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  1. #1
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    jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    i have been using a canon xsi for quite a few years now, and it's time to get a camera that works better in low light. i do shoot professionally, and a lot of the jobs i have been getting require me to shoot in low light with no flash. i have been renting good lenses for the shoots, so i have almost no investment in good canon lenses--otherwise, there would be no need for this question. i'd love to get a full sensor camera, but with the need for a few good lenses right now as well, i'm going to have to stick with a crop sensor for the time being and buy a used full sensor down the line a bit. i have been considering going to nikon, as they seem to be doing a bit better in the sensor/image quality dept.---would love PhotoJohn's commentary, as i know he's a canon guy who has had good opportunity to test nikon stuff as well.
    now..i do have a canon body obviously for backup purposes, so there is that, and i am familiar with the interface. right now, i'm looking in the t4i vs d5200 area. do y'all think canon will catch up in the sensor department? if money were no object, what would y'all do? (of course, money is always an object). the plan for now is to get a better crop sensor camera, buy good lenses that will work with full sensor, then make the jump to full sensor when business justifies it.

  2. #2
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    I would look at the whole camera rather than just at the sensor. The Nikon 5200 is a consumer model. Lots of useful options are hidden in menus rather than in controls. It doesn't have an autofocus motor so you can't use non-AFS lenses (including older prime lenses which are economical and so useful in low light).

    However I checked out the DXOMark tests and Canon are further behind than I thought (T4i = 66 and D5200 = 84). Nikon are much better at dynamic range and some way ahead on ISO.

    I expect that Canon will catch up someday. My understanding is that Canon is using outdated chip technology in their sensors (500nm) whereas Nikon's suppliers (Sony, Aptiva, Toshiba (for D5200)) are using the latest technology and they can pack more processing into the chip.

    If money was no object then I would go for a D600 or D800 full-frame. That's what will give you the best results. If I was going to stick with half-frame format then I would get the D7100. It looks like it has the same sensor as the D5200 but in a fully-functional body.
    Charles

    Nikon D800, D7200, Sony RX100m3
    Not buying any more gear this year. I hope

  3. #3
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    Re: jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    thank you for your thoughts Charles...appreciate it...

  4. #4
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    Damn. I just wrote a five paragraph reply and somehow it failed and lost my text. Lame

    Charles is correct about the Canon sensor – it’s way out of date. It was introduced with the EOS 7D back in the fall of 2009. That means they’ve been milking it for 3.5 years now. In that same time period, everyone else has started using Sony APS-C sensors and those sensors have been updated regularly and are a whole lot better. That’s not to say the Canon sensor is bad – not at all. If it was, I wouldn’t have just bought a T4i / 650D. However, the Pentax, Nikon and Sony APS-C sensor cameras all have much better image quality than Canon’s APS-C sensor DSLRs. And the Nikon D7100’s image quality absolutely blows my mind. It gives me new hope for APS-C sensor cameras. It’s totally useable up to ISO 6400 and I think it has lower noise than Nikon’s D600 full-frame DSLR. The D600 is sharper because of its larger sensor. But it also costs $800 more than the D7100. Plus, we don’t always need the best. The D7100 is so much better than what you have now that I think it would be a much better buy for you. I’m finishing up a full D7100 review right now but you can compare the image quality now on our D7100 studio samples page:

    Nikon D7100 Studio Sample Photos >>

    On the other hand, full-frame cameras are always going to have the best image quality. The bigger sensor is not only better in low light but the larger sensor will also always be sharper. So if you really want to go big and low light is really a high priority, then maybe full-frame is the right thing for you to do. If you want to go that route, then I think your best options are a used Canon EOS 5D Mark II, a Canon EOS 6D, or the Sony Alpha A99. The Nikon stuff is great, too. I think they actually have the best image quality right now. However, all of the full-frame cameras have excellent image quality so I’m not making recommendations based on image quality. I’m recommending the Canon EOS 5D Mk II because I think you should be able to get a great deal on a used one and the image quality is pretty much the same as the 5D MK III up to ISO 3200. I’m recommending the EOS 6D if you decide you want a new camera. And I’m recommending the Sony because I think it’s the best camera overall, in terms of features and performance. Sony is the most forward-thinking camera maker now and the A99 has a lot of features that really set it apart from the rest. It’s also the only full-frame camera with an articulated LCD display, a feature that I think is underappreciated. The tilt-swivel LCD display is actually one of the main reasons I just bought my T4i. Rather than going on and on about the A99, I’ll just direct you to my review:

    Sony A99 Review >>

    Another option is to wait a bit and see what Canon comes out with. Normally I don’t tell people to wait. However, since you already have an APS-C Canon DSLR, it might be worth waiting. Like I said, the current 18-megapixel sensor is way out of date. But there have been lots of rumors about a 7D replacement later this year – probably in late summer. I expect that is the most likely time for Canon to introduce a new APS-C sensor and I expect it will be a huge improvement. It better be. Whether it can match the D7100, I don’t know. But they need to come out with something better and introducing it in whatever replaces the 7D makes sense. On the other hand, the rumored 7D replacement will likely cost as much as a full-frame camera. You’ll probably have to wait 3 or 4 months after that to see a new sensor in a more affordable DSLR.

