Hands On: Really Right Stuff L-Plate for the Canon 50D Review – BGE2-L50

Well – if you've visited before, you know I've been curious about the new offering from Really Right Stuff (RRS) in the L-bracket department – specifically, one for the Canon EOS 50D. It got one ordered last week and it arrived today – right in the midst of me swamped trying to head out of town for a short notice “day job” meeting.  I did take a break long enough to pull the CNC machined piece of aluminum glory out of its plastic zip-loc bags (yes plural – parts in bags in other bags – can't have anything get scratched en route!); mount it to the 50D (which and made it up to the office for just such an occasion) including the poorly explained strap lug thing. The problem was I had to get back to work, hop in the car and drive to Austin.

After finishing up the prep for the meeting, I was able to take a closer look and get some photos taken.

Suffice to say (go figure) that this L-plate is well designed and the machining and finish are impressive. After getting the RRS L-plate for my 40D and getting great service from it, there was no doubt I was going to go with RRS for my 50D.  I could go on about the stuff that is carried over from the 40D, but a summary will do – the same great curved base to prevent spinning on the bottom of the camera; a nice balance between material needed for a stiff bracket and the need to save weight; curved corners that fit the hand comfortably when the camera is not mounted on a tripod; and so on… oh – and let's not forget the "captive" screws that won't fall out when you remove the plate from the camera.

Okay – so what will you prattle on about Will? What's new – of course!

Overall Shape:
RRS-5 They've re-worked the bend in the bracket – it is now wider and looks like it will do a better job of protecting the battery grip from those accidental bumps. If you are like me, you don't take your L-plate off the camera once it is mounted… For me it adds to the comfort/size of the grip when in the vertical position.  They've also worked on squaring off the opening for the cable connections, and even my ham-fingers can easily get in there and open the rubber covers. I can't tell you how glad I am that I've been able to move my 40D plate back over to my 40D… it was a bit odd to continue to use my work-around for the 40D plate w/ the 50D.

That Strap Thing:
RRS-1 Okay – it's the only thing that I felt that RRS didn't do a good job of showing off on their product page here, nor in their "no-copy" photo only setup instruction RRS-8 sheet. Now – don't get me wrong - an L-Plate is a chunk of aluminum that you bolt (literally) onto your camera… how hard could it be?  I'm not expecting a nice 36 page manual with a table of contents and an index or anything, but the pics were all a longer shots with no real detail or info about the function of the "thing".  On the RRS site, the new BGE2-L50 page just says "Strap mount boss at top of plate helps stabilize the camera with battery grip."

Insert tab A into slot B…
RRS-2 RRS-3 RRS-4 

Essentially RRS uses the screw on bit to anchor the end of the L-plate to the body by using the metal tab that is normally used to attach the strap to the camera.  When you mount the plate to the camera, it snugs up and you pretty much can't leave the strap attached to the camera directly… Then you take the spare screw and the "thing", thread the screw into the threaded end of the slot on the "thing" and then screw it into the end of the L-plate. There is a little tab on the bottom of the "thing" that will drop nicely into the slot in the camera strap tab on the side of the camera…  Just attach your strap to the loop-o-aluminum and voila! You're now ready to roll.

You can get Shifty too!
RRS-6 As we all know who have them, the Canon remote trigger plug is far from short… it is a few millimeters taller than the L-plate is thick. This is not a problem when you are shooting in landscape mode, but when looking to mount the camera in portrait RRS-7 mode (you know – the reason you got the L-plate in the first place – grin) you can't do it… well – not without shifting the plate on the camera. This is where the new version of the plate shines, in my opinion. The screw openings in both the base and in the "thing" are slotted, meaning that you can loosen the two screws, slide the camera, and then re-tighten the screws.  With the tab on the "thing" holding onto the slot of the camera strap tab, it does a great job of stabilizing the camera when the plate is not snug up to the side of the camera.

