Nikon vs Cannon DSLR Kits
January 31, 2012 6:47 PM   Subscribe

Buying a Nikon or Cannon DSLR, package details inside please help me I have been flip flopping over the two

I have done the googling..... I have handled both, I like the Cannon maybe a tad better but I keep hearing about the Nikkor lenses being oh so awesome. But not enough to tip the scales.

I plan on doing a bit of nature photography and playing with the manual settings. I have narrowed the search down to these two options.

Please help me solve this I would love to go and buy one!

Nikon Black D5100 16.2MP Camera,
18-55 VR lens
55-300mmVR lens
4GB 30MB/s SD Card+backpack


Canon EOS Rebel T3i 18.0MP DSLR C
18-55mm lens
Canon 55-250mm Telephoto Zoom Lens
8GB SD+ backpack
posted by ibakecake to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Those were the two cameras I considered. I don't think you can go wrong, but I ended up going with the Nikon because I liked the interface better, I found manual setting much more intuitive on the Nikon. The only nit I can pick with the D5100 is that it doesn't support autofocus for older lenses. You can buy some amazing old glass for not a lot of money. But that's not really a big problem for me.

Honestly I wish I could have waited until next year and gone with a micro four thirds. Moving mirrors around gets old.
posted by Ookseer at 6:55 PM on January 31, 2012

Canon's going to bring out a new Rebel Txi soon; wait for that.
posted by Dasein at 6:55 PM on January 31, 2012

Hard to answer without accounting for how both cameras feel to you in hand, how you feel about their button layout and functionality. But based purely on sensor and lens quality, and ignoring factors outside the comparison you've listed (a plan to buy more lenses, upgrade to other DSLRs in the family), the Nikon kit is a clear winner. And I'm a Canon guy.

See this sensor comparison.
posted by drpynchon at 7:05 PM on January 31, 2012

We can't really answer this question without knowing what you'd like to take pictures of. Nikon lenses are, in my opinion, nicer lenses, but Nikon's autofocus is also in my experience notably slower; that's why if you look courtside at a tennis match, for example, they're all Canon lenses.

Generally speaking, if you shoot things that are moving fast, you shoot Canon, and if you're not you shoot Nikon. I shoot Nikon.

If I might make some suggestions about your package selection: Don't get a long telephoto lens as your second lens. The second lens any starter photographer should buy is a prime, which is quite a bit cheaper for both frames than a long tele. But if you know you like the zooms, you might consider pricing out the Nikon body and 18-200VR-2 lens instead of the two you've got there; the 18-200 VR2 is a really amazing piece of kit (razor-sharp focus from infinity down to less than 9 inches in front of the glass and no tripod needed ever, crazy).

But I love my prime lens, the AF-S 35mm. Light just pours into it, and gives me that blown-out background bokeh that is so forgiving for amateur framing. If I was buying a starter camera now, I'd get the D5100 with the kit lens, the 35mm AF-S lens and a shoulder bag (something like the Crumpler 4 Million Dollar Home) instead of a backpack, because they're so much easier to get your camera into and out of, and then I'd start saving up for the 18-200VR2.

I started with a D40, the 18-55 kit lens and the 50mm (no autofocus) prime, but lately the 35mm is almost all I use. I may upgrade eventually, but I haven't got a compelling reason to yet.
posted by mhoye at 7:22 PM on January 31, 2012

I've been shooting Canon as an amateur for years, but I feel like Nikon has had an edge for a while. The guy who shot my wedding last year had been a Canon guy for years - had the whole line up to 1D and a lot of L-series glass - but switched to Nikon. I think that says a lot. So yeah, I'd buy a Nikon (still might).
posted by supercres at 7:24 PM on January 31, 2012

I was facing the same decision and I was going to go with the Nikon ... I tried both and was on the verge of buying the Nikon d5100, as I found it better and faster to focus ... until I posted here and 2oh1's answer to try the SOny EVF, and now I'm geting that.

But when I was faced with just Sony vs Nikon, I was leaning towards Nikon as I preferred the layout of dials and buttons, and found the autofocus a bit easier to use.
posted by Admira at 7:35 PM on January 31, 2012

Buy whichever model fits best in your hand. Seriously. The differences between the models are slight and largely subjective. Both Nikon and Canon make excellent lenses. They're the two major companies for a reason.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:48 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and if you do go Canon, get the T2i over the T3i. The only real difference between them is the flippy-screen, which is neat, but it only really matters if you plan to do lots of video.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:50 PM on January 31, 2012

It's a camera, not a life partner, that you are choosing. No need to overthink it, or agonise over the choice.

Any (just about) camera sold today will take great photos - if there is a good photographer behind it, so pick the one you like best.

