lenses: difference between Nikon and Canon

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Ridge08, Feb 9, 2009.

  1. Ridge08 macrumors member

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    Feb 2, 2009
    #1
    First, I`m not trying to spark a Nikon vs. Canon discussion.

    I`ve seen a few people mention that Nikon and Canon lenses have different strengths and weaknesses, or perhaps slightly different characteristics in terms of the picture they produce.

    Can someone please elaborate in specific terms (or link to somewhere that does)?
     
  2. bigandy macrumors G3

    bigandy

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    #2
    Interesting request - but my mind just keeps trying to tell me it's the sensors and image processing that'll produce the most image difference rather than the glass..


    Hopefully there'll be some nice insightful answers!
     
  3. rogersmj macrumors 68020

    rogersmj

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    #3
    There's no generalization that you can apply to whole brands of glass. Both Nikon and Canon have particular lenses in their lineup that are excellent in their respective ranges. Are you looking at a particular type of lens? Then maybe people could offer some meaningful comparisons.
     
  4. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    Feb 19, 2005
    #4
    You're asking a seriously broad question. Also, just an FYI … people are, in fact, going to spark a Nikon vs Canon discussion as a result.

    Back to your broad question.
    Nikon and Canon are both equally good. Some will say that Canon is better because they make their own sensors and such, but this doesn't make them better or worse. Nikon using third parties for their sensors and such doesn't make them bad at all.

    Each lens will have an MTF chart and on that chart you can see the lens performance. Ultimately, if you're at all interested in determining which lens is best, the MTF chart is a great place to start.

    My advice to you is list the lenses you think you'd be interested in going forward. For example, pick a wide from each manufacturer, a short zoom (24-70mm), a telephoto and perhaps a couple primes. You're not required to buy these, just research the lenses from each maker. Does Nikon's MTF chart (for example) show better contrast across the board on more lenses or does Canon? You'll probably find that they're going to be very similar in many respects. Why? As I said before, Nikon and Canon are both as good as one another.

    Now, I shoot Nikon dSLRs and for a point and shoot I have a Canon. In my opinion and with my experience, Canon has made better point and shoots over time. I use Nikon DSLRs because I used Nikon film cameras. As I was seeing that I was growing out of my lenses I started to look into Canon. Personally, I was just comfortable with Nikon so I opted not to switch.

    Again, your question is far too broad and actually very technical. If you want opinions you came to the right place.

    You can post process all you want, but if you take a good photo with a **** lens you can only fix it so much post processing. It's similar to film (most around here have never used it) but you can only do so much in a darkroom to fix your error and there's little you can do when a photo is soft because the lens sucked. I'll say this until I die ... invest in glass because that is where it truly counts. Sure, the body of a DSLR matters more than it would on a SLR, but overall, if you put a vivtar 100mm on a Nikon D300 or a Canon 50D; it will still produce a less superior image than if you had shot that with a Nikon or Canon prime.
     
  5. Ridge08 thread starter macrumors member

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    Feb 2, 2009
    #5
    Mrogers, I have a Nikon. It`s not that I`m trying to decide between brands for a new camera. It`s just that my curiosity has been aroused by people talking about one brand being better than the other for macro or wide angle or teles, etc.

    I keep seeing that Canon has a bigger range of lenses, but I`m also reading that Canon makes cameras with 1x, 1.3x and 1.6x crop factors, whereas Nikon only makes 1x and 1.5x. Does that negate the advantage of producing a bigger range for Canon?

    I`ve also read that you can get an adaptor to use Nikon lenses on Canon cameras. Is there a loss of picture quality when you do this? If there`s not, doesn`t that mean it`s easier for someone who already has a bunch of equipment to switch from Nikon to Canon than vice versa?

    Jessica, you`re right that that was too vague a question. I`ve added a couple more specific things I was wondering about. But I was actually originally interested in the generalizations. For example, do Nikon make better macro lenses? Are Canon`s zooms better? etc.
     
  6. rogersmj macrumors 68020

    rogersmj

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    #6
    I don't think either one of them hold an advantage when you're talking in broad terms. When people talk about one brand being uncategorically "better" than the other, they have no idea what they're talking about. Those people are just being fanboys and probably don't have a ton of photography skill.

