Canon D20 verses Nikon D40

Canon   Nikon

Neither of these digital SLRs are the top of the line or new models from either manufacturer; but I own one of each, and both are considered to be extremely good pro-sumer models.

With a DSLR, like an SLR, the quality of images you take will depend on the lens and skill of the photographer every bit as much as the equipment.

I’ve be interested in photography since I was a teen; and to be honest, I’m a technically great photographer, but I’m not a great photographer.  Or as I tell my friends, I’ve taken millions of technically perfect photographs in my years; and I have one or two that are actually good photographs.

What’s my criteria for comparison?

That’s easy.

I think you need to consider…

Price; that’s not easy with these two — in the years since I bought the D20 this technology costs significantly less — and even purchasing the 20D refurbished it will set you back substantially more than a D40 (you really have to go with a Rebel XSi or XTi or XS to be at a comparable price point, and those have plastic bodies like the D40 but more resolution than even the D20).

Construction; here there’s no comparison, while there’s nothing technically wrong with the D40, the 20D is solid, the magnesium alloy makes the plastic D40 body look like a joke.  And of course the additional weight of the 20D makes it handle like a “real” SLR, the D40 is so light that it has a bizarre center of gravity with even the lightest of lens attached.

Controls; both cameras are made by a camera company, so they act like cameras and you’ll be able to control them much like you can any SLR.  You might find the controls a little different than an SLR, but both companies have made an effort to make the cameras similar in many ways to their comparable SLR lines.

Ease of use; though rather than call it ease of use we should probably define this as straight forward controls that don’t require inordinate steps to do useful tasks; here the two are fairly similar, though I’ll have to say Nikon’s inclusion of “editing” features seems like a total waste, and serve only to clutter the menu.

Available accessories; both have an incredible range of accessories you can purchase for them, but I’ll have to say that in general the Nikon accessories will cost less than Canon.  Third party accessories for both are, of course, substantially less expensive.

Lens; again, both Nikon and Canon have an incredible range of lens for their cameras.  Nikon has, unfortunately for those of use who own an F series film camera, changed their lens (AF).  Third party lens for both are, of course, substantially less expensive — and you can argue the quality.

Raw imaging; both have raw imaging.  And both cameras offer

Image quality; both have impressive quality.  The 20D has more resolution than the D40 (you can get higher resolution Nikon models for about the same price, but the D40 is considered to have one of the best CCDs, and of course has a very attractive price).  The real difference for me in the image quality is I think the Canon has a more accurate rendering of color and detail (now you’re going to find people who say the exact opposite, in fact I was looking at a comparison between a Nikon and Canon model and the person was saying the Nikon was better, but in my mind 90% of the images looked like the Canon was better).  The bottom line of this is it’s going to depend on what you like individually — there’s no right answer, both of these cameras do an incredible job, and it’s DIGITAL, so you can apply some corrections with your favorite photo editing software.

Which is better… well, I’d give the Canon 20D that vote, which is interesting since I’ve used a Nikon F4 for years.

Whether you choose a Canon D20, a Canon Digital Rebel XSi,  Canon Digital Rebel XTi, Canon Digital Rebel XS, or a Nikon D40 you’ll be getting a quality photographic instrument made by camera company that will be a good general replacement for a SLR.  While all these DSLRs offer “point-and-shoot” modes, it really only makes sense to buy one if you’re a little more serious about photography.  As I said before, it’s also going to depend on the lens, accessories, and operator skill what kind of results you see.

For pricing and availability, you can check the price search engines on my side bar.  One word of caution when buying photographic equipment online; try and deal with a reputable company and avoid the headaches.  Also be mindful of grey market items and understand what you’re buying.  NOTE:  There’s no real issue with buying a grey market item (item that was not intended for US sale), but you should be aware of what you’re getting before you get it.

Originally posted 2009-02-26 01:00:22.