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A REAL Canon/Nikon Comparison

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Joe Marques, May 25, 2005.

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  1. After suffering through that thread of Best Buy in-store comparison shots of the D70 and 20D I thought I would dispel the mythology of substantial differences between brands. :D  Are the brands different? Certainly, that's why I changed brands. Is the difference obvious? Absolutely not.

    The difference between Nikon and Canon is subtle to the point of indistinguishable when shot conditions are favorable and the output is 800 pixels wide and posted on the net. :)  The Best Buy "test" proves once again the the biggest impact on image quality is the person gripping the camera. :D  I don't know how anyone could make a $1000+ decision based on those shots. It's like picking a restaurant based on which one made you less ill. :) 

    Take a look at these 2 shots with 100% crops. These were both processed through ACR 3.1 - the only post processing in PS CS2 was sharpening. WB for the Nikon shot was "custom" using a WhiBal card. WB for Canon was "auto" because I'm too dumb to remember to apply the custom WB I set on the first shot of the shoot (still getting used to Canon custom WB approach - doh!). :roll:

    The brand identification for each shot is at the bottom of my message but DON'T LOOK without giving yourself a chance to honestly evaluate both shots.

    Set up - 1 Elinchrom 600RX with 3'x4' Chimera Softbox - no fill light or reflectors. Canon 20D with 50 1.4 @ f 11 and Nikon D2H with 50 1.4D @ f10.

    Shot 1:
    100% CROP:

    Shot 2:
    100% CROP:

    Not so easy to tell them apart is it? :D 

    (See below for brand identification . . .)

    So what are the difference?

    First, Canon does a better job with skin tones out of the box for MY tastes (I'll say it again - MY TASTES - no flaming here). ;)  The Nikon shot still has a slight green hue - even with custom WB. Canon skin tones look very good with my "accidental" auto WB - you would be lucky to get the same skin tones with Nikon on auto WB. This is a minor difference but when processing 200 images Canon is easier for me because the skin is on the money more often.

    Canon has less shadow noise - even at low ISO. If you underexpose a Nikon studio shot by 3/4 stop or more at ISO 200 the shadows are a bit messy with color noise. I know you shouldn't underexpose in the studio but this also applies to existing light and we all make mistakes. If you miss exposure with Nikon, even at ISO 200, there is shadow noise which can be troublesome when printing.

    Both shots print beautifully at 13x19. BOTH cameras are wonderful and I'd be happy with either one. I went with Canon for very specific portrait reasons (and camera weight which is a big difference). The Nikon 13x19 print is just as sharp as the Canon print with "half" the pixels. ;)  The Canon file is just as sharp as the Nikon file with no in camera sharpening (gasp!). ;) 

    So let's put the following mythological creatures to rest at the bottom of the ocean:

    Canon is over processed in-camera and soft - bunk.
    Nikon has too few pixels to compete with Canon - bunk.

    Brand Identification:

    Shot 1 - Nikon
    Shot 2 - Canon

    Hope this is useful.
  2. I knew which were which instantly.

    One thing though, how about showing 100% crops of the shadow side for both? The Canon crop is a bit more attractive because it has more depth to it.

    How did I know? Color yes, but also the hair in the Canon crop. That drove me a bit nuts with my kid's dark hair with the 20D. The D70 does it too, but less often.

    I agree that the biggest difference between them is taste. Go for what you like!
  3. Interesteing comparison................ from the 100% crops it was obvious which camera made each pic. :D 

    All in all, I'm impressed that the D2H could generate a pic "close" to the 20D in resolution and tonality.

    edit: should have said D70................ in which case it should look very similar to the 20D. I also agree, a better 100% comparison could be made using equal shadow levels.

    Thanks again!

  4. To my eye, they are. To yours, they are not. Big deal.

    Personally, I didn't find it useful -- others may. I did my comparison shopping *before* I purchaed, no need to see any now because I have no intention of going back to Canon.

    You are a skilled photographer and I enjoy seeing your images regardless brand so, as far as *I* am concerned, post as many as you like. For my part, though, you can skip the "my Canon images are better than your Nikon images" disertation you seem pressed to post. I can read all of that crap I want at DPR. This is, after all, the *Nikon* Cafe.

  5. Phil,

    I agree that the mine is better than yours is a dpr thing. But, I dont think Joe was doing that. I think he was discussing the merits of each camera and explained his choice. I dont think he said one image was better than another, but that was my interpretation.

    Still, I think we can share images and discuss the merits of the image regardless of brand.
  6. " I just notice the nuances that Canon cameras produce vs. Nikon cameras."

    "The more I saw of Canon files the more I liked what I saw. "

    "The Canon is far more forgiving"

    " I don't see the point in struggling with Nikon when Canon makes it so easy. "

    (I particularly enjoyed the above)

    "I spend significantly less time dealing with the quirks of the D2H which produce a magenta look and greenish look at times. Canon is 99% there out of the box and the more paid work I do the less time/effort I want to spend on post processing. "

    " I prefer the out of the box ISO 1600 shots WITHOUT PS noise reduction to an ISO 1600 shot from the D2H with PS noise reduction."

    "Are the brands different? Certainly, that's why I changed brands."

    "Canon has less shadow noise - even at low ISO."

    Did you read enough of the above on the D100 forum at DPR, Harris? Not enough? Just the right amount?

    I agree, Harris, and that's perfectly fine with me.

  7. Phil, I think you are misunderstanding the intent of this post. There is another thread here getting way too much attention for the wrong reasons. Someone took some horrible snaps in a Best Buy and they were posted here as some sort of evidence regarding out of box quality of Nikon vs. Canon. I replied in that thread that a REAL test would show very little difference.

