Nikon Expensive Glasses vs. Canon L series?

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by nima68, May 3, 2010.

  1. What would you suggest for a guy who is about to buy his first dslr and is stuck between the Canon and Nikon war? all I want is a camera which can satisfy me for about 1 year or so, and then I will be buying a full-frame.
    I've heard the Canon L series glasses are the best lenses available and even better than Nikon's expensive ones. is it true? (I personally don't believe such thing but I'd like to make sure)
    since I will be upgrading to full-frame soon. so we are talking about their performance on full-frame camera's.
    and please dont start the famous Nikon vs. Canon war down here. let's just talk about these two brand's expensive lenses and compare them to each other. okay? :)
    as a start I've seen the famous 24-70 reviews for each brand and I really liked the Nikon's version better (yeah, it's a little more expensive than canon's version but we're just talking about quality not "quality/price")
    oh! and BTW I mostly do landscape and stock photography. and I've already chosen two cameras from the two brands: Nikon D90 and Canon 50D
    so which way should I go?
  2. Greetings, Nima.
    Congrats on your decision to go with either the D90 or 50D. Frankly, since yo uknow you are going FF in about a year, I think that your argument between which lens system is better, is really splitting hairs, for these reasons:
    1. At this level, each system is of such high-quality at unless you print murals, and area "pixel-peeper", you will most likely not see a difference in image quality! People may argue this point, but I've done enough research into these systems over the years to realize that this is a fact. You'd have to make a MAJOR change to medium format before any image quality differences are apparent (especially at the standard print sizes). And for web design work (the lower resolution images typical on a website), this is even more true!
    2. Each system has its strenghts and weaknesses (even with a lens "class" of focal length range), and each company is always coming out with new lenses, firmware, etc., so that you cannot make a blanket statement such as "Canon L glass is better than NIkon's Pro lenses", with conviction. Besides, both systems make superb FF camera bodies.
    3. I've heard it stated that Canon's "per pixel" sharpness is higher than that of Nikon. However, I question even this statement, because I have seen image sharpness of equal quality between both systems. It's a matter of the skill of the photographer/printer, AND number 1 above.
    I also think that if you travel, you might consider an m4/3 system (Panasonic or Olympus), because this "kit" will be MUCH lighter and more suitable for travel, plus, the image quality of this system does approach that of mid-range DSLRs such as the cameras you mention. Of course, for action or sports, nothing beats the DSLR.
    Having said this, I truly think that the decision on which system to go with depends largely on ergonomics, ie., how the camera feels in your hand, operability, etc., rather than on pure "image quality". You need to take a media card to a store with both the D90 and 50D, and play with them, and compare image quality at home. I bet you won't find much difference, other than the ergonomics of each system! Just my 2 cents. Good luck!
  3. There is just no way that you can say, on a system-wide basis, that one is better than the other--or even that the best is one or the other. You will find people who think that the best lenses are Zeiss. For 35mm-style DSLR's, that means going Sony (e.g., the Sony / Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8) or limiting yourself to a few manual-focus primes. I'm sure there are people who think Contax is the best. For DSLR's, that means limiting yourself to the long-discontinued and by most accounts not-quite-satisfactory Contax N Digital. But of course all the world knows that the real best lenses are Leica, so pony up for that M9.
    My point is that you will go crazy trying to determine definitively what lenses are the best. Contax is probably not really a viable option, but all of the others are. There are great lenses from more than a few sources. Unless there are relatively exotic lenses that you really want/need, either Canon or Nikon would be fine. Really, so would Sony or (if you can deal with the usual rangefinder issue and the cost) Leica. And if you can skip the full-frame, probably Pentax. And you know what? Occasionally the best lens for a particular application might even be a Sigma or something.
  4. When I made the "C vs N" choice a while ago, what drove my decision wasn't the quality of the individual lenses or the bodies; they're too close to call. But Canon made some nice lightweight f4 zooms of very high quality. I could get high quality "pro" zooms and lighten my backpack. I didn't need the speed of a 2.8 lens, and didn't want to carry the weight. It's worked for me.
  5. There's a "distinction without a difference" here.
    But do look at cost ranges for the particular lenses you will want to buy in the future. In some areas N has the advantage, in others, C.
    And why "full frame"? Is is some atavistic urge or do you really have good reasons for going to 35mm-sensor size? If you do, then why not get a used 35mm sensor now instead of futzing around with APS-C at all?
