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  1. #1
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    Canon 20D vs. Nikon D200

    I've stumbled across an opportunity to buy either one of these fine cameras. I've been lurking the Canon boards lately, been reading up on performance of Canon lenses and thought I had my heart set on a 20D. A used D200 for the same price now came to my attention.

    I don't mean to start any brand wars, and I hope this thread doesn't devolve into that. But in a soup to nuts comparison, what should be the better value?

    Background: I've been shooting with prosumers, this will be my first dSLR. I'm going to get a 50mm prime to get started and once I get familiar with the controls and the quirks, I'll be using it for nature and landscape photography.

    Thanks for your opinions.

    (I should mention that both of these are selling for generally the same price +/- $100 of each other and is the body only.)
    Last edited by SketchySmurf; 02-10-2006 at 12:04 PM.

  2. #2
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    That D200 is available about a month now, and already 2nd hand? Must not have been a very happy customer, maybe a D200 with a big (corduroy/banding) problem?

    I personally am not so impressed with the samples of the D200 till now, here and on the rest of the web, the colours seem a tad somber to me (again). I WANT to like the D200's pictures but I have not come across uneditted photos yet that have me impressed. But on paper it is a very nice camera.
    My preference would probably still go to the 20D because of its image quality and the lens lineup, but others may prefer the Nikon.

    Maybe you would like to wait till feb 21'st and the PMA, the 20D will get a successor that may be worth the wait and a bit more saving.
    Canon EOS 350D, Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 macro, Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 DC EX, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM, Tokina AT-X124 Pro 12-24mm F4, Soligor 1.7x C/D4 DG Teleconvertor, Manfrotto 724B tripod, Canon Powershot S30

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by coldrain
    Maybe you would like to wait till feb 21'st and the PMA, the 20D will get a successor that may be worth the wait and a bit more saving.
    Shhhhhhhh, you're not supposed to tell


  4. #4
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    I have a D200. I have to agree with Coldrain about one thing, for a D200 to drop in the price range of a 20D, you are either paying way too much for the 20D, or there is something wrong with the D200 (or the seller is an idiot). Of course, if you are talking about an Ebay sale, and aren't in the last half hour of the sale, then you have no idea about the final sales price.

    I've seen some excellent images coming off the D200. There is one area Coldrain and I will always disagree on, and that's color. The D200 color output is not lacking in any way. It simply is not the same as the Canon color output. I would have to post process, or adjust the camera to get the same color output as you get on a Canon. Some might say that this is then a problem, but I'd rather say, a Canon user has to post process to get my wonderful Nikon color. It's merely a matter of perspective and which you prefer.

    When I set my camera up correctly, I get color that matches what I saw directly with my own eyes. There is no "extra" punch. It is very fair. Some people don't like fair, they like punch. I would occasionally see a little punch in D70 reds, but I'm not seeing that with the D200. As I said, very fair.

    Some say the Canon's have better skin tones, but I'm not seeing that on the D200 images I'm seeing. I'm seeing one guy who has a serious white balance issue, but I don't think it's the camera. He has plenty of outdoor photos that show no color cast, but he's showing yellow/green casts on some indoor shots, mainly of kids and females. To me, it seems he has some mixed light issues that he needs to overcome, but he's in denial. (Remember, the first step to the cure is admitting you have a problem )

    Now, as to the banding issue. Nikon has spoken, if in only a limited fashion (we do, after all, live in a highly litigious society, so you have to be careful what you say). A very limited number of the early cameras had some hardware problems. This was rare, and it magnified the issue. These were not even mentioned in the Nikon message, and the hardware has been replaced.

    There were a larger limited selection of early cameras that were significantly out of tune. Nikon is fixing these cameras as they are submitted. These are the cameras that exibited long chain banding over much of or the entire image.

    It is easy for Nikon to tune the cameras so that they don't exibit this much banding. However, it is apparently very hard for them to make them perfect. It is possible, because some cameras do not show any banding under any test (so far). However, they have been successful in tuning them to the point where it is very difficult to achieve even the minor banding, and then only in very minor and very short chains. This is what they are doing with the current fix. Occasionally one comes back perfect, but I suspect that this is pure dumb luck, or all would come back perfect.

