My love affair with Canon is slowly waning as I become infatuated with Nikon gear.
As a wildlife photographer, finding the right camera that fits your photography style can be challenging. Canon has always been my go-to brand ever since I switched to digital photography. Over the years, I have had the chance to use camera bodies and lenses that have progressively improved in quality and delivering results. As my own photography genre developed, the types of cameras I needed to produce the images I was aiming for became more sophisticated.
The Canon EF 100-400mm L IS II was my favourite lens for wildlife photography for many years. The versatility of being able to zoom in for portraits and zoom out to give an impression of the landscape is particularly convenient. However, I was beginning to feel the limitations of the reach (400mm) in the last few photo trips especially as my partner works with a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM Lens with it's higher magnification.
In February 2019, I was introduced to the new Nikon 500mm f/5.6 PF lens and was tremendously impressed! By September 2019, the lens along with a Nikon D850 were waiting on the doorstep. The results were beyond expectations; the image quality was on par with the most expensive prime lenses from either Canon or Nikon. Unlike those oversized lenses which are bigger than myself, the weight and size is such that I can still take hand-held photos that are tack-sharp. In fact, this D850 + 500mm kit weighs less than the 1Dx Mk II + 100-400mm (the D850 is equipped with a battery grip BM-D18 which holds an EN-EL 18B battery).
My first trip with the Nikon kit was to Kenya. Although the conditions were difficult with continuous rainfall, the results were spectacular, and raindrops provided a beautiful dimension to the photographs. The Nikon worked well in rainy and cold temperatures with each morning beginning with below freezing conditions. The next trip was to the Kalahari where in some areas there had been no rainfall for over a year. Here the Nikon had to work in a fiery situation with daytime temperatures of 45° and frequent dust storms. Nikon chooses a slightly different battery grip to Canon and this connection can be delicate; however, the rig held up marvellously in the harsh conditions and the kit came home in a pristine condition.
During a recent scouting trip to Spain with the aim of photographing Iberian lynx, we found a few cats but they were quite far out. The D850 with its 45.7 megapixel resolution offers the opportunity to selectively crop images to bring smaller animals within a reasonable distance. The fact that the upcoming Canon 1Dx EOS Mk III again only offers a resolution of 20.1 megapixel, gives it a desperate disadvantage.
Higher resolution cameras clearly give a finer, more detailed image when everything is right (steady camera, shutter speed to match the subject). Although Canon's EOS 5Ds R in my opinion still produces the best image quality of any Canon camera today, the brand has no product that comes anywhere close to the Nikon D850. The Nikon D850 with its 45.7 MP sensor combined with the ability to take photograph up to ISO 3200 and still produce great results is unmatched.
The latest rumours around Canon is that they will no longer develop new EF mount lenses in order to focus on mirrorless cameras. Is it too soon for this move considering Nikon has hit it big with the 500mm f/5.6 PF lens, and considering mirrorless technology still needs some serious development?
In the meantime, while Canon focuses on a different camera market, I will slowly be transitioning to Nikon. Although this is a costly option taking a bit of time, this is the kit that suits my photography style the best!