Nikon D40 and Canon Rebel XT picture quality

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by 1Life, Aug 22, 2007.

  1. 1Life macrumors member

    Jun 7, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I am getting ready to purchase a DSLR and have agonized and flip flopped over choosing between the Nikon D40 and Canon Rebel XT for over two months.

    I was pretty much set on getting the Nikon D40 after trying out the cameras in-store. The Nikon felt the best in my hands and I've read online reviews about quality issues with the Rebel XT. Also, the main concern for me has always been image quality and there seems to be a consensus that the kit lens that comes with the D40 is superior to that of the XT.

    However, every time I browse through the Flickr website I am blown away by pictures I see for the Rebel XT. IMHO, the pictures that I have seen for the Nikon D40 on Flickr, pbase, photobucket, and Nikontown seem average and dull compared to those for the Rebel XT.

    Now I am no longer sure of my decision. Anyone have ideas as to why there seems to be such a disparity in picture quality between the cameras on the online photo websites? Is it skewed because Canon Rebel XT users vastly outnumber Nikon D40 users?
  2. 840quadra Moderator


    Staff Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    Twin Cities Minnesota
    Personally I am not a fan of the Canon Kit lens either. Had I not received it free (long story) I likely would have skipped it too. With that said, I have had some amazing keepers taken with that lens.

    I am not aware of any image problems with the XT or XTi Canon cameras, in fact I have found that reviews and images from both of those cameras are quite favorable. They are capable of taking awesome pictures (like the D40) and have a wealth really good lenses available (both new and old)

    With that said, I still wouldn't recommend them over the D40, if you have found that you are really comfortable with the use and actions of the D40 camera body. Being comfortable with any tool is highly important. It will keep your focus more on what you are trying to photograph. The biggest downside to the D40 is the lack of compatibility with older lenses that require a lens motor in the body.
  3. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    The D40 is aimed squarely at those new to SLRs, I'd expect sample pictures to show that off to a tee. Web pictures aren't the best way to evaluate quality, and I'd bet that if I shot with both cameras and processed the resultant files in my normal manner, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between 8x10" prints from either body/lens combo. Don't sweat it, both cameras produce excellent results when used properly, get the one you like the best and get shooting.
  4. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    The image quality of both cameras is so good that you don't have to base your decision on that. If you compare kit lenses, I'd suggest you replace both of them asap. Nikon's 18-70 lens is a great choice and a good upgrade.
  5. localghost macrumors regular

    Nov 17, 2002
    have a look at the lenses, too (what’s the better system for your intended use/budget over the next few years?). search pbase for your favorite lenses, bookmark the galleries which have been shot with the d40/xt. while you’ll find the iq from both of them fine, there _is_ a difference in the look of nikons vs. canons.

    the d40 is a terrific body, but you’ll need lenses with auto focus motor built in.

    generally i have the impression that (for my needs) canon offers more choice and a better
    price/performance ratio on lenses, while nikon makes better bodies. you will keep your lenses longer than the dslr-body. if full-frame is important (down the road) it looks like it will be more expensive in nikon-land for a while - i recently got the 5d for considerably less than half the price of the brand new d3 (only nikon ff so far, available in november).

    so, basically, while i’m sure the d40 is better than the xt, my advice would be to go canon.
  6. zoooooooooom macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2006
    I was in the exact same boat as you.

    In the end the one that felt best in my hands won.

    It was between the D40, D50 and the Xt.

    I went for the D50, feels more solid to me. The D40 felt pretty good as well, but the Canon felt really strange in my hands, very small grip.

    My 2 cents
  7. epicwelshman macrumors 6502a


    Apr 6, 2006
    Nassau, Bahamas
    An additional factor is that the XT has been out for a while, and there are some excellent photographers using it. The D40 is much newer, and aimed at newbie photographers, so the level of photographic experience and skill using the D40 may be lower than the XT (myself excluded of course ;)), hence the "lower quality" of Flickr pictures.
  8. Poncho macrumors 6502


    Jun 15, 2007
    I had the same choice to make.

    Got the Nikon D40 six weeks ago. Love it.
    Also, you can process photos in photoshop to make them blow you away whichever camera you decide on eventually.
  9. 1Life thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 7, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Thank you all for your knowledgeable input. I've finally decided to go with the Canon Rebel XT because all of my friends and family use Canon and I'll have a nice selection of lenses that I can borrow. The superior ergonomics of the D40 and the better kit lens was the major reason I stalled on getting the XT. However, like you all say, it really comes down to the lenses and the "system" that you're buying into. Image quality has always been of paramount importance to me and I think I can get equal or better quality with the Canon system at a much lower cost.

