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Archive for July, 2016

How to Use Two LED Lights to Achieve Moody Portraits

by on Jul.31, 2016, under Tips and tricks

Any kind of light is a must for photography. You just cannot photograph without light. There are various types of light that no doubt you are familiar with:

  • Natural light from the sun
  • Ambient light (could be natural or manmade)
  • Artificial light such as strobes, incandescent or tungsten, fluorescent, flash and LED lights
  • Infrared light

achieving-moody-portrait-2-LEDs-tips

This article will give you tips for using two LED lights to achieve moody portraits.

Tip #1 – Modify your light

The best light is always modified. Even sunlight is better with a diffuser. Direct sunlight produces hard shadows and harsh light. Clouds soften and diffuse sunlight (by making it spread over a larger area). On a bright cloudless day, shooting in open shade minimizes the harshness, but still takes advantage of the beautiful natural light. Shooting in shadows, located next to reflective surfaces, also leverages any bounced natural light. These techniques are simply modifiers of natural and available light.

Modifiers are more obvious for artificial light. There is a plethora of choice when it comes to these: soft boxes, diffusers, reflectors, foam cores panels, umbrellas, flags to name a few.

The same is true for LEDs when it comes to the need for modifiers. There are many types of LED lights, including ones that you can adjust their brightness as well as colour temperature. But, just like the above, regardless of brightness intensity of the continuous light, it is essential to modify LEDs to get soft, pleasing, beautiful light -overall a better quality of light.

I’m going to show you a setup using modified LEDs to create moody portraits.

achieving-moody-portrait-2-LEDs-tips

Using a window to camera left and an LED, bounced into a diffusion panel, to the right.

 

The main light I used here is the Magic Tube, the cheaper alternative to Westcott Ice Light. You can adjust the brightness of the light, and it comes with a tungsten gel if you need it. Apart from looking lightsaber Star Wars cool, the Magic Tube also comes with a charger that allows continuous charging while it is being used. So you can always have access to power by just plugging it in if the battery charge runs out.

You can also use window light and just one LED for this setup. Substitute the main light with your window light, but make sure you are diffusing the light coming from a window with a sheer voile, or fabric to soften it.

To diffuse the main light, I covered it with the Rogue Bender diffuser for the strip light. This is just a piece of rectangular translucent material which simply covers the light.

Tip #2 – Position your lights for contrast

Position the main light at 45 degrees to the subject, up high to emulate light coming from a tall window. Use a diffusion panel or a piece of sheer fabric. The less opaque the fabric, the more diffuse your light will be. To further modify the Magic Tube after I have attached the Rogue Bender diffuser, I also used the diffusion (translucent part) panel of a 5-in-1 reflector and had an assistant hold the panel in front of the main light. Having these two diffusers together reduces the strength of the light, but also greatly softens its quality.

achieving-moody-portrait-2-LEDs-tips

The second light is also an LED, this time a small video light positioned to camera right, at 45 degrees, but at the same height as the subject. However, instead of using a diffuser to modify this light, you can turn it around so the light faces away from the subject, and put a reflector in place to bounce the light on. The subject (filling in the shadows) gets illuminated by the soft bounced light from the reflector.

achieving-moody-portrait-2-LEDs-tips

For a moody look it is essential to have both light and shadow in the portrait. You need to watch where the main light falls, and the shadow it’s creating. You want the shadowed area to still have some detail, instead of being completely black. The bounced light from the reflector takes care of this.

Tip #3 – Use a dark background

I tried the exact same setup, although the lights were positioned the opposite way, with the main light on camera right. This setup had a lighter background, in this case lightly patterned, and the results were far from moody. I did not want to shoot at a smaller aperture as I wanted to blur the pattern of the wallpaper in the background. I also wanted to emulate sunlight shining through a window illuminating a dark room, and this setup just did not work to achieve that look.

I’m sure if I had gridded the main LED to avoid spill into the light background, while increasing my shutter speed, the background would have gone darker, but I would have lost the soft and atmospheric look I was after. Compare this photo below to the one underneath it, and it’s pretty obvious the darker background is most definitely better at achieving the moody look.

tutorial-using-2-led-lights-for-portraits-photography

achieving-moody-portrait-2-LEDs-tips

I hope this article gave you new ideas to try. Do share other tips you have to achieve moody portraits!

