BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Debbie D. 

Nikon Vs. Cannon

I am newly into photagraphy. I have been using my grandfathers fully manual Minolta x-370 with a 35-75 zoom f3.5-4.8 lens. I was happy with the qualty of my pictures, but it was old and broke. Most of my pictures of of my two children, but I foolishly strive for studio quality pictures with a swivel head flash and natural light. My budget and knoweldge is very limited. I'm looking for a replacment camera but would like more information on which brands are best and why?

To love this question, log in above
5/6/2005 9:02:01 PM

Kerry L. Walker   I notice you are asking whether to go Nikon or Canon, both of which are excellent camera lines, but I think you are overlooking a really great choice that will be less expensive. Why not look into buying another Minolta? Minolta lenses are second to none. Adorama has a used X-700, in excellent shape, for $154.00 right now. I have an X-700 and I can assure you it is a really good camera (and it is even older than your X370). Your current lens and flash will work perfectly with it.
Don't foolishly STRIVE for studio quality portraits. Do it! After all, Monte Zucker (THE name in portrait and wedding photography) was once a novice.

To love this comment, log in above
5/7/2005 7:20:14 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  I'm saddened to hear that your Minolta is "old and broke". I know the feeling,...(so am I!). :(

I have to disagree with Kerry, in that I think that Nikon and Canon lenses are both a step up from Minolta.
For decades, Nikon lenses have been renown for their sharpness and clarity, and Canon has been keeping pace with them. Both have been active in improving the quality of their lenses and accessories, and creating new technologies to make their products a little less expensive and user-friendly in what is a highly competitive market.
Functional film camera bodies are available from most of the major brands but it's the lens that will produce the quality of photos you seek.

If I were forced to choose my order of preference within that price range, I would choose Nikon/Nikkor, then Canon, then Pentax,...(especially their old manual-focus Takumar lenses which were tack-sharp),...then Minolta.

To love this comment, log in above
5/7/2005 4:14:25 PM

Kerry L. Walker   How dare you disagree with me. My advisee is jist lik mi spalling - purfekt.

To love this comment, log in above
5/7/2005 6:14:59 PM

Kerry L. Walker   I understand Bob's empathy for the old and broke camera. Same here. For a more serious response to Bob's take on the lenses - referring only to 35mm, which leaves out some great Rollei lenses, etc.

My understanding, from everything I have read about lens quality, would put the list like this: Leica (costs a small fortune), Zeiss (only a slightly smaller fortune), followed by NikonCanonPentaxMinolta as a group. (I am leaving out Olymous since they long ago dropped the OM line of cameras, which I really liked.) I once read a study whereby a photographer took the same picture with lenses from each of thes 4 manufacturers and asked people to identify which picture was taken with which camera. They couldn't. Now, having said that, you need to understand that Nikon and Canon do have the broadest lens lines. From my understanding, Nikon has an advantage in the shorter end and Canon has an advantage on the longer end. They both have a huge assortment of lenses, larger than anyone else. You also need to understand that all 4 manufacturers now make some very cheap lenses (price and quality). Such is the way things go in search of a share of the consumer market. However, if you spend the money, you can get excellent glass from any of these manufacturers, and you won't have to spend a small fortune like you would buying Leica glass.

To love this comment, log in above
5/9/2005 9:52:06 AM

Kevin Ekstrom
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/20/2005
  A simple question deserves a simple answer.
Nikon and Canon are top notch.
Canon always seems to charge a few dollars more for thier gear. If moneys an issue go with Nikon. You'll save a few bucks.

To love this comment, log in above
5/20/2005 11:20:25 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
You left out Schneider-Kreuznach. I don't believe they make any 35mm glass any more (and don't believe they have for quite some time). Rollei has had a long-standing relationship with both Carl Zeiss and Schneider and both still make glass for the Rollei MF SLR's.