    To sum things up – Nikon D7100 if you want a new APS-C sensor camera right now. If you want to go full-frame and you want to switch brands, then the Sony A99 is my top recommendation. If that’s out of your price range then I think a used Canon EOS 5D Mark II is your best bet. It’s not the latest and greatest anymore but when I reviewed the 5D Mark III and compared the image quality of both cameras, I found they were nearly the same up to ISO 3200. I’ve been recommending the 5D Mk II to Canon shooters who aren’t sports photographers since I did that review. The Nikon D600 is also excellent. It uses the same sensor as the Sony A99 and Nikon is getting noticeably better image quality out of it. However, the A99’s feature set makes it a better overall camera, in my opinion – unless you’re already invested in a Nikon system.

    You said you’ve been renting lenses. Have you considered renting cameras to see how they compare? I think you should. The BorrowLenses.com main office is in Redwood City and I think they probably rent everything I’ve mentioned here. I think renting some cameras to find out how they compare to your XTi and each other is your logical next step.
    Photo-John

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  5. #5
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    Re: jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    thank you for the very detailed info John---you covered a lot of things i have been researching and wrangling with, as money really is an issue, as you would imagine... i have been seriously looking at the Canon 5d mark II, as i have heard some photographers who use both Canon and Nikon say that the Mark III is simply one of their favorite cameras period, and that the image quality is similar.....then i could at least use my older body with whatever new lenses i get should i have a mechanical issue----not that i couldn't just use my older camera with old lenses if i went to Nikon or Sony, but also switching menu styles in the middle of a critical shoot good throw me, and I've turned down using really nice cameras at shoots in lieu of using an inferior camera that i am familiar with, as i really need the tool to be transparent so i can just worry about the images i'm getting...

    also---i have been thinking that if i have to go with a APS-C sensor right now because of price, it's still just a temporary situation until i can move to a full sensor, which i think will suit my needs for the low light issues i've encountered so much lately. saying that, the Nikon D7100 and eventual upgrade to a full sensor Nikon is also a consideration---I did also realize, however, that i also have a Canon flash that wasn't exactly cheap---not that a few hundred bucks should be a determining factor, and i could sell it i suppose, but i do have it already....

    your idea of renting stuff was also what Sabine(wife) suggested....my friend recently picked up the old 5D for about $600, and that was fun to use---felt great, but obviously pretty outdated technology by now....still, the images are pretty nice with even an old FF sensor....i like the feel of the bigger cameras for some reason....i am going to go on and read the Sony review now as well.....i hadn't thought about other companies as Nikon and Canon seem to have such vast lens choices, and when all is said and done, lenses are still king and bodies keep becoming obsolete every few years....thank you for all the info....gonna go read that review and look at some sample photos....hopefully, i'll be able to come to a decision soon, as these 'big' decisions always seem to weigh me down a bit----i just wanna get back to shooting cool things...: )

  6. #6
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    Re: jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    Happy to help, Kenny. I think renting some cameras really is the right thing to do. It will give you some much-needed perspective.

    What's your timeline for buying a new camera? If you can't wait, then I think you'd be very happy with a D7100. But if you can wait, then I think it's very likely that Canon will have something significantly better that will allow you to keep using all your current stuff and not have to learn a new system.
    Photo-John

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  7. #7
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    Re: jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    well, i've been getting by with what i have, and yes, i hate learning new systems, which may be why i'm dragging my feet....i am not even super thrilled when Adobe releases new stuff and moves things, or same with Pro Tools in the recording world....in the end, i'm not a technology geek and really just like my tools to be solid, consistent, and not get in the way of the creative process....i used to use a Nikon film camera, so i have some sort of unjustified attachments to the Nikon name and had almost gone there when i first bought in '08, but more of my friends were using Canon and said i could borrow lenses and such....however, i find i hate borrowing stuff....

  8. #8
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    Re: jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    oh...and great review on the Sony---a little rich for my blood right now, but yes, sounds great....and Sabine has been thinking i should get more into video as well, so sounds like a great camera for that....