Overall – I like the look and configuration of this new L-plate, and I'm looking forward to using it soon.

Thanks for reading!

Canon EOS 50D – ISO 100 Photos

Okay – so I've posted a few low light shots from my velodrome work in my 1370 post, but I'd not had the opportunity to shoot a daytime event to that point. So here are some shots from a Fall series race a few weeks ago. All shots were taken at ISO 100 with the Canon EOS 50D using the 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 L lens. I've left full EXIF on the enlarged photos, tho I'm not sure if Typepad will keep that data in place after upload. You can click to enlarge the images.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!

SPS-Fall3-050-3582 SPS-Fall3-051-3597  SPS-Fall3-073-3772 SPS-Fall3-075-3790  SPS-Fall3-080-3938 

Really Right Stuff L-Plate for Canon 50D with Battery Grip

Okay – they had told me they were working on one, then the w/out battery grip was posted on-line, then "coming soon – accepting pre-orders" was next for the version with the battery grip.

BGE2-L50 I just took a quick look today and voila! The BGE2-L50 is now available with some images posted.

At first glance it looks like it has been worth the wait. A nice wide opening for the cables, the ability to get the covers open with the l-plate in place, and the plate looks like it will provide good protection for the corners of the BG, perhaps better than the 40D version did. It also appears that there is now an extension of the plate to allow for the camera strap to connect to the plate itself. The photos don't show the detail of this strap tab that well, but it appears that it may be removable – it looks like there is a screw that may allow you to remove the tab if you don't want it – or to easily remove the camera from the plate if you don't want to un-do the strap from the bracket tab itself.

Yup – one is order and should be here soon (I think Monday) – I'll post a review w/ images and my thoughts then.

Thanks for reading!

Quick update: Archives now have usable format…

Okay – sorry about falling off the face of the blogging planet for a bit there – wow – two weeks actually!

I've been buried at the day job and have been busy on the weekends with a few events, some travel, and a photog job or two…  Oh – and that "personal life" thing – trying to work some of that in too… LOL

I did finally figure out how to change the format of the archive settings… so now you can browse them by title w/out having to page from post to post…

The Canon 50D now has over 5500 images under its belt and I'm enjoying it more and more. I'll work some of my recent photos into some of the upcoming posts…

A few topics I'm kicking around:

  • A tutorial on shooting events in the evening outdoors
  • How to utilize fill flash outdoors – it can be your friend
  • Better strategies for web sales of your photos
  • Sports composition – a few easy pitfalls
  • AF Microadjustment – target near vs. far – what's best?

If you have one you would like to see sooner than later, post a comment. You can also throw suggestions for posts into a comment as well.

Thanks for reading!

Canon 50D HDMI Output – Useful?

Okay – so one of the often referred to but rarely detailed new features on the 50D is the HDMI output port. It lives in the same strip of output ports on the side of the camera as the USB and "old fashioned" video out connections.

Today on the drive home from work, I popped into a local electronics store and bought an HDMI-A to HDMI-C cable. I only sprung for the 6' cable as I'm not sure what I'd use if for (in practice) and how often I'd make use of it at that.  I've seen posts where you can pick a cable up for $7 – 10 bucks… I dropped a few more than that, but well short of the $50 that Monster Cable is looking to get from you.  I know there are folks who swear by the better cables, but – again – since I'm testing, figured I'd get a fair idea for my $15 outlay…

Slide Show:

Okay – I think the most obvious use for this would be the slide show of images at the end of a day out and about. Quite a few hotels are starting to put flat panel displays in their rooms, and who knows – if you are over at the relatives for Thanksgiving, why not wow the crowd with a slide show of shots from the days activities.