In saying that, what you are doing is picking a lens manufacturer, who happens to make camera bodies (lenses are keepers, bodies are transient). So make sure that the lenses that work best (and are affordable) for what you like to photograph, are made by the camera manufacturer you choose. They all (not just canikon) have strengths and weaknesses and a bit of homework now will pay off in the future.

Maybe you aren't sure what you want to do in the future, and you later want to go in a different direction. No great problem, you can switch systems to another manufacturer - you might drop some money, but it shouldn't be the end of the world.

Good luck, and enjoy your photography!!
posted by GeeEmm at 7:52 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Generally speaking, if you shoot things that are moving fast, you shoot Canon

I'm not so sure about this advice. If anything, I've heard that Canon cameras have horrific autofocusing problems...YMMV.

Anyhow, I always say that a person who is interested in learning photography needs to have two manual dials and the 5100 is missing the Nikon front dial. I learned an enormous amount about my camera while sitting in my living room and taking pictures of my feet while fiddling with the front and back dials.

Second, I'd avoid the kit lenses. Now, people tend to rate the 18-55mm Nikon lens you listed highly, but, in my experience, it was my 50mm 1.8 lens that really taught me about depth-of-field.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 7:57 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree that finding what is physically comfortable and natural in your hands is important.
posted by jgirl at 8:09 PM on January 31, 2012

They are both great. Both companies have been making cameras for about 700 years, so they know absolutely everything there is to know on the subject. Personally, I chose Canon for my first camera because I found Nikon's controls rather irritating. Other people love them. Go figure.

My understanding is that Nikon has the reputation of having better bodies and Canon has better lenses. Like that really matters for the rest of us.

You might want to skip the kit lenses and invest in some decent prime lenses instead. Do a little bit of research and see what you can find. For a full frame camera I'd recommend a 50mm, but I'm not sure what you'd need for these guys.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:26 PM on January 31, 2012

Flip a coin. Between comparable Canons and Nikons, the gear just doesn't matter, especially for a beginner hobbyist. Concentrate on improving your creativity -- composition, vision, technique, etc.
posted by BurntHombre at 9:36 PM on January 31, 2012

When my wife and I considered a Nikon vs Canon for a DSLR, after hours of agonizing over specs, we ultimately went to a retail store, picked each one up and made our decision based on how they felt. Physical contact with the device really made a significant impact on our decision.

Realistically, they take just as good of pictures and specs at the time were virtually identical so how they felt when taking actual photos made a larger difference to us since we'd be using the camera all the time.

We ultimately chose the Nikon for two primary reasons:
1. We both agreed that it felt better to hold and manipulate.
2. We had other compatible Nikon lenses from another Nikon camera that we could re-use without the need to purchase new lenses.
posted by rwheindl at 9:43 PM on January 31, 2012

Don't get me wrong, the handling of the Nikon was our choice for a "better fit for us". If you like the Canon better, go for it.
posted by rwheindl at 9:48 PM on January 31, 2012

Especially for the telephoto, you NEED the VR (Nikon) or IS (Canon) shake reduction lens. So your bundle comparisons aren't quite comparable since the Canon lenses you list aren't IS (or the IS is not listed).

Both cameras are superb, so get the one that fits best and operates best in your hands.
posted by caclwmr4 at 9:50 PM on January 31, 2012

just got the d5100 (after 5 years with the d200) and LOVE IT...don't know much about the canon line, but just did a spec comparison on the two...the main advantage specwise: canon:2 more megapixels, nikon:1 more f-stop worth of ISO...go with the extra stop ( can make the middle of the night look like the middle of the day...sweet!)

first, i'll say this: in general it's best to avoid a zoom lens that is over 4x end up with distortions, fisheye and pincushion, at either end of the zoom...the 55-300mm is only 6x, but still....i'd go with the 55-200 instead.

to cover some things that people have mentioned:
yes, nikon has had their mount longer, so you can def. get some cool old lenses (i got bellows for my d200 from the 60's for around $100...doing lens movements is fun!) can't meter with a bunch of the older lenses, but it doesn't take much practice to be able to ballpark it and with digital you can get instant results...too dark? open it up a stop or two.

nikon has DEFINITELY improved their menu and button layout since the d200...i find the 5100 SO much easier to use...

while i def. second getting a good prime lens like the 50mm 1.8 (i have the 35mm 1.4), and have always been a snob about kit lenses...the 18-55mm really knocks it out of the park...not sure if the dx format is more forgiving or what, but it really is a sweet, well built, easy to use, distortion-free, takes great(!) pictures.

get a bigger memory card (i got a 32gb class 10 on amazon for around $40)...the video looks will use it.

i love the 'flippy' screen :)

seconding getting a shoulder bag that's easier to get into...ALSO!: the less it looks like a camera bag, the less likely it is to get stolen!