The post How to Use Two LED Lights to Achieve Moody Portraits by Lily Sawyer appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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How to Boost Your Creativity by Including Props in Your Photography

by on Jul.31, 2016, under Tips and tricks

Props: are they a blessing or a curse? In photography, props can often make or destroy a photo, and because of this some people try to avoid them, some are afraid to use them, and other people love to use them.

I moved from being afraid to loving props because I found they are amazing tools to unlock creativity.

Photo00

Freshly squeezed coffee. A different way to prepare a fresh cup of coffee.

Why use props?

Usually, the role of the props in photography is to help add character and interest to a photo, or to add context to the scene.

Some kinds of photography, such as conceptual photography, cannot exist without props, as they are needed to translate the abstract concept or message into an image.

Photo01

Musical scores.

Props in commercial photography

In tabletop photography (product, food photography, and still life), props are used to build the scenography of the photo you are crafting.

Photo02
The teapot, the plate, and tea leaves are all elements of the scenography used for the pile of chocolate biscuits in this a classic food photograph.

Props in landscape photography

Props are sometimes present even in landscape photography, usually with the task to add interest to the foreground. A classic example would be to photograph a camp site in the wilderness, with a lit tent under a starry sky.

Photo03
This tent is, indeed, just a prop. I brought it along with me solely with the intent to add interest to this nocturnal landscape.

Props and portrait photography

Using props will also help you to create more interesting portraits. Are you into self-portraiture? Cool, but there is only so much you can do with your face, and after a while you will probably feel the need to start using props, The more creatively you can use them, the better and more interesting your portrait will be.

Photo04

A simple ball thrown in the air with a bit of timing can make for a dynamic, “It’s a kind of magic” portrait.

So, props are all those objects that photographers add into the scene they’re photographing that are not the main subject of the image. I don’t consider hats, jewelry, wristwatches, and all those accessories your model wears for a portrait, to be props.

Another plus with props, especially in portraiture, is that they can help your model to be more comfortable in front the camera by giving him/her something to do or to focus on, thus forgetting about you and your camera.

Photo05
A prop in the hands of a 3 year old toddler (my son in this case) can lead to interesting results without making a fuss.

Things to look out for using props

So where is the problem with the use of props? Why people can be negative about them? My guess is because they are so widely used in photography that the risk of fall into photographic clichés is quite high.

Below are five tips to help you be creative with props, instead to fear them.

Before you continue allow me a final word. While it is true that many things can be do inside editing software, to really exercise your creativity don’t be a lazy photographer, craft your images for real as much as possible.

Photo06
I consider the flame and the smoke in this photo of a hot pepper to be props. The fun in crafting the image with real fire and smoke was unbelievable.

Tip #1: Use a classic prop in a fresh way

Old film cameras are classic props in portraiture, and the ways to use them are variations of my son’s portrait you saw above.

Among those cameras, the most photogenic ones are, in my opinion, the TLR (twin lens reflex) cameras, such as Rolleiflex, Rolleicord and Yashica. Because these cameras have a huge focusing screen you have to look into from above, the usual way to use these props is to have your model look down into the camera.

A less common way to use those TLR cameras as props is to take advantage of their massive focusing screen, which is many time larger than any SLR camera viewfinder, and to photograph the scene the TLR camera is seeing.

Once you get the setup right, don’t stop after the first shot, but experiment with poses and props.

Photo07

Trapped!

Photo08

To reveal the child inside us.

Tip #2: Build your own props

Another way to get creative with props is to craft them yourself. This will not only ensure you have unique props to work with, but the whole process of making the props will make you think more creatively about how to use them.

A one meter long, origami paper boat, and a yellow balloon are good props to make one of my son’s fantasy and childish adventures come to life.

Photo09

A fantasy childhood adventure gets real in this photo.

If you are into origami, and tired of taking the usual portraits of your children, you could try to create adventures for them by folding big paper planes or animals, or whatever you know how to do with a piece of paper. Plus, you can find plenty of origami tutorials waiting for you online.

Once again, it is true you could easily compose the adventurous portrait of your child by adding elements to the photo later in Photoshop. But, again, what fun would that be for both of you?

Tip #3: Break the physical laws and go surreal

One of my favorite prop to work with are helium balloons, those you usually buy for parties. They are colorful, cheap, long lasting and very versatile.

Inspiration for their use is everywhere; have you watch the animation movie Up recently? Cool, wouldn’t it be fun to fly away holding tight to a bunch of balloons?