  9. #9
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    Quote Originally Posted by kenny View Post
    oh...and great review on the Sony---a little rich for my blood right now, but yes, sounds great....and Sabine has been thinking i should get more into video as well, so sounds like a great camera for that....
    Sony also has APS-C cameras with all the feature benefits of the A99, except the full-frame sensor. They have a new one, the A58, with a brand new 20-megapixel sensor that I'm curious about. It's more of an entry-level camera (but so is your XSi) so it might not be what you're looking for. On the other hand, chances are, they'll introduce a higher-end model with the same sensor later this year. Considering that Nikon is using the Sony sensors in some of their cameras, I think the new 20-megapixel sensor could be the best APS-C sensor on the market now. I haven't had a chance to use it yet, though. I do like that they backed off a bit with the resolution. I think 24-megapixels is overkill for an APS-C sensor camera. Plus, that's a lot of data to deal with. It definitely means more memory cards and more hard drives.

    Here's a link to my Sony A58 announcement:

    Sony Alpha SLT-A58 Digital SLR With New 20-Megapixel Sensor >>

    And I actually recently wrote an article about why I like Sony DSLRs so much:

    Why Your Next DSLR Should Be A Sony >>

    Still - since you already own Canon, I think it would be a good idea to stick with them unless you really need to upgrade ASAP.
    Photo-John

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  10. #10
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    Re: jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    yeah---i was a little put off by the high mp sensors on the Nikons actually, as it is overkill....and as you said, more cards, more hard drives, etc.....but yes, the test images you put up look great at higher iso.....just looking at pricing....the D7100 would run me about 1200 for the body, whereas a D600 and a 5DII would be around $1600--and i'm fully happy to go used or refurbished as well, so i think finding an extra $400 would be the smart move unless i want to stick with an older crop sensor for around $600(t41 or nikon d5200)....at least the $1000 difference there seems a bit more sensible....gonna go read about the Alpha now.....

  11. #11
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    Quote Originally Posted by kenny View Post
    the D7100 would run me about 1200 for the body, whereas a D600 and a 5DII would be around $1600--and i'm fully happy to go used or refurbished as well, so i think finding an extra $400 would be the smart move unless i want to stick with an older crop sensor for around $600(t41 or nikon d5200)
    I think that's a good way to look at it, Kenny. I like small, light cameras so I'm always trying to convince myself not to buy a full-frame body. The only full-frame body that really interests me right now is the 1D X and at $6800 it's way out of my reach unless I start making a bunch of money shooting racing.

    One thing to keep in mind is that any EF-S lenses you own for your XSi won't work on a full-frame Canon body. Also, full-frame lenses generally cost more and they're also bigger and heavier. That shouldn't stop you from going full-frame but it is something to keep in mind when you consider what the real investment will be.
    Photo-John

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  12. #12
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    Re: jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    cool....yeah...i really have no great lenses---ef-s or otherwise, and the lenses i've been most interested in would work on an FF.....though i think i am interested in them because i was thinking i'd eventually go FF....thanks for all the input...hopefully, i'll figure it out soon enough...: )

  13. #13
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    Re: jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    I currently own both Canon and Nikon. I just upgraded to Nikon D7100 and absolutely love it. My daughter inherited Canon. I loved my Canon, but was definitely time to upgrade. It's not cheap, but in my opinion was worth the money. I looked into buying Nikon D7000 which is $200-400 cheaper, but after comparing two models and reading bunch of reviews, I decided to go with D7100. I absolutely love it. If you can afford it, I would highly recommend Nikon D7100, If not, stick with Canon. At least you won't have to buy new lenses, etc. Good luck with your decision.
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  14. #14
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    Re: jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    thank you....i still haven't purchased a camera, so this opinion will go noted for sure....

  15. #15
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    Re: jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    The Sony APC-S cameras are a little noisy at higher ISO. I know I had the a77 and 1600 seemed to be its limit. The a99 on the other hand is a great deal better. 6400 is very usable unless you intend on making large prints.
    I think Nikon has the upper hand in high ISO. Unless you look at something like the RX1. I have been using it for a couple of weeks and its absolutely incredible at high ISO and the ability to recover highlights and shadows without degrading the over all image is the best by far I have ever seen. I can't wait for Sony to incorporate this into their next full frame. I know it will be awhile down the road but I am slowly putting all of my eggs into the Sony basket.
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    Red face Re: jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    To me, Canon is the obvious choice. It has used 14-bit color for many years even in the mid-level cameras X0D. Nikon had only 12-bit color processing. Even recently Nikon has achieved 14-bit color, its speed is much lower than Canon's in handling multiple continuous shooting. It you like shooting wild life or running kids, Canon is the no brainer.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member volks's Avatar
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    Re: jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    Go and play with the D7100. It's as good as all the reviews state. Just bought one myself, and picture quality is stunning. At least try it before you write it off.
    Volker
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  18. #18
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: jumping ship? canon vs nikon

    Quote Originally Posted by volks View Post
    Go and play with the D7100. It's as good as all the reviews state. Just bought one myself, and picture quality is stunning. At least try it before you write it off.
    Well-said, volks. I think the D7100 has the best APS-C sensor available right now - by a long shot.

    Please write a review here for your D7100 after you've had a chance to use it for a bit. We need user reviews for that camera.
    Photo-John

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