A quick insertion of the cable into the back of the set, plug the other end into the camera, power it on, hit the "menu" button to get to the slide show, and voila! The new 50D menu is now show in 56" DLP glory… No – I don't think they really push the menu at 1080, but then again – I'm not sure at what resolution they push the output of the images either. A search of the "Instruction Manual" and one with with Google – pretty much came up with nothing. Other than saying "output for high definition screens" – there isn't much detail as to what the output resolution is, if it only renders to the high resolution for the slideshow, or does plain old image playback render in high def? Perhaps the yet to be published 50D White Paper from Canon will shed some light on these questions.

So other than finding that the HDMI-C connector wasn't introduced until HDMI 1.3, and that HDMI is a bidirectional standard, allowing the video device to understand what the capabilities of the display device are – thus sending the proper signal (480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p) for the best image… I still couldn't find what the output capabilities were of the camera itself.

I had a CF card in the camera that had about 15 shots from a walk with my dog along the canals near my house, so I navigated the billboard sized menu (remember, I've only a 6' cable connected to the back of my set… LOL) till I had fired up the slide show.

Issue number one… Auto rotate of images setting…
When I shoot, I have the camera auto rotate the images only on the computer. That way – when I shoot and preview a landscape shot, it will display the way I just shot theimage, not "vertically" in the LCD when you look at the back of the camera normally… It allows me to get a better sense of the shot before I start to zoom (if needed) and I don't need to rotate the camera out of the attitude that I had just used for taking the last shot.

So – as I watched the slide show, the images that had been shot portrait were rotated by 90 degrees on the screen… Easy enough. Stop playback, navigate the billboard to be "Auto rotate on camera and screen"… Back to the slide show and voila!… I was cookin' w/ grease.

Problem number two… I'd shot all portrait…
Yeah – whoda thunk, but all the shots I'd taken had been portrait… so while the shots looked nice and all, they were not filling the DLP with glorious color… Okay – I can out- wit this camera, right?

I soon went to my computer, brought up the high res .jpgs I used to post to my web site for purchase by my customers, and dropped them onto a CF card. A few minutes later, CF card in the 50D – and the "no images" ignominy stared me in the face…

You guessed it (okay – or maybe not – I ran into this when I tried showing the same .jpg on the 40D and 50D in some earlier tests), I'd dropped the images onto a blank formatted CF card. Seems the camera wants to only read images from the DCIM\100Canon (or similar) directory. Again – no problem, I thought – copy a few images (only three or four to ensure I'd got it right), pop the CF in the camera, and it mocks me yet again… "Cannot Play Back Image" it says… with an artful clip-art yellow question mark on a gray faded background just below the message. Ever the mule (read as stubborn), I roll the thumb wheel to the next pic and find the same, but the third time was the charm… the third image showed just fine.


A Sesame Street flash back of "which one of these things is not like the others" ran through my head and I quickly realized (well – guessed) that I had cropped the other two images, and perhaps the camera, not finding one of its "native" resolution files, was unable to display it.  I finished copying the images over, deleted the ones that didn't display, and found that I had about 30 images left to flip through.

Okay – back over to the big-screen, re-connect the cable, and voila! My images on the DLP w/ grand and glorious color!

I'll admit the vertical images were a bit disappointing, just not really filling the screen, but still looking pretty good. It was the landscape shots that took the day… Unlike the NTSC output, the HDMI was indeed giving the full 3×2 ratio of the image with just small black bars to the left and right of the image. Nothing like the bars left right above and below when using the NTSC output.

Live View:

The other HDMI tethered output thought that I've seen has been for "live view" usage. Yes – it does give you quite a large screen, but I'm not sure how practical this really is.  If you're shooting in your living room and you do have a big screen monitor, and for some reason, the nice 50D LCD won't do the trick – sure – run w/ the big screen… LOL… But I think USB connected to a laptop will be just a bit more practical configuration – especially given the AF adjustment you can do from the EOS Utility.

HDMI-1 It did let me get a curiously interesting repeating image photo… Which, after the fact, seems a bit curious that it actually turned out. The image shows the magnification area of the live view screen cascading back as the image of the image of the image shows on the television. I snapped the shutter, and before the image I had captured showed, I figured I'd wasted a shutter actuation. I figured that the live view output would shut off before the shutter fired; but I was surprised to see the image was captured.

