Alright! It’s been a few weeks since the first part of this series! If you didn’t get a chance yet check out Part 1 where I go over lens selection for portrait and wedding photography. In this article I’m going to be going over a few possible camera options.
The first thing that I want to mention is that if you currently own an SLR camera DO NOT immediately go and sell your camera in order to purchase one of the cameras here. Just because I perhaps don’t mention your camera in this article doesn’t mean it isn’t suitable for portrait or wedding photography. You may just want to keep this article in mind for future purchase, or upgrades.
Second I’m going to try to make this article as future-proof as possible, a difficult task considering the constantly changing camera market, but hopefully you’ll get a better idea of what to look for as cameras change.
Canon vs. Nikon
Let’s just open up that can of worms right away.
I think the more realistic battle would be Canon & Nikon vs. Everyone Else.
Lauren and I shoot Canon, but I honestly don’t have that strong a preference for one or the other. If I were to choose today I would likely go with Nikon (mainly because they feel better in my hands!).
But really, both make great cameras. Some years one manufacturer is on top in terms of features, and the next year things change. Prices are generally close. It’s not a big deal.
So, if you’re looking for a DSLR you’ll likely end up going with either Canon or Nikon.
Of course other manufacturers exist (Sony, Pentax, Olympus) but they currently occupy such a small market share comparatively that if you’re looking to make long term investments (like lenses) then the wisest decision is going with a manufacturer who dominates the market (at least in my opinion).
The camera bodies you choose will be outdated within a few years, but the lenses you choose will last a lot longer. Consider them investments, and pick a company that is stable, and will still support those lenses in a decade.
What and Why?
For wedding and portrait photography a camera that works beautifully is the Canon 5D mk II.
I would say that right now it’s sitting on top of the market for wedding and portrait photography mainly for it’s resolution (21mp) as well as it’s ability to capture 1080p video and it’s low price point (~$2500). Nikon will surely respond with similar features and prices – it’s just a matter of time.
Awesome Things About This Camera:
- Hi-res files – There is plenty of room to crop images as you please!
- High ISO – High ISO files look amazing (especially when shot in RAW and processed using Lightroom 3). This really expands low light shooting possibilites.
- Full Frame sensor – When we started shooting full frame with the original 5D we saw a huge leap in the quality of our photography. Images just looked crisper, the depth of field was shallower, and the shooting experience (looking through the larger viewfinder) was much better. Check out this article for a look at different sensor sizes and how it affects the image
- Video – It’s pretty amazing to have a high resolution video camera capable of using all of your different lenses. Check out this article on using HDSLR video to create moving portraits.
- Size – Lauren loves using a camera without an attached battery grip. It makes the camera lighter, less imposing, and less noticeable.
- Price – ~$2500 is cheap for a camera with this feature set
Not-So Awesome Things About This Camera:
- Build quality – It feels a bit cheap (ergonomics, and buttons). Canon could take a few cues from Nikon on this front.
- Auto focus – Feels sluggish at times.
- Frames per second (fps) – This is the biggest downfall of this camera. When we’re shooting a family or couple we need to be capturing those split second expressions. That is critical. This camera falls short with its maximum speed of 3.9 fps.
If you’re looking for a relatively equivalent Nikon camera then you would be looking at the Nikon D700. It doesn’t have the same huge sensor (It’s only 12mp), or video (which you may not even use) but it does have better build quality, better autofocus, and faster fps (It states 5fps, but I believe you can actually get around 8 fps by manually pressing the shutter release instead of holding the shutter down. Weird hack).
How low can you go?
You don’t need a Canon 5D mk II to start making great photos! While I think it’s the best option for professional wedding and portrait photographers, if you’re just starting out you’ll probably want to ease into it. Gear is expensive!
Not to worry, there are a couple options to get you going:
Canon: The Rebel T2i is Canon’s entry level dSLR. I’ll let you just follow that link, but rest assured that this is an insanely feature full camera for it’s price point.
If you’re looking for the next step up I would suggest the Canon 7D.
These cameras have similar features. I would say the biggest difference is the actual size of the camera. The 7D is a larger, more pro feeling camera. The 7D also features two dedicated adjustment wheels which makes it easier to control both aperture and shutter speed when shooting in manual.
How pro can you go?
When it comes to wedding and portrait photography you can go big. Really big.
However, it really isn’t necessary. Cameras like the 5DMKII can handle all the challenges of a wedding and then some. You will definitely be reaching deep into your pockets to produce the money necessary for these work horse cameras.
There are, of course, advantages to th
e more expensive cameras.
What you’ll end up with is better build quality, faster frames per second, better autofocus, and a larger camera.
Those are all great things, but can be overkill for portraits and weddings. These cameras are more suited to landscape, sports, commercial and fashion photography.
The four above cameras are in the $5000-$7500 range. Yikes! That’s a hefty price-tag, but if you can afford, by all means. You’ll enjoy it :)
You can refer to Part 1 of this series for links to review sites and places you can rent gear from to try out. Trying before you buy is always a good idea, especialy when you’ll dealing with such a large investment.
This post was limited to digital SLRs because I think they work out the best for wedding and portrait photography.
Digital provides a versatility that is advantageous for professional people photography. But that doesn’t mean that your options are limited to just digital SLRs.
Now more than ever is the perfect time to experiment with film (35mm, medium format, and large format), micro 4/3s, camera phones, anything that can take a photo!
While digital will always be necessary, finding a mixture will help you stay creative and have fun!