S3vsD2Xvs5D as a wedding tool

Started Dec 12, 2005 | Discussions thread
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Walter S Matthews Veteran Member • Posts: 3,311
S3vsD2Xvs5D as a wedding tool

My primary occupation is shooting weddings and my wife and I currently shoot with the three cameras mentioned above. My wife uses the S3 and I use the D2X fitted with the Quantum T4D flash and a 5D with no flash for available light shooting. We shot more than 50 wedding this year.

There are a few gotchas with each camera and I will list them.

The S3 cannot shoot RAW at a wedding where you need to shoot the ceremony and that is particularly true of the processional because it can only shoot 2-3 frames/minute and that is crippling. I have loaded it with the 500 Mb Xd card which gives me 22 or so total images and about 5 frames/minute images but it's hard to keep track of where you are and not loose shots because you are out of film. RAW is needed where there are specular highlights coming off the bridal veil, dress, the grooms bald head etc. and although JPG is acceptable with the S3 for that situation, RAW is a lot nicer. The S3 does not focus well in low light although the red IR assist from the SB 800 helps a lot, if I am not allowed to use flash that light is distracting to the service so I have and use the Canon for that situation.

The D2X is a heavy camera. Fitted with the T4D and a bracket it is a workout. Clearly focus and metering are supurb on the camera but it doesn't do well at high ISO-grain or if you will digital noise is too much, and I also just don't like the color I get right out of the camera. I have worked on curves and adustments but I never seem to get it right and my D2X is a camera that forces me to use a substantial amount of post processing. I can bring the D2X files into a region that they are as good as the S3 and with higher resolution but I have to work at the files.

Now on to the wonderous 5D. An absolute jewel of an image maker and when you have the exposure right on, it is a fantastic camera. But, finding that right on spot in bright light or with flash has been an elusive task for me. So elusive, in fact, that I just don't bother with it. I just fit on my 85mm F1.8 and fire away with available light when the light is low and adjust in post with a simple color adjustment routine that I have put together. I have tried the Canon flash with the system and maybe I'm stupid but I just cannot get anywhere near the consistency I get with my D2X or for that metter with the S3.

Finally, a note of observation because I am about to receive a D200 and perhaps it will solve everything but I am skeptical. In a single wedding my wife and I will routinely shoot 1500 or so images. Of those images I routinely deliver about 400 proofs as 4x6. Now the rubber hits the road really hard when all 400 of those images need to be adjusted before making poofs. The real issue in wedding photography is not the time you spend at the wedding shooting. That is actually a lot of fun. The real crunch is how much time I have to spend getting the images to look like I insist they look before sending them to the customer.

As I look over my last 6 weddings I shake my head and even before the D200 arrives I may cancel the order and just get another S3. Virtually none of my wifes S3 images ever need adjustment. When I was using the S3 that was true of my images. Right out of the camera they are ready to be made into proofs and that just does not happen with the D2X. Indeed, I can get the D2x files to look very very good and for group portraits, yes, there is significantly more resolution for detail in the small faces from the D2X. But the S3 files come out good for color and density, shot after shot, and wedding after wedding.

If I can get the buffer upgrade for the S3 which wil allow 7-8 shots a minute, I may just settle on the S3 and forget the new stuff i.e. the D200.

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