Why I’ve come to the conclusion that Nikon are better than Canon.

First off, let me state that this is a very specific blog. I am not claiming that Nikon are better than Canon full stop, merely that for certain applications Nikon have the edge over Canon. I’ll do my best to avoid too much techno-speak in the next few paragraphs, and aim for my mum to be able to understand the difference…

I photograph weddings in low light and mostly without flash, because of this I need the best low light performance I can get.  Coupled with this I need good focus in low light.  The low light performance of Nikon is better than Canon.

Nikon and Canon approach the problem of noise – the nasty grains you get on digital camera images taken in low light – very differently. There are two types of noise: small, fine grains (luminance) and colour smudges (chromatic). A picture illustrates it best…

(thanks to cambridgeincolour.com for the images made into the diagram)

Canon squash all the pixels to make the noise less visible, and do a very good job.  Nikon instead focus mostly on chromatic noise.  The result is that Nikon images are clear of chromatic noise even at very high ISO settings  – shooting in very low light. At the same settings Canon images will have more visible chromatic noise than Nikon ones. (There is some variance between cameras it should be noted.) Secondly, Canon prefer having more megapixels in their cameras – the opposing Canon and Nikon ‘wedding’ cameras have 24MP and 12MP respectively. More megapixels = more noise.  So in short Nikon come out quite visibly on top for low light shooting.

Secondly Nikon have a more advanced auto-focus system in their cameras than Canon – the top end sports photography models aside. A Canon 5D MkII has 9 autofocus points, a Nikon D700 has 51, more complex ones. That means that Nikon will focus faster and more accurately. The difference depends on the lens, and won’t be noticable until you dim the lights, but it’s then that you really need good autofocus.

For the above two reasons I have decided to switch from Canon to Nikon. Generally considered a very expensive thing to do, it’s not at all bad for me as a large proportion of my kit is second hand and holds its value.  So I’ll be switching.  I’ll aim to get a Nikon D700, will let you know how it goes.

(photos courtesy of Digital Photographer Review)

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