Non-Slide Show Image Playback:

As I was playing around with the camera with the output, I went to image playback and started reviewing images. This was actually pretty cool - for some reason cooler than the slide show I'd seen earlier… the ability to see the images on the screen, to zoom in and see detail on the screen, was pretty neat. I guess I could see where I'd not have my laptop at a client site, they may not have a raw image conversion tool, but w/ a high def projector or big-screen tv in a conference room. I'd be able to pull the cable out of my bag and rather than several folks crowding around the camera as I chimped through images, I'd be able to share the images with a larger group. 


Okay – so is the HDMI output really of use? Well – in a pinch, yes… but for most practical purposes, no… But I'll throw in a bit of a caveat here… It would *not* be of practical use for how *I* shoot.

I shoot a LOT of images when I'm out…

When I was shooting in college for the paper, yearbook and campus quarterly, they beat it into our skulls to always load 36 exposures into the cannisters from the bulk loader. The event was expensive, film was cheap. Shoot portrait and landscape, frame a bunch of different ways. This just became my shooting routine, to the point where, when I got back from vacation, no one wanted to look at my photos when I picked them up from the lab. Everyone learned to wait till I'd culled my photos for the ones I liked.  I do the same (and even more so) now with digital being so cheap.  Long story short – I'd bore the snot out of anyone looking over my shoulder at Thanksgiving, or back in the hotel room at the end of a day of sightseeing. LOL

If you shoot with great restraint, and you do like to share pics w/ the family the same day – sure – this will work great for you.

Most other situations, a laptop with a USB cable will serve me much better than the HDMI cable. Live view with a USB cable, especially when you remote shoot and store your images directly on the laptop. Presentations and review of images with a client would work better than using an HDMI cable with the camera. Also, more of my clients would have projector that took the output from a laptop than one that has HDMI input.  Also - I have more tools to cull through photos on the laptop than just showing images from the camera.

As a final note – I pretty much burned through a battery doing my live view and other HDMI output tests. So while Live View is already a power hog, this takes Live View and other card/display intensive tasks to new battery draining heights…or lows…

If you've other thoughts for the use of the HDMI (well – other than video – do you really want the zoom square in your movie? I don't think so…) please leave me a comment below.

Thanks for reading!

Canon 50D Shutter Actuations Counter (and Canon 40D too!)

Just a quick post before knocking off for the evening.

Saw a post today on canonrumors.com that had a link to a site that has a free piece of software that can read the (until now) Canon Support territory of how many actuations a shutter has. The idea is pretty basic – it uses the EOS Utility drivers (you put this .exe file in the same directory as the EOS Utility) to access the information from the camera. You plug in the camera to your computer with a USB cable, turn it on, close the EOS Utility if it starts, then start this application. Click the "Get Count" button and voila!.

This program accesses information from the Digic III processor (or the Digic IV) so the app will work on the 40D, 50D, and the 5D Mark II, but not on the 30D, or 350D,400D, etc…

It was interesting to see that my 40D has 27,010 actuations, but how accurate is it? Well, my 50D shows 3,961 – which shows 4 more than the highest image number. This results from some "remote shooting from PC" which counts as a shutter actuation, but since the file is saved directly to the computer, so the compact flash card count doesn't get increased. So I'd say that the 27k actuations reading on my 40D is pretty accurate.

This is only for the PC, not for the Mac, but you can read all the details here.

Thanks for reading!

Canon 50D Firmware 1.0.3 and Adobe Lightroom 2.1

Okay – two updates for the 50D.

Firmware Update – 1.0.3

First up the firmware 1.0.3 has been released. You can get to it here.

It is upposed to correct the err99 problem that some folks have experienced.

