Canon vs. Nikon: The New SLRs Matt 22 Apr 2005

21 comments Latest by GO77

“Professional Cameras, Made for the Amateur” (NY Times) explores the latest additions to the Canon vs. Nikon digital SLR war and includes a slideshow of comparison images.

This month, both cameras gained new features - and new letters tacked on to their names. Canon’s new Digital Rebel XT (the EOS 350D) is aimed at eliminating the performance gap between the original Rebel and the Nikon D70. And only yesterday, Nikon struck back with the D70S, an updated version of its own consumer S.L.R. It’s an Olympic game of leap-cam.

“Both take pictures so good, you’ll feel guilty when friends and neighbors begin asking how you became such a great photographer overnight,” according to author David Pogue.

21 comments (comments are closed)

Brad 22 Apr 05

Apparently Nikon has begun encrypting a portion of its RAW images, though, right? That, among other things, would make me lean toward the Canon. I haven’t been very impressed with most of the Nikon digital cameras I’ve tried; the Canon user interface has tended to be more intuitive.

The ultimate digital camera in my view remains the Leica Digilux 2, but talk about paying a premium for simplicity!

Adam Michela 22 Apr 05

Brad: Yeah, but a bunch of people/companies have already clobbered their encoding. Check out dpreview.com for more info.

I’ve always lent myself towards Canon, Nikon’s sneakiness here insures my Canon loyalty now.

Dan Wolfgang 22 Apr 05

[sarcasm]So these cameras will make me a great photographer overnight? I’ll go buy one now![/sarcasm]

Brad 22 Apr 05

Back in the heyday of print film (um, the 20th century), you saw lots of mediocre or worse photographers who bought expensive top-of-the-line pro cameras in the mistaken belief that great equipment would result in great pictures. But now I think what’s going on is that millions of people have bought consumer pocket-size digital cameras, and after a few years of use some of these people are seeing the limitations and hankering after something better….especially when a few otherwise great shots have been hampered by image quality problems. There will always be a huge market for point-and-shoot snapshot cameras, but these sub $1,000 semi-pro models look like just the right step up for those of us who’ve become frustrated with the limitations of standard consumer digital cameras.

David Salahi 22 Apr 05

As a Canon owner for 25 years (AE1, A1, EOS630), it was with reluctance that I bought a Nikon D70 last December. But at that time, for a couple of hundred dollars extra the D70 was a much better camera than the Rebel.

I have to say that it took some relearning to use the Nikon’s interface although it’s hard for me to say that Nikon’s UI is worse than Canon’s. It’s probably mostly just different. Also, there was some additional relearning for me due to the fact that this is my first digital camera.

But except for that relearning period, I’ve been very happy with my D70. Photoshop opens my NEF RAW files just fine. Apparently, the encoding was added into models later than mine. It is disturbing to see Nikon pursuing a proprietary path on RAW. What we need is an open standard, not more fragmentation.

Kim Friesen 22 Apr 05

David,

If you have iPhoto 5 you can also open/edit the NEF RAW files directly in iPhoto.

OS X 10.4 is going to update the delivered Image Capture application with the ability to download RAW files directly from supported cameras as well. That, along with Automator, will give a lot of options if you do any repetitive processing of your RAW files.

As for an open standard, check out Adobe’s Digital Negative standard. Tiger, btw, supports DNG as well. I’m not sure if this is officially an open standard but it is Adobe’s attempt at creating one.

CM Harrington 22 Apr 05

The DNG is a real open format, and was not actually invented at Adobe. I’ve actually converted my workflow from a RAW workflow to a DNG (well, RAW to DNG) workflow for “future-proofing”. One of the interesting aspects of DNG is the ability to encapsulate the original RAW file into the DNG (rather than converting it into DNG “native”)

patrick h. lauke 22 Apr 05

Both take pictures so good, youíll feel guilty when friends and neighbors begin asking how you became such a great photographer overnight, according to author David Pogue.

…because, as everybody knows, it’s not the skill of the photographer, but the amount of smarts the technology has to compensate for lack thereof. uh…a bit like IE being so forgiving of invalid HTML. here’s a new one then: IE will render even the crappiest markup, you’ll feel guilty when clients begin asking how you became such a skilled web designer…

Chris from Scottsdale 22 Apr 05

I think a lot of the difference in digital, compared to old 35mm print film is the detail. Rarely before in a scanned photo could you see the crisp detail on a flower, or the wrinkles in skin, and the hair on the head. A lot of it has to do with better lenses, but digital wins hands down.

Ian 23 Apr 05

SLRs were never exclusively for the professionals. There were always affordable versions that had the limited feature set that amateur. However, the difference between digital and film has been that the price entry point for digital imaging has always cost substantially more for quality equal to that of a film equivilent camera.

With digital SLRs dropping in price and picking up the features of older siblings, they are an option to enthusiasts. They haven’t been targeted exclusively at amateurs: features like manual setting of either/both apeture and shutter time or mirror lockup aren’t for amateurs.

So once we’ve got over the fact that these haven’t been designed for Point and Click users (amateurs), we get to the point that these cameras create great images. Increased detail and more accurate colouring do not make better composed images.

