Lately I have switched gears and am starting to focus further on landscape photography over portraiture. In my research it has become apparent that Nikon seems to have a significant advantage in dynamic range using the Sony Exmor sensors. It seems to me that particularly in landscape photography, dynamic range is of utmost importance.

Does it make sense for me to be using Nikon equipment if landscape photography is my main goal? This is while considering me as an amateur and its associated mid level APS-C to entry level full frame options.

I know that other factors exists for choosing a brand(lenses, ergonomics, high ISO perf, etc), but this is specifically on the discussion of landscape photography and dynamic range.

  • 5
    You might find that investing in some ND and gradient ND filters can help solve a lot of the dynamic range problems that landscapes pose.
    – Blrfl
    Sep 20 '12 at 20:25
  • I'd go with Pentax for landscape... So the answer from me is neither. :p
    – Joanne C
    Sep 21 '12 at 3:49
  • 5
    Landscapes are a nasty habit to get into, you know. Before long, you'll be selling spare children to pay for medium format stuff ;o)
    – user2719
    Sep 21 '12 at 4:48

If somebody were to ask 'I'm primarily interested in landscape photography, I don't have a DSLR preference yet and I'm looking at buying a full frame camera, should I consider Nikon or Canon?' My answer would be 100%, without a doubt: look at the Nikon D600 or D800 depending on what you want to spend. For the landscape photographer you're primarily concerned with dynamic range, ISO noise, sharpness and the ability to crop, by every one of those metrics the D600/D800 beats the 6D and 5DIII handily. And if you're looking in the ~$2000 range the D600 beats the 6D in several other areas (on paper), the focusing system for instance.

This assumes most other things are even like ergonomics, lens selection, accessories etc which may or may not be the case for you. For instance, I personally feel Canon has some better lenses available including all their tilt-shift lenses, especially the 24L TS-E which is a fantastic landscape lens and the 135L f2 (which I also like for landscapes). And there is the built-in GPS functionality of the 6D...

Now, you happen to already have a collection of Canon lenses and accessories so you have a higher switching cost and its possible Canon may come out with something that competes better with the D800/D600. However this seems highly unlikely since the 6D and 5DIII are the direct competitors of the D600 and D800 so the idea of Canon coming out with something like a 6DII and 5DIV soon just doesn't make any sense, these are the bodies we'll have to work with for at least 2 years if not more. Its more likely canon would come out with a 1D series body but thats not part of this discussion.

So, if you like trying (and buying) new things and have the $$$ to do it, then do it, I know you're considering buying a new body as it is and probably a FF one at that so you're already going to be spending money. If you sell all your Canon gear and re-buy what you want in Nikon (used) you won't be out too much more than buying into a Canon FF system, we're talking < $500 here. And before anybody bags on me for saying $500 'isn't that much', I'm talking about when compared to the total price of either kit, not in a vacuum.

  • I was kind of feeling the same way. Sure, Canon may catch up with sensors in cameras of this range in 2-3 years, but it isn't going to be anytime soon. Ugh, decisions :)
    – dpollitt
    Sep 20 '12 at 23:11
  • 2
    And in 2-3 years Nikon may have new stuff too, their product lines aren't staggered by 1-2 years anymore, they're pretty much synced :D
    – Shizam
    Sep 20 '12 at 23:16
  • @dpollitt Of course, all these doesn't mean that you can't get similar result from D800 and 5D-III, they're both great cameras, although DxOMark may show noticeable difference between them but IMO that shouldn't affect your choice, in fact, Canon 5D-III has much lower noise and higher ISO setting than D800. I must say that for many reasons, I personally prefer the Nikon D800 over Canon 5D-III, but the sensor rating is not one of those reasons! see this link and compare both cameras: Canon EOS 5D-III Review: Noise and Noise Reduction
    – Omne
    Sep 21 '12 at 13:02
  • Also between D600 and 6D, I prefer the Nikon, but not because of their different sensors, it's mainly because features in D600 are more useful for me than 6D.
    – Omne
    Sep 21 '12 at 13:31
  • 1
    @Omne High ISO performance and sensor noise won't generally be a concern in landscape photography since you'll usually be shooting at ISO100 or certainly below ISO400. If you want high ISO performance then its a whole different ball game.
    – Shizam
    Sep 21 '12 at 15:03


Nikon and Canon are both great options and it doesn't make sense to switch because today one of them has small advantage - what would you do if the next generation Canons will have a similar advantage? switch brands every 5 years?.

There is a good reason why so many landscape photographer use HDR techniques, even the best camera today has limited dynamic range compared to what we can experience with our eyes - if you do HDR anyway the Nikon advantage becomes insignificant, if you don't do HDR - well, all cameras have less dynamic range then you scene and more dynamic range then your screen.

  • 1
    I guess my question was "is the advantage small or large enough to warrant the preference". Thank you very much for the answer, I think it helps me stop thinking such naughty thoughts(nikon) :)
    – dpollitt
    Sep 20 '12 at 21:05
  • 1
    The gist of this answer is 'If you use HDR there is no dynamic range difference, if you don't use HDR then you'll have less dynamic range than HDR' which really has no bearing on the question asked.
    – Shizam
    Sep 20 '12 at 22:48
  • 1
    @Shizam - the gist of my answer is that Nikon and Canon have similar capabilities - and any significant advantage one may have will be irrelevant in a short time when the other releases the next camera body -- the second paragraph just means "if you really care about dynamic range you need HDR with either brand, if you don't really care Canon still has plenty of dynamic range"
    – Nir
    Sep 21 '12 at 6:04
  • @Nir Then thats just confusing. As to your first point I guess I disagree then, first of all for landscape photography its not a small advantage, its a big advantage in that domain. For the 2nd point, 5 years is a long time, even 3 years is a long time, since these bodies were released at essentially the same time neither will have a rev soon so if you want to switch, now is the time.
    – Shizam
    Sep 21 '12 at 15:06

I must say you can't compare all Nikon and Canon cameras like that, you should choose a few models and start comparing them. the difference is not really that significant! and as long as you use similar lenses, you should be able to get similar results with similar cameras.

You can compare camera sensors here: DxOMark: Camera sensor in-depth comparison tool

But for sure, in either brands, you will notice significant difference between APS-C and full frame models.

  • 3
    The DxOMark comparison that you link to seems to disagrees with the thesis of your post, it shows that there is a dramatic difference in several areas that are important to landscape photography.
    – Shizam
    Sep 20 '12 at 22:45
  • See my comment on your answer.
    – Omne
    Sep 21 '12 at 13:03

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