Adobe Lightroom 2.1 Released

Previously Canon 50D RAW support was only due to a "release candidate" version of Lightroom. That is their version of a "beta" release. The full 2.1 release has official support for the 50D RAW format, and my quick tests seem to show that they've improved the noise reduction, but I've not really had a chance to compare apples to apples. You can get that upgrade here (you'll need to be a licenced owner, or you can download a trial). You can choose Win or Mac version in the "latest updates" column to the right.

Thanks for reading!

Canon 50D vs. Nikon D300

Ahhh… The Great Debate…

A reader commented recently asking for my 2 cents on the above question – 50D vs. D300 – it can widen to which camp you follow – who's Kool-aid did you drink? Canon vs. Nikon – mac vs. pc – Coke vs. Pepsi…

Some Caveats:

I'll fess up – I'm a Canon guy. I was a film shooter for years and just didn't like the image quality of the digital cameras that were out. It wasn't until a friend showed me his Canon G2 that I finally found a camera in a price range I was willing to pay for a first digital camera – that had output that I thought did well. From there I saw some images from other cameras and just felt I liked the look of the images from the Canon sensors, so when it came time for me to buy into a dSLR – I went with a Canon. From there, it was all downhill… well – not really. I bought some great lenses and continued to build my Canon kit. Bodies: XT (sold), XTi (sold), 30D (sold), 40D, 50D – lenses: EF-S 10-22, EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS, EF 24-105 f/4L IS, EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS, EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS, a Lensbaby 3G and a few other bits and pieces… So now, unless some truly earth-shattering happens – I'll most likely stay a canon shooter.

I've not used the D300. I've used some friends other Nikons – D2, D80, D40x, etc… but never picked up a D300.

That being said – I've always tried to keep an objective eye on things when it comes to reviews. Even with the 50D pages here – I've leaned towards posting the images and 100% crops w/ my methods so that you the readers can make your own decisions. I'll chime in from time to time w/ my 2 cents, but everyone has an opinion and they all can vary by usage, past experience, what you want from the camera, and so on – so – personal opinions are just that… personal to the person and should always be taken in that vein.

As a final caveat – so I don't have to repeat this in every section – keep in mind that at the higher end of equipment, some differences are very large and noticeable when looking without going to scientific empirical testing (max ISO at 3200 (6400 w/ boost) vs 6400 (25,600 with boost) e.g. between the 1D Mk III and the D3), others are smaller like the image quality between the top of the line lenses between Canon and Nikon when looking at prints. So keep this in mind – that I'm speaking in the general – what most users will see or notice for their $ – rather than trying to make any sort of final gavel ruling on what *IS* best… the joys of subjectivity of the user reigns supreme in the photo world IMHO.

My default answer: (just as an FYI)

Yeah – I've been asked this quite a bit. The joys of friends knowing that you are a "professional photographer" – what is your recommendation for an entry level dSLR. "I don't have a lot of money to spend, what's better Nikon or Canon for under $1000".  Most don't have existing gear, they just want to improve from the P&S camera they've been using.

My pat answer is that while I'm a Canon shooter – what you get for your entry level $ is pretty much the same between brands (yes – I know it see-saws from release to release), go down to your local camera shop, pick up both cameras and see if one or the other feels better to you or if one's menu/controls make more sense. If so – run w/ that one and just enjoy the camera you choose. If you think you'll be getting serious and know what you want to shoot – well – then that's another question…"

The Specific Question:

Thom asked about my 2 cents re: 50D vs. D300… Starting w/ a clean slate (no older film lenses to try to still use) He figures his main usage will be sports (soccer and hockey) and perhaps low light shots of bands, oh – and landscapes and other general usage. So – on the slate are Autofocus, low light performance, who's glass is better, FPS in continuous mode, RAW vs. JPG in sports – "is being forced to shoot in JPG for sports a deal breaker for me?"

