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Keryl
The time has come for me to upgrade. I currently use a 5 year old Fuji FinePix S5200 which I've learned to shoot in manual mode (not necessarily mastered) and have become more comfortable shooting *off* auto.

After much time and research, I have narrowed my purchase down to 2 models: The Nikon D5100 and the Canon EOS Rebel T2i. Both are available in a bundle package which include 18-55 mm vr lens, 55-200 mm vr lens (sorry to say I'm not sure what these #'s mean, more research!) and a bag to carry it all in. Both are in my price range with the Nikon costing $100.00 less than the Canon.

Researching has left me more than confused. The lists of pros and cons for both went on and on for-like-ever.Several responses stated that the cameras are for the most part equal and the best way to decide is to visit the camera shop and hold them both in your hands. Which *feels* better....

Other statements included: an extended battery life with the Nikon; Canon's buttons and menus are more easily understood; the Nikon produces better shots in low light; the Canon provides clearer images....

Not to create a big debate here, but, any thoughts? Should I be considering something else all together?
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DancingDolphin
When I've gone looking for a new camera, I've found pretty much what you have. These are two companies who both make good cameras... and for every camera one makes, the other makes a comparable one. It usually comes down to some small difference that tips the scale in favor of one or anther. Additionally, I think people for some reason become Canon people or Nikon people... I'm a Canon person. Good luck!
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yellodog
Which ever camera you choose you probably won't see any difference in the resulting pictures, it's just a matter of which feels better in your hands. However, no matter which one you choose you're going to tire of the kit lens pretty quickly so you might want to compare prices of other lenses that you probably will want to buy later for a lot more than the cost of the camera.
Having said that, if I didn't already have a DSLR and an investment in a load of lenses I would probably wait for the next generation of mirrorless cameras in the pipeline like the Sony Nex-7. I think we are the last generation to use oversized, noisy dinosaurs that Nikon and Canon keep pumping out.
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revenant
It's six of one and half a dozen of the other, to be honest. Nikon is reputed to have better focusing, Canon better low-light performance. The ergonomics of one may suit you better than the other's. It really is a matter of taste and practice. Try them both out, see which one feels more in keeping with your way of shooting. If that doesn't help you decide and if you're not going to invest in accessories such as additional lenses or flash units, all things being equal, buy the cheaper of the two.

How to decide on good ergonomics (by "good", I mean "good for you"): you should be able to make important changes such as aperture, exposure and ISO settings without having to take your eye off the subject.

A word on those confusing numbers:

Both cameras feature a sensor that is 1.5 x (Nikon) or 1.6 x (Canon) smaller than the capture part of a full-frame or film camera. The kit lens on both cameras covers very wide-angle to just starting at portrait focal length in what is known as the "full-frame equivalent" of 24 to 70 mm. "VR" stands for "vibration reduction" (Nikonspeak) or "IS" (Image Stabilisation in Canonspeak). This compensates - a little - for camera shake at longer exposures but does not correct subject blur (nothing does).

The numbers after "f/" stand for the maximum aperture on the lens (size of the hole through which light passes). As this is a reciprocal (i.e., a fraction), the smaller the number, the wider the hole. The smaller the f/ number, narrower the depth of field; more light passes through and you can increase the exposure (useful in low light). Inversely, the higher the f/ number (e.g. f/16), the smaller the hole, which means a very large depth of field (everything in focus), but longer exposure times because less light passes through. Note that the max aperture decreases from the wide end to the telephoto end, which is why you see "18-55 mm f/3.5 - f/5.6". At 18 mm, the max aperture is f3.5. By 55 mm, the maximum aperture is f/5.6. The kit lenses on both your options are equally slow and performance in terms of image quality from both brands' kit lenses at maximum aperture is equally poor. There's little difference between them from a beginner's point of view. To draw an analogy, "kit" lenses are rather like the ink cartridges included with a new printer; they're just enough to make it work out of the box, but you soon need new ones.

My disclaimer: I'm a Canon owner. I don't understand the difference between Nikon DX and FX lenses (some Nikon lenses won't work equally on your Nikon body). Canon has a simple philosophy: they make the widest range of lenses on the market to suit your budget and they all, without exception, work on the Canon T2i. Again, if you're not planning on buying other lenses, this factor can be ignored.

