New Cameras: Canon vs Nikon Showdown!

Canon vs Nikon

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?