Nikon vs. Canon. Fx на фотоаппарате

Nikon DX vs FX

  • March 24, 2010 at 3:52 am

    Yet another great article that gives a detailed overview of the subject at hand. Thanks for all the effort that has been put into this.

    • March 24, 2010 at 7:41 pm

      Morten, you are most welcome! Thanks for the feedback :)

      • November 1, 2011 at 7:38 pm

        Thanks Nasim, Great explanation.

      • December 1, 2013 at 9:40 pm

        Nasim Mansurov,

        I am wanting to upgrade my camera which is a nikon D5200 w a 70 to 300 lens. I need a camera and or lens combo that I can use at field level for my son’s high school football games. And of course, most of the games are at night and under different lighting from not so good to just less than ok. I have noticed a lot of noise, especially in pictures from a distance and at higher iso’s.

        I have only been taking pics for the last several months, but I want to provide the best pics i can for my son and i share them with the team on shutterfly. What suggestions do you have for a camera that will fit my needs? I also need it to be somewhat weather proof as I have been known to shoot in the rain. And, I would like a camera that takes several shots per second, I think my is 4 to 6, but I would like a faster one. Am I asking for too much? Oh, and I am on a budget…. :)

        Thanks for your help and I look forward to your response.


      • April 11, 2016 at 12:03 pm

        I would love to see an update regarding this subject now Nikon has the amazing D5500 on the market. Please let me know if you already have. Thank you.

    • December 16, 2010 at 1:40 pm

      Thank you so so much for this, as far as being to long NEVER. There could never be to much information, you have “Cleared” the clouds hanging over me and answered my Question.Be Safe,Kevin

    • February 6, 2011 at 2:46 am

      Thank you for this very nice overview of characteristics and advantages of DX vs. FX. This is an issue often discussed, especially among wildlife photographers. I wonder whether anyone made a realistic comparison of this two combinations:

      1. DX camera (e.g. D300) with a long tele (e.g. 500/4 AF-S VRII) @ ISO 4002. FX camera (e.g. D700) with a long tele (e.g. 500/4 AF-S VRII) + TC-14EII @ ISO 800

      These two combination represent a real choice in field obtaining an image with the same field of view at the same lighting conditions.


    • March 20, 2012 at 10:40 pm

      You have a a fantastic way of explaining a somewhat confusing topic. I’m new to the world of DSLRs and I will return to your site for future explainations…as I’m sure I’ll need them!

    • June 25, 2014 at 4:34 am

      Excellent article. Thank you for taking the time to put this great article together. Do you have any idea when the Tamron 150-600 Nikon lens will be available again? I have one on backorder.

      Again, thank you.

  • March 24, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Thanks. Lots of effort must have gone into this. Very nicely done. Btw, can you write something on tripods, how to choose, what to buy, your personal recommendations?

    I look forward to your post everyday…

  • March 24, 2010 at 5:40 am

    Thanks for the article and the sample photos. Great job.

  • March 24, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Thank you for this article. It’s a very clear explanation of the differences between the sensors.

    I shoot pro soccer and baseball using a D200 (with a DX sensor), and when I make the change (almost ready to buy a D3S) I will lose the 50% extension in reach. I suppose I could shoot in crop mode at the expense of resolution, but I guess I’ll learn through practice.

  • March 24, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Hi Nasim from Perth Western Australia.

    I’m a manager in the IT (AV Integration) field as well and I think your blog is excellent. You have thorough articles on most fundamental photography topics and your writing style makes things so easy to understand. Thank you! I have learnt so much. I just want to give you some words of encouragement as I browse through your blog on a daily basis and it forms part of my morning coffee ritual at work.

    I’m glad you wrote this particular article, because one thing I’ve not really been able to find a definitive answer on in the DX/FX realm is image detail. I’ve been shooting quite substantially with my D90 since January last year, probably shot over 40,000 images. But I notice that when I compare similar images shot with DX vs FX, the FX images seem to have just a sharper detail to them. The blurred backgrounds on DX also seem slightly grainy and not as smooth as what I see with the same lens on FX cameras (e.g. with my 85mm f/1.4). Is this true or is my mind trying to trick me into upgrading to FX? I hope you understand what I’m trying to describe here.


  • April 3, 2010 at 6:25 am

    hi Nasim, great post and comments. For a person using a DX camera (D 90), and planning to upgrade to a FX in the near future ( 1-2 years), how should I go about buying lenses which would work on my current D90 as well as future FX cameras? I currently use 18-200 (all purpose travel), a 10-24 ( for landscapes) and a 35 1.8. All these I beleive work only on DX format cameras. If I can, I would like to buy my newer lenses, keeping future FX purchase in mind. I do a little bit of evrything except sports and wildlife.

    • April 5, 2010 at 1:24 am

      SM, what lens do you want to purchase?

      You could still keep your D90 with DX lenses as a backup when you upgrade to FX, or you can sell them at a good price later. You have great lenses that will keep their value, as long as you take a good care of them.

  • May 13, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    excellent explanationthank you

    • May 23, 2010 at 10:57 pm

      Maja, you are most welcome! Please let me know if you have any questions.

  • May 23, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Been using D300 – News paper work – Time to pick up a new camera body this summer – Shoot alot with 300mm 2.8 at 1600 – 2500 ISO – considering the D700 with full size sensor ….. I know what I’m getting now with the D300 and can produce pretty consistent images but would always like to do better …. wish I could find a review of a subject shot with both camera bodies with a 300mm wide open at 40 yards at high ISO – If you know of one please let me know – No doubt the D700 produces better image quality with short lenses – with the 1.5 multiplier on the DX do you think there would be any ground to gain with the FX or do you think the image quality would remain about the same or less …….Thanks for any direction you might give

    • May 23, 2010 at 11:13 pm

      Paul, the field of view on the Nikon D700 would obviously be smaller compared to D300 due to crop factor. However, the image quality on the D700, especially on ISO 1600-3200 would without a doubt be superior when compared to D300. Another thing with crop factor sensors, is that they tend to have noise even at the lowest ISOs, while FX sensors have no noise at base ISOs.

      • May 24, 2010 at 6:02 am

        Thanks for the info …. I do wish I had a 700 to try for about 10 minutes …. I could tell pretty quick ….. I live in a small town ….. my concern was after the additional cropping the final image quality would be about the same ….. if you happen across a rewiew that’s relevant to the 300mm or larger at high ISO’s let me know …..Thanks again for the help!

        • June 4, 2010 at 4:20 pm

          Paul, if focal length is an issue, you can add the 1.4x TC to the 300mm f/2.8 and recover the difference. There is no difference in sharpness when you add the 1.4x TC to the 300mm, because the lens works so darn good with teleconverters…

          I do not have the 300mm f/2.8, but I do have the 300mm f/4.0 and the difference between FX and DX is huge. Check out some of my bird photography to see some image samples.

          Hope this helps, sorry for a late response :)

          • June 6, 2010 at 4:55 pm

            I’ve used the 1.4x TC on the 300mm for wildlife work and like it when there’s enough available light – I shoot alot of night sports – A typical Friday night put me of a football field at ISO 2500 shooting at 400th of a second at 2.8 on a monopod – under those conditions adding the 1.4 pushes me to nearly f4 – to keep my speed up on the D300 I’d have to raise the ISO and it gets pretty ugly at 3200 or 6400 – I’ve got a D700 coming this week – figure I’d give it a shot – It’ll be interesting to see the difference under those conditions – I know what the DX sensor will do ….. looking forward to up loading my first with an FX – I’ll cover a night baseball game and do some night work on the town square – maybe the D700 will take adding the 1.4 TC at 6400 and stay pretty clean of noise – it won’t take long to find out – I appreaciate all the info and feed back!Thanks!

            • June 7, 2010 at 1:04 pm

              Is there anything on the set up menu of the D700 that I particularly need to pay attention to that’s different than the D300?Seems like most of the focus settings are the same ….TksPaul

            • June 8, 2010 at 10:49 am

              Paul, if ISO 2500 was acceptable to you on DX, ISO 6400 will also be quite acceptable, for sure. For my photography, I personally prefer to keep ISO under 1600, but use 3200 and even 6400 every once in a while.

              I am sure you will be more than impressed with the quality of your images from an FX sensor. For me, it is a night and day difference, especially for fast-action photography. The bigger viewfinder will also let you see more and focus better, so you will have a lot more keepers.

            • June 8, 2010 at 10:50 am

              Paul, did you already receive your D700? :) Yes, most of the focus settings are the same, so the learning curve for you is very minimal.

              Good luck with your photography, looking forward for your shots from the D700!

  • May 24, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Wow…you make me really want the D700! I am going to have to do some serious thinking now. Replacing all my DX lenses will be an added expense to the change and may not happen as fast as I’d like it sure seems like it would be worth it in the long run. Thanks so much for your help.

    • June 4, 2010 at 4:22 pm

      Dawn, you are most welcome! Please let me know if you have any questions.

  • June 28, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Well I’ve run probably 5K shots through the D700 – Tried to use it in a variety of environments – the more demanding situations I shoot in – Low light – the swing of a batter at the plate ect. – Had alot of thoughts going through my head concerning it the last couple of weeks – Still got some things to determine – It’s my first work with the FX sensor.First thing I noticed – my 24-70 2.8 was a 24-70 again – had to make myself move closer even shooting ‘grip and grins’ for the paper. I’ve used DX for about 10 years. Funny we’re such creatures of habit.The weight – I’ve been a full size camera body guy for a long time – anything other than that just doesn’t feel right in my hand – It is noticeably heavier than the D300 with the same MD10.The camera set up was very comfortable – similar to the 300.Framing FX vs. DX – for some aspects of the sports I shoot the crop factor with the full size sensor is an issue but nothing that the 1.4 TC can’t take care of when ample light is available. I loose a little pop in the shot with the TC but usually make a small adjustment in exposure or editing to bring it out a little more – The DX-FX cropping feature on the menue is something I will probably work into my shooting work flow under certain situations – first time I’ve ever had that feature available and I like it so far – remember I shot mainly for news papers – the loss of image size is rarely an issue.Noise at High ISO – 1600 and above I consider a high ISO – some guys consider anything 800 and over high – but their usually not sports photographers – I shoot alot of night sports at 2500 – I’m amazed at the difference in the noise levels in the FX and DX senors – I didn’t realize I had developed a habit of shooting the DX a little hot – Guess it’s a carry over from the TriX 400 BW film days – always shot it a little hot – with DX even at ISO 200 any shadows which the camera sees as underexposed is going to have quite a bit of noise in it – I use the exposure compensation setting to dial things up a little better – use the histogram alot setting exposures – anyway – the FX sensor is so much cleaner throughout the shot – How much faster can I shoot? – I’d say as clean as the FX is at 2500 I can push it to 4000 when I need the speed and not pay to high of price for the adjustment –Well I guess that’s enough for the time being – I’ll post an up date from time to time – maybe I’ll figure out if I can load a shot or two …….As far as the FX vs. DX senors I appreciate all the info you’ve given me – I have to say I found everything you’ve said to be accurate – I’m pleased with my investment – I just have to apply the info to the type I do ………Really wish Nikon had gone full size years ago!Thanks again!Paul

    • July 3, 2010 at 9:49 pm

      Paul, thanks for sharing your experience with the Nikon D700!

      Yes, the D700 is certainly heavier than the D300 (170 grams difference), so I tend to only take the battery grip with me when I shoot landscapes and need to use the L bracket. As you noted, the feel is exactly the same as with the D300, even with the MB-D10. When it comes to slight loss of reach, I too do not consider it an issue for my wildlife photography, because I attach the 1.4x TC in most cases and the nice thing is, if the lighting conditions are poor, I still have the chance to remove the 1.4x TC and get superb autofocus and low-light performance out of the camera and lens. For the glass that I use (Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II, Nikon 300mm f/4.0 AF-S and Nikon 200-400mm f/4.0 VR), adding the 1.4x TC is almost unnoticeable when it comes to contrast and sharpness. I’m so used to the 1.4x TC, that I rarely go out without it when I need the reach.

      In terms of noise, one of the annoying things about DX, is shadow noise as you pointed out – never was a fan of it. Having grain in pictures at base ISO is not pleasant and running noise-reduction software is just a waste of time. Once you see how clean the images are on FX, it is hard to go back to DX – my D300 has been gathering dust on the shelf for months now!

      I am very happy to see that you are enjoying your D700 – it is a nice review from a pro-sports photographer and I am sure many other photographers will find your review very useful.

      Thank you once again for your feedback! If you would like to share some of your images with our readers, you could either upload them to Flickr and then provide the URL here, or we could put them up as a case study, in which case it would probably be best to email me the images.


      • July 19, 2010 at 7:38 am

        I really appreciate all your work on the DX-FX info …… in every situation I’ve encountered to date your information has been on the money …….I used it over the weekend covering an indoor swim meet at the University of the South …… shot from a range of 1600-2000-2500 ISO at a variety of shutter speeds dialing the camera into the conditions and the noise level or should I say lack of noise is great ….. it was the type situation I could have worked through with the FX – BUT it would have taken alot more time in editing …..great to start with a better original image!Thanks again for all your help ………

        just a note – taking a look a lightroom3 – downloaded the trial – never used anything but Nixon and Photoshop in the past …… using Capture NX2 presently – all the importing and exporting is really different ……. haven’t found the word “save” or “save as” anywhere! HA!but giving it a shot …… found a couple features I really like!Paul

        • July 29, 2010 at 2:16 am

          Paul, I’m glad that you are enjoying your D700 and trying out LR3.

          Lightroom is very powerful, I would recommend to get Scott Kelby’s LR book or view some of the online articles/videos on LR3. Easy to learn and yet very powerful!

  • July 19, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Great discussion Nasim, better one that I came across on the internet. I am a D90 user and have been planning to move to FX because I do have to increase ISO in my settings and the grain get to noticeable on the D90. I have started to buy FX lenses only and am using them on the D90. I use the Noise Reduction in CNX2.I have not upgraded, because all the rumors out there about the D700 upgrade (you also mentioned it). I am waiting to see what comes out, depending on that I may go for the new D700 or the D3s.Here are my three questions:1) Is the D700 upgrade coming out soon?2) Did you ever needed Noise Reduction, if yes what worked best for you?3) I use CNX2 because I have been reading that it reads the Nikon NEF files best? You mentioned that you use Lightroom; do you see any benefit of having CNX2 for the reason if it reading NEF files best?

    • July 19, 2010 at 4:12 pm

      hi Buji,

      I use LR (Lightroom) for capturing D90 raw files and LR3 is pretty good in my humble opinion. I like to keep things simple and using LR simplies the workflow quite a bit. It also has Noise Reduction within it, which I beleive works pretty well. See Nasim’s latest post on this.

      Btw, which FX lenses are you currently using on D90? Whats your experience with them?

      • July 19, 2010 at 5:19 pm

        Thx, I actually saw the post on Noise Reduction right after my comment, which is very helpful. I considered Dfine, but understood it does not currently plug into CNX2. A few people have remarked the strength of LR, incl workflow efficiencies. I’ve considered it, but I really like CNX2, so I’ll need more convincing I guess :)I’ve used the 50mm/1.4G (love it!) as my main lens for the last 18 months and just got the 24-70/2.8 for zooming flexibility in near range. 70-200/2.8 vrii in my dreams, but out of reach for now.

        • July 29, 2010 at 2:25 am

          Oops, should have read your comment before responding, oh well :)

          The best way to see if you like LR3 is to try it. I believe Adobe gives a 30 day trial version for free…

    • July 29, 2010 at 2:23 am

      Buji, there is plenty of speculation in the air about an update to D700. Some people say there will be one this summer, others say there won’t. I would wait at least until Photokina to see what happens. I’m suspecting an update to D3000 and D90, and not sure about D700. Schedule-wise, it was supposed to be released this year, but Nikon might delay the release until next year for financial reasons.

      In terms of noise reduction, I do use it for shots above ISO 1600, but selectively. I recently wrote an article on noise reduction, so check it out.

      Capture NX can read some image attributes other software can’t, but I don’t really use those (such as sharpening/saturation and d-lighting) – I tweak those in Lightroom and it is working out great for me.

      Hope this helps.

  • July 27, 2010 at 3:51 am

    Thank you very much.This is a very useful and Fantastic Article.Thank you again

  • August 9, 2010 at 3:49 am

    Very clearly and thoroughly explained. Thank you.

  • August 25, 2010 at 5:15 am

    Nasim, Another great article. Since I visited your site, I can’t stop reading all your articles!

    I bought D5000 last year and to be honest, I wish I bought FX back then. I still think D5000 is great camera but I really want FX now.

    I’m a hobbyist and not a professional photographer, meaning that I don’t making living or sell my pics (at least not yet).

    Am I just being “wanting next best thing” if I buy D3s or D700 ? It is alot of money but I really wanna get my hands on D3s.

    What do you think?

  • August 29, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Great article Nasim.I’ve got a d5000 with kit lenses 18-55 and 55-200. I did alot of baseball photos this year and was very pleased with the results, I’ll be doing soccer this fall. But I’ve tried taking the camera indoors for basketball and volleyball. As you know I either have to settle for noise at a higher ISO or blur with a slower shutter speed. I’ve been considering picking up the 70-200 f2.8 VRII and wanted your opinion, worthwhile investment for my DX body or will noise still be too much of an issue at the higher ISO?Thanx! – Danny

    • September 1, 2010 at 10:47 pm

      Dan, shooting indoors with a DX body is certainly going to be challenging. Ideally, it would be best to get an FX body + 70-200mm f/2.8G VRII, but if budget is an issue, I would go for the lens first and see how you like the results. If you are dealing with dim indoors environment, you might have to use flashes instead…

    • December 5, 2010 at 10:24 am

      I just came across this article and your questions. I have been shooting just what you talk about in varying light conditions of school gyms, including those that have motion detector lights that go out for half the court when there is no activity like you find during an elementary school basketball game.

      I went from a D100 (plus extras) to a D200/grip and 800 flash and a 70-200VR 2.8. I set the flash to Fill mode and high speed sync, Shutter Priority 1/250 (Nikon’s crappy flash sync speed) and almost always bounce the flash off a back wall. That gives even lighting and not the “deer in the headlights” look of a direct flash. The D200 does a very good job of exposure adjustment and controlling the flash.

      My reason for explanation is to second Nasim’s comments on “lens before camera”. The 70-200VR 2.8 is remarkable! In tough light, it works great with the camera to track a player through the mayhem. The old days of having to predict a focus spot are just a memory. The setup is bulky with everything attached but I find it reasonably balance with the battery holder.

      My biggest complaint with the DX is the small viewfinder area. I wear glasses and I lose even more viewfinder area, especially the information portion and don’t like the feeling of moving my face around while concentrating on the subject. I have found that I just let the camera do the work after initial setup when doing sports shooting. That issue, and higher ISO/low noise, has led me to go with a D700. I don’t have any time on it yet so can’t compare low light gym shots.

      We’ve all read it before and some of us seem to fight it, just like I did (or do) …..good lenses before new camera…..find a good used 70-200VR 2.8 for sports in difficult situations and you will buy a new bag that keeps it attached and ready.

  • October 20, 2010 at 1:04 am

    Thank you for the article, it was extremely helpful clearing the difference between DX and FX, the importance of the size of the pixels etc. It made a very big difference in my undesrstand on whitch camera suits whitch photographic need.I started to shoot weddings with a D90 but I really need a better camera and started reserch on which one to choose.I undestand the great difference between DX and FX, and I can’t decide between D700 and D3s.Is it worth spending almost twice the money on D3s for wedding photography? Could I get aproximatly the same results from D700 with good lenses?

    Thank you.

  • October 23, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Ah, thank you VERY much for writing this! I’ve been looking for an article saturated with information and not so many opinions. It seems everyone likes to voice their concerns but never the facts haha. Your article was extremely helpful to me. I have a perfect idea of what type of upgrade will suit me. Thank you =^_^=

  • October 27, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Very well written and clearly explained. Thanks!

  • November 1, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    wonderful explanation! thanks

    CliffordD80, 18-200mm VR

  • November 2, 2010 at 4:48 am

    This is an awesome article!

  • November 3, 2010 at 1:43 am

    first of all thanks for this wonderful post, explaining the topic very clearly. its very easy to understand for a amateur like me. Appreciation for the effort you have put for this.


  • November 12, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Great article! It answered all my questions but one:

    Are lenses made specifically for the DX format still subject to the ‘multiplier’ of 1.5, or has that already been taken into account? For example, is the 70-300 DX lens that came with my D90 still comparable to a 105-450 FX lens on an FX sensor? I want to buy a ‘standard’ lens for the D90, and in my 35mm film days that was a 50mm lens. So, do I get a 50mm DX lens for the same field of view, or should I get a 35mm DX lens?


  • November 23, 2010 at 10:00 pm


  • November 26, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Hi Nasim:

    Thanks for your detailed information. It would help me to determine the correct camera for me and the pro or cons of each sensor. Actually I am really interest to buy the D7000 that use DX sensor. The lens that I am interest is the 28-300 f/3.5 AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR. This lens is for FX camera, but has a good zoom. As I read in your articule, FX lens can work in DX cameras. If I use this FX lens on DX camera, can the focal length can be affected or reduced. I really appreciatte your recomendation.


  • November 27, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    this is probably the best article i’ve read on this topic. the ISO 800 vs. 6400 comparison on d300 vs d3s speaks for itself and is rather eye-opening.

    i currently shoot with d90 and d300s and am considering an FX move. i need to pull the trigger today (Nov. 27) b/c its the last day for Nikon Rebates. i’m planning on picking up 24-70 and 70-200 II and down the line adding 50/1.4 and 85/1.4, probably 70-300 as well. i do mainly PJ and concert shooting so landscape and wildlife arent a huge priority for me right now. i do have a sigma 15-30 i can use for W/A on FX, but i’m not sure i need 16-34 or 14-24, though they both sound fantastic.

    i know i will keep much of my DX kit for times when i need to be stealthy or weight is an issue and i like the d90 w/35/1.8 combo for street (the d300s also matches well with the sigma 30, size- and balance-wise.)

    …anyway, i am still on the fence over D700 vs. d3s. i’m a little concerned the d3s will make me forget about the d300s, which i love, but for concert shooting in low-light, there is none currently better. so that’s a plus for d3s. i’ve gone as high as 2500-3200 with the d300, which is a body i’m very comfortable with, so it’s hard to imagine what clean 6400 would do for my shooting.

    OTOH, it looks like the d700 is very competent at ISO 3200, with usable 6400, which would still give me a boost over d300s in similar situations. the d700 is more portable than D3s and has pop-up flash for quick fill. but in terms of cross-compatibility, d90, 300s and 700 all share the same battery and d300/700 share the same grip. this could be very useful in the field, especially in travel situations, since you can essentially switch batteries/use spares for all three cameras. however, the d3s uses a different battey–which means a different kind of spare and different type of charger. i do want to do more travel shooting in the future, and not sure a d3s would really be that great there–its too big/bulky and not unobtrusive at all. also too expensive–why take a $5k camera to a country where it represents 5-10x their yearly income?

    so, therein lies the rub–to go for the smaller, lighter body with better cross-format compatibility and very good high ISO, or to shoot the moon and nab the bigger, bulkier body with excellent high ISO? i suppose i can always get a d700 down the road, maybe when they fall to $1500 or so, which will probably happen when the d800 comes out.

    you probably wont be able to respond before i make my decision, but i thought i’d lay out my line of thinking, in the hope it will help others in similar situations. i’m not sure i’m really asking a question anyone can answer but me, anyway. so, suffice to say, nasim, you have confirmed that FX would be a good move for me. keep up the good work!

  • November 27, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    A very nice article for a beginner professional. In this [republican created] down economy and crushed housing market [ex-carpenter] the only other skill set i have to fall back on is photography.

    Since I haven’t been active in this for well over a decade or two [since the advent of digital & my basement dark room was scorned}, I’m currently looking for a new set-up.

    I have, i believe, narrowed it to the D700. I like the new Olympus E5 [any comments?] & the Cannon Mark, but the D700 seems untouchable for the money, do to your article.Thanks

    p.s. i only recently secured the site, so it is not up yet and i am waiting for my business license.

    • November 27, 2010 at 11:26 pm

      Mike, today is the last day for the rebate for D700. Below is the link to the rebate. I have a d700 and use it a lot! It is a great camera.

    • November 29, 2010 at 1:10 pm

      Never mind – the rebates have been extended till 12/11/2010.

  • December 5, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Thanks for the article. Very clear explaination, details, expert knowledges….that help me decide to submit my purchase yesterdayEstimate time for delivery from B7H is this coming friday for D700 and 18-120 f4 for $3328 after $300 saving.I need your advice for couple of extra glass in the future. I am a beginner, not a pro photographer.ThanksJohn

  • December 8, 2010 at 11:16 am

    I can’t say enough thank you(s) for making the explanation so simple.

  • December 10, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Thank you. I stumbled on this looking for a simple answer. You provided a complex answer in a simple way. Well done!

  • December 11, 2010 at 7:00 am

    Hi Nasim, i just want your advised because some of my friend have a D700 camera (body only) and he want to trade in to my newly bought D7000 kit, but his D700 have already 80,000 shutter release (actuation?) and my D7000 have only 600 actuation, i really want to have a FX body camera, because i always shoot indoors and mostly low light situation, but my budget is very tight so I decided to by DX body (D7000) Until now i don’t know if i will trade my camera or not..What do u think? Thanks in advanced..

  • December 13, 2010 at 1:14 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Thanks a lot for such a nice article on important subject.

    I need some help in taking decision on Nikon FX camera. I am using Canon 40D for last 3 years and mainly into landscape photography. I always wanted to venture also into candid photography, but 40Ds high ISO performance restricted me to some extent. Over the period, I personally feel that Nikon’s metering and high ISO performance in field, are more advanced than equivalent Canons. I have made up my mind to switch to Nikon brand. I had targeted intially for Nikon D700 but its a more than 2 years old body now. I have seen couple of high ISO snaps from D7000 which look comparable till ISO 6400 to Nikon D700. I am worried about my probable investment in D700 considering a relatively older technology to D7000. Also there is a risk of Nikon launching another full frame (D700S / D700x) in next 2-3 months. The current cost of D700 is stabilized and is in good range. But if Nikon launches another full frame, the cost would be again touching $3000. With these parameters, would you recommend going along with D7000? Or should I wait for Nikon to launch another full frame body? Or a combination of D7000 and full frame lenses like 16-35 F4 would be good? Please do reply me back.



  • December 18, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Hi Nasim.I have a question. In Nikon D3s specifications said that you can switch from FX to DX format.So, if I put 70-200 lens on D3s in FX it will be full frame, but if I switch to DX same lens on D3swill become 105-300 and I can see it through viewfinder 50% bigger ? Have you tried it with your D3s ? Let me know if it works that way.Thanks Vlad

  • December 26, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    Just to thank you for the great post, couldn’t be clearer. Thank you.

  • January 2, 2011 at 11:52 am

    This is a fantastic post, I was confused prior to reading this post, even the specialist Nikon dealer in London didn’t convince me either way. FX for me now!

  • January 6, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Thanks for the article man!

    I am planning to go for D7000. What do you think about that? DX sensor with 16.2 megapixels. Do you think the large number of pixels in the small sensor be problematic? moreover i was confused by the 4 digit naming….previously Nikon’s 4 digit series were all entry levels. So do u think there is a catch here?

  • January 12, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    Your article is excellent and it helps a lot for someone like me, trying to upgrade from DX to FX. I have a question, I understand that using DX lens on FX model the image will be cropped by 1.5x. Which means if I use my 18-200mm DX lens on both D300 and D700, the cropping of the image should be about the same. How about the noise level? Will D700 do much better job than D300 or since it is cropped, they will be about the same?

  • January 20, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    No wonder why this article is at the very top rank when I did google search on DX vs FX.

    I’ll also check out your other articles as they’re very useful.

    Many thanks for sharing the knowledge.

  • January 25, 2011 at 6:33 am

    Awesome !Got all the info !

  • January 28, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Great article! This will help me a great deal in making the jump from the D60, much appreciated!

  • January 31, 2011 at 2:10 am

    What an excellent explanation. I have been trying to decide whether to by a 55-300 DX lens for my Nikon D5000 or a 70-300Fx . As I am an optimist and hope one day to be able to afford a D700, I think I should go for the FX lens in spite of the extra weight and cost. Do you agree ?

    Thanks again for your great site


  • February 10, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Nasim,Wow, what an incredible informative blog page. Thank you so much for providing great information on photography. I just sold my D60 a few weeks ago (greatly underrated camera btw). Tomorrow, I will purchase my very first D700. Words cannot describe my excitement! I was on the internet browsing FX vs. DX and found your site. Any questions I had as to whether or not I should take the plunge into the FX world were answered here. I feel confident that I am making the right decision. Again, thanks for lending your expertise to us photographers.