    My camera does exibit minor banding, and when I'm ready, I will send it back to see if they can make it even more minor (El Segundo is less than 40 miles away). I'm going to give it a very complete test before I do. Based on what I'm hearing, I don't expect banding to ever go away completely, and for the pixel peepers of the world, that is a life threatening issue. For the rest of us, we are happily taking pictures with a great camera, and not seeing any banding in any of our real world photos.

    I would not hesitate to recommend the D200. It's a great camera. I would urge caution if the price is inordinately low. You get what you pay for, and that deal may be a situation where you are paying for a broken camera. Remember, Nikon only offers warranty service to the original owner of cameras purchased from authorized Nikon dealers. So, if this camera has serious banding issues, then you want the original owner to send it back for you, because you would have to pay for the repair, and that might cost you any money you saved over buying one new. Nikon says the cameras coming out of the factory now will not have the "serious" banding issue, so you have to weigh what you are getting.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by coldrain
    Maybe you would like to wait till feb 21'st and the PMA, the 20D will get a successor that may be worth the wait and a bit more saving.
    I am one person who is definitely waiting until Canon's announcement to see if I will upgrade from a D70 to a D200 or a new Canon, if at all.

    Ray.

  6. #6
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    Jan 2006
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    thanks for all your posts. what you all say makes a ton of sense, and yes I'm suspicious about the price. I've emailed the seller and so far no response, but in the case that I get all the right answers, I'm still going to tote my laptop with me and take some tests before i fork over the cash.

    That being said, what prompted my question is the lens lineups. I've recently been picking up the latest issues of photo mags and I'd say 3 to 1 there's always more coverage of the performace of canon lenses. Not that I'm swayed very much by ads, but Canon has one where there's a line of sports photographers on the sideline all with white L lenses and while of course its a biased shot, you can't help but say to yourself "these guys do have a point..."

    the color issue between the two models (canon with more pop and nikon being more representative) is a tough one for me to decide...I have noticed the difference and to be honest, I'm not sure what I would rather prefer...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SketchySmurf
    thanks for all your posts. what you all say makes a ton of sense, and yes I'm suspicious about the price. I've emailed the seller and so far no response, but in the case that I get all the right answers, I'm still going to tote my laptop with me and take some tests before i fork over the cash.

    That being said, what prompted my question is the lens lineups. I've recently been picking up the latest issues of photo mags and I'd say 3 to 1 there's always more coverage of the performace of canon lenses. Not that I'm swayed very much by ads, but Canon has one where there's a line of sports photographers on the sideline all with white L lenses and while of course its a biased shot, you can't help but say to yourself "these guys do have a point..."
    How much are you looking at spending. If you are concerned about the price diff between D200 and 20D, then I wouldn't be too concerned about who's long glass is more popular with the pros. A lot of those guys are using the 600mm f4L (or the 300 and 400 equivalents), which runs about $7000. The same thing in a Nikon costs $9000, which may explain some of why they buy Canon. OTOH, it's probably a marketing trend, where Canon beat Nikon the punch. That sort of thing can be a many years trend. Also, while Nikon lenses are marketed in black, you can get the long lenses in white. White is cooler, so you don't get problems with heat buildup in the lens. Of course, you may be seeing the Canon 1200, which apparently doesn't even make the Canon site. For that one, if you have a brand new Porsche, they might take it in trade, straight up. Bottom line, look at the lenses that you can realistically afford in the foreseeable future, and what types of lenses you want for the things you want to shoot. If you are a wide angle junkie, Nikon is stronger on that end. If you are a telephoto junkie, Canon has the lead there.

    Quote Originally Posted by SketchySmurf
    the color issue between the two models (canon with more pop and nikon being more representative) is a tough one for me to decide...I have noticed the difference and to be honest, I'm not sure what I would rather prefer...
    Don't take the color issue too seriously. There was a challenge done, years ago, where Carver said they could make their M1.0 amp (about $250) sound just like a $4000 McIntosh, or other high end amp. One of the leading Sound rags supervised the challenge, and McIntosh accepted. The result was that McIntosh had to accept that Carver largely succeeded. Asked why they didn't make it sound like that all the time, they said they preferred their own sound.