here's what I'd do: get the 5100. don't buy another lens YET...wait a few months...what you shoot will determine what you need (for example, I found myself doing a lot of interior photography, so i ended up getting a 10-20mm superwideangle lens...don't have a zoom over 75mm...don't really need one...)
i buy mostly on amazon (they often have sales on the popular kits), and sell on ebay (list on a thurs, 10-day auction (so it gets two full weekends), no can often turn enough of a profit to cover shipping/ebay costs)

good luck!
posted by sexyrobot at 10:42 PM on January 31, 2012

oh...most important! get an extra battery! the sun will not wait for you to charge a battery ;)
posted by sexyrobot at 10:44 PM on January 31, 2012

One other consideration: do you have friends or family who own and use SLRs, and if so, do they shoot with Canon or Nikon? If you get the same type you can borrow their lenses and lean on them for tech support. (Having said that, Nikon and Canon are the market leaders. If your photo buff friends all have Pentax, I'd still choose Canon or Nikon).

Personally, I have a Canon T1i, which I love. I chose canon because I loved my previous Canon (a powershot S2is) and most of my friends had Canons and spoke highly of them. Then again, most people seem happy with the one they have, so I don't think you can make a wrong choice here.
posted by Cheese Monster at 11:07 PM on January 31, 2012

If it really is the case that the Nikon lenses you listed have vibration reduction while the Canon ones don't have image stablisation (the same thing), then definitely go with Nikon.
posted by mattn at 2:12 AM on February 1, 2012

It used to be that Canons lenses were just a bit soft and romantic so especially women preferred them for portraits of women and babies. And Nikons were a bit sharper and preferred by men and people that preferred rustic, realistic portraits of men or when sharp detail was called for in pictures of electronics; un-romantic portraits with every detail showing and some nature shots like butterfly wings or craggy landscapes.

I don't know if the romantic vs. realistic perception was true then and I don't know if it even applies now. Just giving you some historical perspective on the emotions surrounding the choice between cameras.
posted by cda at 5:52 AM on February 1, 2012

NOTE ABOUT NIKKOR GLASS: with relatively inexpensive adapters, you can use Nikkor glass on Canon bodies, but not vice versa. That is one concrete advantage Canons have over Nikons, although whether you'll bother to use that advantage is entirely up to you.


I don't know if the romantic vs. realistic perception was true then and I don't know if it even applies now.

Hm. The only somewhat consistent "look" I've heard about for either company is that Canon's digital look is slightly more warm. I think most of the Canon v. Nikon jousting we see is a product of people defending their respective consumer choices. :)

The real difference between Nikon and Canon largely historical. In the pro world, Canon was a relative also-ran until 1987, when Canon cast off the shackles of the FD manual focus lenses and decided to switch everything to the autofocus EF lenses. At the time, Nikon's AF technology could not compete.

This almost destroyed Nikon at the time - they were in a bad place by the 90s - but, obviously, things have changed quite a bit since then. Canon and Nikon have been consistently leapfrogging one another ever since. Competition has been very good to both companies, and to both companies' consumers.

Pentax and Sony both make DSLRs of the same technical quality, if not outright better in some ways, but they don't have anywhere near the market share of Canikon in DSLRs (or SLTs).
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:20 AM on February 1, 2012

If I were you, I would get the camera body + a 50mm fixed lens, an extra memory card and and extra battery. Get to know the camera and your shooting style before dropping any extra money on additional lenses. I say this as someone who bought a package similar to the ones you are describing, and now most of that sits unused. When you are ready to add lenses to your setup, rent a copy first.
posted by ambrosia at 8:18 AM on February 1, 2012

These were two of the three cameras I was considering when I got my new camera ~4 months ago. I ended going up with the third option (a Canon 60D), but that was mostly just because I decided to spend a little extra money for a few more bells and whistles.

As others have said, I don't think you could go wrong with either and that they are very, very comparable. I'll just say that up front.

One advantage of Canon is it seems as if their lenses are very slightly less expensive than Nikon lenses, at least at the sub-$1000 price point I was looking at. As far as I can tell, they are not objectively better (I spent a lot of time at DP Review looking at their graphs). So, that was tilting me towards the T3i. However, I would then talk to a bunch of my friends who have Nikons and they would swing me back the other way. However, as far as I could tell, people did not have objective reasons for preferring the Nikon to the Canon (or vice versa); they just liked them. I think the take-away is that, when there's this much debate everywhere, it's because they're very comparable.

