First DSLR - Nikon D40 or Canon Rebel XS?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by nakile, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. nakile macrumors regular

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    #1
    I'm looking into buying my first DSLR. I've pretty much settled between the Canon Rebel XS or the Nikon D40.

    The Rebel XS has pretty much everything I want except spot metering and a good lens. The kit lens seems to get mixed feedback from the various reviews I read. I also hear the while balance has a weakness under incandescent lighting.

    The D40 has spot metering and a from what I read a good kit lens, but has a three point autofocus (the XS has seven) and the lens lacks image stabilization. Also, unlike the XS, there is no depth of field preview and the lack of a button dedicated to ISO kind of bothers me, too.

    I guess my main questions are: Does seven point autofocus has that much on a real world advantage over three point? Is depth of field preview that important if I can just check out the final photo on the screen? How easy is the ISO to change on the D40 without a dedicated button? It image stabilization really that important on a 18-55 mm lens? Is spot metering that much of a loss on the XS?

    If anything, I want a camera that will grow with me for a while before I have to upgrade to something higher end. Something that will get me started but at the same time will not severely limit me when I want to get more advanced.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. cosmokanga2 macrumors 6502a

    cosmokanga2

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    #2
    Does seven point autofocus has that much on a real world advantage over three point?:

    I'm not sure on the layout, but seven would be much better than three. Focus locking and recomposing on the D40 would solve this though.

    Is depth of field preview that important if I can just check out the final photo on the screen?

    I estimate the depth of field by the f stop as the screens aren't very useful for this. The preview button is better than the screen, however I don't use it too often.

    It image stabilization really that important on a 18-55 mm lens?

    Image stailization is great, allowing you to take slightly longer exsposures without as much blur.
     
  3. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #3
    Either is a good choice. If you're not looking forward to some specialist niche, then you can't really go wrong either way

    You should be able to manually white balance if you need it. I think Canon's kit lenses have gotten better in the last couple of years.

    I tend to chimp the histogram more than spot meter these days, it's one of the advantages of digital. I've used a DoF preview button about three times on my cameras since the early '90's. usually the image is too dark, and with digital, I'd rather pop off a few shots and check the LCD.

    Depends on where the points are and where you normally place subjects in the frame- I often find AF points on different cameras in the wrong place for my composition, no matter how many there are, I'd suggest taking a look at both and seeing how they fit your shooting.

    Stabilization on a short lens isn't that useful for most shooting, if you shoot static subjects in low light and can't or refuse to use a tripod, it may help some, but only a few people shoot like that routinely.

    If you're not shooting fast sports, the real limitation is the photographer - but most enthusiasts tend to get a newer, higher-end body at about 3 years.
     
  4. JKitterman macrumors member

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    #4
    Have you got hands on time with both bodies? How do the controls fit your hands, etc. You should like either brand otherwise.
     
  5. aquajet macrumors 68020

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    #5
    The self-timer button on the D40 is also a multi-function button that can be programmed to set the ISO. So if you don't use the self-timer often, that will take care of your concerns over quickly resetting ISO.
     
  6. cube macrumors G5

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    #6
    If you're going to be picky about entry-level body features, you should really look at the K200D.
     
  7. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #7
    Either one of these two cameras will be fine. However, become familiar with lens compatibility before you buy a D40. This is not really a problem for most people, but you should still know the facts before making a decision:
    http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/ND40/ND40A4.HTM
     
  8. SchneiderMan macrumors G3

    SchneiderMan

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    #8
    the reason why i went with the d40 was because it felt much better in my hand then the canon.
     
  9. spacemanps macrumors regular

    spacemanps

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    #9
    i actually felt the opposite.... i liked the xs in my hand a lil better then the d40...
     
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #10
    The problem here is that if you buy a Canon now when you do upgrade the body later you will pretty much have to buy another Canon. You will by then have some Canon lenses and maybe a flash unit. So already, today you are selecting the next body you will be buying in abot four years.

    What you should have said was "I want a camera brand that will grow with me ..." You will be upgrading the body just exactly like upgrading a computer but you will be locked into the brand.
     
  11. wheezy macrumors 65816

    wheezy

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    #11
    "If anything, I want a camera that will grow with me for a while before I have to upgrade to something higher end. Something that will get me started but at the same time will not severely limit me when I want to get more advanced."

    I'm gonna focus on this answer for a second - Nikon fans are gonna hate me for saying this, but it's the technical truth. If you want to buy into a system that's more future proof, then your best bet is Canon.

    Canon's top lenses are L lenses, they were designed around 35mm film cameras and are fantastic on both crop (Rebel, xxD) bodies and full frame (5D, 1Ds) bodies. Edge to edge you're getting the best quality.

