Originally I was looking at super-zoom cameras. The only problem was that no matter how great the spec, the sensors are always so tiny they kick up too much noise (especially Panasonics). The only manufacturer who gets anywhere close to a reasonable picture at anything other than ISO100 is Fuji. Why, I wondered, didn’t anyone make a super-zoom camera but use an APS-C sized sensor? Surely to goodness it would be a winning combination. Then, a while ago, Sony brought out the DSC-R1 with a fantastic Carl Zeiss 24-120 (eqiv.) lens, but apart from the very good lens, the rest didn’t quite add up – and it was pricey. So I deferred, but started looking at D-SLR’s, weighing up the options. Also, at the time I didn’t have enough money and felt I’d rather not have a camera for now than have something cheaper that annoyed me. Then, completely randomly, someone gave me a gift and I squirrelled it away for an appropriate time.
In entry level D-SLR land the obvious choice is the Canon 400D. It’s got a great feature set and award winning picture quality and I was tempted, though it was still a bit much. When the 10MP Nikon D40x came out (hot on the heels of the 6MP D40) it was obviously a direct challenger, on features, quality and price. So why did I choose the Nikon over the Canon?
Firstly, both are amazing cameras and I would have been happy with either. I’m not playing a fan-boy tribal pro/anti game here. But if you’ve read this far and are interested in the reasons for my choice, here they are…
Build quality, handling and ergonomics – reviewers seem to prefer it to the Canon
Good auto focus (in spite of only being a 3 area system)
Excellent metering, generally regarded as slightly better than the Canon and includes spot metering which is missing from the Canon.
Punchy shutter response with one of the shortest blackout times of any D-SLR in this class.
Comparable picture quality to the Canon.
Much better ‘kit’ lens than the Canon.
– no focus motor in the body, so it only focuses with AF-S lenses which have a SW motor in the lens, ruling out older lenses. Not a problem for me as I don’t have legacy lenses. There are already some very highly rated AF-S lenses, and I suspect that this is now Nikon’s standard. Also, the AF-S system is reported to produce quicker and more accurate focusing.
– no bracketing. Hmmm, would have been nice, but if I really need to bracket I guess I can always shoot RAW and post process, though I may need to fork out for the excellent Nikon Capture NX software to make the most of this.
– RAW + JPEG shooting only gives you a basic quality JPEG. I suppose if you’ve got a RAW file why do you need a high quality JPEG?
– no depth of field preview. We shall have to see how we get on with(out) this. I reckon 99.99% of the time wise aperture selection should win out.
The final nudge came (after having done the right thing by discussing it with Diana first!) with Nikon’s 90th Anniversary £60 cashback scheme which brought the price down to £399.
I’ve not taken it out for much of a run yet (too busy), but hope to over the next few days. I’ll let you know how it goes.