How important are the caveats relative to new camera specs?

unfocused

EOS-1D X Mark III
Jul 20, 2010
5,899
3,078
67
Springfield, IL
www.mgordoncommunications.com
I have to admit, I'm a little perplexed by this thread. I honestly am not really sure what the subject is: "How important are the caveats relative to new camera specs?"

I take from that, that the question is: "When comparing new camera specifications, what are the hidden or unknown limitations and how important are those limitations?"

For example, a camera can record 4K video, but the quality of that video may be so compromised that is isn't usable for those who truly need 4K. Therefore, the specification sounds good and makes for good forum arguments, but in real world use it may not really make the camera better than one that does not record in 4K.

I believe that the key is knowing both, what your needs/wants are, and what the camera's capabilities are.

Both come from experience. I know, for example, that I need a high frame rate. I shoot a lot of sports and in sports photography, if the ball isn't in the picture, you've got nothing. There may be some photographers who are capable of anticipating the action and consistently catch shots at the critical moment when both the player and the ball are in the frame. I'm not that good and I prefer to have 12-14 frames per second to increase my odds.

But, I also know from experience (at least my experience) that Canon autofocus systems promise more than they deliver. (I don't know about other brands). That doesn't mean I don't like and rely on autofocus, it's just that I still feel it leaves a lot to be desired and that in many cases, I have much better luck with single point autofocus than I do with tracking. Possibly, I'm not using it correctly and I continue to learn, but I find that a multi-point system that picks the subject closest to the camera is seldom going to work for me. The odds of it focusing on the wrong team or on the net in a sport like volleyball, makes it less useful than the specifications promise.

I've also found that the top of the line camera can have problems -- Art Morris talks about oil spots. I don't know if it is oil or dust, but I can certainly confirm that the 1DX II has some serious dust magnet issues that I've never experienced with any other body. However, for me, I learn to live with that because there are compensating factors.

So, knowing your own needs and not getting caught up in specifications is one key. The other one that is seldom talked about is knowing the cameras. I've owned six Canon DSLRs (now have two-- 1DX II and 7DII.) With each model I've learned a little more and seen incremental improvements. I'm confident that when a new model comes out (such as the 7DIII), I will be able to compare what my 7DII is capable of and what the next model promises and determine if the improvements will be sufficient to justify buying the next model.

Too many people on these forums are looking for the perfect camera that will deliver everything and they are disappointed when the model that is actually released has some improvements but doesn't fix every weakness. I think it is much healthier and more realistic to look at the what the current model offers (and it's best if you own it and are familiar with it) and then take the improvements being touted and subtract about 50% of your hopes. If it's still worthwhile to you if the promised improvements only deliver about half of what you would like, then you'll be a lot happier with your purchase.

Specifications are nice and they are fun to talk about on Canon Rumors, but if you think the next model of anything will significantly improve your results, that's almost never the case. I look at each new feature and think not only about how that might benefit my photography but about how I will feel if it doesn't deliver as much as it promises. Autofocus is probably the prime example for me. Each new generation helps a little, but no improvement in autofocus is going to help as much as just practicing, practicing and more practicing.
 

Jack Douglas

CR for the Humour
Apr 10, 2013
6,765
2,290
Alberta, Canada
AlanF said:
Jack
Did this further down the Art Morris blog worry you or tempt you to trade the 1DX II:

"I currently own two 5D IV bodies and a 1DX II. I have completely soured on the 1DX II, in part because of problems that I and others have had with oil spatter on the sensor, in part because it is so heavy, and possibly in part due to the fact that my deteriorating hand-eye coordination, strength, and endurance do not allow me to take advantage of the 1DX II’s faster frame rate.

I will soon be selling my 1DX II and purchasing a third 5D Mark IV."

In honesty Alan, no it didn't worry me but it kind of caused me to reflect on his mindset. In a previous post to one of his blogs I pointed out the wonderful options that not just the 1DX2 has for AF programming and BBF and he dismissed them out of hand.

In other words as a teacher of photographers, that worries me or actually worry isn't the word at all, it disappoints me. He also may be making too big a deal out of the sensor spatter in saying the camera should be replaced free.

