Despite the availability of a variety of DSLR manufacturers, the Canon vs. Nikon debate is still going strong. Since the days of 35mm film, the two manufacturers have been close competitors. Traditionally, things seem to see-saw between the two, with each manufacturer becoming stronger for a while, before fading away to the other.
Once you, as a photographer, become tied into one system, you'll probably become fairly fanatical about it! I've been a Canon user since I was about 15, while my assistant has always used Nikons, and we can argue about the two systems until the cows come home! If I were being totally objective, though, I would say that Nikon bodies tend to be marginally tougher and better laid-out, while Canon lenses still have the edge optically.
If you're not tied into a system, the choice of cameras can seem bewildering. In this article, I'm going to take a look at two of the most popular enthusiast cameras -- the Canon 60D and the Nikon D7000. Both of these cameras are aimed at those who want to take their photography a step farther.
Which is the better buy? I'll take a look at the key points on each camera to help you make a better informed decision.
Resolution, Controls, and Body
The Canon wins hands-down on resolution, offering 18MP to Nikon's 16.2MP. However, it's unlikely that you'd even notice the difference unless you plan to regularly produce billboard-sized prints!
More importantly, there is a big difference in the bodies' construction. The Canon is made from a plastic shell (a vast departure from its predecessor, the 50D, which was made from magnesium alloy). The Nikon is made from magnesium alloy, and is certainly a far more suitable camera if you intend to shoot outside in disagreeable weather conditions. Both cameras have comfortable hand grips. But, even though the Canon is made of plastic, it's both bigger and heavier than the Nikon.
When it comes to controls, neither of the cameras is perfect. Nikon has yet again put the ISO button in a "fiddly" position, where it can't be changed while the camera is at eye-level. Nikon's "Live View" setup isn't great, either, but there are plenty of options for customization -- providing you take the time to set up the camera properly at initial purchase, and you know what you are doing!
The Canon has lost quite a few buttons featured on the 50D, and the buttons it does have now only have a single function. It does benefit from a "Q" button, which takes users into the Q menu screen, which lists the key shooting parameters. Like the Nikon, it also has several customizable buttons.
Both cameras will accept the new SDXC cards, which allow users up to 2TBs of space! However, the Nikon has two SD card slots, which is a great addition. This is particularly useful if you are shooting in different formats, or you don't want the risk of putting all your images on just one card.
HD Movie Mode
While both cameras offer an HD movie mode, only the Canon can shoot at 30fps. The Nikon is restricted to 24fps in HD mode. But the Nikon does allow autofocus during movie recording.
The Canon is by far the better camera in the LCD department. Not only does it offer the first DSLR flip-out LCD screen, but the screen has more resolution than the Nikon. It's also proportioned at 3:2, which means that it displays images at a more natural ratio.
In this department, the Nikon is king. Canon's 60D uses a now somewhat antiquated nine-point cross-type AF system, while the Nikon offers 39 AF points, with nine cross-type points. While both cameras allow the users to pick a single AF point, the Nikon also allows for nine-, 21-, and 39-point dynamic area AF.
Both cameras perform well at high ISOs, giving printable results even at ISO 6400. The Nikon, however, produces much better color rendition in JPEG format than the Canon, although both produce stunning RAW images. Both cameras have a tendency to overexpose in high-contrast situations, although it's definitely more noticeable on the Nikon by quite a large degree. This is probably because Nikons tend to run a little bright on colors, which reflects back into the problem.
In my mind, the Canon 60D just edges the Nikon D7000 because of its slightly superior image quality and less fiddly controls. For those new to DSLRs, it's an easier camera to begin using well straight out of the box. And if you're interested in making movies, the Canon has far more options.
I would, however, recommend the Nikon if you plan to work in inhospitable conditions (as it's far more solid) or are only ever going to shoot in JPEG. Otherwise, I'd recommend the Canon.