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Ritz Camera


Nikon D200 Compared to Canon
© 2006 KenRockwell.com

I bought mine from Ritz here. I bought another D200 from Adorama here. Also try Amazon here. Adorama usually has D200/18-70 kits in stock here. It helps me keep adding to this site when you click these links to get yours.


These are broad, basic comparisons. Let me know if I missed anything. I leave the pixel-by-pixel shootouts to hobbyists who love these comparisons for their own sake. I'm comparing them based on what I find important for my own work.



Resolution is about the same. The horizontal size of the D200 image is 3,872 pixels, the 5D has only 4,368 pixels, or 13% more. That's invisible.

Size and weight are also almost identical.

Benefits of Nikon D200

One-half the price!

Superior ergonomics: the D200 has single-purpose buttons for the Three Kings (QUAL, WB, ISO) while the 5D clutters them together with other functions. The D200 even adds an additional user programmable function button! The 5D still uses a primitive mode dial that requires a second hand to operate compared to the D200 (and most Nikons') simple mode button operable with one hand holding and shooting the D200 or D70s.

Superior durability. The D200 is gasketed against the weather. The 5D isn't. Not that big a deal; they are both pretty good.

Almost twice as fast (5 vs. 3 FPS)

Built in flash. Japanese photo hobbyists operate under a superstition that built-in flashes aren't professional, however every pro I know (as well as myself) loves using built in flash not just for fill, but for triggering studio strobes and remote strobes without having to buy another trigger or flash. The 5D has no flash, the D200 has a combo flash and remote commander built in for free.

AF illuminator.

Standard size DX CCD for more compact lenses. This is a personal preference item.

Popular Photography, on the bottom of the second column of page 70 of the December, 2005 issue says that at ISO 1,600 that the D2X and the D50 have BETTER noise performance than the 5D. The D200 is probably as good or better; which throws of Canon's oversized and overpriced sensor out the window.

Huge viewfinder with grid.

Better (more consistent) flash exposure.

Benefits of Canon 5D

You can get it down to ISO 50. The D200 stops at ISO 100. This is a preference call; I'd rather shoot at higher ISOs. The D200 is flawless at ISO 100 with no need to stoop to ISO 50.

The big sensor doesn't play as a benefit here. It just costs more. Popular Photography, on the bottom of the second column of page 70 of the December, 2005 issue says that at ISO 1,600 that the D2X and the D50 have BETTER noise performance than the 5D. I prefer the smaller CCD of the D200 for more compact lenses.

Summary: Canon 5D vs. Nikon D200

The fact that the Canon costs twice as much and we're comparing them neck and neck says a load for the D200! I prefer the D200 anyway, and no, I have to buy this stuff with my own money and no one even loans me this stuff for evaluation.

Personally I've shot Nikon since 1979. If I started again from scratch Canon would be an even choice, just not this time.

The biggest difference is what you shoot: if you shoot sports I'd go D200 since it's twice as fast. If I was shooting landscapes, things that held still or needed 14mm lenses I'd contemplate the the 5D. Don't get the 5D for presumed better technical image quality: Pop Photo's review of the 5D in December 2005 said that at ISO 1600 the Nikon D50 and D2X had less noise! Comparisons in real world photography I presume will be invisible, see my article on static vs. dynamic image quality.

For weddings the flash exposure would be my biggest concern. Nikon is dead on with flash exposure, but has a preflash that can make some people blink on every shot! On the other hand, Canon's flash exposure, so my friends who use them say, can vary a bit and not always be right on. I haven't made any direct comparisons, nor has anyone else, and this is by far the biggest image quality difference between them. No one has measured this because it's tougher to measure than idiotic resolution charts so important to beginners.

It's a close call. When you factor in price I can't see why anyone would pay twice as much to get the 5D. if I already had a fleet of Canon lenses of course I'd get a 5D, but since I already have that fleet in Nikon my choice is obvious.


The D200 trumps the Canon 20D in spades, and every time Nikon announces something Canon one-ups them the next week. The D200 is tougher, higher resolution, far easier to get to far more important features, more AF points, direct entry buttons and switches for far more settings, etc. etc.

Canon usually outdoes Nikon every time, but this time Can barfed. The 30D came out in February 2006 to replace the 20D. The 30D is just a 20D with a bigger screen, lower price and some new firmware. What? That's not a new camera. Resolution stays back at 8MP. That leaves the Nikon D200 on the top of the pile of DSLRs under $2,000.

There's no reason to go for a new 20D or 30D today, unless of course you're already in the Canon system.


or back to COMPARED TO NIKON D2X, D70s, D100, D1X

or back to D200 review page index

or back to top of D200 review

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