Image of three horses decorated for the parade. Photo by Eduardo Libby

Choosing between DX or FX cameras

If you have read my post “DX vs FX cameras: Don’t switch, keep both!” you will know I really enjoy carrying two cameras: a DX body with a 70-300 mm lens and am FX body with a 18-35 mm. Now, there are times when I only can (or want to!) take one of the two systems and deciding is not always easy. I am sure you have the same problem either when choosing one of your cameras or, even more difficult, when deciding what camera system to buy.

Image of a horse carriage parade in Seville, Spain. Photo by Eduardo Libby.
Limitations on weight of carry-on baggage, and long walks pulling a suitcase are the norm in European travel. This means DX or smaller format to me, especially when photographing a horse carriage parade in Seville.

This is not a post to give advice as the needs of every photographer are different. However, I would like to tell you what I has worked for me recently.

First Scenario: Wildlife photo trip

I put my biggest telephoto lens in my largest backpack and fill it to capacity with a DX camera, one wide-angle zoom (12-24mm) or normal zoom (16-80 mm) lens, one mid telephoto zoom (70-300 mm), flash, accessories and tripod. This allows me to shoot landscape as well. Sorry Nikon D810… no space left for you!

Second Scenario: Landscape photo trip

Here I definitely go for my Nikon D810 FX camera and two or three zoom lenses: 18-35 mm, 24-120 and 70-300 (or, if I am feeling really strong, a 70-200 mm f/2.8 and 1.7X teleconverter). Most of the time, however, I take a normal lens instead of the 24-120. Pretty birds around? …I’d rather not see!

Third Scenario: Vacation trip

I choose my destinations to see as much as possible. Beach resorts just don’t make it for me: I want to move!! This is out of necessity a one camera-one lens scenario. I have successfully carried either the Nikon D810 FX and 24-120 mm lens or a Nikon D7100 DX and 18-70 mm (or 16-85 mm) lens. No tripod: Improvise camera support. With this setup I don’t have to switch lenses in awkward places. Wildlife in sight? …I said I was on a vacation trip!

What about those extra 12 MP the FX camera provides? No problem unless you really want to make prints larger than 24 x 36 inches. The 24 MP of the DX camera are enough to make a great double spread in a magazine.

Image of a military officer in ceremonial attire in Seville, Spain. Photo by Eduardo Libby
The uniform this military officer was wearing is really impressive. He was very obliging posing in the hot sun for every photographer.
Image of two soldiers lending their hats to two girls. Seville, Spain. Photo by Eduardo Libby
Switching quickly from wide-angle so medium telephoto fast is necessary to capture the instant when two soldiers lent their ceremonial hats to two sweet girls.
Image of Sevillian young woman in traditional dress. Photo by Eduardo Libby.
Traditional dresses, flowers and fans make beautiful Sevillian young woman look their best.

There you have it: The Nikon D810 camera is a delight to use: it feels solid and professional just as an ultra fast D4s works wonders for a sports photographer. If you can, see my post “Getting the most out of a travel lens” for New York FX-format photos. There are a few significant advantages of the larger format: better shadow detail recovery and high ISO capabilities but… there are ways to work around most problems as you surely know.

What format do you prefer for travel photography?

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