If you really can't decide on which, after-sales and warranty conditions may be the deciding factor. See which make offers the best.

I hope this helps (but I may have ended up confusing you more). People who have just forked out $$$$ for a camera tend to justify their purchase by slamming the other makes. I hope I've been fair, or at least honest. Really the best advice I can give is to try them out and find which one suits your way of thinking.

One Internet resource I strongly recommend: dpreview.com. Both your choices have been reviewed and you can compare their studio results and overall scores (there is a negligible 1% difference between them - I've just checked). The reviews can be very technical, so skip to the "conclusion" page of each review if you find yourself out of your depth when they address such arcana as "high ISO RAW capture performance".

As Ansel Adams said, "the single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it".

[Edit after Mark's comment: alas, I must disagree with my friend for the simple reason that "hybrid" (or "mirrorless interchangeable lens system") cameras like the Nex or the new Nikon V1/J1, following on from Panasonic's and Olympus' micro four-thirds format, offer a slightly smaller camera size, but the lenses are still big. There is no optical viewfinder, just the electronic clunky one or the LCD. Most importantly, none of them feature auto-focus performance comparable to a DSLR, although they are frequently more expensive than your options. If you're upgrading from your bridge, there is little point going for something more expensive with the same performance. Sorry, Mark, for now we must agree to disagree, even though I share your hope that one day big clunky cameras take the dinosaur route. It just isn't going to happen by the time Keryl buys her camera...]

[Another edit - sorry - after reading the other contributions to this thread: I am afraid I must disagree with Marjorie's praise of Nikon's high ISO performance. All things being equal (and the kit lenses offered on both are the same), Canon's ISO performance is usually better than Nikon's. This may be important if you shoot concerts and night shots, but has little incidence on daylight photography. Artbee's link goes to an article written five years ago. DSLR performance has significantly improved since then. None of the models mentioned in the article are available new.]
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SADHYA
I just scrolled down my friends' list, looking at the tech details on each person's pictures, to see who has Canon and who has Nikon. I found more Canon, although some were compacts or bridge cameras. It might help (or it might increase the confusion) to check out what your favourite posters are using.
(I'm a dedicated Canon user)
Good luck with the decision making.
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HoosierAtHeART
I have the Canon EOS Rebel T2i, and have been really happy with it. I have no complaints. A plus is that I get great HD video with it also.
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Keryl
Thank you all for your helpful responses. Friday is decision day and for sure I will be remembering what you've had to say!
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honzicek
I’m not here to compare cameras. I just like to tell you that I’m on my second Nikon.
Started with D40 now D90. No problem with any of them.
My Nikkor 18-200 VR II lens had a focusing problem when it was one year old and Nikon fixed it very well and quickly.
I have five friends with Nikon cameras from D40, D3000, D3100, D5100 to D90.
I also have one friend with Canon.
No one had any problems with any of their cameras.
There is one important thing to know and that is that some cameras like my D90 have a motor to drive the lenses in the camera body.
Some cameras need to have lenses with a motor in the lens to be able to autofocus.
For example I can use my Macro Sigma lens with no motor in it and it will autofocus, but my friend with his new Nikon D3100 using the same lens need to focus manually.
Good luck with your decision.
You will do well.
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afography
get urself a eos 60D + some decent lenses.. learn how to really use it.. stick with it where ever you go.. u'll be amaze with ur shoots.. anyhow its juz a tool.. have fun doing it n dont worry much technicalities.. have fun.. than have more fun doing it..
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Jarvo
Here's another thing to think about: software. When my last camera broke (Canon 400D) my son tried to convince me to convert to Nikon; he leant me his D80. It was a very nice camera, and I might have been persuaded to switch, but for two things. One of them was the lens-obselesce thing as I already had a small collection of Canon lenses the other was the ease of use of the accompanying software. Canon Digital Professional seemed an absolute breeze to use in comparison with the Nikon software. Of course it may have just been a matter of familiarity and it might not be an issue for you if you have other software that you plan to use, but for me the ugly-clunkiness of the Nikon software was a real deal breaker.
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revenant
Nikon lenses: thanks to honzicek for clearing this up for me.

