Canon EOS 500D or Nikon D5000? Not Making Comparison Is Futile…

[Updated: Added to the table Panasonic GH1's burst speed mode and movie length. The burst speed is 3fps (high) and 2fps (low) while movie length is limited only by the memory size]

I know of some camera owners would be all riled up when someone attempts to compare their cameras to the cameras owned by others. Even an off-hand remark such as “the other camera has a larger resolution than your camera does” could invite a “lecture” about megapixels and why resolution does not always matter.

But not making comparison between camera models — especially if they are new entrants to the market and of the same price range and “class” — is like asking Brazilians not to watch the Brazil team playing in the World Cup final or asking U2 fans not to listen to “No Line on the Horizon”.

So long as it is fair, a comparison won’t be a problem

So when Nikon announces its new “super” entry-level camera, the D5000, it immediately attracts comparison to the Canon EOS 500D. Canon wins some but Nikon also wins in some other areas.

The 500D is stronger in terms of the megapixel count — 15.1 megapixels compared to D5000′s 12.3 megapixels — but the D5000 also has its unique feature, which is the tilt-and-swivel LCD screen.

Five years ago DSLR camera owners would have cried foul if there was any hint of attempts to incorporate compact camera features, such as video capability and vari-angle LCD screen, into DSLR cameras but things have greatly changed ever since.

I’ve been using the feature in my compact cameras and know how useful it is, especially when taking close-up pictures at ground level or overhead in the crowd.

While the 500D’s 15.1 megapixels is a huge advantage, the 5000d’s 12.3 megapixels is large enough for most users.

Here are on-paper side-by-side comparison between the two cameras, with Panasonic DMC-GH1 thrown in to spice up the party.

Canon 500D/T1i vs Nikon D5000 vs Panasonic DMC-GH1

  Canon EOS 500D/Rebel T1i Nikon D5000 Panasonic DMC-GH1
Camera Type DSLR DSLR Micro Four Thirds
Sensor 22.3 x 14.9mm CMOS 23.6 x 15.8 mm DX CMOS 4/4" Live MOS
  15.1 Megapixels 12.3 Megapixels 12.1 Megapixels
Lens Mount EF/EF-S Nikon F mount Micro Four Thirds
Crop Factor 1.6x 1.5x n/a
Processor DIGIC 4 EXPEED Venus Engine HD
Dist Reduction Filter vibration at power-on Airflow control system Supersonic wave filter
  Anti-static coating Image sensor cleaning  
  Software-based dust-removal Software-based  
Image Sizes (L) 4272 x 2848, (M) 3088 x 2056, (S) 2256 x 1504 (L) 4288 x 2848, (M) 3216 x 2136, (S) 2144 x 1424 4:3 (4000 x 3000, 2816 x 2112, 2048 x 1536); 3:2 (4128 x 1752, 2928 x 1952, 2064 x 1376); 16:9 (4352 x 2448, 3072 x 1728, 1920 x 1080); 1:1 (2992 x 2992, 2112 x 2112, 1504 x 1504)
RAW Yes Yes Yes (RAW + JPEG Standard, Fine)
Movie HD (16:9) 1920 X 1080p 20fps, 1280 x720p 30fps All 24fps -- 1280 x 712, 640 x 424, 320 x 216 AVCHD: 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720
  SD (4:3) 640 x 480 30 fps   Motion JPEG at 30 fps: 1280 x 720, 848 x 480, 640 x 480, 320 x 240
Movie Duration Maximum 29m 59sec or 4GB, which ever comes first Maximum 5 min (1280 x 720), other resolutions 20 minutes Limited only by card's memory
Movie Format Quicktime MOV AVI (Motion JPEG) AVCHD, Quick time motion JPEG
Digital Zoom N/A N/A Up to 4x
Sensitivity Auto (100 - 1600) ISO 200 to 3200 Auto, Intelligent ISO
  ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800 Can also be set to ISO 100 and 6400 equivalent) ISO 100, 200, 400, 1600, 3200
Shutter Speed 30 - 1/4000 30 - 1/4000 60 - 1/4000
Bulb Yes Yes Yes (up to 8 minutes)
Continuous Shot 3.4 fps 4 fps 3fps (high), 2fps (low)
Memory SD/SDHC SD, SDHC SD/SDHC
Exposure Modes Modes Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait, No Flash, Movie, Program AE , Shutter priority AE, Aperture priority AE, Manual, Auto Depth-of-Field Program Auto (P), Shutter priority (S), Aperture priority (A), Manual (M), Auto Program AE, Aperture priority AE, Shutter priority AE, Manual, Auto
Picture Styles/Scene Modes Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, User Defined (x3) Advanced Scene Modes (Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Close-up, Night portrait, Night landscape, Party/Indoor, Beach/Snow, Sunset, Dusk/Dawn, Pet portrait, Candlelight, Blossom, Autumn colors, Food, Silhouette, High key, Low key) Portrait, Soft Skin, Outdoor Portrait, Indoor Portrait, Creative Portrait, Scenery, Nature, Architecture, Creative Scenery, Sports, Outdoor Sports, Indoor Sports, Creative Sports, Flower, Food, Objects, Creative Close-Up, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Illuminations, Creative Night Scenery, Sunset, Party, Baby 1, 2, Pet
Focus 9 AF points (f/5.6 cross type at centre, extra sensitivity at f/2.8) 11 focus points Auto Focus
  F5.6 cross-type at center, extra sensitivity at F2.8 Live view Face Detection
  AF working range: -0.5 to 18 EV (at 23°C, ISO 100)   AF Tracking
  Predictive AF up to 10 m    
White Balance Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Flash, Custom Auto, presets (12), manual preset, white balance bracketing Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Halogen, Flash, Custom 1, Custom 2, Kelvin temp (2500 - 10000 K, 100K steps)
Vari-angle Tilt and Swivel LCD Monitor No Yes Yes
  3.0" TFT LCD monitor 2.7" TFT LCD monitor 3.0" TFT LCD monitor
  100% frame coverage 100% frame coverage Approx 100% frame coverage
  920,000 pixels Approx. 230,000 dots 460,000 dots

