What is a better investment between Nikon D80 and Canon Digital Rebel XT and which one do you enjoy working with more?
December 31, 2007 8:45 AM   Subscribe

[Photography] What is a better investment between Nikon D80 and Canon Digital Rebel XT and which one do you enjoy working with more?

What is a better investment between Nikon D80 and Canon Digital Rebel XT and which one do you enjoy working with more?

I am getting ready to move on up from my FUJI S9000 and get into wedding photography business.

According to ritz.com Nikon D80 is about $400 bucks more expensive than Digital Rebel XT, yet from what I gathered via various reviews, they have just about the same options.

Is there a reason why the Nikon model is so much more expensive than the Rebel?

Any help would be appreciated. I mean, I do like Nikons, but if the Rebel XT does exactly the same work and has the same options, wouldn't it be wiser to go with a Rebel and save money not only on the camera, but also on accessories which are also far more expensive for Nikon than Rebel.

I guess my main issue is not really saving money per se, although my budget is about $1500. Is Nikon more expensive just because they are more popular?

Thanks in advance, happy new year to all!
posted by bostonhill to Technology (33 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Are you sure you want the XT and not the XTi?

In my experience, people getting their first digital SLR have been going to the newer XTi (assuming they can afford it over the older XT).

Also, the direct Nikon competitor to the XT/XTi seems to be the Nikon D40 (auto-focus limitations and all), not the D80, although the D80 is a fine camera.

I would urge you to consider the XTi instead of the XT, especially because it has a dust elimination system.
posted by kathryn at 8:56 AM on December 31, 2007

You're better off getting a Nikon D40 and the 18-200MM VR lens if you're going to go Nikon. I have a D80 and the lens and while they are a fantastic combo, the D40 would suit for 99% of he pictures I take.
posted by iamabot at 8:58 AM on December 31, 2007

If this is really a question of Nikon vs. Cannon it is a near answer-less question. If you really want a specific model from either then, yeah do the comparisons and go with the better outfitted/Mxps version in your price range. Both companies make really good cameras. (owns a Canon D20)
posted by edgeways at 9:09 AM on December 31, 2007

I purchased an XTi about a month ago and looked at and tried the D80 before I did so. There was an extra stop in ISO sensitivity (1600 for the XTi vs. 3200 for the D80) and a few other minor features that the D80 had, but nothing that was convincing. I used the money I saved to get a lens with image stabilization, which I think makes up for the extra ISO without introducing more noise. As edgeways said, Canon vs. Nikon is like Mac vs. PC, but I've been very pleased with the XTi so far.
posted by Mr. Banana Grabber at 9:14 AM on December 31, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you for your help! :)

I decided I am going to go with the following:

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi Digital SLR Camera w/EF-S 18-55mm II Lens (Black) = $699.99
Quantaray QDC-900WA Digital Zoom Flash for Canon Digital Rebel = $179.95

Now its just left to figure out if a one year warranty is better than a two year one.
posted by bostonhill at 9:14 AM on December 31, 2007

How much is the warranty?

You are probably more likely to have the camera dropped or stolen instead of malfunction in the next two years, so I'd say unless its pretty cheap to extend it, don't bother.
posted by voidcontext at 9:16 AM on December 31, 2007

Wow, hold on. I bought my XTi with the kit lens for $599. The body-only was $559 at the time, and dropped to $519 a few days later. Where are you buying this? Right now the body-only is $529 on Amazon and the kit is $600.

Canon Digital Rebel XTi 10.1MP Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens (Black)
posted by Mr. Banana Grabber at 9:20 AM on December 31, 2007

voidcontext is also right - instead of paying for a longer warranty, check with your homeowner's or renter's insurance to see if they will cover it. It is usually much more comprehensive (theft, loss, accidental damage, etc.) and a dollar or two a month (depending on the cost you are insuring).
posted by Mr. Banana Grabber at 9:21 AM on December 31, 2007

One thing that makes the Canon-Nikon comparison a little awkward is that most of the models aren't directly comparable. That is, the XTi is a little more capable than the D40x; the D80 beats the XTi but arguably is a little inferior to the Canon 40D; etc. The models leapfrog each other, basically.

Go with either - honestly, there's no way you can make a decision that, years later, will make you hate yourself. If you care about eventually moving to full-frame, Canon makes that much easier, while Nikon's only very recently brought out a full-frame option, at the highest end.

If I were starting over today, I'd probably go with Nikon - from what I've heard, the D40x's a little more usable, with friendlier controls, than the XTi. On the other hand, I love my Rebel; it takes great shots, as all of your options here do. I also had the benefit of my father moving from zooms to primes, so he pretty much just handed me a 24-105 f/4 Canon zoom, and when you're choosing between nearly-identical options, having a free $950+ lens that takes care of 90% of your shots helps a lot. Also, I definitely want to get to a full-frame option before too long, and I figure I'll be ready for a 5D in a few years.

