I've had extensive experience with Canon since I'm a Canon shooter, but I also shot Nikon a lot since my mentor uses them on occasion. Canons I've shot with are 40D, 50D, 1Ds mark 3, 1D mark 4, 5D mark 2 and 5D mark 3 (I only owned the 50D, 1Ds mark 3 and the 5D mark 3). Nikons I've shot are the D7000, D700, D3X and D800.
*I'd say Canons are more intuitive, easier to navigate their menus. *Canon has the biggest lens selection, and has some really nice glass. That said, you could also use Nikon glass on Canon bodies, (you'd lose AF though), while you can't use Canon glass on Nikon bodies. That said, I'd say the best bang for buck glass available is third party glass, and that's available for both Canon and Nikon. But still, if you care for having only OEM, Canon offers larger selection. *High ISO is a bit of a tie, and usually those two manufacturers keep leapfrogging one another every generation or two. At the moment, in beginner models imo the Canon has a VERY SLIGHT advantage, but that's splitting hairs, and not really something you have to worry about. *Dynamic Range is on Nikon's side, but again, leapfrogging one another *Resolution: yeah, that appears to be a clear winner to Nikon at the moment with the D800, but you have to factor in that you'd need the very best glass to take advantage of this resolution, and that this camera is only suitable for landscapes and studio stuff (I'd personally rather buy a medium format Pentax with a quality lens or two for that kind of money, and it gives better results at base ISO), basically when you're at base ISO, as the DR and quality drops fast when you go at higher ISO. Again, depending on what your style is.
Sony: Ok, I'll be frank, my experience with Sony is very limited, so I can't really talk about them, BUT, everyone I know who uses Sony raves about them. Yes, the lens selection is limited, but honestly, unless you do some specialized stuff, you're probably covered, and if not, you're covered by third party glass. I only handled Sony cameras briefly, but they are very comfortable to hold, and honestly, have the best battery grip ergonomics imo. Sony does however lack a good professional sports and wildlife body, so if that's your thing, you might want to factor that in. The EVF is not my thing, but it does have it's advantages, one of them being what you see is what you get, meaning, you get to see how your photo is gonna look before you take it, exposure and dynamic range wise.
Pentax: Honestly, I'd steer away from Pentax 35mm format, since they currently do not offer a FF solution. You'll never know how far into photography you're gonna get, and if you ever need an FF in the future. If you think you'll never get to FF, that's great, but if you do end up needing one, switching systems is gonna be painful on your pocket, so better safe than sorry.
So, to sum it up...go to the store, pick up a Canon, Nikon and Sony in the price range you like, and play with them a little, see which fits in your hands better, and which has more intuitive menu system for you, see how you like the optical vs electronic VF, and of course, see which one is easier to change basic settings.
"and finally Pentax is a consideration as I've seen some nice quality out of them. Pentax is a maybe, as I am not too hot about the lack of lenses available"
As far as I know all lenses made for/ from Pentax (D)SLRs from the seventies (K-mount) up to know can be used on new DSLR bodies without an adapter. Pentax has a huge lens availability compared to most other brands.
"So, what I want from you, is to maybe mention what you have, why it works, why you like the brand, the ugly side of the brand, just lay out the good, the bad, and the ugly. I'm not looking to name the best camera or the best brand as there is hardly such a thing, it simply comes down to personal preference."
When I bought my DSLR in 2006, I looked at three brands that had models in the entry class price range: Pentax, Canon en Nikon. I chose Nikon simply because it felt better in my hands compared to the other two. I have big hands, so I need a bigger camera. Quality wise, there is no big difference between those brands. Pentax is the only one that doesn't offer a full frame camera yet. My advise therefore is to go to a shop, and feel the cameras. Look through the viewfinder, is the view bright and large enough for your needs? What is the layout like, does it seem logical to you?
Makes sense! I've been meaning to go to a shop and line them up but haven't gotten a chance, I agree the layout and all and that's why I posed this question, I feel none, like you said, are better than the other, it comes down to how I feel about it. Thanks again!
I just got a Nikon D5100 and I love it, the operations are simple enough but they give you a wide range of stuff to do (like the effects mode and stuff). The ISO is a little bit hard to change, but its not too bad. The body is really light, so I have a feeling heavy lenses like a telefoto lens or a large zoom lens might make it front heavy so you'll need a strong tripod. But overall I really like it a lot.
About Nikon vs. Canon, from my experience, Canon is better for action shots, so like sports and high speed stuff, whereas Nikon is great for color and clarity, so if youre shooting landscapes or models. It's a close race, neck and neck for sure, but it really just depends on what you're gonna use it for.
Haha I've watched and read so many reviews and looked at photos taken with it, but I still can't make the decision, which I think is because there all so close together that I can't mentally make enough separation Thanks again though!
I appreciate you taking the time to reply but I'm asking for further in depth responses, in honesty you telling me to go for the Nikon does little to nothing to convince me. If you don't have time for a more in depth response that's fine though!
My previous job was in retail selling DSLRs and CSCs to customers. We carried all the brands, so I'll give you recommendations like I would a customer in your position.
Canon or Nikon are usually going to be the top contenders, not just for quality, but for availability in accessories. While Sony offers a whole host of features, Nikon and Canon really own the DSLR market for a reason. In my experience, the only difference between Canon and Nikon is personal preference. If you're comparing particular models, then there's a lot more to talk about, but I find that to be irrelevant.
You're already familiar with Canon, having used an XSi. Customers almost always end up with the DSLR from the brand they had some experience with, so I see no harm in continuing with Canon. Customers new to using DSLRs have often commented that the Canon was easier to use versus the Nikon, so if user-friendliness is a consderation, then I'd also recommend Canon. Nikon's are great, and if you find a good deal than go right ahead, but Canon seems to make sense.
Looking at your gallery, you seem to do a lot of nature and landscapes, so either brand will really do the job for you, but at least with the models you mentioned for Canon versus the D5100, you have about 6 more megapixels which could be quite useful if you need to crop your image but still retain detail.
All in all, either brand will do the job beautifully, it just comes down to preference. To answer your first question, I currently use a Canon 5D Mark III + Canon 85mm 1.2L lens and I absolutely love it, but it's a solution I grew into. I started with a Canon xTi, then a Canon 7D, then a Canon 5D Mark II, and now the Canon Mark III, with various lenses along the way.
Wow thank you for such an in depth and long review Perfect for what I'm looking for!
I think I'm leaning for the Canon and you may have pushed me over the edge, I agree with the higher megapixel, ultimately I'm looking for something that will last me, and part of that is wanting something I can print fairly large sizes with, part of the reason I hesitate for the T3 is that, not that my main focus is the megapixels but I like to have the option.
Your set up is excellent, and hopefully I'll reach something like that some day, though it's not what I usually shoot I think you do your photography beautifully! Again thank you very much for the response, very helpful!
The difference in price between the T3 and the T3i makes it so silly not to go for the T3i, for about $150 you get so much more, and the camera itself also has a better build quality and bigger screen, as well as an articulated screen. If the T3 was less expensive, it would make more sense, but I'm confident the T3i will be a good choice for you.