    Too a large degree, the same thing applies to these cameras. I can pick a different color space and set the camera for more vivid colors, and I suppose I can reasonably match the Canon colors. I believe a real expert could do so for sure, just as I believe you can do the same with a Canon camera.

    There is a different look to the photos that I'm not sure can be matched. Canon images look more "polished?" (is that a fair word) where Nikon's photos have a more raw, film like quality. It's hard to describe, and I'm struggling with the words here, but this is one part of the image that I just don't believe you can mimic between cameras, and it's probably the biggest root difference between the cameras. I think this is really at the root of the noise issue. Nikon's not willing to give up the look they want from their images for the sake of controlling noise. Canon's position gives much more weight to noise control, but controlling noise does have an impact on how an image appears. You've heard the word "plasticky" perhaps, but I don't like that word because it's too loaded. Polished seems to fit. As Canon polishes away the noise, there is an appearance that is purely Canon. If that is what you want in your images, then you really should buy a Canon, because you won't get that in a Nikon. You might be able to do it in Photoshop, but that seems like a lot of work when you can just buy the right tool in the first place. If you prefer, as I do, the look of a Nikon image, then perhaps you should look there. If you've not considered this, and are only looking at camera features, then I frankly don't know what to tell you, and you may end up with a camera that disappoints or makes you happy, whichever one you end up choosing.

  8. #8
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    Canon does not pollish noise away, and you should know that. Nikon does more pocessing that Canon (well, in teh D50/D70) and if a Canon performs well in the noise area it is because the sensor just does well. I really do not understand why you think Nikon looks more "raw" and why you think Canon does much more noise reduction. It is plain bull (pardon my french).

    The reason teh D70 (your past arguement) showed more detail is because of harsh porcessing in camera, and that is well documented and well known.
    The D200 on the other hand looks to be "soft" compared to the D70, in fact it is really hard to tell the 20D and D200 apart in that area. DSLRs with these RGGB sensors just are soft by nature, and not because of "antialiasing bull" or "noise reduction". Trying to guess the colour from surrounding pixels just does not make the sharpest photos in the world (look at how soft the top DSLRs(D2X, 1Ds MK II) look, they apply (almost?) no sharpening and noise reduction, the difference between the 1Ds MK II and the 5D is very interesting in this area.

    Also you seem to think the D200 is very dynamic (past posts). It does not look very dynamic to me, not more than we are used to with the D70s/350D/7D cameras anyway. If you want to see a better dynamic range, the CMOS sensors of Canon are a little bit better in that respect (the 5D is a most impressive camera in that respect).

    Fact is, the D200 is a very complete and robust camera, and is a good buy for anyone. Do not think I do not agree with that. But, besides its build quality, to me it is not something that really stands out (image quality wise), it is just what it is, a good camera.
    Canon EOS 350D, Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 macro, Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 DC EX, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM, Tokina AT-X124 Pro 12-24mm F4, Soligor 1.7x C/D4 DG Teleconvertor, Manfrotto 724B tripod, Canon Powershot S30

  9. #9
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    Honestly, I'd get a D70s or 350/XT and some nice glass instead of a shiny new expensive body, unless you can't live without the extra features or resolution that the higher-end bodies provide.

    Like previously mentioned, someone is way off the mark in the price of the 20D or D200 for them to be close. A "used" D200 should still fetch USD$1,700, unless the seller is a moron or just doesn't care.
    Jason
    http://www.jmodzikphoto.com
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    D200 - Tokina 12-24 - Sigma 30/1.4 - 50/1.8 - 55/3.5 Ai Micro w/PK-13 - 70-300 VR - SB-600 - Gitzo GT2530 + Markins M10

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason25
    Honestly, I'd get a D70s or 350/XT and some nice glass instead of a shiny new expensive body, unless you can't live without the extra features or resolution that the higher-end bodies provide.
    What, and not satisfy my techno-envy?

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