Canon 1Dx vs Nikon D4

category: Cameras • 4 min read

The mine’s better than yours war has already started. Nikon has finally announced their D4, almost 6 weeks after Canon announced their 1Dx.

  • It looks like Nikon will ship first: 1 point for Canon announcing first and 1 point for Nikon shipping first.
  • The prices are similar, the $6,000 range, 1 point Nikon and ¾ point for Canon because the announced price will be high end of the $6,000 range but I’m convinced that they will quickly match Nikon’s.
  • Photo side: technically, if you read the specs, they are pretty much equivalent on the photo side. Canon is a little bit more here, Nikon is a little bit more there. In the real world, the major difference is clock-wise (Canon) vs counter clock-wise (Nikon). I defy you to identify a photo taken with the 1Dx from an image taken by the D4. They both have 60 years of experience and it shows. Nikon has closed the megapixels gaps by going to 16 megapixels. So 1 point for Canon and 1½ point for Nikon.

  • Video side: That’s where Canon had a huge lead. According to some dealer that I spoke to, the sales of Nikon D700 are almost non-existent. The Canon 5DMk2 is still selling well, in part because of the recent price drop to under $2,000 but mostly for the video side. Currently, there’s nothing to compete with it in the video side. Looks like Canon has even improved their fantastic video. Nikon is improving their video offering, on paper it looks excellent, but in real life? I’m not enough of an expert to judge. Nikon did a much better job on the sound side of the video with the introduction of a headphone jack which makes a big difference. I don’t think that the full time auto-focus will help that much because of the noise from the lens during the focus. Nobody has found a good solution to it. The other nice thing is the uncompressed video output though HDMI, but that’s only for external video monitoring. Both Canon and Nikon get a full point for their video.

    I spoke with Rich, who’s at a local university in their film/video + integrated media program, said that “everybody” is buying the Canon 5DMk2 especially that the price is now just under $2,000 (Canadian). This confirms what one of the dealer was saying about the sales of the 5DMk2.

Canon is the entrenched in the video. Where does this leave us, with a slight advantage for the Canon 1Dx due to the video. Many under 5 million dollars movies will be using the new 1Dx. It’s that good, according to Mike who has seen some videos (covered by the NDA).

Canon’s major problem is the marketing problem. The 1DsMk3 is a 21 megapixels camera, and now the 1Dx is only 18 megapixels. Yes, I know, they are supposed to be better pixels. Many photographers will think twice before upgrading/downgrading… and they will take longer to decide.

Nikon doesn’t have that hurdle, the megapixels are going up, 25%. Many people especially news/sports… will want to upgrade for the ability to crop and still produce “decent” photos. Many photographers will immediately upgrade their D3s to the D4 because many customers, especially corporate, are asking for 20+ megapixels cameras! Yes, they don’t know what they are asking, but that’s their requirements. BTW, that’s one of the reasons that I had to switch to Canon a couple years ago. Some customers are still asking me today for 20+ megapixels. How will Canon handle the “downgrade”?

Will Canon and/or Nikon “screw-up” with their manufacturing/release? Canon did with the 1DMk3 in 2008 and it took too long for Canon to acknowledge/fix it, that many organizations switched to Nikon. Nikon is not pristine either, many people still have problems with their D7000 and some have switched to the Canon side.

So which camera? A Canon 1Dx or a Nikon D4? Which is better? It’s pretty much a draw. The bigger winner is Nikon because “they are going up” from 12 megapixels to 16, looks better.

Switching makes no sense, the costs are not only the cameras, but all the accessories like flashes, lenses… I have around 10 times more invested in the “everything else” than the bodies (bought full price as soon as they were released.) Look at the lens line-up. Nikon clearly dominates the wide angle spectrum and Canon clearly dominates the tele spectrum.

My predictions are:

  • More people will write and argue about these cameras than people will buy either the Nikon’s D4 or Canon’s 1Dx. There’s already blood on the floor on the various forums where people argue and “insult” each other about which camera is better, especially by people that haven’t see, touched or used either camera1.

    I have already seen some “idiot” who claims that Canon has a better resolution with 18 megapixels than Nikon’s 16 megapixels. In this range, nobody can make the difference between the 2 resolutions. Can you believe anything else from that person? * More meaning-less comparisons on my ISO is better under fluorescent light than your ISO in the cold under tungsten light. When was the last time that somebody compared cars by comparing the tires of the cars? * In a year down the road, both cameras, the Canon 1Dx and the Nikon D4 will be selling well and everybody will be asking about the new rumored Canon 1DxMk2 and about the just around the corner Nikon D4x and most importantly when will the improved Nikon D4s be announced, because it will include an iPhone/Android (what will you do when you are taking photos and the camera/iPhone rings?) * These cameras are not the high volume cameras.

  1. If Canon or Nikon wants to bribe me with a system for long term testing, I’m available.