My Nikon/Canon dilemma

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Chris7, Mar 19, 2010.

  1. Chris7 macrumors 6502

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    #1
    I plan to go with Canon long-term due primarily to Canon’s 24-105 4L and 70-200 4L, for which Nikon has no equivalents (the 2.8's are too heavy for me at these focal lengths). The fact that the two photographers that I can trade/borrow lenses with shoot Canon helps, too.

    However, Nikon’s D90 outperforms the t2i (for my purposes), according to an in-depth DP Preview article.

    I am into:
    Shooting primarily subjects
    Low light photography (without a flash)
    High burst rate (so I can capture the instant)

    I do not care about having more than 12 MP.

    No matter what I decide now, I plan to buy a new Canon body once Canon licenses the Sony sensor technology that Nikon uses, and improves low light autofocus on its sub-$1000 models. Hopefully this will be within 2 years. I own a Canon 28mm 1.8 (which I guess I could sell). A friend of mine plans to upgrade his Canon 28-105 3.5-4.5, so he’ll probably let me borrow it indefinitely or sell it cheap. I could then add the Canon 50mm 1.4 for more serious work, and borrow his upgraded zoom sometimes.

    Just how much better is Nikon’s low light autofocus system (for example, with the kind of light that would require settings of ISO 3200 at f/2, shutter of 1/80)?

    Is it worth investing in Nikon now, and later selling the Nikon body and lenses and switching over in a couple of years? Or would it be advisable to simply bite the bullet and buy the t2i (and just switch out the body later).


    I’m tired of puzzling over this, so any opinions are appreciated.

    EDIT: I am actually quite put off by Canon's high MP's on its consumer line, maybe more so than I should be (though do I see the high MP's potential use in the prosumer/pro line).

    Do the people here think Nikon will "stick to its guns" with the reasonable 12 MP on its sub $1000 consumer cameras, or up the MP's to "compete" with Canon's consumer marketing strategy? (Surely Canon will not go down from 18 MP now.)
     
  2. blockburner28 macrumors 6502

    blockburner28

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    #2
    I'm in the same boat as you, but I think I will stay with the t1i
     
  3. davegoody macrumors 6502

    davegoody

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    #3
    I REALLY don't think for a second that Canon will licence Sony's EXMOOR technology, Canons' existing CMOS designs are the best on the market IMHO, however as for choice of which to go for, Nikon or Canon, it is purely a personal thing. With little or no existing investment in glass or peripherals for one make or another, then just go for whichever body (and glass) suits your needs. If you wait for Canon to "buy-in" to Sony's technology you will never buy a camera as it is HIGHLY unlikely that the market leader, with all-in-house technology (that on there higher-end cameras) are exceptionally thought of by Pros (me included) will ever use them.
     
  4. perryj macrumors member

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    #4
    as a professional photographer and long time canon shooter (who switched from Nikon ;)
    I say skip the rebel series and buy a used 40D you'll be glad you did :D
    can't beat L glass don't let anyone tell you other wise ! hahaha
     
  5. Hmac macrumors 68020

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    #5
    Nikon's low light performance is astonishingly good, and Canon just has not caught up yet.

    Nikon's sensor technology is Nikon's, not Sony's. Sony provides the base, but the design and performance is all proprietary Nikon, and they aren't going to license it to Canon, even if Canon wanted it...which I'm pretty sure they don't.
     
  6. jampat macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    Buying new bodies is mainly for professionals, people with too much money and suckers. Unless you have a concrete reason why a brand new body (+tax) is very important to you, buy a used body and save a fortune.

    For instance, you can pick up a used 20D for ~200 or used 40D for ~700 (instead of 1100+tax new). You can also probably get a used 5D for about 1000 and get full frame (and better low light sensitivity). I am still shooting a 20D and see reasons why newer cameras can help, but for now I am putting my money into glass and light as that makes a much bigger difference in my pictures.

