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How I finally switched to Nikon after 10 years thanks to BorrowLenses

Published May 29th, 2013

Last year about this time (it was early June) I took a trip to the West coast, thinking of exploring the coast from Seattle all the way down to Los Angeles. It's not uncommon to me, as I happened to travel to the West Coast a few times in prior years, visiting Yosemite, Death Valley and other majestic places to practice my landscape photography.

As it happened, I was shooting Canon back then. I've been a Canon user since 2001, when I first bought my Canon Elan 7 film camera with an eye control, which was just amazing. Since then, I have gone through a number of bodies and amassed a nice collection of L lenses.

I have now switched to Nikon, trading my cameras and lenses for Nikon D800 and a few lenses. It's not cheap, and switching the whole system is something you research quite extensively.

Anyway, on my trip, I took my old Canon 5D Mark II, bunch of lenses, filters and so on. But, packing last minute, also decided to check out BorrowLenses, and, in doing so, thought about testing Nikon's new D800. I have been travelling with my friend, who is an avid Nikon user, so I only needed a few lenses. To try out the extremes, I ordered Nikkor 400 mm f/2.8, a heavy beast, and Nikkor 14mm f/2.8, for ultimate wide-angle (which is, truth to be said, is rarely used in landscape photography).

Since I was departing too soon for the order to be shipped to Seattle, I've decided to take the risk and ordered it shipped to Portland, Oregon, where BorrowLenses had a store where it could be shipped to.


Me and 400mm f/2.8 from BorrowLenses

We have arrived in Seattle, enjoying cloudy and rainy weather. I was still shooting Canon, but the anticipation anxiety started to build up, and I just couldn't wait to get to Portland to collect my items.

We drove to Portland next day, and after a short ride trying to find the store, we have arrived by a tiny shop used as a drop-ship location by BorrowLenses.

I was promptly given lots of huge boxes, checked that all equipment arrived in pristine condition (you have forms for check-in and check-out to mark any new damage), loaded everything into a car drove away.

That day, I tucked my Canon 5D Mark II deep in the luggage and prepared to dive deeply into shooting with Nikon.

Spoiler alert: It was great.

  • June 27th, 2012
  • NIKON D800
  • 190mm / f/5.6 / 1/125 sec

Art(ificial) Colors of Autumn

In Portland, we have visited a few famous places, such as Portland Japanese Garden, inspiring tourists around us to photograph us with D800, attached to a massive 400mm lens.

Japanese Garden was, however, a unique place for another lens — 14mm f/2.8, which was just right to get this photo. If you ever visit this great location, look for a small, 1.5 meter tall, tree. Getting there with 16-35mm on full frame is already a stretch, so pack wisely, or rent super-wide-angle lens in advance. You might completely miss the shot otherwise.

  • February 5th, 2012
  • Nikon D800
  • 14mm / f/5 / 1/50 sec

At Crater Lake

We drove down, making stop at Crater Lake in Oregon. Having a 400mm lens is an instant showstopper, so even amazing views of the Crater Lake were sometimes shadowed by guys with a huge lens [sic].

We had fun times posing for tourists, who came up there with iPhones.

Having full-frame camera and a 400mm is not that special, considering cropped camera with cheaper lenses like 70-300 would have an effective focal distance of 450mm, but the quality of D800's sensor with 400mm glass produced amazing, super-crisp results, which is essential at Crater Lake, where some of the best views are a bit away in the distance (see a photo at the end of this post for example)


Still, a Handheld

One thing about 400mm f/2.8 — it's not for your daily hiking. It's pretty heavy lens, requiring a very sturdy tripod. The weight is 4.6 Kg, not counting the camera (another 1000 grams), so photographers will have a decent work out while transporting the lens.

That being said, we travelled a lot with this lens, and at some point it became a burden — it's heavy, so we used it mainly near parking spots, which, if you travelled for landscape photography in the States, are pretty common.



After a week of travel around Oregon and California, we arrived to Los Angeles. I have packed the lenses along with the camera and dropped them at the postal office. My trip was over, but BorrowLenses camera and lenses still had a short trip laid before them — back to the office, where I hoped they were hugged on arrival, cleaned, and prepared for the next customer.


After this trip, I had been invited to travel to Tibet and China (that happened in October 2012). For that trip, I took an (expensive) plunge, sold my Canon 5D Mark II and a few lenses and bought Nikon D800, Nikkor 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200. I'm now looking to add a second camera, 35mm and 85mm to my list for landscape and portrait work. In a month from now (July 2013) I will be travelling to Alaska for landscape and wildlife photo trip, and expect to bring some amazing photos from there.

