Canon and Nikon comparison pt.3
Now let’s take a look at some of the differences in features on both systems.
Autofocus & viewfinder
The Nikon has a very advanced 51 point focus system which has the ability to have continuous focusing & at the same time tracking the subject which is in focus. For those of you who has never seen this before, it’s truly an engineering marvel. All you need to do it focus on the object that you want to be the subject, half shutter-release & now your camera will track that point of focus until you completely press the shutter-release. You can even set how sensitive you want the continuous focus to be & how fast you want it to be!! If 51 points is too much for you, you can always set it down to 11.
The viewfinder size for the D300 is rather small, however the D700 has a nice & large viewfinder so folks who wears glasses, like myself will prefer the D700 viewfinder anytime. At the bottom of the viewfinder, you will see an array of information like shutter speed, aperture, ISO, number of shots left…etc…etc. The fonts are large & bright, very readable & easy to see.
Kudos to Nikon for a simply superb autofocus & viewfinder design.
On the Canon, you will only find a 9 point focus system which is basically just that. You can only manual focus, single focus, AI focus & AI servo. AI servo is actually continuous focus. AI focus is a smart combination of single focus & AI servo… most of the time it will single focus on the object unless either you or the object in question, moves. Sounds cool, but big deal… Nikon has that too!
You would think that this 5Dmk2 being a full frame DSLR that the viewfinder will be as big & as comfortable as the D700… you are wrong. In fact the 5Dmk2’s viewfinder is no improvement over the D300. WIth my glasses on, I have exactly the same problems looking through the viewfinder as I did on my old D300. Also although the viewfinder has the same information at the bottom like the Nikon, the fonts are very thin & not very bright, which makes it hard to read sometimes if you are shooting in a bright environment.
Canon really needs to rework this part of the camera out. I strongly feel Canon can do better in this department! However in Canon’s defense, I have to say the specs defer somewhat from the actual field experience as I will explain in a future article, “How to shoot Chinese Opera” I have slated in the next week or so.
D-Lighting vs Auto Lighting Optimizer/Highlight Tone Priority
D-Lighting is a Nikon feature on many of their newer DSLR. Basically if the shot you took was underexposed or has a lot of shadow areas, D-Lighting will automatically attempt to correct this & brighten up the shadow areas so you can see more detail. This I have a lot of experience with & I have to say the technology does live up to its hype. Although you lose a little bit of contrast on the shots, you almost always see detail in the shadows where normally it would have just been darkness. Also it tries to tame highlights & you do see some reduction on the higher spectrum. But really the strength comes from lightening the shadows.
Canon’s equivalent to this is call the Auto Lighting Optimizer. It’s similar however I find that Canon doesn’t do as well in lightening the shadows as the Nikons can. However on the flip side, Canons do great job at controlling highlights & ensuring minimal loss of detail. To improve that further, Canon has the Highlight Tone Priority technology which further reduces the loss of highlight details. Only caveat here is that you have to bump up to ISO200 as a minimum & you see a little more noise… I haven’t actually confirmed this but apparently there are tons of forums out there with “camera man” arguing about this topic. What losers lol! Unless you pixel peep, or unless you print super high quality large posters the size of yourself, you won’t be able to tell the difference. Hell if noise is all that important to you, just use Noise Ninja!
I have no preference in this department. While Nikons can handle shadows better, Canons can handle highlights as well. Hence.. the darkside vs the lightside???
So why did I switch to Canon?
I’ll try to sum it up…
1. Auto ISO – Although Nikon has the ability to manually control the minimum shutter speed before bumping up the ISO, Canon’s is automatic based on the focal length of the lens that you are using. If you set to 50mm, your min shutter speed is 1/50sec… if 200mm, it goes up to 1/200sec. The variable speed sensing on the Canon to adjust your minimum shutter speed won me over.
2. The 17-40mm f/4 USM lens – Believe it or not, this was actually one of the main reasons for me going Canon. On the right is a shot using this remarkable lens. Folks who have seen my work will know I’m an ultra wide-angle freak. Most of my work done on the Nikon was using a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens… which is roughly equivalent to a 17-24mm on a 35mm full frame SLR body. Problem is, when you want to shoot something with is narrower than 24mm, I need to switch lenses. The 17-40mm gives me the flexibility of reaching a standard lens focal distance without having to swap lenses. That to me was a winner! The f/4 wasn’t so much of a problem because at wide angles, you don’t shoot wide open. My normal aperture when shooting with an ultra wide / wide-angle lens is usually from f/5.6 in low light to about f/13 or even 16 for landscape shots. Heck I was even shooting f/22 the other day at the Jerejak Jetty sunrise, album titled, “In between rain & wind”. The 17-40mm makes a very good walk-about lens in that sense. And the thing is, Nikon does not have an equivalent lens!
3. Customized settings & the quick control dial – I wish Nikon had these 2 features honestly. Being able to shoot important stuff during a trip… then suddenly your friends want to take a group shot, just turn the dial to one of C1, C2 or C3… something you have tuned for group photos… snap… then you can turn back to your M or Av mode you were working on & everything stays the same as you left it. The quick control dial makes it easy to navigate through menus & settings. It’s way more convenient than using a dpad.
4. Picture Style… at the press of a button – I can now press 1 button & scroll through the various picture styles I want. On the Nikon I had to find it through accessing the menu. On the Nikon I shot mainly RAW because of the lack of the customized settings (no.3) & the lack of an easy to access picture style button. Since the Canon has both that, I can shoot JPGs quite easily.
5. Auto White Balance – Somehow I prefer the Canon auto white balance results, especially in low light. Canon’s rendition of low light AWB is a yellowish tinge however the colors are still vibrant & contrasty. On the Nikon, I get an orange grey tinge which is kinda ugly. This is from my experience with the D300, not sure about D700 though.
6. There is more to do with Canon – Well I don’t really care for the publicity stints by Canon, but I enjoy the events that they often organize in Penang. I just came back from the Miss Cosmos Photogenic pageant. See my new album, “A bunch of chicks… or male photographers… at the beach!”. Truly appreciate the organizers time & money spent on these events so that poor blokes like me who can’t afford to pay for models, can get to shoot some cool chicks once in a while lol!
This ends my 3 part article!… see…. I don’t need 452 pages to do this! Wahahaha….