    Fwiw, if I was doing it again, I would likely pick Nikon. I like the way their cameras work better (more buttons, less menus). It would cost more to get equivalent glass and as you point out, there are some holes in the line, but for me, the tradeoff would be worth it. Nikon is also beating Canon right now on high ISO shots. If you are shooting in low light without flash, ISO is where it's at. I shoot a lot with a 50D and really don't like the pictures at anything over 800 ISO (even 800 I am not completely happy with). This may change in future models, but is unlikely. Nikon seems to be fighting for increased useful ISO, Canon seems to be pushing for more megapixels.

    Good luck.
     
  7. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #7
    You're thoroughly overestimating the topic of lenses and bodies and forgetting about the most important factor of all: handling. The dilemma settles relatively quickly if you try Canon and Nikon bodies in a store. Don't go to a store like bestbuy where most salespeople could be replaced by talking monkeys (however, talking monkeys would be paid better …). I encourage you to try all other manufacturers as well!

    You're overestimating the L and you're also overestimating the differences between bodies. To me, the most significant advantage that the D90 has over the Canon 550D is actually the viewfinder. This will have a lot, lot, lot more impact on your photography than a loss of 3 MP or 15 % less noise at ISO 3,200 or so.

    Any of the main manufacturers has lenses that suits your needs and covers the focal length range of the two lenses you seem to be interested in. If you want a lighter alternative to the 80-200 mm f/2.8, have a look at Tokina's 50-135 mm f/2.8 or Sigma's 50-150 mm f/2.8. This focal length range is much better suited for indoor portrait photography than 70/80-200 mm and they weigh about the same as Canon's 70-200 mm f/4. Best thing is: these lenses are available for basically any mount: no matter if you decide to get a Canon or Nikon body, these lenses are an option.

    My advice: forget about test scores. Any of the bodies on the market today will do -- including Olympus, Pentax and Sony. The differences in image quality are not that significant if you take pictures within the normal ISO range (100~800). Get a body that feels great in your hands. Some people prefer smaller bodies (I don't, I love my D80 with its battery grip attached). Some people like the way Canons handle. Some people hate the way Canons handle (I personally can't stand the user interface), it's just personal preference.

    If you take great pictures, nobody will come and ask you `Oh, that must be a Canon with an L lens attached! That's why the colors are so great!' Great pictures can be taken with pretty much any equipment, because they aren't produced with what's attached to the camera, but by the person behind the camera.

    Some people have advised you to have a look into the used market and I agree: if you think a xxxD Canon body feels too small in your hands, a used 30D or so may do the trick. Ditto for Nikon: you can pick up a used D200 for a similar price as the D90, for instance. And have a look at the used lens market as well.
     
  8. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

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    #8
    Hey - if a camera store went with a help staff of talking monkeys, I would be shopping there exclusively. That might even be worth a price premium.

    BTW I am in complete agreement with OreoCookie's post (except the part where he implies talking monkeys are a bad thing).
     
  9. leandroc76 macrumors regular

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    Oct 27, 2003
    #9
    I believe that peoples' methods with the higher ISO's are incorrect.

    Somebody with a Canon needs to do a test for me.

    Shoot their highest ISO in complete manual mode. Turn off NR (if possible). Expose at least, no less than a stop over. I'd like to see their images after that.

    Higher ISO's need a longer exposure time. I think that's why Nikon performs a little better than Canon. Nikon tends to compensate the shutter speed on the slower side in the priority modes.

    I have shot with the Rebel Xsi at ISO 1600 and the noise was minimal and almost non existent when I over exposed by a stop to a stop and a half. The camera is a company camera, so I don't get a chance to play with it all that often.

    I think you'll find the same results.
     
  10. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #10
    I don't see where the issue is. If you intend on going Canon eventually, and if your friends also shoot Canon (better gear pool for all fo you) then what's there to decide? Get the Canon. The high ISO of the modern bodies is very close nowadays it probably does not matter much.