    I greatly appreciate all of your help and I hope to start building my portfolio soon.
  10. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    May 7, 2004
    Sod off
    When I was shopping for an SLR recently I narrowed things down to Nikon (D40) and Canon (XT), mostly because of lens availability (though I liked the Pentax K100D a lot as well).

    I ended up getting the Canon because I have had experience with Canon EOS film and digital cameras, so I already knew how to operate the camera somewhat. It seems that the quality and capability of the Nikon, Canon and Pentax digitals are so close that any of them will get the results you want unless you are looking for a certain feature one of the cameras has (and the others don't), or if you already have lenses for a certain brand.
  11. 840quadra Moderator


    Staff Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    Twin Cities Minnesota
    Well said!

    In short, you would have to try really hard, or be totally unexperienced to not take good pictures with any of these cameras. The system is the most important thing to look into.

    Do you want to eventually move into professional L lenses in a year or two, or do you want to move into something high end Nikon glass ? The choice is yours, either camera systems will give you awesome results with practice and patience!
  12. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    This was wise, yet a majority of dSLR buyers seem to miss it. Even if all your friends just had the same kit lens you'd still have the experience of the group available if/when you have questions.

    It's pretty much the same reason I've recommended Nikons to my friends, if they ask. It's not like you'll be sorry going with either camera; but what brand your circle of friends/family is using should weigh heavily into the decision.
  13. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Some notes:

    1) the lens matters a LOT more than the body. You can SEE the difference between lenses but not between bodies

    2) You do not have to buy the kit lens. Buy any lens you like

    3) It's silly to compare image quality of Nikon v. Canon. The difference within the products of one company is wider then the average difference between them. OK, a car analogy. It's siliiy to say "Toyota is "faster" then Ford" In terms of quality you need to compare specific products, not companies.

    4) The photographer matters more then the equipment. Whar you point the camera and when you trip the shutter is the most important thing.

    5) If technical image quality matters a lot to you buy a good tripod. Nothing else you can do will make a greater improvment.

    6) DSLR bodies have a shorter live span then you think. Lenses will have a longer usfull life than you think. A good lens will remain usfull for decades. No one will want a D40 in ten years, it will be hard to give away. re-read #1 above.

    7) in a few years you will again be shopping for a DSLR body but the brand will be determined by the collection of lenses you own. So today you are already shopping for that body upgrade and the next one too. So buy from a company you like, it will be hard to switch brands later.
  14. mac4life2007 macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2007
    AGREED 100%

    Now, I have three Canon lens and a Speedlite 430EX, I found it very hard to switch brand!
  15. apearlman macrumors regular

    Aug 8, 2007
    Red Hook, NY
    Try the battery grip

    Many people who own the XT love the ergonomics once they attach the optional battery grip to the bottom. It adds size but creates more space for your hands. If the feel of the camera really starts to bother you, try this accessory.

  16. yetieater macrumors regular

    May 6, 2007
    I was pretty happy with the Nikon D40. Granted, it was the first DSLR that I got to use for kicks. You can take some pretty impressive pictures on the cheap.
  17. GyroFX macrumors 6502

    Jan 14, 2002
    Los Angeles and NorCal
    between the 2's all about getting better lenses anyway
  18. Jay42 macrumors 65816


    Jul 14, 2005
    They both have outstanding image quality as far as consumer DSLR's are concerned. I am actually not a fan of the Rebel XT body even though I own one. In fact, I would much prefer to have a Nikon body, as the layout and grip feel much more comfortable and intuitive to me. However, I bought the XT because it is extremely small and light for a DSLR (although I beleive the D40 is relatively light as well), and because it works with all of the Canon EOS lenses. As any real photographer will tell you, the glass is everything. Decide which lens system you prefer, then pick the body. Chances are, if you really get into photography, you will be upgrading the body down the road anyway. You should be happy with the body, but it is not the be all end all. On the flip side, a good lens will last you a lifetime. Remember, Nikon and Canon are primarily lens companies and the cameras are sort of secondary.

