This finds us in a familiar spot. The best camera of the two is really a camera that combines the features we like of both. Another “it depends,” but we find ourselves leaning towards the Nikon D5000 for a few reasons.
First, so much about a camera is about the feel of it, and the Nikon control layout for the right hand is far better than the Canon. We want one-hand control. Not only does that give you speed, from when you grab the camera to when you shoot, but it also gives you stability and is simply more comfortable. Even a light camera like this can start feeling cumbersome after a long day.
Second, as we’ve said, we like the file quality of the Nikon better. The higher ISO performance and more accurate color reproduction make the Nikon D5000 a camera that will give us more professional, controllable results.
The menu and controls make it a really easy camera to have along as a backup to one of the bigger brothers - the D700 or the D3x even. But the lens matrix really sets the camera back a few steps; how can we use the camera as a backup if we can’t use all our lenses with all the features?
The one, single thing that would make this camera a slam-dunk in this price point would be the Canon’s high-resolution display - that is a big deal, the simple ability to check and verify focus on a high-resolution LCD. It’s something a pro has to do constantly, practically for every shot, and the Canon display is head and shoulders above the Nikon. Even an enthusiast, shooting at an event or their favorite subjects - flowers, birds, people - can use the increased accuracy of the display.
If we could only have a high-res display on the Nikon - perhaps on the D6000?