    Certain lenses certainly hold a great appeal. The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8, for example, is generally regarded as the best in that range. Some Canon owners buy adapters to use it on their bodies, apparently. Canon's 70-200mm, both the f/4 and the f/2.8, are fantastic lenses...but so is the Nikon 80-200m f/2.8 AF-D, which is half the price of the Canon one (although the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 AF-S is the same price as the Canon). All those lenses are very sharp.

    Until recently, Nikon's cheap kit lenses were of better quality than Canon's...but that changed when the XS/XSi were released. Now I think they're about the same quality.

    Canon certainly does have lenses that don't have direct equivalents in the Nikon lineup, but Sigma has some very good high-end lenses that Nikon owners pick up if Nikon itself doesn't have what they need.

    Neither company is "better" than the other. Their lenses will be different things to different people, but neither one makes very many bad lenses, not by a long shot.
     
  7. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    Feb 19, 2005
    #7
    Again, and honestly not to be a dick, but define "better". Seriously, you're going to have to get deep into tech specs of each lens to really get into "better" or "worse". Do people prefer Canon zooms over Nikon? Hard to say, my guess is people shooting Canon aren't really interested in comparing. You can probably google a Canon zoom vs Nikon zoom, but be sure they're nearly equivalent in the basic specs IE: IS and VR, 2.8 / 2.8, 70-200 / 70-200. I mean, otherwise it is all just apples and oranges.

    As for adaptors, I would stay away from them. Buy a lens fitted for that specific camera and don't try to push your camera into doing something it is not meant to do (ie: take a canon lens when it is a nikon).
     
  8. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    #8
    These are mechanical adapters, so you will lose autofocus, matrix metering, and the ability to control aperture from the camera body. Image quality won't be affected. Unless these are very special Nikon lenses, I would be disinclined to use an adapter. I was not able to locate an adapter to mate Canon lenses to Nikon bodies, just Nikon to Canon EOS. Novoflex and Kawa appear to be the sources for these.
     
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #9
    Each company makes an entire like of lenses. The big difference is the lens mount. Nikon never changed when they went to auto-focus. So even very, very old Nikon lenses will still mount of new DSLR cameras. Canon started fresh when they changed over to auto focus about 20+ years ago. That is kind of a minor point for most people

    At the high end both companies make first rate lenses. Canon offers a wider range of build quality. Meaning that at the very low end Canon goes lower.

    That said, it is better to compare a specific Canon lens to a specific Nikon lens. for example look at the Nikon 80-200 f/2.8 and the nikon 70-200 afs vr and compare then to what canon has. Here you find Nikon makes a non VR lens that is half the price of the Canon and then mae a comparable lens too. Nikon makes a 10.5mm fish eye that Canon does not but then Canon makes many lelnses that Nikon does not.

    Also All of canon's lenses will auto focus even with canon' low end camera bodies

    But if you want a good sports lens for cheap you can buy a new Nikon 80-200 f/2.8 for $900 which is about $800 less then what your have to pay Canon.

    You really have to get down in the details to know which you want.
     
  10. jaseone macrumors 65816

    jaseone

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    Houston, USA
    #10
    Not entirely true as you mentioned yourself, would be better to say if the lens will mount then it will autofocus.

    I don't see why that is really such a big deal though, there aren't many popular Nikon lenses that are problematic in this regard, with the main one being the 50/1.8 but that isn't a great focal length on DX any way and the new 35/1.8 solves that problem albeit with double the cost but it isn't exactly expensive either.

    Basically though if you need to ask the differences between the two lineups of lenses then it doesn't really matter to you, just be happy with the brand/system you chose and go out & take photos as at the end of the day that is what this is all about, taking photos!
     
  11. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #11
    It really is all about specific gaps. The most important lens for my needs (something wide/normal, fast, and stabilized) is one that not a lot of people need. Most people don't do a lot of handheld low-light shooting of subjects that don't move. But I do, so the Canon 17-55 f/2.8 IS happens to be the ideal lens for me, and Nikon has no equivalent. For that reason alone, going with Canon made sense for me. However, Nikon makes a 105mm f/2.8 VR for which there is no Canon equivalent, and I could make good use of a lens like that too.
     
