Photography is one of those things that has really picked up steam in the past few years. The advent of the digital age brought cameras to everyone on every device, and with the catch phrase “There’s an App for that”, people are Instagramming, Tiny Posting and doing a whole host of other photography related things.
Beyond these point and shoot paparazzi however, is a new kind of enthusiast who stepped into the world of Digital SLRs with some form of sub $1000USD camera like a Canon Rebel or Nikon X000 Model, or even an Olympus or Sony Alphas series piece of kit. Among these enthusiasts are a significant amount of young people who now see their camera as more than a simple fun and creative tool… they see it as a means of making a living, be it a supplemental or full time income.
Honing their skills through trial and digital error, the two big boys in the digital SLR world Canon and Nikon have announced two new units, that go head to head, offering to this point, the most affordable way to buy a full frame DSLR for enthusiasts.
Nikon struck first with the announcement of the Nikon D600 unit and then at Photokina (the greatest photography trade show on earth). Canon dropped the announcement of their competitor the Canon EOS 6D. These cameras are definitely designed to go head to head and are priced similarly. Since the price drop on Canon’s old 5D Mark II, there have been no options to buy a full frame camera body and the fact that these units are brand new (Not 4 years old) says a lot about the importance of sensor size to enthusiasts and non-professionals.
SENSOR SIZE EXPLAINED
Ok, here’s a quick layman’s description of camera sensors and why the quarrel over megapixels can be so foolish. Look in your wallet and grab a 10cent, 25 cent and dollar coin. These coins, for the sake of argument, represent the size of the image sensor in your various types of cameras. So the 10 cent is the sensor in your smartphone. The 25 cent is the sensor in your entry-level DSLR and the dollar is a full frame.
Now if you have an 12 megapixel 10 cent sized sensor and a 6 megapixel dollar sized sensor, you get far better image quality from the larger sensor based on the size and spacing of those 6 pixels. Bigger pixels grab more detail and make better pictures. This is also part of the reason that small sensors don’t perform well in low light where subtle details are required to create images. There are other factors of course, but let’s not get carried away with these technicalities.
WHAT YOU NEED TO HOW
So what do you buy? Well if you’ve been shooting Nikon/Canon already and own compatible lenses and flashes, that’s a no brainer. But if you’re fresh to the game and have the budget to go full frame here’s the facts.
Nikon has a bigger megapixel count in their D600 at 24.3 versus Canon’s 20.2. Nikon also trumps the Canon unit with a more advanced auto-focus system featuring 39 focus points versus a meager 11 on the Canon unit. Another point for Nikon comes in the form of the viewfinder, which offers a full 100% coverage (what you see is what you get), while the Canon unit disappointingly offers only a 97% coverage, meaning there will be part of the frame you will not see before snapping. The Nikon unit is also faster grabbing 5.5 frames per second in burst mode, beating Canon by an entire frame and Nikon also offers a dual SD card slot for more storage and back up options, which is a nice feature versus the vanilla single card slot on the Canon.
With all these factors in its favor, how can Canon possibly compete? Well, there is a better 3.2″ screen on the back offering a higher resolution and for indie film makers, this will offer a better viewing plane when doing HD video on this unit. Also, the unit offers the same video modes and functionality as the flagship Canon 5D Mark III. Additionally for those who know how a long photo shoot taxes your body physically, the Canon unit is lighter at 1.7 Ibs versus the Nikon’s slightly heavier 1.9Ibs.
The Canon boasts a higher ISO range than the Nikon as well and this hints at better low light performance from the unit and finally, the coup de grâce, the Canon unit comes with built-in Wi-Fi for over the air control and back up and GPO, for gee tagging your photos (the satellite data will tag your picture’s coördinates on the world map)!
So what do you think? Nikon or Canon?