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  1. #1
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    Choosing a platform

    I've decided to move up from my Canon SD200 (which I love for point and shoot) to a DSLR, but I need to decide on a platform. Right now, it looks like this means ... canon or nikon.

    I've seen the buzz surrounding the Nikon D200. This camera coupled with the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX (I mean with that many accronyms in the name it must be good) looks to me to be a nice place to start. I'm a little worried about Nikon's CCD future, though.

    I do have an affinity for Canon. I'm not sure where this comes from but it may be those white super telephotos. Those things look like they mean business. I'm not that keen on the 30D when I compare it to the D200, honestly. The 5D is a little more attractive with the full-frame CMOS and better high ISO performance, but its a good deal more money, too. (Not that money is the most important factor. Although this is out of the running)

    If I could actually find a D200, I probably would have just bought it and been done. This forced delay has made me reflect a bit on future. What do you think am I going to be happy with either platform or is the serious money on Canon?

    It is great having two viable platforms from which to choose.
    Last edited by pod13; 03-31-2006 at 01:06 PM.

  2. #2
    Registered User mrailing's Avatar
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    Here is what I would do.

    Go to a camera shop in you area, have them equip a Nikon and Canon with comparable lens and let you shoot around the store on a Compact Flash card, and then compare the photos, and how the camera feels in your hand...

    I prefer the Canon glass (lens) over Nikon, I think they are hands down better. And with the IS (Image stabilization) on some of the lens, you don't get that on Nikon.

    Also look the at Pros in the field, the majority use Canon, you see that with the white lens at BBall games and other sporting events.

    But it all comes down to controls and what equipment you already have. If you have lens from one brand, why rebuy, if not, then get the one that feels best in your hands, and that you like the controls on. So go to a shop and play and see what you prefer....

  3. #3
    Registered User spectrrr's Avatar
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    I was debating almost the same thing a year ago when I made the jump to DSLR. At the time however, my decision was a little easier, because there was no D200 or 5D, and my budget was a little lower. In the end though, it all comes down to what features are more important in a camera for YOU. For the work that I do, I end up shooting 1600 and 3200 ISO on a regular basis. That was the clincher for me – Nikon just couldn’t do that and get very useable results. The good news is Nikon’s sensors are getting better, slowly but surely. They’re still no match for Canon, but I think they will be a few years down the line. I won’t bash Nikon, they make some great cameras, and have some excellent lenses in their lineup. In the end, its just as MRailing said, go to the store, try both cameras out, see which one’s controls feel better, compare the images and features, then go with what meets your needs.

    As a side note, one of the reasons (but certainly not the only one) that you see a lot of canon at the major sporting events is that Canon’s sports body, the 1D Mk II, is vastly superior to Nikon’s sports body. While Nikon is running a slightly noisy 4mp, Canon’s is 8mp with less noise. This is an advantage that they’ve held for some time, with the previous generation of body’s being 2mp and 4mp, respectively.

    As a second side note, the Nikon 18-200 VR is a great lens. If having one lens on your camera and not having to change it is important to you, then 18-200VR could become a deciding factor. The closest thing Canon makes to a super zoom like that one is the 28-300 IS, but that is a heavy push-pull monster.

  4. #4
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    You're both right. I need to wait until I can find a D200 local to me and go and check these cameras for myself.

    Any camera I get is going to be more capable than me at this point and both Canon and Nikon appear to be in it for the long run. So i'm really stressing over nothing.

    spectrrr, that swimmer's picture you posted is great. I'm always amazed at what can be done with skill using available light.

  5. #5
    Photographer Orgnoi1's Avatar
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    I guess I can chime in with my $0.02 but it wont be much different then what was said above but to elaborate on it...

    Either choice you decide with you WILL be happy. I chose Canon really only on a whim in the beginning because I had a Canon ElanI and liked the feel and control configuration. My girlfriend shot Minolta for a long time before switching to Nikon... she is now a SERIOUS Nikon fan (and we bicker constantly because of it..LOL). The main thing that I look at in making a decision is the availability of lenses from the main manufacturers. Canon hands down has more lenses ranging from consumer level all the way to pro then Nikon, although that in no ways proves who has better lenses. Dollar for dollar the lenses between the two companies are so comparable that with my limited camera time I cant tell the difference. I think that going to the local dealer IS a good idea... but you may really not find a lot of dealers that carry a variety of pro-sumer/pro equipment. THAT in itself is a real bad situation that Convergent and I deal with here in Upstate NY.

    In a punchline I would say that if the D200 really tickles your fancy, get it... if another camera tickles your fancy... get it... you wont be unhappy either way and either way you will have endless time learning and enjoying your gear.
    TRJ Photography
    National Press Photographers Assn. Member (NPPA)
    Canon User:1DMII/20D/10D(IR)/1nRS/Pro-1/Some L Glass

  6. #6
    Editor and Site Administrator Convergent's Avatar
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    Good discussion, and seemingly unbiased. That's great.