  • February 16, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Many thanks for this very helpful overview and comparison shots. I’ve been trying to work out whether or not to convert back to full frame and you’ve just made the decision for me. Excellent level of detail – enough to guide a choice, but not too much to read.

  • February 22, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Ok, so sorted the wait ready for the new Nikon full frame replacement for the D700, and now for the software. I’m running a Mac Pro at home and Macbook Pro when I get away from work. I’ve been using Nikon’s Capture NX2 for some time, but find it a little clunky at times. I’ve also got a trial version of Aperture 3, but keep hearing a lot about Lightroom 3. I always shoot in RAW, and am generally most interested in creating shots that will be good on screen or printed up to poster size from time to time.

    If I go for Lightroom, do I also need the full Adobe CS5?

    Any help would be appreciated.

  • February 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Hello Nassim,Wonderful and much detailed article.. anyone can easily understand. Thank you so much.My question for you is, I have a D300s with 18-200 VR II lens. I am planning sell my D300s to move to D700. Should I keep the 18-200 lens or sell it?. If I sell, then which would be the better lens I can go for to satisfy 18-200 result. I cannot spend too much at this time. Your help on this is really appreciatedThanksAravind

  • February 24, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Hi Kevin

    Thanks for that. I guess I need to get hold of CS5 to try it out. At the moment I find that NX2 does most of what I want for straight photos, but lacks the ability to do some of the things that photoshop can do, and may be more clunky in the process.

    Best regards

    Al Craig

  • March 18, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Hey Nasim,

    thank you for that article. Reading through it cleared the question – and a lot of other things as well – perfectly. Best thing is: I did not get bored while reading and even discovered a few things I can now follow up.

    Excellent work!


  • March 21, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Hi Nasim, i plan to buy d3s but i still haunted by dust in the sensor. I have d700 and the sensor easy to get dusty. so i like to know after i buy d3s how i should do in order to clean or do the maintenance by my self.

    So far with my d700, i always put in my drawer and now the dust come to the view finder chamber, so i need to send back to Nikon services.

    My questions:1. how often you clean your sensor2. how to maintenance d3s from dust in sensor and view finder3. how to clean it properly and using what ?

    Thank you in advance.


  • March 31, 2011 at 8:33 am

    This was well written, well-elaborated and concise. Thank you for the effort and knowledge shared.

  • March 31, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    thank for the information about DX and FX difference, even starter like me yet wants to have the most powerful camera, FX has to be the one, but yes, it depends on your wallets.

    thanks any way, God Bless.

  • April 22, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Waw… I was surprised especially as you actually apologized for a long post!! No apologies accepted, because this is a very good article.. I am more on a beginner side and the article really helped me to understand some basics :) and with that finally as well the difference between fx and dx :)Thank you for your time! :)

  • April 22, 2011 at 2:25 am

    twice i red articles from this site and i end up bough the thingy, first 28-300mm and second D3s… and i happy with it specially the d3s, now i feel that i want to sell my d700 and upgrade it to another d3s…

    lastly the combination d3s+28-300mm is deadly, now i rarely use my sb700 and only bring sb400 for travel and use it only in case really emergency…..

    Thank you Nasim… !! and good job …

  • May 3, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Hi Dear,Thanks for the information. Actually before i was trying to go for Nikon D7000 Dx. but now i don’t like to buy any of because i really need a true pictures for my photography, while the FX is extremely expansive that i can not afford so i will wait for until the low price of FX. but its may new brand comes so that will take times could you please give me some suggestion. i am totally confuse.

  • May 17, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Hello Nasim, this is good stuff! My question is pretty much similar to khalid’s inquiry. If I am to jump to the FX realm, would you recommend for me to wait for the D700 upgrade (since it’s been out for almost 3 or 4 years now) or just go ahead and jump the gun with D700+24-70 combo (or any lens for that matter)? I just wanted to get the value on the camera body I am aiming for especially since the release of the D7000 was very promising and growing to be the best and most recommended one on the market. The D3s is a bit of stretch for me to reach especially sine the price of the body alone would cost me like a D700 combo already.Do let me know your 2 cents on this – or should I just get the FX lens of my choice and wait for the nex FX body to be released? Currently using D90 + 17-55mm. Thanks in advance!

  • May 20, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Nice post and plenty of explanatory details. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience.

  • May 21, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Hi Nasim,

    I am new to DSLR world. I had zillions of question in my mind to decide a good entry level camera to buy, but info given in this site cleared most of them. This DX vs FX is really awesome, very simple & easy for a novice to understand the jargons. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us.


  • June 19, 2011 at 2:33 am

    Hi Nasim…. came across your site today and you seemed to answer many of the queries I had. Well presented…. But! had been looking for a second body for my Nikon D300 (DX obviously) and my wife bought me a D700 body. All my DX lenses are not fully usable as talked about on your site and above threads. D700 certainly has better ISO across the board. The other thing I wanted from new body was use for wildlife and landscape but these are opposites in terms of photo gear needs – unfortunately.I know I can postcrop the FX image rather than use DX mode, but still I will be removing pixels with a smaller resolution image so max print size ability will be reduced. On screen a reduced (cropped)file size at 100% looks little different to 12mb FX view at 100% – but my print quality will not be equal? Is this right?Using DX mode on the D700 will give me only 5mb to start with as well, and so likely be the same print quality.I have a Sigma 120-400mm f4-5.6 so less reach yes but thinking this may still be the best lens to use with the D700 as often in need of fast shutter and low light/high ISO need. The Sigma 10-20mm wide zoom I have is really not good on D700 as have to use DX mode so don’t get the full frame gain.. so thinking may stick to using it on the D300 in good light.I have the option to return the D700 body but don’t think will be happy with a D7000 etc anyway… should I put up with the DX/FX issue and these lenses??What are the cost and lens options for FX use to cover these – I have been impressed with the Sigma range as actual Nikons are quite pricey?Any advice welcome… and again thanks for great discussionYoursIAN

  • June 25, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    thankz a lot for ur guiding !!!

  • July 16, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    HelloI am planning to purchase a Nikon DX camera preferably D7000 or D5100, but I would be switching to FX camera in the future. So, I would like to know if I should purchase DX lenses for a DX camera or can I use FX lenses on a DX body without any limitation or problem? Plz help.

  • July 31, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Thanks for this great post! However… looks like you forgot to put time in the equation. I would add that DX is lighter and can take exactly the same quality photos in about twice the time. For landscapes, daylight moving objects, unless you need a real high speed shot. they are better. I understand that you as a professional of photography are trying to justify the need of such a big sensor, but, to be honest, most of the people want to buy a camera they can afford, with excelent quality and don’t take pictures of 1/8000 shooting speed. For all of us, wellcome DX!!. Regards,

  • August 1, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Thank you very much for the sharing of your valuable knowledge and experience. It is a great post which explains everything in detail. Thanks again!!

  • August 3, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I Just want to extend my great appreciation for your work on your Web site. I learned much from this and other articles here. Thanks again!

  • August 7, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Very informative; i have a much clearer understanding of the diferences between FX and DX formats. Based on this information I think I will purchase FX capable lens for my D300 because i think my next camera will be a D700. Thanks for all of the good information and the way it was presented.

  • August 8, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    thank u so much… It was really really informative, I could not find a better explanation on this topic.thanks once again.

  • August 10, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. I recently received the Nikon D700 FX as a gift from my husband and am having a hard time selecting the right lens (es). I really want a general all around lens I can use for shooting photos of my family, and I also need a lens for work, which is shooting interior and exterior photos of houses. Everyone keeps recommending DX lenses to me, telling me that there is really no difference in the lens for FX. Can you recommend which lens (es) you would use for what I’m doing?

  • August 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Having a D300s and D90 I was wondering what all the fuss was about FX, I now know and thanks to the fact that I have non DX lenses woll be pursuing a D3 with passion to get more from my photography hobby, thank you so much.

  • August 16, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Thank you for such a thorough analysis. I am considering an FX, and your article made me realize that my first inclination, a D3X, is my choice. After reading another site, I was starting to think a D3S would be better, but my passion is flower macros.

    I have a D500 and a Nikon film camera, N60, and I like the fact that FX will more closely approximate what I could do with my N60 for my specific uses, which include many macros.

    Plus, I have my D5000 to shoot in situations that are more appropriate for it, but I contemplate using the FX for all shots.

    When looking at the Nikon site, I did notice a variety of FX cameras with different specs.

    You have done an outstanding job here, and I really appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into this.

  • August 18, 2011 at 1:09 am

    Thanks Heaps Nasim – I didn’t realise te difference in noise between the two. I thought I was tossing up between Nikon d7000 and a Canon D7, but it seems I should be tossing up between DX and FX.

    Or should I? I used to shoot overexposed images on ISO 1600 on 35mm for the washed our and grainy effect. And also, do I really need to shoot at 6400, if I never could before on film? Or does this open up a whole new world of low light photography for me?

    The more I lern the harder it all becomes; awesome :-)

  • August 24, 2011 at 6:09 am

    Thanks, Nasim, for your very concise and clear explanations of the differences between DX and FX cameras. Until today, I didn’t really have a clue, but I am really noticing the limitations of my D90, especially in low light. By the time I can save to replace my DX with an FX, they will probably be on generation 3+, which works for me. In the meantime, I will be buying FX compatible lenses, which as you so ably pointed out, are not the same as DX lenses which I probably would have bought as my skills progress. With that said, I am very impressed that you could say so efficiently through words and examples what the other “professional” websites seem to be unable to do… that is to simplify and explain in a comprehensible way the differences in sensor formats, picture outcomes and lens compatibility implications to a newly emerging amateur enthusiast.

  • August 24, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Nasim, many thanks for the information you impart. Your approach to photography is absolutley fantastic, surpassed only by your willingness to impart your knowledge and skills in a format that is concise and understandable. As a Nikon user for many years, I struggle with the new technology but find that reading your posts helps immensley and usually puts things in perspective.I wish there was someway I could return the favour you do the whole photographic community, but in the meantime my ‘thanks’ will have to suffice. Let us know should you ever consider a visit to New Zealand.

  • August 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Excellent post. I’m in the market and totally sold on FX (and almost sold on the D3s vs. the D700). I dabble in video as well, and manufacturers are starting to roll out camcorders with interchangeable lenses (finally!). It looks like I can get double the value from FX glass. Got anything on D3s vs. D3x?

  • August 25, 2011 at 7:13 am

    I actually found the article where you discuss this in detail right after I asked the question. Very well done, totally get it now. I’m leaning toward the D700 for my next step up, thinking that for the price point on the D3s I would want better resolution (not that I quite need 24 megapixels…), for which I’m obviously going to have to wait. I don’t suppose any of y’all who’ve been following Nikon for decades have a strong opinion on whether D700’s successor is being announced in the next few weeks? B&H and other retailers are conspicuously out of stock. Judging by the recent evolution of DX models, it might include a resolution bump worth waiting for.

    • August 25, 2011 at 7:17 am

      Well, whaddyaknow? I just found your post from 8/20 and I guess I’m not the first one to wonder about the D700’s successor…

    • August 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm

      Ted, I would wait till the end of September for a potential announcement. Yes, it will be worth the wait.

  • August 26, 2011 at 2:42 am

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge on FX and DX, nice article.

  • August 26, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Nasim , Thank you for the time spent in explaining the differences b2in the DX and FX Nikon Sensors.For me the most important thing to have in mind is lens diffraction limitation of the DX factor.And while the DX megapixel count goes up , diffraction will limitation will be more of a problem.I Was using An F4 and I am waiting to use my 35-70 AFD f:2.8 , 80-200 AFD f:2.8 along with my fast primes on the new D800 (?).How do you think these pro caliber lenses would perform with the latest FX nikon Sensor ? Should someone consider changing to the new pro zooms and primes ?Charles

  • August 31, 2011 at 7:34 am


    this is one of the best site to learn A-Z about photography… I am from India, keep on posting informative topics related to photography…


  • September 6, 2011 at 6:01 am

    Once again, a nice article. I just recently understood discussions about the difference between canon and nikon product lines (pixel and sensor size;wherein canon aims to have high pixels compared to nikon’s focus on larger sensors.) and reading your article about DX and FX gives me a clearer picture of the difference between full-frame and cropped sensors.(although is have a canon. ☺☺)

  • September 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    I admit I’m a skimmer. The short answer though is if you buy a DX camera there is no point in buying an FX lens, correct?

    And no the article is not too long. I appreciated the thoroughness.

  • September 9, 2011 at 6:50 am

    Nasim :

    Thank you very much for the lucid explanation of DX and FX formats. I have one doubt. In case two different lenses are available , say 24-70mm DX and 24-70mm for DX and FX cameras respectively, will their actual focal length be different ? And if I use these lenses on DX and FX cameras respectively, will there be a crop factor ? I mean will I get the same picture from both the cameras ? Does this crop factor appear only when I use a FX lens on a DX camera.

  • September 10, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    tks Nasim, very informative and extremely helpful for me.

  • September 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    Thanks for this excellent post. Your are really good and I appreciate you spend your time sharing this kind of articles with all of us.

    I was wondering why Nikon doesn’t put larger pixels (for better sensitive performance) instead of increase the number of pixels on DX entry-level cameras.I have a D5100 and I would prefer to have less noise at high ISOs with a 12mp/14mp sensor than a 16mp sensor. Actually, I think 12mp is enough for non profesional shooting. Isn it?

    What do you thing?


  • September 18, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    I have been reading your website and the material and advice available is really awesome.

    Need one advice from you. I have sold my Nikon D90 in june this year and have to buy a camera in December from India. I live in Tanzania and we don’t get good deals here that’s why am buying from India when I will travel there.

    I am thinking to upgrade to FF after using my friend’s D3 for sometime. Love the bright viewfinder. If budget would have permitted would have gone strt for D3S. I was zeroing on D700 with 24-120F4 lens. Now is it still a good buy to have it in December as I wanted to wait for any replacement model coming in market before that. Also I like to take some wildlife photos as well (Tanzania is famous for its parks, serengeti etc are here itself). I have a Sigma 50-500 OS lens but I take more of normal day to day shots like at beaches etc.

    So looking at my usage, what would you advice, should I still remain with DX and go for a D7000 (although I don’t really like it due to buffer size and 3 shots braketing only) or go for D700.

    Please advice.

    Thanks and following you.

  • September 27, 2011 at 9:22 am

    should i get the d700 now or wait for the d800. i have a nikon d80 and would love to upgrade. i have a ‘starting’ photography business and i concentrate on portraits/family picutres/newborns, etc. I’ve been asked to do family shoots at a daycare – they will be outdoor. I think i can get by with my Nikon D80 and my Tamron 17-50mm 2.8lens for this occasion –but it’s a debate i have. this shoot can generate many future referrals. Would i get better results with the d700i truly am not waiting fo rthe latest and greatest – but everyone states i should wait for the d800, please be honest with your responses

  • September 29, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Thank you so much for this article.I’ve been doing a lot of research and at last, I found the most useful post. Your explanation was really clear, specially for me which I had no idea about DX vs FX.I appreciate when I find people that invest their time to clarifying such complex topics.

  • October 6, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Extremely helpful. Thanks for all the detail. You have help me make up my mind – I was leaning toward the FX because of Dynamic Range issues with what i photograph most. Not leaning any longer — taking the jump. :) Again thanks.

  • October 19, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    I hesitated to buy a FX lens for a DX camera! but I’ll buy it quietly)

    Thank you very much

  • October 31, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Sorry for yet another query for you – I seem to have a lot for you at the moment!

    I was wondering if the D7000 has changed your opinions at all in the DX vs FX debate in terms of low light ability?

    I still can’t decide what best suits my current needs – I prefer the lighter weight of the DX bodies and I have 3 lenses I am happy with for use on DX, but at the same time I got to look at a D700 with 24-70mm f2.8 at the weekend and the weight didn’t bother me too much (but that was just playing around with it in the shop and not having to carry it all day!).

    I’ve seen on another website a slightly tongue in cheek comment that the abilities of the D7000 now make it less sense to buy the D700 for most people (by that I assume they mean amateur/hobbyist photographers) for the price difference.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.


  • October 31, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Hi Nasim

    I agree with you in the iso-department = fx vs. dx (nobody can not agree with you, I think, in this matter).

    I have the D700 and the D7000 and the D700 is the clear winner in this area.

    But you are not 100 % right in the dynamic range department – the D7000dx has better DR than even the mighty D3x (even minor difference) !!! (I also have the D3x, just bought it)

    But who would have expected that, I must say ?

  • November 3, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Hi Nasim,

    I upgraded my equipment this year with the plan to purchase both a DX and FX Nikon body. I have both DX and FX lenses. I opted for the D7000 over the D3oo as my DX purchase mainly due to the reviews and the fact my wife had the option to simply use the auto button so she could actually use the camera. I planned to move forward with the purchase of of a D700 this month, but now I am pausing. Should I wait until I have the cash for a D3s? I have been super impressed by the D7000 so I no longer feel the hurry to get an FX body. Is the D3s that much superior to the D700? I am willing to wait if the difference is there. I am not a pro but would consider myself an advanced amatuer.

  • November 11, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Fantastic article; thank you for taking the time to explain so clearly and in so much detail.

  • November 20, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Hi Nasim

    Thank you for this great article. I’m confused about one thing though. As I understand, DX implies a 1.5 multiplier to get the 35mm equivalent focal length. Does DX format also have a bearing on the minimum aperture if using FX lenses? Reason I say this is because in this article…rafd8518dx , a AF-D 85mm f/1.8 lens is said to be “equivalent of roughly a 130mm f/2.8 lens” i.e. the minimum aperture is multiplied by 1.5 too, effectively making the lens slower (?).

    Many thanks in advance. G.

  • November 24, 2011 at 8:38 am

    I got a d 7000 and want to bye a fix lens! Can you anybodu explain me the difference between 35mm&50mm?!

  • November 24, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Hi Nasim,I’m from Batam, Indonesia. Just wanna say I love your articles.

  • November 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Outstanding! Just the info I was look looking for.

  • November 30, 2011 at 1:44 am

    Добрый день, Насим. Может посоветуете, я стою перед выбором: в наличии D300s + 24-70 ф/2.8, хочу перейти на FX формат, как вы считаете на что лучше потратится: D700 + 70-200 ф/2.8 или D3s ? Снимаю в основном репортаж (свадьбы и прочее).

  • December 2, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Thanks very much. A very informative comparison study which shed a lot of light (no pun intended) on the subject for me.

  • December 14, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Dear MasterEnjoyed reading your website and was really helpful.Thanks a lotmohammad sharifi-rad

  • December 17, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    thank you for your great article. I was confused before, now i can actullaydescribe it to my peers.thank you again and i hope you keep writing article as helpful as this!

  • December 22, 2011 at 12:52 am

    This was a great little article and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! Very insightful and, as i’m reading this over my cereal I’m feeling as though i’ve learnt something already today!

    Just purchased myself the Nikon D300S and a few accessories (battery grip, 16-85 vr lens) and i’m seriously looking forward to getting out and having a proper shoot with it! Hurry up christmas holidays!

    Many thanks.

  • December 24, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Utterly fantastic article. I have now got an education in sensor formats and what they mean to me. So well explained that all of my questions on the topic have been answered thoroughly. I appreciate the effort you’ve put in to write this article, as well as the fact that you have made it search engine friendly so it is easy to find when searching “DX vs FX” on Google. Great work!

    I shoot mostly indoor hockey games and the ISO noise on my D5000 is significant and annoying. Great camera for shooting outdoors in good light and portraits, but not so great for fast moving, dim light situations.

    Now I need to save up more cash for an FX body. Better yet, I now know why they’re worth so much more money. I’m telling my wife that it’s your fault. She’ll likely be in touch. haha

  • January 8, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Excellent review and put so nicely in words.

  • January 9, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Your “Benefits of a High Resolution Sensor” article led me here. Just try to get down to the basics to thoroughly understand pixels, sensors…

    Definitely achieved the goals with this excellent article. Thank you for the clear explanation to make things easier to all the readers!

  • January 16, 2012 at 11:42 am

    This was a very Excellent posting. It addressed just questions I had about DX & FX. I am an old film photogher moving to DSLRs, this posting has helped me to select my next camera.


  • January 19, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Thanks so much for this information. You write in a way that makes it clear for everyone to understand. Looking forward to reading your old posts as well as new ones.

  • January 22, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Thanks so much for this information and I get more understanding on the camera.Can I ask you. If I want to get a new camera, is D700 better or D7000 best.

  • January 23, 2012 at 12:06 am

    Found this article through Google and want to thank you for the best explanation of DX and FX I have seen! I own a Nikon D200 and a Nikon D300 and am thinking of buying a new D800 when it FINALLY appears. Of course, I have a bagful of lenses I have used on the 200 and 300 and don’t want to spend another fortune — the cost of the new D800 will be enough! It seems that for most of the photography I do, my current lenses will suffice until I win the lottery. Thank you!

  • January 28, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Hi Nasim

    I am a new introducer. i read your article of DX and FX was excellent.

    Thank you,Prabhu.

  • January 30, 2012 at 10:40 am

    thank you very much for this article, it answered a lot of my questions…forums can be useful, but also very confusing sometimes ! Thumbs up also for your website, lots of useful information, and great pictures.Still, i would like to ask you a clarification :– you mentioned that Nikon FF bodies can automatically detect a DX lens, and therefore automatically “switch”to DX mode…As an example, my 16-85 used on a D700 in DX mode would give me the same image as on a D300s, but with a lower resolution…correct ? But can I use the D700 with an FF lens (let’s say, 24-70) in a “DX mode” (is there such an option) ? Other than the field of view, would anything else change ?Thanks for your comments !Gwen

  • February 5, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    first of all, I want to thank you for explaining the Points between the DX and FX .. I really Appreciate that… going back to my Question ,, which is ;- i’m confused between D90 And D7000 ,, and I know that The D7000 is much better than D90,, but still want some tips anything you can give i will appreciate it .. and what lenses you recommend me to purchase? and do you recommend me to purchaase only the body and get a e.g 18-200 mm lens instead.. and what do you think about 50 mm f/1.4 lens …. I will be grateful if you could help me >>>

    have a nice day sir :)

  • February 5, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    i enjoyed your article and found it to be very informative and well written it helped me understanddx vs fx

  • February 7, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Fantasic article, thank you – the blinds have been lifted! I have been waiting to see what the new Nikon FX camera specs would be as I have long been disappointed by the noise that I get from my DX. With 36mps, will the D800 be any better at coping with noise in low light than a D300?

  • February 7, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Really nice explanation with better with very low light would be more useful.

  • February 9, 2012 at 9:00 am

    This is a very informative post. I had one question, when they refer the the FX I believe they also call it “medium format”. If this is correct what would the DX be and what is “full format”.

    Also, thank you for the ISO comparison. I was worried this was a problem with FX too, but it does not seem to be the case. I really need an FX format camera now.

    Thanks again!!

  • February 9, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    This string of comments is fabulous! Thanks all. As I take a lot of my photos while traveling overseas, I tend to carry just an Nikon 18-200 VR lens with my D200. And I post-process most of my good shots including sharpening etc.

    So my question is, will a photo taken with the 18-200 that is sharpened etc, in post-processing look comparable to a photo taken with a higher quality lens like the Nikon 24-70 that is also post-processed? Or will the better lens always produce images that are better, all things being equal.

    PS: I’m anticipating going FF to either the D700 or D800 – I would still anticipate using a lens like the Nikon 28-300 VRII because I travel so much – any advice?

  • February 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Very informative. Thank You. What lens would be most suited to the nikon d7000 for low light conditions i.e. indoor and night photography? Please advise.

  • February 14, 2012 at 6:17 am

    Dear NasimI have been following your website for a few days now and I have learnt so much from your articles. I am very grateful to you and appreciate the clarity in terms of the language you use.

    I have one question for you today.Do the FX format Nikons come with VR/IS on the body?


  • February 25, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Hi Nasim,

    I’ve been looking for this answer for a long time. In just one shot you’ve enlightened my mind. Thanks a lot. I’m a beginner of this as I called profession. You’re helping a lot of people, and manufacturers as well. More power to you. . .

    God bless!


  • March 1, 2012 at 5:14 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Fantastic article, thank you.

    I am going to upgrade my Nikon D3100 to either the D700 or D800 (when it arrives) but which should I go for. My hobby is shooting landscapes and I feel I will get a better image with a full frame camera, also as this is just an hobby which if any wide angle lens would you advise. The Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8 costs around £1300 but is there a slighly cheaper Sigma, Tamaron etc that you think would be suitable for my needs.



  • March 5, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Hi Nasim,

    By google search for DX vs Fx I landed on this page. Your blog about DX vs FX explained it all in a great detail. And I was convenced that you are the right person to ask about my upgrade qustion. Background : This is what I have now : Nikon D80, Nikon 18 – 200 VR ( unfortunately its a DX lense not FX) , Nikon 50 mm 1.8 ( FX) , Tamron 90 mm f2.8 Macro ( FX lense) , Nikon SB – 400, And a Potrait Studio setup in my basement. I am an amature photographer. Nowhere close to a professional. Its my desire to improve my photography skills to a Pro Level. But currently my foucs has been ‘Potraits of my Kids’. Now the actual question : I have been owning a Nikon D80 since 2007, and I am very pleased with it. I am feelign a little short handed with 10 mega pixel resolution on D80, to be able to take BIG prints without loosing quality. D7000 (16 MPix) looks tempting. Also I read in your blog that D700 is the worlds best DSLR . D700 is still 12 mega pixel. What would you suggest me to upgrade to from D80? to D7000 or D700. I know they are DX and FX . My primary goal is to have best over all DSLR ( DX or FX) since I can use all the lenses ( except 18 – 200 with DX crop) and be able to take BIG prints . Also aware from reading your blog that more mega pixels in a small sensor would introduce noise at low light conditions. Please suggest me the best for my needs. The usage is for personal and family but I would like to have a capable camera so I can learn to become professional with it. Your suggestion is very valuable to me.

  • March 12, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Hi Nasim

    Thank you for your very informative website.

    I have a Nikon D90 and have a (far) future plan to invest in an FX camera. I also want to do Macro photography. I am wondering if I should buy a DX macro lense now because it is cheaper or buy an FX macro lense with the thinking that I might buy an FX camera in the future. I am thinking of the 85mm macro lense.

    Thank you.


  • March 13, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Hi Nasim,Awesome article. Exactly the explanation I was looking for. I had my D300 stolen and was thinking of replacing it with the D700 or the D3s. But now there is the D800 and the D4 coming out in about a week, and am not sure which way to go. Any thoughts?

    Thanks, Paolo

  • March 14, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Hello Nasim,Great writeup… thank you much.Regarding DX lenses, which are especially made for Nikon bodies having the smaller sensors, does it mean on a camera body with the smaller sensor a DX lens will compensate for the crop factor and capture an image at the stated focal length? Or will a 50mm DX lens on a, say D7000 (DX Model), still equate to a 75mm lens when compared to a film camera?If you covered this before and I missed it, I apologize, but I couldn’t find the answer here.Thanks,Stephan

  • March 26, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Thank you very much. Your article is very informative. I am now have a clear understanding between DX and FX lenses.

    Cheers, =)

  • April 1, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    Thanks so much for putting this info up for beginners like me. I really appreciate how clearly you explained the issue, which was confusing me for a long time.

    Best wishes,Bishwa

  • April 1, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Well explained… thanks a lot…

  • April 9, 2012 at 5:14 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Good evening. I am using D90(Dx format) with 18-105mm kit lens. Kindly advice me what sort of zoom shall I use for my wild life photography with D90 ? will 70-300 mm do the needful? I believe it is a Fx lens. Also advice me shall I buy Fx lens if I need to upgrade to D 800 because then Dx lens will be useless in D 800 or any Fx body. I am an ameteur photographer.



  • April 11, 2012 at 2:33 am

    hi your comments and ur presentation is simply amazing. the thing is im actually new into this and know very little about all the convo’s taken place up could u suggest me any camera which would suite me. i am looking into D90 and the price factor suits me. i just want to know if Sony a35 is worth buying aswell.thank you

  • April 14, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Wow… what an explanation! Thank you!

  • April 19, 2012 at 10:30 am

    I am looking for a camera for stop motion animation, and have it on good authority that the FX sensors will cause a greatly reduced DOF in a stopmo environment, and DX will have a greater DOF. Since shooting will be on a tripod under studio conditions where I can have longer exposure times, the image noise problem at higher ISOs is not going to be a problem. What are the differences in the DOF between FX and DX model lines?

  • April 20, 2012 at 6:27 am

    Hi Nasim,

    I appreciate the way you have explained the differences, pros and cons. It really helps any amateur photographer. This has helped me in deciding what gears I have to select fo rmy use.


  • April 22, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Great Information. I learn a lot reading your post.Thanks.

  • April 22, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    It really did!!:-) Thanks a Lot! Great Info!