I never speak with the intent of pushing folk to do what they are not inclined to want to do, rather I see something wonderful and I simply wish to share the good news. No buyers remorse, but I will always be cognizant of the fact that my ideal camera would include more MP (closer to the 5D4) and be lighter and retain the lighted AF points ...

I'm guessing that pro sports photographers don't want to be burdened by the larger files??

Jack
 

AlanF

Stay at home
CR Pro
Aug 16, 2012
8,007
9,483
Perhaps someone with greater knowledge could correct me on this, but it seems likely to me that a fast frame rate requires fast data transfer and so the smaller files from a 20 mpx sensor are currently the upper limit.

Art does not do much BIF and most of his photos are of static targets, which is why the 1DX II is not really for him. I don't buy his arguments about the 5DSR sensor being too dense. If your technique is good, the 5DSR beats every Canon hands down for IQ unless you are limited by light or doing BIF on fast flyers.
 

Jack Douglas

CR for the Humour
Apr 10, 2013
6,765
2,290
Alberta, Canada
@ unfocused You are right that the person purchasing the camera needs to be very educated about the things you mention but myself included, I see lots of CR readers who aren't there yet but still have to buy a camera in a given time frame. Of course there is nothing like an expensive mistake to help a person learn more quickly.

So, regarding the vagueness of this thread, I thought it might provoke some discourse about the relative merits of the various specs that are out there that entice any of us to buy but don't always yield what we expected or more likely "imagined". It'd be nice of some of the technical experts could point out some specs that are seldom raved about but do assist us in getting a higher hit rate or some other plus.

I'm not "disappointed" in the 1DX2 AF capabilities in auto but I am back to reality in that I also thought they would be better. Furthermore, I unreasonably expected the AF would be able to lock onto moving subjects that were fast, like small birds. When I saw more and more shots with a spot AF point where it should be but an OOF bird then I began to reason more logically. There is a lot of speed difference between a galloping otter running towards the camera and a song bird flying suddenly. ;)

So actually, my 6D AF using the center point wasn't as bad as I thought! On the other hand, having the button programmability of the 1DX2 or 5D4 really makes AF shine with BBF.

Jack
 

dpc

EOS-1D X Mark III
Dec 11, 2013
6,334
3,793
Western Canada
I'm not too interested in specifications other than the following:

1. I want a camera with decent weather sealing.
2. I want a camera with a sensor in the 20-30 mp range.
3. I want a camera with a frame rate around 10 or so.
4. I want a camera with a complement of high quality lenses.
5 . I want a camera large enough to fit comfortably in my hands.

I have zero interest in video of any kind. I have zero interest in DR because I've not found that a limiting factor with the cameras I own. I have both FF and crop sensor cameras and am happy with both. I'm not brandcentic but I've owned and used Canon cameras for a number of years and like the files I get out of them . I also have Fuji cameras and like what they deliver. I've toyed with purchasing the 6DMll but probably won't. My old 5DMll gives me decent files and I'll worry about replacing it when it crashes. Doubtless an upgrade to a 6DMll or, better yet, a 5DMlV, would make me happy but I'm not intrigued enough to shell out the cash for them, especially the 5DMlV which costs a bundle here in Canada. If I do make a camera purchase, which is questionable, it'll most likely be a Fuji X-T2 because I'd like the weather sealing for more flexibility in outdoor shooting, I'd like the 24 mp sensor for better flexibility in cropping, I'd like the larger body compared to my X-T10 because I'd find the ergonomics more comfortable. Maybe not reasons that are compelling for others but they fit what I want. I'm always amazed how people can drone on and on and on about this feature of a camera or that that, DR rising to the level of classic status. If a person's interested in a specific camera but uncertain, rent it and see how it performs for you. If you're heavily invested in a system, any brand, it seems pretty radical and expensive to sell all your stuff off and buy into a new brand. However, each to his own. It's fine discussing specifications and making comparisons but the forums seem overfocused on these matters. Of course, I don't have to read them. When contemplating a purchase I do look at a few video and print reviews but try not to get too caught up in that.
 