[sound of knuckles cracking as I limber my fingers to begin to type my responses…]


Well – being that I've never used the D300 – I can't comment on if it's AF routines are better, faster, stronger than the Canon system. I can say that with any AF system, a LOT depends on what you are shooting, how cluttered the viewfinder is with items that may "fool" the AF system, and a myriad of motion metrics. These MMs can include speed of subject, direction with regard to the camera, motion relative to other items you DONT care about in the image, distance to the camera, % change of the distance to the camera per frame rate (ability to follow w/ intelligent focus), and so on…

Soccer_2 What I can comment on is what I've shot w/ my Canons. Of what you asked about, I've shot club soccer from the sidelines, and professional hockey from the stands – about 1/3 the way up the lower level – just so most shots were above the near glass, but still giving great low-ish angles of view. For the soccer stuff, I used my 100-400 lens w/ a monopod and had no trouble getting tack sharp shots… stopping the action was pretty easy, and the AF had no problems w/ accuracy or getting the right subject in view. Keep in mind I was always zoomed in on 1 or 2 players for most of the shots. Perhaps I was avoiding situations where cluttered shots that might have given the AF fits because I didn't want that sort of "shot" anyway. 

Stars8895_2 With the hockey, I used my 70-200 f/2.8 L IS… sometimes w/ a 1.4x TC, but mostly without so I could get a faster shutter speed. Again – the AF worked great and I had few if any problems with getting in focus shots. The biggest problem here was just plain old amount of light (or lack thereof). If you are going to be shooting league hockey, I'd guess they don't spend the same amount in the local rinks as the American Airlines Arena in Dallas did to ensure even light for the TV cameras, so know that the high end ISO will play a factor here. The ability for the Canon to boost to 12,800 ISO may give you a leg up here… Sure – the noise in the image may be less than optimal, but you could get a shot that would not come out at all if you were shooting at 6400. I'll leave the noise comparisons up to you to decide on.

When it comes to the number of points the AF system uses, I would have to say that yes – more should be better. The Canon 1D series of cameras have been using a 45 point system… Up until the Nikon release of the D3, the Canon 1D Mark II AF system was pretty widely regarded as the best for sports shooting… If you think sports is what you really want to shoot – my 2 cents is to not get the 50D, but go get a 1D Mark IIn – used for $1600 – $1800 or so. That'll make you happy w/ AF performance, but will only get you to 3200 iso with boost. Ahh… the trade offs…

Low Light Performance:

Welcome to the subjective zone… on paper, yes – the 50D will shoot at 12,800 ISO while the Nikon only shoots to 6,400… but how usable are images shot at those resolutions. Some purists will say that the noise on both images makes them unusable while others like the effect the grain gives to the shot.  Read my two posts on jpg and RAW high ISO posts to see some examples from the 40D and 50D… tho also understand that very little (if anything) was done to clean up any noise in the images – and that your "actual mileage may vary"… no matter if you start w/ the Canon or the Nikon image – plug-ins for PhotoShop and other post processing tools, have come a great way in helping eliminate noise…

This area will also come down to what sort of lenses you use… if you buy great glass that is really bright (say f/2.8 for a longer zoom, or f/2.0 or less for a nice prime) it will help you greatly – helping you by not forcing you to go to your highest ISO to get the shot… which leads us to:

Who's Glass is Better?

Ahhh… the next subjective zone. Sure – you can get down to all sorts of uber scientific tests as to which lens has less distortion, less chromatic aboration, etc… What it all comes down to is the end result to the eyes of the beholder. I think (sorry to be a Canon heretic here) that Nikon makes the better glass. but only by a slim margin. This is when looking at both lines "top of the line" lens offerings. When it comes down to most of their other offerings, I think it is really a push. Also – keep in mind that if you want to save some on glass, Tamron, Sigma, and quite a few other manufacturers offer their lenses with both Canon and Nikon mounts… so if you go the 3rd party lens route – the question is moot.

