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?