    Canon will NEVER license Sony technology. They may develop an alternative of their own, but they will never license it. Canon develops all their sensors in-house. And they are good at it too, so unless something really unforseen happens, Canon will continue to develop their own sensors.

    Ruahrc
     
  11. Chris7 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #11
    Opinions on this vary, I guess. Comments from the people here?
     
  12. Hmac macrumors 68020

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    #12
    Pretty inclined to agree since Canon has always done their own in-house stuff, all the way from design to fabbing. And again, the advantages that Nikon has over Canon have nothing to do with Sony, so Sony has nothing they could sell to Canon anyway that will get to par with Nikon.
     
  13. BrianMR macrumors regular

    BrianMR

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    #13
    OP is on the right track - choose the platform based on the lenses you want to use. Check out used prices on bodies (and lenses), but if you can spring for a 7D... that would offer what you are looking for. Check out KEH & Fred Miranda for used. You could even check out a used 1D Mark II, such as:
    http://www.keh.com/Product-Details/1/DC029990793280/DC02/FE.aspx

    The poster who mentioned handling is also spot-on. The build & viewfinder are big pieces of the puzzle. I like a big bright viewfinder myself, found on the higher-end bodies.
     
  14. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    OP : If you plan on shooting Canon in the long run, go with Canon now, unless you want to waste money on gear (that takes a drop in value the second you open the box, not to mention years later when you try to resell it). It makes no sense to invest in a system for several years just because it currently has a perceived marginal advantage in a single aspect of image quality. You're considering your camera's tech specs (and not ergonomic/handling aspects, as you should) before your lens, and I'm sure that that's the opposite of what most people in this forum would tell you to do.

    If that isn't convincing enough:

    (1) You never really specified what it was about the D90 that interests you over the T2i. If it's high-ISO performance, then you should know that the sensor in the T2i is similar (probably the same, I don't recall) as that in the 7D. Noise measurements put it pretty much neck-and-neck with the D300s, which has the same sensor as the D90 (http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos7d/page15.asp).

    (2) If there are other features you want out of a camera, such as autofocus or frame rate, keep in mind that you're comparing an entry-level camera to a prosumer one. If you want features not related to the sensor, it's usually as simple as looking at non-entry-level cameras, such as a 7D. Comparing a T2i to a D90 is like comparing apples to obviously better apples, in that respect.

    (3) As far as sensor licensing, all the camera companies have their own processing algorithms, which are proprietary. Sony just supplies the sensors, and ironically their own image processing isn't up to Nikon/Canon standards. Exmor sensors have yet to make an appearance in a dSLR. All companies will continue to improve their image quality, and it's silly to think that Canon will cease trying to beat Nikon on any given front.

    In the end, your gear isn't going to make much of a difference. No one is going to look at one of your photos and say, "Wow! What terrible composition! He must've taken it on a Canon!" or "That's the most amazing captivating subject I've ever seen, obviously he used a Nikon!" or vice versa. So, if you already plan on buying Canon in the future, just buy it now, especially since you already have Canon lenses.

    Re: Best Buy employees

    Forget talking; regular monkeys tend to be smarter. Also, whereas monkeys just throw crap, Best Buy employees spew it all day to customers.
     
  15. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

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    #15
    On the "licensing Sony tech" front - in the long term I think what's more likely is Nikon following Canon's lead, not vice versa. Nikon's full frame sensors are their own design.

    I don't think either company really wants to be reliant on an erstwhile competitor for essential tech.

    I also don't think you can count on Nikon's sensor technology (or Sony's) staying better than Canon's - at some point Canon will probably retake the lead. At a later point Nikon will then pass them again. That's how competition works - if you don't adapt, you die. There are professional photographers out there shooting Nikon, shooting Canon, even shooting Sony and Pentax and whatever. Focusing too much on the low-level nuts and bolts of the tech is looking at the wrong thing, methinks. I'm a Nikon shooter; but since you seem to prefer Canon's glass and have friends that also shoot Canon (and have lenses they'll lend to you, from what you say), I think you'll better benefit from trying to learn how to get better pictures out of the equipment you've got.