  • April 24, 2012 at 1:54 am

    Excellent… Got completely cleared on the doubts of DX and FX formats.

  • April 25, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Outstanding, clear and precise explanation. This has helped me tremendously in deciding which camera to buy for my needs. Thank you!

  • April 25, 2012 at 10:14 am


    Thanks for such informative atricle. Just a quick question, I am planning to buy Nikon D5100 over Canon 600D. One of my friend pointed out that we cannot use FX lenses with D5100 but we can use all lense range in Canon. Is it true?


  • April 26, 2012 at 5:56 am

    hi nasimi ve a very important question; u mentioned above that :

    “Large dynamic range – again, bigger pixel size allows collecting more light particles, which results in larger dynamic range when compared to DX.”

    well here is my question; after expeed 3 processor on d3200 u still think same? I can imagine probably u dont have chance to have it yet its released but not in the stores till may but whats your opinion about this?

    thanx a lot and i love your work :)

  • May 1, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Dear NASIM,This is the first time i am going to buy a DSLR camera , after lot of query i decided to buy NIKION D5100, my question is is it a FX camera or should i fix FX lence on it….

    • May 2, 2012 at 12:08 am

      Dear Amithava,D5100 is a DX format camera. You can use both DX and FX format lenses on D5100. FX lenses are costlier compared to DX lenses, but have its advantages. The biggest advantage is that your investment does not go waste if you decide to upgrade to a FX (D700, D800, …) format camera in the future.


      • May 5, 2012 at 8:10 am

        Dear Adil,Thax a lot for your valuable information.

  • May 5, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Dear Nasim,Can u tell me when we can expect NIKION D3200 in india ?, now i am lit bit of confuse which one i should go…..NIKON D3200 or NIKION D5100. As per the price point is concerned D3200 is Rs.5k less than D5100 and the technical specification is concerned i think D3200 will be lit bit ahead so please suggest me which one i will buy..

  • May 20, 2012 at 2:29 am

    Dear Nasim,I’m very grateful for coming across your post, and your site. Really helps with my learning about DSLRs. This really takes ‘what to buy’ on to a new level. It’s hard enough when deciding between a Nikon or Canon!

    I used Nikon SLR through art and design college (20 years ago) so I possibly have a slight favor towards Nikons but not through any knowledge, and it feels like the Digital SLRs bring more choice, flexibility yet more confusion. I’m a total novice in this area.

    A couple of years ago I wanted to get back in to using an SLR as my instamatic Canon broke, so bought a Nikon D5000 with a kit lens (18-55mm) as a starting point. Partly due to budget and also that it feels compact in size. Although some of the time the quality of the pictures are decent, I find the auto-focus really slow, and it really struggles in low light. So now I want to buy the Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G. But this lens sounds better suited to FX bodies, and before I go ahead and start to collect lenses do you think it’s worth considering getting a second hand D7000 (or another more advanced FX body) from amazon? Or if I am starting to get the kit all again, would you know if getting the equivalent in quality with a Canon would be a better for lower budgets?I get so many mixed views from professional photographers, most of whom favor Canons over Nikons, but it’s not clear why. Some of them are fashion photographers.

    Essentially I would like to (over time) get additional lenses to be able to make the most of photographing portraits (natural, not studio based), landscapes, architecture, occasional wildlife, and of friend’s/family’s children, so some sports action. Indoor and low light also required. I live in the UK so low light is an issue, but I do travel to sunny climes. Can one camera body and multiple lenses manage all this?

  • May 27, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Thank you for a fantastic explanation of the dx vs. fx formats. For me it becomes a matter of economics.With so much invested in dx it would be hard to go to fx for better lighting and frame size when you could try to reframe your shot or work on the lighting of the shot with a dx. I love that d700 though and it still may not be out of the question. Again, thanks for the time spent on a well written article.

  • May 28, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Hi Nasim

    Great info. MY dad was a pro but never saw the digital revolution. For similar quality and sharpness do you suggest not using more than f11 in the DX format?

  • May 29, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Wonderfull article. A very usefull one

  • May 29, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    I agree with Jiss (above). I currently own a D300 and have loved it to death for the last 4 years. My previous D200 still lives in my office safe as my spare (but the D300 is so reliable, the D200 has never been needed).

    I have toyed with making my next Nikon a full frame, and this article has answered quite a number of questions for me. Once I convince my dear wife that a D4 in an indispensable addition to my photographic armoury, (and the money that was to be spent on our next holiday can be diverted to such a noble cause) I will be in there with both feet!

  • June 1, 2012 at 2:38 am

    very informative. Now I understand better.

  • June 1, 2012 at 7:20 am

    Great Article… very informative… thanks a lot!

  • June 4, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Thank you, this is very helpful. I’m currently using a Nikon D50 and want to upgrade (maybe to the D700 or D7000). I shoot mostly gardens and landscape and I publish in magazines. Would you say I’d be happier the with D700?

  • June 9, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Beautifully explained. Made the concept crystal clear, specially by mentioning the advantages and the disadvantages. Length doesn’t matter if the content is good! :)

  • June 12, 2012 at 5:31 am

    Do not want to sound cocky but I think this is a VERY important question: What do you think of the new Nikon D800 with its FX sensor but incredible pixel count? Does it bring the same noise and detail problem of a DX sensor? Seems to me that unless they have some improved technology in place cramming up more pixels in any sensor (including full frame FX) will produce noise even starting at ISO 400 or so. Would very much appreciate your opinion. I never tried a D800.

  • June 28, 2012 at 5:03 am

    The best explanation and reason for upgrading I have read, really good Nasim, my D300s could be my backup camera if the D600 shapes up, of course we will all wait untill Nasim runs his rule over it first, hopefully not to long to wait.

  • July 4, 2012 at 12:31 am

    Thanks so much, very nice learned a lot. Nice breakdown

  • July 5, 2012 at 12:44 am

    This article is extremely helpful. I am a professional photographer myself and I knew the differences but the depth you went into is phenomenal. Thank you very much.

  • July 11, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Thank you very much for explication Nasim.

  • August 2, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    Really a great post. I am now much clear about the difference between Fx & Dx. Thanks again for this post.

  • August 4, 2012 at 3:31 pm

  • August 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Thank you for the thorough explanations! Great info.

  • August 13, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Finnly some one explained it in a proper human being language the differences betwen FX and DX, thank you very much for this.

  • August 18, 2012 at 5:45 am

    Thanks for the information. You have talked about FX lens on DX body.How about DX lens on FX body does it go well equally. eg Nikon D800 body with 18-300 mm NiKon DX lens. Is there any major disadvantage compared to 28-300 mm Nikon FX lens.

  • August 31, 2012 at 1:03 am

    Great post. Very detailed and explains everything very concisely. Thank you for putting in the time.

  • September 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    This was a very helpful post. Thank you for detailing everything for us. More power to you.

  • September 6, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Thank you for the information. Very helpful.

  • September 14, 2012 at 4:30 am

    Very informative. The picture comparison really helped understanding the difference. Thank you !

  • September 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Excellent article and very clear and useful explanation.Thank you!

  • September 22, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Great post. Really helped me in taking a decision for Fx Vs Dx format camera.

  • September 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Dear Nasim,

    Thank you so much for your very useful article.

    This one was the best as the others.

    I think that your origin is back to Azerbaijan, if yes, I’m from Tabriz/IRAN and i will be glad if i can speak to you in Azeri.

    With best Regards.


  • September 25, 2012 at 2:58 am

    Great article thanks.

    This helps me understand the differences and maybe guide me on my 1st DSLR.

    My 1st thought was the Nikon D7000 but may consider the D600 now!


  • September 27, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks for the great article

  • September 28, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Nasim, I have a new Nikon Dx camera D5100. I have taken hundreds of photographs but No any photograph has equals the quality of Fx camera images. My images are of low contrast & sharpness. I want to become a professional photographer in the nature & wildlife field. So how much is necessary to buy a Full frame camera like Nikon D800 ?

    • December 25, 2012 at 10:52 am

      it more of depends on the Lens quality and post processing …

    • February 11, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      I had a d5100 for 2 years, prior to getting my new d600. I won several photo-contests with that camera, and took several pictures that ended up on magazine covers.

      Honestly, good pictures come from the photographer and not camera.

      Work on your post production editing, and your composition… the d5100 will take care of its end of the deal. It really is a great great camera for its price.

    • March 7, 2013 at 7:52 am

      Perhaps it is the lense you are using and not the camera. You can try (borrow or rent) a better quality lense and see what difference it will have on the image quality (contrast, colors, overall sharpness, etc.)

  • October 1, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Thank you for this easy-to-understand explanation.This is exactly what I need to understand… the very basic difference between the two. Thank you once again.

  • October 7, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Thanks for writing so many informative articles. I believe you have an error in the DX vs. FX article. You commented that the Nikon 70-200mm VRII had to updated to work better with FX. As I understand it was the VRI that worked well on DX but not on FX.

  • October 8, 2012 at 3:17 am

    Thank you for the info about DX and FX.I’m planning to purchase Nikon D600 but thinking around to find single lens that suitable for shooting scenic, people, night view, and some object zooming focus.Any lens recommend for this kind of shoot?If I just use this AF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G IF-ED VR II DX does it enough?Does DX lens can fix into FX DLSR body?

    Hope someone can help.

    • October 16, 2012 at 1:06 am

      Having used AF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G IF-ED VR is a kind of one stop for all (plz don’t flame me.. :) ). I have used it for around 3 yrs and its a good lens to start with. Now i ‘am going for Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D as i need to take more portraits..

    • October 16, 2012 at 1:10 am

      Yup, DX lens should fit well with FX body..

      Quote from Nikon site..“On an FX-format camera with a DX lens mounted, the camera will automatically engage its built-in DX crop mode, thus recording an image only from the center section of the sensor.”…rmats.html

  • October 15, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Great post. I have learned so much from this. Thank you very much..

  • October 17, 2012 at 2:53 am

    Hello,Great review.However, something fundamental is missing, the depth of field. If you take the same picture (same composition, same aperture) with a DX and FX the depth of field will be different, shorter on FX. For the same compo you can blur the background more easily with a FX than a DX, with a DX than a point and shoot or a cell phone …. this is not a feature of the cameras but optically fundamental.

    • November 19, 2014 at 7:15 am

      Correct. strange it is missing and no reply

    • November 19, 2014 at 8:51 am

      That’s an incorrect statement – depth of field does not change with the sensor format! Only when you move closer or further away it does. Shoot the same subject with a full-frame camera, then change the capture format to DX and shoot another image without moving anything. Depth of field will be identical. Once you start to move around, things will change drastically and your test results will be irrelevant, since you are changing perspective.

  • October 26, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Excellent information

    Very clear and useful explanation about DX and FX sensors.

    Thank you

  • November 1, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Hi!Excellent post, but I have one question..

    I’ve just started with photography and got Nikon d3100 (don’t ask me – my finances were short)And since I’ve got 18-105mm dx lenses in a kit I’ve got a question..I’m intending to buy some short “normal” lenses like 35mm or 50mm for indoor photography. I also possess sb-910 and am looking forward to get better equipment when I’ll be able to. But could you just tell me what the difference is if I use FX 50mm 1.8f lens on a d3100 versus DX 35mm 1.8f lens.. since they all cost about 200€ and I’m not convinced in any yet. I know I’ll buy a fx camera but it might still take a year or two, maybe more.. so therefor I do not know which to choose

    Thank you for your information. I learn a lot everyday and Photographylife helps me pretty much with it!

  • November 1, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    @wakiHI,adding my 2 centsboth are wonderful lenses as they can stop down to 1.8. well 35mm will be more wider than 50mm and can take more wider area than 50mm. however 50mm can take portraits well from a distant (it is 75mm full frame equivalent) and produce beatiful bokeh it depends on your requirements. using your 18-105mm kit lenses at 35mm and 50mm, see that you exactly require and buy accordingly.

  • November 4, 2012 at 7:56 am

    @MJohnThank you for your reply. But I think you didn’t understand the question exactly.. so let me put it like this,I have a DX body and now I’m wondering what are the pluses and the minuses of using FX lenses on it..

  • November 5, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Fantastic help. Thank you!!!

  • November 11, 2012 at 6:57 am

    This article really helped me.. Thanks a lot.. :)

  • November 11, 2012 at 7:18 am

    One question here.Let say D5200, 24.1 megapixels on APS-C or DX format CMOS sensor. The size of pixel is quite small and it might has noise in high ISO, if I lower image quality say 14 megapixels, is it can improve the noise in high ISO?In other word, 24.1 megapixels on DX format sensor (image quality set to 14 megapixels) compare with 14 megapixels on DX format sensor (image quality set to 14 megapixels). Is it the noise level same for both sensor in same high ISO?

  • November 14, 2012 at 5:53 am

    I still don’t get the ISO performance thing. Bigger pixels means more light gathered and better low light performance…that I understand. But full frame sensors have more pixels. I haven’t tried a full frame camera yet, so I am not saying they are not a lot better in low light, I am just saying that I don’t understand why….. Look at this fairly realistic example:

    full frame sensor (24mp) 36×24 = frame size 864mmcropped sensor (12mp) 24×16 = frame size 364mm

    …so the pixel size for the full frame is:864 / 24 = 36 (lets just forget the millions to make it easier)

    …and for the cropped frame364 / 12 = 32

    So in this case is it right to assume that the full frame camera gathers just a bit more light (12.5% more)? That means that a camera costing often 5 or 6 times as much as a DX will give me just an eighth of a stop better performance.

    So either the difference is barely noticable or my maths is wrong.

  • November 21, 2012 at 9:05 am

    great great article! tks so much for explaining it so simply… the best. i am choosing a camera and your site is so helpfull – congrats!!! tks again for this one!. bjs =)

  • December 3, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Thank you for the awesome article.

    I’m a software professional but very very interested in photography. I did my majors in photography but did not pursue it since i needed some money to start with. It’s my inner desire (always been) to do good photography basically landscape (nature lover!) and portrait. Recently i purchased a D7000 but i’m very confused (money factor!) and want to switch to FX (love the image quality). Please advise if i should go with this huge investment.

    Happy clicking!

    – Prejeeth

  • December 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Hi NasimThank you for this excellent article. You know your stuff and know how to explain it. I’m an aspiring landscape photographer and am currently using a D300s. I’ve never been totally happy with the dynamic range; in bright conditions it’s still short of the mark – even with filters, this article has now explained why. I’m seriously considering upgrading to a D700, which should give me a big dynamic range advantage.

    Many thanks


  • December 3, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Hello Nasim! thank you for all you posts!! they all are extremely useful to me!I have Nakon D7000 and 50mm 1.8D lense. I am looking to buy a compatible with full frame camera, zoom lense for general and wedding photography, what do you think about 16-35mm f4G ED VR? I would love a sharp lense, i like very much the 24-70 mm you recommended in your Weddinh Photography lense post, but it is to expensive right now.Thank you very much again!

  • December 7, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Hi Nasim

    Thanks for your lucid and wonderfully informative articles. Thanks to you I started out my wildlife photography with a Nikon 70-300 VR lens and then again on your advice just bought a 300mm F4 lens with 1.4TC since I found that I could not get close enough and losing clarity on the 70-300 when cropping.

    I plan to give my D5100 with 70-300 to my son to use.. I now need a body to go with my 300mm F4 with 1.4 TC. I have shortlisted D7000 and D800. Any advice which way to go? Money wise I can afford a D800 though it will be a bit of a stretch..

    ThanksPeter, Mumbai, India

  • December 9, 2012 at 3:03 am

    Thank you for perfect explenation, very usefull.Regards,Michal, Slovakia

  • December 15, 2012 at 2:17 am

    Thank you for this clear explanation and waiting for the price of FX cameras to become within the reach of the amateur consumer.

  • December 22, 2012 at 10:54 pm

  • December 23, 2012 at 2:00 am

    This is a very useful article and as said let us wait till the FX format cameras become less expensive so that they can be within the reach of the amateur photographer.

  • December 23, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    I want to get a 24mp camera to use for bird photography. I expect some extensive cropping for far away birds. Which would you recommend, the d600 FX with higher quality sensor or the d3200 with a built in 1.5 zoom factor. Would the FX format offset the crop factor.

    Great article, by the way, thanks

  • December 24, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Hey Nasim,

    I really enjoy reading this article. I would like your thought about my confused situation .

    I currently own Pentax.. I love the camera but as Pentax does not have any Service Centre in my country I am unwilling to investi in pentax Gear and Lenses. So i am moving to Nikon.

    I my budjet is around $2000 -$2300 USD. So i was planning D7k + good lens , but recently NIkon announce D600 FX body with great discount around 2k body and lens , no all of sudden a FX body with 24-85 and a fast 50 mm lens (without crop factor ) falls in my budjet. This is causing lot of confusion.

    I enjoy photography, It is my hobby not carrier and i will invest in more lenses in next years but right now I am not able to decide Nikon D600 vs D7k. I do know the benefits of FX and DX and their cons too, but unable to decide anything as both are in my budjet.

    Thank you in advance.

  • December 28, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    very informative post for like methanksdr v k dhawan

  • January 9, 2013 at 1:51 am

    Thank you very much for the exclusive explanation.

  • January 9, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Thanks for this great article. I really enjoyed reading it and got so much informationto learn from.

  • January 21, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Great article. Helped me to make my decision.

  • January 26, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Thank you for the post. This really helped a lot.

    I have been looking to upgrade my nikon D80 into a newer camera and now I am pretty much pondering between D800 and D600. I take pictures in a variety of settings (sports, landscape, inside events, portraits etc.). The only difference I see in D800 and D600 is the megapixels, the exterior and the price.

    With a FX image sensor what difference does it make if you have 36.3 or 24.3 megapixels? Some say that the D800 shoots grainier pictures at higher ISO than D600 due to its higher megapixels, is this true?

  • February 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    This is by far one of the most helpful post on the web I have come across. Thank you for taking the time to really explain everything so detailed!

  • February 28, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Well 3 years later after you published this nice text come D600 and its probably means FX will leave us sooner than we was thinking…

  • March 2, 2013 at 10:57 am

    This is a great post. My daughter is minor-ing in Photography at college and has informed me that she needs a camera that better than the D40 she shoots now. I was thought I was doing good getting the D40. The lens is detachable, that means the camera is practically professional, right?Anywho…I have some answers now…but A LOT more questions….Great post. Thank you!

  • March 14, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Very informative…….cleared my doubt in regards fx dx but increased ma trouble over finalising below zoom lens selection

    55-300mm vr (dx) and 70-300mm vr (fx)

    as per bove discussion fx senors have wider view compared to dx sensoe and usinge the above fx lens on my dx camera will function fully

    So this mean the max. reach of 50-300 mm will be greater (say 350) compared to 70-300mm lens (f x)And dx lens at 55mm will peform as of 70 mm

    Is it so? As fx one has faster autofocus compared to above mention dx and I don’t wan to sacrifice reach,would it be good to bet more 200$ for this……which one i should choose…..please help

  • March 15, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    We don’t all need the high ISO advantage of FX (1-2 stops) – so I think this article is quite narrow and rather misleading when it comes to generalisations about IQ. If you compare IQ at base ISO and up to 400, you will see no meaningful difference between DX (APS) and FX. Even small chip compacts in good light at base ISO can produce comparable 12x 16 prints. Everyone’s obsessing over high ISO but at low ISO it’s all pixel peeping nonsense, just learn to get the best out of what you can afford. If you want a real step up in IQ you really need to go to large format filmcameras.

  • March 23, 2013 at 6:35 am

    Actually in past i was using NikonF 7o0 & Nikon F80 but lator on digital camera took up the market then I stopped purchasing SLR but tried to get sony compact camera with carl-Zeiss lenses ,gave me wonderfull result.Now I am intrested to go for SLR FX series.which one will be better ?I read FX600 of Nikon is good & professional camera but today I read from column that it is a non professional camera.How to judge ? Am a ameature photographer.

  • April 9, 2013 at 10:06 am

    is it possible to use a full frame sensor on a DX body?

  • April 10, 2013 at 6:45 am

    Great explanation of difficult subject. Kudos!

  • April 30, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    With 13 NIKON lenses from 15 to 400 (AI & AF) for the 35mm analog NIKON cameras, I want to buy a digital camera that suits them best. I don’t know know the possibilities of the FX Nikon cameras but I don’t want to get a DX and the loss in angle of my wide angle lenses is not the only issue I have with the DX sensors. I don’t want to schlepp around more glass than I can use. With a projected picture circle of 44mm in diameter of my old lenses I don’t want to project a picture on a DX sensor that requires a picture circle of only 29mm in diameter. I understand that the picture quality is best in the center so from the quality stand point it would be okay to use FX lenses on a DX camera. Scientifically I know enough about my lenses but not yet enough about the cameras. I understand that using old AI lenses on a D4 will not allow me to use the full potential of the features the camera body offers and so I don’t want to waste money on features I won’t be able to use. I just want to make the best pictures with the lenses I already have. I also own. Hasselblad 500C with Carl Zeiss lenses (60, 80, and 100mm and a shift converter). Too bad the Swedes do not offer a digital film magazine for it.I always thought Canon and Nikon came up with the FX camera bodies to make AI lens owners happy.

  • May 21, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Some good informations, but also many missleading information and interpretation. Too many to comment. Just one example: saying that bigger pixels makes for low light performance and DR, which was demonstrated to be wrong by DxO and sensorgen for years. And now all those misslead readers want to trow away their cameras because they get bad photos, with no contrast and color and sharpness etc.

    STOP ! Your D3100 or D5100 can take amazing photos, even with the kit lenses. If you’re photos suck, that’s you. If you don’t get the same crappy photos with FX, I’ll pay for it myself.The difference between those formats are visible only when shooting in extreme condition, or when you stare at every single pixel from 2 inches away. They don’t make good or bad photos. An because the differences are not that big, photographer’s skill can make a bigger difference.

    Go to flickr, pick the latest DX camera, look at the pictures.Go to flickr, pick the latest FX camera, look at the pictures.Do you see a difference ? Show them to your friends or family, but don’t tell them which is DX and which FX. Can they thell what gallery is made with what camera ?

    Geez, stop spending money for NOTHING.

    Now if you are a pro, or you have a ton of money and a ton of passion go ahead buy FX, or better still, I recommend a Hasselblad h5D system.

    • May 21, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      Thank you for your feedback, I really appreciate it.

      A couple of comments on what you wrote. Dynamic range will vary between FX and DX at pixel level. DxOMark downsamples their images to 6 MP for all of their tests, including dynamic range. This obviously diminishes the difference between DX and FX. The results would be different if you cropped low-res FX like D4 and high-res DX like D7100 and compared pixel-level performance. At pixel level, pixel size matters. But I agree with DxOMark’s methodology – nobody looks at pixel size anymore. You would never compare a small print to a large print: prints are comparable at the same size. Hence, the dynamic range advantage of FX kind of fades away indeed (keep in mind that the article was written 3 years ago).

      As for your D3100 / D5100 comment, of course it is true – any modern camera is capable of making amazing pictures. Heck, even iPhone images can look great nowadays. Remember, it is always about the person behind the camera!

      At the same time, you are mixing in the small image phenomenon here. When you present a small JPEG to a person, I doubt they will see any difference between FX and DX. If you do it right, they won’t even see the difference between FX and a cell phone camera. Does it mean that the cell phone is as good as an FX camera? Of course not! Print the photos from both at their full resolution at 150-300 dpi, hang them on the wall and you will see which one looks better. There is a reason why top landscape and fashion photographers shoot with medium format cameras. Even FX does not cut it when you need to hang a huge print on a wall (although D800/D800E surely did diminish that difference). So this is not about the sensor size or camera type – you get what works for you. As you said in your last sentence, if you have the money and passion, there is nothing wrong with even getting a MF camera…

      • May 21, 2013 at 1:38 pm

        Yes, you are right. First, sorry I did not knew the article wa so old.What made me wrote the comment was when I read some of the comments from people saying ,,Oh, right, that’s why my photos were so bad, lacking contrast and clarity, I should buy an FX camera,,

        A little story. When my won was born, I had a Olympus E-620. At first it was OK since he wasn’t moving much. Having in-body stabilizer and a Panaleica f/1.4 I was able to get away with shooting at ISO 800 and 1/30. When my son started moving, I needed 1/125 at least, but the E-620 couldn’t really cope with more than ISO 1250. Went to a store, bought a 5 bulbs pendant for every room (I only have 2 :)) and voila, I was shooting at 1/125 ISO 320. A lot cheaper Than buying a new camera and shoot at ISO 3200. On Nikon I was amazed what the 18-55mm can produce when I learned how to used it to its strenghts, after at first I thought it sucked.

        That said, I am a gearhead, went trough many cameras, and FX comming soon :) Just wanted to let people know that their cameras are usually capable of great pictures, if they put just a little bit of effort. If your photos with a D3100 and 18-55mm suck, your full frame photos will suck too. That doesn’t mean ff is not better, but I see soooooo many poor photos comming fro the D800e, and that’s a pitty.

  • May 22, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Wonderfully intuitive and insightful article, as usual.Interesting thoughts – same lens (Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR) , same subject (a gray seal at 100 feet), same ISO (800), same shutter speed, same f stop — one photo from D600 and from D7100 –Both cameras have the same megapixels (24) – but D600 is FX while D7100 is DX – so, the image on the FX sensor will be smaller than on the DX – we crop both so that the image will be 8×10 –The FX had to be downsized more than the DX to get to that size –therefore, since both cameras had the same megapixels, would not the DX have better IQ – since it didn’t have to be “downsized” as much???

    Best regards — I love the exchange of ideas here — I am always learning — Thank you.

  • June 7, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Great article, thank you very much

  • June 12, 2013 at 12:48 am

    thank you so much for posting such information. very helpful.

  • June 15, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Hah, I just read this article even though I have read your site for quite some time. That is why I write this comment after a couple of years. Superb work, I must admit.

    But the reason I am writing this, is quite different – I did notice your last name, of course, but I got interested in the books you have on the shots in this article. Lev Tolstoy and, more importantly for me, Boleslav Prus and “Pharaoh” ;)

    Greetings from Europe and keep up with good work! ;)

    • June 15, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      Marcin, that’s funny, always wondered if anyone would note the books :) And Pharaoh is amazing, had that book forever!

      • June 15, 2013 at 3:47 pm

        Thanks for the prompt reply! Right now, I just have to take a closer look at all the photos you have published here. Just wondering what more I can find :)

        But seriously, I just need to be more active in the comments section. Your website is very valuable. It is so refreshing to read an insight and reviews from somebody who can really make amazing photos – not your regular internet pixel-peeper.

        I do agree about “Paharaoh” though ;)

  • June 15, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    I re-read this article — excellent — what I particularly liked about the comparisons was the apparent downsizing of the images from the FX format cameras — so we are viewing the same size images — I hope I got that correct — apparently, the FX wins the IQ contest.Thanks again.

  • July 13, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Spot on! I am a hobbiest with an “old” Nikon D100. I am aware that current cameras far exceed those early capabilities, but I got lost in the marketing mumbo-jumbo. Quite frankly, I think Nikon is making a big marketing mistake with all of their models. Do I buy this one or that one? What am I missing if I buy the other one?? Confusion leads to inaction. You have perfectly cleared up the FX vs. DX issue. Now I can move on to number of mega-pixels, white noise reduction, speed, HD video … on and on.

  • July 28, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    A well written article like this will goes a long way.Only read this article at middle of 2013, i believe some beginner will still very much appreciate this articles in the years to come!

    Thanks Nasim.

  • September 17, 2013 at 1:47 am

    Excellent article. Would I be able to achieve purer white and maybe less grain when shooting jewelry with the FX format?

    Thanks for the wonderful information provided.Billy P.

  • September 17, 2013 at 4:44 pm

  • October 7, 2013 at 11:15 am

    μπραβο σας!!!ειναι η πρωτη φορα που ξεκαθαρισα τοσες αποριες που ειχα για αυτες τις δυο φορμες DX & FX.ευχαρηστω πραγματικα!!!!

  • October 9, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    assalam alikom

    it’s good subject i understood many things from you i didn’t know before.according to nikon in this…simulator/the FX lens will work with DX camera as DX lens with DX camera but FX lens with FX camera will give you wider angle than DX lens with FX using DX or FX lens on my DX camera won’t affect the angle of i correct or i missunderstand something here.thanks .

  • October 28, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Thank you for the article. I agree with you wrote about the difference in noise performance between DX and FX. The question I have is : why they keep increasing the number of pixels in new cameras? Now all nikon a are 24 Mp. And why people keep saying that noise performance of nikon d7000/71000 is getting better and better? Because the the greater number of pixels the less size of a pixel, so noise performance supposed to be worse and yet people say opposite.

    Thank you for your time.

  • October 29, 2013 at 7:17 am

    this article is so useful..keep it up..thumbs up X100000 for ya…i’am newbies..

  • November 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    oh my goodness.

    first of all, thank you SO MUCH for this so well and BEAUTIFULLY written post that even a layman like me with no photography background can follow!!!