    The intent of this post was to show how difficult it is to tell well executed images apart - especially in favorable light and reduced to 800 pixels on the long side. I made my intent clear. I then offered 2 areas of difference I see in my experience with the brands. I'm not pressing any agenda and I'm fully aware of the forum name - I designed the logo. My post was balanced if you read it again.

    As for your eye - if you find the my crop of the Canon shot softer than the Nikon shot perhaps bias is effecting your vision and judgement. I've been freed of such bias by the objectivity of a brand-less eye.
  8. Why pull most of your quotes from a different post Phil? What exactly is your point?

    Here's a quote you conveniently missed:

    Both shots print beautifully at 13x19. BOTH cameras are wonderful and I'd be happy with either one. I went with Canon for very specific portrait reasons (and camera weight which is a big difference).

    This thread was completely NEUTRAL. It was about the difficulty discerning one brand from the other in most situations.

    The comments in my post about what differences I see were simply insights into using both brands under similar conditions. It was to show how small the differences are but based on ones needs those differences could be important. It might actually be useful to someone who hasn't drunk the brand Koolaid and wants to know what other brands can do.

  9. Hmmm...just let's not start all the DPR aggro here - please, or I'll have nowhere to go. Bottom line, if you are a good photographer, you can get great results out of each brand of camera. In a sense, Joe, as much as I respect your work - which I do, if the quality of each "machine" is so good and the differences are marginal, then why feel the need to make the comparison at all? Personally, I think you got rid of a lot of money's worth of good glass for differences which are at best marginal and depend on personal preference.

    Finally, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, one needs to consider the impact that a post like this COULD (and not will) have on the forum. In politics, sometimes it's better and more dignified to just not raise an issue, because the bigger picture is just so much more important. If I had been you, I wouldn't have posted this, not because the content is wrong, but because to some, it will be considered provocative. And in the wider interests of what is a peaceful, and mostly very civilised Nikon forum, the greater good needs to sometimes be considered, at the expense of one's own view. Democracy aside, tact can be an important consideration.

    I'd hate for this place to descend into any sort of brand war, and even if your post can hardly be considered that, well, it sets the scene for the responses to it to take up the challenge.
  10. Nice shots.

    Is it me or is the canon image showing a green color cast in the shadows? I don't see it in the Nikon shot... Just want to know if others see it too or is it my monitor?
  11. Joe,

    Thanks for an interesting thread. A couple of points. First you said that you the Nikon image is still a bit green even with a custom WB. I'm not seeing that at all. Both images seem about right in terms of WB. Second, I think the Nikon image has much better shadow detail. Third, the Canon image appears a bit noisy in the 100% crop. That surprised me. Finally, Nikon capture does a much better job then ACR with .nef files, so I wonder what the difference would be there. Thanks again.
  12. obelix


    Mar 17, 2005
    Fremont, CA, USA

    Great post. Honestly, the first time I saw your gallery in www.pbase.com/ranger099/portraits, I could not identify which brand / lens you used. I was surprised to see that it was D2H + 85 f/1.4.

    Your 20D + 85 f/1.2 photos are pretty darn close to what you did with the D2H.

    I guess with such specialized portrait glass in a good hand as yours, the results would be very similar in either brand (or I am blind).

  13. Fair points as usual Peter - I certainly respect your work and your opinion.

    The comparison was always about similarities and not differences in the brands. It was motivated by Uncle Frank's post showing shots of the D70 and 20D. There were some far reaching conclusions in that thread based on some worthless comparison shots. My only intention was to show how CLOSE each brand is - not which one is "better". I agree that this post was taken wrong (despite the obvious intent) and I take full responsibility for starting a thread that COULD be misinterpreted.

    I will ask the moderator to remove the thread in the interest of of the friendly culture that I too enjoy here at NC.

    Thanks for posting.

  14. Joe -- you are one of the really good guys from way back...I'm really glad that you are still with us at the Cafe !!! I know your intentions are entirely honorable, just this brand stuff stirs up soooo many emotions! (unfortunately) Don't remove it...it's up to others to be responsible as to how they read and interpret it!!

    All the best
  15. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Everyone writing on this topic is well intended, but we all know how discussions of politics and religion end up. Those topics pale in comparison to brand differences in top name cameras. Hopefully we can evolve into a multicamera forum, what happens here will set the stage for attitudes well into the future.

    One of the founding principals of the Nikon Cafe is the lack of angst. In this thread, and the other thread there are signs of angst beginning to creep in. One of the duties us highly paid mercinaries - I mean volunteer moderators - have is to quell angst.

    So here's my suggestion. Please refrain from defending your own views, choices and actions. Don't quote others phrases. Don't criticise anyone's testing methods. And don't dwell on this topic. Joe isn't the first person to change camera brands, nor will he be the last. Let's not work that out here, OK?

    PS, anymore arguing and I'll start using those options on the 'moderators only' menu.
  16. Now that's a comparison! I was fooled as I thought the reverse when I looked at the images.

    Thanks Joe, you put a civil face on a difficult topic.

    Favorite line:
    "It's like picking a restaurant based on which one made you less ill."


  17. huskey8


    Feb 22, 2005
    Not Good

    This is a slippery slope
  18. Joe and I have exchanged some emails, and it's all good. In fact, if we lived closer, we'd have this discussion over
    a beer, and the only fight would be over which one of us gets to pick up the tab 8).

    Per his request, I'm locking this thread.
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