave Nikon lenses do).

    —peter haley
    The News Tribune

    ps: I surprised there was only a mention of Photo Mechanic. Most news photogs use it.

  7. Lots of photogs in DC use the 5D and a wide angle prime (I have a 35/1.4 on mine about 70% of the time). Personally, I’ve almost never felt the need for another wider than the 24.

    To agree w/ Peter, Photo Mechanic is it in terms of editing/captioning images, I don’t think any product out there really competes in terms of usability and speed.

  8. I get the sense that, in the digital age, Nikon is abandoning pro shooters as much as they are abandoning it. Nikon has focused heavily on the prosumer D80 and, especially now, on the entry level (“your first DSLR”) D40 and D40x, even though it it won’t autofocus with anything but Nikon’s newer motor-in-the-lens glass. There’s probably more money in the bigger market in the long run.

    I have my investment in Nikon-mount lenses, and I’m not a pro, so my D50 does fine, but I do find it odd that Nikon has never made a full-frame top-end DSLR, leaving Kodak to dip in and out of that market years ago.

    I wonder if anyone would have believed such a shift could happen back in the F3 days? Nikon seemed invincible at the time in pro circles.

  9. Am about to buy the 5D body. I use my Contax 645 (RIP) with a 45mm f2.8 lens for photojournalist portraits on location. I am thinking about the Canon 24-70 f2.8 lens for the 5D, so I don’t have to drag another lens around as well as another camera.

    After reading these postings, now feel the need to consider the 35/1.4, and then adding another prime.

    What say you?

  10. Almost a year later, I expect most photojournalists are still using the 5D, but it looks like the hell-freezes-over full-frame Nikon D3 is becoming all the rage with wedding photographers. It may not have the crazy 21 megapixels of the Canon 1Ds Mark III, but its low-light performance (with insane 25000+ ISO at boost if needed) would be invaluable for dark interiors.

  11. and so comes the D3x matches and supposedly betters that of any canon camera

    give it some time and nikon will catch up for the years they lost to canon

  12. David: I don’t think the $6500 D3x is going to have much of an impact on Canon’s sales of the new $2700 EOS 5D Mark II. The two cameras have fairly similar specs and low-light performance. Right now it looks as though Sony is the company that is trying to compete with Canon. They offer a full-frame high-resolution body for roughly the same price as the 5D II. We’ll see how long it takes them to develop a full line of lenses, though.

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