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Canon vs Nikon

Canon and Nikon are busy releasing new DSLRs at the moment and at first glance it’s hard to see the differences so I thought I’d do a quick round up of the main differences between the Canon 5D MkIII, Canon 6D and the Nikon D600. The 6D and D600 are in direct competition and I’ve included the 5D MKIII as it is one of the best.

         

(These images are not representative of the actual size of the cameras)

1. From the pictures you will notice that the D600 (right) has a headphone port, the Canon 5D MkIII (left) does as well but the 6D (middle) doesn’t. I don’t know anyone who records their main audio feed to a DSLR so in my opinion it’s not an important difference but if it is important to you then there you go.

2. Weight – Once you have added everything you need to add to a DSLR it can become quite heavy and cumbersome if your using it on the shoulder. The Canon 6D comes in lightest at 770g including batteries and the Canon 5D MkIII is the heaviest at 950g leaving the Nikon to sit bang in the middle at 850g. It’s not surprising that the 6D is the lightest as one of it’s main selling points is that it’s the most compact full frame DSLR on the market.

3. ISO range – The two Canons gang up on the Nikon in this one, they match each other with a range of 100-25600 where as the Nikon offers 100-6400. The Canons are impressive in low light but I’m not sure you would regularly shoot above 6400 as we hardly ever go above 800.

4. Both Canons offer manual audio level change whilst recording where as the the D600 doesn’t.

5. Once you hit record on the D600 you can’t adjust the aperture, if your shooting on the fly this is a real limitation. The two Canons have full manual control during capture.

6. Both Canons have compressed HDMI outputs which is a shame but all their models have been like this, the D600 however has a clean uncompressed HDMI output which is perfect for recording to external devices or using an HD preview monitor. For this to work the 2 SD cards must be removed from the camera or the HDMI feed is reduced to 720p.

7.  The 5D MkIII and D600 offer 100% coverage viewfinders where as the 6D offers 97%.

8.  The D600 offers 2 SD card slots so once one is full it seamlessly transfers to the other, the 5D MkIII offers a CF and an SD card slot but the 6D only offers a single SD card slot. This isn’t a deal breaker for me but it would be nice to be able to record for longer and not juggle cards.

9.  The 5D MkIII and D600 both feature a 3.2 inch LCD screen, that’s great but when you think about it, it’s actually quite annoying because your Zacuto Z-finder is no longer going to fit! The 6D however is still sticking to the ‘old fashioned’ 3 inch screen. Zacuto have released adhesive frames and frames to fit on their base plate system with prices ranging from £5 – £70.

10. The Digic 5+ processor in the 5D MkIII and 6D handles moire extremely well compared to the D600.

11. The 5D MkIII and 6D now offer two types of video compression, IPB and All I-Frame. All I-Frame compression is a huge step up from Canon’s previous models because it makes editing the footage much faster as it requires less of your systems resources. I can’t seem to find much out about the D600’s video spec but I guess that in itself shows who is taking video more seriously!

12. Canon have finally included timecode in the 5D MkIII and 6D which is great for multi-camera shoots such as concert films the D600 hasn’t.

Conclusion

I believe Canon is still very much on top of video DSLRs, the Nikon D600 has some nice features but it also has some flaws as a video camera, the locked aperture during recording for example (the more expensive D800 solves this). The 5D MkIII is about £1000 more than the other two and I think it’s hard to justify it over the 6D which I think is a fantastic sounding camera and when you include a price tag of approximately £1700 it makes it a very attractive proposition. A lot of the 5D MkIII benefits really start to matter if you are a photographer as it has a much better AF system and quicker continuous shooting mode which would be useful for sports photography. However, I’m going to have a ‘Top Gear’ moment and say if budgets could stretch I would get the Canon C100 as it is an all out video camera with the benefit of a 35mm sensor and it solves most of the above problems. I could go on for ages about Canon’s cinema camera line up but I’ll leave that for another blog.

Will

September 2012