On the net the discussions what camera to get are
very hot: Nikon vs. Canon or Full Frame (FF) vs. 1.5x crop. The recent
introduction of the Canon 5D and the availability of the Nikon D2x
fuel these discussions.
We use our cameras as tools and have as much experience with the Canon
line as we have used Nikon in the past. This time we used 2 sets of
cameras for a 4 day photo trip to the area around San Luis Obispo in
California. We packed two nearly identical camera/lense (Nikon D2x
and Canon EOS 5D) sets into two backpacks (Lowepro Mini Trekker AW).
Note: Our Equipment gets smaller/lighter all
the time and we hardly carry larger bags these days. We would love
to have the 70-200mm lenses at f/4 (but of course with VR/IS) to save
Note: FOV stands for Field of View compared
to full frame 35mm
- Canon EOS 5D (our review)
- Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS USM, on 5D FOV 70-200mm
- Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 USM, on 5D FOV 24-70mm (did not use it on this
- Canon 50mm Macro, on 5D FOV 50mm (did not use it on this trip)
- 1.4x Canon tele converter (did not use it on this trip)
- Nikon D2x (our review)
- Nikkor AF-S 70-200 f/2.8 VR, on D2x FOV 105-300mm
- Nikkor AF-S 28-70mm f/2.8, on D2x FOV 42-105mm
- Nikkor 105mm Micro (did not use it on this trip), on D2x FOV 157.5mm
- 1.4x Nikkor tele converter
In the car:
- 3 tripods (Gitzo 1325, 1548, Explorer)
- 1 Monopod
- 3 Heads
- Full description of tripods, heads and plates can be found
- Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/4, on D2x FOV 450mm
- Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS (pre-production), on 5D FOV 24-105mm
- Canon 17-40mm f/4 (did not use it on this trip), on 5D FOV 17-40mm
- Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 (did not use it on this trip), on D2x FOV
We would like to present some thoughts about this experience report:
- This is not a test! We were on this trip to create the best photos
we possibly could. In some way all photographs are tests on our way
to improve the way we capture photos: both technique and vision.
- We use all cameras most of the time in manual mode and adjust exposure
the histogram. We are very little demanding on the rich
feature set of these cameras.
- We (Bettina & Uwe) switch cameras all the time and have very
little problem to switch between the D2x and 5D. The main issue right
is how to
setup the AF for the D2x in case we photograph flying birds (here
is a good description how the AF works on the D2x).
- We photographed on this trip a good mix of the normal subjects
we usually capture: landscape, travel, birds, abstracts.
- Quite a few images are captured freehand or from a monopod. But
we value also our strong and excellent tripods, head and plates.
- We took
- 1050 pictures with the D2x (quite a few high speed bursts)
- 600 pictures with the 5D
Important note: We have quite a strong preference
for tele photos and use the 70-200mm 2.8 IS/VR lenses most of the time.
We hardly made good wide-angle shots in the past. Here are our main
- 70-200mm f/2.8 for most work (would like to see an as good f/4
lens but want VR/IS)
- 24/28-70 mm f/2.8 if the 70-200 range is too long (again we could
live with a F/4 version as long as the lens is optically good)
- 300mm f/4 for birds and other wildlife (we would like to see a
Nikkor f/4 VR version)
Our observations are highly subjective and only driven by our personal
needs (of course a moving target too). If you want to get the best
camera system for yourself then try to first understand what your
own goals are.
Our experience report is organized into the different subjects we
photographed during these four days.
One of the main differences between the D2x and the EOS 5D is the
size of the sensor. That is why we repeat what we wrote before:
Full Frame or 1.5x crop
There are many discussions on the merits and faults of using full
Pro Full Frame
- Larger pixels at the same level of resolution (can result in lower
- Classic 35mm wide-angle lenses keep their original field of view
(the other cameras compensate this with new wider lens designs targeted
for 1.5x cameras)
- Easier to blur out-of-focus areas
- Reaches diffraction limits at higher f-stops
Against Full Frame
- More expensive to produce
- Some 35mm lenses (mainly zooms and low end lenses) are soft
in the corners if used on full frame sensors). 1.5x cameras use
more the sweet spot.
- At same FOV there can be more DOF visible (see
- Allows smaller field of view (FOV) for the same lenses (seen as
an advantage for tele photo)
It should be obvious that the D2x is at a good start for us because
we favour the tele range quite a bit.
Alternatives for Canon FF cameras to cover longer tele range
- Canon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS : We think it is
not really in the same league as the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS
- Canon 300mm f/4 IS : Great lens but
we lose the flexibility of the zoom
- Canon 1.4x tele extender : Not bad
at all but images get slighly softer and more distorted
Alternatives for Nikon 1.5x cameras to cover wide angle range
- Nikkor AF-S 12-24mm f/4 : Has good
reputation. As said we are not too much into wide-angle and also
own the Nikkor 17-35 mm f/2.8.
Note: All lenses we mention would fit
into our not so big backpacks.