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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> D700 or 5D II?
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03/20/2009 09:56:30 AM · #1
I've been out of the technology rat race for awhile, but I'm considering a move to full frame which is putting me right back into the debate. I'm currently shooting with a Canon 40D, but if I'm going to change platforms this would be the time to do it:
- The vast majority of my shooting is done with a handful of primes; 35mm 2.0, 50mm 1.4, 85mm 1.8. I would need to add a new lens regardless of platform (Nikon 105 2.5 or Canon 135 2.0F).
- I'm going to add wireless flash capability, but the three Canon 430ex flashes I have emit large amounts of radio interference and limit the affective range of at least one wireless system. I'll most likely be replacing these regardless of which platform I choose.

I'm searched the threads here and found a few similar posts, but these were earlier in the product lifecycle and some issues may have faded. I'm also looking for more of a real world photographer comparison vs a numbers debate.

1. Image quality.. it's not just about sharpness, is the tonality in the images good and do they have a film like quality. This is a hard question to ask of just anybody, but I know there are dpc photographers who will understand.

2. Flash system.. I set my flashes manually for portraits but do use some automation when shooting weddings. How does the Nikon system compare to Canon's?

3. I've never liked the ergonomics of the Canon cameras, even after years I continue to spin the shutter the wrong way and the thumb wheel makes one handed shooting difficult. But I'm a through back to the days when an aperture ring was on the lens and the shutter speed was on the top of the body, so I don't know if a button driven camera will ever feel natural.

I would appreciate any thoughts I can get. Even an hour in the store holding and playing with each is not enough understand the nature of the two cameras/systems. Thanks!
03/20/2009 11:11:29 AM · #2
Seems like you are already well invested in Canon Glass, However resale value on those lenses should be pretty good if you do decide to make the switch, I think you are opening a can of worms as far as what you will get for answers here, At least 40% will say stick with canon another 40% will say Nikon is the way to go then the other 20% will drop in with Olympus, Fuji, Pentax etc...

Is there somewhere you could rent the cameras from for a day or two to give them a proper testing?
03/20/2009 11:17:34 AM · #3
I'd look at it this way. You are shooting Canon now and used to it and have glass to support it. Approach the problem by making your hypothetical advisor make the case to switch. In other words, I'd default to Canon (since you are there already) but look for convincing enough arguments to overcome that for Nikon.
03/20/2009 11:18:09 AM · #4
I have no intention of going to full in the near future, but that does not stop from spendind some time lusting after both cameras. As always, the decision depends on what you need the camera for:

The D700 has an big edge in speed (fps) and AF, and a slight edge/no edge in ISO performace relative to the 5DII

The 5DII has more MP and a movie mode.

My $.02

Message edited by author 2009-03-20 11:18:29.
03/20/2009 11:25:22 AM · #5
Originally posted by Bugzeye:

Is there somewhere you could rent the cameras from for a day or two to give them a proper testing?

The nearest real camera store is about 90 minutes from me, so it's possible that I can plan a photo session and then rent for a day. I don't know if they are renting the 5D yet, they only had one that I could look at and it was being held for another customer.

As to the investment in Canon glass, the entire kit probably cost me less than $1100, and I could recoup most of that on eBay. I don't know the equivalent lens from Nikon (not just focal length, but quality), so I'm not sure if the overall cost of the kit would got through the roof or not.
03/20/2009 11:30:40 AM · #6
Two other differences that may or may not be useful to you is that the Nikon D700 has 51 focus points while the Canon has 9 and for the lenses you have listed, the Nikon lenses are more expensive.

As someone else said, can you rent them and compare? While I know others who have made a switch between brands, with your current investment in Canon equipment I would think you would lose quite a bit of money by jumping ship.
03/20/2009 11:32:59 AM · #7
Originally posted by Five_Seat:

As always, the decision depends on what you need the camera for:

Very good point, and I should have mentioned initially.

I primarily shoot portraits, wedding are a part of my business and dream of shooting fashion. My portraits are almost always shot on location rather than in the studio so low light capabilities and portability are key.
- Ultimate image quality, especially in the skin tones, is most important to me.
- Smooth film like transitions in skin tones are very important
- A selection of very high quality prime lenses, three of four lens kit, is important
03/20/2009 11:41:27 AM · #8
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

You are shooting Canon now and used to it and have glass to support it.

As much as I hate to admit it, I still more comfortable with my old Nikon F3 than I have ever been with Canon. I put up with ergonomics that don't suit me because early one Canon was clearly the leader in images quality (CMOS vs CCD, etc).
03/20/2009 12:14:59 PM · #9
i did loads and loads of research in this very topic. I chose the D700. Am very glad indeed.

Focus Points....ISO quality....Nikon Lenses....

Those were my selling points.
03/20/2009 12:21:14 PM · #10
I didn't see your post before I responded last time...

Originally posted by Nusbaum:



As to the investment in Canon glass, the entire kit probably cost me less than $1100, and I could recoup most of that on eBay. I don't know the equivalent lens from Nikon (not just focal length, but quality), so I'm not sure if the overall cost of the kit would got through the roof or not.


