January 22, 2015.
This year, at the end of August, it will be four years since I wrote my first article ►Nikon versus Canon. It caused a great commotion. Nikon fans published it and referred to it, Canon owners denigrated and insulted me in various ways. As usual, those whose opinion would interest me most, were silent, for it is somehow in the nature of inner, non-superficial people not to throw themselves headlong into disputes and not to shout their opinions loudly around them. Especially when it comes to technical matters.
From today's perspective on the age-old dispute between Canon vs. Nikon's objective conclusion now appears to be, as usual, somewhere in the middle. The problem with evaluating files used to be mainly programs that we had at the time. Adobe Lightroom 1 and 2 were not very good and the weakness was, among other things, the rendering of details. Since version 3, the RAW converter has improved dramatically, and with it the quality of exported photographs. I recently opened RAWs from Canon EOS 5D Mark II, which were created at the end of summer 2011, and developed them in Lightroom 5.7. The result of the summary for clarity in points:
Now, perhaps, many mockers will raise their heads and shout, "I said that then!" Let him lower it again and stay back. I had the opportunity to see images in full resolution of some of these critics, and it was clear at first glance, that their idea of the precise details was far from mine. I have very high demands on photographs (especially in terms of content, but no less technically) and of the current cameras, I was most interested in the Pentax 645Z with a 50 Mpx Sony sensor. The same can be found in Hasselblad and PhaseOne, they are the first CMOS in digital backs. But when I offer customers, that instead of 24 Mpx files from D3x I create even better quality from 36 Mpx D800, they scream in horror and don't want to, they say the pictures are already too big. What's more, they probably won't forgive me for refusing to give them finished photographs in JPG like my predecessors, but I insist on a giant, 48-bit TIFF in ProPhoto RGB.
Dissatisfied with the results of Lightroom 1 and 2, I also worked with Capture One. Photographs was much better, especially the detailcontrast (Clarity) surprised with its purity and brilliance. The color rendering of the photographs could also be closer to my idea. But Capture One didn't suit me with its controls - compared to the intuitive Lightroom, I always found it a bit awkward and cumbersome. I don't know the current version of C1, maybe it has improved.
From today's point of view, the comparison of Canon versus Nikon is relatively balanced, and the main criterion in deciding will be whether the objects in your photographs move or not.
Nikon uses Sony's top 36 Mpx sensors in the top models, which offer excellent dynamic range and, of course, resolution, the relatively new D810 even without a blurry AA filter. The offer of DSLR cameras is impressive - at the moment we will count on the page ►Nikon Imaging a total of 23 models! As with all cameras, the D800 and D810 sometimes need to be fine-tuned, at times with a hint or slight shift in green or red, while the other tones remain correct. That is a common situation, that is easy fixed by fine-tuning camera profiles. The possibilities of the sensors seem to be unprecedented. Together with the large dynamic range, you will usually crop blacks rather than brighten shadows. However, even with the cheaper D7100 and D610 you will not make a mistake.
On the other hand, the deteriorating ergonomics cannot be ignored, when the photographic controls are moved to less suitable places, or even completely displaced by unnecessary and fashionable gadgets intended for potential cameramen.
Canon is still conservative in terms of resolution, although rumors of a DSLR with a resolution of 46 - 52 Mpx are growing. 5DIII currently offers good resolution for most photographic genres, if we need higher, we can use with static subjects by creating merged images, which also very (surprisingly, albeit logically) increase the output quality (I use merging quite often, in 22/24 Mpx is virtually no difference there). Canon's problem is still a small dynamic range (even here HDR merge will help, but it is more difficult, especially with moving subjects on image, it is often better to use neutral transition filters) and less color depth. On the contrary, the advantage for wildlife photographers is great autofocus, which, together with professional lenses, will be difficult to find competition among DSLR cameras. Nikons focus very quickly, but only with Canon you sometimes don't even notice the flash movement of the focusing mechanism. It's not important to me, but those who photograph birds and other energetic animals will certainly make it easier for him to take sharp pictures. An indisputable advantage for landscape and still life photographers, ie my focus, is the excellent Live View mode. Nikon has already fixed a lot here, but there is still work to be done. Of course, again, it depends on what suits you personally, because, for example, none of my friends practically use the Live View. Finally, I would like to mention two good and at the same time relatively cheap cameras of this company - no longer sold 600D and inconspicuous 6D. Both are worth a try.
There is still a lack of a purely landscape and studio FX (FF) DSLR camera with a 16-bit AD converter, where the tax for image quality would only be a reduction in the speed of serial photographing - probably none of the photographers of the mentioned genres would mind.
From what I would like to make unemployed are the employees of both companies responsible for the output quality of the new models. Splashing oil on the D600 sensor, penetrating light into the D750 and 5DIII - it would really be good to realize that it is not a production of fashionable color phones and you need to do your job thoroughly. Because it is quite clear, that if only a little more attention was paid to testing prototypes, none of the above could happen.
Also – Canon or Nikon? If you want to take pictures of birds, animals and other restlessness, choose rather Canon. If you're a quiet landscape and still life maker, you have a choice of Nikon with higher sensor resolution and dynamic range, or Canon with great live view mode. However, if you own lenses and accessories of one or the other brand, stay with it, because DSLRs are extremely versatile today and you will be significantly more often limited by your own (in-)abilities than technology. Likewise, if one company is closer to you than the other, you will hardly make a mistake. An interesting alternative is the ownership of technology from both brands. If Canon or Nikon comes up with something fundamental, you just buy it and you don't have to think about selling existing technology first. And also consider, that Nikon and Canon may have much more in common than is generally known and admitted, given strict trade secrets. If you look at the choice of photographic technique from this point of view, many will suddenly be clearer to you.
I wish you Good Light on the road to the beauty of photography.
© Martin Mojzis, 2015.
Photographs: © Nikon Press International, © Canon Inc. Press.
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