To your specific packages: do make sure that any zoom lenses you get have the "IS" (Canon) or "VR" (Nikon) specification. That image stabilization is as close to magic as I've seen and it's totally worth it on the zoom lenses. I agree with others who have said that a better purchase as a second lens would be a 50mm prime. With my 60D, I have a 18mm-135mm telephoto and a 50mm f/1.4 prime; that combination gets me almost everything I want. Unless you're doing a ton of wildlife shooting or plan on a lot of stake-outs, you're not going to miss the extra telephoto ability of a lens that goes up to 250mm/300mm. You will miss the ability to shoot in low light that a nice prime lens will get you.
posted by Betelgeuse at 8:46 AM on February 1, 2012

I'm partial to Nikon, but Cannon is great too. For me it came down to two things:

1) I liked the way the Nikon felt in my hand better. This is very subjective.
2) It seems like Nikon sticks to a lens format for a longer period of time. You can slap quality lenses made in the 1970s on a modern DSL and it will work. There are exceptions, but I get the impression that they don't mickey with a good thing.
posted by dgran at 9:15 AM on February 1, 2012

There's already lots of good advice and opinions here. I'm always reluctant to put my 2 cents into these kinds of threads for fear of just adding more confusion. But here I go anyway:

I think you would be very happy with either one, but since I've only owned Nikons, that's all I can speak of from experience. I have been very happy with Nikons. I currently have a D5000 (precursor to the 5100) and am extrememly happy with it. I shoot a lot of indoor available light, and love the performace at 800 and 1600 ISO. Supposedly, Nikon does better at high ISO than Canon, but I'm not sure if the difference is appreciable.

As far as lenses, the Nikon 18-55 VR lens is excellent. I don't agree with people who say you should skip the kit lens. Having practical zoom range is very convenient, and the image quality is excellent, so why would you not want it?

Regarding prime lens selection, I agree that you should have a prime lens, but I prefer the 35mm 1.8 to the 50mm. I find the 50mm is too narrow a field of view for my needs. Keep in mind that 50mm was considered the "normal" lens (replicating human field of vision) for 35mm film cameras. But a 35mm lens is "normal" for the sensor size of most DSLRs. I love my 35mm prime, and often leave it on the camera and leave my other lenses at home.

The combination of a high ISO and a fast prime lens allows me to shoot in situations that would have been impossible not too long ago. Also bear in mind that high megapixel count allows you to crop in without appreciable loss in quality if you do need to tighten up your framing in editing.

But, even with all this information coming at you, don't overtrhink it too hard. Get what feels right to you, and concentrate on being the best photographer you can be. And have fun!
posted by The Deej at 9:36 AM on February 1, 2012

It's a camera, not a life partner, that you are choosing. No need to overthink it, or agonise over the choice.

GeeEmm, I agree with everything else you wrote, but since the camera determines the lenses (unless you put Nikon lenses on Canon bodies à la Stitcherbeast, but AFAIK the IS/VR won't match), I'd say it is a lifetime partnership. In fact, you as much as contradict yourself when you said,
"what you are doing is picking a lens manufacturer, who happens to make camera bodies (lenses are keepers, bodies are transient). "


I prefer Nikon's interfaces, but decided the 5D was all that, and so I'm a Canon newlywed now.

Both of them were great kissers.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:41 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

2) It seems like Nikon sticks to a lens format for a longer period of time. You can slap quality lenses made in the 1970s on a modern DSL and it will work. There are exceptions, but I get the impression that they don't mickey with a good thing.

The reason for this is that Nikon put AF into its cameras in a piecemeal fashion, whereas Canon took the plunge and switched everything all at once. This is why every EF lens works perfectly on every EOS camera but no FD lens can fit onto an EOS camera. As for Nikon, it's a messy story, but basically, on most Nikon DSLRs, many older lenses will mount, but not autofocus or even meter.

At any rate, Canon's bet paid off very well at the time, as Nikon's AF could not compete with what Canon had right out of the box, but now we live in the future. Now that both companies have mature lens mounts, don't expect any major changes any time soon, outside of the EF-S/DX lenses which only project image circles large enough for APS-C sensors.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:54 AM on February 1, 2012

The sensor in that D5100 is the same sensor as the D7000. Simply put, it's superb. That alone would make the decision easy if it were me. Between those two cameras, D5100 all the way.
posted by 2oh1 at 4:51 PM on February 1, 2012

This is *such* a hard question, I'm sorry I found it late. I'm looking at the same comparisons, with the added factor that the T3i/T2i (leaning more towards T2i, since it's $150 cheaper and I don't need a flippy LCD, that'll cover my 50mm 1.8 costs) also has Magic Lantern available for it. Since I shoot the occasional timelapse series, the built in intervalometer of the Magic Lantern firmware is a definite added bonus. The lack of Magic Lantern (and better video) of the T3/2i makes for a hard decision.
posted by antifuse at 12:55 PM on March 14, 2012

« Older The Emotional Bondage of Stuff, or, Why am I...   |   What do I owe Her Majesty the Queen? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.