Zv

EOS 5D Mark IV
Sep 23, 2012
1,765
0
www.flickr.com
Having a 6D and an EOS M2 there are a few things that become apparent when switching between these two types of camera.
First of all theres the shutter lag. I've tried some street photography with the EOS M2 just for fun and compared with the 6D it can be a bit tricky as you have to be better at timing and taking lag into account. So that's a spec I'd want to know about but don't often see as a main selling point.
The touchscreen of the M is more intuitive than the regular 6D one and speeds up image review to check focus so that's a plus for the M. Touch focus is also very quick and easy to change AF points. Another advantage.

Point being it's not always obvious which features and specs will be useful out in the field until you've tried with and without to see the difference it makes. Looking at a spec sheet alone doesn't tell me much.

I stopped caring about Mpix, ISO, noise and DR once I realized it had very little impact on my shooting experience or final outcome. Even a low end 5 year old APS-C sensor is good enough for most situations. The arguments we have are unnecessary when it comes down to practicality. We never had 14 stops of DR or even 12 back then and images looked great.

I don't see photographers doing anything special with these extra few stops of DR. Do you? Maybe that's because certain scenarios don't really change. Does it open up new horizons? Is there some new type of photography that's now possible as a result? I don't think so. We are all still taking pretty much the same kinds of images only now it's ever so slightly easier in post for a small percentage of shots that nobody other than a photographer cares about!
 

unfocused

EOS-1D X Mark III
Jul 20, 2010
5,899
3,078
67
Springfield, IL
www.mgordoncommunications.com
Jack, Thanks for your response. I think I understand where you are trying to go, I'm just not sure it's possible to get there, given all the individual variables. Still:

Jack Douglas said:
...I see lots of CR readers who aren't there yet but still have to buy a camera in a given time frame. Of course there is nothing like an expensive mistake to help a person learn more quickly.

Yes, but honestly, my attitude is that most cameras are so good today (even the lowest cost Rebels) that it is hard to made a mistake. I think the biggest "mistakes" come from unrealistic expectations. Those who buy a camera thinking it will do all the work for them and those who want to blame the tool for their own lack of ability.

Jack Douglas said:
So, regarding the vagueness of this thread, I thought it might provoke some discourse about the relative merits of the various specs that are out there that entice any of us to buy but don't always yield what we expected or more likely "imagined."

Got it. My limited experience has been that each body I buy is slightly better than the previous one, but never quite as good as I would like.

I started with a Rebel Xti and was very pleased with the results. Then moved to a 7D and felt like the camera was always a little better than I was. Got a 5DIII because I wanted to try full frame and was interested in portraits at the time. Again, the body was better than I was. Picked up a 7DII when I started needing to shoot sports. Was very pleased with its capabilities and surprised at how much the image quality had improved over the 7D.

Moved to a 1DX II last year and was pleasantly surprised at how much easier it is to process the files over the 5DIII (Due, apparently, to the on-chip ADC) and how much better the high-ISO performance is. On the other hand, I haven't found the autofocus to be much different than the 5DIII or the 7DII. Better, yes, but not blown away better.

I have a very hard time deciding how much of what I perceive to be improvements are genuine improvements; are the result of getting better at shooting and processing; or are the result of confirmation bias (When you've spent $6,000 on a camera body there is a lot of mental pressure to tell yourself it's much better than the camera you were using.) If I'm honest, I'd say it's about 1/3, 1/3, 1/3.

Jack Douglas said:
I'm not "disappointed" in the 1DX2 AF capabilities in auto but I am back to reality in that I also thought they would be better. Furthermore, I unreasonably expected the AF would be able to lock onto moving subjects that were fast, like small birds...

That's been my experience as well.

And, that I think brings it back to your original question. If I had to issue a caveat, it would be that I try to read about the features and then ratchet down my expectations by about half. Don't get me wrong, I love the new features and modest improvements that are introduced with each generation and as I've gone up the Canon food chain, the cameras have gotten better along the way. But, either because of my own limitations or because of the limitations of the technology, I find that most improvements are incremental and not magical.
 

Jack Douglas

CR for the Humour
Apr 10, 2013
6,765
2,290
Alberta, Canada
I can't imagine myself saying I need a better camera.

Because I am often FL limited I crop a fair amount so extra MPs could be handy but if I have to up my shutter to get sharp shots that might not be as I imagine. Since I can now shoot 400 X2 I find the cropping has dropped and that kind of softens the potential regret of not getting the 5D4.