  12. FX120 macrumors 65816

    FX120

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    May 18, 2007
    #12
    What?

    Canon has four 70-200 lenses.

    70-200mm f/4L $600
    70-200mm f/4L IS $1000
    70-200mm f/2.8L $1000
    70-200mm f/2.8L IS $1500

    The 70-200 f/2.8L is the most comparable to the Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8 AF-D, both lack stabilization and have a maximum aperature of f/2.8, and are both priced about the same.
     
  13. toxic macrumors 68000

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    #13
    the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 is $1200...
     
  14. Foucault macrumors 6502

    Foucault

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    #14
    As a photographer I have owned both the Nikon D700 and the Canon 5D MKII. Both are fantastic cameras, but both produce different results and rely on the lenses you use them with to take full advantage of their capabilities.

    The only walk around lens truly suitable for the Nikon D700 is the Nikkor 24-70mm. That lens is the best lens Nikon makes, but it is $1600, and is heavy and large as hell. Canon makes the 24-105mm L which is a fantastic lens at about half the cost, and comes as a kit lens with the 5DMKII. Nikon has nothing remotely close to it.

    I've found that most photographers use Canon (in my circle of influence 8 of 10 photographers use Canon). So the market for used lenses tend to be a lot better than Nikon. I am also able to borrow lenses from friends.

    Nikon sometimes is too "contrasty" and the colors don't pop as much as Canon's. I've noticed my portraits and landscape photos are fantastic.

    The one thing that I do admire about Nikon, is that they're cameras are intuitive and are well designed. The buttons are exactly where they need to be, and I rarely have to look where I'm pressing, but on my Canon's I always find myself fidgeting through the menu system.

    These are just personal opinions of my experiences of owning both the Nikon D700 and Canon 5DMKII.
     
  15. QuantumLo0p macrumors 6502a

    QuantumLo0p

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    #15
    Back in the day....photographers USED TO buy Nikon just to use their lenses but that isn't the case anymore.

    IMO it is similar to the old saying "Macs are better for doing design than PC's."
     
  16. rogersmj macrumors 68020

    rogersmj

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    #16
    I agree with pretty much everything you said, except for that. I don't deny that maybe the people you know use Canon, but the market share for DSLRs is split almost exactly down the middle by Nikon and Canon. It's certainly not 8 in 10. Personal anecdotes don't mean much; out of the photographers I personally know, I'd say about 7 in 10 use Nikon, but I don't go around saying that "most photographers use Nikon."

    Nikon's lens lineup (combined with the occasional Sigma) personally meets my needs pretty well, but I do sometimes wish they had that "semi-pro" middle like Canon does with their f/4 zooms. Instead of that Canon 24-105mm f/4 L for $1000, Nikon would have you get the cheap 18-105mm f/3.5-f/5.6 for $380, or the other really really expensive 24-70 f/2.8 you mentioned for $1700. Fortunately for us non-pro $$ Nikon users, there's some highly regarded third-party zooms in that range -- the Tamron and Tokina 17-50mm f/2.8 and the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 for under $500.
     
  17. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    #17
    A used 80-200 f2.8 AF-S is a third option. I have one, I am pleased with it, and at this point I have no desire to replace it with a 70-200. Good copies can be found for $900 or thereabouts.

    $600, $1100, $1200, and $1700 respectively according B&H's site just now.
     
  18. GotMyOrangeCrus macrumors regular

    #18
    The one thing I have noticed pretty much across the board is that Nikon glass is more contrasty than Canon glass especially their pro lenses. Some prefer that and some dont, I dont.
     
  19. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    Sendai, Japan
    #19
    There is simply no winner. With very few exceptions, both companies have a rather comparable line-up. The exceptions are usually (1) very expensive, (2) heavy and (3) for special applications. Canon's loupe macro has no Nikon equivalent. But this lens is hardly main stream. Ditto for Nikon's soft focus lenses (Canon used to make one, but AFAIK it's no longer in production).

