Canon 1DX vs Nikon D3S

The Nikon D3S (left) vs the Canon 1D X (right)

Canon has thrown down the gauntlet with the announcement of its brand new flagship DSLR, the Canon EOS-1D X. This new camera is an extremely important new model for Canon, make no mistake about it.

The significant stuff, in table form:

Nikon D3S
Canon 1DX
102,400 204,800
12 18
11 14
# AF points
51 61
720p, 24fps,
1080p, 30fps,
Viewfinder magnification
0.7x 0.76x
Metering sensor
1005-pixel RGB 100,000-pixel RGB
LCD display
3″, 921k dots 3.2″, 1040k dots
Price (body) $5200 $6800 (est)
Announcement date Oct 2009 Oct 2011

Ever since the Nikon D3 was announced in August 2007, Canon had to play second fiddle to Nikon in this all-important apex of the professional camera market. Up to that point Canon had been the technological leader as the only one of the big manufacturers to offer a DSLR with a full frame sensor. Nikon’s D3 changed all that when it exceeded the benchmark set by the Canon 1-Ds_mkIII, Canon’s premier full-frame DSLR at the time. I don’t even count the 1-D_mkIII since it has an APS-H sensor, not full-frame. The D3 lacked slightly in resolution compared to the Canon 1-Ds III, but it made up for this in sheer performance and low-light capability. Building on this success Nikon extended on it with their legendary D3S and D3X models, respectively undisputed leaders in low-light ability and megapixel resolution. Since then Canon never seemed to catch up. The Canon 1D series seemed to have lost its spot is the limelight, and Canon had to be content with glamour in the lower semi-pro “5D mk II” segment.

This new 1D X looks set to try and regain the crown. And on paper the specifications look amazing! DPReview has a thorough overview, but I’ll just focus on the most important headline features:

  • Performance, performance, performance. Three (!) processors (dual Digic5 + Digic4). Up to 14fps at full 18MP resolution.
  • A brand new 61-point AF system (all 61 are cross-type)
  • A new 100,000-pixel 252-zone RGB metering sensor
  • Extreme low-light ability: native ISO 100-51200 (boost up to a mind-boggling ISO 204800). Compare this to the current low-light king, the Nikon D3S’ native max native ISO 12800 (boost up to ISO 102400).

In summary it promises to outgun the Nikon D3S in almost every respect. More pixels, more low-light sensitivity, more speed, bigger LCD, more video resolution, more AF points, more viewfinder magnification. You can see the full comparison of announced specifications over here.

Of course if you are already heavily invested in either manufacturer’s equipment, especially their expensive pro lenses, it might make little sense to consider a switch. But a big win for Canon here will improve their (already good) reputation among professionals, and can act as a magnet to attract up and coming pros to their camp.

Strange that Canon announced this one so early, since it will only be available in March 2012. Maybe they are just out to steal the other manufacturers’ thunder. After all, Nikon is sure to announce its new flagship sometime in the coming month(s) as well. According to rumour The Nikon D4 will probably be announced in the first quarter of 2012, maybe even in January. Let the battle begin (again)!

12bit vs 14bit RAW and compressed vs uncompressed… Does it matter?

You know that to get the most of your DSLR you should be shooting in RAW, right? But these days Nikon cameras gives you even more options: 12-bit or 14-bit, and compressed or uncompressed RAW (NEF) files. Which should you choose?

Short question: Does it matter? Will you see any difference between compressed (lossy) and uncompressed (lossless) RAW? And between 12 and 14 bits?

Short answer: No it does not matter. Choose 12-bit compressed (because they take up less space) and forget about this topic. Or choose 14-bit uncompressed because theoretically you’re getting the “most” from your camera and live with the file sizes.

 Approximate RAW file
size on a Nikon D7000
12 bit 14 bit
compressed 12.6 MB 15.7 MB
uncompressed 14.9 MB 18.8 MB

Not happy with the short answer? Then read on…
Continue reading ’12bit vs 14bit RAW and compressed vs uncompressed… Does it matter?’

