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Canon T1i or Nikon D5000 For Real Estate?

July 21st, 2009

I was talking to Lee Jinks yesterday about his struggles deciding whether to purchase a Canon T1i or a Nikon D5000. I can appreciate his difficulty. These cameras are very close in specs. If you don’t have a backpack full of glass collected over years and you have to make your decision based on the technical merits of these cameras it’s a tough call. I’m sure there are others out there struggling with the same decision. Here are some ideas that may help with this kind of decision:

  1. There’s no obvious right answer. You can be happy and get the job done with either of these bodies.
  2. Don’t decide based on mega-pixels or what DxOmark says about the sensor. You can find a review that will support position that either one of these bodies are the best one!
  3. Once you have a body, you’ll start accumulating lenses, it becomes more expensive to switch systems over time. Take your time and be careful.  Once you decide you’ll be committed to that system for a long while. As Lee says, “now that I’m a Nikon guy, I’ll never admit Canon is better”!
  4. Your decision of which body to purchase shouldn’t be separated from which wide-angle lens you are going to purchase. The lens decision is more important. I think the Sigma 10-20mm lens is still the best quality for your money. You can get a Sigma 10-20mm for either one of these bodies. The Nikon 10-24mm appears to be close in quality to the Sigma but it’s over $300 USD more.
  5. I would highly recommend that you handle the two bodies and try the controls. To many people, touch and feel of a camera body is very important.
  6. Some of the not so obvious features may make a big difference to you. For example, the D5000 has a LCD screen that swivels around. And the D5000 has the ability to have a wired remote. These features were the ones that helped Lee Jinks to decide on the D5000.
  7. Don’t be afraid to try one out and send it back if it’s not right for you. That’s what Lee did!

Someone is going to ask, “why didn’t you include the Olympus E-620”? The E-620 has a great set of specs and is less than both of these bodies. My reason is that the lack of video is an issue. I think that even if you aren’t delivering delivering a video product in your real estate business you need to be learning to shoot and edit video, learning video formats. The time is very near when all still cameras will shoot video and all video cameras will shoot stills.

Have I helped or made it worse? What other idea’s do you have to help people decide?

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8 Responses to “Canon T1i or Nikon D5000 For Real Estate?”

  • I have the T1i, but the swivel screen on the D5000 would be particularly useful in real estate photography. You wouldn’t have to be down on your knees, contorting yourself to see into the viewfinder to frame up your shots. On the other hand, the T1i does have live view, which makes it slightly easier.

    My main reason for going with the T1i was that a friend of mine already had a Canon 10-22mm that I can shoot with. So if you have friends who are into photography and are willing to loan you equipment, take that into consideration when deciding which body to choose.

  • The D5000 has live view as well. It seems like it’d be a great body for RE work.

    I don’t necessarily agree about the importance of video, but I can see both sides of that discussion.

  • I’ll second Larry’s recommendation to go and actually play with both cameras. Better yet, rent ’em for a day or two… I largely elected to go Canon almost 15 years ago because I preferred the body layout and design over the comparible Nikons of the time. Of course, now that I have lenses and accessories, it is highly unlikely I will ever switch!!!

  • I was at Best Buy yesterday looking for a card reader when I saw a guy contemplating which entry DSLR to purchase. I was able to answer every question he had about the cameras and he said, “You sure know a lot about these.” I explained that I had been researching for some time and just purchased the D5000. He mentioned that he had Canon lenses, so I recommended he stay with Canon. I could have easily gone with Canon. In fact, it was very difficult to send the Canon back, but in the end the D5000 had some features I liked that the T1i didn’t offer.
    I did my first real estate shoot with the D5000 on Wednesday and an aerial shoot on Friday. Up until then I had been using a Coolpix 5400 (coincidently a Nikon). Had I realized how much better it would be to shoot with a DSLR, I would have sold one of my kids to buy it sooner…okay, maybe rented the kids out. The shutter lag and long write times made aerial photography difficult, but with the DSLR it’s a dream. The results from an APS-C 12Mp sensor also make the results easier to work with over the 5Mp point & shoot sensor.
    The VR (IS in Canon) lens also makes a big difference. My aerial photos are much better than they were with the P&S.
    I know when spending that much money, we want to know we made the best possible decision. This will cause us the lament over which camera to buy and after the purchase we will wonder if we made the right decision. The quality of photo you can get with any of the cameras available today is so good now that I don’t think I really matters which camera you buy. I’m telling you that I’m having such a good time with my new camera that I suggest you buy one (any one) and start shooting.

  • I was in the same similar kind of boat actually a few months ago. just before the D5000 was released and it was a get the D90 now or wait for the D5000. And back then there were a lot of sale prices for the D90 too so that also helped in my decision. The deal breakers for me not getting the canon T1i or the D5000 are as follows.
    T1i shares lots of the guts of the 50D but high iso isnt so great. it has 9-point autofocus and moving your focus to one of the points takes a few extra steps compared to nikon.
    D5000 – no option for battery grip, no top lcd, no built in motor for auto focus on non af-s lenses. and only 1 control dial. and its just plain small doesnt fit well in my hands.
    D90 just a $150-200 more for body only and a whole lot more features that matter to me, easier to access functions you want. so I went with the D90 body only and managed to get an awesome deal on a nikkor 12-24mm lens ready to shoot.

    If price is really important then I’d choose the d5000 as I prefer nikon. and the articulated screen would be really usefull for low and above the head shots. also the High iso performance is awesome.

    another thing you can take into consideration is the availability of used lenses locally like if there are more canon or more nikon or if its 50/50 that could make a difference

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  • Though the T1i doesn’t have the tilt screen, it does feature a wired remote connection. Essentially the differences between these two cameras are few. The T1i can record 1080p & 720p HD video while the Nikon can only record 720p. With either camera, you can’t go wrong.

  • For what it’s worth, I have the Sony A300 with the best live there is, IMO, the screen tilts up and down, and the live view has its own sensor which has it’s own extra WB sensors. It really is a back saver using that tilt LCD and I very seldom have to make large WB changes as I did while using my Canons. I do wish it had video. The Sigma 10-20 works very well with the A300.

    Since I still have a Canon DRebel for backup with a 12-24 Sigma, if I did decide to upgrade in the future, I could switch back very easily. Who knows, maybe Sony will put video into a camera some day.

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