November 28th, 2000
Dear Mr. Poelking,
first of all, may I congratulate you on your outstanding home page design? It is very informative and versatile.
Your motives for changing from Nikon to Canon interest me for a special reason. Up to now, I have known you as a convinced Nikon fan on the basis of your numerous publications (and also through Luenen). I, too, have been a "Nikon-photographer" for many years, but have become annoyed with Nikon since Canon has obviously been more innovative – at least as far as telephoto lenses are concerned. It is not comprehensible for me why Nikon manufactures a 80-400 with stabilizer but without the super quick auto focus.
Instead they have announced a 300 with super quick auto focus without the picture stabilizer. This I cannot comprehend.
Can´t the people from Nikon or do they just not want to? I am now faced with the problem of having to acquire new photo equipment, since there was a break-in and all of my Nikon equipment has been stolen. They (unfortunately ?) only left the MF 500/4.0.... which was probably to awkward to take.
I keep changing my mind from second to second as to whether I should buy Nikon again or switch to Canon. Klaus Finn (GDT), another Nikon-photographer of many years is presently testing the EOS 3 with the 100-400 and seems to be pretty satisfied with it. In the area of telephoto lenses, Canon has certainly convinced me (including the compatible tele-converter), but I have heartburn with the lenses below this level.
The test results from the Zoom - lenses are not very convincing. For instance, Canon has nothing to compare with the 70-180 macro-zoom from Nikon. Next to bird photography, I take a lot of landscapes and macro pictures and I am not so sure if in this case, Canon would be my best choice. On your new front page you introduced your new Canon equipment. In view of that, you must have quit the macro photography, or do you borrow your wife’s Nikon equipment? The 100-400 Canon lens is not exactly highly praised a few pages further in "what we need and what we dream about" from Winfrid Wisniewski ("maybe nice for amateurs...") This lens did not come up very good either in a recent test by "Naturfoto". Only 4 of possible 8 points for the optics. Also a Canon casing was criticized in an article from (?) in "Naturfoto" ( I can’t check at the moment who wrote the article) in view of the exposure and its sturdiness.
On the other hand, I can’t imagine that you, as a perfectionist, would acquire equipment which would not suit your, generally known, extreme expectations of quality. I would be very happy ( and certainly numerous other photographers as well) if we could read something as to the reasons of your change from Nikon to Canon either in "Naturfoto" or on your website as soon as possible. Especially the reasons of why you would suggest using which lenses from Canon (that you have already tested).
My uncertainty in view of a possible change of system is also based on the fact that up to now I have not really concerned myself much with Canon. I am not familiar with everything in the system. I have to get acquainted with it first.
I wish you lots of success for your continuing work.
Sincerely, Klaus Haak
Dear Mr. Haak,
thank you very much for the kind words. A decision like that is not made over night, but formed rather slowly.
I will try to explain the reasons for my change from Nikon to Canon to you.
Actually it all started with the really fantastic 4.5-5.6/70-180 mm macro-zoom.
In the springtime I took pictures of little dragonflies that were hatching at day-break, with the F-5 it was impossible for me to adjust the sharpness correctly with the relatively sparsely lit lens on thetube. Everything was so dim and flat and gray, that I was not able to see whether the main sharpness was directed at the head or the wings or the body of the dragonfly.
When I switched the F5 with the F-100, everything was suddenly very easy to see and to recognize, because this Nikon has a very bright seeker.
Unfortunately it does not have a mirror-lock-up and won’t according to information from Nikon and when you take vertical formatted pictures with times between 1/30 and 1/8 sec. with a tripod and focal lengths in this area or longer, without mirror-lock-up or stabilizer, you can be sure that the slides are for the garbage when you get through, because they will just not be sharp or clear enough.
The jerk-factor from the mirror click is just too great.
Of course you could always take a big sack of sand with you and a huge Sachtler-tripod with a 3 kg"ball head" to compensate for the missing mirror-lock-up, but who wants to do that....!?
That’s when I started to think about a switch, since almost all Canon reflex cameras come with the mirror-lock-up, whereas only Nikon’s F-5 is equipped with it.
Even at that, there is a great difference.
The mirror-lock-up of the Nikon F5 works only with a manual exposure program, and mechanically. This means you have to press the mirror up by hand each time.
Canon ´s reflex cameras have a software program that works the mirror-lock-up and so you can use settings like automatic timer, automatic blind and an automatic programming.
This way you do not have to continuously check and readjust through changing light situations.