    I do have some questions, i hope you will answer , just to see if i really understood,

    1. so “photosites”(bucket) is jsut another word, but basically refers to the SIZE of each pixel right ???2. given same number of pixels, the LARGER the pixels (or in otherwords bucket/photosite), the better the quality. right?3. however, given the same size of pixels, the larger the QUANTITY of pixels will only result in higher resolution but not necessarily better quality of the pictures?4. when you say d3x is simialr to d700, does that mean d700 is more catered for more pixels as opposed to catered for better sensitivity etc like d3s?? what do you use for wedding photography?

    before reading this article, someone told me that upgrading would only change my “view point” , but oh boy it totally improves the quality of image by so much more just from seeing your imags above!!

    do you have a similar/equivalent post for canon as well?

    again, thank you SO SO MUCH for sharing this and taking the time to write this out so beautifully!!!! clipping it for future reference in case i forget for sure!!! :)

  • November 9, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Very nice [objective] and intuitive explanation! Thanks!Lev Nikolaevitch on the background of photos: respect!

  • December 27, 2013 at 3:50 am


    The brevity of explanation without compromising on details and substantiated with pictures makes your article easily fathomable for a beginner like me. May God keep the oil of passion burning in you. God Bless

  • December 27, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Awesome article When taking MACRO pictures of say, a bug or flower , is an FX camera (Nikon D800) with an FX lens (Nikon 200mm) going to give a better result than a DX camera(Nikon D80) with a DX lens(Tamron 180 mm) ?

  • December 30, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    All true!The initial post is from March 2010. The DX have vastly improved and even the Nikon D90 was outstanding in regards to noise control. I now use my old D90 as a converted Infrared Camera.The D7000 and D7100 are more than adequate to cut for Pro work. There is no need to go for the full frame unless you want to shoot Advertising Billboards. Software also helps complete your results to high standards if used correctly.All in all the DX along with adequate Pro Software is all you need for many Pro work.

  • January 24, 2014 at 9:20 am

    I loved this article and could fully understand all the comparisons. I was wondering what would be the FX camera of choice now it is a few years later. Nikon doesn’t even show the D3s on their website.What are your suggestions? Thank you for taking the time to share info:)

  • January 28, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    What would you recommend as a gift for a friend. An older fx dslr or a newer dx dslr? Is there a particular older fx dslr that you would recommend as a best value?

  • February 10, 2014 at 1:18 am

    Thanks for this, just got a D4 with a f1.4 58mm Nikkor Lens a week ago, have no idea what’s Full Frame, FX, DX… your article is sure helpful!

  • February 24, 2014 at 6:19 am

    Many thanks for this fantastic article ! It has helped me a lot. But I would apreciate your advice: would you buy Nikon (pro: FX; con: a bit expensive) D610 or D7100 (pro: good camera; con: maybe a new one in 2014 and buffer problems). Now, I have a Nikkor 70-300 and an old, but perfect, Nikkor 35-70mm. Again, thanks.

  • February 27, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    I just got a new D800 Nikon camera from my in-law in USA. I have being using D90, not really taking a professional photography but develop interest for photographic. I used the D800 with Nikon flashgun SB910 but I still find my pictures most of the time dark. Please what can or what setting can I use to improve my pictures. My D90 is not so much of stress to but I am beginning to like the new D800.Thanks for all your help I have read may of your article. More grace to your elbow.

  • March 4, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    The D300 images are underexposed.

  • March 11, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Awesome, Nasim….

    Thank you.

  • March 12, 2014 at 12:39 am

    Thanks for the incredibly informative article — it’s much appreciated!

    I have one question that hopefully wasn’t already addressed. Can I used an FX lens on a DX camera? I own the D5100 but would eventually like to switch to a full frame camera body. I know you said that DX lenses can’t really be used on FX cameras, but is that also the case the other way around? If so, would a 35mm FX lens on a DX body be a “true” 35mm, or would it still be enlarged?

    Many thanks in advance!

  • March 16, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    dear Karai use 70-300VR which is FX lense on D5200 (DX camera) and it’s working as DX lenswhen you use 35mm DX lense on DX camera you will get same result aswhen you use 35mm FX lense on DX camera but not aswhen you use 35mm FX lense on FX camera (in this case you will get wider shot=more items in your photo)to be clear check this…simulator/i hope it’s clear now

  • March 22, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Fantastic article. Straight to the point….. THank you!

  • March 24, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    I have Nikon D5000 with DX AF-S NIKKOR 18-55 3.5-5.6G VR lens. I want to buy a FX format 50-300mm telephoto lens. Is my camera body compitable with any FX lenses. If yes then suggest me some NIKON FX lenes.

  • April 23, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Hi,thank you for the great articles, many have helped me understand photography and equipment.

    I have a question regarding changing from DX to FX gear.

    I currently use a D7000 and a number of lenses, the Nikon AFs 16-85mm is one of them and I love its performance. The D7000 has plenty of resolution for prints up to A2 so I dont really need more mp.

    My reason to go to FX is for the shallow DOF available from fast lenses compared to DX, not the mp.

    If I go to a D600 or equal 24mp FX, should I just keep my DX standard lens. Apart from the obvious mp loss when the D600 crops to DX (about 10mp) is there any real difference in performance between my lens and the AFS 24-85mm FX lens.

    Test data on the net seems to show that the 16-85mm on DX has less distortion, vignetting and CA than the 24-85mm on FX. If 10mp is ‘good enough’ should I just keep my current standard lens?

    Is it easier to design lenses for DX compared to FX?

    ThanksChris Raymond

  • May 9, 2014 at 6:05 am

    Hi, Thanks for your knowledge transformation about photography and cameras. Really usefull and interesting.I need your help that i am a beginner in photography field. I would like to purchase a cameraWhich brand and model is useful for me only dslrs. I dont want to go for high end cameras.As you have a good experience and eposure in the field of photography. .Kindly suggest me.Also please mention the difference between SLT and SLR in your that it will help others.thanks


  • May 21, 2014 at 6:16 am

    is the resolution of DX and FX the same that is what i really want to know

  • June 20, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Great article. For now, as a newbie I’ll stick to my DX and perhaps only invest in a prime lens and one other. I already have the kit lens and a zoom. The reality is I can’t afford a FX and even if I could, the financial benefits to be derived are not there.One other important reason to stick to my DX, the average person you shoot for doesn’t really go into details about crop factor, dop, etc… All they want to know is that their pics (on the surface) look great! Professional photographers are the ones that get caught up in the technical details lol.

  • June 23, 2014 at 12:21 am

    This was a great article, very informative… thanks.

    I’ve reconnected with photography as a serious hobby after having to leave it behind in the mid 70’s. The technology now is amazing, and I’m having a great time learning as much as I can about it all. I’ve become a bit of a birding fan. I’ve had some decent results, but nothing like I see a lot of other people getting with birds and animals.

    I’m wondering if you might give me a bit of advice on which gear I should upgrade first: glass or camera. I have a D3100 with an 18-55 VR, 35mm 1.8 and a 70-300 VR lens.

    My budget isn’t much, and I’m going to have to pick and choose carefully, probably going the craigslist route. Where will I see the biggest improvement: glass or camera? I’ve considered getting either a 70-200 2.8 VRI, a Sigma 150-500 or a 300mm F4. In cameras, I’ve been thinking of either a D300 or D7000, or converting to FX with a D700.

    Probably can’t do everything at once, but I’ve been thinking I’d be doing best to work toward ending up with a 1.4 converter / 70-200 2.8 VRI on a D700.

    Do you have any suggestions? Thanks again

  • July 4, 2014 at 3:59 am

    HI Excellent explanation;thanks

    SamFrom Jaffna, Srilanka

  • July 8, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Thank You Sir,

    I have decided to upgrade to FX format after reading your article. But I am still confused when I read review s of camera’s on other sites. I am not able to decide whether I should go for D600 or D700.

    If I go by your article then D700 should be a obvious choice as the pixek size is bigger than d600 but most of reviews I have read seems to suggest d600 and hardly any difference in terms of performance. I am really confused please help.

    for reference…D700/score

  • August 17, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Kop rexmet! Really well explained. I’ve decided to upgrade as well and was looking around for general information about the differences between DX and FX. Think this article is very helpfull for those who are planning to upgrade and make a step to professional photography.

    Greetings,OguzhanAmsterdam, The Netherlands

  • September 15, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Hopefully you can update this article to, say, D7100 vs D750 vs D810.

  • October 9, 2014 at 4:01 am

    Dear team….

    If I use Nikon D7000 300F4 1.4 TC or Nikon D810 300F4 2 TC class3 , which combo will give me the competetive superb result ?Please suggest me , if possible with comperative snaps as well

    Regards Sudipta ..

  • October 9, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Great article, made some important things clear for me. Thanks.

  • October 17, 2014 at 3:08 am

    Great article and web site. Thanks for sharing.

    Coming from a Canon 35mm camera decades ago, I am about to re-enter SLR photography and have to decide between Canon or Nikon. At this very moment I tend to go the Nikon route. Besides landscape and general nature photography my main interest is in birding.

    I would very much appreciate an advice regarding lens/camera combination particularly for rather small birds at around 10 meters distance. It looks like the 300mm f4 is a very capable and yet affordable lens, but how does it mate with the latest sensors?

    I am currently thinking about D7100 vs. D610.

    If I want to crop the resulting image to magnify small birds (taken from 10m distance., good as well as low-light conditions), which camera would me give the better sharpness and IQ?

    Another side topic, how does the 300mm f4 (with or without TC) on a modern sensor compare against the Canon 300mm f4 or 400mm f5.6?

    Thanks a lot for any reply in advanceMatt

  • January 8, 2015 at 5:42 am

    I think your “disadvantages” of FX are all summed up in one. Cost. The size is not an issue since the D800/D810 is the same size as the DX models like D200/D300s. And the point that the cheaper lenses aren’t sharp in the corners, is the same point as the cost. Why would you buy an FX camera and put cheap glass on it? If you can’t afford a high quality lens, then you can’t afford the camera either. They go together.

    So the only “disadvantage” seems to be the cost. Is it really a disadvantage, or just a fact of life? Anything made with better quality will cost more. If you can afford it – it is not a disadvantage, so isn’t the only disadvantage really the individual’s budget? What about buying used for half the cost … is it now still a disadvantage?

    Pretend all the cameras cost the exact same amount. Then you will be able to identify the REAL advantages and disadvantages. The cost is only a disadvantage for some people, whereas limitations of the different models will be a disadvantage for everyone who buys it.

  • March 27, 2015 at 9:53 am

    nikon-d5300 or canon 60d or sony alpha6000

  • June 9, 2015 at 12:51 am

    What is the suitable lens format ( FX or DX ) for Nikon D7000

  • September 16, 2015 at 2:32 am

    That was best article i have found on DX and FX cameras. Loved it.

  • September 17, 2015 at 2:57 am

    HI ,I am using Nikon D3200 with kit lens. While i try to take any photos and check in my computer the image shows with much noise even with low iso setting.Apart from this if any photo taken in daylight and check in the system, the preview of the image is clear crystal where as when i select the actual size it shows If any image can be zoomed in to its actual size then it looks blurred .

    I have taken photographs with all setting and checked the quality but all are blurred in actual size.

    pls help me in this regard.

  • October 7, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    Hi, I have experienced in mobile and point and shoot cameras,now i planned to improve my photography skill, I chosed Nikon d3300 for my budget, if it was good feature camera or suggestion me better one thank you.

  • October 11, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    hi, im anbu , dentist from chennai. when i was searching for the details regarding the difference between dx and fx in nikon, i read this article. very informative and tank u for thearticle. im new to dslr, using my sony hv -20x model high zoom camera. im interested to buy a camera which suits both my professional and personal life . i mean to use the camera for intra oral (mouth) purpose and leisure , function photos. suggestme the right one… my friends are using nikon D90 and Canon 600d… need ur help even for lenses too…. also explain about 18-140mmm lens . 18-55, 55-200 mm lens .

  • November 14, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    My wife and I are going on an Alaskan cruise and plan on taking a lot of pictures. I am looking at purchasing a nikon 810 because of the 36 pixels but was wondering i the 750 or 610 would work just as well. Will be taking lots of landscape, bird , and whale pictures. Was thinking the new 24-70mm and the 70-300mm lens.

  • December 7, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    excellent article……thank you

  • December 21, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    A very informative and easy to understand article. Thank you.

  • February 27, 2016 at 2:01 am

    Hi Nasim, Thanks for the informative article. But to be honest, with such advancements in sensor technology, DX has taken their game up. Low light capabilities have gone up and IQ is great. I think the main difference remains the cost and the DX cameras like D7100 are great value picks. Your comments pls. Probably a time to upgrade this article :)

  • May 26, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Thank you very much for your article.

  • August 30, 2016 at 7:24 am

    Six years later and this article is still very much relevant to the discussion, thanks for giving me a better understanding of DX vs FX.

  • October 23, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Very nice review. The ISO perofrmance is getting better and better with newer generation cameras. Here is a comparison of the current generation DX and FX cameras – D5300 vs D750

    Both are consumer cameras in their respective class. See the comparison here:

  • November 20, 2016 at 11:51 am

    I’m dummy in photography, and just planning to buy my first camera. This article just clear and set up things in my head! Perfect article!

  • December 18, 2017 at 1:21 am

    Hello Nasim, if I’m planning to upgrade to a FX body at this time, what model would you suggest? At moment, I have a D90 with kit lens(18-105mm), 50mm 1.4G, and a 28-300mm. Like what you have mentioned, I have challenges at low light when I push the ISO. So far, the ideal max. ISO for me would be at 640.

    I think the FX camera should be able to address the issue with higher sensitivity levels and larger dynamic range.

    Thank you!

  • January 8, 2018 at 11:49 am

    Hello NasimThank you for informative articles and reviews. After ten years with olympus mft cameras I decided to go ff and ended up with nikon. I like the colours and the black tones. Also there is an enormous amount of lenses for the system, both vintage and modern. However as much as i like the nikon iq, the weight of a nikon fx with a good zoom lens is not something you want to carry everywhere. Yesterday i bought an entry level nikon used to use as a light alterntive. It has many advantages. One lens system fits both. The controls and menus are similar. I could get both cameras used and a couple of lenses for less than a new omd em 1. Some old nikkors found new use, and selling off mft lenses helped paying for the venture into new territory. So my conclution is: both fx and dx has its advantages and they compliment each other. A small d3300 is capable of making good images and is lighter and less intimidating than a d810. The big fx camera will get you better iq when you take your time and work slowly and with care.


    Using Nikon DX Lenses on FX Cameras

    Because the glass elements in a camera lens are round, lenses project a circular image onto a camera’s sensor plane. This projected image circle must be large enough to cover the rectangular sensor, like so:

    Lenses designed for Nikon DX generally project a smaller image circle because they only need to cover the smaller DX sensor. This enables a DX lens to be smaller and lighter, but also means that these lenses are not suitable, by design, for FX cameras. For the Canon ecosystem this law is absolute, as EF-S lenses, designed for a smaller APS-C size sensor, cannot be mounted on full frame EF bodies.

    The great thing about Nikon is that they do their best to offer backward compatibility. Mounting DX lenses on FX bodies has always been possible, with the FX DSLR automatically cropping the image frame to only output the area covered by the DX sensor.

    Additionally, you can set the camera to output the full FX frame regardless of the mounted lens, by accessing Shooting Menu -> Image Area -> Auto DX crop -> OFF.

    You might expect this to spell trouble with DX lenses because of extreme vignetting. Indeed this is what one sees when mounting many types of dedicated DX lens, espsecially zooms, on FX bodies. Here is an example of what you see with a Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G DX VR lens on a Nikon FX camera (single frame from a HD video sequence recorded with a Nikon D600):

    The bad news is that high quality FX lenses like Nikon’s golden “trinity” are intimidatingly expensive, big and heavy.

    The good news is that not all DX lenses behave as you might expect. Two DX lenses that I dearly love are my Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX and my Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX. These two represent the best of DX as they are small, fast, light and affordable, yet still perform excellently. What many owners may not know is that both of these lenses cover the full FX frame circle!

    Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX on FX

    Until recently, the only fast modern 35mm lens that Nikon offered for FX was the expensive professional 35mm f/1.4G prime. With the recent announcement of the 35mm f/1.8G ED the situation has improved a lot from the affordability perspective. Yet the 35mm f/1.8G DX is the most affordable still, and one of Nikon’s most popular lenses to date – for a reason!

    How can you expect it to perform on FX? I was pleasantly surprised. As expected, FX corner performance is nothing to write home about, and some noticeable vignetting is visible. However at larger apertures (larger than F8) the vignetting is bearable. Large aperture prime lenses are often used to draw attention to a single object, and then corner sharpness is seldom crucial. Vignetting may be aesthetically pleasing, and can be corrected to some extent. The center performance remains impressive, as this is what the lens has been designed for.

    This little 35mm’s small size makes it unobtrusive and truly portable – especially desirable qualities for street photography. 35mm counts as moderate wide angle on FX which allows for just a bit more flexibility in creating interesting compositions compared to a 50mm “normal” lens.

    Here are some examples:

    NIKON D600 + 35mm f/1.8 @ 35mm, ISO 100, 1/400, f/1.8

    35mm f/1.8G DX at f/1.8 (straight from .NEF – distortion and vignetting not corrected)

    NIKON D600 + 35mm f/1.8 @ 35mm, ISO 200, 1/80, f/5.6

    35mm f/1.8G DX at f/5.6 (straight from .NEF – distortion and vignetting not corrected)

    In my opinion these photographs are quite usable. With some vignetting correction in Adobe Lightroom, the photo at f/2.8 looks as follows – compare it to the supplied photo taken with the large Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED – one of Nikon’s professional FX “trinity” lenses.

    Both photographs below were taken at 35mm f/2.8, but which was taken with which lens? At a casual glance these photographs are hard to tell apart – the top photograph was taken with the 35mm f/1.8, while the bottom photograph was taken with the 24-70mm f/2.8.

    NIKON D600 + 35mm f/1.8 @ 35mm, ISO 100, 1/160, f/2.8NIKON D600 + 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 35mm, ISO 100, 1/200, f/2.8

    Even zooming in to 100% pixel-level detail shows little difference, as the corners are out of focus anyway (in both cases, the 35mm f/1.8 is on the left):

    Caveat: starting at f/5.6, and especially at longer distances, the smaller image circle does become visible. With decreasing apertures, vignetting increases in the extreme corners. Personally I mainly use fast prime lenses at large to medium apertures, so this need not be a problem. Be aware, however, that in very bright light without using an ND filter this lens will becomes less usable as you will have to resort to smaller apertures. This makes the 35mm f/1.8 DX lens great for street photography, but less so for e.g. studio work where depth of field needs is attained by smaller apertures.

    Uncorrected image with focal point at infinity, f/5.6. Here vignetting is already becoming intrusive:

    NIKON D600 + 35mm f/1.8 @ 35mm, ISO 100, 1/500, f/5.6

    At f/22, vignetting is very clearly defined (just as the dust on my Nikon D600’s sensor):

    NIKON D600 + 35mm f/1.8 @ 35mm, ISO 280, 1/80, f/22.0

    Uncorrected image with close focal point, f/5.6. At this closer focal distance vignetting is much less pronounced than at infinity, and not as intrusive:

    NIKON D600 + 35mm f/1.8 @ 35mm, ISO 320, 1/80, f/5.6

    At f/22, vignetting is again clearly defined, but less severe than at longer focal distances:

    NIKON D600 + 35mm f/1.8 @ 35mm, ISO 5000, 1/80, f/22.0

    Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX

    The other lens that I want to talk about is the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. Regarded as one of the best ultra-wide-angle lenses for DX, it has the same performance on DX as a 16-24mm f/4.0 lens would have on an FX body. But what happens when you put it on an FX body?

    At 11mm the vignetting is rather extreme:

    NIKON D600 + 11-16mm f/2.8 @ 11mm, ISO 100, 1/250, f/2.8

    At 15mm the vignetting starts to disappear:

    NIKON D600 + 11-16mm f/2.8 @ 15mm, ISO 100, 1/200, f/2.8

    As we zoom in to 16mm, vignetting becomes less and less of an issue, up to the point where there is almost no visible vignetting any more at 16mm f/2.8:

    NIKON D600 + 11-16mm f/2.8 @ 16mm, ISO 100, 1/200, f/2.8

    The corners can be improved by stopping down – here the extreme right-hand edge is shown at 15mm f/2.8 (left) versus 15mm f/5.6 (right):

    The corner performance is noticeably degraded compared to dedicated FX lenses, but if you are willing to live with this you have a very affordable ultra wide angle lens for an FX camera, usable up to 15mm at an aperture of f/2.8! Keep in mind that the only other lenses that come close are the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX or the excellent, but much more expensive Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED.


    In this post I showed you how to use two very different but popular DX lenses for something they were never meant to do. But against all odds, these lenses are surprisingly adept at their job and will be able to give you great creative potential without adding much in the way of cost. This is especially attractive for amateur photographers taking the leap from DX to FX.

    If you can live with the limitations of such a set-up, at least your DX lenses may have some use before you fully move to FX. With them you can still enjoy the better low-light performance, brighter viewfinders and more control over depth of field that FX offers.

    Do you know of any other DX lenses that work well on FX? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

    Some examples of the 35mm f/1.8, from the streets of Trento, Italy:

    NIKON D600 + 35mm f/1.8 @ 35mm, ISO 2500, 1/80, f/1.8NIKON D600 + 35mm f/1.8 @ 35mm, ISO 900, 1/80, f/1.8

    Some examples of the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, from the streets of Trento, Italy:

    NIKON D600 + 11-16mm f/2.8 @ 16mm, ISO 250, 1/30, f/2.8NIKON D600 + 11-16mm f/2.8 @ 16mm, ISO 1400, 1/30, f/4.0NIKON D600 + 11-16mm f/2.8 @ 16mm, ISO 280, 1/30, f/2.8

    If you have enjoyed this article, please check out our in-depth Level 1 Photography Basics Course, where we explore all the basics of photography in much more detail. It is an intensive, 5+ hour course with enough material to not only get you started today, but also to serve as a reference material in the future.

    Nikon vs. Canon

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    May 2016   

    Nikon reviews  Nikon comparisons    

    Canon reviews  Canon comparisons    

    All Reviews



    Nikon and Canon are highly competitive with each other. Depending on what you're trying to do, one or the other will be better, but overall, each has many, many decades of experience cranking out quality products. They both make a huge range of products from multi-million dollar optical systems for industry to fully professional cameras to consumer cameras and point-and-shoots. Which is best depends on what's important to you, and will vary as the years roll on. Today, Canon leads in full-frame and the high end APS-C cameras. The two are pretty similar in the middle and low end of the APS-C world.

    If you're starting out, go Canon today: it's not just their products, but also their attitude towards us, their customers. If you already have one or the other, there's no reason to jump ship unless you're not that invested in one side, or if some new lens or camera is just so gotta-have-it for you that it's worthwhile.

    I've been shooting Nikon and Canon continuously since the 1980s. Back in the 1960s thorough the 1990s Nikon was the undisputed leader for pro news and sports shooting, but Canon's brand-new EOS autofocus system of 1987 eventually worked far better than Nikon's autofocus system. Nikon's AF system had to be designed around backwards-compatibility with all the existing lenses owned by pro shooters and was therefore clunky, but Canon threw compatibility out the window and created an all-new 100% electronic system that was far superior. Therefore Canon sped past Nikon in the 1990s as the pro 35mm camera of choice for pro news and sports shooting.

    When DSLRs became practical, Nikon was again the leader with the world's first practical DSLR, the Nikon D1 of 1999. Canon played catch up for quite a few years, and even as recently as 2008 Canon's top consumer DSLR, the Canon 5D, was well behind Nikon's top new D700.

    The bad news today is that Nikon hasn't introduced any significant innovations since 2007, while Canon has been working long and hard and getting better with each new model. The Canon 5D Mk II of late 2008 was a huge improvement over the original 5D, and thus Canon and Nikon were neck-and neck from 2008 until about 2012.

    Canon introduced the Canon 5D Mk III in 2012 which again was a huge step ahead in usability over its predecessor. Nikon's D800 and D800E came out around the same time and offered more pixels, but to Nikon users' horror, it was the same camera underneath as every other Nikon, minus some of the autofocus controls of earlier cameras. The D810 today still has the same problems as the D700 did in 2007, but removed some of the D700's AF controls! While Nikon has been resting on its laurels since 2008 and has just been slopping more pixels over the same basic camera with each new model number, each new Canon since 2008 has fixed 85% of everything I found lacking in each previous model. Canon has been innovating while Nikon has been marketing.

    In 2012, the Canon 5D Mk III was clearly better than Nikon's best, and still is today. In 2016 the newest Canon 7D Mk II and 5DS are about 7 years ahead of Nikon in terms of ergonomics and usability.

    While the world knows me as a Nikon shooter, I've been grabbing my Canons first when I want something done right since 2012.

    Nikon's best consumer camera today, the D810, isn't that much better than the D800E except for being quieter and faster. The D810 still has the same mediocre ergonomics and a mediocre LCD, while the Canon 5DS, 5DSR and 7D Mk II pull even further away from Nikon. Nikon has sat on its laurels since 2007, while Canon keeps introducing new features that actually help us make better pictures.

    Canon's customer service has always been top-notch and Nikon's used to be, but Nikon's has gone way downhill over the past few years.

    ISOs and megapixels have never been relevant; they are just sales and marketing tools. Nikon and Canon compete so heavily that there's no real difference here; these numbers are the least of the differences between Nikon and Canon.

    A lot has changed since I last updated this page some years ago. Canon consistently has followed my suggestions and made each new camera better than the last, while Nikon's been flopping around on the deck simply putting more pixels in the same old camera bodies and putting on new model numbers.

    Nikon has been like General Motors who for decades kept doing the same stupid thing, like having one key for a car door and expecting you to carry a different one for the ignition. GM eventually figured it out, and I hope some day Nikon will get back with it. Everyone expected Apple to go out of business in the late 1990s, and look where they are today after they changed management at the top. Time for a clean-out at the top at Nikon.

    Canon has consistently addressed the things that needed improving, like power switches and Quick Control screens and battery chargers and camera-state memories so that they now are way ahead of Nikon, at least in full-frame.

    The cheaper APS-C cameras all pretty similar.

    No one has ever paid me to do this; these are simply the facts from a guy who's been shooting both Canon and Nikon continuously for many decades.



    Nikon was formed in 1917 from several other optical companies that had been around since the 1800s. Nikon has always been an optical company first, and a camera company second (although this has changed since 2000 with digital). Nikon made only commercial and military optics through World War II, like binoculars, bombsights and huge rangefinders for battleships. Nikon, a weapons products maker, was disbanded after WWII, and had to find some sort of consumer product to make or perish completely. Nikon chose to make a copy of the Contax rangefinder camera, and thus was born Nikon's first cameras, the Nikon rangefinder cameras of the 1940s and 1950s. They didn't sell as well as Nikon had hoped, so Nikon got creative and made the world's first wildly popular SLR system in 1959. Today's Nikon DSLRs are descended from the Nikon F of 1959, and still use the same lens mount. Nikon made only superb and expensive pro gear through the 1970s, and only started making affordable cameras in the late 1970s.

    Canon started out in a Japanese garage in 1937 for the express purpose of making a great copy of the incredibly expensive new LEICA camera — but that people actually could afford. As a garage shop Canon had no lens making ability, and thus the first Canon cameras used lenses bought from Nikon, who made no cameras, so no problem. Canon started out as a consumer company, and has never stopped taking great care of its customers and making quality products.


    Customer Support

    Technical Help and Support
    Canon's (800) OK-CANON customer support line is 100% USA based, and always gets me the answers to any of my questions right away.

    Nikon's (800) NIKON-UX line has gone downhill over the past few years. Rarely do I get anyone who speaks English, and even then all they do is cluelessly try to look up an answer for me online.

    The first person to pick up the phone at Canon always knows my answer off the top of their head, while Nikon just wastes my time. It seems Canon actually values its customers, while Nikon views us as an annoyance they wish would go away. Big win for Canon here. If you need to phone for help with your camera, go Canon.


    Repair and Warranty Service

    Repairs are tough for every maker; every case is different and it's not unusual for something to go wrong — that's why you sent it in in the first place.

    I never hear anything but good about Canon's service. Send it to Canon, and the problem goes away.

    If you have a very old camera that's broken and it's going to cost more to fix than to replace, Canon sometimes offers a loyalty program where you may be offered a great deal on a newer-model refurbished camera instead of a repair on your old one. This way you might get a newer, working camera for less than a repair would have cost — but only if you're nice. They do this as a favor to you.

    Nikon sometimes screws things up, and like any large organization, keep asking nicely and they always do the right thing. The problem with Nikon is that it I hear bad stories more than I'd like to, and it may take a few tries, but they always get it right if you keep on asking. I've never had a problem with Nikon service personally. Either they fix my camera fast and cleanly, or if they can't they've simply replaced it without me having to ask.



