Nikon vs Canon vs Sony vs whatever

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by johnsy, May 5, 2008.

  1. johnsy macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Let me guess, you are considering your first digital SLR purchase. There are so many choices - Nikon, Canon, Sony(+/- minolta), Pentax, Samsung, Leica, Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji, Sigma plus any other future attempts to get into SLR market. What to buy? Where to start to research what to buy?

    First of all it depends what you already have. If you have some specific lenses, flashes and film SLR body, you might consider to reuse all this. But I don't think that you have waited so long to purchase digital SLR.

    In any case this is a guide for beginners. Or people who consider to switch from one brand to another.

    You have to understand that SLR brand is something like ecosystem. You don't just buy no-brainer point and shoot and you are done. You buy something with replaceable and upgradeable parts. SLR system consist of 3 primary things:
    1 SLR body
    2 Lenses
    3 Flash/light equipment
    4 any additional things.
    SLR body is most likely to be upgraded in the future. Lenses are most likely to stay for longer time. Flash is also has quite long life.
    Let's see what is on the market.

    Old players: Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax.

    These have been in a market for quite some time, they are quite known for their optic (primary important thing in SLR system). You can add Sony to old players because they bought Minolta and continues on it's legacy. However Minolta was quite weak player in digital SLR market as well as their optic became a little bit outdated in a digital world.

    Very young players: Samsung and Panasonic.
    These mostly specialized in point and shoot models.
    Dead players: Sigma. Kodak
    Sigma is not innovating. Kodak officially discontinued their efforts in SLR market.

    OK, let's see what manufacturers offer (currently. Don't forget that old players have old still compatible lenses):

    Nikon -7 SLR bodies 46+lenses (I didn't counted manual and tilt and shift lenses) 4 flashes so -

    Nikon 7 B, 46+L, 4 F (including macro)
    Canon- 8 B, 63+L, 5 F (including macro)
    Olympus- 3 B , 20 L, 2 F
    Pentax- 4 B, 22L, 3 F
    Sony - 4B, 24L, 5 F (including macro)

    Samsung - 4B, 7L, 1F
    Panasonic - 2B, 3L. 3F

    Sigma 1(!)B plenty lenses, but a lot of them made for other brands too. I call Sigma lenses manufacturer, but not SLR manufacturer. 3F

    There are also 3'd party lenses - Tamron, Tokina for mostly Nikon and Canon. There are 3'd party flashes as well, but you have to note that every respectable manufacturer should provide you with such accessories and there is also compatibility issues in the future.

    These are technical aspects, with notion that you will get into digital photography more seriously, and use your SLR more than just for digital snapshots. Also I assume that you might grow a little beyond kit lenses (I think that is why you purchase SLR to begin with).

    So what is the verdict? Canon and Nikon 1'st place. Sony seems quite promising 2'd place together with Pentax. 3'd place is Olympus.

    Also consider prices. For example Nikon has lover price points for SLR bodies, lenses and flashes (without sacrificing quality) compared with Canon. Canon however offers more full sensor bodies and some better optic (beyond reach for most soccer moms).

    Other manufacturers offer stuff for even less than Nikon or Canon, but somehow quality or selection suffers. For better stuff they charge sometimes more than Nikon or Canon for similar item.
     
  2. scotthayes macrumors 68000

    scotthayes

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    #2
    If I could add one thing to the list. Before all the above, I feel the most important part of buying a Digital SLR is the feel of it in your hands. Go to the shops and try them out, find out which one feels the most comfortable in your hands and then look at all the different lenses, flashguns and bits and bobs.
     
  3. johnsy thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Yes, that is very important thing, for example I hate Olympus menu system, I like feel of Nikon, but I prefer Canon and Canon menus. Sony recently improved with current models, they feel better, but menu suck. Too complicated and confusing. I like feel of Nikon lenses, I am OK with Sony glass too (I use to have Minolta, so I am familiar with some Sony lenses).

    Also you should note that I had idea of future proofing. You might like feel of particular DSLR, but what if you want to get some lenses in the future when your needs grow? How about remote control, cable release and so on? Flash?
    I think these things matter. Unless of course all you need is just one SLR body with one (included kit lens). But then why to get SLR? Point and shoot is so much more compact, less complicated and less expensive.

    But you right, if thing feels good in your hand, then it is much more pleasant to take pictures (and carry camera). I can imagine someone with big hands handling Nikon D40!
     