(Also, your assumption about popularity is off - Nikon and Canon are pretty roughly matched in market share; back when the Rebel line was unopposed at the prosumer low-end, they had a modest lead, but may have swapped off with the dirt-cheap D40 and D40x from Nikon.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:22 AM on December 31, 2007

For a start, you should lay hands on both cameras and decide which you'd rather hold and operate.

Some people think the Rebel XT/XTi are too small for comfortable prolonged use. Some people also give Nikon the edge with respect to UI. Canon holds an edge with respect to low-light sensitivity and image noise.

The important thing to keep in mind is that you are buying in to a system. The cost of the first body is just a part of what you'll spend on lenses, dedicated flashes and additional/backup body (which you'll need if you are shooting live events like weddings).
posted by Good Brain at 9:22 AM on December 31, 2007

Shop around a bit more. That Rebel XTi with kit lens can be had for just $600 on Amazon.

If you want to get just the body, I'd be happy to sell you my barely used kit lens for $50, and you'd save even more.
posted by willnot at 9:24 AM on December 31, 2007

I think you're comparing bodies on unequal levels. This is how the current production bodies roughly map between Canon and Nikon.

Canon Rebet XT/XTi <> Nikon D40/D40x
Canon 30D <> Nikon D80

What is a better investment
Neither body is a better investment because with DSLRs you invest in the lenses, not the bodies. For example, the terrific Nikon 18-200VR zoom lens that iamabot mentioned costs more than the D40/D40x camera body. Over time you spend many times more than the cost of the body in the lenses. As your skill and needs progress, you upgrade the body (and lenses).

For wedding photography, you'd be served well with the available Canon or Nikon lenses. Get a lower end body and save the money for a good flash, extra memory cards and batteries, and versatile, fast zooms.

which one do you enjoy working with more
Go to a real camera shop that has both Canon and Nikon bodies and try them out. You want to pay attention to the viewfinder, LCD info displays, control dials, and ergonomics. Pick the one that's more comfortable and intuitive. Tell them you're planning on doing wedding photography and have them run you through the features.
posted by junesix at 9:33 AM on December 31, 2007

You are more buying into a lens line than a camera, bodies will come and go but you'll have your lenses for a long time. Look at the lens offerings for both, decide which fits you better (which lenses are available at what prices and how do they perform?). Figure out which cameras feel better in your hand and what you like and dislike about the control schemes of each.

Canon is generally considered to have better low-light performance and less noisy sensors in general. Personally, I vastly prefer Canon for various reasons and Canon is more popular than Nikon but they both make great cameras, you won't be disapointed with either.
posted by bradbane at 9:38 AM on December 31, 2007

Are you shopping at Ritzcamera.com? Don't.

Get the camera from Buydig.com or Beachcamera.com and get one of the Canon Speedlite flashes.
posted by junesix at 9:40 AM on December 31, 2007

I once went comparison shopping between Nikon and Canon in the $500 range, and one interesting little difference I found was that Canon's controls are built very much in the style of film-based SLRs, while the Nikon eschews traditional options in favor of a more digital-camera type interface.

I don't know much about the rest, but that's one difference.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 9:42 AM on December 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Budget for other lenses, if you are serious about the wedding photography thing. The kit lens is quite nice on the Rebel, but the higher level lenses are a whole other ballgame.

Also check out this thread for first time wedding photography tips.
posted by shinynewnick at 9:52 AM on December 31, 2007

Choosing between Canon and Nikon is an endless discussion. You are talking about the two market leaders. If you choose either you will do well. Me, I chose a Canon.

Lesson one - you will be purchasing several digital camera bodies over your lifetime. Right now 10Mpx sounds like plenty, but a decade from now it will be as quaint as the 3MPx camera in your office desk drawer. You will upgrade. However, the lenses that you buy now are going to last you forever. So choose these even more carefully than your camera body.

The Canon kit lens has poor reviews. It's slow. Get something better. I bypassed the kit lens and got a fast 50 f/1.4 and a 70-200 with my camera. Later I bought a 10-22mm. But that's my preference, I shoot mainly outdoors.

The flash - do you really need one? The camera has a decent flash, don't buy something that you may not need. Use your camera for a few months before deciding on the flash that you really need.

So here is what I recommend. Canon XTi - good choice. Scuttle the flash (the camera already has a flash), and get yourself a better lens instead. Gird yourself, grit your teeth, and buy something better, that is a little more expensive.