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  • http://top-rated-cameras.com/ Top Rated Cameras

    Very nice review! :) Anyway, I recently got my Nikon D5000 kit lens last month and so far, I’m loving all the features. After a month of exploring my D5000 I thought of getting the D90 instead or probably a Canon 50D. I haven’t actually tried to use a D90/50D but with it’s other features that a D5000 doesn’t have, I think it is okay for an upgrade. I am planning to sell my D5000, do you think it’s worth it?

  • Raj

    Farr… base on you reply you prefer nikon D7000 , which one will be better buy canon 7D or nikon D300s regarding image quality, sharpness and details…
    thanks in advance..

  • Raj

    Farr..
    Thanks a lot for your help…

  • Farrs

    Raj,
    a USA excelent photographer “Nasim Mansurovs” says:
    A Camera is just a tool:
    What happens if you give the best set of painting tools to someone who does not know how to paint, and an ordinary, much inferior set of tools to a good painter? Who is going to have a better painting? The same rhetorical question is valid for photography – if you get a better camera, does it necessarily mean that you will take better pictures? No

    I really recommend you to take a look on Nasim blog (Nasim Mansurov
    is a professional photographer based out of Denver, Colorado):

    http://mansurovs.com/dslr-purchase-guide
    http://mansurovs.com/nikon-vs-canon-vs-sony
    http://mansurovs.com/photography-tips-for-beginners

    The topic of Canon vs Nikon, for example, always comes up between photographers. Nikonians look at some of the Canon cameras and want more megapixels, while Canonites look at some of the Nikon cameras and want less noise. Lens debates between these two brands are also endless… At the end of the day, the question you should be asking yourself is, how much better would your pictures get if you picked one brand over another (or switched from one brand to another). Most likely, the change would be very insignificant. You gain one thing and lose another. What if one brand comes up with a breakthrough product tomorrow. Are you going to switch or regret your purchase decision?

    Concerning D7000 and EOS 7D, they are from different classes, D7000 has canon rival D60, so For the EOS 7D you should consider Nikon D300S.
    If you own the 550D you may choose EOS 7D, it´s a logical option, though the 7D has reported some AF problems, noise, and image quality problems, it´s also a PRO SLR camera format, and D7000 a SLR only.
    18MP vs 16,2MP on Nikon…but MP is not everything, be aware MP nowadays is a sales flag, High MP is nice if noise is well controlled otherwise it´s better to have a softier image with no noise, you can work after with adobe lightroom 3, for example, I guess you wont get the best of both worlds.
    I personally would buy the new D7000 and then spend the extra money on a top objective, D7000 has more 20 focus points with 39-point (9 cross type) TTL phase detection with 3D focus tracking which is an advantage i consider important, also a Dual SD slots …but if you still own the canon 550D i guess your better choice is EOS 7D, and then stick to the brand you choose, otherwise changing brands has a high cost and it´s not very good for your learning.
    As i say, Nikon is made by Photografers and Canon is made by Engineers.
    Think of your camera as your tool for the job. Without good technical skills and creativity, no matter what camera system you use, you will never be able to capture anything good.
    If you are after MP and perhaps a little bit of sharpness, choose Canon.

  • Raj

    @Farr and Young: I am planning to buy Nikon D7000 or canon eos 7D. which one will be better , i am considering image quality,color reproductioon, sharpness and details.I am not considering vedio.Please help me to choose before christmas.

    Thanks in advance

  • Raj

    ok thanks