    BTW I could see Canon dropping their pixel count on their low-end cameras. They certainly wised up and did that with their higher-end point and shoot cameras.

    On a side note - given your stated interest in low-light photography, high burst rates and not using flash; have you thought about full frame cameras (e.g. the 5D/Mark II or the D700)?
     
  16. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #16
    I don't understand this... and it's not just you, a lot of people complain about the noise with higher MP sensors.

    My understanding is that if you down-res your output to 12MP's or whatever MP you think is appropriate, you will end up with a better, lower-noise image having started at 18MP than if you captured at 12MP. What am I missing here?
     
  17. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

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    #17
    The image isn't lower in noise than if you captured on a 12MP native resolution camera. That's the difference. Sure if you downsize an 18 MP image to 12 MP it will blend some of the noise in making it less intrusive; while if you capture a 12MP image from the same 18MP camera you still are dealing with the sensor's pixel density and noise producing properties, even if you aren't using every single pixel for increased resolution. Noise has a lot to do with the physical size of the imaging sites in a sensor. Software and tricky image processing can only mask noise, but larger pixels (lower resolution sensors) produce less noise to begin with.

    SLC
     
  18. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #18
    All of the test results I've seen indicate that Canon's metering is actually biased to expose a little higher and Nikon's is biased to expose lower, not the other way around. This matches my own results using bodies from the different manufacturers, where I tend to have to bias in some positive exposure compensation on the Nikons.

    Actually, I think the current round are a collaborative effort. While Nikon has done pure "Nikon only designs" fabbed by whomever, my understanding is that the current round are based on Sony designs tweaked by Nikon. I don't think "following Canon's lead" is at all accurate- Nikon's semiconductor design team is always busy and there wouldn't be leapfrogging if anyone were simply trailing- for instance, it was interesting to see that the lens division picked up the Nanocoat stuff from the stepper folks. The fact that the D3s went at least a stop better noise-wise over the D3 shows that the Nikon sensor monkey are hard at work moving the science into production at whatever rate they can sustain- and given the D3's initial high-ISO performance, I don't think it's a come-from-behind move.

    Paul

    There's simply one question to answer- will the t2i produce acceptable images with the lenses you want to use? By limiting yourself to f/4 lenses, you're forcing an additional stop of ISO to compensate, but I'd think a trip to a reasonably stocked camera store could answer that question in less than an hour. The results are either going to be good enough for your usage or not good enough for your usage.

    Paul
     
  19. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

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    #19
    I didn't mean that in the way I think you interpreted it. "Following Canon's lead" simply meant I see Nikon moving towards more in-house sensor production in the future, which is what Canon has done for a while. It wasn't about relative sensor quality between the two brands in any regard.

    I used that turn of phrase because the OP had said "I plan to buy a new Canon body once Canon licenses the Sony sensor technology that Nikon uses". My thought is that's rather unlikely, and it's more likely that the total opposite will happen - Nikon will produce more and more of its own sensors in house, and Canon will continue to do so.
     
  20. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #20
    I'm not quite sure what you mean by "need longer exposure time." If you set a higher ISO, it will make the metering system meter for a "normal" exposure which requires less light, which could mean a faster shutter speed or smaller aperture, all else being equal. This just makes the camera bump the gain in the sensor, which is where the noise comes from.

    Over exposing and under exposing isn't the same thing. If you set the ISO at 200 and shoot for a correct exposure, then set the ISO at 1600 and shoot for a correct exposure, the camera should give you an image that looks basically the same, but one will be noisier. Do the same for +1 and -1 exposure compensation at each ISO setting, and the images should look as dark or light no matter the ISO, but again, the noise will be higher in the higher ISO shots because less actual light hit the sensor which then had to boost it's sensitivity/gain to make up for that lack of light to work with. It shouldn't matter whether you do the + or - in-camera exp. compensation via shutter speed or aperture--you're just limiting the amount of light reaching the sensor either way, regardless of ISO settings. If you want to shoot in lower light hand held at a higher ISO (faster shutter speed,) the sensor is being asked to generate a usable image with a 1/4 or 1/8th, or 1/16th as much light as it's default base ISO, so the gain get's turned up... a lot perhaps. But, shutter speed doesn't really matter for the actual exposure, because it's just one variable in total exposure/total light hitting the sensor.
     