    Nikon backed itself into a corner with lenses. Right now their top bodies are outperforming Canon on some important issues (noise), but their lenses are the kryptonite. When Digital SLR's came into popularity, we were introduced to crop body sensors. (The CMOS/CCD in the camera is 1.6 times smaller than a 35mm piece of film). Nikon then decided to built a whole new range of lenses for their digital bodies and the DX lens was born. However, DX lenses were designed for a 1.6 crop sensor body. Recently, Nikon released the FX body (full frame) and DX showed some weaknesses on edges, as the lenses weren't designed for full frame optics. The centers were great, but the outsides were not. Canon doesn't have this problem because the L glass was all designed around film, or full frame sensors.

    It's going to take Nikon several years to pick up the slack created with their lenses. So if you want something more future proof, you'll want to pick Canon mainly for the L glass, should you ever venture in that far.

    As a side note... if you don't think you'll ever venture into a full frame camera, then this post is pretty pointless :) But if you're going for future proof, and you'll get the L itch pretty quick, then Canon is your safer way to go.

    And the Nikon guys will now attack this post, but this is the honest truth that I got from one of the best photographers in the world - who ordered an FX body the day they were released, but soon cancelled the order when he learned of the mess Nikon made on the lenses.
     
  12. Ryan1524 macrumors 65816

    Ryan1524

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    #12
    I'm a Nikon guy, and I won't attack that post.

    You're right. Nikon is a little confusing at the moment. They have more DX lenses than FX ones. But DX is not a bad format at all, for a lot of people, it's more than enough. And if you do want to go FX, there's a lot of good older lenses that were originally meant for film still circulating.

    But yea, Nikon needs to either bring everything to FX (not gonna happen), make good lenses for both lines (tough), or start making updated lenses for the FX (most likely).
     
  13. wheezy macrumors 65816

    wheezy

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    #13
    That's what I figure they'll do - the only hangup is it'll take several years to really fill out a lineup. I have no doubts they'll cover their butts, what they've done ousting Canon as top dog is very impressive. Not too many years ago it was Canon on top by a huge margin - but at a recent local Photocamp (about 300 photographers) there was only a 1% difference between Canon owners and Nikon owners.

    Thanks for taking my post as I meant it Ryan - I'm not trying to have a flame war against Nikon. I've been into DSLR's for about 4 years now and I'm getting a big itch to get a Full Frame - I'd be a little disappointed if the 2 $$ lenses I bought were going to give me some problems with the switch.
     
  14. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #14
    Canon's L lenses are their professional line- Nikon's professional line lenses are all full-frame lenses except the 12-24mm, 10.5mm fisheye and 17-55m. For full-frame bodies, there's the 14-24mm, 16mm fisheye, and 17-35mm as alternatives if you don't want to shoot in DX mode- the D3x (full-frame) in DX mode is 10.5 megapixels- more than enough to justify keeping good non-consumer DX glass around.

    As far as "designed for 35mm film," you may be surprised to find that film resolution is generally less than the resolution quality needed for the venerable Nikon D2x - http://www.diax.nl/pages/Lens_res_uk.html.

    First of all, Canon uses a 1.6x, FX and 1.3x crops, Nikon uses 1.5x and FX. Secondly, Nikon FX bodies have a DX crop mode to allow folks who've purchased DX lenses to continue to use their lenses on the FX bodies if they wish. Thirdly, once again you're comparing a professional lens line with mostly prosumer lenses- I've got about $17,000 in Nikon lenses, and I own exactly *one* DX lens (a Sigma 10-20mm.) Funnily enough, the Canon 10-22mm lens is an EF-S lens (Canon's version of a DX lens.)

    Nikon doesn't need to pick up any "slack," they continue to offer the following FX lenses (f/2.8 unless otherwise noted)- 14mm, 16mm fish, 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm/2, 50mm/1.4 (AF-D and AF-S,) 50mm/1.8, 85mm/1.4, 85mm/1.8, 105mm/2, 135mm/2, 180mm, 200mm/2, 300mm, 300mm/4, 400mm, 500mm/4, 600mm/4, 14-24mm, 17-35mm, 18-35mm/3.5-4.5, 24-70mm, 24-120mm/3.5-5.6, 24-85mm, 70-200mm, 70-300mm/4-5.6(IF and G versions,) 80-400mm/4.5-5.6, 80-200, 200-400mm/4, 60mm (D and G versions,) 105mm, 200mm/4 as well as eight manual focus lenses and three perspective control (T/S) lenses.

    There are four or five "consumer or prosumer" lenses in that list- two of which are variants of the same lens.

