November 2, 2005

Nikon D200 vs Canon EOS 5D

Nikon shooters around the web are abuzz about Nikon's new D200. In general the response to the specs has been positive (I don't know anyone who has actually handled one). Am I the only Nikon guy disappointed by the package? To me it looks like D70 with a slightly better chip/software. I've never been a Canon guy, but the EOS 5D has a couple of features that make me look over to the other side. Specifically I like:

1. The chip in the 5D is the size of a 35mm film frame so there is no lens focal conversion factor. On the Nikon the conversion factor is 1.5x. Because the chip is bigger the image in the viewfinder is also bigger. On the new Nikon they put a magnifying lens in the viewfinder to make the view seem bigger, but that's no substitute for the real deal.

2. The 5D is 12.8 megapixels... a step up from the D200's 10.2. Many people wills say, so the 5D has 2.6 extra megapixels, is that worth the extra $$$.. I would say no if megapixels alone were the deciding factor, but...

3. My photographer friends are all reporting the 5D has much better low light resolution and significantly better noise than the D200. I'll have to test this out myself...

Of course the 5D is almost a $1000 more than the D200 which is already expensive... so ultimately I'm not that tempted by either camera. The Nikon isn't enough of a step up from my D70 and the Canon is much more expensive especially when considering it would be all new lenses/accessories for me. If Nikon (or Canon) or anyone else really wants me to plunk down for a new high end digital I want a camera that is the form factor of an FM2 or Leica M6 ie small. I want a big chip with no lens conversion factor. I want at least 12 megapixels. i want much better handling of high dynamic range lighting situations. And I want a relatively simple camera without a ton of modes. Manual, aperture priority, and shutter priority is just fine with me. (As an aside you might ask why I don't consider the Nikon D2 as it is close in price to the's simply too bulky.)

To see what really gets my camera geek heart racing step on over to bostick & sullivan's site and check outthe Hobo.

posted at 12:15 PM by raul

Filed under: photography


11/09/05 10:44 PM

I'm sorta of the opinion that it's pretty much going to come down to personal preference again, like the decision to rock a 20D or a D70. Specwise, they seem pretty close, with both of them each having some interesting features.

I've been digging my Nikon because 1) I like the way it feels/the way it's laid out 2) I love the film-like grain from ISO 320-800--Canon files just look too smooth to me. I hope the D200 files look 'filmy' too :)

My dream camera though; a digi version of the Minolta XD-11. Mmm.

BTW, what lens did you use on your recent trip? It seems really wide for a digi.

11/16/05 01:12 AM

matt... The stuff I've posted from my recent trip is almost all from my Nikon FM2. 24mm lense.

d fuji. Those extra pixels don't make a bit of difference on the computer screen or on a small print, but I like to print big. 20x24 or 40x48 and there it makes a big difference.

11/24/05 11:08 AM

im thinking of going with the 5d.

gonna get one tomorrow. been using the d70 lense kit for about a year now. ready to check out something else.

while the d200 is tempting...

most likely gonna get a 5d

01/21/06 05:04 PM

Re: Nikon 1.5 conversion.
While I agree that a full-frame chip should be standard issue, I have read in a few places that Nikon likes to use the 1.5 conversion because it uses the sweet-spot of the lens, eliminating vignetting, odd stray light, etc. Just a thought.

I, too, am straddling the fence. I really don't think the extra MP will make a big difference unless you will be making wall-sized enlargements. What I like about the Nikon, though, is that the images really look film-like. Great depth, smooth imaging. And after all, most of us grew up with film so that's at least what I'm trying to reproduce.

Good luck!

01/22/06 01:11 AM

It is certainly true that you need better glass for the a full frame sensor, but the viewfinder view is a bigger issue for me. Also I think the high end canon lenses are better than the top nikon ones these day (although neither matches zeiss/leica lenses).

I'm also leaning toward the 5D. My main issue is low light handling. I have had some hands-on experience with both cameras and the 5D produces MUCH richer, less grainy images at iso 800 and 1600.

The extra MP do make a difference for me because I crop....

And as far as film-like images go, I think both are about equal.

If I get the Nikon it will only be because of money issue.

