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Thread: Nikon D40 versus Canon 450D

  1. #1

    Nikon D40 versus Canon 450D

    Hello,

    Thanks for the amazing information on this site! Really was able to understand a lot of things. Great information, short and to the point!!

    Now just had a few queries!

    I am a regular point and shoot (Sony) user. I have to admit the camera is really bad in the sense that most of the settings are auto and although the lcd shows the images great, when you download them to the PC, they are really dull. I use photoshop to enhance the colors etc. Having said that, due to my growing passion towards photography (mainly People, protraits, indoors, low light etc), I was looking to buy my first DSLR which in a way would be used to learn photography also. After a lot of research, I have zeroed down to these two cameras. The Nikon D40(6mp) and the Canon 450d(12.5mp). So wanted to know your opinion on the same.

    1. I know Mp does not matter much, escpecially if one is developing small size prints. But yes cost is a factor and the D40 is much cheaper. Also, many users like Ken rockwell advice that as the camera to buy compared to any other. But I wanted to know your experience and probably user your expertize on this. I am not yet technically up there as far as photography is concerned so hopefully some of the gurus over here could provide a better reason to buy the right DSLR. As off now, based on reviews, I am bending more towards the Nikon D40.

    Please help!!

    Thanks,
    Sun.

  2. #2

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    Re: Nikon D40 versus Canon 450D

    Hi Sun,

    Welcome to the forums

    Upfront, I'm a Canon shooter - so I can't tell you much about Nikon - but can help you with a fair range of Canon issues.

    Often the big "Canon -v- Nikon" question polarises people, but I think the reality is that both camps have (for all intents and purposes) equivalent models. Some suggest that you shoot with both and see which you prefer - but even then it's really just a case of whatever you get used to; the terminology and ergonomics may vary a bit, but at the end of the day neither camp is so short-sighted as to produce a product thats difficult to use whe there's an easier way. In other words there's no "right or wrong" - there is however one awefully big overlap between the 2 companies.

    With regards to mega-pixels, the world has definately gone a bit overboard in my opinion. I now shoot with a 21MP camera (Canon 1Ds3) but the canvas prints I produce (44" x 22") don't really look much different to the ones I shot with my 8MP 20D. Perhaps the most significant advantage of higher MP cameras is that that you can crop a scene more agressively and still have a final image at an acceptable resolution (something that's sometimes necessary to remove vignetting when working with stacked filters).

    If you're just starting out, don't blow all your budget on the camera - you'll eventually end up purchasing several lenses as well. At the end of the day, you'll get a better image from a good lens on a budget camera than you will with a budget lens on an expensive camera.

    With regards to cameras, I can't comment on the Nikon as I don't know it - the Canon 450D however may or may not give you the "best bang for your bucks". Canon make essentially 3 ranges of SLR cameras - the entry level range are small & light and are certainly capable of taking a great image, but there are other aspects of their design that may or may not be an issue for you such as the controls used for changing settings and the overall size of the unit. A common observation is that they're a good size for women, but some men find using them a bit of a challenge. The advanced amateur / pro-sumer range is - in my opinion - a better place to start. Canon's current champion (amongst crop-factor cameras) is the 50D - however - there are previous models 40D - 30D - 20D that can now be bought (even 2nd hand) that should prove to be waaaay cheaper than a new 450D - personally, that's what I'd encourage you to look at (even the "lowly" 20D still has 8MP) (have a look in my gallery at shots like Miyazu Gardens & Riwaka Rapids - both shot with a 20D - and look just fine on Canvas almost 4 feet wide). Top of the food chain is the Canon 1D series (currently 1D3 and 1Ds3) - professional gear - built like tanks, and cost about as much as one (but oh so nice to use!!!).

    For what it's worth, I purchased a 350D (2 models before the 450D) - but once I'd handled a friends 20D (with battery grip) the 350D was quickly sold (at a loss) and I too got a 20D ... and never looked back. Looking back now, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

    At this stage it won't matter too much which camp you go with - but once you get a few lenses you'll get tied in a little bit (not that that's a bad thing as at any given time both camps have models that are more than adequate).

    My final suggestion is - if you're going to compare specifications - don't get sucked in to "Model A over model B" because "Model A" has "something or other" that's 3.275% better than "Model B". I see this all the time - someone has one type of camera and they're thinking of changing it for another because the specifications of the new model appear better, whereas the reality may well be that either are more than adequate - the classics here are MP counts and high-ISO performance.

    Other than that, the only small advantage I can see for Canon is that they have a larger selection of compatible lenses - however - so long as both camps have a lens in the length you need then that too evens out.

    For what it's worth, before buying either, I'd suggest taking a look at 2nd hand 20D, 30D or 40D pricing (and no doubt some Nikon shooters will chip in here with some equivalilent Nikon models) - and leave enough in the budget for a couple of inexpensive lenses.

    Hope this helps - feel free to ask more questions as they come to mind - especially with regards to Canon gear.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 19th March 2010 at 11:00 PM.