The 1 Nikon system came!

The news is out! Nikon indeed came with a big announcement at midnight yesterday, and it is indeed a whole new system.

The 1-Nikon system has been announced and is initially available in two bodies – the cheaper J1 and the premium V1. Highlight features include:

  • 2.7 crop factor called “Nikon CX” (a 10mm lens is equivalent to 27mm in traditional full-frame/film)
  • Very fast shooting rates – up to 60 fps full-resolution photographs
  • Advanced video capability
  • Lots of accessories, already including 4 lenses, speedlight flash, GPS, external microphone and F-mount adapter.

To give you a sense of scale, this is the new V1 in hand:

The new Nikon V1 with (obviously) no lens attached and the sensor visible

Nikon is coming…

An ever-so-slightly dubious name-choice for Nikon’s countdown timer:


But jokes aside, the question is of course WHAT might be coming. In slightly more than 24 hours (at time of writing) we’ll know.

In Nikon’s marketing-speak: “I am curious”!

All rumours seem to point to a new mirrorless system camera, also known as EVIL, MILC, etc. This means that you can exchange lenses like on a DSLR. However it does without a mechanical mirror meaning it will be much smaller, lighter and quieter.

A picture from one of Nikon's "EVIL" patents

This new camera is rumoured to have a sensor that falls between current high-end compacts and the micro 4/3 system. Meaning it won’t be a viable option for pros, but might be very cool for the general enthusiast public.

The new camera is expected to try and fill a new niche in the sensor sizes available on the market

Alternatively the announcement could refer to the successor to the ageing full frame D700, D3s or D3x models, although I’m not expecting it.

Microsoft camera raw codec pack interferes with Lightroom?

Does Microsoft's Camera Codec break lightroom?

On Wednesday 26 July 2011 Microsoft added “raw” image support to Windows 7 in the form of the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack. This 8MB download will enable Windows users to decode vendor-specific “raw” files (a.k.a. digital negatives) directly from Windows Explorer, or from any application using Windows Imaging Codecs (WIC).

I wrote in a previous post why it is a good idea to “shoot in raw”. Problem is just that the raw files are large and clunky, and require special software to decode. For this reason some photographers (including Ken Rockwell) decide to shoot JPG, despite all the disadvantages of their approach. So this is great news because Microsoft just made it easier to live with raw files. Good job, Microsoft!

But… I downloaded and installed this codec, and immediately noticed something curious. It seems like the Microsoft Codec Pack interferes with the decoding of my Nikon’s D7000’s raw files in Adobe Lightroom 3.4.1. In Lightroom’s Library module the images are displayed as preview images but then remain at low resolution, even when zooming in. Only after switching to Lightroom’s Develop module are the files properly decoded at full resolution. I have only observed this for my specific camera (Nikon D7000) using my version of Lightroom (3.4.1 64-bit) running on my home PC (Windows7 64-bit SP1). But, tellingly, Lightroom resumed working normally as soon as I uninstalled the codec pack.

Not sure if this is a coincidence on my specific machine or a real wide-spread bug. Please comment on this post if you can confirm or debunk this issue.

Half a SLR

Ever wonder how a top of the line professional digital SLR would look if you sawed it in half?

Now you don’t have to do it yourself (what a relief!). The guys at Nikon were friendly enough to halve a Nikon D3 with attached 14-24mm F2.8 lens.

Half of a very expensive camera.

Note the huge chunk of glass in the viewfinder – that’s the full-frame pentaprism.

Moby gets (partially) electrocuted

Seems like Moby’s electric problems go the other way too. In 2008 I blogged about how his laser show fried my camera’s sensor (video), and now the tables turned when he was partially electrocuted at a performance in Amsterdam!

However I’m baffled by how (what looks like) a 12V DC light fixture could have caused him any harm. Methinks this a publicity stunt. But maybe Moby is a robot after all…

Youch… What would Eminem say about this?