The ultimate expensive wildlife gear shootout: Canon versus Nikon
posted Wednesday, December 27, 2017 at 1:00 PM EDT
When you have thousands upon thousands of dollars burning a hole in your pocket and you are a passionate wildlife photographer, which goliath in the camera industry should you give your money to, Canon or Nikon?
Tony and Chelsea Northrup pitted Canon's 5DS R against the Nikon D850 and paired each with their respective 600mm f/4 lenses. For those keeping track at home, that's US$3,700 for the 5DS R and another $11,499 for the 600mm prime lens. On the Nikon side of things, the D850 costs just under $3,300 and the Nikon prime is $12,300. In either case, you're looking at over $15,000 to get outfitted for the ultimate in wildlife photography. Of course, you could make a case for a 400mm f/2.8 lens and teleconverter so that you'd be better prepared for low-light wildlife photography at the cost of some reach, but it'd still be very expensive in either case.
Between the Canon and Nikon setup, which is better? Chelsea shot with the D850 and prefers it to the 5DS R because the D850 has a faster shooting speed (9 frames per second with a grip versus 5 frames per second) and a larger buffer (around 50 frames versus 15 frames). This is very important when shooting wildlife. Further, the D850 has a better autofocus system according to Chelsea. Optically, the two 600mm f/4 lenses are both superb. There's really very little to differentiate the two supertelephoto primes.
The Northrups wanted to not only see how good the best is, but how much better it is than a much more affordable wildlife photography setup, such as a Nikon D500 paired with a 200-500mm f/5.6E lens, a kit which could cost you less than $3,000. It's often the case with photographic gear that you pay a very steep premium for only a marginally better performing camera or lens. To get that slightly better image quality, you can end up paying three to five times more. To see how the 200-500mm compares to the 600mm f/4, check out the video below.