Photo10
Up, up we go. Here the low key really helped a lot to make the pose believable.

What about breaking the physical law by playing “tug of war” with those balloons, instead?

Photo11
Up and Down are quite arbitrary in this kind of photos. Here I was lying down on the floor but I tried to keep my shoulder off the ground, so that once I turned the photo 90 degrees counterclockwise, the pose was still believable. The low key helped by getting rid of the floor.

Tip #4: Prep your props

Sometimes, you can obtain something original just by prepping up a classic prop, such as the omnipresent book. Books are often used to fill a still life scene, or to get more interesting portraits.

Photo12
A funny contrast between the surprised grown up, rude, and bearded man, and the book of one of Winnie the Pooh adventures.

To make things more interesting, dynamic and less cliché, you can prep a book by sprinkling body powder on its pages and then have your model to blow the dust off while you take the photo. Or have him slam the book shut just before you fire the shutter, so to record of white powder flying out the book creating clouds.

Photo13

By adding body powder to the mix, you can obtain much stronger and dynamic portrait.

Powder makes things much more interesting, and the only limit is your creativity (or the absence of a working vacuum cleaner to clean up after the mess). You can sprinkled some body powder on a ball (another common prop) and make your model hit it with the hands just before taking the photo. You will capture great puffs of powder, helping to convey a feeling of action and power.

Photo14

Basketball and body powder mix in interesting ways.

Tip #5: Go crazy with conceptual photography

While it is challenging per se, I consider conceptual photography to be the best playground to learn to be creative with props.

When you do conceptual photography, your subject will be a concept, and the challenge is to translate it into an image by using props. At first, keep it easy, and don’t be afraid to get inspired by the work of other photographers.

Photo15

The chicken’s great escape, a concept I saw online and I made it mine by using my personal style, and adding the escaping chicken.

Because you want to convey a message, even with the simplest setup, you have to pay attention on how you place your props into the scene.

In the previous photo, the dark, out-of-focus chicken in the background is there to give the idea of the chicken moving away from the egg. While the broken shell with marks on its inside make the viewer think of it as the chicken prison. Had I placed the chicken in the foreground, in-focus and well lit as the egg’s shell, the message would have lost some strength.

When you do conceptual photography, do not focus on the photography aspect at first, but let your ideas and concepts spawn naturally from your everyday life. Are you cooking your favorite food? In that moment the idea that photography is a bit like cooking could strike you.

In photography, as in cooking, you combine what reality puts in front your lens (the ingredients) to create your vision of such reality (the finished food).

This idea struck me once and this was my personal way to translate it into a photo: the ingredients are the colorful paper rolls in front the lens of an old TLR camera, and those ingredients combine in-camera to reveal an origami nocturnal seascape crafted using the paper from the rolls. Photography magic.

Photo16
The fun of doing the origami seascape for real and the challenge to frame, focus, and light it, so I could photograph the scene through my old TLR camera, was so much more than just use an editing software to copy/paste, move, rotate, resize and bled all the different elements together.

Once you start this game, you can find concepts everywhere; was your Mexican food too spicy even for a chili lover as you are? Something like that could pop in your mind.

Photo17

The most useful kit for us chili lovers.

Bonus tip: The hunt for props

Now you know how you can get creative with props in many ways, even using common ones, but it is always good to hunt for more interesting ones.

A good way to hunt for unique and weird props is to visit flea markets and shops selling kitchen supplies, vintage clothes, and such. And then, as usual, once you’ve got your props, use them in a fresh and unconventional way.

Photo18
A variation of the concept shown in the photo opening this article; the same concept can be photographed in many different and original ways. Creativity is your only limitation.

Once again, the way you use and prep the props is crucial to create a convincing image. The coffee stains on the table and the squeezer, the squashed and broken capsules, and the smoke from a hidden candle, make the viewer understand what the meaning of the photo is, and the reason behind those props.

Conclusions

Don’t be afraid to use props in your photography to add something more. Just remember to use them wisely and creatively to push your photography further, and to avoid falling into photography clichés.

The post How to Boost Your Creativity by Including Props in Your Photography by Andrea Minoia appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Flagships compared: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II versus Nikon D5

by on Jul.31, 2016, under Reviews

Flagships compared: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II versus Nikon D5

2016 is an Olympics year, and while Brazil may be scrambling to get everything ready, Canon and Nikon are fully prepared. Both manufacturers launched brand new flagship DSLRs this spring, just in time for the world’s sports and action photographers to learn how to use them ahead of the games, which start next month.