  3. #3

    Re: Nikon D40 versus Canon 450D

    Thanks Colin for the detailed reply!

    1. To begin with - Thank you so much for all the required details regarding Canon (well Cameras in general) and what needs to be looked for rather than which brand it belongs to. I think you more or less cleared most of my questions in one shot. But I have to admit that after taking a look at the photographs taken by you, It kind of sealed the deal. I hope someday I get close to half as good as that atleast! When someone backs up statements with facts, it clears everything. Thanks!

    2. I hope to get someone on this forum to review the Nikon bit also. I was not aware about the 3 DSLR ranges that Canon had as mentioned by you, but I tried searching for the Canon 20D and that itself was working out to around $700. Now I live in Asia and in my country the 20d is way over my budget. And unlike the US, we dont have the option of buying selling second hand much. MEaning there are, but not like it is in the US (Adorama, Amazon, etc). So here once you buy the body, it kind of sticks with you for a ling time. So I have two options to either have someone get that from the US for me or settle for something cheaper.

    3. I also wanted to get some clarity on some of your points. I am 6 feet and have huge fingers. I also, use the very bad sony point and shoot which are very light and thin. Now when you are talking about small and light bodies, is that more from an aesthetics point of view or does that impact thje kind/quality of images taken? The same thing was mentioned by another pro photographer, so now I am wondering!

    4. Could you also please tell me how important is the Crop factor? The same thing was mentioned by the other person. So now I have two professional Cannon users mentioning the same thing, so I was wondering. My idea of crop was basically trimming the "whole image/or part of it in photoshop. But, I guess, here you are referring to zooming in within the image and then cropping that part. I guess, thats something I generally don't do, but I guess, as a pro, it might be a very important feature right?

    5. Finally, the basic difference between entry level that you mention is the way the menus, controls are, so is that a really big issue for the cost trade off ? Or is it just a matter of getting used to?


    Sorry for the long list of questions!!

    And I hope to get some reviews from Nikon users also!!

    Have a great new years!!

    thanks,
    Sun

  4. #4

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    Re: Nikon D40 versus Canon 450D

    Hi Sun,

    Happy new year to you too - I was up at 4:30am and out shooting this morning, but alas, nothing much of interest that I could find

    To answer some of your questions ...

    - I'm surprised that a 2nd hand 20D would be going for USD $700 - I'm in New Zealand and they go for about $700 here, and our dollar is only worth about 1/2 that of the US Dollar - so I would have expected them to go for around USD $400. Also, a new Canon 450D goes for around twice that - so I would have thought that you'd get a 2nd hand 20D for around 1/2 the cost of a new 450D. I just looked on trademe.co.nz - kind of like a NZ version of eBay - and people are listing 450D with twin lens kits for around $1500 - about $800 USD I'd guess. Unfortunately no 20D cameras, so I can't compare. Be aware that a lot of 20D cameras are being sold with the optional battery grip - and that can bump the price up a couple of hundred dollars. So you might like to dig around some more to see if you can find a better price?

    - With regards to the size of entry level cameras ... No - it's not really an image quality issue - just an ease of use thing. It's very subjective; some people love them for their small size and low weight whereas others like the feel of a bigger and more substantial camera. As I say, I started off with a 350D, but the moment I handled a 20D the 350D was put up for sale on trademe, and sold at a small loss. Personally - and I stress that this is just a personal opinion - I think of the 350D / 400D / 450D series cameras as being a bit like those space-saver spare tyres that you get with many modern cars - you know the ones that are a lot thinner and even have a smaller diameter than the regular wheels. They do the job in an emergency, but you wouldn't want to drive with one on all the time. I tend to think of the likes of the 450D as something I'd keep in the glovebox to be used "in case of emergency". The likes of the 20D / 30D / 40D / 50D are of a far more robust construction. The other nice thing about the mid and pro range is that they have a quick control dial (QCD) on the back whereas the entry level models only have buttons. Kinda like an entry-level 4 cylinder car -v- a mid range V6.

    - Crop factor. Basically, the bigger the sensor in the camera, the more it costs to build. My camera uses a full frame sensor - and when I thought I might have damaged it a few months ago I found out that it would have cost around $7000 to have it replaced! (luckily sensor and owner recovering well!). So most cameras in both the Canon and Nikon lineup use small sensors that discard a portion of the image circle if you're using a lens designed for a full frame camera (ie they "crop" the image). However, crop factor cameras typically have very high pixel densities (ie even though the sensor is a lot smaller than a full frame sensor it may well have a similar number of pixels - they just cram them in a lot tighter) and the end result (without getting in to even longer explanations) crop factor cameras give you what amounts to a narrower field of view - but - a corresponding magnification of the image, so on a 1.6x crop factor camera (typical for Canon) a 100mm lens would give you the same "zoom in" factor that you'd need a 160mm lens on a full frame camera to achieve. Think of it as a "focal length multiplier", but be aware that many purists will jump down your throat if you say that because technically the focal length doesn't change when you move it between different types of camera, but net new result is kind-of equivalent to if it did - and it makes it easier to understand if you think of it this way.