  4. mheidt macrumors member

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    #4
  5. scotthayes macrumors 68000

    scotthayes

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    #5
    They all come under (a rather lazy description I know) the bits and bobs part.

    but no matter how many different things you can buy, how many pixels, the size of the sensor or any of the other 500 million plus arguments people put forward for a particular body, if it feels crap to hold and use then you will not use it and most likely stick it on ebay and go back to the compact P&S.
     
  6. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

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    #6
    You know that Pentax and Samsung are the same thing right? That means that the bodies are identical (just a different name on them and Samsungs capture RAW in .DNG only, Pentax captures RAW in both .PEF and .DNG)

    The other thing is that Pentax and Samsung both use the K-mount for their optics. This means that every lens Pentax makes will be fully compatible with all Samsung DSLR bodies, and every lens Samsung makes (though they are usually just re-badged Pentax lenses) will be fully compatible with Pentax bodies. Another thing to consider about Pentax is that they have by far the best backward compatibility, all k-mount lenses will meter and autofocus (unless they are manual focus lenses) with all current Pentax and Samsung DSLR bodies. This means that if one is willing to shop used, then the options for lenses are much much more numerous. There are plenty of fantastic FA series lenses which were released just before and shortly after the digital bodies were first released and Pentax went to DA series glass. Their lens lineup was much much more complete then and all the long, fast aperture, professional quality glass that Canon and Nikon currently offer can be found on the used market in the Pentax K-mount. They even have 600 mm f/4 prime lenses in the FA lineup, many of them less than 10 years old. All in all, Pentax themselves have made more than 25 million lenses in the K-mount. Vivitar made some pro glass in the K mount in the 70's and 80's, Ricoh used to use the K-mount. Sigma and Tamron both make fantastic K-mount glass. If one is willing to do some searching, the lens/accessory selection of Pentax vs Nikon and Canon is not as different as some make it out to be. Considering that for the money, Pentax will generally give you a better built camera body with more features than the competition, I personally don't think they are 3rd. Granted Nikon and Canon will have the faster AF and faster frame rate, but for a lot of us, those features are wasted and not even a little bit necessary.

    I think it's nice what you've done here, but stating your opinion like it's the gospel isn't necessarily the most accurate thing to do. There are many of us who would make the ranking system differently than you have.

    SLC
     
  7. johnsy thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    It is not a gospel, you might just use anything what works for you. I think history matters- when you have been in optic business so long as Nikon, Canon, Olympus or Pentax. Don't get me wrong Pentax makes some good DSLR's, and I believe if you want to stay in this business you will have to make good products. I see how they constantly improving. Just few years ago they had very few items to offer, now they have complete line. If you care about lens historical compatibility, then Nikon is even better. But we are in easy age too. Click, you have a picture, review it and erase or keep. Compare the pain beginner photographers had to endure before digital photography. There were no Flicker's or Photobucket's. So why complicate yourself with old manual focus only lenses? Are they even available? OK< should try e-bay, but what if I like buying new stuff with a warranty?

    All brands who rebadge things tend to fail at some moment. Or become better with their own stuff. I mean seriously why would you buy something let's say a car from some kinda startup business? Even it is compatible with existing parts of some other manufacturer? Will it be just because of cheaper price? Look in youtube at chinese cars. They might be cheap, but fail miserably in crash tests. That will mean sacrificing your life in accident vs few saved thousands. The penalty is not so harsh in camera case- you just will not get enough accessories if you decide you need them. Then there is a failure fact- Kodak failed in SLR business (I think they used Canon lenses), Sigma is almost done with Faevon something. They still make some good lenses, so that is the only thing what will keep them in business. Sony for example has a good shot- they have a history in optic themselves, they build on one of the best brands in photography history- Minolta and they good in photo/video products. As for new startups, try to build some DSLR with new lens mouth! You will end up with tons of bodies and 2 lenses. Look at the warranty for lenses and bodies- Nikon offers 1 year warranty for body and 5 years for lenses! That is estimated shelf life for these products. While body will be stored in digital innovation museum lens will still live with improvements- it will be rebadged- Canon will use II or III generation sign.

    In Pentax and Samsung case I don't know what it is- might be it is some kinda partnership- Samsung makes them bodies and Pentax makes lenses...
    In any case they depend on each other. Probably Samsung depends more on Pentax- you can make excellent bodies, but if you have not enough optic you will die off. Look at the computer manufacturers- Apple thrives with their own OS and hardware combo while PC manufacturers have to wait while Microsoft will dare to innovate. That is why you have iPhone and iPhone clones vs something fresh and new. Fuji too relies on Nikon lenses and even bodies are almost identical to Nikon's.
     