  21. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #21
    Very unlikely to happen- it costs billions to build and run a sensor fabrication plant and Nikon (a) isn't really big enough to do it and (b) really doesn't need to do it. Nikon can have their designs fabbed anywhere, but the venture with Sony seems to be good for both sides, and I don't see them breaking it without good reason. Sony's not likely to canibalize much of Nikon's customer base, and that's a different division anyway. Nikon would be dumb to start in-house fabrication. Sensor-wise they'll off-the-shelf where they can, and custom for advantage where they must, anything else shifts the economics to the bad side. While they've been able to uphold premium pricing, I don't think they want to go further up the scale.

    Paul
     
  22. Ish macrumors 68020

    Ish

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    #22
    I noticed that when I did side by side comparisons between two entry level cameras: Nikon D60 and Canon 450D (XSi). The Nikon underexposed by about 1 stop whereas the Canon very slightly overexposed.

    Just as an aside: of the two cameras I tried above, it's the Nikon that has fewer buttons and more things that have to be done through the menus. Must vary between models.
     
  23. nutmac macrumors 68040

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    #23
    Nikon's D90 ($900 MSRP, $790 street) is meant to be compete against Canon's 50D ($1100 MSRP, $930 street). D90's body style more closely matches that of 50D, not T2i.

    T2i ($800 MSRP) is really meant to compete with Nikon's D5000 ($730 MSRP, $550 street). That said, T2i is priced closer to D90 so the comparison is inevitable. In coming months, however, expect T2i's street price to stabilize around $650.

    That said, as others have pointed out, 50D is not beloved by Canon fans. It is also overdue for an update, although some would say the same for D90.
     
  24. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #24
    In another thread, the OP has stated he has problems controlling lenses with a shallow depth of field. If you are interested in low-light photography, the solution should be to get a brighter lens, e. g. Sigma's 30 mm f/1.4 or one of the 50 mm lenses. That's way better than cranking up the ISO.
     
  25. Chris7 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #25
    Too many good ideas on both sides (and the middle) to respond to all for right now. I'm really enjoying this thread.

    According the DP Preview comparison,

    “Although the Rebel T2i offers a competent AF system, the Nikon D90's advanced autofocus technology provides the advantage including better low light autofocus capabilities and offering greater reliability in our real world comparison tests.”

    Any comments re: this from the people here?


    What I meant by this is that most people buying this camera will not buy lenses sharp enough to take advantage of the high MP's, meaning that for most consumers, the cons of these sensors will outweigh the pros, without them knowing it. DP Preview calls it a marketing decision, and I don't disagree.

    And according to the DP Preview tests, the T2i does not perform as well at high ISO as the D90. I do not know if this is due to the 18MP sensor, as the 18MP 7D holds up well in all respects to the 12MP D300s.

    But the bigger issue for me is the T2i's 18MP sensor results in a substantially slower burst rate, less photos to fill the RAM buffer, and slower transfer of these photos into the "fast" 30MB/sec SDHC cards. (T2i’s burst rate is 3.7 frames per second (fps) with a buffer that will allow up to 6 RAW. Nikon D90 does 4.5 fps and up to 11 frames in RAW.)

    For the record, I do not mind high MP sensors, and understand there are plenty of uses for them. And the 7D handles bursts quite well on 90MB/sec CF cards (I can't get over this video).

    Regarding handling, both cameras make my left hand feel like it's being torqued counterclockwise, the D90 slightly less so. I guess the only way around this is a battery grip. Much more money than I wanted to spend on a consumer camera.
     

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