For example this one. It has image stabilization and is faster and has great reviews. The camera body is a small and ephemeral investment (you may keep it three to five years before wanting to upgrade) but your lenses will hopefully last you forever. Therefore invest more carefully in your lenses than in the camera body.

Look at Tamron, Sigma and Tokina lenses if the Canon lenses are too rich for your current wallet - and read the reviews carefully. Fred Miranda's site is one good place to start.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:57 AM on December 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

aw geeze I just read the original question again and noticed you want to get into wedding photography. Definitely do not get the kit lens. Instead, get the lens that the pros use. You can't really take good wedding photos with a basic Canon kit lens - that lens is for consumer use, not for professional photos that you will want to sell.
posted by seawallrunner at 10:01 AM on December 31, 2007

For wedding photography, an external flash is essential. You'll be taking lots of shots in dim reception halls with no chance do-overs. Lighting a large group of people with the on camera flash is hard, and the externally attached flashes sit higher above the camera and are usually more flattering. Especially if you get a flash bracket or diffuser (like this).
posted by voidcontext at 10:12 AM on December 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, I appreciate all the replies everyone! Thank you very much.

I was not going to shop via ritzcamera.com but rather go to the store instead. Is there something wrong with Ritzacamera.com by any chance?
posted by bostonhill at 10:23 AM on December 31, 2007

Nothing wrong, just you'd pay a bit more. If you go to the store you can try the camera out first though, which is a plus. And don't let them upsell you on expensive accessories that you didn't plan on buying before going in.
posted by voidcontext at 10:27 AM on December 31, 2007

Piggybacking here: Anyone use one of those flash diffusers that voidcontext linked to above? How was it?
posted by marxchivist at 10:59 AM on December 31, 2007

I know it is not a D80 or a Rebel XT, but I would like to at least mention the Pentax K10D.

------------------- Pentax K10D Awards-------------------
Include TIPA (Europe): "Best D-SLR Expert in Europe 2007"
EISA (Europe): "European Camera of the Year 2007-2008"
Camera Journal Press Club (Japan): "Camera Grand Prix 2007"
American Photo Editor's Choice 2007 (USA): "Advanced D-SLR Camera of the Year"
Innovation International CES (USA): "2007 Design & Engineering Showcase Honours"
Mac Life (USA): "2007 Editors' Choice"
Popular Photography & Imaging (USA): 2007 "Camera of the year"

A couple features: 72 weather seals, vertical+horizontal ~and~ rotational sensor shift shake reduction, millions of older Pentax lenses are compatibile with it, It can shoot RAW format in either the Pentax PEF format or the Adobe DNG format, 22 bit image processing. Lots of other featues. Check it out online or in a store if it interests you.

It is normally compared to the D80 (but sealed like the D200) and the D30, but priced lower.

I have the 16-45 f4 and the 50-135 f2.8 lenses and am very happy.
posted by Leenie at 11:00 AM on December 31, 2007

I spent ages to finally decide on a Canon. I was lucky enough to talk to one of the Guardian newspaper's top photographers. He said go Canon for the quality of the lenses. Seawallrunner is right - it is the lens that will make the difference to your photos.

So, I got the Canon and six weeks later my friend on the Guardian switched to a new Nikon. Still, he's at the high end and way out of my league.

Canon or Nikon - you'll be fine either way. Just aim for the eyes and press.
posted by baggymp at 11:06 AM on December 31, 2007

Marxchivist, I tried one out and like it and am planning to get one someday when I am back taking more photos (been too overwhelmed with work lately). If you look through photos tagged with lightsphere on Flickr, there's lots of nice examples. Just seems to mellow out the light nicely and take out all the harsh edges.
posted by voidcontext at 11:53 AM on December 31, 2007

DPReview has a handy chart function that lets you compare cameras; I preselected the D80 versus the XTi already.

I was in your shoes a couple months ago, and ended up buying a lightly used 30D for $750 Canadian off craigslist; after handling all three cameras, I wanted a 30D but couldn't afford a new one (especially after budgeting for lenses), and I timed it well as a lot of people were upgrading to the 40D (which I felt wasn't worthwhile).

Anyway: have you shot weddings before? Are you familiar with the peculiar constraints of the event, venue, and clients? I did my sister's wedding on a film SLR because I knew I didn't want to deal with learning digital and also any chance of things going wrong on her big day. If you're new to DSLRs and wedding photography, I wouldn't put a huge amount of money towards equipment (esp. with pro lenses) until you're comfortable with digital workflows.