    You can compare single lenses and depending on your system to `grade them', one may win while the other may lose. There are even those where many different tests agree that one is better. But it's not that Canon or Nikon have an edge across the line. Nikon's new 14-24 mm f/2.8 zoom is widely regarded as the best UW full frame zoom ever made. On the other hand, Nikon has no competitor of the 17-40 f/4 -- which is supposedly even better than the 16-35 f/2.8 (although at a smaller initial aperture).

    And most of the time, it doesn't matter whether Canon has a 85 mm f/1.2, because mere mortals won't be able to afford it.
     
  20. GotMyOrangeCrus macrumors regular

    #20
    Sorry but that is not accurate at all especially when looking at the last 20 years, especially the last 10-15. Canon has held a substantial lead over Nikon and it was only recently that Nikon really started to close the gap in yearly sales. In 2006 Canon held a 46.7% to 33% advantage and those numbers are pretty accurate in regards to the lead Canon has held over Nikon for quite some time.

    There is no doubt that 8 out of 10 is inaccurate however only 3 out of 10 use Nikon while around 5 out of 10 use canon. That extra 2 out of every 10 does eventually lead to a significant lead in the number of pro's using Canon. Canon has held a considerable advantage in numbers, especially in the pro markets for quite awhile now and again its only been recently that Nikon has been catching up. The bottom line is that the EOS line of cameras were Vastly more successful than Nikons systems. The EOS + Canons great selection of lenses has been a combo that Nikon simply couldn't counter until 2007 came around. Basically Canon is having more difficulty owning the digital market like they did the film market. They are still in the lead, just not by much.

    It is important to note that Nikon has only caught up in regards to yearly sales. In regards to installed user base they still only have half the market that Canon does. Canon has over a 100% advantage in the installed user base, 18.8% to 8.4%, So there are still a lot more pro's using Canon right now than Nikon even tho the yearly sales are becoming more even. Actually using the installed base figures, for every 100 who have purchased a Canon system only 44.6 buy a Nikon. As you can see that quickly becomes a significant advantage for Canon.
     
  21. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #21
    Those numbers say nothing about lens quality, market share has no relation to lens quality.
    Especially if IMO one reason is Canon's pro dslr line-up that used to be more appealing (see below).
    No, I disagree. It's quite the opposite, early in the game, Canon released an affordable dslr before Nikon did (the D30). Certainly the D30 was the reason why my cousin chose Canon. Then they had a (perceived?) edge with (almost) full frame dslrs, so before Nikon put full frame models to the market, IMO this was the main reason why Canon's market share took off. Now that Nikon has a competitor also in the full frame range segment and at high resolutions, the gap closes.

    I wouldn't attribute Canon's `dominance' to lenses. To say that Canon's (or Nikon's) lenses are world's better than those `the other company' offers is fanboyism.
     
  22. GotMyOrangeCrus macrumors regular

    #22
    Lens Quality? Who is talking about lens quality? I am talking about market share, lol. There are 2 reasons why Canon has been so wildly successful over the last 20 years. Its because of the huge success of their EOS line and the better selection of lenses.

    You can disagree but your still wrong. The sales numbers speak for themselves. Nikon has gained almost 7-8% in yearly sales while Canon has lost around 5% in yearly sales. Considering the VAST majority of cameras being sold are digital they its simply common sense that they are having a harder time keeping up their market share with Digital then they had with film. The numbers tell everything.
     
  23. bigandy macrumors G3

    bigandy

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    #23
    Excellent point, but bigandy meant the in-camera image processing. :eek:
     
  24. hogfaninga macrumors 65816

    hogfaninga

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    #24
    The best advice for anyone is to not come to this site for camera advice. I love this site for Mac advice, but not camera advice. People will claim objectivity on here, but them bash the other maker they don't own and then at the same time trying not to seem that way (BTW it is obvious). Mostly BS from the same old people. Go to a Nikon site, a Canon site, a Sony site, etc.(google) and see what they have to say ( many excellent photographers on them, not just a few on here who are like being big fish in a small pond--they will be biased also, but you get a wide range of opinion besides the same 3-4 here). Also go to independent sites where there are less biases. Then go test out the cameras yourself.
     
  25. Black Belt macrumors 6502a

    Black Belt

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    #25
    You really should upgrade your circle of friends :p

    The people I hang around with, which include Cal Tech Engineers that actually create cameras for "the industry", choose Nikon.
     

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