    Canon makes most of its cameras, even the less expensive models, domestically in Japan. Even the cheapest Canon cameras like the SL1 are made in Taiwan, a developed country which I'm told has a labor cost about triple China's. Most of Canon's lenses are from Japan, with only the very cheapest from Taiwan, not China.

    Nikon makes only its flagship pro products domestically, and offshores everything else to party countries like Thailand if you're lucky, or mostly China for its lenses. Nikon makes no consumer cameras in Japan; even its top $3,000 D810 comes from Thailand. Most of Nikon's lenses are offshored to China, like the $2,000 300mm PF.

    I'd much rather have domestically made products, not those offshored to save the manufacturer money. This is another huge reason I prefer Canon today: I'm not sending my money to Communist countries.

    Nikon's lenses are getting more and more plasticy, while Canon's are staying as good or getting more metal on newer models.

    10 years ago Nikon used defective plasticizers for many of their plasticy rubber parts. The focus rings of my 12-24mm DX and 24-85mm AF-S lenses and the grips of my D70 camera are now so sticky as to render them unusable. Nikon needs to recall these and replace the defective parts. I've never had this problem with anything from Canon. Do you think I want to buy another plastic Nikon lens and have it get gooey on me in 10 years, when all my Canon lenses from back then and older still work as well as ever?



    Here's where there are real differences, and depending on what lens you want, this may cinch it for you.

    Both make equally excellent full frame pro lenses, however for APS-C and general use each make some unique lenses not made by the other. Depending on what's more important to you, this may decide on Canon or Nikon for you.

    As you'll see, neither makes all the best lenses when it comes down to what you may want. If you want one lens to cover everything from wide to 300mm, Nikon is your only choice, but if you want the new state-of-the art telephoto and macro combo, only Canon makes the 100-400mm that focuses closer than 3 feet.


    Pro Full-Frame Lenses: They're all great

    Both Nikon and Canon make equally superb lenses like 50mm, 16-35mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm zooms, and they are all excellent (of course Canon makes its in Japan and Nikon's come from wherever).

    There isn't that much difference between the two in their top pro lenses so long as each makes what you need. Both make about the same range of crazy lenses, like tilt-shifts, 24mm f/1.4s and 135mm f/2s.

    Prices can vary; Canon is sometimes less expensive when you look at pro supertelephotos. Sometimes you can buy a Canon ultratele like a 600mm f/4 and a new Canon body for the same price as just a Nikon 600/4, for instance.


    APS-C Telephotos: The same

    Canon's 55-250mm STM and Nikon's 55-200mm and 55-300mm lenses are all great; there's no clear leader here.


    Telephoto Zooms: Go Canon 100-400mm

    Canon makes the world's best new pro full-frame telephoto zoom, the 100-400mm IS L II, which focusses closer than any other pro 70-200mm, and goes all the way to 400mm with one twist of the wrist.

    This one Canon 100-400mm lens just rewrote the book for pro tele zooms for the digital age.

    No longer do you need to fumble with a teleconverter and a 70-200, or need a separate macro lens. The 100-400 focuses so closely it probably replaces your macro lens. One 100-400mm and you're done.

    No one else has anything comparable; Nikon's 80-400mm VR can't focus anywhere near as close, is a plastic consumer lens made in Thailand — and costs more! Nikon's inexpensive new 200-500mm is interesting, but it's a plastic lens that can't focus closely, and can't zoom any wider than 200mm, and comes from China. The Canon 100-400mm comes from Japan and is almost all metal, while the Nikon 200-500mm is a long-range lens only, not a do-everything telephoto.


    Wide-Ratio Zooms: Go Nikon

    If you want a do-everything wide-to-long-tele zoom, only Nikon makes two 18-300mm lenses and an 18-200mm lens for its cropped-sensor cameras. All these Nikon lenses allow instant manual-focus override simply by moving the focus ring.

    Canon makes only one excellent 18-135 STM lens. It's superb, but only has half the range of the Nikons.

    Canon's one 18-200mm is inferior to any of the Nikon 18-200 or 18-300s because Canon's 18-200 requires you move a switch to get from auto to manual focus. With the Nikon superzooms all you do is move the focus ring for instant manual focus override, while Canon's is clunkier.

    For full-frame, Nikon makes the outstanding 28-300mm VR, which in one lens does everything you'd ever need for FX. Canon makes nothing comparable; Canon's 28-300mm weighs twice as much and costs almost three times as much. The Nikon 28-300 is excellent to carry all day, while the Canon is a whopper sold for special purposes.


    Ultra Wides: Go Canon for APS-C

    If you shoot ultrawide on APS-C, Canon makes an extraordinarily sharp EF-s 10-18mm that sells for only $279, made in Taiwan. Nikon only has a Chinese 10-24mm — that sells for $900! For Nikon, your best bet is to get the Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 instead.


    Ultra-Ultra-Ultra Wides: Go Canon

    For ultra-ultra wides, Canon makes the world's widest: the 126º 11-24mm. There's nothing else like it on Earth — and Canon makes the world's only combined circular and full-frame 8-15mm fisheye zoom.



    Lens Corrections

    Modern Nikons correct later color fringes automatically with any lens. With Canon you need to load profiles manually for many lenses, and there simply are no profiles available for older or non-Canon lenses.

    Most modern Nikons allow you to correct lens distortion in-camera, while the Canon 5DS can't do this as shot.


    Flash Control

    Years ago, Nikon's flash system was the only really good one for film in the 1980s and 1990s, and for digital in the 2000s.

    Canon has come a long way, and I now get great flash-fill automatically with both my Canons and Nikons, so no worries here. Any Canon since about 2012 is fantastic for flash-fill.

    Neither works that great indoors; it still takes fiddling with any DSLR to get great flash-fill results indoors.


    Flicker Shoot-Through

    Ever wonder why your night or indoor sports photos have inexplicable random underexposures or weird colors? It's because the fluorescent and metal-halide lights used for arena, field, pool and gymnasium lighting flicker on and off and change color violently with the power line frequency. This happens so fast that our eyes and normal exposures don't see it, but shoot at 1/250 or faster and this is what happens.

    If you're a pro shooter, you install or have access to an arena-wide strobe system, or the major television venues (the ones that don't allow non-press to bring fancy cameras) install special high-frequency ballasts for the lights. For everyone else shooting at school or municipal facilities, you're stuck.

    Canon solved this in 2014 when they added the ability to shoot-though this flicker in the 7D Mk II. In this and newer Canons like the 5DS/R, T6i and T6s, a special circuit watches the lighting and delays the shutter some milliseconds if it needs to so the image isn't caught during a dark time of the power cycles.

    You can shoot indoor ice hockey with Canon, but with Nikon you can't unless you rewire the stadium.



    Camera Memories

    This is a dealbreaker for me with Nikon.

    I shoot a lot of different things, and need to reconfigure my cameras as fast as possible from one kind of photo to the next. I have to do this often from shot to shot, and Canons usually have C1, C2 and maybe a C3 position on their mode dials.

    It's easy to program these to save and recall the entire setting state of my camera. This means every autofocus setting, resolution, frame rate, Auto ISO tweaks, color and contrast settings, playback options and everything about the camera is saved and recalled. I use one for people, one for landscapes, and one for sports — all exactly as I want my camera set.

    Nikon has a settings dial (but only with two programmable settings, U1 and U2) on some cameras like the D750 and D610, but has nothing useful on its D810. Instead, many Nikons have exactly the same two sets of four foolish settings banks that were a bad idea when they came out in 2003 in the Nikon D2H. Instead of a spot on the dial, Nikon forces us to piddle on-screen recalling two different sets of settings, and even after all this fiddling, these two banks together don't recall as much as one of the Canon "C" settings do. For instance, even the most basic AF settings aren't recalled with Nikon, while everything about the AF settings in my Canons are recalled as I turn my dial — even which AF point I want selected. I have totally different AF modes set in each position, and my Canon recalls it all as I turn that dial with my eyes closed.

    It gets worse: you can't save or lock the settings banks on Nikon! That's right; after you recall them, any settings you change are now changed in that memory. There's no way you can pick up most Nikons and get them to your preferred settings unless you stop and check them all.

    On my Canons, I dial-in a C setting (even with my eyes closed), and everything about my camera is exactly as I need it.

    Nikon's settings banks have been a bad idea since 2003. Only the mid-line Nikons have U1 and U2 settings (good), but not their better cameras.


    Power switches

    Nikon removed the lock button from their power switches as a cost-saving measure about year 2000. It's now very easy to knock a Nikon power switch and turn off your camera by accident, so you miss your next shot wondering why the camera's not responding. Power switches left on don't drain batteries; the OFF setting is only to keep the camera from firing if put away in a tight case.

    Canon's power switches used to be along the bottom of their cameras and turned themselves on and off at random as carried around, but Canon moved them around 2012 to the top left where they never need a lock and never get knocked.

    Call me picky, but when you shoot all day, having Nikons that turn themselves off and make me miss shots is not how you earn a living. I greatly prefer Canon's power switches that don't turn themselves off.


    Quick Control Screen

    My Canons have a Quick Control screen from which I can set just about anything quickly.

    Nikons used to have an INFO screen that was similar, but not as good. It showed fewer things and showed them less clearly, and you could only set some very basic items from it.

    Worse, the newest Nikon D7200 won't even let us make settings from the INFO screen anymore. Nikon actually went backwards!

    To see and set these screens on Nikon, when they have them, it takes a few clicks to get various versions of the same screen.

    Much simpler on Canon, one tap of the [ Q ] button and you're there. It's easy to move around using the Canon's thumb button. Done.



    The better Canons like the 5D Mk III and 5DS now have the ability to program their SET buttons to start playback and zoom into a selected AF area at a preset level of magnification.

    In other words, one tap to SET and it plays and zooms in for focus-checking. One tap from my shooting hand; done.

    While I can program my Nikons to do something similar, they have to be in the PLAY mode already, demanding my left hand press PLAY and then the right hand to hit the zoom.

    In actual shooting, I leave IMAGE REVIEW off in my Canons, and just tap SET when I want to see what I have. This way my LCD isn't lighting up after every shot.

    As I set my Canons, one more tap to SET zooms out to show the full image, and another tap zooms all the way in as you've preset. With my Nikons I'm fidgiting with the (+) and (-) buttons numerous times.

    Canon wins here.



    Nikons still feel like cameras with hard edges.

    Canon uniquely sculpts their bodies so that the solid magnesium alloy actually feels soft in my hands.

    This makes a big difference when you use a camera all day, but honestly we all have different hands.


    Battery Chargers

    Canon does it right: flip out the plug, pop it in the wall, and it blinks in amber letting you read the battery charge percentage from across the room. One amber blink = 0 ~ 50%, two blinks = 50 ~ 75%, three blinks = 75 ~ 99% and it turns solid green when done. Perfect!

    Nikon's chargers usually require you find and carry a separate cord or foolish stubby plug. Worse, they blink in amber while charging with no indication of charge state, and when done, simply glow solid — still in amber.

    Maybe I'm picky, but I shoot a lot and I really appreciate well done one-piece charger over having to find a cord every time.



    Strange but true, it's 2016 and Canon has much better LCDs than Nikon.

    Sadly Nikon has gone backwards; the latest Nikon DSLRs like my D810 have LCDs whose colors aren't as accurate as they used to be. They're a little too green-cyan. Even a little error is unacceptable; I'm making critical decisions on these LCDs. How is it that my iPhone has such a better screen than my Nikon? (American ingenuity and attention to quality mass-manufacturing is the answer, but that's another article.)

    Canon's better LCDs have excellent auto brightness control. Nikon took out the auto-brightness control in the D810; it has NONE! While my Canon looks great in daylight or moonlight, the Nikon screen is always the same brightness, like it's the 1990s.

    Canon uses a 3:2 aspect ratio for its LCDs, so you can fill the entire LCD with your image. Nikon uses 4:3 LCDs, so you either lose the sides if you want to fill the LCD vertically, of have black borders on the top and bottom if you want to see the complete image on Nikon. Therefore even if both claim the same LCD diagonal, the Canon shows the image bigger!


    Older original pages from 2006 ~ 2013

    Intro   System Compatibility   Delivery   History   

    My Preferences   Specifics    Recommendations

    The rest below is what I wrote in 2006 and updated in 2012. Above is my 2016 update; where these diverge, believe what I wrote above.

    In other words, you may ignore most of what's below as of 2016.

    Nikon and Canon are as good as each other overall. Each makes equally excellent lenses at the same price points, and each makes DSLRs with the same technical quality in each format. The differences lie in ergonomics and how well each camera handles, which is what allows you to get your photo — or miss it forever. Anyone who tries to tell you that one brand or the other is significantly better than the other in basic quality is either an idiot, or a retail salesman who's getting a bigger spiff from one or the other that week.

    Each are multi-billion dollar optical companies who have been making some of the world's best optics for numerous consumer, industrial and military applications for decades and decades and decades. Unlike other large corporations like Sony and Panasonic that only make consumer and commercial products, Nikon and Canon each make multi-million-dollar optical products used in semiconductor manufacturing and space exploration.

    Nikon and Canon each are unique in having the nearly limitless resources and experience needed to develop the "secret sauce" that lets each make consumer cameras that render colors, highlights and shadows subtly better than all the other mere consumer electronics makers out there. Canon and Nikon can and do invest the effort to fine-tune the "look" from each camera in the trade-secret color matrices and algorithms that let each of their cameras deliver results that just have a certain polish to them that I can't get from Sony, Panasonic, Casio and all the rest of the companies lacking Nikon and Canon's resources. With the huge corporate scope and the huge camera sales volume, only Canon and Nikon can invest the heavy resources that result in subtly better pictures from each of their cameras, regardless of how inexpensive it may be.

    I'm going to go on and on below about personal experience, so feel free to skip ahead to the real differences between Nikon and Canon.

    Each makes lenses as parts of multi-million-dollar steppers used in making electronic chips with more precision than anything needed for photography, and each makes other optics that sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars in other applications. They each make our cameras and lenses out of the same stuff from which they create these other products.

    Did you know that Nikon is one of the world's leading makers of professional laboratory microscopes, often beating out Zeiss and Leitz? Nikon also makes the million-dollar lenses and mechanical steppers used in semiconductor manufacture. They have a 37% market share. These lenses and mechanics resolve at 45 nanometers, or less than one-tenth of a wavelength of visible light. That's over 10,000 lines per millimeter! See Nikon Precision.

    Canon may make their own ICs and image sensors, but for all we know, Canon may use Nikon lenses and steppers to do it! Probably not: Canon also makes steppers and semiconductor photolithography equipment, with a 20% market share. (Thanks to Bates Marshall for those figures.)

    Canon also makes gigantic lenses with 100x zoom ratios for HDTV and lenses for Hollywood motion picture cameras! These sell for six figures.

    Making $20,000, $2,000 or $200 lenses for either Canon or Nikon is child's play. Their big stuff sells in the $200,000 to $2,000,000 range. We photographers get to benefit from all of it.

    Nikon and Canon are optical companies first and camera, electronic or software companies second. It's sad to see people buy good Nikon or Canon cameras and then put off-brand lenses on them.

    Nikon and Canon are different, but just as good overall, although of course we all have our personal preferences. Anyone who tries to tell you that one or the other is garbage isn't paying attention, and most likely doesn't have the other to sell you. Nikon and Canon compete so heavily against each other that if one really were better or worse they would have gone out of business long ago.

    Year to year one usually has an edge on the other. They tend to leapfrog each other back and forth, slowly. LEICA was king from the 1930s through 1950s, Nikon took over from the 1960s through 1980s, Canon was the top pro SLR in the 1990s and 2000s, and with the Nikon D3 of 2007, Canon and Nikon now run neck-and-neck in the pro market. As of 2012, I prefer Canon's full-frame DSLRs over Nikon, but that will change as the years roll on.

    Contrary to some beliefs, I get paid nothing by and have no allegiance to Nikon or Canon or any other camera maker, other than having used their great products for many decades depending on the brand.

    Shooting all these systems for a living every day makes one very familiar with what each does well — or not, so let me share how they really compare from actual long-term experience

    I spend a lot of time covering the background and details before I summarize the real differences. Feel free to skip ahead if you're in a rush to spend a few thousand dollars quickly.


    System Compatibility        top

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    Most Nikon SLR camera and lenses made since 1959 are compatible with each other.

    Any two items from about the same 10-20 year technology window will work well with each other.

    Today's newest 2013 D610 works great with most updated Nikon lenses made since 1959. With Nikon, investing in great lenses always had paid off.

    The Nikon system is so renowned for its multi-decade interoperability that I have a Nikon System Compatibility page discussing it.

    The problem with Nikon's compatibility is that today its lenses still use more primitive mechanical communication with the camera for some functions that date back to the 1950s, making some functions like depth of field preview nowhere near as smooth as it is on Canon.



    On the other hand, Canon flushed compatibility down the toilet in 1987 when it created a new and completely incompatible system of AF cameras and lenses called EOS. Nothing works together before or after the great autofocus divide of 1987.

    To Canon's credit, the new EOS system is a much better design than the old mechanical mount still used today by Nikon, but old Canon FD manual focus lenses, once promoted as "timeless" by Canon, are useless on any modern Canon camera.

    Contrast this to Nikon, where just about every lens ever made works swell, with few limitations, on every brand new camera.

    While I shoot both of the Canon systems (FD and today's EOS systems), most people are only concerned with Canon's EOS cameras today, and that's where the good news starts.

    Because Canon wiped the slate clean and created a completely new electronic lens mount system for autofocus in 1987, every camera and lens Canon has made from 1987 through today is completely 100% compatible with everything else made since 1987. Every Canon EF lens works perfectly with every Canon EOS 35mm or digital camera ever made. Their oldest EF lenses work perfectly on the newest EOS digital cameras, and the newest EF and Image Stabilization lenses work perfectly on the very first EOS650 camera from 1987. (Flash is a different story, and the smaller EF-s lenses won't work on full frame cameras.)

    Nikon can't come close to this; many Nikon autofocus lenses still sold new today use old technology that won't autofocus on some of Nikon's newest cameras and vice versa! Nikon's old lenses from the 1950s often work on today's Nikons, but likewise Nikon's lens mount also carries a lot of mechanical baggage from the 1950s.

    Canon cameras can use Nikon lenses, but Nikon cameras can't use Canon lenses.


    Delivery        top

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    One big difference between Nikon and Canon is delivery of new products.

    A good thing about Nikon is that they announce products a couple of months before they become available. You never feel like an idiot having bought a camera that goes obsolete the next day. Canon, on the other hand, usually has cameras available when they announce them, so you can get caught off guard.

    Unfortunately Nikon does this to a fault. It's good to announce something a couple of months before it comes out, but bad to take orders and not be able to deliver.

    Nikon has been doing this at least since 2000. They announced the 80-400mm VR in January, 2000. It was a year and a half later before you could buy them easily!

    Nikon Announced the D100 in February of 2002 and it was a year until you could get them easily. I had bought a D1H the week before, but didn't worry even though I would have preferred the D100, because I didn't have 9 months to wait for one.

    Nikon announced the 12-24mm in February 2003 and took a year until they were easy to find.

    Nikon announced the D70 in February of 2004. That only took a couple of months to get.

    The 18-200mm VR was announced on November 1st, 2005, and Nikon had them on back-order until 2007!

    Nikon's D800 and D800E, announced in February 2012, weren't in stock until September 2012.

    Canon usually ships its hot new products quickly, while Nikon often strings us out for months or more.

    LEICA is a different story. LEICA never makes anything; their new products are never available. You always have to order them and be patient, and you sometimes have to wait over a year!


    History        top

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    You have to know the history behind the Nikon versus Canon race to understand it. Here's my personal experience, which spans most of five or six decades.


    Early 1900s

    Canon was founded in 1934 to sell cheap knock-offs of the new LEICA camera. It was sold with a lens made by Nikon, since Nikon has been making lenses for military applications forever, and Canon had just started in a garage.

    Canon started by making consumer products, and branched out into industrial equipment much later.

    Nikon had been making military instruments for mass destruction long before World War II. Nikon made bomb sights used to murder innocent Americans in the Japanese terrorist attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941, as well as huge rangefinders for battleship and field artillery in World War II.

    Nikon made no cameras before World War II! After Nikon's warmongering activities were closed-down after World War II, Nikon had to figure out what to do for peaceful purposes for the first time. Their idea was to make rangefinder cameras for consumers in the late 1940s, and then SLRs in 1959.

    Nikon started out making military products and was forced into making consumer products after Japan started and then lost World War II.

    Canon and Nikon have only been competing with each other in cameras since World War II.


    1960s and 1970s

    Nikon's military background led to it making extremely high quality and expensive professional cameras, and only later in the late 1970s starting to make cheaper consumer cameras, while Canon started out making consumer cameras, growing later into the pro market in the late 1970s.

    Nikon was exclusively an expensive camera for professionals, and Canon made cameras popular with consumers. They didn't compete much, although as the decade wore on, Nikon started making cheaper cameras and Canon made some more expensive pro cameras, although pros didn't buy Canon's "pro" cameras.



    In 1980 Nikon was the undisputed king of professional 35mm cameras. For the same price as Canon lenses, in Nikon I got much better mechanical quality and better access to rental gear.



    LEICA invented autofocus, and knowing that its customers know how to focus, sold the patent to Minolta, who introduced the world's first autofocus SLR in 1985. A few years later Canon and Nikon had them, too. Professionals laughed at the idea — they knew how to focus, and autofocus was still too slow for sports. Even if AF was fast, sports shooters know where the ball is going before it gets there, which cameras can't know.

    Nikon AF cameras and lenses were completely compatible with older lenses and cameras. This was good because pros all had many thousands of dollars invested in their manual-focus lenses. It was a no-brainer to buy a new Nikon AF camera since it was compatible with everything. New AF lenses were compatible with manual focus cameras. They still are! Nikon solidified the reason to shoot Nikon as a pro: no one had to start out from scratch again. Going to AF in Nikon was easy.

    Nikon AF cameras had motors in the body to focus the lenses mechanically through a small screw in the lens mount. They still do.

    Canon designed their AF system from scratch, and used a completely new and incompatible lens mount. The lenses each had their own motors inside them. If you shot Canon you had to throw away all your manual-focus FD lenses and bodies and start from scratch. Not good! To go to Canon AF you had to rebuy your entire system with new AF gear.



    Pros eventually started using autofocus cameras around 1990 and liked them. One teensy-weensy problem around was that Nikon AF cameras couldn't focus fast enough for sports. The Canon cameras worked great. Pros who shot sports dumped their Nikon gear and moved to Canon in droves. Sports shooters still predominantly use Canon for this reason. I was kidding about slow AF being a teeny problem: it's huge, and why Nikon lost it's twenty-year lock on the pro journalism market and has never won it back!

    Unlike 1980, in the 1990s Canon cameras evolved to be as professional as Nikon. They have competed neck and neck for the same customers ever since.

    Nikon's AF speed is as good as Canon today, but no pro is going to sell all his lenses and cameras and start from scratch without a very good reason.

    As a pro you own a lot of gear, all bought at different times. It all needs to work together as a system. Amateurs buy bodies and lenses together, while pros add and delete each body and lens from their systems as it makes sense. Except in the case of a fire or theft, you never get the chance to start over from scratch.

    Better AF performance was why sports pros left Nikon in the 1990s. There's never been anything compelling enough since then to get them all to switch back, so it's been a slow road back for Nikon. That's why you see so many white lenses at sports events, in addition to the fact that Canon Pro Services loans them out for free. Remember, sporting is only part of the photo picture. Landscape photographers have been using 4x5" film for over 100 years and don't show any signs of changing soon. The best ones rarely use Canon or Nikon.



    Nikon invents the professional D1, the world's first practical digital SLR. It was $5,000 and had 2.7MP. Nikon became the leader in professional digital.



    Canon introduced their own first DSLR, the consumer D30. It had the same image quality as Nikon's metal D1, but for only $3,000 in plastic. It also had 3MP.



    Canon announces their first professional DSLR, the EOS-1D on 25 September 2001. Canon moves ahead of Nikon in the digital arena.


    2002 - 2004

    Nikon doesn't introduce much, while Canon is very busy. Every time Nikon announces a new DSLR, Canon outdoes them the next week. This goes on through 2012!


    2005 - 2006

    Nikon's D70 was my favorite over the better-built Canon 20D. I preferred the D70's faster operation, specifically, the D70's immediate access to white balance trims, needed for every shot, over having to go into menus on the 20D.

    In 2006 Canon tweaked the firmware in the 20D and called it a 30D, which I found uncompetitive with the D200. What were they thinking? Nikon leapfrogged them with the D200. The D200 eclipsed everything Canon had done, including the Canon 5D which cost three times as much.

    I had always admired the Canon 28 - 135 IS lens. Nikon had nothing similar until Nikon introduced the spectacular 18-200 VR for digital, which eclipses the earlier Canon 28 - 135.

    In 2005, Canon introduced the Canon 5D, the world's first full-frame consumer DSLR. The 5D has technical performance better than any consumer full-frame camera from Nikon until 2012's Nikon D800.



    For the first time ever, Nikon introduces the Nikon D800 which has more resolution than any Canon DSLR. Too little too late; so long as you have 10 MP, you have more than enough for anything.

    Canon introduced the 5D Mark III, which has so many little improvements that it for the first time has much better ergonomics, as well as image color accuracy, that anything from Nikon. After 28 years, I switched to Canon as my main SLR brand. Nikon has sat on its laurels; the D800 has the same iffy ergonomics as the 2007 D300, while Canon has moved ahead.



    Nikons now have poorer power switches than Canons.

    Nikons use a rotary switch concentric with the shutter button, and no longer have a lock button as they did when introduced on the Nikon F5 in 1996. Therefore Nikon power switches are now easy to turn ON accidentally while in your bag, or knock OFF while you're shooting and miss your photos.

    Canon has improved its power switches, which are now usually a lever on the top left of the camera where they never get knocked. They are detented deeply enough that they don't need a lock, and are easy to to turn ON and OFF when we want them, and they don't move by themselves.

    Canon's mode dials usually have stops at either end, so we can select positions without looking at them by counting clicks. Nikon's mode dials often spin 360º, which means we have to stop and look to set them.

    Canon's LCDs are more color accurate. As of 2012, Nikon started using LCDs, even on their top pro cameras, that tend to be too yellow-green. This seems to get better with time. All my Canons have bang-on accuracy from day one, while my new Nikons don't look as good as they should on their rear LCDs.


    My Personal Preferences        top

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    Nikon and Canon all give the same quality images within the same price class or format. See my Noise and Resolution comparison. These differences are so small I have to strain to see them with test charts. In the dynamics of the real world they are invisible. I ran those tests, and discovered that whatever differences entertain chat-room participants don't exist.

    As you ought to know, I'm just a guy who loves to take pictures and today just happens to have literally millions of people reading this site, which are my personal opinions, each month. I don't get any free gear, money, sponsorships, hats or anything from any camera companies, in spite of what people may think.



    I prefer Canon point-and-shoots. I love their color rendition, and I can't for the life of me figure out the menus of the Nikon Coolpix cameras.

    The Canon S95, S100 and S110 have been the world's best for years. The Canon G1 X is a big point-and-shoot with DSLR quality.



    As of 2012, the Canon 5D Mark III is the world's best DSLR. As you can read at D800 vs. 5D Mark III, Canon addressed and improved a zillion little things, while Nikon with the D800 is just spewing out the same camera as 2007, just with more pixels we don't need.

    I prefer Canon for full-frame DSLRs, but for DX, I prefer Nikon.


    Specific Feature Comparisons      top

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    Here are the feature-by-feature breakdowns. Depending on what's important to you, this will help you pick one brand over the other.



    Canon never used to have consistent flash performance. Specifically, flash exposure would vary from frame to frame, meaning pros pulled their hair out trying to shoot flash with Canon. Nikon has always had a flash exposure system that gave perfect flash exposure every time, and apparently patented whatever was the secret first, so Canon never caught up — until 2012.

    As of 2012, my Canon 5D Mark III finally gives perfect flash exposure all the time, just as Nikon has done for decades. Older models of Canon aren't that great and all of Nikon's older models are great for flash exposure, but since Canon finally got flash exposure correct, as of 2012 I wouldn't worry about it.

    My Nikons give me far more flash sync options. They are well labeled and easy to set without menus. Canon hides them inside other modes deep inside menus, for instance, your Canon's exposure mode changes the flash sync mode, and it's not marked.

    For instance, the important Rear Curtain option is hidden in the 30D's Custom Function 15, while even a cheap Nikon D50 has its own flash sync button. Likewise in 2012, Canon still hides most of its flash controls inside the camera's menu system. At least Canon cameras with C1 C2 C3 modes save and recall the flash sync modes you've programmed.