04/20/06 09:02 AM

People Really need to get there facts straight, 10.2 to 12.8 is like comparing rice size in a bag of rice. I could print the same size on both at 20x24 or 40x whatever or as I do in my profession 40 feet by whatever (Billboard signs). That neglagible megapixel size is nothing. And for sharpness its all in how the ccd/cmos software handles in camera. At these resolutions ur starting to notice glass quality and mirror vibration. Please be informed about this, I'm sure this will be a flame post but it makes me insane to hear the Ford/Chevy argument from ppl that dont seem to know what they are talking about. Choose the Camera that suites what you need to do with it, if u want to be creative and use alot of whacked out obscure fisheye pictures, go with a full frame, If u want to do alot of wildlife and pick out the eyelashes on a bird 100 miles away go with a 1.5 or 1.6x crop, a .1 crop difference you will never notice. From there go with price you want or are willing to pay.

04/20/06 12:07 PM

>0.2 to 12.8 is like comparing rice size in a bag of rice

Not true. I've made test prints from RAW files and the Canon allows you to make bigger prints. In a pinch I can even go up to 40x48 which I can't with the Nikon (grain is visible).

Shadow resolution and low light performance is another issue for me as I often shoot in low light situations here the canon is the clear winner. At ISO 800 the Canon's images have mild grain where the Nikon's images are very grainy. At 1600 the difference is even more pronounced... But if you are shooting at 400 there's virtually no difference.

The viewfinder is an issue for me, Canon's true full frame is better than the magnified view of a small frame on the nikon hands down, but even the canon was disappointing compared to film cameras.

The Nikon has a more robust body. Period.

My issue with switching is that I've always been a Nikon guy so buying a Canon also means buying lenses etc...It gets expensive quick. But as I see it Canon is a clear winner... If you want to test for yourself, go to your local camera store with a memory card, shoot with both at a variety of ISOs and compare the RAW files side by side. There is an obvious difference.

And as a side note 4000 dpi scans from my Nikon still producer files more useable for printing large (up to 40x48) but only on low ISO well exposed film. And neither of these cameras comes close to matching the images from my Maymima (again in good light). In poor light the Canon is the clear winner.

05/02/06 04:36 AM


I believe and I am straight convinced that a 12.8 or a 10.2 is not much a difference.

As a photographer of TIMES and Boston Globe Magazines, Let me be frank and straight, It would be a clear-cut straight OK to say "A big megapixel Step-up" provided if you do not own any of these cameras, you've mentioned, Nikon D200 or 5D, or if you own just a miserable 4 or 5 megapixel camera, now that, if intending to do an upgrade is resonable. In that case, choose either one you please.

But to do an upgrade of the D200, which is, 10.2MP to a Canon 5D, 12.8 MP... Boy, it clearly makes no sense at all, so what if the other is slightly bigger? Are you willing to pay a few thousand bucks just for that 2 megapixels? Just to print at a slightly larger resolution? Just for that 2-3 inches bigger size of the print is really a waste of budget. No one's going to scrutinise and say, "hey that one's bigger!" How much? 2 inches?

05/02/06 04:42 AM

^ Well said, but still, I prefer over quality over pixels. So lenses count, clean em' properly.

05/02/06 07:00 AM

Like some of the other people posting here I did some side by side comparisons. I borrowed a 5D and a D200 with comparable lenses, set up a tripod and shot the same image under a variety of lighting conditions. Under good lighting I didn't see much difference in the images even when viewing them at 100%, but even at iso 400 the advantages of Canon start to become clear. Not only is there less grain but shadow detail and highlight detail are much better. the differences get much more noticeable at higher isos. And this comes from a hard core Nikon guy with 30 years of Nikon experience. I find Canon's images at 800 iso acceptable, whiile the Nikon's images are full of grain. But more importantly on images with strong contrast, the Canon picks up detail both in highlights and shadows that Nikon misses completely. If you play with the RAW files you will see that the information simply doesn't exist on the Nikon whereas on the Canon you have much more choice about the way the final image will look. Is the Nikon D200 a good camera, yes of course, but for challenging situations or for images that will ultimately be printed in large sizes I think the extra money is well spent. If you have doubts about this I suggest you to to a store that sells both cameras, bring your own memory card and do some tests for yourself.l;.=

05/02/06 07:19 AM

03/29/08 11:07 PM

I think this argument is absolete since the D300 and D3 came out. If you were a Nikon user and considered switching to Canon, now is not the time, and if you did, you made a mistake. I'm drooling over D3 right now. it is ZZZ best camera on the market for the price.

03/29/08 11:14 PM

I totally agree. The D3 is by far the best camera in it's price range. My only problem with it, is it's bulk. The D300 is also fantastic. I haven't shot with it side by side with the 5D, but I look forward to making the comparisons...I'm really curious about low light performance.

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