Third-party lenses: Tamron, Tokina, Sigma and other makes such as Zeiss and Samyang all offer alternatives to the main brands. They usually market models compatible with Nikon and Canon mounts first, followed by versions for Sony, Olympus, Pentax, etc., afterwards. If you buy the Nikon, you'll have to make sure about the lens' limitations, as explained by honzicek. If you buy the Canon, the dedicated version will have full AF (where applicable; Zeiss lenses are MF) and TTL metering.

Software compatibility: I'm grateful to Jon for the point about software. Nikon cameras ship with a basic version of their capture software. The full version is rather expensive and must be purchased separately. Canon's DPP software and other utilities are shipped as their full versions with their cameras at no charge. I've never used it to be honest (except for remote / tethered capture straight into LR). The good news for Keryl is that both her choices have been around for the better part of a year, which means that plug-ins, codecs and updates for the standard image-editing software (PS, LR, etc.) are available and usually at no charge.
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yellodog
@Stëfan Just for the record and just for sake of a flame war worthy of a Canon vs. Nikon thread: The viewfinder of the Nex-7 hasn't been called "clunky" by any of the reviewers I've read or listened to, in fact apart from it being indistinguishable from an optical viewfinder it also supports "focus peaking" and magnification and Sony claims at least that the AF lag is 0.02s seconds which makes it one of the fastest system cameras available. It has the same 24 Mpixel sensor as the pro-grade A77 and can shoot 10 24 Mp RAW pictures a second. It's planned for release the 7th November at a store close to you. Of course it costs substantially more than Keryl is prepared to pay but it's still the first real game changer and a portent of the future of system cameras. N.B. I am not in anyway affiliated with Sony ;)
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revenant
@ Mark: fair enough. These are all great features on paper and I'm sure future cameras will not have bulky mirror systems (Sony leads the way in this). Unfortunately, all the small form factor cameras tend to be smaller than DSLRs, which means more fiddly. You can shrink the camera, but you can't shrink people's hands or fingers. Also, when you look at the dinky Nikon J1/V1 for example (which are in fact larger than most of their market peers), they are dwarfed by the huge 10-100 mm lens. Most decent lenses, zooms especially, require several sets of optical components that take up space. The small form factor is a non-argument in practice, I have found, i.e., a marketing gimmick. The only interesting alternative at present, as I understand it, is the Lytro, but the optics and overall performance leave much to be desired. And all electronic viewfinders, no matter how good, suffer from "tearing" in bright/constrasty conditions. None of them can display as much information as the human eye.

Returning slightly charred to this thread, I suggest that one argument in favour of one or other of Keryl's two choices is the relative size and coverage of the optical viewfinder. Look through each camera's viewfinder with the lens at approx. 30 mm (which is more or less what the eye sees). Which one shows you more compared to the live view image displayed on the LCD and with your eye?

One of the unpleasant surprises of moving from film to digital SLRs is that the viewfinder tends to be smaller and displays less than the actual image captured by the sensor. A small, poky viewfinder (Olympus e-xxx DSLRs were notorious for this) makes manual focusing a very hit-and-miss affair. If you use a manual focus or macro lens, you're better off with the live view function available on both cameras.
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lismel
I am a Nikon person. But I may have been a Canon person if my first camera had been a Canon. Like it was already said, the differences are not that significant between the two brands. The advice to go to the store to 'feel' which camera you are more comfortable with is an excellent one as they are done differently (the buttons and so are placed differently).

About the night photography, this is something I love and that I do quite a lot. With Nikon, I never had any problem (even if my D5000 is more limited than my friend's D700... but the prices are not the same ^^'). If this is something you like, the D5000 + the 50mm 1.4 by Nikon are a great choice, in my opinion.

My only experience of a Canon was not convincing. I took the Canon equivalent of the Nikon D5000 of a friend to tried it. She had the Canon 50mm lens on it. I was disappointed because the focus was really not precise. Even in manual, it was not easy to get what I wanted. I usually have no problem with my equipment. On the other hand, my friend was used to hers and very happy with it.

So, in the end, whichever camera you take, you will have to get used to it to make the best of it.

