Nikon D90 vs Canon EOS Rebel T1i / 500D

by Enche Tjin on July 20, 2009

Although Canon T1i should be compared to its arch rival Nikon d5000, in which I already compared in this post.  Some people might want to know how T1i compares to Nikon D90, a mid-range camera.

nikon-d90-sideThe first impression you will get about Nikon D90 will be the camera body. It is bigger and slightly heavier than Canon T1i, but you might feel D90 is more solid in your hand, this is especially true if you have medium or big hand. D90 body comes with bigger and brighter viewfinder, and top lcd screen. This top lcd screen will help you to get important camera setting information without have to switch on rear lcd screen. This is great and will conserve battery power. On Canon T1i advantage, it has smaller and lighter body which might appeal to users who want to travel as light as possible.

Featurewise, Canon T1i is designed to help users who has limited knowledge on photography.

It provides users with preset scene modes like in compact cameras, and also Creative Auto which will help users who don’t understand basic exposure concept.

On the other hand, Nikon D90 is designed for more advanced users who has knowledge about photography.

canon-t1iOne feature that is cool and money saving is wireless commander flash trigger. This feature allow you to control one or a few group of off camera flash unit to trigger simultaneously. You can also set the power of each group. Although it is limited on range and  other conditions, you can get creative with this without spending extra money for wireless triggers.

Nikon D90 also come with Nikon 18-105mm VR lens, which is great for walkaround and optically better than Canon 18-55mm IS kit lens.

Image quality wise, both cameras are performing well in base/low ISO, but when you shoot in high ISO, which is 800 and above, Nikon D90 is a clear winner. It preserves more details whereas Canon smudges out the details to fight the digital noise from appearing. You will need to get a better quality Canon lens to get full advantage of the 15 megapixel sensor.

Other Canon T1i advantage will be access to all Canon EOS lenses. This does not mean that Nikon can’t get access to Nikon lenses. But generally, Canon EOS lenses are more complete and generally cheaper.

Other important factor to consider is the differences in price. With $300 on hand, you definitely can buy more stuff to support your photography hobby, for example camera bag, tripod and additional lens.

Here are some recaps on the pro and cons of each cameras

Nikon D90 advantages

  • Wireless off flash commander
  • Top LCD screen
  • Better body design
  • Ergonomic
  • Cleaner image at ISO 1600 and beyond
  • Brighter and bigger pentaprism viewfinder
  • Better kit lens 18-105mm

Canon T1i / 500D advantages

  • Small and lightweight
  • 15 Megapixel vs 12 Megapixel
  • About $300 cheaper
  • HD movie goes up to 1080p @ 20fps
  • Access to Canon EOS lens collection
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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

sugar July 27, 2009 at 2:43 am

oooooookkkkkkk….so which one is better?

sugar July 27, 2009 at 2:54 am

ummmmmmmmm………. ok.. i think the nikon is better.. sounds better too.. im going to get the nikon…….. thanks for this info. sooooooo much…. i didnt know what to get.. nikon or canon… now i know… Nikon is mine and once again thanks sooooooooooooo much for this…… it made my decision.. and it gonna be the Nikon d90……..


J August 21, 2009 at 8:03 am

Hi, I have a canon 500d, and I regret it a lot.

High ISO performance is very poor.

Jake E Poo October 26, 2009 at 11:39 pm

I have traditionally had canon point and shoots and wanted to upgrade to a DSLR just after our baby was born so i could capture all the moments the point and shoots just seem never to grab.

I went to the store and compared both the D90 and Canon T1i. The D90 seemed bulkier and more complicated. The Canon was familiar to me with the buttons and icons similar to my point and shoot. It was also $300 dollars cheaper. The store was closing in 20 mins so i made the decision to go with the Canon, the price really helped sway me.

I got it home and started snapping away. The picture quality was amazing compared to what i was used to and they showed so well on the Canons LCD. Shooting with the Canon was easy … too easy it seemed, where was the learning curve? I wanted a camera that i could grow it and learn, one that would teach me better photography. The Canon seemed too much like a point and shoot and made everything too easy, i was looking to learn more about photography and have a camera that would hold my hand and challenge me. The shot composure info displaying on the back LCD was annoying, it was just not user friendly to constantly switch focus between viewfinder and the LCD. In the store the Nikon seemed bulky but the Canon body was too small now i started using the camera in practical situations it was not ergonomic, also the camera body material began to feel cheap the more i gripped it. My nails were making scratch marks near the trigger.

Buyers remorse had set in. I wished the store was not closing and I had given the Nikon D90 more time.

The next day i returned the Canon and bought the Nikon. It was more complicated to figure out and $250 more but something about it just felt right.

The most important part … i had taken images on my SD card when i had the Canon T1i for a night, so the next night i took the same snaps in the same environment with the nikon D90. When i downloaded the images, two important things to note.

1.) The images from the Canon did not show as well at 100% on my apple cinema display as they appeared on the camera’s LCD.

2.) The Nikon images blew the canon’s out of the water. Way too much smudging by the Canon indoor low light. Where the D90 was crystal sharp.

3.) The Nikons colors seemed way more accurate and true to life.

Hope this helps someone else make the decision.

I’ve now had the D90 was a couple of weeks and love the camera it’s just so responsive and the pictures blow me away.

admin October 27, 2009 at 12:14 am

Yes, D90 is better in low light (high ISO), and it is one level above T1i.

Andy November 12, 2009 at 12:58 am

D90 is better in every perspective i must say :) i have checked both cameras and D90 wins. also check the comparison here

Alex December 11, 2009 at 6:00 pm

I completely agree with Jake E Poo response. I recently purchased the Canon T1i and initially felt great about my purchase. With the instant $200 rebate with purchase of the canon telephoto 55-250mm lens, I was extremely happy and felt like i got a steal. However, after playing around with the canon t1i for about a week, i began to worry about the image quality. The main reason for dSLR in my opinion is its ability to shoot in low light areas. I shot many shots with setting of ISO 800-3200 with the t1i. On the LCD, it looked great. However, when I imported the image onto my laptop for viewing at 100%, there were considerable noise and smudging. I thought it may have been my setting, but to no continued in other low light areas.

Hence after much consideration, I returned the t1i and upgraded to Nikon D90. Clearly the better camera in terms of light light image and sharpness. Yes, I understand it comes with better kit lens, but it’s noticeably better than the T1i in my opinion. Another factor was the ergonomics. Nikon D90 feels alot more comfortable and professional over the T1i body (which is same body as older XS and XSi models).

Only arena Canon T1i wins is in the video department, but the extremely loud focal zoom (even with manual) kills the audio. Overall, i’m much happier with Nikon D90 for its image quality. Worth the extra $300,

J1tanamera December 13, 2009 at 12:47 am

Here’s a good comparison link:

As a good friend of mine explained it to me: If you want a camera backed by a company that does photocopiers, printers,l fax machines, cameras, calculators, etc. then go for the Canon…. but if you want a camera backed by a company that only does cameras, then go Nikon. I’ve owned Canon SLRs, Pentax SLRs, and Olympus SLRs, but never a Nikon. Now that I have the Nikon D90…. I think its the best of all the cameras I’ve ever had!

admin December 13, 2009 at 1:03 am

@J1tanamera : May I know why you think it is the best of all cameras you’ve had?

Canon has other businesess beside photography, but it does not mean the produce crappy product compare to company that solely do photography business.

Beside, Nikon produces many precision equipments other than photography equipments.

[canon s95 refurbished] September 17, 2013 at 4:54 pm

WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for canon rebel xti lenses

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