Perhaps I have a one track mind but I sure love the 1DX2 red AF points and I was determined to have that after the 1D4.

Here is a caveat from a review regarding the Sony A9:

Bottom line, the Sony A9 is capable of some astonishing performance with up to a class-leading 20 fps burst speed with very deep buffers, however there are some caveats to consider including slow buffer clearing (particularly with JPEG files which are favored by many pro sports shooters), menu lockout during clearing, and needing to use e-shutter and compressed RAW to attain that speed.

I only mention the A9 because it's the latest and greatest. No doubt Canon is watching this camera with interest.

Jack
 

Zeidora

EOS RP
Feb 15, 2015
667
10
A photographer will learn the implied caveats with experience. 1D = heavy. 800000D = toy.

For most beginners, most specs are utterly irrelevant. Once you get into BIF and realize that with 2FPS the changes in composition/distance are too much, then you yearn for finer increments and get that 1D body.

Or you blow it up and it gets grainy/soupy. Maybe this crop sensor has its limitations, or that Holga lens is really not that sharp, so you go FF with L or Zeiss glass, and you realize what these MTF charts are all about.

Many desirable properties are tied to trade-offs. You want 14FPS on a light body? It's an non-starter. Accordingly, you have to weight what is critical, what is a deal-breaker, and what falls in between.

I got a 5DsR. I want LARGE files. Everything else, who cares. Shutter lag? I had to re-adjust the Stack-shot controller a bit, but no big deal. FPS? 1FPS would be enough for me. Would prefer a high format shutter like on 1D series, so added grip. Not ideal, but workable. The 1D MP count was not enough for me. Wanted matt focusing screen, so switched it. A bit of surgery, but not too difficult. 1D has better options there, but still the MP count is a deal breaker.

Why do I know about FPS for me? Experience and shooting style.
Why do I care about high format shutter? Experience from previous cameras.
Why do I care about focusing screens? Experience from previous cameras.

Bottom line, jump in, and learn with what you have. Most of us have gone through more camera gear than we want to admit. Yashica FXD, OM1, 1n, 2, 2n, 3, 4Ti, Nikon F3HP, Pentax LX, Contax RTSIII, ArcaSwiss 4x5" classic compact, 5D2, 5DsR, plus some lenses etc.

Sometimes, it will also take years, until you will finally use a feature. Last week, after 13 years of being in charge of our scanning electron microscope, I finally used dynamic focus (= tilt on an electron microscope). On SLRs there are features like second curtain sync that I am fully aware of, but have never used. Maybe there will come the day where it will be critical. Who knows? And that is part of the fun.

Last but not least, many people here have more than one body. That may also provide some clues.
 

Jack Douglas

CR for the Humour
Apr 10, 2013
6,765
2,290
Alberta, Canada
Zeidora, I guess it's called no gain without pain! However, we all know with the great advice available free here on CR that most of the pain can be avoided. ;)

I guess this thread isn't going to produce much that's specific but that's OK since the discussions are always entertaining and what is there to say when virtually all cameras that have been produced in the last few years are more than enough for most shooters.

Still, we hear all the doom and gloom ... but only in certain threads at certain times. :)

Jack
 

Talys

Canon R5
CR Pro
Feb 16, 2017
2,077
359
Vancouver, BC
Mt Spokane Photography said:
Unfortunately, specifications do not tell the whole story. High FPS? For over 100 years, pro photographers captured amazing photos with just one shot. I tried 10 fps on my 1 series camera, and had to sort thru hundreds of images to get one that I could have taken with one shot.

In my opinion, it does not matter most of the time if the shot shows a 90 mph baseball as it touches the bat.

F/8 autofocus may or may not be a factor, it depends on the shooter, I use it with my 100-400L MK II plus 1.4 TC. All my other lenses don't need it with a 1.4X TC.

DR can be a factor, but high DR cameras still don't capture all the range in many high DR scenes. There are some cases where it would be nice, particularly at high ISO settings, but you don't find it there, only at low ISO settings. At High ISO's, DR is a limiting factor for stage shots where bright lights and shadows are in the scene.

