Canon’s 650D has been out for a while now, and Nikon has just followed suit with the new D5200. These two cameras go head to head in a number of ways – feature set, price point, and more. If you’re upgrading or even just making the leap into the DSLR world, both of these cameras offer a compelling argument. Let’s take a deeper look to see which one is right for you…
Sensor: Like the D3100 that came before it, Nikon is using the 24mp sensor, which surprisingly (or not for Nikon) has decent high ISO noise performance. Unsurprisingly, Canon has stuck with an 18mp sensor that dates back to the 7D in 2009, but is updated for Hybrid AF performance. At least it is a proven performer, though with noise levels a bit higher than the rest in class. And maybe these eyes need checking, but I sense a bit more noise than even the 600D, especially more chroma noise compared to the NIkon. Compare for yourself here.
Video: Canon has caught up with Nikon in that it now offers continuous autofocus during video, something extremely rare in DSLRs but commonplace in compacts and even mirrorless cameras. But that’s not to say that it works well. It performs basic tracking, but don’t expect much from fast moving objects, much less someone merely walking. Stereo mics also make a new appearance in the 650D. Movie mode is now accessed from the power switch as opposed to the mode dial, yet perplexingly manual controls such as aperture and shutter speed are only available in M mode, not Av or Tv as you might expect. The Nikon adds a high speed, high resolution 1080i60 movie mode, one edge over the Canon.
LCD: Again, both offer a tilt and swivel screen, and Canon boasts slightly higher resolution at 1,040,000 pixels. It’s viewfinder also offers slightly higher magnification, at .85x vs .78x. In practice though, this shouldn’t make a huge difference, so I wouldn’t base your decision on these specs.
Body/Ergonomics: Both are basically the same size and weight. Nikon has a beefier (and many would say) more comfortable grip. Canon has more direct controls, with external buttons for WB & ISO. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of personal preference. I for one perfer the bigger and bulkier grip of the Nikon, but the button layout of the Canon.
Extras: Canon has introduced the first ever fully functional touch screen in a DSLR. And it’s a good one at that. My first time playing with the LCD was awakening. Why can’t all DSLRs be like this?! I’m sure they soon will. Nikon has introduced an optional wifi connection. But the most notable thing would be the new AF system which was pulled from the D7000. Kudos to Nikon on that front.
Conclusion: Another year, another round of capable mid-level cameras from Canon and Nikon. Which one is best for you? To make the answer simple: if you’re invested in Canon glass already, stick with Canon. If you’re invested with Nikon glass, stick with Nikon. If you’re making your first jump into DSLR territory, flip a coin! But seriously, both cameras will serve you fine. Get into a Best Buy and try them out with your own hands. Shoot with them for a while. See which one feels better. And there is your answer!
For a more complete assessment both cameras, please see the reviews here on dpreview.com
Nikon D5100 (coming soon…)