Canon announced the EOS Rebel T1i (500D/Kiss Digital X3) earlier (March 25) than Nikon D5000 (April 14), but somehow Nikon beat Canon in getting their camera out to consumers just a few days earlier. With both cameras targeting consumers, the ensuing battle between the digital imaging giants Canon and Nikon is going to be interesting to watch.

For consumers, making decision may be difficult since there is no such thing as perfect camera. Manufacturers carefully balance features and marketing needs to maximize profitability.  They also study competitors to make sure their product is competitive in the market. Knowing your exact needs will help you make a good decision. Knowing the exact differences between the cameras will help you to evaluate your needs against the cameras’ features.

To get it started, you can look at the very detailed DPReview previews for both camera: Canon EOS 500D (Digital Rebel T1i / Kiss X3 Digital) and Nikon D5000. There is also a side-by-side comparison of the specifications. The gadget blog Engadget has a post about the two cameras as well. The following is a quick summary of each camera’s advantages.

Canon 500D wins

  • More pixels – 15.1 vs. 12.3 megapixels on Nikon D5000
  • Better videos – 1080P vs. 720P on Nikon D5000
  • Better RAW file – 14 bit vs. 12 bit
  • Larger and denser LCD screen: 3.0″ vs. 2.7″, 920K vs. 230K dots
  • Wider ISO range: 100-12800 vs. 100-6400
  • Depth of focus preview button: yes vs. no
  • Viewfinder magnification: 0.87x vs. 0.78x

Nikon D5000 wins

  • Tilt/Swirl LCD screen
  • Faster continuous shooting speed: 4 frames per second (fps) vs. 3.4fps.
  • Advanced scene modes
  • Built-in filter effects and in-camera editing
  • Better AF sensor: 11 vs. 9 point, with AF assist illuminator vs. none (uses built-in flash), slightly better AF sensitivity, 3D tracking
  • Wider exposure compensation range; +/- 5EV vs. +/-2EV
  • Better flash range: 17m vs. 13m
  • Cost: ~$50 cheaper

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