Adam Codega 23 Apr 05

With digital SLR cameras the camera changes from “a light tight box capable of holding film” into much more then that. Nowadays it does make a difference, to some degree, which model you go with and I think that changes the field of education alot more. It used to be much easier to get students to put away their credit cards, put down the magazine articles and just go out shooting with the $150 used manual SLR they already owned.

dmr 24 Apr 05

Digital sucks and every print designer and artist coming from photography knows this. A piece of shit point-and-shoot often produces better results than a sub $500 digital. And virtually any sub $500 film scanner paired with a circa 1950s SLR (something like an SRT-101) will produce images roughly two or three times the resolution of a $1500 digital SLR for 2/3 the price! The cams just aren’t here yet.

And while I can argue the film grain debate for a great while digital color is a major shortcoming. Try adjusting color on a velvia film scan vs. virtually any digital pic; yuck. The colors just can’t be altered much in the digital realm. I’m not really sure why, but film scanners seem to be much mo’ better digital devices than any digital camera’s CCDs.

Allen 25 Apr 05

Brad wrote:

Back in the heyday of print film (um, the 20th century), you saw lots of mediocre or worse photographers who bought expensive top-of-the-line pro cameras in the mistaken belief that great equipment would result in great pictures.

Did you go to school with me? :) I saw that happen every semester… Kid comes in first day of class, plops down they’re leather camera bag, pulls out thier expensive camera and huge lens (cuz bigger is better, ya know) and powers it up and makes it beep and whirr. The next thing you know, its mid-terms and your sitting there wondering what ever happen to that guy… they cant cut it. Big expensive equipment is only going to big expensive pics of crap if thats what you point at it.

Andrew 25 Apr 05

Itís an Olympic game of leap-cam.

Wonder if the author intended to evoke Olympus there.

Danno 28 Apr 05

Having a really nice camera certainly doesn’t guarantee excellent photos, but it certainly makes it easier to get good shots.

Stupid Cyber Shot with no freaking controls.

Steve Lathan 11 May 05

They both are good Cameras…but Canon is better

Dave Wynsen 02 Jul 05

I’ve been watching the Canon vs. Nikon debate for about 30 years. For decades, there was no contest: Nikon ruled the world of newspapers, sports, fashion, travel, etc. But in the mid-90’s (?) things started to change. I’m not sure what caused it exactly, but Canon seemed to catch-up, then pull away. Perhaps it was a combination of camera technology, the “L” class lenses (the white ones), then Image Stabilization technology. Dunno.

I am in the market for a prosumer DSLR. At this writing (July 2005), there doesn’t seem to be anything to compete with Canon’s EOS 20D ($1350 body) at that price point. As far as I can tell, Canon’s “L” class lenses are tops — especially with IS.

So for now, Canon seems to be enjoying a slim (or better) lead.

I should add that Canon makes their own digital sensor chips. They also make the machines that make the chips. I don’t believe Nikon can make the same claim, but I could be wrong. If I’m right, then there is one thing I know for sure: If you are not in control of your own technology, then you will fall behind the competition. Is this what has happened to Nikon? If so, they will fall further behind and those white lenses will be be used by 80%+ of those whose incomes depend on quality and flexibility.

If this does happen, who will keep Canon on their toes within each price point? Pentax? Konica Minolta? Olympus? Leica? Hmmm.

Dave Wynsen 02 Jul 05

I’ve been watching the Canon vs. Nikon debate for about 30 years. For decades, there was no contest: Nikon ruled the world of newspapers, sports, fashion, travel, etc. But in the mid-90’s (?) things started to change. I’m not sure what caused it exactly, but Canon seemed to catch-up, then pull away. Perhaps it was a combination of camera technology, the “L” class lenses (the white ones), then Image Stabilization technology. Dunno.

I am in the market for a prosumer DSLR. At this writing (July 2005), there doesn’t seem to be anything to compete with Canon’s EOS 20D ($1350 body) at that price point. As far as I can tell, Canon’s “L” class lenses are tops — especially with IS.

So for now, Canon seems to be enjoying a slim (or better) lead.

I should add that Canon makes their own digital sensor chips. They also make the machines that make the chips. I don’t believe Nikon can make the same claim, but I could be wrong. If I’m right, then there is one thing I know for sure: If you are not in control of your own technology, then you will fall behind the competition. Is this what has happened to Nikon? If so, they will fall further behind and those white lenses will be be used by 80%+ of those whose incomes depend on quality and flexibility.

If this does happen, who will keep Canon on their toes within each price point? Pentax? Konica Minolta? Olympus? Leica? Hmmm.

Dave Wynsen 02 Jul 05

I’ve been watching the Canon vs. Nikon debate for about 30 years. For decades, there was no contest: Nikon ruled the world of newspapers, sports, fashion, travel, etc. But in the mid-90’s (?) things started to change. I’m not sure what caused it exactly, but Canon seemed to catch-up, then pull away. Perhaps it was a combination of camera technology, the “L” class lenses (the white ones), then Image Stabilization technology. Dunno.

I am in the market for a prosumer DSLR. At this writing (July 2005), there doesn’t seem to be anything to compete with Canon’s EOS 20D ($1350 body) at that price point. As far as I can tell, Canon’s “L” class lenses are tops — especially with IS.

So for now, Canon seems to be enjoying a slim (or better) lead.

I should add that Canon makes their own digital sensor chips. They also make the machines that make the chips. I don’t believe Nikon can make the same claim, but I could be wrong. If I’m right, then there is one thing I know for sure: If you are not in control of your own technology, then you will fall behind the competition. Is this what has happened to Nikon? If so, they will fall further behind and those white lenses will be be used by 80%+ of those whose incomes depend on quality and flexibility.

If this does happen, who will keep Canon on their toes within each price point? Pentax? Konica Minolta? Olympus? Leica? Hmmm.