I received the following email from a reader today. (My response is below it; however, I invite you to share your thoughts and advice in the comments at the bottom of this post.)
I would appreciate thoughts on the new Canon Eos 50D vs. the Nikon D700.
I have the Canon EOS 40D with the following lenses: 2.8 17-55 IS and 2.8 70-200IS.
I have not read positive reviews of the Canon EOS 50D but I have seen excellent reviews of the Nikon D 700. Unfortunately I don’t have Nikon lenses or flash.
I like to shoot action photography and sometimes need high ISO settings for low light.
If you are considering one of these cameras as an upgrade to your 40D, then you’ve got some tough decisions to make. I say that because you emphasize shooting action photography in low light.
While the Canon 50D’s ISO settings will expand up to an ISO 12800 equivalent, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should use these settings. Truth be told, the 50D’s low light performance is not significantly different from that of the Canon 40D. The 40D’s ISO range extends up to ISO 3200. And, the 50D is generally not worth shooting at ISO 6400 and up (see the 50D Review). If anything, the 40D offers better high ISO noise performance than the 50D all the way up to ISO 3200.
Don’t believe me, check out this comparison on DP Review:
Despite the fact that the 50D is the newer camera it shows visibly more chroma and luminance noise than the 40D.
So, if you want better low light performance than the 40D, I’d say the 50D is off the table.
The Nikon D700 is a heck of a camera, particularly in low light and at high ISO. If you’ve read my review, you’ve seen how well it handles ISO 6400 at night. Totally usable.
But, you don’t have any Nikon lenses.
What about the 5D Mark II? You can still take advantage of the excellent EF 70-200 f/2.8 IS that you’ve got, although the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS won’t work on the 5D Mark II. I bet you could still get a good penny for it on the second-hand market though. Probably good enough to pay for a good chunk of a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS. Or pick up the Canon 5D Mark II kit for around $3500 and you’ll probably break close to even on the lenses.
I’ll admit that I give a little bit of edge to the Nikon D700 in terms of shooting speed, autofocus and metering, but the 5D Mark II is still a very solid camera. And, considering that you’ve got a $1600 piece of Canon glass in your kit, it may make the switch to Nikon even harder.
Also, check out this ISO comparison between the Nikon D700 and Canon 5D Mark II.
If you are seriously giving the Canon 50D and Nikon D700 equal consideration, I would throw the Canon 5D Mark II in the mix and probably end up with it in your case.
You’re On Deck
What do you think about the above question and advice? Have you shot the 50D and D700 side by side? Do you know something that tips the scale for this reader? Is the 5D Mark II good advice for him?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.