    There is another sort of contradiction here: if you don't have the money to buy "FF" now, why are you worrying about which $5000 lenses are marginally better than others? Expecting your ship to come in? ;)
  6. Given the excellent qualities of both makers' lenses and bodies, I'd say this should come down to ergonomics. You need to handle that D90 and the 50D like you mean it, and see if the controls land where you expect them to. If the menus make sense. If the viewfinder's information is what you need. When you go full-frame, the same design sensibilities will be there from each maker. It's something to consider.
  7. well thank you all for answering.
    I've been told before that choosing between Canon and Nikon only depends on how you like the ergonomics of each camera. but since I heard a lot about Canon L series glasses, I was really curious if there is any differences. now I know that even though there might be some differences in MTF charts and lab test, but there are not much obvious differences in real life and I should just go with the one system that I feel like. :)
    @JDM von Weinberg: I would love to get a used FF (in fact a used 5D would be perfect) but I couldn't find one here. and I have only 2000$. despite the fact that I have to save some money for a full frame lens too. and I don't think with 2G's you can get a FF body with Lens (even if it's a used one).
    actually I was thinking of acquiring a cropped body with a cheap walk-around lens (since I can't afford the great 24-70 right now) and some useful primes with some accessories and stuff. then start collecting money to buy the full-frame.
  8. Keep in mind that bodies and lenses will continue to change and evolve over time, regardless of which system you select. One of the most expensive investments you will make is the glass. Quality lenses are where the money is. Bodies will be updated every few years but the lenses should continue to be usable over several body changes.
    I used Canon years ago in the days of film before auto-focus. They have twice changed their lens mount so that older lenses will not work on newer bodies. When that happened, the value of their used lenses dropped through the floor. Nikon has remained fairly consistent in allowing older glass to be used on newer bodies. Some features such as autofocus and metering may not be possible with older lenses. To me, that shows consideration in the end user's investment and better engineering design by maintaining usability. For that reason, I switched to Nikon.
    I use full frame Nikon glass on a D200 (reduced frame) with excellent results. Focal length is, of course, different but the quality lenses are still usable. When I upgrade to a full frame Nikon digital body, that glass will still be usable or at least have value.
    The choice is yours but consider the long term investment costs and customer support.
  9. FWIW
    Recent eBay sales show a rather large number of Canon 5D (mark I) with the 24-105mm L lens have sold for between US $1600 and $2000. The body alone can go for as little as $1000. Your $2000 should do if that is really what you need. That being said, I still wonder if you really have a reason for going to the larger format? It's not "full" versus "cropped" any more than 35mm is "cropped" 6x4.5cm.
    A year ago, I got both the mark 1 body and the 24-105 and a 430EX flash for about $2100. All like new.
  10. And for heaven's sake:
    I used Canon years ago in the days of film before auto-focus. They have twice changed their lens mount so that older lenses will not work on newer bodies.​
    There's only been one change and that was in 1986 (One-Nine-eight-six!) Get over it. Twenty-four years is a long grudge. It's entirely possible that the OP wasn't even born then. ;)
    I have a full complement of pre-1986, non-AI, very expensive Nikkor glass. There is hardly a Nikon digital body that will let me use these lenses on them with metering, etc. When I went to Canon, there was none that would let me use these lenses. Complicated tables are necessary to judge what Nikkor lenses can be used on what body (e.g.,, so getting on a high-horse about Nikon compatibility since 1959 is not quite on the spot.
    That's why I went to Canon where inexpensive adapters let me use ALL my old Nikkors, admittedly, stopped down for metering, but metering is otherwise easy and possible.
  11. Nima:
    You can't go wrong with either Nikon or Canon.
    When I chose an autofocus system, I moved from Minolta to Nikon. Why? Because Canon had changed their lens mount. Why would you want to go with a company like that?
    Later on, I sold my Nikon system and moved to Canon. I was becoming more serious and wanted to buy more expensive lenses. Why? Because Canon had changed their lens mount. That meant Canon had lenses like tilt shift and features like image stabilization that Nikon didn't have. :)
    I'd say that you don't know enough to make an informed choice. The only way you'll learn enough is by actually buying a camera and using it. Don't worry about the bodies you might buy in the future. Or the lenses you might acquire someday. Look at the cameras you'd buy today, as well as the lenses. Which combination feels better in your hands? Buy that one. The D90 and the 50D both can produce better images than most people are capable of creating. They can both produce better images than the top of the line 35mm film cameras from a few short years ago. (See? Instead of making this a Canon/Nikon debate, I started us into film/digital. You're welcome. <grin>)
    Bottom line is that I'm happy with Canon. And some of my friends are happy with Nikon. They're deluded, but they're still happy. :)
  12. You could say pooh to both of them and get yourself a Pentax for the time being. Or a nice little micro4/3 as a pocket camera for when you cannot be bothered to lug around the full frame in the future. Without knowing what you want to do with your gear it is impossible to make meaningful suggestions.