    Crop-factor camera can be a blessing - or a curse - or make no difference, depending on the lenses you have and the type of shooting that you like to do. Lets say you and I go out into the wild and photograph some distant animals - you take a 1.6x crop factor camera and a 400mm lens - I take my full frame camera, but I'll need a far more expensive 600mm lens to get the same field of view as you. So if you're a "long shooter" (one who shoots telephoto) then crop factors are a blessing. However, the price to pay is in the height and width of the field of view ... if I want to capture a scene that only just fits into view on a 16mm lens then you'll need to get a 10mm lens to be able to capture the same scene - in this regards the crop factor can work against you. 3rd example - if we both want to photograph Miss universe when she comes to visit us and you have a 50mm lens and I have an 85mm lens then the crop-factor is neither here nor there. One more thing you need to know about crop factor cameras is that Canon make a series of lenses especially for them (they won't work on full frame cameras) so - case in point - if I'm shooting a wide angle scene with a 16mm lens on a full frame camera, you would be able to use an EF-S lens that's 10mm wide at the wide end - the only big disadvantage of EF-S (ie lenses for crop-factor cameras) is that if you ever move up to full frame cameras then the lenses are useless and you have to sell them all and upgrade - so it can pay to think ahead a bit if you think you might get in to this a bit more seriously.

    Having said all that, those two images I previously referred you two were shot with a zoom lens at the 24mm end on a 1.6x crop-factor camera so, whereas it's nicer to be able to go wider - as you can see it's still possible to get good results. Many think that when it comes to shooting landscape, the wider the better and that "you can't go too wide", but the reality is you CAN go too wide - and you get to a point where even entire mountain ranges in the background are so small they fade away to nothing, and additionally, light fall off becomes a real issue. So my advice there is "no need to go overboard" (although having said that, I did have to use my 14mm lens this morning!).

    "5. Finally, the basic difference between entry level that you mention is the way the menus, controls are, so is that a really big issue for the cost trade off ? Or is it just a matter of getting used to?"

    There's no right or wrong. I would HATE to use an entry-level camera now - but then again, I'm used to pro grade stuff that's built like a brick. The reason I suggested the likes of the 20D is that I thought you'd be able to get it cheaper than a new entry-level camera, but if that isn't the case for what-ever reason then it really just comes down to ergonomics and build quality I guess. Very difficult to say what's right for you - I can only relay what it was like for me in the same situation - and for me, I wouldn't touch an entry-level camera with a barge pole - but that's not to say it's not right for you or that you wouldn't be happy with one. Sorry - probably can't help much more with that one. If you handle both I'd be surprised if you choose to stick with the entry level model, but if it's all you've ever known then you probably won't know any different.

    "And I hope to get some reviews from Nikon users also!!"

    Nah - they're all still asleep in bed - no surprises there (*** ducks for cover!!! ***)

    Better finish up now or I'll end up writing a book.

    Hope some of this helps!

    Cheers

  5. #5

    Re: Nikon D40 versus Canon 450D

    Thanks a lot Colin!

    I have to admit, by the looks of it I have a long way to go, but the information provided by you just about cleared all the doubts I have and I had no clue about the difference between entry level DSLR's compared to the Professional ones apart from the image quality and some features etc.! None of the sites googled provides information like this and thats the reason why beginners like us end up buying the wrong equipment and at the same time dont learn anything much!

    I guess, its best for me to save up and wait for a couple of months and go in for a better camera rather than making a hasty decision. I think I might be lucky that one of my cousins happens to have an older 350D which he can spare for a while till the time I can buy my own "proper" camera!

    Hopefully, I could get back to you in the future for advice on photography, cameras, lens, technical knowledge -which you are a guru at !!

    You make photography sound like a science!

    Thank you so much!

    Warm Regards,
    Sun

  6. #6

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    Re: Nikon D40 versus Canon 450D

    Hi Sun,

    Thanks for the kind words

    I think your idea of starting with a borrowed 350D is a good one - although the likes of the 450D has a bigger LCD screen, I think you'll find the general operation of it pretty much the same - so it'll give you a good "feel" for what it's like (no pun intended), as well as getting you started on a path to bigger and brighter things.

    Yes, there is a lot to learn - but one of the great joys of the internet is being able to learn from others who have already taken the same journey as you're about to begin; I made a comment just a day or two ago that success comes from thinking about what's happening - getting input from others - and from learning from your own successes and failures. It can be a lot to learn - and in fact I'm sure it's correct to say that none of us ever stop learning - but if you're keen then I'm sure you'll start getting good results in a fairly short time - especially if you post results here and get the advice and feedback from the growing number of gifted and talented people here.

    The longest journey begines with the first step - so I'd engourage you to take that step, and to not hesitate to ask for directions along the way.

    Looking forward to helping all I can.

    Cheers

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