The Nikon equivalent for the three lenses that you have will cost about $1300 new. I have read that in general Canon's primes are better than Nikon's and that Nikon's zooms are better than Canon's (although I'm sure you can find many sources that say the opposite too). Although, personally, for the three lenses you have, I think the quality is about the same.

For your lighting setup, will you want to stay with flashes that can be used off camera or go with some other type of lighting system? I know nothing about Canon's flashes, but Nikon's flashes are very easy to use off camera. Unfortunately they decided to discontinue the SB-800, so your only options now are the SB-600 (about $250) and the Sb-900 (about $450).

03/20/2009 02:56:58 PM · #11
i'm in the same boat.

My vote goes for the D700- faster, better, reliable AF system, spot metering on any active AF point, wider spread of AF points, more FPS, better noise at high ISO (just) and basically seems like what the 5d 2 should have been.

I couldn't give a damn about movie mode or 21 mp.
03/21/2009 12:52:58 AM · #12
Of course, in two years or so, new bodies will be out and the advantage may change.
03/21/2009 02:00:36 AM · #13
//www.dpreview.com/reviews/compare_post.asp?method=sidebyside&cameras=canon_eos5dmkii%2Cnikon_d700&show=allaa

Message edited by author 2009-03-21 02:08:15.
03/21/2009 10:25:47 AM · #14
I'm not in bracket of the upper echelon cameras, but I did switch from Canon to Nikon (had two models of the Rebel, bought the D80, then the D90).

I prefer the operation of the Nikons. One neat feature in particular is the built in remote (wireless) flash. Add a couple of SB-600s or SB800's, and you can use the Nikon's built in Commander menu to set and control them wirelessly (either iTTL or manual).

Now Commander mode is not perfect; it's not radio controlled, it's controlled via infrared or preflash or something like that (your on camera flash must be up, though you can balance the on-camera flash so that it is either part of the flash set up, or you can set it so it doesn't "contribute" to the shot. The only disadvantage of this system is that I've found in a very wide room like a theatre, where you put the remote flashes on the two ends of the stage, there will be "blind spots" where both flashes won't trigger. If you do a lot of that kind of work, you might be better off going with radio triggers. But for a normal studio type setup, the commander mode works flawlessly.
03/21/2009 10:25:50 AM · #15
I've owned both in the past 4 months. I upgraded from my Rebel XT to the D700. I must have got a bad body because the auto-focus was very bad in low light. Supposedly a firmware update has fixed the problem, but I had sold it to buy a 5DII.

My thoughts on each system...

Lenses: Nikon has better compatibility with old glass, but there is less newer glass than Canon's EF lineup, it's more expensive ($1500 top-of-the-line 24-70 and 70-200 compared to Canon's $1100 models, fewer primes, many fewer USM/AF-S options)

Usability: I loved the D700 layout, customizability, one-click focus check, timer mode. It wins hands down in this category, though the 5DII's custom shooting modes (C1, C2, C3) redeem it to a passing grade.

Flash system: Both manufacturers have good TTL flash systems, but Canon's are more expensive.

5DII movie mode: With tricky manual focus, no exposure control and giant output files, it's not ideal for casual use.

Resolution: Both are great, but I do love the 24MP and feel like it gives me better definition and crop capability.

Bottom line: For me, the focus issue and lens price/availability forced me back to Canon. With the resolution and custom shooting modes, I'll be happy here for a long time. I've also become interested in shooting primes, and Nikon didn't seem to offer equivalent USM/AF-S models.

And if I get interested in video, there are upgrades I can purchase to make it more usable (tripod, mic, software).
03/21/2009 01:52:36 PM · #16
Zack Arias, an Atlanta based photographer of note, is blogging about his newly purchased Canon 5D/II in comparison to his Nikon D3. He specifically makes mention of the image quality:

"The number one reason I have this 5d is for the video as Iíve stated before, but I also love that there is a specific quality to the images this camera produces that I find other cameras do not have. Back in the days of film you would choose one film over another based on the characteristics of that film and the type of color, contrast, and quality that you desired for the shoot you were doing. Since we canít simply change sensors in our camera bodies like we could change film, this particular time in digital photography requires us to change the entire body. In the studio the cameras are nearly identical.

It is in the available light photography that I find the 5d to perform remarkably different. Skin tones have a smoother quality to them akin to something with warm butter all over it. The Nikon can be a little too cool and too sharp for my liking. You can spend time in post trying to replicate one look or the other but when you study enough images online and you KNOW an image was shot with a 5d without looking at META data then you know the camera has something special about it."


As for ergonomics, he much prefers the Nikon as you do, saying the Canon feels "like a brick in my hands".

The full discussion is on the March 21, 2009 entry of his blog.

03/21/2009 02:44:03 PM · #17
Thanks nova! I've listened to Zack Arias on at least one podcast and looked at his work a number of times. I'm jumping over to read that blog entry right now.
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