It’s finally here – a showdown between Canon and Nikon, right here!  I’ve said in the past that I only shoot Canon gear and that when push comes to shove, that gear doesn’t matter as much as who’s behind that gear.  However, with the recent flurry of releases, people have been asking me my thoughts on the latest and greatest releases from all the vendors, ranging from Canon announcing the 5D Mark III, the folks at Nikon releasing the D800, and Adobe, announcing the release of Lightroom 4 on Tuesday.  Since the first two are gear-centric, and the last is software centric, it’s easier to split this up into two separate posts.  The upshot here is that we finally have a camera showdown here:  Canon vs. Nikon!  Can you guess the winner?  Keep on reading!

Gear hounds like to compare technical data, and I could go back and forth with the Canon and Nikon bodies, explaining each and every nuance, but it seems that it would be easier to just show the specs side-by-side, so take a gander at how they line up!

Canon vs Nikon

As you can tell, the Canon 5D Mark II was also thrown in for comparison, primarily to illustrate how things have changed in Canon land.  Kind of an interesting result, eh?

So, where do the specs leave us?  Well, this kind of helps demonstrate that it really is not the gear rather the person behind it that ultimately matters.  Does gear get better with time?  Absolutely, and in the hands of a talented photographer, added tools can really help you take your photos to the next level.  Having the fundamentals, a dose of inspiration, and vision are required elements though, and without these it doesn’t matter what gear you have.

So, how can you make a decision when I am basically telling you that either will work in the right hands?  The answer is simple – try them yourself!  Believe it or not, some people intuitively enjoy the look and feel of one brand over another.  The buttons just make sense, they feel ergononmically better for your particular way of controlling the mechanisms, and where you would think that the buttons should go.  This could be either the Canon or the Nikon model….heck, you may even prefer a Pentax or Samsung body in your hands.

One might argue that you can’t really hold these in your hands and get a good sense of how each works without paying a lot of money to get them out in the real world.  While this may be true for the 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800 – they have some earlier siblings that are available in the rental market and for pennies when compared to the latest offerings.  For as little as $100, you can take earlier models home or on a test shoot to get a feel for the ergonomics and layout of each.  I wish I had known about this rental option before I bought my first DSLR.  I may very well have still chosen Canon, but I might have started with a prosumer model rather than an entry level model camera.

Some reputable outfits that I’ve rented gear from include RentGlass and LensRentals.  I’ve also found a local shop here in Denver that has comparable prices if I need to get something in a pinch.  You may want to check your own local markets for similar shops (it’s always a good idea to support the local economy too, right?).

Last but not least, I would also recommend considering what your friends and colleagues shoot with.  Some may say that this can lead to biased opinions, but I say this leads to more accessory compatibility!  Ever try to put a Nikon lens on a Canon body or vice versa?  It can be done, but adapters and such make pairing accessories tough, and you will almost always lose some of the optical quality when doing these kinds of conversions.

So, it may not be a decisive victory either way, but if you are considering getting into the DSLR market with a professional grade camera, now is a great time.  Even if you can’t swing the latest and greatest, there will likely be a flood of the previous generation versions in the after market for the 5D Mark II and the D700.  A great place to go for used items is the Fred Miranda Buy/Sell forums.  If you want to sell you need to pay $5 to register, but buyers can purchase for free!

Got your own thoughts on these latest and greatest bodies from the biggest camera vendors?  Which is your inclination?

5 thoughts on “New Cameras: Canon vs Nikon Showdown!

  1. Could be fun to see the Sony A77 in that chart – while we are waiting for the next full frame Sony. In FPS and Video Frame rate i beats both Canon and Nikon. It is on pa with Canon in MP, equivalent to Nikon in ISO and the same in shutter speed. DXO rating 78.

    Price …. a lot less

    1. Yes, and another one thing I really envy Sony owners is their in-camera image stabilization; getting that as a Canon owner adds a hefty premium to the price of any good lens, unfortunately.
      I’m a Canon owner, and every lens purchase gets me more deeply invested/entrenched in their system…

  2. Nicely done. I always chuckle a bit when I see a Canon versus Nikon banner. For what it is worth I would like to offer my 2 cents.

    I don’t think it is possible to ever do a apples-to-apples comparison of a Canon and a Nikon camera. These companies are both too smart to clone cameras that would go head-to-head and start a price war where neither would make money.

    Both the 5D Mark III and the D800 have differentiated features and are geared to different customers for different intended uses.

    The purpose of doing this is to charge us more for features that we cannot get otherwise. We pay a premium for the features that we need and/or want. I am not complaining about the cost of either. There are two givens in life. The first is that we will never be satisfied with how much money we make and the second is that we will never buy anything as cheap as we want to.

    I do own a D700 and I am on a Canon blog. I feel like a lone cowboy surrounded by Indians (just kidding). Interestingly enough, I am eyeing the 5D Mark III and can’t help but think that if only you threw a “D700 plus” label on it I would have gotten what I thought I was going to get. On the other hand I am fascinated by the possiblities that a 36 megapixel sensor presents and I suspect that somewhere there is a Canon owner saying “Hey…those pixels should have been mine”! The camera Gods move in mysterious ways.

    My decision has already been made as I look at the batch of expensive Nikon lenses next to me and I am very much looking forward to this next round of technology.

    At the end of the day it is all about need and use. If either camera has what you need you will be absolutely thrilled with it. This really is the Golden Age of photography, at least with respect to technology.

    If the other camera has features that you would like to have…wait for the next generation of yours. With the pace of current technology that should happen in about a nanosecond or two. You will get all those features and more, however, there will be new missing features to lust after that the other guy has payed a premium for. That’s why the Canon/Nikon marketing guys get paid the big bucks.

    Neither Canon or Nikon can afford to release a turkey right now as they both go head-to-head to win our hearts, minds and bank accounts.

    Both cameras will be remarkable.

    I don’t envy the individual that is starting out clean and has to choose between the two. I very much envy the individual that has enough money to buy both. He/she will get the best of all worlds although if it were me I would probably flip a coin , buy one and use the money I save to put a downpayment on a BMW.

    So to both Canon and Nikon…very well done.

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