The new Nikon D5000 and Canon Rebel T1i have stirred quite the fuss with their solid specs and entry-level price tags. The prior generation cameras from the Nikon and Canon camps were capable performers. The Rebel XSi (aka 450D) and the Nikon D60 rang in at 12.2 megapixels and 10.2 megapixels, respectively.
The Nikon D5000 features the same 12.3 megapixel sensor found in the Nikon D90, while the Canon Rebel T1i packs in 15.1 megapixels, which is similar to or the same as the sensor found in the Canon 50D. Kudos to both Nikon and Canon for staying lean on megapixels, relatively speaking.
As for sensitivity, both Nikon and Canon have extended the range. The Nikon D5000 features ISO 100-6400 range, while the Canon Rebel T1i covers a range of ISO 100-12800 for an extra stop on the high end. Both of these numbers reflect the ISO expansion features.
I’ve been shooting with both cameras side by side for a couple of days now and nabbed a few handheld shots of some orange roses, up close and under a mix of incandescent and indirect sunlight. The flowers were on my kitchen counter next to a window. This is hardly a scientific comparison, but I think is a fair representation of real world ISO performance. Additionally, you will get some taste of the stabilization capabilities of each of the lenses that come in the respective kits for the Canon and Nikon shooters.
Below you’ll find the entire quick and dirty ISO comparison throughout the range of ISOs available for both these cameras.
For reference purposes, here’s a shot of the complete scene that was captured by the Rebel T1i at ISO 3200, which you’ll get if you download any of the originals. The samples are 100% crops near the center of the image and main focus point. Again, the cameras were hand held in Program mode with all factory default settings. Lenses were set with Image Stabilization (“IS”) or Vibration Reduction (“VR”) in the ON position.
Nikon D5000 and Canon Rebel T1i Comparison Images
Note that Canon Rebel T1i images are on the left side of the samples below, and the Nikon D5000 images are shown on the right side. Below the 100% crop samples are links to download the full-size images from each camera (simply right-click and choose “Save as…”). Additionally, I’ve included a copy of the scene captured by the Canon Rebel XSi through ISO 1600 for reference purposes. Also, bear in mind that the full image files are pretty big, so dial-up readers may have some difficulty here. These images are provided for personal inspection only and may not be republished elsewhere without prior written consent, which may be obtained via email correspondence. If you want to republish the images, use the contact form to get in touch.
Canon Rebel T1i vs. Nikon D5000 at ISO 100
Canon Rebel T1i vs. Nikon D5000 at ISO 200
Canon Rebel T1i vs. Nikon D5000 at ISO 400
Canon Rebel T1i vs. Nikon D5000 at ISO 800
Canon Rebel T1i vs. Nikon D5000 at ISO 1600
Canon Rebel T1i vs. Nikon D5000 at ISO 3200
Canon Rebel T1i vs. Nikon D5000 at ISO 6400
Canon Rebel T1i at ISO 12800
Note that the Canon Rebel T1i edges out the Nikon D5000 on the spec sheet here; however, I would hardly call the T1i’s performance at ISO 12800 “usable” in just about any sense.
Bonus Real World Shots at ISO 6400
Here’s a couple shots from the dinner table a local restaurant featuring my model of choice. Light came from a nearby window around dusk and dim incandescent lights.
Canon Rebel T1i
Canon Rebel T1i and Nikon D5000 First Impressions
I don’t know about you, but I’m impressed with the performance of these two entry level cameras throughout their ISO range. In light of these sample images, particularly the available light shots at the dinner table, I could see either of these cameras opening up new opportunities for capturing usable snapshots that were either not possible before, or ran the risk of being wasted by harsh direct flash from point and shoot cameras. I would have no problem printing 4×6 and 5×7 family and other casual snapshots all the way up to ISO 6400. And seeing how these are consumer-oriented DSLRs, I would expect many of the prints made from these cameras to be smaller rather than larger.
If you’ve downloaded the images or otherwise have something to say, feel free to chime in below with your thoughts on the comparison.