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Old Apr 28, 2009, 6:56 PM   #1
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I shoot a lot of sports pics (for profit) – most of them posed traditionally. I started taking action shots of my grandson playing hockey this year, which I put into my own custom templates for Action Trader Cards, Enlargements and Wall Posters and started getting some interest from parents to do the same for their kids.

I use a Canon 10D with a 80-200 2.8 lens and have been able to use 1/250 at 2.8 at 800 ISO at two of the ice surfaces. I find anything at the 1600 setting on my 10D too "grainy" (I was a photo lab owner in the old film days – "noisy" would apply now) for posters even at proper exposure. I print all my own output – from trader cards to buttons to posters.

A friend in the same business in another city, who uses a Nikon D3 showed me some samples of shots he took at 3200 ISO and it blew me away with the quality. I know I need to upgrade my camera so I went to the PMA in Vegas hoping to be able to test and compare the Canon 5D Mark II to the Nikon D3x but the booths are not really set up for that and you won't get any real answers from the staff behind the counter – only sales pitches and propaganda.

I'm willing to change brands because I'm looking at new lenses anyway, so what I want (need) to know is which brand is superior, right now and if at all, in terms of:

1: signal to noise quality at 3200 and 6400 ISO
2: speed of auto focus in the one shot and servo modes using their 70-200 2.8 lenses
3: accuracy of focus in the one shot mode in the recorded image
4: accuracy of focus in the Servo mode at the time of shutter trip
5: sharpness of their 70-200 2.8 IS lenses compared to their non-IS lenses (I've been reading that non-IS is sharper than IS in the zooms as opposed to the prime lenses)
6: Custom white balance settings. (I think Nikon gets the nod her as my understanding of the way that Nikon works is that the photographer chooses Custom White Balance, shoots a grey card with settings determined by a meter, and keeps on shooting. The Canon system requires you to shoot a white card [there are many different degrees of white cards and paper but only ONE 18% grey] and that it doesn't matter if the camera is set to AWB, tungsten, fluorescent, 2700 K – whatever. You shoot according to meter readings but then have to go into the menu and choose the image you just shot. Time consuming to say the least.)

I've reviewed the photos shown on this site taken with the 5D MKII and D700 (can't find any taken with the D3 or D3x) and am of the opinion that both Canon and Nikon are comparable in the ISO quality but can't find anything where comparison is given in accuracy, sharpness, and speed of auto-focus lenses. Anyone care to give their opinions on the questions I have or point me somewhere these comparisons are made?
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Old Apr 29, 2009, 5:21 AM   #2
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No comments, huh?

My vote would go to the Nikon D3 for detail retention at ISO 3200, 6400 if you need ISO speeds that high. It's full frame, Nikon designed 12MP sensor is hard to beat right now for that purpose.

It's AF system is pretty good, too (with sophisticated algorithms that even take subject color into consideration while tracking). But, keep angle of view differences in mind going to a full frame sensor (no more crop factor/focal length multiplier for angle of view differences like you'd have with an APS-C size sensor).

In the Canon lineup, I'd look at 1 series bodies for their best AF systems.

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Old Apr 29, 2009, 7:25 AM   #3
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Budget is going to be key and working out how much value a certain camera will add to your business.

Jim is right about the D3 it is a lovely piece of kit but you are going to lose 1.6x field of view from using your 10D so to get the same view as the 200mm lens on the 10D you would need 320mm on the D3. The D3x has a cropping when shooting at high speed but just look at the cost.

If you are going Canon then the sports option is the 1D mkIII, this is my sports shooting camera, I also shoot with a 5D for wedding/studio work. The 1D mkIII has a 1.3x crop so it is somewhere between the full frame of the D3 (and 5D) and the 10D. The AFsystem on the 1D mkIII are a lot different to to that of the 5D mkII making focus quicker and better for tracking moving subjects which is going to help you get more saleable shots.

Going back to the question of budget and how best to spend it make sure you are looking at the total package that you can end up with. To get better lenses and still good performing body you might want to look at the Canon 50D or Nikon D300 which should leave quite a lot of extra cash. Obviously if the budget is there then you can discount these options.


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Old May 18, 2009, 2:32 PM   #4
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I shoot the D3 and have been very pleased with its high ISO capability. The 70-200 2.8 lens is perhaps the best overall for IQ and speed of focus. While it did take a bit of getting used to(the full frame) Im able to use the 70-200 for indoor basketball. I use the 70-200 w/ 1.4 tele for motocross, batters and infield plays in baseball (closest to the dugout) and close to sideline action in soccer, and football. I have the 400 2.8 for that farther reach when I need it.
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