    Canon's L series looks like this:
    35mm, 50mm/1.2, 85mm/1.2, 135mm/2, 200mm, 200mmIS, 300/4, 300mm, 400mm, 400mm/5.6, 500mm/4, 600mm/4, 800mm/5.6, 16-35mm, 17-40mm, 24-70mm, 24-105mm, 28-300mm, 180mm, 70-200mm, 70-200mm/4, 100-400/4.5-5.6 and two tilt/shift lenses.

    Then your "best photographer" is an idiot in real life- if he can't go through the Nikon catalog and ignore all the consumer lenses labeled "DX" then he's going to have as much trouble going through the Canon catalog and not ignoring lenses that have "EF-S" in them.

    Yes, I'm attacking this post- but because it's not factually true- Nikon makes forty-five (45) FX compatible lenses- Canon make fifty-three (53) and I'd bet if we took out repeat focal lengths we'd have a difference of about three lenses- none of them more than 1-2mm off in total coverage except the 800mm/5.6 which I don't know any Canon wildlife photogs who shoot with. Nikon also has one additional TC (1.7x.)

    Both Canon and Nikon keep their lens lines on their Web sites, so anyone can easily verify what the "honest truth" is. The truth is that both companies offer fairly equivalent lens lines. The major differences for wildlife is that Nikon offer the 200-400mm lens and Canon an 800/5.6 (but Canon doesn't have a lens that touches the MTF of the 400/2.8VR.) For architecture, Canon offer a 17mm T/S and for Wedding folks who can't afford/carry a fast lens, Canon offer the 70-200/4. If you're a niche shooter, then the minuscule differences in lens lines are important, but for most people they're moot.

    For folks who aren't going to pony up $2700 for a full-frame camera, lenses like the DX 18-200mm super-zoom as an all-around travel lens on a small DX body make more sense than paying for Canon L or high-end Nikkor glass.
     
  15. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    Washington, DC
    #15
    Here's a good comparison list.

    http://www.radiantlite.com/2008/07/canon-versus-nikon-lenses.html

    The fact is, Canon and Nikon both have gaps, but they are gaps that are only important to you if they are important to you. Canon doesn't make a 28mm f/1.4 lens. Nikon doesn't make a 24mm f/1.4 lens. Canon doesn't make an IS macro lens. Nikon doesn't make a 5x macro lens.

    At this point though, I'd say Nikon has the better consumer lineup and Canon has the better pro lineup. But in the end, you don't buy the lineup, you buy the lenses you need (and want/can afford). So the lineup doesn't really matter.
     
  16. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #16
    Actually, Canon list goes like this (L glass only):
    15-35 f/2.8
    15-35 f/2.8 II
    17-40 f/4
    24-70 f/2.8
    24-105 f/4
    28-70 f/2.8
    28-300
    70-300 f/4
    70-200 f/4 IS
    70-200 f/4 IS
    70-200 f/2.8
    70-200 f/2.8 IS
    100-300 f/5.6
    100-400 f/4.5-5.6 IS
    TSE 24 f/3.5
    14 f/2.8
    14 f/2.8 IS
    35 f/1.4
    50 f/1.2
    85 f/1.2
    135 f/2
    180 f/3.5 Macro
    200 f/2.8
    200 f/1.8
    200 f/2
    300 f/4
    300 f/2.8
    400 f/5.6
    400 f/2.8 IS
    500 f/4 IS
    600 f/4 IS

    There are a few more. For example, there is a 1,200mm one, but i don't know if it's still in production.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/find/newsLetter/Mother-of-All-L-Lenses.jsp
     
  17. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #17
    Non L lenses:
    EF S 10-22
    EF S 17-55
    EF S 17-55
    17-85 IS
    EF S 18-55
    EF S 18-55 IS
    EF S 18-200
    EF 24-85
    EF 28-80
    EF 28-90
    EF 28-105
    EF 28-135 IS
    EF 55-250 IS
    EF 70-210
    EF 70-300 IS (two lenses)
    EF 75-300
    EF 100-300
    EF 15mm Fisheye
    TS-E 45 (Tilt Shift)
    TS-E 90 (Tilt Shift)
    MP E 65 Macro
    EF 20
    EF 24
    EF 28 (two lenses)
    EF 35
    EF 50 (three lenses)
    EF 50 Macro
    EF S 60
    EF 85
    EF 100
    EF 100 Macro
    EF 135
    400 DO

    Some of the lenses above are known for sharpness and focusing speed. Some may not be L glass, but still professional lenses for macro and tilt shift photography, etc., and are expensive. Some L lenses are reasonably priced. For example the EF 200mm f/2.8L, which is very fast and sharp, costs around $600.00. The same for the very popular 70-200mm f/4L, and a few more L that are priced under $1,000.
     
  18. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #18
    I didn't find any of these listed on Canon USA's site at http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ProductCatIndexAct&fcategoryid=111 where I checked each category under EF Lens Lineup.