  • June 29th, 2012
  • NEX-5N
  • 24mm / f/10 / 1/100 sec


It's pretty easy to shoot a moon in Yosemite — all one needs is a good piece of equipment and patience. So, with rented glass from (Nikon's 400mm f/2.8 is damn sharp), and Gitzo tripod from my friend it was an easy task!

Unfriendly Waters

Crater Lake waters and shore, some still covered in snow even in June. Another shot with rented D800 and 400mm. The texture on the water is one of the top reasons to have 400mm here — it's that texture that less expensive lenses and lower megapixel cameras will have really hard time capturing.

  • June 29th, 2012
  • Nikon D800
  • 400mm / f/6.3 / 1/1250 sec

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Qingying Liu  over 3 years ago




Qingying Liu  over 3 years ago
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Qingying Liu  over 3 years ago
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Qingying Liu  over 3 years ago


Fawaz Abdulaziz  over 4 years ago

nikon is the pest !

Art Lupinacci PHOTOGRAPHY  over 4 years ago

Great story, thanks for sharing your experience. I am a D800 user, got it when they first came out. WOW! What is not to like. :) Going to check out your other work.

Tatiana Avdjiev  over 4 years ago

Thank you for sharing your experience and the beautiful photos Evgeny. "Borrowing" is a great way to test new equipment, yet switching is a brave step. :)

Leon'  over 4 years ago

What was your reasoning for switching from Canon to Nikon. I'm thinking of going back myself before I make my next big purchase.

Omer Nave  over 4 years ago


Alex Fleming  over 4 years ago

great story fantastic :)

Evgeny Tchebotarev  over 4 years ago

Thanks ;)

Jorge Brennan  over 4 years ago

Nice story and great photos. I'm really looking forward to your future stories. :D

Evgeny Tchebotarev  over 4 years ago

I'll have one more shortly about future of iPhone photography :)

Shai Ben-Naphtali  over 4 years ago

Loved your story and your travel experience :) Thanks for sharing!

Matthew Gore  over 4 years ago

Some cool pictures, but... the largest version of these photos that I've seen is less than 1200 pixels wide... less than one megapixel total. So, either I'm not seeing anything like the textures that are in the picture, or you didn't really need 36 megapixels. I suspect that the truth is somewhere in between.

"The texture on the water is one of the top reasons to have 400mm here — it's that texture that less expensive lenses and lower megapixel cameras will have really hard time capturing."

Evgeny Tchebotarev  over 4 years ago

Matthew, well, there's a limit of what you can put on the web! I upload full-res though and often give away my photos (check out my 88 Megapixel panorama of Toronto for example

I like to have the highest quality of photos (in pixels) when I travel, because occasionally I print it pretty large (30"x40"), and sometimes I sell it.

However I admit that 36Mp is a bit too much, and I'd prefer 24Mp camera with same or better ISO.

Ken Yee  over 4 years ago

Curious why you didn't get the D800e instead? No AA filter seems like a natural for landscape shooting. I've been debating switching from Pentax as well.
The new Pentax GR is a great X100s alternative...smaller and fast focusing w/ a better UI.

Evgeny Tchebotarev  over 4 years ago

It is more expensive and wasn't available when I was getting D800. I'm thinking of getting it now, though, and keeping D800 as a second camera.
Although the 'E' advantage is pretty insignificant for me as I don't spend a lot of time photoshopping, but mostly 'lightrooming'.

Greg Zastawny  over 4 years ago


Deepak Pawar  over 4 years ago

Amazing. You really have got very strong shoulders. :)

Evgeny Tchebotarev  over 4 years ago

It's a required with that lens :)

Mike Fabricius  over 4 years ago

Which tripod head are you using?

Evgeny Tchebotarev  over 4 years ago

Currently, not a very good one. Looking to get RRS in a week or so for a bigger trip to Alaska, where I'll definitely need it.

Gary Draluck  over 4 years ago

Nice. Would've been interesting to see a direct comparison with Canon glass ;)

Evgeny Tchebotarev  over 4 years ago

Thanks. It's not about pixel peeping though. Canon glass is great too, but to put it in subjective terms, I enjoyed shooting with Nikon more. Just a subjective feeling of every button, grip, and other tactile emotions :)

Kenneth Rivera  over 4 years ago

I experienced something similar, I went from Canon to Nikon... it was my 5dmk2, and I replace it for the Nikon D600. Overall it was the weight, size and dynamic range of the camara que captured me. Now i'm a believer... I think d600 is the best camera for travel light but still have full frame and take max quality of your image.

Mohan Duwal  over 4 years ago

Excellent work :)

Evgeny Tchebotarev  over 4 years ago

Thanks ;)