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camera recommendation - Canon EOS 550D vs Nikon D3100

jacksonpt

Turbo Monkey
Jul 22, 2002
6,764
0
Vestal, NY
I'm a typical weekend shooter, looking to buy my first DSLR. I've got your standard P&S for convenience, but I'd like a better camera for things like my kids' sporting events, trips, macros (nature, fish tank...), whatever... but also for times when I want to have more control over settings, or get creative with a shot.

So, assuming similar quality lenses, is one better suited for me than the other? On paper the Canon seems like a better body, but for someone like me, will I notice the differences enough to warrant the extra $150?

dpreview.com (where I've done most of my reading) seems to like canon stuff better than nikon. The canon got their gold award, but they have yet to do a full review of the D3100.

I guess what I'm really wondering is how much things like resolution, sensor size, and pixel density really matter to someone like me.
 

narlus

Eastcoast Softcore
Staff member
Nov 7, 2001
24,658
25
behind the viewfinder
i am not familiar w/ those models, but for the most part across their lines, both Nikon and Canon offer very good products. dpreview is the best place to go for head-to-head comparisons, and if the D3100 isn't reviewed yet look for the model it's replacing for a basis of comparison, keeping in mind the spec inprovements Nikon is touting.
 

NorseManiac

Monkey
Mar 15, 2006
492
0
The North Shore, MA
They are pretty close to each other. I am a nikon owner and feel like Canon is a step ahead of nikon. D90 would be a good camera too, you wouldnt grow out of it so fast. Price on the 90 might come down with the d7000 about to be released.
 

bean

Turbo Monkey
Feb 16, 2004
1,338
0
Boulder
They're close enough to each other that it probably doesn't matter. Canon currently has the edge in video. Nikon has an edge in other areas.

Go to a camera shop and hold them both. Try adjusting some settings and so forth.

And if you at all anticipate buying other accessories, look at what's available in the two systems. From what I hear, Nikon tends to have better consumer grade lenses. Canon has some great F4 pro lenses. And then they've both got their high end pro lenses that roughly equal.

I have a Nikon D200, and I've used a friend's Canon 5DII that is also quite nice. It's hard to go wrong with either, really.
 

Quo Fan

don't make me kick your ass
Canon and Nikon are always one-upping the other, so therefore you can't go wrong with either one. Get yourself to a real camera store, and spend some time holding each one. What feels good in your hands, can you navigate the menus efficiently, intuitively? These are questions only you can answer. Also remember, you aren't just buying a body, you are buying into a lens system. Bodies devalue quickly, but good glass retains it's value much longer.

Pro level glass from Canon and Nikon are on par with each other. I'm not sure about the consumer side.
 

Polandspring88

Superman
Mar 31, 2004
3,075
0
Broomfield, CO
Canon and Nikon are always one-upping the other, so therefore you can't go wrong with either one. Get yourself to a real camera store, and spend some time holding each one. What feels good in your hands, can you navigate the menus efficiently, intuitively? These are questions only you can answer. Also remember, you aren't just buying a body, you are buying into a lens system. Bodies devalue quickly, but good glass retains it's value much longer.

Pro level glass from Canon and Nikon are on par with each other. I'm not sure about the consumer side.
:stupid:

Canon and Nikon have a very different in-hand feeling. Pick up both and you will notice the difference.

One thing to keep in mind, if you are looking to purchase additional lenses, the 3100 does not have its own AF motor, so it will be unable to autofocus with some lenses. Not sure about the 550D though...
 

dante

Unabomber
Feb 13, 2004
8,815
8
looking for classic NE singletrack
:stupid:

Canon and Nikon have a very different in-hand feeling. Pick up both and you will notice the difference.

One thing to keep in mind, if you are looking to purchase additional lenses, the 3100 does not have its own AF motor, so it will be unable to autofocus with some lenses. Not sure about the 550D though...
All Canon bodies will focus with EF and EF-S (for crop bodies) lenses. Nikon is currently going through a shift where it goes from the AF motor in the body to an AF motor in the lens, so some of the older glass (particularly prime lenses and 3rd party lenses) won't autofocus. This is less of a problem as it was 3-4 years ago, as most new lenses that are coming out are AF-S (ie, motor in the lens), but it still means that there are a *lot* of old lenses out there that are now incompatible. It was easily the deciding factor for me to not even look at Nikons when I bought my Canon XTi (400d), as the Nikon equivalent lenses that I've used (Tamron 17-50mm 2.8, Canon 50mm 1.8, Canon 100mm 2.0) would not have worked with the lower-end bodies.

This link has a lineup of all of the Nikon lenses, and which ones work (AF-S) with the 3100, and which ones don't (AF).

http://www.nikonusa.com/Find-Your-Nikon/Camera-Lenses/index.page

edit: I was also going to say, for me the lenses are FAR more important than the body. Various features on the body allow you to get the shot (autofocusing points, low-light capabilities, etc), but it's the glass in front that's going to determine what the picture actually looks like. Don't cheap out on the lens...
 
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jacksonpt

Turbo Monkey
Jul 22, 2002
6,764
0
Vestal, NY
Thanks everyone. I ended up going with the nikon. Both cameras were pretty similar - I liked the feel of the cannon a bit better, but the nikon seemed better balanced/weighted, the nikon seemed easier to use (buttons, menus, etc), but the cannon had the edge in specifications... The price ended up being the deciding factor... the cannon would have ended up being about $250 more.
 
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