    My supposition is that makes them not current production lenses- I used both manufacturer's USA Websites to limit things to production lenses- since some of my lenses aren't current production models I was trying to keep things even.

    That's always been a special order "build one when it's ordered" lens as far as I know. There used to be a guy who shot with one at one of my favorite wildlife spots a few years ago. Nikon's also made some monster lenses, but again I stuck to the current production catalog from each manufacturer's own Website.
     
  19. nakile thread starter macrumors regular

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    #19
    I'm still torn on what to buy. I'm really wanting to get the Canon but there are some things holding me back.

    When it comes down to it there are pretty much two things I'm looking for: Low shutter lag and good low light performance.

    When it comes to low light I'm not looking for nothing extreme, but it would be nice to to be able to take pictures indoors with nothing more than a few lamps on and not have to use the flash. This is where Canon's choice of including a stabilized kit lens really wins me over.

    Of course, there will be times when using a flash is unavoidable. This is where Canon's flash system kind of bothers me. From what I understand it fires a couple of flashes in order to aid with autofocus in dark situations. Nikon on the other hand uses a simple AF light. I'm worried that Canon's system would become annoying with all the flashing going on.

    As for shutter lag, from I read that Canon's autofocus system is near instantaneous where as the Nikon's is a littler slower. On the other hand, Canon's system is said to be more prone to focusing errors where as Nikon's system always seems to get it right.

    From the video reviews I've seen, the Rebel XS makes quite a bit of noise when autofocusing with the kit lens where as the D40 is rather quiet. Also, the shutter on the XS is a little loud. Is the noise really that bad or is it just the videos?

    I'm also hearing conflicting information on Auto ISO on the XS. Some say that it doesn't work in program modes where as others say it does. Which is right?
     
  20. Ryan1524 macrumors 65816

    Ryan1524

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    #20
    For Low light performance, most cameras in the APS-C area are comparable. You only really gain a lot when jumping to full frame, but that means doubling your budget - typically. There's shutter lag on DSLRs?

    As for image stabilization, IS is VR is IS. All that matters is whether they make them or not. Stores often mix and match their own 'kit' because they know some people like a different set for kit. Most often, the price difference is fair.

    I haven't used Canon's flash system, so can't comment.

    As for focusing, the speed issue might be because more Canon lenses have the ultrasonic motor - Nikon only has those in the newer ones, and often not necessarily the pro ones.
     
  21. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #21
    I don't know if those lenses are still in production, but they are in stock at B&H, Adorama, etc. However, Canon is slowly replacing non-IS lenses with IS ones. The 1,200mm one is not longer in production, and I believe that it costs around $90,0000 in used form.
     
  22. wheezy macrumors 65816

    wheezy

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    #22
    Holy Schnitzel I hope you didn't blow a blood vessel typing that up in your anger. I'm just gonna throw up one defense, and give you a look into my 'idiot in real life', who's opinion I'll take any day over any one on this forum including yours.

    His name is Kenneth Linge, and he's one of the Society of XXV, or, the 25 leading photographers in the world. Here's their website: Society of XXV You'll notice his name is on the list. He's shot everything out there from Nikon to Hasselblad to Mamiya to Polaroid to Canon to brands I've never heard of and that died long ago. I trust his opinion. He's not nearly as angrily biased as you. As I mentioned, he was ready to flip his production to Nikon but found their lenses lacking. You don't, and that's fine! The OP wanted things to weigh his decision on, and that's what I was offering.

    PLEASE understand I'm not calling Nikon crap, not at all. I'm just relaying information as I heard it, just as you are. I apologize for making you spend probably over an hour compiling your reply and barfing anger everywhere.
     
  23. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #23
    Most digital SLR cameras hardly have any shooter lag. In fact, you won't be able to notice shooter lag when you press the shutter release. Also, when you turn the power switch ON, the camera is ready to go almost instantly.

    There always is digital noise in low light photography, but this can be reduced by using the right lenses (which are more expensive than kit lenses), by the camera's noise-reducing settings, by using low ISO's, or with software such as Noise Ninja, Neat Image, and others.
     
  24. Ryan1524 macrumors 65816

    Ryan1524

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    #24
    off topic: I have a bad habit of flicking my camera on/off switch repeatedly as my index finger rests on the shutter/power switch (on a Nikon). Anybody know if this will tax the dust-removal feature on most of today's DSLRs? As I gather, the ultrasonic filter vibrates every time the camera is turned on.
     
  25. wheezy macrumors 65816

    wheezy

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    #25
    You can set that to not happen every time you turn the camera off, so it's manual only.

    I'd recommend just kicking that habit :/ You can set the camera to turn off automatically after 1 or 2 minutes. I rarely actually turn mine off. With 0.6 seconds ready to go, I don't want to miss a shot because I turned the darn thing off.
     

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