Good luck with that dilemma of yours ^^
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yellodog
@Stëfan I agree that the small form factor is a non argument. I'm sure all the girls here agree with us that size doesn't matter. But the lack of a mirror has enormous potential in sensitive areas like street and wildlife photography.
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ArtBee
Here are updated "Camera Reviews"
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bumpusdogs
Take this for what it's worth...

I have used both Canon and Nikon products. Having been a sports photographer for magazines and newspapers afforded me the opportunity to use both in real world settings and I can tell you from my perspective the real world differences are trivial. At their respective levels each give you the tools necessary to capture what you want.

I currently use Canon for one reason only. Durability.

I have never, ever, been disappointed in the durability of any Canon camera I have owned. I can give you a little anecdote to illustrate. I realize it isn't a test under lab conditions but it made a big impression on me.

One night back a number of years I was shooting a bsketball game in Chapel Hill for a magazine. As usual, after the game a number of us assignment photographers gathered in the press box to bitch and moan about equipment and editors.

The arena was long empty and as we sat there some staffer flew into the press box and grabbed up some papers on the counter. He also knocked my Canon and another guys Nikon out the pressbox window.

They both fell down into the bleachers and we could hear them bouncing their way through the bleachers to the floor. I still remember the horrified looks on the faces of the photographers around me.

We all rushed out and down to the are under the bleachers and what we found was interesting.

The Nikon was destroyed. Lens elements everywhere, the camera body just busted open.

My Canon? One dent at the end of the lens on the filter thread and a little ding on the corner of the battery grip. Still worked fine.

I still carry Canon equipment.

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Keryl
Durability is certainly another factor worth considering - thank you for mentioning that. I only dropped my camera once and it was as though I'd dropped a new born baby. Horrifying!

While $1,000.00 (dollars) may not be a huge investment to some, for me, it is. I take good care of my things...always replacing the lens cap and tucking my camera back into it's carry case when not in use. I want a camera that will last!
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revenant
Contrary to what some might think, $1,000 is a lot for me too... DSLRs are dust magnets. You might want to consider buying a Camera Armor for whichever model you buy. It means you have to know which buttons do what (you can't see the labels any more), but it does afford some protection, especially for the LCD.

I feel compelled to point out that Eric's story probably involved Canon's top-of-the-range telephoto "L" lenses, which are legendary for their sturdiness - and price! - and bear little relation to the kit lenses on the Canon.
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bumpusdogs
stefan is correct, it was an "L" lens, but more impressive thing to me was that the camera body came through nearly unscathed
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xabolcs
spam
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Christopherjaffe
I own a canon t3i and i love it!
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sooch
I started out on a Sony Nex 5N mirrorless camera, I still own it. It is a fantastic camera, and takes wonderful pictures. In the end I wanted a bit more control, lens options and some balance (larger lens were awkward on a little body).
When I made the switch, I was standing at the Nikon/Canon crossroads wondering which way to go. My close friend Kevin already owned a Canon T2i and I researched and researched until my eyes fell out. Blank has better specific lens, blank has better price on this, blank makes better toast on Sundays than blank. In the end I figured out what you did, what are the two cameras under both brands that are in my price range, and then I went down to the local camera store and held each camera. I like the way the D7000 felt in my hands a tiny bit better than the Canon 7D did.
That day I became a Nikon guy, since then I have invested thousands of dollars in Nikon lenses, gear and what not. In my humble opinion I could have easily became a Canon guy. They are BOTH amazing companies and BOTH make great products. My friend Kevin has gone down the Canon trail as far if not farther than I have and we talk Canon/Nikon all the time, constantly discussing the pros and cons of both. I really truly believe you can't go wrong with either, take away all my Nikon stuff and hand me a Canon, and I'll learn to shoot with that as well.

Some people like Chevy, some people like Ford, is what it boils down to. See what you like
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DigitalFish
I currently use a Nikon D3000. Which is on the lower end of the performance scale...But it's a great camera! i really like it's ease of use, excellent picture quality! and friendly user interface and on board editing features come in handy!... As for canons... I haven't owned any of their DSLR's but I have had a few of their point and shoots and they were all high quality cameras! in my opinion no matter which Brand you choose you'll be more then satisfied!
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