The Best 35mm Digital Camera for Commercial Photography

With the recent trends in mirrorless cameras, and the price of medium format coming down to a point where they are actually financially viable for most of us, does the 35mm camera still reign over digital cameras for the best bang for the buck, and if so, which one wins the race?

Having worked with a vast array of cameras over the years, from very budget-friendly offerings through to very niche bits of kit I had never heard of and had to take out additional insurance policies just to be able to hold, I feel I have managed to get a pretty well-rounded hands-on experience of what is out there. 

In spite of the above, I have only owned two cameras. The Canon EOS 5D Mark I, Mark II, and then their high-resolution offerings, the 5DS R and 5DS. At the end of the year, I was advised to buy any big-ticket items that I may need for the next couple of years. Suffice to say, I didn't spend a penny on cameras or lenses, instead investing in computers and lights, but that's another article altogether. 

In this video I talk about why I think the Canon 5ds and 5dsr systems are perhaps the best bang for the buck out there, sure you could jump up to medium format, but when you need at least two matching bodies and backs, that suddenly becomes extremely expensive compared to the rental costs for when you do truly need one. 

Let me know your thoughts and if I would have been better off buying a new camera body system for the studio. 

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7 Comments

Richard Bradbury's picture

The 5D series are solid cameras. I have been happy with them so far including the 5DsR.

I did however get offered a Phase One DF+ and back but

1. Can't really justify it
2. Cost of upkeep is high on older Phase cameras so it's just not worth it.

Can't say I wasn't tempted mind.

Scott Choucino's picture

oooh which back was it?

Richard Bradbury's picture

P40+ if I remember correctly.

He has had nothing but trouble with the body and back. Also put me off by telling me the short life span of the leaf shutter lenses and repair costs.

Getting rid of it and trying a Fuji GFX100 to go in it's place.

Andrew Eaton's picture

I use to have a Phase One DF+ and it was quite unreliable, it needed a power down every 50 shots and would drive me nuts. I think a 5dsr would be a better choice over a old DF+ but not over the XF system

Richard Bradbury's picture

Already running the 5DsR and adding a 2nd body soon.

Would love to jump to a Phase but can't justify it currently and I have zero patience for gear not working. The XF systems looks good but way out of my budget currently for the back I would be buying.

Shame the DF+ is so bad really.

Bernard Languillier's picture

If you have an existing set of Canon EF lenses those are certainly good options.

If you start from scratch and look for the best DSLR options then a Nikon d850 is a much better bet, would it only be for the lenses.

If you start from scratch and look for the best available option, then going Sony is IMHO a no brainer at the moment.

Tony Rayo's picture

I am not personally in the Canon ecosystem, but this reminds me a lot of what I deal with regarding Nikon. After using a series of incrementally improved film and digital cameras, when I decided photography was going to be a major part of my path forward I invested in a Nikon D850 (a great camera that is still my daily shooter).

Similar to Canon, as brands such as Nikon and Sony (who I believe announced that they will no longer be producing DSLRs in favor of all mirrorless) move towards fully embracing new technologies, there will still be a host of quality bodies and lenses available at ever cheaper prices.

Personally, I am much more interested in going medium format with film, and while the later Mamiya RZ67 models offer a digital upgrade path, I think I would be looking more towards Fuji if I were ever in a position to need/want to shoot digital in medium format (as it stands now, I am still looking to drop a chunk on a Mamiya RB/RZ body and build up my collection from there, but local deals are not common).

The last reason I went Nikon was also so that I could swap glass between my D850 and F4 (all but the one "G series" lens I have), although the F4 needs one replacement part that I have not been able to source, something which will affect current DSLRs but not for some time. Has anyone dipped their toes in Hasselblad's digital backs?