    Slow sync isn't selectable separately on most Canons. Program mode always uses a faster speed of about 1/60 as its lower limit. Tv, Av or M modes use slow sync by default. See p.92 of Canon's 20D manual for details, for example.

    This is too bad: I always shoot my Nikons in Program, and set the slowest flash shutter speed to whatever I want, usually 1/30 or 1/15 to let in enough ambient light. This is easy to change on Nikon, and almost fixed in stone on most Canons.

    I have no idea how to set manual flash mode on the Canons, while on the Nikons it's easy to set up wireless remote flash control.

    My Nikon DSLRs let me know if the flash may have underexposed (the bolt in the finder blinks rapidly). I've never seen that on the Canons. The Nikon flash units often even tell me, in stops, by how much they have underexposed.


    C1 C2 C3 Modes

    Most Canons have "C" modes on their control dials. Each of these is a complete memory for everything about the camera. Every time you select that position, everything about the camera is recalled from when you saved it!

    Nikons, except for the D7000 and D600, have no easily recalled total-camera-state recall functions. Every time you want to shoot anything different on a Nikon, you have to reset many different things in many different menus. Nikons often have idiotic "settings banks," but there are many of them, and they still don't save and recall everything, so they don't help much. Even if they did, there is no way to lock them; as you change settings, there is no way to recall what had been set before, so they are useless. Nikon's settings banks cannot be locked, they change as you set the camera!

    With most Canons, its fast and easy to get back to all the settings you want, and if you have more than one C on your dial, I set C1 for my landscape, and C2 for my people shots, and if a C3, for sports.


    Every time I wake up my Canon in a C mode, it resets to all my personal favorite settings, which is far better than Nikon's one factory-default green-button reset that neither resets everything, and certainly doesn't reset to my settings.

    If I don't use Canon's "C" modes, I'll often have left the camera at a deep tungsten white balance and ISO 1,600, which of course ruins all shots made that way the next morning until I notice and reset them all by hand:

    White Balance left set at last night's custom setting.


    Nikon's Green Reset

    I used to use Nikon's Green Reset (two-green-button reset) of my earlier Nikon DSLRs. They reset all the shot-to-shot stuff, like WB and ISO and selected AF sensor and exposure compensations and image and file sizes, and leave alone the rarely set items like file numbering, custom functions and beeps.

    Sadly as of 2012 as cameras have gotten far more complex, Nikon's Green Reset modes don't work for me, since there is too much to remember to have to reset from Nikon's default reset settings.

    As of 2012, most Nikon DSLRs are a pain to set from one subject to the next because there are so many settings to have to jockey, and no way to manage them well except on the D600 and D7000.


    Playback Held Hostage

    My biggest complaint about my Canons, DSLR and compact, used to be that they held all my playback controls, like zooming, hostage until after I've pressed the PLAY button. With my Nikons, as soon as my photo shows on the back after I shot it, I have full access to zooming and selecting other images. (I usually have to enable this in Nikon's menu.)

    Nikons play fast. Canon DSLRs take time when you try to display pages of 9 playback images and flip though them.

    Canon for over ten years of DSLRs still can't flip through images and keep them all sharp instantly on playback. Every Canon DSLR, even the Canon 1D X, still takes a fraction of a second to redraw the playback image sharply after its been selected.

    As of 2012, Canon has seen the light, and as I program my Canon 5D Mark III, I now have full one-handed playback control, while my Nikons still demand two hands to have full playback control.

    As of 2012, Canon has pulled way ahead of Nikon for playback. Nikon still usually demands two hands to control playback, while on my 2012 Canons, it's easy to control playback zoom, scroll and file selection all with one hand.


    Playback Data

    Each shows different data differently in many screens during playback.

    Nikon shows a lot of things with a lot of screens. There is never anything missing, but I often have to sort through a lot of screens (usually three) to find what I want.

    Canon tends to show just what I need and show it more clearly, but oddly, never will tell me the millimeter setting of the lens I used. To read that, I have to use a computer later.

    Nikon allows me to zoom into a small area and see a color YRGB histogram just for that small section of image, while hitting the ZOOM button while in the histogram section of Canon simply zooms the image to full screen, eliminating the histogram.

    Thus I can read histograms precisely for small image segments on Nikon, ideal for investigating highlights, shadows or color in small areas, while on Canon, I can't — but at least on Canon the image zooms to full screen from the histogram page.


    Seven versus eight-bladed diaphragms

    Nikon always uses superior 7- or 9-bladed lens diaphragms, while another core incompetency of Canon was often using 6-or 8-bladed diaphragms.

    Odd-numbers of diaphragm blades lead to superior sunstars (14- or 18-points from Nikon vs. 6- or 8- points from Canon) and less disruptive shapes of out-of-focus highlight blobs (bokeh), heptagons or nonagons from Nikon versus obnoxious hexagons or octagons from Canon. When we see hexagons or octagons, we thing snowflakes or stop signs, while heptagons or nonagons are so low-key that you probably don't even recognize the names of the shapes!

    As of 2012, Canon again is seeing the light. Canon's newest 24-70mm f/2.8 II uses a 9-bladed diaphragm, which makes better sunstars than the rounded thing in the Nikon 24-70/2.8G. Canon's wide lenses now usually use 7 blades (yay), but Canon's teles still only use 8-bladed diaphragms.


    Control Sensibilities

    On my Nikons, one dial always sets aperture and the other always sets the shutter.

    On my Canons, what dial does what depends on your mode. That drives me crazy — I need to have the same dial change the same thing every time I spin it, regardless of the shooting mode.

    Nikon turns off the exposure compensation indication if you haven't set it. Canon leaves it on, even in the finder, even if it's set at zero.

    I prefer Nikon's easy-to-find-in-the-dark LCD illuminator button. It's concentric with the shutter; just twist. On the Canons you need to feel around for a dedicated button.

    When you hit the LCD illuminator on a Nikon, either on camera or on flash, everything lights up. On a Canon Rebel XT and EX-550, each button only lights one of them!


    Auto ISO

    Nikon has more flexibility in programming Auto ISO. Canon is still a step behind; as of 2012, while both brands let me set Auto ISO to select the slowest shutter speed before it starts to increase the ISO automatically based on lens focal length, only Nikon lets me shift that value by a fixed amount. For instance, I use this feature, and shift the shutter speed one stop faster for sports, and one stop slower if my lens has Image Stabilization. With Canon as of 2012, we can't set an offset to the automatically selected slowest shutter speed.


    Color and Tone

    Nikon and Canon each use different "secret sauce" that defines the colors and tones captured by their cameras, especially when you start adjusting the color, contrast, saturation and the zillion other controls on cameras today.

    Images will look different from either brand of camera. Most Nikons or most Canons will match other models of camera from the same maker set to the same color settings (contrast, saturation etc.) but images shot on one brand will never match the colors, highlights, shadows and grays of images shot on the other brand.

    In this case, there is no right and wrong. Photography is an art, and in art, it's about what looks best to you, the artist.

    Look carefully at the color rendition you get from either camera, and shoot which you prefer.

    Auto White Balance (AWB) works very differently in different cameras. If you shoot in AWB as I do, one brand or the other may work better under the unique conditions under which you shoot. Pay attention and you'll probably prefer one over the other.

    Nikon and Canon each do a much better job of giving me great colors direct from the camera, something I can't get from other brands. For instance, LEICA is awful!


    Color Shifts

    Both Nikon and Canon cameras give awesome colors if you know what you're doing and how to set them.

    As of 2012, Nikon's four new full-frame DSLRs (D600, D800, D800E and D4) share the same new color problems:

    1.) Nikon's LCDs tend to be a bit too yellow when new, and more seriously,

    2.) Nikon's Auto White Balance errs on the side of being too green, so the photos look poor by critical standards. To correct Nikon's color problems as of 2012, I have to set a white balance trim of one unit magenta (M1) in a menu. Sadly, 1 unit is a little too much, and there's no way to set 2/3 of one unit of magenta, so my Nikon images tend to be a little too magenta. That's better than too green, but still not acceptable. That's one of the big reasons I prefer my Canons as of 2012 — as well as Canon's superior LCDs.


    Lens Corrections

    As of 2012, most Canon and Nikon DSLRs offer electronic lens corrections for darkened corners, lateral color fringes and distortion.


    Lenses Covered

    Each works with almost all lenses since about 1993.

    With Nikon, all lenses are already loaded in your camera automatically.

    With Canon, you often have to screw around with software and pick and choose the lenses for which you want to load correction data into your camera.

    Nikon wins here, it's already in your camera.



    Nikon wins again: Nikon cameras usually can correct images as you shoot them. Done.

    Canon can't correct distortion in-camera as shot. The only way to do it in Canon is to shoot in NEF, then process each file one-by-one in the camera later, while Nikons will just record images already corrected.


    Light Falloff (corner darkening)

    Each does as good a job as the other here, presuming you have the right data in your camera, which often for Canon, you won't unless you go connect your camera to a computer and screw around.


    Lateral Color Fringes

    If you have lens data in your Canon, each works as well as the other.

    Here's where Nikon wins: Nikon needs no lens data loaded into the camera! Nikon uses secret algorithms, and corrects lateral color automatically for anything you can attach to your camera, regardless of brand or lens type!

    This gives Nikon a huge advantage here.


    LCD Quality

    As of 2012, Nikon's four new full-frame DSLRs (D600, D800, D800E and D4) share a problem new to DSLRs: they tend to be a bit too yellow when new! We have to depend on the accuracy of our LCDs, and Nikon has taken a step back in 2012.

    Another subtle but important advantage of Canon is that their LCDs have the same 3:2 aspect ratio as their images, so the images fill the entire LCD. Nikons use a different aspect ratio for their LCDs, so while two cameras may have the same diagonal size rating for the LCD, the actual image size is bigger on the Canon DSLRs! Another reason as of 2012 I've switched to Canon.

    Canon's LCDs are usually behind anti-reflection coated glass or plastic, so we can see bright, contrasty images with great blacks while outdoors, while Nikons usually use uncoated screens on which we see reflections of the world around us. On Nikons therefore, it's much more difficult to see our images in daylight.

    Canon's screens are often coated with magic stuff that resists grease and smudges. Nikons are not.


    Auto LCD Brightness Control

    While several models from each maker offer this (Nikon D800 and Canon 5D Mark III for instance), only the newest Canons actually work well.

    As of 2012, Nikon's auto LCD brightness control doesn't work well, and lets the LCD get too dim indoors, so I don't use Auto LCD Brightness Control on my Nikons.



    As of 2012, it's a toss-up. Both offer fast and accurate AF.

    Nikons often have more clairvoyant ability to recognize faces and magically select exactly the correct AF sensor right over the subject's nearest eye. As of 2012, only the Canon 1D X does this well, while even Nikon's D600 does this well for less than one-third the price.

    I used to get more consistent results on my Nikons, but as of 2012, I get great results with each. Older models of Canon often could think that the were in perfect focus, but give complexly defocused images every 30 shots or so.

    My Canons tend to be a little faster with cheap lenses, and about the same with the expensive ones. In other words, Nikon lets the AF of their cheap lenses ($80 - 500) get slower, both both brands of pro lenses (c. $1,500 range) are equally fast.

    If you have a lens that has a focus offset, both brands today allow you to adjust this offset, called "AF Fine Tune." As of 2012, only Canon lets you adjust this differently for each end of a zoom range and have the camera compute the correct value as you shoot. With Nikon, you only get one value that is applied equally at every focal length, which is too bad because the required adjustment varies as zoomed.


    AF Assist Illuminators

    If you have a flash with an AF illuminator, you're fine with either brand.

    Most Nikon SLRs have a small white incandescent light to help the camera focus in the dark. They work fine.

    Something extremely annoying about most Canon SLRs is that they instead use multiple bursts of the flash to help focus in the dark. Have you any idea how annoying it is to try to photograph and have your flash fire off ten bursts in the dark at someone as the camera attempts to focus? Not acceptable.


    Freedom Lenses

    Nikon makes a 28-300mm VR for full frame, and an 18-200mm VR and 18-300mm VR for DX cameras. Any of these lenses offers every focal length any reasonable person needs, offers image stabilization, and instant manual-focus override. Any of these three lenses can be the only lens you'll ever need, and each is reasonably priced and sized.

    Canon, and no one else, makes anything that can do what these life-changing Nikon lenses do. There are loads of off-brand and Canon ultra-broad range zooms, but they usually have no VR or IS (critical at 200~300mm) and only have primitive focus control with no instant manual override.

    Canon's 18-200 IS is inferior: it demands you move a switch to get between auto and manual focus, while on the Nikon 18-200 VR, all you do is grab the focus ring.

    Canon made a crappy, mostly plastic 28-200mm for full frame from 2000-2010, but again, you have to move a switch to get from auto to manual focus. Nikon's crappy plastic 28-200G (2003-2006) on the other hand was a very sharp, close-focusing and sharp lens.

    Canon has made and makes some lenses like the EF 28-300mm IS that look good on paper, except that in reality they cost $2,600 and weigh four pounds! That doesn't count; no one is going to carry that around all day, which is the whole point of a freedom lens.

    If you want a do-everything lens for full-frame or for DX, only Nikon offers these.


    Weather Sealing

    Each is about as good as each other for the same price class of camera.


    Made in China?

    Canon wins here: most everything you can buy from Canon from professional cameras and lenses all the way down to point-and-shoots are made at home in Japan. Only Canon's very cheapest stuff is offshored, and then to Taiwan, which has a very high standard. The only Chinese items from Canon seem to be the occasional printed manual.

    Nikon on the other hand offshores everything it can. It makes only a few flagship products in Japan, and offshores most of its gear to Thailand, and the other half is all made in China. For instance all of Nikon's professional 50mm f/1.4 and f/1.8 lenses are made in China!


    Viewfinder Grids

    Most digital Nikons have magic, selectable viewfinder grids, free!

    The Canon DSLRs don't. You can buy an optional screen for the 5D, and manually jam it in the camera's viewfinder.

    Most point and shoots from Canon and Casio have these, too, just not the Canon DSLRs.

    I use these grids to help me get level photos. It's one of the first things I turn on when I get a new camera.


    Data Embedding

    My Nikons let me embed my ©, name and phone number into the EXIF data of every one of the 75,000 shots I've made, no computer required.

    As of 2012, Canons now also allow us to do this right in the camera, too. Older Canons required screwing in an computer and connecting the computer to the camera to do this, but no longer.


    Automatic Zone System

    Nikon DSLRs have always had an AUTO CONTRAST mode (previously called Tone Compensation under Optimize Image) which uses the Zone System to optimize the camera's contrast to the subject. It was awful in the D1H, and in the D70, D80 and D200 it works great to match conditions.

    In 2012, Nikon's Adaptive Dynamic Range options work wonders automatically on every image from every Nikon DSLR.

    Canons had no such modes: you had to set them manually. As of 2012, Canons now have a simpler system that can optimize highlights (Highlight Tone Priority) or optimize shadows (Auto Lighting Optimizer), but can't do both at once.

    in spite of this analytical silliness on my part, both Canons and Nikons make splendid images automatically under lighting so horrible that with 35mm film the images would have been worthless.

    Each system works about as well as the other today. Both brand can make spectacular images.



    They are about the same size, clarity and brightness, depending on which you compare.

    I find the in-finder data a little bit sparser in Canon than in my Nikons. I also find the Canon's digital in-finder displays thinner and harder to see than in my Nikon DSLRs.

    All of them do a great job of automatically varying the brightness of the display to match ambient conditions.

    They all are usually optimized for lenses of f/2.5, no differences here.


    Sensor Sizes

    Canon used to curse us with three incompatible sensor sizes, but today in 2012, both Canon and Nikon make both full-frame and half-frame cameras.

    Yes, Canon's half-frame cameras use a slightly smaller 1.6x crop factor versus Nikon's 1.5x, but that's nothing worth worrying about.


    Data Transfer

    My Nikons show up as external hard drives on my computers as soon as I plug them in. I drag and drop files either way, no software required. I create folders in-camera, and download sorted photos directly from my Nikons!

    Data from the Canon cameras can only be read via installing special software first.



    Nikons have a "?" button for explaining most of the menu functions. Canons don't.

    Nikon USA's free live tech help line, (800) NIKON-UX, is open all the time, 24/7/365.

    Canon USA's free help line, (800) OK-CANON, lets its very good people go home late and on Sundays.

    Both help lines are very good. I've always gotten someone who knows the answer on the first try.


    Shots Remaining

    This is about even, although my Canons are stupid and stop at 999, while Nikons are smart enough to show "2.7k" if they need to. They each only have three digits with which to display this.


    Trick Custom Image Settings and Tweaks

    Nikon makes you buy their buggy $100 Nikon Capture software to create and load crazy curves and settings into your camera. You need to buy this to tweak curves, colors and contrasts other than what you can do in the menus.

    Canon makes this available for free here, and includes all sorts of fun presets, too.

    I've never used any of this.


    JPG File Size and Quality Optimization

    Busy, detailed, contrasty subjects need more JPG bits to look good than do images with flat backgrounds, low contrasts and blank spaces.

    Canon does a better job here. Canon's JPG file sizes vary to maintain constant quality. It's not unusual to see a fat file three times the size of a small one, with the only difference being the complexity and contrast of the subject. Nikons are stupider and tend to keep JPG files sizes very similar, wasting bits when not needed and lowering quality when they are.

    I prefer Canon. Even though newer Nikons since the Nikon D2Xs and D200 allow a new choice to let the JPGs files vary size, they still don't work as well as Canons have for years by default.


    Depth-of-Field Preview Button

    Canon's buttons work instantly and silently. I wish everything worked this well.

    Nikon's buttons are bogus: they clatter all around as if the camera took a picture. This is annoying, but was handy back in film days when I could hit it to satisfy people pestering me to take their pictures. Today, at least Nikon always has these buttons on the correct side of the camera.

    Canon used to put their depth-of-field preview buttons on the wrong side of the camera so you needed a second hand to hit them, and thankfully as of 2012 Canon has been putting this button on the correct side of the camera.


    Front Lens Caps

    Canon's front caps are crappy little flat things. They only have tabs for release from the side, not the front.

    Nikon has much, much better and beefier caps. You can grab them from the front or from the sides.

    For my Canon lenses, I actually buy and use Nikon front lens caps!


    Recommendations        top

    Intro   System Compatibility   Delivery   History   

    My Preferences   Specifics    Recommendations

    As you've seen, both Canon and Nikon make superior products.

    As of 2012 I prefer Canon DSLRs mostly because of their C1 C2 C3 modes, better color rendition, better LCDs and better access to playback functions with one hand, but if you find you prefer a Nikon for different reasons more important to you, by all means, go Nikon.

    Either is an excellent choice, and only you can determine which is best for you. I hope I've clarified the differences so you can make a great choice.


    © Ken Rockwell. All rights reserved. Tous droits réservés. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.


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    Thanks for reading!



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    Nikon Df Review

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    Nikon Df16 MP FX, 5.5 FPS, ISO 204,800, $2,747© 2013 All rights reserved.

    Introduction  Lenses    Missing   Specifications   Accessories

    Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

    Nikon Df (26.7 oz./757g with battery and card) and 1970 Nikon GN Auto NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8. enlarge. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link to the chrome body at Adorama, the black body at Adorama, the chrome kit with 50mm lens at Adorama, the black kit with lens at Adorama or any of these at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. If you don't use these links, I receive nothing for my efforts in sharing all this information for free. Thank you! Ken.

    $2,747, body only, also in professional black for no extra charge.

    $2,997, kit as shown with 50mm f/1.8 SE; also in black at no extra charge.


    December 2013   More Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses   All Reviews

    Nikon FM3a (2001-2006)

    Nikon FE2 (1983-1987)

    Nikon FE (1978-1983)

    Nikon EL2 (1977-1978)

    Nikon EL (1972-1977)

    Top, Nikon Df and 1970 Nikon GN Auto NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8. enlarge.


    Back, Nikon Df. enlarge.


    Sample Image Files (more throughout the review)

    Palm, 06 December 2013. Nikon Df, Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G, f/8 at 1/125 at ISO 100, Athentech Perfectly Clear. The tree is a living thing, it's not flat so most of it isn't in focus. Full-resolution.


    Circle-K at f/1.4, 06 December 2013. Nikon Df, Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G, f/1.4 at 1/60 at ISO 250. Full-resolution.


    GL550 Headlight, 06 December 2013. Nikon Df, f/13 at 1/200 at ISO 100. Full-resolution.


    ISO 2,800: Ryan and the plasma ball, 10 December 2013. Nikon Df, Nikon 58mm f/1.4G, f/1.4 at 1/125 at Auto ISO 2,800, Athentech Perfectly Clear. bigger.


    ISO 4,500: Night Fog, 12 December 2013. Nikon Df, Nikon 50mm f/1.4G, f/1.4 at 1/50 at Auto ISO 4,500, no stinking tripod. bigger or © camera-original file.


    ISO 12,800: Katie plays follow the leader. cropped from Nikon Df, Nikon 50mm f/1.4G, f/1.4 at 1/125 at Auto ISO 12,800, Athentech Perfectly Clear. more full-resolution high ISO samples under performance. © camera-original file.


    Introduction         top

    Introduction  Lenses    Missing   Specifications   Accessories

    Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

    The Nikon Df is Nikon's lightest full-frame digital camera, and it's all metal. The Df a real metal camera with real metal dials instead of the plastic turds that ordinary people have come to accept as cameras. The Nikon Df is a tight, precise and lightweight little masterpiece. It's small, light, tough, and also rather quiet.

    The Nikon Df packs the same professional sensor as Nikon's top-of-the-line D4. 16MP is better for pro use because files transfer and process much faster than the bloated 24MP and 36MP images from consumer cameras.

    The Nikon Df is the most revolutionary Nikon since the Nikon F4 of 1986. The Df is more different from every other DSLR than any other DSLR, ever. Even the world's first practical DSLR, the Nikon D1 wasn't revolutionary; it was simply evolutionary. Only the D1's price was revolutionary, not the camera. In the Df, we have the world's first original DSLR that isn't simply a regurgitation of a current 35mm SLR, as the D1 was a digital adaptation of the Nikon F5 and the D2 was a version of the Nikon F6. The Df is actually a reissue of the Nikon FE of 1978, which is unheard of in the digital world.

    The Nikon Df is a special camera for the experienced photographer who knows what he wants. If you're a casual buyer who selects a camera based on features, price, specifications and test reports, get a Nikon D610 instead for less money. The Df is a camera for those who appreciate magic; if you don't understand the importance of magic, you're probably not a very good photographer and certainly will never understand the raison d'être of the Df. Yes, the D610 costs less and does more — but who wants to shoot a plastic camera? I want to love my camera, not just look forward to when I throw it away in favor of whatever comes to replace it.

    If you're a seasoned shooter who knows what you love, you'll love the Df. The Df is tight, fast and sharp.

    What impresses me most about the images that come from my Df is how they seem to have more Pop! than images from lesser cameras, probably due to the Df's great low-light sensitivity and high signal-to-noise ratio.

    For the first time in digital history, we have a Nikon DSLR built like a real camera, with engraved and knurled solid metal dials, alloy top, rear and bottom plates, and it takes a real cable release. It's a real camera, not a black plastic dog plop like everything else.

    The design is masterful: we have solid metal dials for everything, and we also have two electronic command dials just like other DSLRs. Any user may use any of these dials any way he pleases. Bravo!

    It's also smaller and lighter than any Nikon FX DSLR. In fact, it weighs the same as the plastic DX D7100 and D7000!

    It comes in chrome or black. The chrome isn't really chrome, it's a marvelous light champagne or fake titanium color.


    Left, Nikon Df and 1970 Nikon GN Auto NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8. enlarge.


    Added from the FE

    Professional black finish is no extra charge over chrome. Back in the day, black cameras sold for $25 more than chrome.

    Both Time and Bulb settings on the shutter dial

    Integral motor drive.

    ASA and Exposure Compensation dials are separate, not the same dial with two sneaky scales.

    Program and Shutter priority exposure modes, with a separate mode selector dial.

    Electronic level, also visible in finder.

    3D Color Matrix Meter.


    5.9 oz. (166g) of extra weight (each camera with battery and recording medium).


    Added from the D610

    Tougher build and less size and weight.

    A real cable release socket.

    PC sync terminal.

    AF ON button.

    5 frame bracketing (not just 3 like D610).

    Uncompressed NEF option.


    Lens Compatibility     top

    Introduction  Lenses    Missing   Specifications   Accessories

    Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

    Notice the flipping AI coupling lever and traditional AF motor. enlarge.

    Of course Df works perfectly with every AF lens made since 1987, AF, AF-I, AF-D and AF-S.

    With a built-in AF motor and an aperture feeler for manual-focus lenses, it works great with every Nikon auto- or manual-focus lens made since 1977!

    It also works great with AI and AI-S manual-focus lenses, and if you update the really old ones to AI, all Nikon's SLR lenses from as far back as 1959 work just fine with color matrix metering and aperture-priority auto exposure and full EXIF data.

    But wait — there's more! Nikon retained the original Nikon FE's ability to flip-up the AI aperture coupling lever, so for a first for any unmodified Nikon DSLR, we can flip the lever out of the way and mount our original Nikon F Mount lenses all the way back to 1959!

    The only gotcha with unmodified Nikon F mount lenses that were made from 1959-1976 is that there is no way to couple the aperture into the camera; there is no original top-center feeler rod to couple manually to the lens' prong. With F mount lenses, you have to set the camera via the camera command dial to the same f/stop you set on your lens. More practically, I'll use stop-down metering (and AE lock if in AE) with F Mount lenses, exactly as we do with the Nikon FE.

    Nikon has gone so far to show us an image with the Df and two F-Mount lenses, the 55mm f/1.2 (a good lens) and the classic Nikon 43-86mm f/3.5 (1963-1976), which is actually Nikon's poorest-performing lens of all time; a lens so optically awful that it single-handedly gave all zoom lenses a bad reputation for the next two or three decades. (Nikon made a newer version of the 43-86mm f/3.5 from 1975-1982 which is very good. The bad lens as shown here has its identity on an engraved ring inside the filter mount, while the newer good lens has its identity engraved outside the filter mount.) Nikon even went so far as to show a silver-ring filter on the 43-86; Nikon knows its heritage.

    Nikon Df, 55mm f/1.2, 43-86/3.5, fountain pen, compass and pocket watch. enlarge.

    More at Nikon Lens Compatibility and Recommendations and Nikon FX Lens Recommendations



    Comes in black, too:

    Black Nikon Df and 50mm f/1.8 Special Edition in the bottom half of a CF-DC6 case. enlarge.


    Nikon Df in professional black. enlarge.


    Not exactly standard, but collectors have already sent Dfs out for customization. Here's one in gold:

    Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G on a gold Nikon Df from a private collection. A camera as special as this has people doing crazy things like this to them.


    What's Missing         top

    Introduction  Lenses    Missing   Specifications   Accessories

    Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

    No one has made a perfect camera after almost almost 200 years of photography. Here's what's missing:


    No Built-In Flash

    The FE never had one either; built-in flashes are for point and shoots like the Nikon 35Ti. I use my tiny SB-400 which is much better than any built-in.


    No U1, U2 and U3 Presets

    We're stuck with the same stupid Menu Banks from 2007 instead:

    Oh no: Menu Banks, 2007's worst idea returns.

    The FE never had any of this and didn't need it.


    No second card slot

    Only one SD card slot, making the Df a dangerous choice for professional work because it can't shoot backed-up to two cards at once. One error on one card (or a photographer goof), and you could lose the whole job. Sure, shoot a serious job on the Df, but one false move and it could all be gone forever. Feeling lucky?

    Shooting on o ne-card-only makes backup far more difficult; you can't safely format the card until you've transferred the files to your computer AND backed them up to a second physical location. With dual cards, once you've downloaded a card to your computer, you can format it and safely go about your next business with everything on both the second card in your camera as well as in your computer — two copies in different physical locations — just not possible with the one-slot Nikon Df.


    No easy way to turn AUTO ISO on and off

    Bless Nikon's real ISO dial, but they forgot the AUTO position.

    You have to stop and go into a menu to turn Auto ISO on and off in the Df, while on most other Nikon DSLRs all you have to do is hold the ISO button and flick the front dial. Whoops!


    No Battery Percentage indication

    It only has a battery gauge icon, never a percentage indication.


    No full stop settings option

    Only half or third stops.


    No AUTO or 8 seconds positions on shutter dial

    But there is a P S A M mode selector dial on the top, right next to the shutter dial, and the electronic dial will get you to 30 seconds.

    Nikon could have made the mode selector concentric with the shutter dial as they did on the FA, but put the advance mode switch there instead.


    No M90 position on shutter dial

    The FE has a batteryless manual shutter position. It could fire at 1/90 or bulb without batteries.

    I won't fault Nikon here; even if the shutter of the Df would fire without batteries, it wouldn't do us much good if the camera couldn't record what came off its sensor.