One is very hard-pressed to tell the difference in photographs from the Rollei TLR's . . . most models of which were available with Zeiss or Schneider glass. Last 35mm I knew of was in the 1970's when they made the Xenar briefly for the Rollei 35 (in place of the Carl Zeiss Tessar which was manufactured by Rollei under license from Zeiss). Users of those are very hard pressed to tell between the 40/3.5 Tessar and 40/3.5 Xenar as well.

And just to be contrary about it, I'd list Carl Zeiss first and perhaps Ernst Leitz (Leica) or Schneider second.

All three are phenomenal lens makers . . . the priorities in their various designs are a little different without losing any sight of the basics . . . each formulation has its own character.

All the others mentioned (Canon, Minolta, Nikon and Pentax) have some great glass . . . but with some few exceptions (both ways) you get what you pay for.

All of them are now making some bottom of the barrel dogs . . . most notably the mid-range zooms bundled with their consumer camera bodies. I was shocked they allowed their good names on them when I first saw them. It's been competition from the bottom of the barrel dirt cheap 3rd Party lens makers . . . pure business . . . better to sell a dog lens and generate more revenue than to be a snobby purist that sells only good stuff and lose the revenue to those who shop purely by price point (and complete disregard for quality). It's worth reading not just one review, but several and poking around for whatever testing can be found . . . hopefully from multiple sources . . . before buying a specific lens.

-- John Lind

To love this comment, log in above
5/23/2005 7:38:35 PM

Kerry L. Walker   The only reason I left out Schneider was because of the lack of glass for 35mm. As for which is better, Zeiss or Leitz, it's like asking which is better, Rolls or Bentley. What difference does it make? They are both better than the competition. I'll take either. BTW, it's sad that Contax is exiting the market. Maybe the Germans will take the name back and build a great camera to carry that Zeiss glass.

To love this comment, log in above
5/23/2005 7:57:57 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001

Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen is resurrecting the Zeiss-Ikon name again. The Zeiss Stiftung (parent of Carl Zeiss; "Stiftung" ~= "Foundation") has always owned the names (Zeiss-Ikon and Contax). "Contax" was licensed to Yashica (later Kyocera). The Contax trademark was originally used as a model name for Zeiss-Ikon's flagship rangefinder. Oddly, the new Zeiss-Ikon's curved ends look a *lot* like a Leica M with (Oh, the humanity!) M mount for the glass.

Its lenses are the well-known Carl Zeiss formulations: Biogon, Distagon, Planar and Sonnar. Cosina is manufacturing the body and some of the lenses for Carl Zeiss. Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen is making the other lenses).

-- John Lind

To love this comment, log in above
5/23/2005 9:56:41 PM

Kerry L. Walker   Yeah, I remembered that (about the new Zeiss-Ikon RF) last night on my way home. However, I did not know Zeiss had only licensed the Contax name. Maybe the line isn't dead after all. I also didn't know Cosina was making the bodies. They have enough experience at it as they have made bodies for most of the major brands as well as some of the lesser knowns. I like the idea of the M mount. One can get the best of both worlds - Leitz & Zeiss. That is beginning to sound very interesting. Maybe I should save my pennies and invest in a new camera with old technology.

To love this comment, log in above
5/24/2005 6:27:25 AM

Will Turner   Get something reliable. I wouldn't recommend a Minolta body to a beginner, especially a used body like the X-700. The X-700 is cheaply built internally (they used plastic in the film transport mechanism) and has exhibited a number of problems over the years. It's well known for its shutter, circuit board, and capacitor failures. The newer Minolta AF cameras aren't much better when it comes to repairs and durability, way too many discontinued models, unavailable parts and oddball features.

To love this comment, log in above
8/3/2005 7:43:29 AM

Larry T. Miller   As someone once quoted, "It ain't the camera, it's the lenses that will get you a good picture". So far that's been true! BUT, Nikon and Canon do make some good equipment as well as Minolta.

To love this comment, log in above
3/27/2006 1:10:18 PM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.