For me, noise at high ISO's is a factor, but camera makers do not list noise levels at various ISO settings. Their ISO range cannot be trusted. I also do not trust tests that reduce a high mp image to 8 mp and then measure noise. If I wanted a 8 mp camera, I'd buy one. So, if I buy a 50mp camera, how much noise is there at ISO 12800, for example.

Shutter lag can be a factor, its painful to press the shutter button and wait for something to happen.

Live view and tethering, if you want to use that, look out, it varies all over the place, and even the best is slow when using wireless.

Battery life is pretty important, having to tote around a bag of extra batteries to get you thru a shoot can be a deal breaker.

Number of AF points, this is mostly related to tracking, no one selects one point from among hundreds or at least very few do.

AF during video. Useful for non professional video making where the photographer has not or cannot rehearse a scene, measure distance to the subjects to the inch, and then execute a manual focus plan for each scene.

AFMA. If you have wide aperture lenses and use them wide open or nearly so, its a great feature. If you use live DPAF, its not needed. I just bought a camera without AFMA and miss it already.

People who don't know exactly what they want to buy should read this post before buying a camera. There are some really great points there.

One thing I would mention about remote shooting (to PC), which I use extensively.

Primarily, I have two reasons for live view to PC (wifi or tethered with cable). First, in the studio or at a remote setup I want to check to make sure on test shots that focus for product photography is exactly the way I want it -- which usually means everything is crystal clear at 100%. That just isn't possible, and not even efficient to try, on a small screen. Second, if I have someone to approve the shots before we move on to the next set, such as with fashion, it's just way more convenient than popping a card out and sticking it into a PC. Or they can view it as it goes.

Now, for both of these purposes, what I actually need is a high quality preview rather than the actual RAW. So, what I do is set the EOS utility to upload (and save) JPEG to PC, and save RAW to camera. It's worked really well for me, and gives me a backup of sorts as well (though I've never used or needed it).

Another thing is that wired USB is significantly faster than WiFi, at least in every combination I've tried. Usually, I'm using a Surface Pro or Surface Book. However, I (and others) have sent a $2,000 laptop flying and twice that in camera gear by tripping over a USB cable before, so I'm not a fan. If this is the route you want to go, invest in MagSafe USB connectors, and use an extension. But really, WiFi is just much nicer :)

One thing I really wish that Canon would do is improve WiFi speeds; in real-world performance, it's absolutely possible on 802.11ac to sustain well over 200 megabits per second, over a short unimpeded distance, which is pretty much always the case between camera and remote shooting pc. A large RAW is 30 megabytes or so -- so call that 240 megabits. So it should be possible to at least get 1fps RAW and 3fps JPEG out of remote shooting on WiFi, but it's not even close to that (more like 1.5 second or so JPEG and 4-5 second RAW, maybe longer).

The other thing is that pairing Canon to a PC is a bit of a pain, to put it mildly. I haven't tested the 6D2 yet; if it's better than 80D, I'll certainly be very happy, but I won't hold my breath.

For me, if it were possible to send a 50 megapixel RAW over wifi in less than a second, and the 5D-Next had a flippy screen, I'd probably buy one, price be damned.
 

Jack Douglas

CR for the Humour
Apr 10, 2013
6,765
2,290
Alberta, Canada
@ Talys - excellent post. Mt Spokane Photography obviously knows what he is talking about! This is what I was hoping could come from this thread.

Oh, am wondering if Bluetooth will prove to be a big plus?

Another little spec that seems to bring jeers re. the 6D2 is: "it's only 98% viewfinder!". Like, is a tiny bit of extra that big a deal to crop out? Maybe it's my ignorance but I just can't fathom this being a problem. :)

Jack
 

Khalai

In the absence of light, darknoise prevails...
May 13, 2014
714
0
36
Prague
Jack Douglas said:
@ Talys - excellent post. Mt Spokane Photography obviously knows what he is talking about! This is what I was hoping could come from this thread.

Oh, am wondering if Bluetooth will prove to be a big plus?