Having two major DSLRs launched into the same marketplace aimed at the same kind of photographers at the same time is a good opportunity to see how they compare. We’ve recently published full, detailed reviews of both the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5, but in this article we’ll be highlighting the major differences between the two models.  

Dynamic range

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II offers greater dynamic range at base ISO than the Nikon D5 – and than any previous Canon DSLR. Source: Bill Claff


On the face of it, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 offer a very similar sensor specification. And at 20 and 21MP respectively, their output resolution is indeed almost identical, but there are differences.

Unusually, in the contest between Canon and Nikon, the EOS-1D X Mark II’s sensor has the wider dynamic range at base ISO, which represents a major step forward for Canon’s pro lineup. Although not a match for the best-in-class performance offered by Sony’s current full-frame sensors, the 1D X Mark II bests the D5 by around one stop. Oddly, in terms of dynamic range, the D5 has moved backwards compared to its predecessor, the D4S.

The practical upshot of this is that the EOS-1D X Mark II is much more suitable for the sort of ‘expose for the highlights and pull the shadows up later’ approach to photography that makes sense in tricky lighting conditions. With the D5, you have to chose. Expose for highlight detail and color and lose definition in midtones and shadows, or expose for midtones and say goodbye to the brighter areas. With the EOS-1D X Mark II, while not best-in-class, Raw files are much more flexible.

High ISO performance

Even at ISO 64,000 the Nikon D5’s image quality is superb, and the AF system is capable of 3D Tracking in near darkness.


Of course, not everyone requires super-wide dynamic range from Raw files. For some photographers (and we suspect most photojournalists) high ISO Raw, and particularly JPEG, image quality will be more important. In this respect the D5 offers marginally superior performance to the EOS-1D X Mark II, although the difference isn’t that great within what any sensible photographer would consider a ‘normal’ ISO sensitivity span.

The D5 yields better quality JPEGs at ISO 409,600 (the EOS-1D X Mark II’s maximum setting) but above this, its additional ISO sensitivity settings (all the way up to 3.28 million) become progressively less useable. More useful is the D5’s backlighting of major controls, which is a huge benefit when changing settings at night.

Autofocus

The Nikon D5’s 153-point AF system is the most capable that we have ever seen.


As flagship sports and action cameras, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 incorporate the best autofocus systems that their respective manufacturers know how to make.

In Canon’s case that’s a 61-point AF system, supported by a 360,000-pixel metering sensor to aid with subject tracking (‘iTR’ in Canon-speak) and face detection. Of the full 61 points, 41 are cross-type and the center point is sensitive down to -3EV in single-shot AF mode. Additionally, the 5 central points are dual-cross type, containing a long base-line x sensor in addition to the and + cross sensor for enhanced AF precision with F2.8 and faster lenses. Indeed, we’ve found these 5 points to have nearly mirrorless (contrast-detect) levels of precision, important for shallow depth-of-field photography.

The D5’s AF system features 153 points, 99 of which are cross-type, and of which 55 can be directly manually selected. The entire AF array is sensitive down to a rated -3EV, and the center point can still be used at -4EV. The D5’s metering sensor features 180,000 pixels, and works with the autofocus to create a ‘3D AF tracking’ system with face detection.

While the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II’s autofocus is very good, and leagues ahead of earlier-generation professional Canon cameras, the D5 leaves it in the dust. The D5’s AF system is without question the most capable of any camera that we have ever seen. The almost spooky reliability of 3D AF tracking, despite a lower resolution metering sensor for subject analysis, is a game-changer for all kinds of photography – not just fast action. 

Easy to miss in the D5 (partly because Nikon hides it so well) is automatic AF point calibration. This is a massive time-saver when calibrating fast lenses for accurate focus, and a major selling point over the EOS-1D X Mark II (and earlier Nikon cameras).

Video

Both the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 offer 4K video, but the Canon is the better video camera. Its 1.34X crop in 4K mode is less aggressive and Dual Pixel AF transforms performance.


Again, in terms of video specification the EOS-1D X Mark II and D5 might appear to offer a very similar set of features. Both can shoot high-definition video, and both also boast 4K recording. But the exact breakdown of features – and how they are implemented – is quite different.