  13. Personally, I would say that the gear is better than most of the photographers out there.
    At this point and time I would say there is a difference without a distinction. I know that might be heresy but I have shot both systems on professional basis and which one is better is an issue of personal choice. For me when I bought my own system it came down to preference of a rocker switch over a dial and camera meeting both commercial and photojournalism. I would say it was as much based on my personal tastes as anything, but if you are talking quality of glass that was not an issue. Although Canon does focus backwards (that is a joke). ;)
    My suggestion is look at the features of both system see which matches your needs best.
  14. thanks again for answering
    the main reason I want full-frame is because of my type of photography, I mostly shoot landscape and I always loved to shoot nice night pictures but because of my crappy camera I couldn't.
    as another reason I really love to use those great glasses they make for full-frame cams, I know I can use them on a cropped body but that wouldn't give me the most of the lens I payed for.
    and I can't use eBay or Amazon or any such websites in my country (damn sanctions) but I will try to find a used 5D if that's the price. recently I found one but it was being sold for about 1800$ (just the body)
  15. Look on eBay, be very cautious about the sales history of the vendor, and be patient. To score a good price means not getting carried away in bidding. If it goes too high for you, drop out, another will soon be along, today or tomorrow. For more certainty in life, either Adorama or B&H sell used gear, though the prices are naturally higher than eBay, but they do have guarantees, etc.
    Do remember that a newer camera than the original 5D will have better low light capabilities. The 5D goes to a good, decent 3200, while some of the newer ones go to ISO 25,000!
    I'm an old film shooter, so 3200 is unbelievably fast to me, and "noise" is hardly even noticeable to anyone who shot a lot of old ASA 400-500 color slide film back when (the grain was, well, pretty much a fact of life and one simply embraced it to get low light shots).
    If you are tolerant of electronic noise and willing to do post-processing, etc. the 5D will be great, but notwithstanding the landscape dimension of your use, a newer APS-C camera in the same general price range would probably be better for night use, and you'll be surprised if you try how good it can be for landscape. Actually, good APS-C rectilinear ultra-wide angles like the Canon 10-22mm or the Sigma 10-20mm are affordable, especially if you compare them to what most "full-frame" 15 to 16mm and up zooms cost.
  16. As someone else on this thread said he did, you should look through the current offerings of C, N, and even S. Plan your initial outfit and the outfit you would like to grow into. See what equipment options you have with each and how much it will cost you. Future offerings might change, but this should give you a good perspective which manufacturer works best for you. FAIW, this approach led me to Canon, but Nikon has really come along nicely since then. It would be a tighter contest if I were making the same decision today.
  17. f_z


    you are probably better than either one of those boxes, as it is the person behind the glass that makes the most difference. Everyone said, and I agree, these are both top quality boxes with excellent lens options. Mind you both of them have already been upgraded to newer models, check out a dedicated review site such as or others for professional reviews that actually compare results in equal settings.
    Having said that, the only major difference between these specific cameras is that D90 can also shoot video 24F 720P video. It's excellent quality HD video, it is not 1080P but has its limitations with dynamic aperture, etc., presenting issues of being the best of the first generation. Both Nikon and Canon have surpassed it, so you may want to look into newer models from any of these manufacturers. Of course, 7D which is the upgrade to 50D is a much more expensive camera but it is superb.
    I personally use an m4/3 Panasonic GH1 with 2 lenses, the kit 14-140 zoom lens and the sharp 20mm f1.7, because I don't want to carry too much weight around. I like the flexibility, and can practically go from a photographer to a video-grapher on-demand. Panasonic works with Leica and actually some of the lower-end Leica LUX series (yup they're marketing those) are more or less the same as Panasonic Lumix Point & Shoot. The quality is excellent enough with these lenses and like everyone else I wish everything was perfect but accept that they are not, the whole kit cost less than $2K. Did I mention that the video on this camera is as good as you can shoot, and for serious stills the 20mm (40mm equiv in 35mm) gives you a lot of range.
    Still if you are going to choose between your 2 models, my recommendation goes to the Nikon D90, but even then consider spending another $100 and get a Nikon D300, or save yourself some money and get the Canon 550D, either would represent a lot more value for your hard earned money!
  18. I shoot Nikon because I don't like Canon's white lenses. It's just a bit too much when coupled with my white belt and white shoes.
  19. Robert, that made me laugh out loud.

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