    Only 30 second maximum AUTO exposure time

    The FE makes accurate automatic exposures out to many minutes, while the Df and D4 only go to 30 seconds.

    No worries; the Df and D4 go to higher ASAs (a.k.a. ISOs) than film for the FE, so we don't have to wait around as long for it to expose in the dark.


    Smaller 0.70x versus 0.86x magnification finder

    The Df is the same as other DSLRs, while the FE has a bigger, better finder than any DSLR or modern LEICA.


    No lock on the AI coupling tit

    The FE has a lock so that its AI coupling tit won't get knocked by accident, while the same tit on the Df moves at any time. If you knock it, the Df will give you a meaningless error message when using most AF-D lenses and won't shoot until you know to move it back.


    No Interchangeable Focus Screens


    No Full-Frame Autofocus

    No DSLR has full-frame AF; they all crowd their sensors into the middle of the finder. Exactly like the D610 and similar FX cameras, all the AF areas are in the middle of the frame.

    You can focus anywhere via Live View, but you can't do that through the viewfinder because the Df, as do all DSLRs, has:


    No Electronic Viewfinder

    No other DSLR has one either, but ever since the Fuji X100, I'm waiting for a combined SLR optical and electronic finder that lets me see what I just shot, as well as live view, through the finder window if I want it. (Sony makes mirrorless cameras erroneously marketed as DSLRs; they aren't.)

    The FE and D4 don't have one either, but the first top-tier maker who does is going to get a gold star from me.


    No AF Assist Light

    The FE and D4 don't have one either, but your shoe-mount flash may.

    Without an AF assist light, the Df simply gives up and cannot autofocus if the light is too dark.


    No AF-A mode

    There is AF-S and AF-C, but curiously the AF-A (auto select) mode is missing.


    No 5:4 crop mode, but does shoot DX

    I may be the only one on Earth who uses the 5:4 crop in my other FX cameras, but especially for vertical shots, I love having my Function button set to let me crop off those unused ends so I don't have to crop them later.


    No Sound, Movies or Video

    Good riddance. Not on the FE either. Use your iPhone; it focuses better than a DSLR.


    No LCD Auto Brightness Control

    Since the Auto Brightness Control of the D800 doesn't work well enough to use, I wouldn't use this even if the Df had it.

    If you want Auto Brightness control that works well, you need the Canon 5D Mark III.


    15mm, not 21mm, Eyepoint



    No locking power switch

    This is also missing on most Nikon SLRs other than the F5 and F4, but the good news is that the Df's different power switch is much less likely to get knocked than on any other Nikon DSLR.


    Specifications         top

    Introduction  Lenses    Missing   Specifications   Accessories

    Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More



    Nikon Df Sensor. enlarge.

    16 MP CMOS.

    14-bit linear ADC, 16-bit processing.

    Ultrasonic cleaner.


    FX (23.9 x 36 mm)

    4,928 x 3,280 pixels (16 MP) native LARGE.

    3,696 x 2,456 (9 MP) MEDIUM.

    2,464 x 1,640 (4 MP) SMALL.


    DX crop (16 x 24mm)

    3,200 x 2,128 pixels (7 MP) LARGE.

    2,400 x 1,592 (4 MP) MEDIUM.

    1,600 x 1,064 (1.6 MP) SMALL.


    No 5:4 cropped mode.



    Auto or ISO 100 ~ 12,800 in the usual electronic modes, ISO 50 ~ 204,000 if you invoke the L- or H+ settings.

    ISO 50 ~ 204,000 directly settable on the top ISO dial.


    Photo File Formats

    JPG: FINE, NORMAL and BASIC, size or quality priority.

    NEF (raw) 12- or 14-bit, uncompressed, lossless or lossy compressed.

    NEF + JPG.



    39 points, mostly all crammed into the center of the FX image.

    LV -1 to +19.

    Single-point AF, 9-, 21- or 39-point dynamic-area AF, 3D-tracking and/or auto-area AF.

    Multi-CAM4800 sensor array, which has the same size and sensor locations as the DX-sized CAM4800DX AF sensor of the D7000.

    AF Fine-Tuning.

    No AF assist light — just like the D4 and FE.

    39 AF points. These all work with lenses as slow as f/5.6. The 9 red ones are cross-type, working with lenses and teleconverter combinations as slow as f/7.1.


    These 33 AF points work with lenses as slow as f/7.1. The red ones are cross-type with lenses as slow as f/7.1.


    These 7 AF points work with lenses as slow f/8. The red one is the only cross-type sensor that works with lenses as slow as f/8.


    Settable 11-AF point option for ease of selection.



    Glass pentaprism.

    100% coverage FX. (97% coverage DX.)

    0.7x magnification with 50mm lens.

    15mm eyepoint.


    Live View

    Up to about 19x magnification for focus checking.


    Exposure Metering

    2,016-pixel RGB 3D color Matrix meter.

    Center weighted: 75% of sensitivity is inside 12mm circle. (also 8mm, 15mm or 20mm circle settable in menus.)

    Spot: 4mm diameter around selected AF point (1.5% of total area).

    0 to 20 LV (2 to 20 LV in spot).

    ±3 stop compensation on dedicated dial.

    2 to 5 frames bracketing in steps of 1/3, 2/3, 1, 2 or 3 stops.

    AE Lock button.

    2,016 pixel matrix i-TTL for flash, as well as spot flash metering.



    Sync speed 1/200 or 1/250.

    Hot Shoe (ISO 518) with lock.

    PC (Prontor-Compur, ISO 519) flash terminal with thread lock.

    i-TTL exposure control.

    Front, rear, slow sync with or without red-eye reduction, and Auto FP High-Speed Sync options.

    -3 to +1 stop flash exposure compensation.

    No built-in flash, but SB-910, SB-900, SB-800 or SB-700 can work as a commander for wireless flash.



    Nikon Df Shutter. bigger.

    Tested to 150,000 cycles.

    1/4,000 ~ 30 seconds, Bulb and Time. (only to 4 seconds from shutter speed dial; use the electronic Command dial for longer speeds.)


    Frame Rates

    5.5 FPS maximum in Continuous High.

    Continuous Low settable to 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 FPS.

    Quiet mode.

    Mirror-up mode.


    Flash Sync

    X = 1/200.

    The X setting is 1/200 and Nikon also says flash works at the 1/250 setting.

    If the camera syncs at 1/250, then why would the X setting be only 1/200, or does the camera retard to 1/200 with flash when 1/250 is set?

    Nikon doesn't clarify what's really going on. No big deal, I never bicker about 1/3 of a stop between friends.


    Self Timer

    2, 5, 10 or 20 seconds.

    1 to 9 frames at each instance, with 1/2, 1, 2 or 3 seconds between them.


    Remote Releases

    Any standard cable release, like Nikon's classical AR-3.

    MC-DC2 remote control ($25).

    No wireless control; requires outboard WR-R10 and WR-1 system.


    Rear LCD

    3.2," 921,000 dots.

    170º viewing.

    It seems like the same thing as on the $6,000 D4.



    SD card slot.

    SDHC, SDXC and/or UHS-I.


    Data & A/V Connections

    USB 2.0.

    Type C mini-pin HDMI connector.



    Top, back and bottom covers: Magnesium alloy.

    Partially weather-sealed to the same extent as the D800.



    EN-EL14a battery.

    EN-EL14a battery, same as D5300 and D5200.

    Rated 1,400 shots, which is 50% more than the D610, but remember that the Df has no built-in flash.


    Nikon folding-plug MH-24 charger. enlarge.

    The MH-24 charger has a folding plug, as a charger should. It's much better than the clumsy abortions like the MH-25 we use with the D800 and D610 etc.

    Optional AC adapter EH-5B ($80) and EP-5A power connector ($35).


    Bottom, Nikon Df and 1970 Nikon GN Auto NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8. bigger.



    5.65 x 4.33 x 2.62 inches WHD.

    143.5 x 110.0 x 66.5 millimeters WHD.



    26.695 oz. (756.9g) actual measured weight with card and battery.

    Nikon rates it as 27.0 oz. (765g) with battery and SD card.

    Nikon rates it as 25.0 oz. (710g) stripped naked without battery, card, strap, monitor cover or lens.



    Made in Japan.



    Nikon Df kit box. The box has a varnish (gloss) layer with graphics of the camera's dials that looks stunning in person. bigger.

    Nikon Df body in classic chrome or professional black.

    (Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Special Edition if ordered as part of a kit.)

    EN-EL14a battery.

    MH-24 charger.

    DK-26 Eyepiece Cap — with string!

    UC-E6 USB Cable

    AN-DC9 Camera Strap

    BF-1B Body Cap

    BS-1 Hot Shoe Cover.

    Nikon ViewNX 2 software CD-ROM.


    Price (USA)

    $2,747, body only, also in professional black for no extra charge.

    $2,997, kit as shown with 50mm f/1.8 SE; also in black at no extra charge.



    Tuesday, 05 November 2013.

    (Actually 10:59:32 PM Monday night New York City time, 04 November 2013.)



    Late November 2013.


    Right side, Nikon Df and 1970 Nikon GN Auto NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8. bigger.


    Optional Accessories      top

    Introduction  Lenses    Missing   Specifications   Accessories

    Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More



    Nikon CF-DC6 case, black.


    Nikon CF-DC6 case, brown.

    There's also a more generic CF-DC5 case, that's on sale for $66 as I write this.


    GP-1A GPS

    GP-1A GPS module ($279).


    WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter

    Nikon WU-1a.

    The $49 WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter plugs into the Df's USB connector and then hangs out the side.

    It allows two-way communication between the Df and an iPhone or iPad or other Apple iDevice, or the Android. With an appropriate app (Nikon Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility), you can control the Df remotely and see what it's doing via Live View on your iPod Touch or etc.

    Once shot, the images also just fly into your iPad or whatever, from which you can send them out or do what you want with them — but hey, if you have an iDevice, isn't it easier just to use its camera in the first place?


    Accessory Chart

    Nikon Df Accessories. bigger.


    Performance         top

    Introduction  Lenses    Missing   Specifications   Accessories

    Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

    Overall   Autofocus   Ergonomics   Finder   Flash   Image Quality

    LCD   Mechanics   Meter and Exposure   Power and Battery


    Overall      performance        top

    The Df is a sharp, solid performer. It's autofocus doesn't work in the dark, but is sure feels good.


    Autofocus      performance        top

    Autofocus the Df's weakest point.

    The Df has no AF illuminator, and in very dim light, it simply won't autofocus. It will rack the lens in and out once and then give up.

    You'll have to improve the light, or use a flash with an AF illuminator, or hope to find something else well lit at the same distance as your subject. My Canon 5D Mark III is much better, focusing in nearly pitch black just fine — but not with my Df.

    While there are plenty of AF sensors, they are all in the center of the image. There are no AF sensors close to the corners, top, bottom or left or right sides of the frame.

    Curiously the AF-A (auto select) mode is missing. There is the usual AF-S and AF-C modes.


    Manual focus

    Manual focus is pretty good.

    There is a three-segment > o < electronic indicator in the finder.

    The finder screen is better than most DSLRs. While most DSLRs have screens that only show defocus and depth of field for lenses of f/2.5 and slower, the screen in the Df works up to about f/ 2.2. No big deal, but it is a little bit better for use with fast manual lenses than other DSLRs.


    Ergonomics      performance        top

    The Df is all about ergonomics. A nice touch is Nikon using the real AI logo in the menu system where you set your non-CPU lens data, and tell it if your lens is AI or not.

    Oddly, its biggest flaws are that many adjustments that ought to lock don't and those that shouldn't, do.

    Really good is that its card door is on the bottom, so pulling the camera from a bag doesn't just open a card door as it does on most other DSLRs.

    There are no camera presets. There are idiotic Menu Banks, but they can't lock and they don't recall many settings, like AF settings, making it much more difficult to reset the Df to and from different kinds of shooting.


    Strap Lugs

    The lugs are on the front of the camera where they belong so that the camera doesn't flop forwards with a lens attached.

    This is much better than cameras like the LEICA M typ 240 that put them closer to the rear, which often leads to those cameras flopping forwards with a lens attached.


    Front Dial

    The front dial is metal. It's copied from the Contax G2 which copied it from 1930s Contaxes, and which were copied by Nikon in their 1940s-1960s rangefinder cameras.

    It's more for looks than function; it's more difficult to turn than a common Nikon front dial.


    Front AI coupling lever

    This is much flimsier than on the Nikon FE. It also doesn't lock, so if you get weird warnings with a new lens mounted be sure it's flipped forward to its normal (engaged) position.


    Exposure Compensation Dial

    The exposure compensation dial looks great, but it's the Df's weakest point if you actually try to use it.

    Instead of a properly designed free-spinning compensation dial with a deeper detent at 0 as on the Contax G2, the Nikon dial has the same detents for each setting which makes it impossible to set this dial by feel.

    Worse, the Nikon Df dial has a lock for every setting. Therefore, setting compensation on the Nikon Df is an abomination requiring two hands and looking at the darned dial.

    The ordinary +/- button of other Nikon DSLRs is much better.


    ISO Dial

    Nice, but since Nikon forgot the A position, I have to use menus to turn AUTO on and off, which I can do without taking my eye from the finder on other current Nikon DSLRs.

    This ISO dial locks at each and every setting, again demanding a second hand to set what we can set with just one hand on many other cameras — oops!

    Therefore, this dial actually handles worse than other DSLRs.


    Shutter Dial

    The shutter dial is another botch: it's in the wrong place and the wrong size with too sharp an edge for easy or comfortable use as you shoot. Nikon should have looked to the LEICA M3 mit LEICAMETER MR for how to do this so we could adjust it as we shoot. Nikon used to know this.

    Clever is that you get back to using the dials by setting the 1/3 STEP position.

    Bad is that it feels a bit wobbly, as if it's plastic underneath.

    It clicks freely among most speeds. It will lock at the 1/3 STEP or T positions if you overshot the other settings. You will then need a second hand to unlock the dial and get back to your regular speeds. It locks at B, X and 1/3 STEP.


    Advance Mode Lever

    The advance mode lever (S, Cl, Ch, Q, timer and Mup) is excellent. It's easy to flick with my thumb by feel. Too bad the other dials of the Df aren't this well thought out.


    Power Switch

    The power switch rotates. It can be moved with an index finger as you're shooting.

    It has no lock; it ought to lock unless lifted to turn.


    Shutter Button

    The shutter button is excellent. It pushes straight down. It's a solid hunk of metal, and feels more precise and has less wobble than the weak shutter button of the LEICA M typ 240.

    It seems much less likely to be triggered by accident in a bag if the camera is left on.

    The button is also threaded for a real cable release, the same as the LEICA M typ 240.

    There isn't any shutter delay; the Df just shoots.


    Mode (P, S, A and M) Dial

    Nikon messed this one up, too.

    It is always locked.

    To release it it has to be lifted and turned at the same time, so the mode can't be changed unless you stop and use two hands!


    Illuminator button

    No news; it just works.

    The illuminator is perfect: a medium cool-white glow. Nikon got this right.


    Top LCD

    The top LCD is clean, clear and simple.

    It has just what I need to know without the endless baloney on lesser cameras.


    Rear Buttons

    The rear buttons are not illuminated.

    They are clever and finally light the rear LCD automatically as we press them so we can set ISO, WB etc. without having to monkey around.


    Rear "i" button

    The rear "i" button replaces the Picture Controls button.

    No worries, you can get to Picture Controls in one more click, or other things if you prefer.

    Sadly, this button is on the wrong side of the camera and demands a second hand to set. The INFO button on the right can't be used to set anything — whoops!


    Rear dial

    The rear dial is the same excellent, hard rubbery one as other Nikon DSLRs.


    Bottom Door

    The plastic bottom door has a nice metal latch, but if you pull out your card and set the Df down with an open door, the door often pops off.


    Finder      performance        top

    The finder has a meter-mode icon. All the data is lit in green on black as usual.

    It's not as clear as the original Nikon FE; like most finders with variable diopters it is made slightly less sharp due to these extra optics. No big deal; it's the same as other DSLRs, just smaller and less sharp than a real Nikon FE.


    Flash      performance        top

    These is no built-in flash.

    Flash modes and exposure compensation are set with the bolt button on the back left.

    Flash exposure with my SB-400 and SB-600 is exceptional. Flash exposure, especially for outdoor fill, is always perfect.

    Here's how well indoor fill flash balances with outdoor daylight:

    Ryan plays with Dada's $8 Lava Watch, 08 December 2013. Nikon Df with SB-600, Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G, f/5.6 at 1/125 at ISO 400. bigger.

    And here's how well natural outdoor fill flash balances:


    Katie at the park, 12 December 2013. cropped from Nikon Df, Nikon SB-400, Nikon 50mm f/1.4G, f/5 at 1/125 at Auto ISO 100, Athentech Perfectly Clear.


    Ryan in the snow, 08 December 2013. Nikon Df, SB-600, Nikon 35-105mm AF-D at 105mm, f/6.3 at 1/160 at ISO 100, Athentech Perfectly Clear. bigger.


    Image Quality, technical      performance        top



    With only 16 MP, resolution is inferior to most other cameras — but no one cares!

    No big deal, I've sold 4 MP images to McDonald's in 2013 — for use on billboards. Only amateurs worry about pixel ratings today.

    I usually shoot with my cameras set down to 6 MP, so this doesn't concern anyone who's on top of things.


    Auto White Balance

    AWB is usually excellent, and excellent indoors under tungsten light.

    It usually looks bad under fluorescent, which is because life looks bad under fluorescent, too!


    Auto ISO

    Auto ISO is state of the art. It's easy to program it to do whatever you want, even with the ability to vary the focal-length-based automatically selected slowest shutter speed!

    Canon can't come close.



    HDR works, even hand-held in the dark. It auto-aligns, no stinking tripod needed.

    I set it to "Natural" rendition, and it works subtly and smoothly to return detail that otherwise was washed-out or black.

    Here is with and without:

    Regular shot: Deer, 08 December 2013. Df, 35-105D at 40mm, f/3.5 at 1/40 at ISO 8,000. Camera-original © file.


    In-Camera HDR, 08 December 2013. Df, 35-105D at 35mm, f/3.5 at 1/40 at ISO 6,400 (reported). Note how detail returned to the deer and how the background is also lighter. Camera-original © file.


    High ISOs

    The ISO 204,800 setting looks awful. It's only there as a marketing bullet point; don't use it.

    Here are samples at ISO 6,400 through ISO 204,800. You may click any of them for the camera-original file.


    And here are crops from the above images at 100%:

    High ISO Analysis

    As ISO goes up, the image starts to evaporate and be replaced by gray. All cameras do this.

    In the complete images, notice how the image loses saturation, vibrancy and detail in the shadows as the ISO is increased. At its worst at ISO 204,800, the shadows are nothing but a smoky blue!

    Looking at the cropped samples, which if they are 6" (15cm) on your screen would result in the entire image printing at 50 x 33" (125 x 85 cm), you'll see how fine details and textures are simply replaced with noise. Even cropped you can see how color and vibrancy simply fade away at stupid-high ISOs. This is because all digital cameras today use noise reduction to keep the noise low, which means that they smudge over all the details.

    Since the Df uses the same sensor as the D4; my Nikon D4 Versus The World High ISO Comparison ought to be reasonably valid for the Df. They both look awful at ISO 204,800.


    LCD, rear      performance        top

    Far better than every other current FX Nikon, my Df's LCD is color accurate right out of the box, devoid of the sickening yellow-green emphasis of most other current Nikon FX cameras. Hallelujah!

    My Canon 5D Mark III LCD is still much better, with good Auto brightness control and much bigger images because the Canon LCDs are the same shape (aspect ratio) as the pictures, while the Nikon LCDs have wasted space showing 3:2 images on their 4:3 LCDs.


    Mechanics      performance        top

    It's almost all metal, just like a real camera.

    The top plate and pentaprism housing is metal. The clear sheet that covers the top LCD is glued-on plastic, just like the frame counter cover of the Nikon EL2.

    The top dials, buttons and levers are all engraved metal.

    The shutter dial is engraved and knurled metal, but feels a little mushy as if it's really plastic underneath. It's not as solid as a real Nikon FE or a LEICA M typ 240. In fact, I worry that the Df's shutter dial will pop off if hit too hard.

    The front "Nikon" logo on the front of the prism and the piece around the metal lens mount are painted plastic.

    The grip and sides of the Df are plastic.

    The back sheet is metal.

    The bottom plate is metal.

    The card and battery door is plastic, but is has a nice metal folding latch.

    The battery door pops off and can get lost, but the Df still works even without the door.


    Meter and Exposure      performance        top

    The light meter and exposure are as perfect as I've ever used. Bravo!


    Power and Battery      performance        top

    I've not been able to run down the tiny battery. I believe its 1,400 shot claim.

    The folding-plug MH-24 charger is much better than the atrocious MH-25 charger for the larger DSLR batteries.

    Oddly my MH-24 makes some noise as it's charging.


    Compared         top

    Introduction  Lenses    Missing   Specifications   Accessories

    Performance   Compared   Recommendations   More

    2012 DSLR comparison










    16 MP

    24 MP

    36 MP

    16 MP

    12 MP

    Frame Rate

    5.5 FPS

    5.5 FPS

    4 FPS

    6 FPS

    5 FPS

    U1 & U2 Modes?


    not needed





    AF settings easy save and recall?


    not needed





    External AF Controls








    3.2"921k dots

    not needed

    3.2"921k dots

    3.2"921k dots

    3"921k dots

    3"920k dots

    ISO normal

    100 ~ 12,800

    12 ~ 4,000

    100 ~ 6,400

    100 ~ 6,400

    100 ~ 6,400

    200 ~ 6,400

    ISO dial

    50 ~ 204,000

    12 ~ 4,000





    ISO with L- and H+ values

    50 ~ 204,000

    12 ~ 4,000

    50 ~ 25,600

    50 ~ 25,600

    100 ~ 25,600

    100 ~ 25,600

    Sync Speed







    AF Points


    entire frame





    Portion of frame served by AF points

    very small

    entire frame

    very small




    Body toughness







    Weight w/ card and battery

    27.0 oz.

    765 g.

    20.4 oz.

    577 g.

    30.0 oz.

    850 g.

    35.1 oz.

    994 g.

    27.3 oz.

    774 g.

    38.3 oz.

    1,085 g



    SD + SD

    CF + SD

    SD + SD

    CF only







    Battery life

    a day or two

    a few years

    a day or two

    a day or two

    a day or two

    a day or two

    Shutter speeds without battery


    1/90 and Bulb





    Shoot without battery?








    Chrome or black

    Chrome or black

    black only

    black only

    black only

    black only

    Body price, 9/2012


    Body price, 11/2013

    For far more details tabulated, see my 2012 DSLR comparison.


    Usage         top

    Introduction  Lenses    Missing   Specifications   Accessories

    Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More


    Flash Settings

    Flash modes and flash exposure compensation are set with the bolt button on the back left.


    My Setup File

    If you want to set your Df exactly as I set mine:

    1.) Save your own settings first in case you want to return to them. To do this:

    MENU > Setup > Save/load settings > Save settings > OK.

    and then copy the NCSETUPD.bin file from your card to your computer for safe keeping.

    2.) To load all my own settings into your camera, download my NCSETUPD.BIN file to your computer and copy it to an SD card on your computer. It won't do anything on your computer and won't do anything in your browser.

    You need to save it to your computer however you do that on your own computer. On my Mac OS 10.6.8, simply clicking that link saves the file to my Home > Downloads folder. Your computer may need a CMD+S or maybe right click "save as."

    3.) Copy this file back to an SD card. If you copy this file back onto the card you just used for backup, of course you'd be writing over your own backup.

    4.) Put your card with whatever setup file you want to load into your camera into your Df, and then:

    MENU > Setup > Save/load settings > Load Settings > OK.

    Now your camera is set up as is mine. This also means that your copyright data in each picture file you make will read ©; you'll probably want to reset it to your own name at:

    MENU > Setup > Image Comment.

    Have fun! If you hate my settings, just copy your own settings file back into your Df.

    In my settings, I use Shooting Bank A for nature and landscape, and Shooting Bank B for people and family shots.


    Recommendations         top

    Introduction  Lenses    Missing   Specifications   Accessories

    Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More


    Love or Money

    The Df is a great camera for we long-time Nikon shooters. It's a camera we own for love and magic, not for logic's sake. We buy the Df with our hearts, not our brains. If you're a photographic artist, you want the Df, but if you're a computer technician, you'll prefer the D610 or D800. Nobody buys a Ferrari because they need one or because it makes sense either.



    While I'm enchanted by the ability to use my ancient F-Mount lenses as shown in the photo at the top, as well as my good AI-s manual-focus lenses, honestly, the newest plastic AFS and G lenses are much better optically.

    Avoid plastic lenses on the Df for the sake of the magic. AF lenses are much more convenient, so if you're not shooting AI manual-focus lenses, try the toughest AF lenses ever made, which are the all metal 20-35mm f/2.8 AF-D, 28mm f/1.4 AF-D, 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-D n (or any of the f/2.8 teles), the 85mm f/1.4 AF-D, the 105mm f/2 DC and 135mm f/2 DC.


    Black or Chrome?

    I love that it looks like my Nikon FE 35mm camera; when I'm in public I can snap away without people worrying about who I am or why I'm taking pictures, as happens if I show up with a big camera. I just wish the Df cost a lot more so it wouldn't fall into the hands of the general public. It's value to me as a stealth camera drops if everyone has one and people figure out that it's digital. Of course I prefer the chrome version; the black one looks like everything else, so I hope all of you get black so I still look like a 35mm bumpkin with my chrome camera.



    Since it has no built in flash, no worries: I use my tiny Nikon SB-400 that works even better.


    But What If?

    Some people are always behind, waiting for the next big thing, like a Nikon DfT in Titanium (oh yeah!), or a Df-s next year that adds the sorely missing U1, U2 and U3 presets. The problem with this strategy is that the Df is a special product. It may be one of those products that goes away after its first model, after which the used prices of the Df might be more than we can buy it for new today. For instance, Nikon's 28mm f/1.4 AF-D was sold for a while in the 1990s and then discontinued with no replacement. It was one of Nikon's most expensive lenses ever at about $1,500 back in the 1990s, and today, they still sell for more money used than anyone paid for them new because there is nothing like it; the Nikon 24mm f/1.4 AFS is different. If you deserve a Nikon Df, get one while you can.



    Of course if money matters, I still prefer my Nikon FE or Nikon FM3a, each of which has a bigger, sharper finder, handles better, weighs even less and is even better made for a lot less money. For the price of just the Df body, you can buy a used Nikon FE (see How to Win at eBay) and over a thousand rolls of film. That's a lot of shooting; just think what you could do shooting a thousand rolls. Not going to shoot a thousand rolls? Then you'll save even more money. See Why We Love Film and How to Shoot Film.

    If you really want to spend over a thousand dollars on a camera for the sake of love, also consider a true classic the LEICA M3, Contax G2, or a Nikon S3, or spend the same amount as a Df on a real classic, the real Nikon 58mm f/1.2 Noct-NIKKOR, which will only go up in value with time.

    Any of these 35mm cameras are easy to shoot digitally.


    Thank You

    If you've found the time, effort and expense I incur for you in researching and sharing all this for free, This free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link to the silver body at Adorama, the black body at Adorama, the chrome kit with 50mm lens at Adorama, or the black kit with lens at Adorama, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. If you don't use these links, I receive nothing for my efforts in sharing all this information for free.




    More Information         top

    Introduction  Lenses    Missing   Specifications   Accessories

    Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More


    Nikon's Df product page.

    Nikon's Df glossy brochure.

    Nikon's Df press release.


    Help me help you         top

    I support my growing family through this website, as crazy as it might seem.

    The biggest help is when you use any of these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It costs you nothing, and is this site's, and thus my family's, biggest source of support. These places have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

    If you find this page as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.

    If you've gotten your gear through one of my links or helped otherwise, you're family. It's great people like you who allow me to keep adding to this site full-time. Thanks!

    If you haven't helped yet, please do, and consider helping me with a gift of $5.00.

    As this page is copyrighted and formally registered, it is unlawful to make copies, especially in the form of printouts for personal use. If you wish to make a printout for personal use, you are granted one-time permission only if you PayPal me $5.00 per printout or part thereof. Thank you!


    Thanks for reading!



    Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


    Home  Donate  New  Search  Gallery  Reviews  How-To  Books  Links  Workshops  About  Contact

    Nikon D700

    Home  Donate  New  Search  Gallery  Reviews  How-To  Books  Links  Workshops  About  Contact

    Nikon D70012MP FX, 5 FPS (2008-2012)© 2012 All rights reserved.

    Intro   Comparisons   Lens Compatibility   Specifications   Accessories   Performance   Recommendations

    Nikon D700 with 50mm f/1.4 AF-D (FX, 38.3 oz./1,085g with battery and card, about $1,400 used). enlarge. My biggest source of support is when you use any of these links, especially this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) or at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.