If so, then you're looking at a system, not just a body. Lenses will stay with you long after bodies (as mentioned by others) so be sure to look at the whole kit and/or kaboodle before deciding - it might be best to decide on a system and then go for a body, which seems backwards but I found it to make more sense in the long run.

If you do go Canon and you decide to shoot weddings right away, pick up the "nifty fifty" 50mm f/1.8 lens for roughly $80, and either the 17-55mm f/2.8IS zoom lens, or the 24-70 f/2.8 L lens; both offer superb image quality wide open. If you go Canon and don't want to spend on the pro zooms, pick up the 50mm regardless, and also the 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 IS lens, which offers image stabilization and is apparently a lot better than the kit lens.

I have no experience with flashes, as yet, so I don't want to say anything either way.

oh, also: read what seawallrunner said again. She knows what she's talking about.
posted by heeeraldo at 12:27 PM on December 31, 2007

Here's a link to a site that both describes the user's experience with Canon and Nikon, and does detailed objective reviews of the camera's picture quality, shutter lag, etc etc. On the linked page look for the brand of camera you're interested in, follow it to a page listing the cameras they've reviewed.
posted by bbranden1 at 5:31 PM on December 31, 2007

I use cameras in the line up from the Rebels, because I hate the controls on the Rebels. You're specifically asking which people enjoy working with more, and that's both not very useful information (who cares what I like?) and something you really have to determine for yourself, even if you start by asking what people with more experience care about. In my case, I like the more dial-based controls - all those little buttons drive me bonkers.

seawallrunner is a wonderful photographer and has given you lots of good practical information, but the bottom line - especially between two makes that have no inherent overall superiority between them - is which one feels better to you in your hands.
posted by caitlinb at 6:33 PM on December 31, 2007

No matter which one you get, you're going to probably like it very much. They're all fine cameras. I suggest going to a store and holding each one, see how you like the ergonomics. I wasn't sure what I wanted until I did this, then the choice became clear.
posted by knave at 8:18 PM on December 31, 2007

caitlinb nails it, when it comes down to choosing the make and model - which one feels better to you in your hands. You'll be running a business with that camera, so choose the camera that feels best in your hands (all else being equal).

If you can, rent each camera for a day to get a real feel for it. Day rates for camera rentals are usually not very high (but the refundable deposit may be).
posted by seawallrunner at 10:44 PM on December 31, 2007

I can't recommend the D40, simply because Nikon crippled the body.

The D80 is not price- or feature-comparable to the XT; it's much closer to the XTi.

Is there a reason why the Nikon model is so much more expensive than the Rebel?

Sure... More flash shutter options and a better auto focus for starters. It's also feels a lot less plasticy, though that's a subjective opinion.

wouldn't it be wiser to go with a Rebel and save money not only on the camera, but also on accessories which are also far more expensive for Nikon than Rebel.

Canon and Nikon gear are both similarly priced. Sorry. No advantage there.

I was lucky enough to talk to one of the Guardian newspaper's top photographers. He said go Canon for the quality of the lenses. Seawallrunner is right - it is the lens that will make the difference to your photos.

Between a Nikon and a Pentax, sure. But between a Nikon and a Canon? Puh-lease. They both make exceptional lenses. Traditionally, the edge has always gone to Nikon for wide-angle, while Canon is all over the telephoto market--though both have plenty of fancy glass throughout the focal length spectrum.

Get the camera from Buydig.com or Beachcamera.com and get one of the Canon Speedlite flashes.

No, get it from Keh. Best prices on earth (including gray-market stuff).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:49 PM on December 31, 2007

I moonlight as a wedding photographer. The rest of the week I shoot news and corporate gigs.
I wouldn't hire a wedding photographer with one camera, especially not a digital rebel.
You need at least two camera bodies (30d level or above), two speedlights, and prime glass. Anything less and you're cheating your clients.
You shouldn't be charging less than $1000 for wedding photography anyway given the time and effort that goes into it, but at the same time, you shouldn't be shafting your client with inferior equipment.

You need a backup camera body, but it's good to just have one on each shoulder so you can switch between shooting wide and tight.

Photography is a money-pit. If you're looking at entry-level prosumer cameras because of budgetary constraints, maybe you shouldn't be looking to provide a photography service.

Go to Adorama.com, and do a site search for "canon refurbished." You can get some good deals if you're willing to spend the money. If not, don't waste anyone's time.

(oh, and since you can't afford nikon's new top of the line cameras, go canon.)
posted by TheGoldenOne at 9:35 AM on January 1, 2008

I really can't stress this enough:

You're shooting what is ostensibly the most important day in a couple's life up to that point. If your one camera fails on you and you don't have a backup, you'll be in a world of hurt and you expose yourself to legal trouble.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 9:41 AM on January 1, 2008

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