I'd suggest that you draw up your "dream bag" of glass, a set of lenses that will cover the needs you foresee, and then try to fill that bag from both vendors. See if there is a price difference between the two and take that into account. Will the % difference really get you a noticeable difference in the images you get?

With your desire to shoot low light, let's go with a bag that will cover super wide angle, then cover 16-400mm all at 2.8 till we get to that longest of zooms… and a 1.4x and 2x TC.  Yes – I'm avoiding primes – but that is when the $$ can really soar… since this is just a quick comparison – I just went to one site and priced each bag:

Canon Bag: $7,943
Canon EF-S 10-22mmf3.5-4.5 – $799
Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L II  – $1659
Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L – $1349
Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS – $1799
Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS – $1599
Canon Extender EF 1.4xII – $369
Canon Extender EF 2xII – $369

Nikon Bag: $8,643
Nikon 12-24mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S $1029
Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S – $1669
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S – $1699
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR – $1799
Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED AF VR – $1519
Nikon TC-14E II (1.4x) Teleconverter AF-S – $444
Nikon TC-20E II (2x) Teleconverter AF-S – $484

So about $700 difference between the two, primarily in the wide angle lenses, the 24-80, and the two TCs… In all, about a 10% difference. Again – you make the final call.

The Bundled-up Question – FPS, RAW vs JPG etc…

Thom asked about the fact that when shooting in 14-bit RAW, the Nikon can only shoot at 2.5 FPS. The 50D shoots 14-bit RAW files at 6.3 FPS. Would shooting jpg vs. RAW be a deal killer for me… Yes… yes it would. As a note – the D300 can shoot at *up to* 8 FPS (w/ the added battery pack) in 12-bit RAW – but I wanted to keep the comparison at 14-bit RAW. 

I think the frame rate comparison is easy – more FPS – more chances to get sports action to freeze players (or equipment) at the dramatic point where arms and so on are in aggressive and compelling positions… but as for RAW v. JPG – the RAW wins every time counselor.

Crash4885 RAW is to a negative as a JPG is to a print from the negative. RAW files just give you so much more flexibility in post processing, once you learn what all you can do to them, including saving images that you thought were un-usable. The first photo I ever had printed in a national magazine was shot raw and while the moment would have sold the picture anyway, the adjustments I was able to make it helped illustrate that moment with more clarity. So yes – hands down – shooting sports in JPG is a deal killer for me; but I do know that the top rated cycling photographer in the world shoots jpeg exclusively. I guess if I was better I could shoot jpeg only too? LOL

Okay, thanks for all that Will, but… what do you recommend?

My 2 Cents, a summary:

Step one – go get your hands on both cameras and play with them some… you can read whatever you want about other's impressions – but you can't just go with their info exclusively. Which feels better in your hands, which one's controls make more sense to you? Step two – from a technical basis, I like the higher resolution (more crop-ability, or better detail if you frame in camera); almost double the FPS when shooting RAW; and the ability to shoot higher ISO (though it is a "2nd push" ISO) – all seem to lean towards the Canon. I think that glass quality is pretty much a push with a lean towards Nikon but at a slight price premium on some lenses. At this point the Nikon is a more thoroughly tested camera (for having been announced back in August 2007) and some say their multi point AF may be better, while others think that more points can cause more points of confusion for the system. Keep in mind also that the Nikon is $400 more than the Canon, which while newer with potentially newer tech – is the untested body. The one last thing to consider is pedigree… Canon has been *the* choice for sports shooters in the past, and while the hiccup (or heart attack – depending on who you read) they had w/ the 1D Mark III auto focus, and Nikon's well received first steps into the Full Frame sensor DSLR arena with the D3 – I'd still give the nod to Canon – especially given the critical acclaim for the 5D Mark II.

It is going to come down to what you think you'll make the most use of – the AF system – the resolution – RAW FPS – Glass – etc. Then the decision should be easy! (Riiiiiiight!)

Good luck with your decision!

Thanks for reading!