Of the two cameras, the EOS-1D X Mark II is unequivocally the better choice for video. Canon has been producing high-end video cameras for a long time (although in the DSLR market, Nikon got there first – just – with the D90) and the company’s experience in this field really shows. The EOS-1D X Mark II can shoot HD footage up to 120fps, which is great for slow-motion capture, and 4K at up to 60p. The D5 tops out at 60p and 30p respectively.

The EOS-1D X Mark II also imposes a less aggressive crop factor in 4K video mode: 1.34X as opposed to ~1.5X. This isn’t a huge difference, but it does mean that it’s easier to shoot wide-angle footage on the 1D X II. In addition, the EOS-1D X Mark II’s Dual Pixel AF system works brilliantly well in video mode, both in terms of speed and accuracy of AF acquisition, and also tracking. The combination of DPAF and touch-to-focus makes for a very refined shooting experience, and even swift and accurate AF for static subjects in stills. The D5’s contrast-detection AF system in live view and video is primitive by comparison.

There are a couple of points in Nikon’s favor though – unlike the EOS-1D X Mark II the D5 can offer zebra striping for highlight monitoring, and it can output clean 4K footage over HDMI to an external recorder. In addition, the D5’s entire ISO sensitivity span is available in 4K video recording, whereas by default, the EOS-1D X Mark II caps ISO at 12,800 (expandable to 204,800 with a custom function).

Rear LCD

The Nikon D5’s rear LCD screen offers 2.36-million dot resolution, color calibration, and a broad range of touch-sensitivity features.


The rear screens on the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 are the same size, but the D5’s display offers significantly higher resolution, at 2.36 million dots (to the 1.62 million dots of the 1D X II). Although the Canon’s screen is very sharp and detailed, the D5’s is noticeably better when compared side by side.

It’s not all about resolution though, and the D5 has a couple of extra tricks up its sleeve. If you find that how pictures look on the back of the camera is different to how they appear on a profiled computer, the D5’s rear LCD can be calibrated using a blue-amber, magenta-green color wheel.

And while the screens on the back of both cameras are touch-sensitive, the implementation of touch features on the Nikon D5 is much broader. In the EOS-1D X Mark II, pretty much the only thing you can do by touch is to set AF point in live view. In combination with Dual Pixel AF this works brilliantly, but touch-sensitivity is much more deeply integrated into the Nikon D5’s ergonomics. Move to the next slide to read more.

Operation and Handling

The Nikon D5’s touch-sensitive feature set is much more useful than the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. In review mode, images can be scrolled or ‘scrubbed’ through and focus can be checked with a double-tap.


In terms of handling, as always when comparing cameras from different manufacturers, the question of which is ‘better’ is largely subjective. But that’s not to say that there aren’t some measurable differences between the Canon EOS-1D X II and the Nikon D5. For starters, there’s that rear LCD screen.

Canon is determined that no unwary professional photographer should ever do anything by accident. That was the logic behind the original EOS-1D’s ’press button A, press button A again, scroll, stand on your head then press button B’ control logic, and it remains a Canon obsession to this day. As such, the company has basically deactivated the EOS-1D X Mark II’s touch-sensitivity feature except for one action – AF point selection in live view. 

Nikon isn’t as stingy in this regard, and on the D5, you can perform several operations by touch – possibly the most useful being scrolling through and zooming (by pinch or double tap) quickly into images in image review mode.

In terms of customization, both of these cameras are highly configurable, but the D5 is a level up from the EOS-1D X Mark II. Nearly every custom button on the D5 gets a comprehensive list of assignable functions, much more generous than that offered by the EOS-1D X II. Furthermore, nearly every custom button can be assigned to activate and initiate any AF mode – uniquely allowing for things like momentary disabling of subject tracking, or the ability to switch between tracking a subject you specify vs. one the camera automatically chooses. This makes it easy to adapt to changing scenarios, or instantly try a different AF mode when one doesn’t work.

Shooting speed

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II can shoot at up to 14fps with autofocus. This comes in very handy for capturing fast and erratic action like this rodeo rider.


Both the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 are – probably – approaching the limit of how fast DSLRs can be made to take pictures before shaking themselves to bits. The EOS-1D X Mark II is the quicker of the two cameras, topping out at 16 fps in live view mode, while the D5 lags a little behind at 14 fps. With autofocus and autoexposure, the Canon can shoot at up to 14 fps, while the D5 maxes out at 12 fps. It’s worth noting the Canon can shoot at 16 fps and still display a review image between each shot – allowing you to follow your subject – while the screen on the Nikon stays blacked-out when firing at its 14 fps maximum frame rate. 