    I shot Nikon for about 20 years and switched to Canon completely about a year ago. I had never owned anything Canon besides a printer, up until that point. I love both systems and they each have advantages and disadvantages. Either would be a great system to use for many years to come, and I would guess that the photographers skills would be the biggest limiting factor with either one.

    So, why did I switch? I'm sure that is the question you'd have after my opening. There were a couple of things. My wife and I started a youth sports photography business. When I say we started a business, I mean we really started a business... bought a franchise for the largest in the country, and invested heavily in equipment to be able to run four-five cameras for larger shoots. Given that type of investment, it was a good time to reevaluate our needs. The money lost in selling off my gear and switching was not significant in the total cost of the investment.

    I had been shooting sports with a Nikon D70 and D2H. The D2H is a fine camera, as is the D70. What I found, was that the high ISO performance wasn't nearly as good as what I had seen from Canon owners. I could get good results, but it depended on my exposure being right on the money, AND, my running all the images through something like Noise Ninja or Neat Image to clean up the noise. With a bit of work and patience, I could produce an image from either camera at ISO1600 and even ISO3200 that was usable. However, this took a lot of my time and my keeper percentage wasn't high.

    The other thing was that I started shooting with prime lenses to help with the ISO problem and found that the biggest problem with a 4MP camera was that it cut down on how much you could crop. Shooting with primes kind of forces you to crop more than when shooting with zooms. At the time the only solution from Nikon was the D2X which was about $1500 more than a 1DM2. The 1DM2 seemed to be the perfect solution... way less expensive than the D2X, and double the MP of the D2H (at nearly the same price for the current model). A little more research led me to the reality that Canon's marketing machine had virtually shut Nikon out of the Pro sports market, and that Canon owned about 60-80% of the DSLR market (I don't know what the real number is, but they have a large majority and I see numbers like this quoted from reputable sources all the time). I figured my investment would be better preserved going with Canon.

    So, I made the switch. The first thing I found was that I didn't lose that much money on the switch. The used market for lenses is very good, and the bodies weren't old enough to drop that much... so I got out pretty reasonably. The next thing I found was that I needed to learn a new system and they are very different to shoot with. From my experience, Canon tends to rely more on the photographer doing things, and Nikon has a few more workable bells and whistles that aid the photographer (dynamic AF tracking, SB800 modes, etc.). All that has meant to me is that my skills have improved slightly (I believe) from shooting Canon.

    The end result is that I'm quite happy with Canon. I just did an analysis of all my images from the last year and the majority of my images were shot at ISO1600. All of them were used right out of the camera (with normal post processing that is always done... exposure/color/sharpening). I never touched noise reduction software with these images and they looked great... and more importantly, people responded by buying them.

    Now, back to the D200 vs. 30D vs. 5D. Take a very close look at the real differences between the D200 and 30D. Do you really need those things that the D200 gives you over the 30D? I have concluded, for me, that high ISO performance is highly important. Noise is not a good thing, and the 30D does significantly better with this than the D200. Don't be fooled by comparisons you may see in a studio setting. Even the D2H performs well if the exposure is carefully controlled and lighting is plentiful. How does it perform in real world shooting... a high school gym... fluctuating light sources... and difficult subjects. The 30D, and even the 20D, will win hands down. Is weather sealing important? I shoot outdoors and have not had a problem with this... but some people may find it highly important. Remember that without the correct lens on the camera, you still aren't weather sealed, even with a weather sealed body. The D200 does have more pro-like controls. But, is it worth the extra money? I have only briefly used the D200 and thought it was nice, but I'm very happy with Canon.

    I think you'll be happy with whatever you get. Just remember that the body is just the beginning... you'll end up spending far more on lenses, accessories, etc. You should also checkout that lens in person. It may be a little big for a walk-around lens... you should make sure to check that out.
    Mike - Been Converged?

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the great advice from everyone. It was much appreciated. I thought I'd share what I ended up doing.

    I took a trip down to Penn Camera last week (great selection, professional staff, and even rentals) to check out my options. The Nikon just felt right to me so I bought it with just the kit lens. Its solid, it sounds great, and its way more camera than I need. Hopefully, I'll grow into it. Unfortunately, the lens I wanted, the 18-200mm, is backordered.

    I charged up the battery and took a couple of shots. These were taken with all the default settings. The camera was on autopilot.






  8. #8
    Photographer Orgnoi1's Avatar
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    Congrats on the new camera!!!! and nice shots... I especially like the framing in #3!!!
    TRJ Photography
    National Press Photographers Assn. Member (NPPA)
    Canon User:1DMII/20D/10D(IR)/1nRS/Pro-1/Some L Glass

  9. #9
    Editor and Site Administrator Convergent's Avatar
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    Good work pod... I'm sure you'll be very happy with it over the long haul. I agree with Ross on that last one... nice composition.

    Make sure to keep us in the loop as you learn. This is a fairly new photography forum, but there are several of us here that have quite a bit of experience with DSLRs and are happy to help.
    Mike - Been Converged?

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