2 weeks ago, at the beginning of January 2010, I got the great opportunity to use a Nikon D300s for 10 days. A quick clarification, last year in October 2009, I bought a Canon 7D, so by now I’m in the Canon side.

Everybody knows the specs, there are hundreds of websites with huge lists of both of them. Basically for me it’s:

  • 12 megapixels and the fantastic, CAM3500, the AF module for the Nikon D300s.
  • 18 megapixels, the blazing fast CPU and loads, gobs of customization for the Canon 7D.

My first problem, with the Nikon D300s, was the buttons. They are in a different place than the Canon 7D that I’m now used to. Duh! Of course. But for the first week, I couldn’t operate the camera from within the viewfinder and had to look to change my settings. Nothing to do with Nikon and all to do with the incompetent operator.

  1. The viewfinder: Both viewfinders are equally clear and bright, at least to my eyes. Both offer the 100% coverage. But I liked the Canon better. With a couple of settings, I can remove everything and show only the single focus point used, the rest is clear. Nothing to distract. On the Nikon D300s, you will need to physically change the focusing screen.

  2. The ISO wars: There are dozens of websites showing dumb photos of card decks, toys and the like taken by the Canon 7D and the same dumb photos of card decks, toys and the like taken by the Nikon D300s. Then they judge one vs. the others. Dumb! In real life, remember we are making photos, the “right” exposure1 will make a much bigger difference in the ISO wars. To me, the ISOs are very similar and can’t really tell the difference in real life.

  3. The Autofocus war: Nikon’s famed autofocus from the D300, D3, D3s, D3x and now the D300s vs. the new Canon. I have found both autofocus extremely successful. My opinion is that the Nikon is much simpler to use than the Canon. The Canon is much more customizable and when used “properly” I think that it may even edge Nikon’s. I will still say the Nikon is better because it so much simpler.

  4. The speed: Canon blows Nikon out of the water. Canon 7D will do a full 8 frames per second in 14 bits while the Nikon D300s will only do 1.8 frames per second in 14 bits. I had to switch back to 12 bits to get to the 6 frames per second. Canon dual CPUs make a huge difference.

  5. The megapixels: Again Canon blows Nikon out of the water. There’s a huge difference between Nikon’s 12 megapixels vs. Canon’s 18 megapixels. Canon has succeeded in compensating for the smaller photosites with much better CPU processing. Think about how much better it is for me to be able to crop, and still stay above the 12 megapixels.

  6. The customization: I find the Canon to me to be much more flexible in the customization, more buttons… but this a personal preference.

  7. The video: I’m no expert, I haven’t use the video on the Nikon. The specs looks better for the Canon 7D. But most importantly read the first words: “The video: I’m no expert.”

So who’s the best? The Canon or the Nikon? I think that in general I would give the Canon 7D an edge. In 6 month or a year, Nikon will have again leap-frogged Canon (I hope).

  • Which one to get? The Canon or the Nikon? Forget about which is better, it’s for the pixel peepers and the intellectual masturbators! Look at the lenses! What do you like? Zooms, primes, wide, tele…? Buy the camera that match them.
  • Which one to get? The Canon or the Nikon? The most important is the operator, not the camera. A good photographer will take great photos with both cameras. A lousy photographers will take bad photos with both cameras.

  1. Can you define, what’s the right exposure for a photo? For a white wedding dress? For a bright sunny day? For people walking down the street…?