    Nikon makes extremely good cameras and lenses, but the truth is that most pros choose Canon. You will ignite a serious and borderline religious debate if you start asking about who has the better glass, so just take a look and decide for yourself. I like to shoot a lot of sports and action, as well as some landscapes and architecture, etc, so Canon's lenses really made the most sense, although you can get pretty much anything you need from either company. Get a used, good condition body and save your money for a Canon L Series will never look back!
  19. j5uh macrumors member

    Mar 13, 2007
    my opinion is, get the XTi with no kit lens... if you must, get the XT...
    buy a 50mm f/1.8 for $70 bucks online and practice with that. it's a prime lens meaning no zoom. this will teach you to not be so dependent on a zoom lens. the 50mm is awesome lens for cheap price. creates wonderful DOF. :D:apple:
  20. colinmack macrumors regular

    Feb 25, 2006
    Unless you're a pro, the picture quality from either camera will be virtually indistinguishable (and if you're a pro, you've either got a corporate deal with one company, or a serious investment in glass that you have to match).

    Don't worry, either one will produce the same results, and if you're planning on sticking with the kit, the Nikon kit is actually a bit're buying into a system not a camera, so buy whatever feels better in your hands (it will spend a lot of time there), and don't worry that you're compromising on quality with either - despite all the cult-like Nikon/Canon stuff that seems to surface, the differences are really negligible to any but the most proficient photographers (and they know how to work around the limitations of both systems).

    I shoot Canon, but if I was starting today from scratch I would definitely go with Nikon - the consumer glass tends to be a hair better, they've got an optically decent 18-200 IS zoom if you like to travel light, the pro glass is arguably equivalent, the high-ISO gap is gone, and they now have a full frame pro upgrade path (which auto crops to the DX lenses - a pretty cool feature that Canon should be paying attention to).

    As I said...don't feel you'll be making a compromise with either system. Might be worth checking, they're a good source for reviews/info.
  21. ScubaDuc macrumors 6502


    Aug 7, 2003
    I am looking for a new camera also...

    I like the new Nikon D3 but, aside price considerations, I am past the age of walking around with a brick around my neck...

    I have a bunch of AI Nikon lenses that would work with the D200 but I find the Pentax K10D more interesting then the Canon Xti or the Nikon D40

    The camera CCD is stabilized and old Pentax lenses still work... Would be much cheaper in the long-run to get a couple of lenses, even some old "prime lenses" used and wait for Nikon to bring the D3 features in a more reasonable "package"

    Any thoughts?
  22. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    Great thought. Nikon has a very good tradition of bringing all the pro features in their bodies down to the consumer as time passes. The D2x --> D200 and D200 --> D80 and D80 --> D40x. I have a good feeling that Nikon may make a new body shaped like a D200 with the FX sensor from the D3 in it to compete with the 5D. And as years pass I am sure Nikon and Canon will put their FX sensors back into their consumer bodies.

    p.s. for those that don't know yet, FX = Full Frame
  23. regan2 macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2005
    hyde park, ny
    for my money, it was Nikon.

    upon examining the d40 and the XT side by side, the Nikon seemed much more intuitively designed and seems to have a better quality build (ergonomics wise).

    but for me, the real decision was about lenses and I felt like Nikon was putting out great glass these days. as others have mentioned, it's not the quality of body, it's the quality of the lens.

    much is made about the demand on d40 users being forced into AF-S lenses, but in the end, if you're concerned about quality and future-proofing lenses, the better lens you'll have to buy will pay off many more dividends that upgrading to the d80, etc.

    either camera will take great pictures right out of the box, though. so it comes down to just saddling up on one horse and going for it.
  24. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    No they don't. Nikon has a tradition of saving some features for their "pro" line, for example if you look at the history of mirror lock up (MLU) on Nikon bodies over time you'll see that the D200 is the first time in the history of the company they've offered MLU on any body that wasn't a "Pro" body. Look at any of the low-end "consumer" digitals and find the ability to do MLU, shoot uncompressed NEFs, use older lenses... Look at the history of cameras like the 8008s, N90, and compare them to the F-series bodies when they were released, and you'll see stratification in the camera line-up. Look at the autofocus packages on the entire digital line, look at the number of autofocus points, built-in vertical grips...
  25. jaduffy108 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 12, 2005
    I don't think so...look at the Nikon d300 with CAM3500 AF for $1800. AF calibration, better weather proof bodies. The $1700 Nikon *d200* was better built than the $3300 5d. I like the 5d btw. Canon could of put AF calibration in the 40D easily...didn't do it. Will the replacement for the 5d have the same AF system as the 1dmkIII? (ok, bad example since it has focusing issues) Will it have AF calibration? On both counts, highly unlikely, but we'll see...

    For the can't go wrong with either IMO. If it were me, I'd buy a Nikon D80 with a 18-70mm lens.

    Here's a head to head review for you...XTi vs D80:

    The D80 was the clear winner.

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