Canon versus Nikon

by Philip Greenspun; created 1997

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Canon Nikon
viewfinder insufficiently high-eyepoint for many eyeglass wearers, EOS-1v is probably the best excellent for eyeglass wearers on big expensive bodies (e.g., N90 and up)
autofocus superb with ultrasonic lenses, especially with higher-end bodies where the focus and shutter release can be put on separate buttons, thus allowing MF and AF simultaneously superb with rare and expensive AF-S lenses and newest bodies; cumbersome with most AF lenses
best lenses big long image-stabilized glass (100-400/4.5-5.6 IS, 300/2.8 IS, 600/4 IS) and unique pieces such as 35-350 wide angles and macro
best body EOS-1V for the viewfinder, Elan 7E for the low cost, light weight, built-in flash, and eye-control focus gimmick, Rebel 2000 for ultimate light weight. F100 or N80; the F5 has great features but it weighs more than most medium-format cameras
fill flash very good with newest bodies and EX flashes superb with D lenses
macro difficult to use macro lenses with studio strobes or handheld light meter because bodies don't compute effective aperture, latest macro lenses (100, 180) include ultrasonic motors, no bellows but MP-E 65/2.8 lets you go beyond 1:1 conveniently; current 50mm macro lens is weak (only goes to 1:2 and lacks ultrasonic motor) superb 60, 105, and 200, lenses, all of which go to 1:1, bodies compute effective aperture, e.g., marked f/16 on the lens turns into indicated f/32 in the viewfinder at 1:1
durability incredible with EOS-1 and EOS-3 bodies, which are impervious to rain; excellent with consumer bodies incredible with water-sealed F5 and F100; excellent with consumer bodies
perspective correction lenses superb, auto aperture and both tilt and shift in 24, 45, and 90mm focal lengths two primitivelenses, 28 and 35, available with manual aperture. Shift is useful for control of architectural perspective, but lack of tilt prevents useful depth-of-field control. ( Kirk Enterprises will convert Canon TS lenses for Nikon use for about $200.)
film transport revolutionary in speed and noise with the rubber-belt systems in the mid-range consumer bodies (e.g., Elan 7) but remember that infrared diode fogs IR film nothing special
starter system
(for serious photography)
Elan 7 (EOS 30 outside US), verticalgrip, 17-35/2.8L, 50/1.4, and 70-200/2.8L N80, 20/2.8, 28-70/2.8 AF-S, 80-200/2.8 AF-S
starter system
(for one-lens travel photography)
any low-end body ( Rebel G is incredibly light but doesn't let you shift AF off shutter release), 24-85 USM lens or 28-135 USM image-stabilized lens. N65 or N80, 24-120 lens