Jones & Hitchcock

Jones & Hitchcock

f/10, 1/800, ISO-800, 85mm

So I’ve been absent for awhile, in case you’ve noticed. I’ve been working 65-70 hours a week picking up a little overtime for a new camera. After three years and assuring myself that this photography thing I’ve gotten myself into isn’t just a fad, I made the decision to upgrade my camera body.

Coincidentally, I also gained a two-month opportunity to get a little  extra income, and I jumped at it. This meant I had to put the camera down for much of that time to get an extra 25-30 hours a week, but I put in my last hour this afternoon. Now I’m back to more or less a regular schedule.

So what camera did I decide on? I chose the Canon EOS 70D. I’m not sure when I’ll actually be receiving it, as it isn’t scheduled to be released until mid-September, and indications are that demand will exceed initial supply. I’ll count myself lucky if I get it by October 1.

I’ve been researching a lot about what  I should get for a camera. Given the Canon lenses and such I already have, and the fact I’ve never used another SLR in my life besides a Canon, there was no possibility I was going to choose a Nikon or Sony or anything else. But I did look around at other manufacturers to see the specs and to attempt to make sure the price point of the 70D was reasonable for its features.

I was really amused by the ferocity of the online arguments between fans of the various manufacturers. Judging by some comments I’ve seen, there are apparently people out there who can instantly spot a photograph taken by one camera manufacturer or another. A bad or noisy photograph must always be from a Brand X camera, and if you want “good” photographs you must always use Brand A.

Hogwash, I say. The photographer makes the photograph, not the camera. It is the photographer’s responsibility to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the camera in hand and make a good photograph. The idea that you can take the same photo with the same settings and the same lighting with two different cameras and get a “better” or “worse” image from one or the other entirely misses the point of being a photographer. As a photographer, you adjust the lighting, you adjust the settings, as necessary. If the camera could do it for you, there’d be no point in being a photographer.

For my purposes, there were several reasons I settled on the 70D rather than, say, the 60D at half the price. Understand I’m coming from a Rebel XS world, the least powerful and expensive camera in Canon’s DSLR line. Pretty much all of the reasons have to do with improving my workflow as a photographer, which is the only thing the camera can do that will ultimately lead to better photographs.

  • Articulating screen – I’ve had far too many shots I had to give up on because I could not see through the viewfinder or even see the LCD well enough to take a sharp, well-composed image. The ability to articulate the screen was actually one of my highest priorities based on three years of shooting experience.
  • Live view auto-focus and touch screen LCD – Much has been made of the 70D’s new AF technology, and the ability to accurately focus by using the LCD’s touchscreen. This was also very important to me to help insure that shots at difficult angles could be focused properly.
  • Fast AF – Based on what I’ve seen, it appears that auto focus speed should be significantly improved over my current camera with this model. It didn’t appear to me that this was necessarily the case with the 60D. If I’m reading between the lines correctly, it seems like the 70D should also be much more reliable focusing in low light scenes than current technology, and I spend a lot of time shooting at sunrise and sunset.
  • 7 FPS – I’ve lost more than one opportunity (and many dollars) to get “the shot” that a customer wanted because the XS shoots at only a little over 2 frames per second. You try getting just the right shot of someone jumping into water at that frame rate. It takes more skill and practice than I have, and you only get one chance at it (assuming, as in my case, that the subject wants to start out dry).
  • Integrated WiFi – A nice-to-have, perhaps, but I like the idea of being able to wirelessly control the camera from my Android tablet. There will be cases where it will be handy to be able to wirelessly transfer images from the camera to the tablet as well.
  • AF Tracking – Based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m impressed by the camera’s ability to “lock on” to a subject and track it while moving. This will be handy at sporting events, which I’m hoping to do more of. I can imagine more flexibility for doing portrait photography as well.

None of my reasons have anything to do with video mode, which is where Canon’s marketing machine is really targeting. I understand why, but I do wish more reviews and information would go deeper into the benefits of still photography. I also like the thought of 7-exposure bracketing, and I want to at least see how in-camera HDR turns out. In my opinion, though, Canon could have saved some memory by ditching in-camera Instagram-like features. If I wanted to ruin my photographs, I wouldn’t be spending $1200 on a camera.

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