Canon EOS 1Dx vs Nikon D4: The Great Showdown Part II

Part II of my experiences with these two heavyweights - scroll down for Part I

Comparing AF tracking and metering


If we look at actual pixels of the above event (sorry for the exotic species but this was the only one to cooperate) photographed at the same time it looks like this. Lizet was driving the 1Dx at the time, image above left. The one on the right was with my trusty D4. We set both cameras to Aperture Priority at f/7.1, ISO 1000 and Auto White Balance (AWB). As I have experienced since switching from Canon the Nikons tend to expose more to the right of the histogram and one needs to be careful not to clip the highlights but if not clipped they are easy to recover - which I did in LR, see below. The Canon went for a slightly darker exposure and the background looks a little noisier but this is without any noise reduction in LR or PS. Slight LR adjustments were made to make them a little more comparable and these are disclosed below the images. Obviously both cameras did very well with the AF tracking.












Canon EOS 1Dx                                                                                                                                    Nikon D4

Exposed at 1/2500s f/7.1 ISO 1000, AWB - camera selected 5450K                                          Exposed at 1/2000s f/7.1 ISO 1000, AWB - camera selected 5550K

LR settings:

Exp -0,3 Highlights -21 Whites -10 Sharpening amount 40 Noise reduction 10                      Exp-0,8 Highlights -42 Sharpening amount 40 Noise reduction 0

Although the D4 needed more reduction in exposure none of the highlights were clipped and the dynamic range of this sensor handles such adjustments with ease... In fact the dynamic range is quite a bit more than that of the Canon according to DXO Mark's laboratory tests which can be viewed by clicking on the following links: Canon EOS 1Dx sensor score and Nikon D4. If you believe these results the Nikon seems to be the clear leader, in fact the previous Nikon D3s compares quite favourably (actually beats it) with the 1Dx. These are highly acclaimed laboratory tests but can we see the difference in the field? I doubt it but I do see that I can pull amazing detail from my Nikon files in post processing when I have to. To be fair to the Canon, I did not have enough time with this beauty to comment on this and in the above test I did not need to either :-).

One thing that did irritate me about the Canon is the complexity of its AF system. With the D4 you simply select 'Continuous' AF and decide how many active AF spots you require, with the Canon this is set up as complex system of scenarios for different scenes. While one can customize the tracking sensitivity for the D4 the 1Dx takes this to a whole new level and I don't think I like this :-( See below...

So if a bird is flying towards you and you think it will keep on flying past you, you actually require a different case setting than if you think it will land in front of you and decelerate quickly -Case 4 vs Case 2 for example... Every time I line up on something half my RAM (memory - the old brain you know...) will be taken up wondering if I have selected the optimum case scenario for what I think is going to unfold.... or I'll simply select case 1 and never look back BUT then why all this programmability? I suppose it makes sense if you're a sports photographer and know what your subjects will be doing eg. sprinting vs long jump..?? Maybe I spend too much time thinking and anticipating... worrying about the what if's but for me as a bird photographer this is not appealing.

To summarize so far I regard both these cameras as highly capable and I wouldn't mind shooting with either. Did I mention I love my Nikon D4 :-). I am very happy where I am but for the Canon shooters there is finally the 1Dx!

This is enough for now...I'm off to Zululand to photograph birds..... Let's enjoy our cameras - competition is wonderful for our hobby, thank you Canon and Nikon.