In the summer of 2000 while taking the picture of a frog quacking, the second reason for switching sneaked into my thoughts.
The frog was sitting about three meters off the bank in the water. So I used the F-100 with the 500 mm and an adapter. All the pictures came out slightly blurry, in spite of a tripod, all possible support measures and that all pictures were only in the horizontal format. With a vertical format, the pictures would have turned out to be three times as blurry. The results would have been a bit more usable with a stabilizer in the 500 or a mirror-lock-up in the F-100. But it is highly unlikely to count on either from Nikon in the near future.
Then I received the data on the new Nikkor 80-400mm, and that was the last straw I needed.
To bring out another lens at the turn of the century where the own auto focus converters do not work, with a stabilizer you have to turn off when using a tripod (even though Canon is able to deliver stabilizers for the past two years now, second generation, who work from/with a tripod) and constructed in such a way, that you have to pass on using Nikon MF-converters or Nikon adapters with all modern functions like the multiple field measure, since all of them do not function with it, was just too much for me.
From that time on, I did not believe that anyone who was making product decisions at executive level with Nikon in Tokyo knew anything at all about photography or what was needed for it or for that matter, what photographers needed.
Whereas you couldn’t very well blame Nikon in Düsseldorf. They just have to live with the stuff delivered from their mother in Japan and then do their best in keeping up with the market.
Nikon took 8 years, after Minolta’s 4.0/600 mm with AF lens, in order to bring her own 600mm with AF onto the market.
It is really unbelievable: but up to this day, where AF has been marketed for 12 years already, that Nikon still has not been able to manufacture neither an AF-Converter for their lenses with a cogwheel AF, which is available with the 80-400 mm, nor an extention ring for either AF-system. Let me guess: stabilizers of the second generation at Nikon may be out in another 2-4 years.
A successor for the F-100 with a mirror-lock-up maybe in 2-4 years as well.
A successor for the F5 with detachable motor as with the EOS-1 V (why should I drag along the motor on a day trip in the Bavarian Forest in order to photograph mushrooms? It is very rare indeed that I take pictures of mushrooms with 8 shots per second), with a bright seeker and a modern mirror-lock-up will not exist any more, in view of the digitalization.
In the summer of 2001, Canon is bringing out the first telephoto lens of the new generation with new lenses that will make the telephoto lenses about 30% lighter and 30% shorter.
The first one will be a 4.0/400mm and the 300, 500 and 600 focal lengths will certainly follow in the next one or two years. A 4.5/200-600 mm with the new technology is supposed to follow as well. With Nikon we will certainly be waiting at least another 6-8 years.
Nikon seems to have borrowed the book "How to discover slowness" from Leica. Take a look at my report called "Nostalgie" in my "Werkstattbuch", in the german section.
You are right with the Canon zoom 70-200 mm. Canon has nothing to compare with the 70-180 mm macro-zoom from Nikon..Personally I like to use the 4.0/70-200mm with a tripod clamp and a Canon front lens attachment 500 D as an option. That works, but is not really ideal. For really difficult things on close-up shots, I use the 3.5/180mm macro from Canon which reaches up to 1:1.
Ideal would be if, with the Canon, you could shorten the close-up range from 1.2 meters with the 4.0/70-200mm to 40cm, then it would be a fantastic "all-round-lens" like the Nikon 4.5/5.6/70-180mm.
During January-February-March 2001, I am planning on going on a rather long photo trip with pictures of landscapes from the wintry Yellowstone, with heat and sand dunes in Death Valley by Las Vegas, with great bevies of wintry birds in the Bosco-Del-Apache Reservation in New Mexico, with alligators and crocodiles in the Everglades and 50 Million monarch butterflies in Mexico. This means a wide variety of all different types of lenses for the numerous wildlife and nature motifs. I will be able to say a whole lot more in the summer of 2001 to the different optical and mechanical qualities of the different Canon lenses, stabilizers and mirror-lock-up.
Would you permit me to publish this exchange of letters in my home-page? Presently I have about 1-2 inquiries a day why I have changed my camera equipment and unfortunately I do not have the time to answer each one in detail.
You will find more details to my change of system in "Photo of the Month' October, "Wasp spider" at the very end.
Sincerely, Your Fritz Pölking
Here a small demonstration as test.
To the left, photographed "normally", to the right with a stabilizer.
Technical Data: Canon EOS-1V, 4.0/500mm with 1.4 x AF
vertical format, cable trigger, tripod, both with 1/15 sec. exposure time.
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