Furthermore, the 4K frame grab feature on the EOS-1D X Mark II effectively allows for a 60 fps silent shooting – with AF. Rolling shutter is minimal, so this is actually a usable way of capturing the decisive moment when it comes to very fast action. The D5 can shoot silently at 30 fps for 5s, but you only get 5MP stills out of it in this mode.

On the numbers alone, the EOS-1D X Mark II has the edge in terms of speed – just. But frames per second is only one part of the equation when it comes to action photography. Remember what we said about the two cameras’ AF systems…

Memory cards

Both the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 support CompactFlash media, but the EOS-1D X Mark II offers an additional slot for faster CFast media. The Nikon D5 is available in two versions – one with twin CompactFlash slots, and one with twin XQD slots.


Here’s a funny thing – there are actually two Nikon D5s on the market. There’s one with twin CompactFlash slots, and another one with twin XQD card slots. There’s only one version of the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, and it comes fitted with one CompactFlash slot, and one CFast slot. Confusingly, CF and CFast cards are not mechanically cross-compatible, but the slots for both media – and the cards themselves – look almost identical at a glance.

So the risk of accidentally jamming the wrong card into the wrong slot is certainly higher in the EOS-1D X Mark II than the D5, but which media choice is better?

Currently available XQD and CFast 2.0 cards provide roughly similar performance (400-500mb/s max read speed). The biggest practical difference right now is price: a high-speed (510mb/s read) 128GB CFast 2.0 card costs about twice as much as a 440mb/s XQD card of the same capacity.

Of course if you don’t shoot high frame-rate bursts in Raw mode and don’t want to record 4K video, all of this is academic. Just stick with good old trusty CompactFlash.

Battery life

The Nikon D5’s incredible battery life means that it can shoot for thousands of frames per charge – a huge selling point for action photographers and anyone working in remote conditions.


It goes without saying that the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 are tough, durable cameras. Maybe one is tougher than the other, but to be honest we don’t have the time (or the necessary credit limit) to test them to destruction. But there’s more to durability than just physical toughness. A major consideration when using a camera in rough conditions – especially in remote or primitive locations – is battery life.

The Canon EOS-1D X II’s battery life is CIPA rated at 1210 shots per charge. Not bad. But the D5 is rated at an incredible 3780 shots – almost three times as many pictures per charge.

Now, CIPA ratings should be taken with a pinch of salt, since they’re based on a series of use-case tests meant to approximate ‘normal’ use and in our experience, actual battery life is almost always better than the rating. We’ve shot well over 2000 frames per charge on the EOS-1D X Mark II without coming near to running its battery flat. But the Nikon D5’s endurance in normal use really is quite extraordinary. Unless they’re shooting a lot of 4K video, we suspect that most D5 shooters will never need to carry a spare battery.

How do they compare?

Obviously, very few (if any) photographers out there are seriously asking ‘which of these two cameras should I buy?’ For one thing, we suspect that a large portion of of eventual EOS-1D X Mark II and D5 shooters will have had their gear purchased by an agency or publication. Meanwhile, those who pay for their own gear have most likely been locked into one or other system for so long that a comparison between the two flagships is of academic interest only.

But that’s not the point of this article. In examining the two flagship DSLRs from the two biggest camera manufacturers, we’re effectively looking at the state of the art for DSLRs at this point in time. So in the final summing up, how do they compare?

It’s not a huge surprise that overall, both cameras perform very well indeed. Their identical scores and gold awards testify to that. The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II is slightly faster when shooting stills, and significantly better as a video camera. Meanwhile, the Nikon D5 offers a market-leading AF system (for stills, at least) and a much more satisfying touch-screen implementation, with more extensive customization options.

The D5’s extraordinary battery life means also that it can keep shooting for much longer between charges, and it can capture full-color images in conditions literally too dark for the human eye to discern anything. On the other hand, at base ISO in daylight, the EOS-1D X II’s extra Raw dynamic range makes it more useful for shooting in brighter, more contrasty conditions. 

Ultimately, on the understanding that the question ‘which should you buy?’ is largely hypothetical in this case, we’d certainly recommend the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II for landscape photography and 4K video. If you need the world’s best AF system, and a camera that can shoot forever and literally see in the dark, then the D5 is the better option.

Want to compare more cameras? Click here

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.

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