1D X and D4: In the Studio

Red Lips. January 2013 (Nikon D4)

Red Lips. January 2013 (Nikon D4)

Most studio images in our country are shot on crop sensor or 35mm full frame cameras. The jobs are done, the clients are generally satisfied and don’t know what else to wish for. Still, it’s good to know that even in photography there are generally optimal tools for particular genres. For reportage and documentary work – 35mm full frame cameras, for portraiture – medium format cameras and wide format cameras for landscape.

Red Lips 2. January 2013 (Canon 1D X)

Red Lips 2. January 2013 (Canon 1D X)

That is why 1D X and D4 feel like they are idling and having to hold back during our studio session. We don’t appreciate their best features here – high frame rate and clean high ISO values. Both cameras obey the photographer politely and take those nice pictures with relatively low resolution. I think they’d really prefer to hop into the bag and drive to photograph an extreme sport event or at least a big wedding party.

In studio the D800 felt more at home – exited and hungry for capturing more details.

So we wanted to wake up our reportage champions and changed to a more exciting theme:

Lips 3. January 2013 (NIkon D4)

Lips 3. January 2013 (NIkon D4)

Martin:it is true that the special capabilities of the D4 and the 1D X are somewhat wasted in a studio setting. Weatherproofing usually isn’t required and high-ISO ability is also less important because the photographer has control over the lighting. High frame rates are also unnecessary, or even impossible to use when lighting with strobes – they just can’t keep up. Our shoot took place under continuous lights, but still there was no need or even the temptation to fire 10 fps bursts.

After a whole day of shooting sports with the big bodies and fairly heavy 70-200mm 2.8 lenses, it was a joy to handle a 5D Mark III with the 100mm macro in the studio, or better yet, the D600 with a 50mm – light as a feather. Not that the 70-200 IS II isn’t worth its bulk sometimes – it’s a very fine lens, and very useful in the studio, too.

Canon 5D Mark III + 70-200 F2.8L IS II

In a more relaxed studio setting, the “lesser” cameras managed to focus just fine and their image quality is even slightly better than the sports bodies because of their resolution advantage. As I like to push the drama slider in Lightroom further than Toomas, this is what I got out of the D600:

Nikon D600 + AF-S 50mm F1.4 G

These smaller bodies without an integrated battery grip might start to hurt your wrist if you shoot in portrait orientation a lot, but you can just add the grip. Other than that, I don’t really see enough advantages on the D4 and 1D X in a studio setting to justify their price and bulk for this kind of shooting.

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