  8. johnsy thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Pentax has good quality body plastic, and some better than competition functions. But look at the menus- for some things to adjust you have to go trough many menusand clicks (10) while even lowest end Nikon or Canon will use only a few (one) click/s.
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=MZzAE-ixZS0

    I also like to clarify one thing what others didn't noticed- it is not only about quantity but quality too. Some brands have quantity and quality and some just quantity. Or neither.
     
  9. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #9
    I think that one of the problems is that, for the vast majority of people, the camera brand they end up buying isn't going to affect their photography one whit. So if they're undecided, they have to listen to various folks drone on about what was important to them when they made the decision, which may or may not matter to the undecided one. :D

    I really think a lot of weight should go toward the brand your friends/family shoot, if they own dSLRs. It can give you access to a wider range of lenses, if you all coordinate purchases, and probably will help when problems or questions come up.
     
  10. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

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    Portland, OR
    #10
    If you read the comments, one K100D super user mentions that there are ways to access the menu item that he looked for in that video using only 3 clicks instead of 11.

    The reviews I read actually laud Pentax cameras for being less menu driven than other brands.

    And you are wrong if you claim that Nikon is more backwards compatible then Pentax with regards to lenses. there isn't one Kmount lens that isn't fully compatible with any modern K-mount digital camera, not the same with Nikon which won't meter with a lot of the older lenses.

    And as far as one company being dependent on another for anything. Pentax isn't dependent on Samsung for anything but imaging sensors, and even then they are Pentax designed and simply made by Samsung. But Canon and Sony are the only companies that make their own sensors these days. Even Nikon uses Sony made sensors, and Pentax did until the K20D, which is built by Samsung. But the bodies and lenses as well as the rest of the electronics and internal components are Pentax made. Until Pentax and Nikon are selling printers and pocket calculators as well as imaging equipment, they won't have the billions necessary to design and fabricate their own imaging chips. I don't see this as a re-badging leading to death sort of thing. In fact it has only helped since they have another company making accessories that are fully compatible and now they will likely have the Full Frame sensor soon designed by Pentax and built by Samsung.
     
  11. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #11
    I agree somewhat with that, but "feel" is far down the line, at least to me. I look for features, quality, and price. Use the camera for a couple of years, and upgrade the body. Bodies are second to lenses. Mine is long due for an upgrade :)
     
  12. johnsy thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 15, 2006
    #12
    Everything will improve in a few years even more than now. Just look at the size of high definition camcorders. They fit in a pocket! Also Circuit City and Best Buy stock up now not only DSLR but quite some lenses (even tamron and Sigma), and flashes. That means these gadgets are very popular now and people buy them instead simple point and shoot. That leads to another point- manufacturers will get money to improve their stuff.

    That is good news to everyone. Also if you see what these 2 stores stock up are primary Canon and Nikon. Additionally Best Buy had Sony (one model)on display, Circuit city had Olympus, Sony (3 models), and some time ago Pentax, now it is gone.

    In any way this stuff has nothing to do with image quality. Pros will get good pictures from about any camera. While inexperienced people will get s*** from the most advanced cameras. So the best thing is buy SLR and practice, practice and practice. Cameras will change, lenses too, but the skills will remain.
     
  13. nostaws macrumors 6502

    nostaws

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    #13
    I second that. I am a Nikon guy (other manufacturers make quality cameras too), and my Aunt is a Canon woman. We both have some specialized gear/lenses that we don't use all the time, but kind of need to have. We could have saved considerable $$ if we had coordinated our camera preferences, and shared access to the gear. But oh well.

    Also, I tell anyone shopping for a dslr to read david pogues take on megapixels:
    http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/11/21/21pogues-posts-2/
     
  14. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #14
    Four Thirds has an anvantage in that it alows several of the smaller companies yo pool their markets to make a bigger one but the big disanvantage of the system is that by diefinition it is built around a smaller size sensor. There will never be, can never be a "Full Frame" four Thirds camera. There are not four thirds film bodies and very few used four thirds lenses. Nikon and Canon are both keeping their high end lenses arge enough to cover the full 35mm frame. Why? They know that DSLRs are heading that way Right now FF is to expensive for mid and entry lvel SLRs but that will change. In 10 years all serious photographers will have gone back to shooting 36x24mm size frames Four thirds will not be able to track this trend.
     
