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Shooting the Nikon D5 and Canon 1DX Mk2 at the Australian Formula 1 F1

At what is probably the first international event where Nikon’s NPS and Canon’s CPS had the new flagship cameras available I couldn’t resist to take them both out for a spin.
Readers may remember that I switched from Nikon to Canon about 3 years ago when I was let down by the Canon 1D Mk3’s autofocus issues. Switching to Nikon’s D3, then D3s and then the D4 gave me a good handle on the Nikon offering. I then switched back to Canon with the 1D-X after unhappiness with AF issues with the D4.
Here are two photos from sessions I had with the 1D-XMk2 and D5.
First off is the Canon with a 200-400mm  (1.4TC on) lens 1/1600 @ f/7.1 ISO 2000.
March 18, 2016: Felipe Massa (BRA) #19 from the Williams Martini Racing team runs off at turn 2 during practise session one at the 2016 Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia. Photo Sydney Low
This is from the Nikon with the relatively new 200-500mm 1/1000 @ f/5.6 ISO 640.
March 19, 2016: Sebastian Vettel (DEU) #5 from the Scuderia Ferrari team leaving the pits for qualifying at the 2016 Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia. Photo Sydney Low
The AF on the Canon was noticeably more accurate than the current 1DX. The new body would have a burst of 6-9 images of cars accelerating through turn 1 into turn 2 in focus with 1-2 slightly off. And the 14 fps shutter felt really “new” and well sorted. The current body would usually yield 3-4 images that were locked on. What was more impressive was that with the 1.4 TC flipped on the 200-400mm lens the AF was just as accurate.  This is usually not the case with the current body with hit rates dropping significantly in some lighting conditions. This image is one of 6 that were all in focus and shot instinctively. I was waiting for Massa to come through turn 2 when he ran wide unexpectedly at turn 1 so the camera had to acquire and then lock on. If you rely on the 200-400mm lens then this body is almost a “must have upgrade”.
The Nikon D5 also felt solid. The D5’s frame rate isn’t faster than the current 1DX so it didn’t feel new. However, it felt more responsive. Less lag than the current Canon. Shooting with the 200-500mm handheld hanging out of a fence hole showed how versatile the D5 and 200-500mm combo was. It’s slightly bigger than a 70-200mm but the reach is much longer. There’s no complaint about the AF which is a good thing as cars coming out of the pits towards me isn’t much of a challenge. I did see enormous latitude in the NEF raw files, and a need to pull back the highlights to get detail back into the bright areas of the image. The red nose of the Ferrari and the helmet looked blown out when the file was looked at out of camera but adjusting the highlight slider in Lightroom brought the details back.
So there you are. A quick write-up of these two flagship DSLRs.