Another little spec that seems to bring jeers re. the 6D2 is: "it's only 98% viewfinder!". Like, is a tiny bit of extra that big a deal to crop out? Maybe it's my ignorance but I just can't fathom this being a problem. :)

Jack

For measurebators and specphiles, anything below 100% is rubbish, unusable and should be shunned right away...
 

foo

EOS M6 Mark II
Sep 10, 2016
78
0
Talys said:
Another thing is that wired USB is significantly faster than WiFi, at least in every combination I've tried. Usually, I'm using a Surface Pro or Surface
On a camera with USB3 yes, not so sure if your camera only has USB2

Talys said:
One thing I really wish that Canon would do is improve WiFi speeds; in real-world performance, it's absolutely possible on 802.11ac to sustain well over 200 megabits per second, over a short unimpeded distance, which is pretty much always the case between camera and remote shooting pc.
This is where you're wandering into unrealistic expectations. Getting higher speeds out of WiFi means having lots of MIMO antennas, which is likely to be difficult in a camera body, but also having little or no interference from other WiFi users.

802.11ac is also 5Ghz which probably means shorter range and more trouble with walls and such like given the camera is going to have a single tiny chip antenna.

Yes WiFi has advantages, like not tripping over your cable, but it has it's own set of downsides as well. I live in a city, one of the downsides being that WiFi tends to be at best unreliable and getting on for unuseable unless you really don't care about speed.
 

foo

EOS M6 Mark II
Sep 10, 2016
78
0
Jack Douglas said:
Another little spec that seems to bring jeers re. the 6D2 is: "it's only 98% viewfinder!". Like, is a tiny bit of extra that big a deal to crop out? Maybe it's my ignorance but I just can't fathom this being a problem. :)
My Rebel has 95% viewfinder coverage... I certainly never found it to be a problem on the scale you'd think it is if you believe some of the arguments you read about it :)
 

tcmatthews

EOS RP
Jan 6, 2013
411
0
42
Texas
Usual the biggest caveat is the person behind the camera. I remembering reading a 1 star review on Amazon for the 7D II. The person wanted the best crop camera they could buy. Bought it and the best lenses available and could not get a picture in focus. Claimed his 5 year old Rebel was far superior and sent the 7D II back to Amazon.

It was clear he had no idea how to set up the continuous focus modes. The specs are only as good as your ability to use them.
 

Zv

EOS 5D Mark IV
Sep 23, 2012
1,765
0
www.flickr.com
Jack Douglas said:
@ Talys - excellent post. Mt Spokane Photography obviously knows what he is talking about! This is what I was hoping could come from this thread.

Oh, am wondering if Bluetooth will prove to be a big plus?

Another little spec that seems to bring jeers re. the 6D2 is: "it's only 98% viewfinder!". Like, is a tiny bit of extra that big a deal to crop out? Maybe it's my ignorance but I just can't fathom this being a problem. :)

Jack

There's a small upside to having less than 100% viewfinder coverage. If you compose a shot just right you can be safe in the knowledge that there will still be a little bit extra to play around with to straighten and crop. It's pretty tough to get the horizon just perfect when handholding and using viewfinder. I often have to apply some corrections in post and by doing so you only lose the stuff that wasn't even in your original composition to begin with! Bonus!
 

Jack Douglas

CR for the Humour
Apr 10, 2013
6,765
2,290
Alberta, Canada
Zv said:
Jack Douglas said:
@ Talys - excellent post. Mt Spokane Photography obviously knows what he is talking about! This is what I was hoping could come from this thread.

Oh, am wondering if Bluetooth will prove to be a big plus?

Another little spec that seems to bring jeers re. the 6D2 is: "it's only 98% viewfinder!". Like, is a tiny bit of extra that big a deal to crop out? Maybe it's my ignorance but I just can't fathom this being a problem. :)

Jack

There's a small upside to having less than 100% viewfinder coverage. If you compose a shot just right you can be safe in the knowledge that there will still be a little bit extra to play around with to straighten and crop. It's pretty tough to get the horizon just perfect when handholding and using viewfinder. I often have to apply some corrections in post and by doing so you only lose the stuff that wasn't even in your original composition to begin with! Bonus!

Of course and yet many reviewers make a big deal about having less than 100%. I suppose if you shoot jpg and never PP, but really, truly, it is pathetic to harp about 2%.

Jack
 
<-- start Taboola -->