  15. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #15

    The other problem is that your lens count doesn't include the number of 3rd party lenses available for each brand. Nikon may have 46 Nikon-branded lenses available for their DSLRs, but if I don't mind at all buying 3rd party lenses, then my options are FAR greater than 46 lenses. If you include my Nikon 18-55 mm lens, I have only 2 Nikon lenses, 2 Sigmas, and a Tokina. So yes, Canon has 67 lenses, Nikon has 46 lenses, while Sony has only 24 lenses. However, if I know that Sony + Sigma have all the lenses I'd really need to make me a happy photographer, I don't care how "few" lenses Sony has alone. It's not an isolated system, really. I have other choices.
     
  16. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #16
    Right. And many of the lenses are `redundant': Canon has four professional 70-200 zooms (aperture 2.8/4, IS or no IS), Nikon has two.

    All camera manufacturers cover `the basics', but as long as you're not interested in something very peculiar (loupe macro photography is one, you are `forced' to get a Canon), you'll likely get the lens you want, anything between 10 and at least 300 mm.
     
  17. johnsy thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #17
    3'd party do offer lenses mostly for Nikon and Canon. Let's face it there are brand offers , there is 3'd party quality offers too. I don't think anybody considers some Phoenix or Samoyoung or whatever as QUALITY 3'd party manufacturer. Unless you consider for example Leica as 3'd party manufacturer. Well I think Leica is out of reach for many pockets. Besides do they bother making lens for Pentax or Sigma? I would rate third party lenses like this:
    1 Tokina,
    2 Tamron
    3 Sigma.

    Why I would rate like this? Tokina still uses metal for lenses. They make stuff more sturdy. Tamron is very close to Tokina, but they use more plastic. Sigma is worst- they make really cheap looking lenses. Don't get me wrong all this varies from model to model, there is some lenses which even Canon or Nikon doesn't make. These 3'd party manufacturers offer quality 3'd party lenses, but as I mentioned don't compare them with some chinese s*** samayoung or whatever.

    Also it doesn't mean that you will buy all 45+ or whatever lenses from your SLR manufacturer. I think it is quite reasonable to own 3 lenses however. I had 3 lenses form Minolta, now I think of upgrading Canon. Some people for example prefer primes vs zooms, and so on, BUT THAT IS A POINT! You will be able to select. If your SLR manufacturer offers 2 lenses you will have selection from 2! + 3'd party manufacturers if any.

    Four Thirds system gives more noise to image, also problems in a future because of full size image sensor, but I think it won't be such a problem, because Canon and Nikon offers smaller size (digital only) lenses, so they will be pretty much worthless in a future with full size sensor. I think the biggest problem is this- while non 4/3'ds sensor produced image will be cropped (to produce paper pictures) you will be able to chose what to crop.
     
  18. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #18
    There is something else that has not been mentioned: with the right software, any sensor of around 12MP should be able to capture enough data to be boosted to 21MP or more IQ. Take the Nikon D3 with its super noise reduction capability; you can increase the image size to nearly one taken with a 21MP sensor. With cropped sensors such as the one on my Rebel XT, I still can print images around 32" x 42" or so. I have no need for full-size sensors at the moment, and probably won't in the future. When I upgrade this old camera, it will be a year old but unused 40D, or maybe a 50D.
     
  19. johnsy thread starter macrumors 6502

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  20. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #20
    Keep in mind that the camera itself has the software that allows the sensor to capture an image. Thats the first step. With the D3 mix of software/sensor and its ability to capture images with low noise and high ISO, you can PP a RAW image of great quality, and then expand the image to match 16-20MP sensors. Trying to do the same with my Rebel XT would translate to image degradation.

    I use Graphic Converter for some PP work, but mostly PSE6.
     
  21. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #21
    Here is a list of Canon EF lenses

    EF-S lenses are designed for cropped sensors, although one does not have to use an EF-S lens with an EOS that has a cropped sensor. All depends on how wide one wants to go relating to lenses. What I like about the list below is that it shows the price of most Canon lenses. If you look carefully, you will notice why there are some duplicate lenses (some have IS, while others haven't, and also some are L with IS, while others aren't). All depends on what you want: cheap, expensive with IS, or not so expensive without IS. Sigma, Tamron, and other lenses are listed too.
    http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=141406
     

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