    January 2013, May 2011, August 2008            More Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses   All Reviews


    NEW: Nikon D600 versus D700. 15 September 2012

    NEW: The new D800 has more pixels and weighs less, but costs a lot more and removed the autofocus controls and dumped them into a menu, and no one can find the D800 anyway, so yes, the D700 is still a great camera as of May 2012.


    2012 DSLR Comparison 18 April 2012

    High-ISO Sample Images from the Nikon D1, D3 (D700), D4, D800, D7000 and Canon 5D, 5D Mark II, 5D Mark III and Fuji X-Pro1 and X100 06 April 2012


    Nikon D7000 Sharpness versus FX 09 November 2010

    Nikon D7000, D300, D3 (D700) and Canon 5D Mark II High ISO Comparison 08 November 2010

    Nikon D700 versus Canon 5D Mark II 08 June 2010

    Package Discounts March 2010

    Nikon D700 User's Guide for iPhone and iPod. 21 December 2009

    Printable PDF version of my Nikon D700 User's Guide (fee required) 19 February 2009

    Nikon D700 User's Guide, Interactive Online Version

    Nikon D700 Lens Suggestions


    Introduction    top

    Intro   Comparisons   Lens Compatibility   Specifications   Accessories   Performance   Recommendations

    January 2013 update: The D700 has been replaced by the D800. I don't like the D800 or D600 as much as the D700. The D700 gives better colors to my eyes without the green and yellow shifts of Nikon's 2012 models, and has much better external AF Mode and AF Area Mode controls. These AF controls have been removed and replaced with electronic simulations in the newest cameras.

    The rest of this review is from before the introduction of the D800. Read accordingly.

    The Nikon D700 is Nikon's, and the world's, best serious digital camera. The old professional D3 costs more and runs faster for sports, but the D700 is newer, smarter, smaller and lighter.

    The D700 has image quality indistinguishable from the klunky old D3, both in terms of sharpness and at high ISOs. The D700 has the same superb 3" LCD, but handles even better than the old D3 better due to a new INFO button and smarter firmware. I own a D3, and I prefer the D700 except that the D700 lacks the 5:4 crop mode I often use (most people don't care).

    Even at $8,000, the overpriced D3X isn't an improvement over the D3. Sorry rich people. The D3X is the same as the D3, except that it only has the same frame rate as the D700 (maybe even a little slower), and the D3X lacks the high ISO performance of either the D3 or D700.

    Unless you're a full-time sports, news or action pro, the D700 replaces the D3 for studio, wedding, portrait, nature and landscape pros, as well as all advanced amateur photographers. (I'm a very strict grader for what defines a pro; everyone else is amateur.)

    Forget the D3X, unless you're printing everything at 20 x 30" (50 x 75cm) and up, since the D3X is a hair slower than the D700, and has nowhere near the high ISO performance. I've made great 20 x 30" prints from a D40; pixels aren't worth what they used to be.

    The Canon 5D Mark II costs a little more, and the choice between the two is easy. The 5D Mark II is the best thing Canon makes, but the D700 is better for almost everything.

    The D700 wins for just about everything, especially action and taking pictures of your friends, family and kids. The D700 has superior autofocus performance over the Canon 5D Mark II. The 5D Mark II's AF system is inferior for photographing moving kids in dim light. All my D700 shots made with a 50mm f/1.4 indoors are just about perfect, most of my 5D Mark II shots made with a 50/1.4 USM just can't nail the focus because the 5D Mark II lacks the face recognition of the D700. The D700 magically focuses on a moving kid's nearest eye, while the 5D Mark II usually mis-focusses on his shirt, sleeve or background. At f/2, depth of field is so narrow that most of my 5D Mark II photos are useless for moving kids. Who needs 21MP if they're out of focus?

    If you have incredible Canon lenses and regularly make prints many yards (meters) wide, the Canon 5D Mark II has more pixels, but the AF and ergonomic (handling, speed and comfort) performance of the D700 is superior. The 5D Mark II is mostly plastic, while the D700 is mostly metal. The D700 is sculpted to feel great in your hands all day, while my hands start to hurt fast holding the less well designed 5D Mark II. Nikon shooters can't believe that when you take a picture on the 5D Mark II, that you can't zoom or look at any other pictures until you use your other hand to press the play button manually!

    Get the 5D Mark II if you're photographing things that hold still or pose for you AND you need to print them Bismarck sized, otherwise, get the D700.

    I average 5,000 shots every month on my D3. When I got a D700, there wasn't much difference. The D700 has exactly the same image quality, and handles just a little bit better. I can't say anything better about the D700 than that. The D700 is a D3 with a smaller battery (unless you add the grip) and a cheaper finder screen system, and that's it. The D700 even has the superior rear thumb control of the D3, not the crappy single-piece thing from the D300.

    The D700 is a mostly improved version last year's $5,000 camera, for just $3,000. If you want to read all the good things I think about the D700, read my D3 review in its entirety, and read this review simply for what differs between the two.

    The thing I missed most in the D700 is the option to shoot in the professional 4:5 aspect ratio, which fits more of my subjects better than the outdated 2:3 aspect ratio of 35mm film and most DSLRs. On my D3, I program the FUNC button to let me chose my framing with one finger without having to take my eye from the finder.

    To make up for it, the D700 adds an AUTO option to the Auto Dynamic Range mode, which will probably give the D700 slightly better image quality in difficult light with less twiddling (I leave my D3 set at Normal, since it has no AUTO setting), and more importantly, the D700 added a much needed way to get to my color saturation and contrast Picture Control settings, as well as a way to display the huge INFO panel on the 3" LCD, each with just one tap of one finger on my shooting hand. On the D700, I can get to all the menus with just one hand.

    Which is better? If I didn't use the 4:5 mode so often and have a personal issue with the obstructive black AF sensor markers and too-small exposure compensation marks in the D700's finder, it's obvious that the D700 is better so long as you're not shooting action at 9FPS.

    The D700 uses the same image sensor and has exactly the same image quality as the D3, even at ISO 3,200.

    The D700 has some subtle, but critical firmware improvements which make it far easier and faster to use than the D3. I can shoot the D700 with one hand, but need to two hands to set Picture Controls and get to the menus in the D3. See my D700 User's Guide for details. In the D700, I can program the FUNC button to call up my Picture Controls, program the power button to call up the rear INFO display, and another tap of the INFO button gets me to other frequently used menu settings. The D3 lacks these options, so it takes a second hand on the MENU button to do all this. Time wasted jacking with more button pushes on the D3 needing an extra hand means missed photos.

    The D700 isn't much bigger than the small-format (DX) amateur D300.

    Nikon D300 (left) and Nikon D700 (right). enlarge.


    I'm an FX junkie. DX was always OK for snapshots, but you just can't get anything on DX equivalent to 14mm ultra-ultra wide on FX, and if you want to shoot in available light, ISO 6,400 looks great without excuses on the D700 or D3, but not on any DX camera.

    For most people, the D300 gives exactly the same results as the D3 or D700, but if you need to shoot in the dark or with ultra-ultra wide lenses, or are simply fed up with the crappy little finders of DX cameras, welcome the D700. Even if the only difference between the D700 and D300 was the finder, the huge finder of the D700 alone is enough to justify the D700 for many people. It would for me, but "Is It Worth It" is different for each of us.


    More Pages

    Nikon D3, D700 and D300 Sharpness Shootout 14 August 2008

    Nikon D3, D700 and D300 ISO 3,200 Shootout 13 August 2008

    $1,000 off the Nikon D700 14 August 2008

    How to Use the D700 AF System 13 August 2008

    Nikon D3 vs. D700 vs. D300 vs. Canon 5D 10 July 2008

    Nikon D700 Lens Suggestions 03 July 2008

    Cheapskate Lens Suggestions August 2008


    Comparisons       top

    Intro   Comparisons   Lens Compatibility   Specifications   Accessories   Performance   Recommendations

    NEW: 2012 DSLR Comparison 18 April 2012

    Nikon D700 versus Canon 5D Mark II 08 June 2010

    See also my comparison table in my D3, D700, D300 and Canon 5D comparison.


    Things missing in the D700 that I use daily in the D3

    No professional 5:4 aspect ratio. I use this for most of my vertical shots, and for many of my horizontal shots depending on the subject.

    No self-masking finder when selecting DX. The D700 instead has a crappy, thin, easy to ignore rectangle that pops up. Don't shoot DX lenses on a D700: you'll forget and compose for the wrong frame.

    The D700 finder doesn't use the red backlit AF sensor areas. Instead of unobtrusive red backlighting, like the D3, the D700 AF sensor areas go annoying black like the D300. In many modes they go away; see D700 AF Settings, but in manual made, the darn things stay up and in your way.

    The D700 has no second CF card slot for backup. The D700 would complicate my streamlined file security workflow. Since I'd have no second in-camera backup, I'd not be able to format my CF cards until after I downloaded them and backed up the hard drive to which they were downloaded. Today I can format my shooting card as soon as I've downloaded it, since I always have a backup in-camera. (Never erase files until they are backed up in two different physical locations.)

    The D700 lacks the D3's super easy note-taking function: just press the mic button on the D3. The D700 has no audio ability.

    The D700 has a crappy flip-flop plastic CF card door, while the D3 has a spring-loaded, rubber-covered alloy door.

    That's about it!


    Things unique to the D700

    "Auto" ADR mode. The D300, D700 and D3 all have selections for OFF, LOW, NORMAL and HIGH. The D700 adds "Auto," which magically selects among them all. It really works.

    Ability to program the FUNC button to bring you immediately to your top item in My Menu (CSM f5: Assign FUNC Button > Access top item in My Menu). I set this to Set Picture Control, which lets me select among my various settings of saturation and contrast. This is very important and I wish my D3 did this, because when I photograph things, I use very high saturation, and a second later if I'm photographing a person, I need to set it back to more reasonable colors. If I have the colors set to one or the other, my images are poor and would require post-processing screwing around which would cost me money.

    Easy to set the rear LCD to show what's going on, either with the dedicated rear INFO button, or better, by setting a Custom Function (CSM f1) to make the INFO panel appear on the back simply by rotating the power-switch to the illuminator setting. I prefer the more complete INFO display on the large LCD to having some of the information, like ISO and WB, on the second smaller text-only LCD of the D3.

    The D700's rear INFO display is superior. It's a masterpiece of interface design that tells me every conceivable option that's set in the camera, all on one screen I can pop on with one touch from my shooting hand.

    WB is easier to set than the D3, because it can come up easily on the rear 3" INFO panel and comes up with all the icon in a row on the top LCD. On the D3, the tiny rear LCD has the icons jumbled in no particular order, and it takes a second hand and some logic to get the INFO panel to display on the D3. The D3 takes a moment to display the INFO panel once you figure it out; the D700 does it instantly.

    The D700 adds a sensor cleaner lacking in the D3, but present in the D300. UNlike Canon, it only runs when you tell it to so it doesn't slow down your power-on and power-off switching. I don't care, I send my cameras in to the manufacturer one every year or so for cleaning, and FX cameras are much less picky about crud than DX cameras were.

    WB is easier to set because you can see it much more easily on either the big rear INFO display (no fiddling required), or the top LCD which has the WB icons in a row. The D3 has the WB icons all jumbled together in no order on the tiny rear LCD, making it slower to get where you need. The D3 requires a second hand to call up the INFO panel.

    It's not only smaller, lighter and less expensive than a D3; it's quieter, too.

    The Vignette Control defaults to NORMAL.

    Things unique to the D700 I don't use

    In addition to the electronic level, also in the D3, the D700 has an electronic viewfinder grid lacking in the D3. I prefer the masking finder of the D3 over a selectable grid.

    I don't use the built-in flash. When you get your D700 or D3, they work so well in low light, presuming you're using the right lens, that on-camera flash is obsolete. I'd use it for fill, but the ADR works so well I just don't bother. Since it won't bounce, you'd never want to use it as a main source of light (I use my D40 when I want crappy on-camera flash shots).

    The D700 has an AF illuminator, but why? It only seems to annoy people; it focuses in the dark just fine. You can turn it off in the menus if you like.


    Why you'd want a D300 instead

    Besides price, size, and weight, if you're photographing birds or other things to which you can't get close enough, the D300 will pull more details out of the center of a telephoto image than the D700 or D3. The D300 (or even D80) has more resolution per millimeter of its smaller sensor because the same number of pixels are squeezed into a smaller space.

    Smaller pixels are bad for low light, but great if you're trying to pull details out of the middle of an image. Of course the best pictures come from getting close enough.

    If price, size and weight matter, the D300 doesn't think quite as fast, but does have identical image quality in good light.

    That's right: at ISO 200, picture quality of the D300 is is identical to the D3 and D700. The only difference is at higher ISOs like ISO 3,200.


    D700 Lens Compatibility      top

    Intro   Comparisons   Lens Compatibility   Specifications   Accessories   Performance   Recommendations

    Thank goodness, the D700 works with every Nikon lens made since 1977.

    Every AF, AF-D, AF-I and AF-S lens just works, which is every Nikon AF lens ever made since 1986.

    It also meters with AI and AI-s manual focus lenses as does the D3. If you enter the focal length and f/stop, it gives color matrix metering, aperture-priority and manual exposure and correct EXIF data. Whoo hoo, this means you can use the full catalog of manual lenses.

    DX lenses work on the D700, but who cares? The D700 is only a 5MP camera with a DX lens, because it only uses the middle of the sensor. It's silly to use DX lenses on the D700; even the D40 has more resolution (6MP) with DX lenses than either the D700 or D3.

    See Nikon Lens Compatibility for much more.

    Nikon D700. enlarge.


    Specifications      top

    Intro   Comparisons   Lens Compatibility   Specifications   Accessories   Performance   Recommendations

    FX sensor and cleaning apparatus.


    Worlds better than any DX camera. 18mm eyepoint. 95% coverage (of full FX frame, not the tiny DX frame), 0.72x with 50mm lens. (D3 is 0.7x and 100% coverage.) Inferior finder for DX lenses; doesn't crop the finder as does the D3.


    Electronic Level

    Yes, electronic virtual horizon, just like D3.



    51 points. CAM3500FX sensor array (same as D3 and D300). Fine-tuning, if you have slight errors with certain lenses.



    1/8,000 ~ 30 sec, bulb. Carbon fiber and Kevlar, tested to 150,000 cycles.

    Flash Sync: 1/250.


    Frame Rate

    5 FPS.

    8 FPS with MB-D10 and EN-EL4 or 8-AA battery.


    Built-in Flash

    GN 39/12 (Feet/meters at ISO 100). Controls wireless flash.



    12.1MP CMOS, same as D3. 14-bit linear ADC, 16-bit data pipelines, as the D3. 12-channel parallel readout.


    Sensor Size

    FX (23.9 x 36mm) and cropped DX, just like D3.

    No professional 5:4 mode.


    Live View

    Two modes.



    12.1MP in FX, 5MP in DX.

        FX: 4,256 x 2,832 (L), 3,184 x 2,120 (M), 2,128 x 1,416 (S).

        DX: 2,784 x 1,848 (L), 2,080 x 1,384 (M), 1,392 x 920 (S)




    Nikon really only wants you using ISO 200~6,400, so lower ISOs are read as gibberish like "Lo-1" and higher ISOs are coded as garbage like "HI+2."


    File Formats

    JPG, TIF, NEF.

    NEF in 12- or 14-bit with no, lossy or lossless compression.


    Rear LCD

    Exquisite 3," 920,000 pixels. HDMI HD output, but it uses a screwy, non-standard mini HDMI connector.



    Single CF card.

    Too bad; I love the in-camera backup of the D3's dual card slots.


    Data Communication


    Optional WT-4 wireless and ethernet.


    Optional Macho-Man Grip




    EN-EL3e, standard; same as D200, D300, etc.



    5.8 x 4.8 x 3.0" (147 x 123 x 77mm).



    35.1 oz. (995g or 2.2 pounds) without battery, card, strap, monitor cover or lens.

    38.275 oz (1,085g) with battery and card.


    Price (USA):

    $1,500 used, 2013 January.

    $2,699, May 2011 (rose immediately from $2,399 after the Japanese tsunami closed Nikon's Sendai factory in which these are made.)

    $2,399, March 2010.

    $2,350, July 2009.

    $2,399, December 2008.

    $2,999.95 at introduction, August 2008.



    01 July 2008.


    Available Since

    Late July 2008.


    Replaced by

    Nikon D800 in early 2012.


    Included Accessories      top

    Intro   Comparisons   Lens Compatibility   Specifications   Accessories   Performance   Recommendations

    Nikon D700 box-end details. enlarge.

    Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e

    Quick Charger MH-18a

    USB Cable UC-E4

    Video Cable EG-D100

    Camera Strap AN-D700

    Body Cap BF-1A

    Accessory Shoe Cover BS-1

    LCD Monitor Cover BM-9. It looks the same as, but is very slightly different from, the BM-8 of the D300. You can put a BM-8 on the D700, but it falls off after about 15 minutes.

    Software CD


    Optional Accessories


    MB-D10 grip (same as D300)

    MB-D10 grip, front.

    MB-D10 grip, rear.

    The $240 MB-D10 grip uses one EN-EL4a/4/3e rechargeable Li-ion battery, or eight AA batteries.

    It has a shutter-release, AF-ON button, multi selector, and main- and sub-command dials.

    Using EN-EL4a/4 or eight AA-size batteries, it can shoot at full resolution at 8 fps. So what' the D300 does the same thing and isn't anywhere as fast as the D3.


    WT-4/4A Wireless Transmitter

    Nikon WT-4 Transmitter

    The $700 WT-4/4A provides ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX) and WiFi (802.11b/g, 11a) data connections to the D700, D300 and D3.

    It looks like something out of the 1970s — it's another piece of junk with a wire to haul around; it isn't integrated in the camera. If you want to connect via ethernet, you plug your ethernet cable into this thing, while its plugged into the camera. Geesh!

    WT-4 for ethernet: camera on one cable and computer on the other not shown!

    A PC allows wireless connection of up to five cameras, for display of thumbnail images and downloading of selected images. Using optional Camera Control Pro 2 software (probably as buggy as all the other Nikon software) and the Live View function, you can shoot and view remotely.


    EH-5a/EH-5 AC Adapter


    DK-17M Magnifying Eyepiece


    Optional Software: Image Authentication, Capture NX 2 and Camera Control Pro 2 software.


    Cable Releases: Nikon doesn't bother to thread the shutter release button, so you'll have to buy an expensive electronic cable instead of a standard $6 cable release.

    You'll need the $55 MC-30, which is just a button on a wire, or the $130 MC-36, which is the timer from a $3 watch on a wire with a couple of buttons.

    Since Nikon overprices these, you can buy counterfeits cheap, but honestly, the release you buy today will last you far longer than any digital camera. I still use the one I bought back in the 1990s before the practical DSLR was even invented. These work on just about all motorized Nikon film and digital cameras made since about 1990.

    Since Nikon knows you're a big spender with the D700, you'll have to buy the clumsy $175 ML-3 wireless release system if you want the same wireless control you get with the superb pocket-sized $17 ML-L3 wireless cable release that works with the cheaper cameras.


    D700 X-ray view. Green spaghetti are dust seals. enlarge.

    Another D700 X-ray spaghetti-gram, from the rear. enlarge.


    Performance      top

    Intro   Comparisons   Lens Compatibility   Specifications   Accessories   Performance   Recommendations

    I've covered most of the performance issues above. Here are more specifics.

    Top, Nikon D700. enlarge.



    A new FUNC Button option lets me get right to the top of My Menu, which also means I now can click left and get anywhere in the menu system, all with just one hand! It's great because tapping that button overrides anything else I'm doing and just gets me there. You have to tap, release, select, then hit OK for the menu action to be accepted. I use this to select among Picture Controls.

    The in-finder exposure (and flash exposure) compensation indicators are too small. They sort of work, but appear as an afterthought, unlike the D3, which has them big, clear, easy to read, and impossible to miss. This is a fine point that makes the D700 an amateur camera; I guess Nikon thinks that amateurs don't use exposure compensation often.

    In manual focus, the dadblasted black rectangle never goes away.

    The rear multi-control is the superior one from the D3, not the sloppy one from the D300.

    Beware of the lame finder rectangle with DX lenses. It's easy to forget that the D700 is only using the middle of the finder with DX lenses, compared to the D3 whose finder masking is a work of art.

    I suspect this is a design change rather than a bad sample, but the rotary power switch is too stiff trying to turn on the illuminator. My other Nikons, from F100 to D300 to D3, all do it with an easy twist, while my D700 requires an inconvenient and significantly more difficult push to turn it on. Worse, as someone who shoots many different cameras, it's important that they all feel the same. With the D700, when I hit it and nothing happens, I need to remember that "Duh, I'm shooting the D700 so I have to hit it harder."

    Defining it as an amateur camera, the D700 beeper defaults to HIGH, unlike a pro camera like the D3 which defaults to OFF.


    Picture Quality

    For irrelevant geek issues like noise and sharpness, see my ISO 3,200 and Sharpness comparisons.

    The pictures are spectacular, at least as good as Nikon's previous best, the D3.

    Pictures are identical, however the addition of an AUTO mode to the Adaptive Dynamic Range function means the D700 is more likely in crappy light to get the right results with less piddling.

    ADR really works. Leave it on AUTO as I do, and in good light it does nothing. In harsh, crappy light (the sort of crappy light loved by the HDR weirdoes) the D700 does an instant magic HDR transform that simply makes the photo look like it does to our eyes. It's marvelous. It's almost impossible to lose a shadow or blow out a highlight. It just looks great

    Picture Controls are identical to the D300 and D3, meaning there are plenty of controls with enough range to let you set the D700 to wild colors, or tone them down for fantastic people shots with great skin tones.

    At the same settings, the D700 looks the same as the D3 or D300. Nikon did this deliberately, so the settings I've been using on my D3 look the same as soon as I pick up a D700. Bravo.

    For product photos needing accurate colors, I leave it in STANDARD. (For wilder colors, keep reading.)

    For people pictures, I use NEUTRAL, +1 Saturation and 5 Sharpening.

    For photos of everything else for which I want wild colors, I set it to VIVID, +3 Saturation and 5 Sharpening.

    I set the top of My Menu to Set Picture Control, I set the FUNC button to get me to that top item, so with one tap I can select among al these settings as I turn the camera between a setting sun or a person in that light.



    Perfect, just like most Nikons.

    Just like my D3 and D300, in contrasty light outdoors in VIVID Picture Control with the saturation turned to +3, I usually prefer -0.7 compensation.


    Flash Exposure

    Right on, which is typical for Nikon. Just shoot. Regardless of flash or bounce mode, it just works.


    Built-in Flash

    The built-in flash works great. Exposure is always right-on.

    As a direct on-camera flash that can't bounce, its only real use is for fill in contrasty light. Don't use it to light dim subjects; if you do, you'll get the same crappy results as a direct flash on a disposable camera.

    Unless you're trying to shoot action with a slow zoom lens, you don't need flash anymore with the D700. The only use for the built-in is to fill dark shadows in daylight, or as a trigger for other strobes.

    I prefer the SB-400 so I can bounce it.



    When I pop a CF card from the D700 into my D3, the D3 reads almost everything, but the D3 fails to read the critical image pixel sizes as every camera does of files it recorded itself, and as the D3 and D300 do with each others' files.


    Card and Battery Doors

    The CF card door is a flimsy thing, but at least Nikon has enlarged the card pop-out button so it's much easier to hit for we Americans.

    The flimsy card and battery doors are as bad as the Canon 5D.


    Battery Life

    On my first charge, I got about 600 shots, which included a lot of fiddling around in the menus.


    Use with PC-E lenses

    Forget it. Get the D3 instead.

    The electronics of the D700 ought to work perfectly with the PC-E lenses (24mm, 45mm and 85mm).

    The gotcha is that the D700's built-in flash pokes out even a little bit farther forward than the flash of the D300. The offset from the center of the lens mount is the same, but the overhang is greater by a fraction of a millimeter with the D700.

    Therefore, mechanical interference on the D700 will be at least as much of a problem, and probably more than on the D300.

    The D3 has no such problems because it has no built-in flash, so its prism overhangs much less.

    See Nikon 24 PC-E compatibility, see the D300's limitations, and subtract from there.


    Bottom, Nikon D700.


    Suggested D700 Improvements

    The real things I need are in "what's missing" above, and in What's missing from the D3. The rest below are piddly things.

    1.) I need the meter to be smart enough to incorporate the Picture Control settings in its exposure evaluation. More saturation or more contrast means I need less exposure, which I now have to set manually as exposure compensation depending on my Picture Control setting. For instance, in flat light and in NEUTRAL I shoot normally, but in VIVID with saturation set to +3, I set exposure compensation back to -0.7.

    Since I now can have immediate access to Picture Controls via the FUNC button and My Menu, if Nikon can't add feed-forward from the Picture Controls into the Matrix meter, Nikon at least needs to allow the D700 to save and recall exposure compensation settings along with each Picture Control setting. Since the Matrix meter isn't smart enough to incorporate the Picture Control settings, I have to change exposure compensation as another step as I swap among Picture COntrols.

    2.) Add a menu to allow programming the function of the INFO button. I program my LCD illuminator. button to call up INFO, so I'd like my INFO button to do something useful, like let me select among Non-CPU Lens Data.

    If The D700 has the professional 4:5 aspect ratio, than what I have programmed to the FUNC button would need to go someplace else since I'd use FUNC to select my drops.

    3.) The FUNC button still can't be set to do two things as could the FUNC buttons of the D200. The D200 could be set to do one thing when tapped, and another with held and a control knob was spun.

    4.) The supplied black Nikon body cap says nothing on the inside. All my other caps say Nikon BF-1A and Made in Japan.

    5.) As an amateur camera, the D700 has the idiot beeper (CFN d1) defaulted to ON, while the professional D3 has it OFF.

    6.) Bring back the pro trick that holding the "Key/?" button as you turn on the power creates a new folder and saves the new images you make to it. This is extremely handy in cameras that have it because when you load the images into your computer they already will be sorted into folders. I find this extremely helpful, and much faster than creating new folders in the menus.


    Recommendations      top

    Intro   Comparisons   Lens Compatibility   Specifications   Accessories   Performance   Recommendations


    Forget the kit with the 24-120mm lens. The 24-120 VR is among Nikon's worst lenses ever, and even if you wanted it, you can buy the lens and D700 separately for less than the kit price.

    Nikon D700 Lens Suggestions 03 July 2008

    Cheapskate Lens Suggestions August 2008


    Why to get the D3

    If you're a full-time pro shooting sports and action, the D3 is still your camera.

    Forget the D3X, which is an overpriced landscape camera. Get back to work, since the next camera you'll need to worry about is the D4, not due until 2011.


    Why to get this D700

    For everyone else shooting landscapes, portraits, products, and nature, the D700 is the new king. (The D3X is still being boycotted at its $8,000 initial asking (bluff) price. Get a Canon 5D Mark II instead if you need more pixels.)

    For shooting concerts and theater, the D700 is better than the D3 because it is quieter. They both have the same fantastic low-light performance. (Of course it's still illegal to use in any acoustic performances.)


    Why to get the D300

    For most people, the D300 is just as good. The biggest difference is speed for shooting action, and inferior low-light performance.

    I bleed for the ultra-ultra wide angles I can't get in DX cameras like the D300, but I'm a weirdo. For most people, DX cameras and the D300 are perfect.

    If you can't get close enough, the camera isn't the problem about which you should be worrying. If you want to worry about the camera rather than getting the right lens or getting closer, with the same lens zoomed out to the same maximum focal length, the image from the D300 will be sharper than enlarging a crop from the middle of the larger FX sensor of the D700. If you can zoom longer to get the same framing with the D700, then they match.

    For instance, a bird that's too far away shot with a 200mm lens cropped from a D300 will be sharper than the same bird cropped more strongly from a D700, because the pixels of the D300 are closer together. The D300 has 1.5x the resolution per millimeter of image sensor, because the D300's pixels are squeezed closer together than in the D700.

    If you have a 300mm lens for a D700, and a 200mm lens for a D300, they each make the same picture. They have the same number of pixels; they are merely bigger and spread further apart on the D700. This makes the D700 much more sensitive to low light, but makes the D300 have more ability to pick out fine details from a tight crop with the same lens.

    If you use crappy old lenses, like a 1964 600mm f/5.6, they don't have enough resolution to take full advantage of the D300. If you use crappy lenses, which are few and far between, you will get better results on FX. Mind you, Nikon makes few crappy lenses, and even Nikon's cheapest lenses, like the 18-55mm kit lens, are good enough to get all the resolution out of a D300. Price and age have nothing to do with quality.


    More From Nikon:  Printed Brochure     Sample Images (note: these sample images are made with Nikon's very best $2,000 and up lenses, not the 24-120mm VR.)    


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