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Canon Rebel versus Nikon D4

The Canon EOS Digital Rebel (called Canon 300D in some regions) and the Nikon D4 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2003 and January 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (Rebel) and a full frame (D4) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 6.3 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 16.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon Rebel vs Nikon D4

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon Rebel and the Nikon D4 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the Rebel – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon Rebel vs Nikon D4
Compare Rebel versus D4 top
Compare Rebel and D4 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D4 is considerably larger (79 percent) than the Canon Rebel. Moreover, the D4 is substantially heavier (106 percent) than the Rebel. It is noteworthy in this context that the D4 is splash and dust-proof, while the Rebel does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (Rebel) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D4).

Concerning battery life, the Rebel gets 400 shots out of its BP-511 battery, while the D4 can take 2600 images on a single charge of its EN-EL18 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D4 has a battery grip build in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the Rebel, Canon provides the BG-E1 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon Rebel» 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
Nikon D4« 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999- i Nikon D4
Canon T7i« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 18.8 oz 600 n Feb 2017 749 i i Canon T7i
Canon T6s« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.9 oz 440 n Feb 2015 849- i Canon T6s
Canon T4i« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.3 oz 440 n Jun 2012 849- i Canon T4i
Canon T3i« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.1 oz 440 n Feb 2011 599- i Canon T3i
Canon T1i« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799- i Canon T1i
Canon XTi« » 5.0 in 3.3 in 2.6 in 19.6 oz 370 n Aug 2006 799- i Canon XTi
Canon XT« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899- i Canon XT
Canon 20D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 n Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
Canon 10D« » 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 500 n Feb 2003 1,999- i Canon 10D
Nikon D5« » 6.3 in 6.3 in 3.6 in 49.9 oz 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499 i i Nikon D5
Nikon D4S« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.6 oz 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499- i Nikon D4S
Nikon Df« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.6 in 26.8 oz 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749 i i Nikon Df
Nikon D3S« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 43.7 oz 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
Nikon D3« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 45.9 oz 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999- i Nikon D3
Nikon D70« » 5.5 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 24.0 oz 400 n Jan 2004 999- i Nikon D70

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The Rebel was launched at a markedly lower price (by 85 percent) than the D4, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon Rebel vs Nikon D4

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon Rebel features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D4 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D4 is 151 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Canon Rebel and Nikon D4 sensor measures

With 16.2MP, the D4 offers a higher resolution than the Rebel (6.3MP), but the D4 has marginally smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.29μm versus 7.38μm for the Rebel). Yet, the D4 is a much more recent model (by 8 years and 4 months) than the Rebel, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

Rebel versus D4 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D4 offers substantially better image quality than the Rebel (overall score 34 points higher). The advantage is based on 3.7 bits higher color depth, 2.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Canon Rebel» APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.010.854455Canon Rebel
Nikon D4« Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589Nikon D4
Canon T7i« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Canon T7i
Canon T6s« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570Canon T6s
Canon T4i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262Canon T4i
Canon T3i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.579365Canon T3i
Canon T1i« » APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363Canon T1i
Canon XTi« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.066462Canon XTi
Canon XT« » APS-C 8.0 3456 2304-21.810.863760Canon XT
Canon 20D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.911.072162Canon 20D
Canon 10D« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.110.957157Canon 10D
Nikon D5« » Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388Nikon D5
Nikon D4S« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489Nikon D4S
Nikon Df« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280-24.613.1327989Nikon Df
Nikon D3S« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382Nikon D3S
Nikon D3« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2229081Nikon D3
Nikon D70« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-20.410.352950Nikon D70

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D4 indeed provides for movie recording, while the Rebel does not. The highest resolution format that the D4 can use is 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon Rebel vs Nikon D4

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The Rebel and the D4 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon Rebel, the Nikon D4, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon Rebel»optical n 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Canon Rebel
Nikon D4«optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D4
Canon T7i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.0 Y n Canon T7i
Canon T6s« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon T6s
Canon T4i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon T4i
Canon T3i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel n 4000 3.7 Y n Canon T3i
Canon T1i« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.4 Y n Canon T1i
Canon XTi« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon XTi
Canon XT« »optical n 1.8 115 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon XT
Canon 20D« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Canon 20D
Canon 10D« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 10D
Nikon D5« »optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 8000 14.0 n n Nikon D5
Nikon D4S« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D4S
Nikon Df« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 5.5 n n Nikon Df
Nikon D3S« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D3S
Nikon D3« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D3
Nikon D70« »optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 8000 3.0 Y n Nikon D70

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The Rebel has one, while the D4 does not. While the build-in flash of the Rebel is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The Rebel writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D4 uses Compact Flash or XQD cards. The D4 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the Rebel only has one slot.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Canon Rebel»Y-----1.1---Canon Rebel
Nikon D4«Ymonomono--micro2.0---Nikon D4
Canon T7i« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon T7i
Canon T6s« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Canon T6s
Canon T4i« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon T4i
Canon T3i« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon T3i
Canon T1i« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Canon T1i
Canon XTi« »Y-----2.0---Canon XTi
Canon XT« »Y-----2.0---Canon XT
Canon 20D« »Y-----1.1---Canon 20D
Canon 10D« »Y-----1.1---Canon 10D
Nikon D5« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0---Nikon D5
Nikon D4S« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D4S
Nikon Df« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon Df
Nikon D3S« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Nikon D3S
Nikon D3« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon D3
Nikon D70« »Y-----1.0---Nikon D70

Both the Rebel and the D4 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The Rebel was replaced by the Canon XT, while the D4 was followed by the Nikon D4S.

Review summary: Canon Rebel vs Nikon D4

So how do things add up? Is the Canon Rebel better than the Nikon D4 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Digital Rebel:

  • More compact: Is smaller (142x99mm vs 160x157mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 691g or 52 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (85 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2003).

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D4:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (16.2 vs 6.3MP), which boosts linear resolution by 60%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (34 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (3.7 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.3 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 118k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (2600 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Reflects 8 years and 4 months of technical progress since the Rebel launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D4 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 5 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.

Rebel 05:17 D4

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the Rebel or the D4 handle or perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon Rebel»-HiRec-rev- Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
Nikon D4«--4.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999- i Nikon D4
Canon T7i« »-80/1004.5/54/54/5 Feb 2017 749 i i Canon T7i
Canon T6s« »Rec77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 849- i Canon T6s
Canon T4i« »HiRec77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849- i Canon T4i
Canon T3i« »rev77/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2011 599- i Canon T3i
Canon T1i« »HiRec74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799- i Canon T1i
Canon XTi« »HiRecHiRecrev4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799- i Canon XTi
Canon XT« »80/100HiRecrevrev- Feb 2005 899- i Canon XT
Canon 20D« »-HiRec-rev- Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
Canon 10D« »-HiRec-rev- Feb 2003 1,999- i Canon 10D
Nikon D5« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499 i i Nikon D5
Nikon D4S« »--4.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499- i Nikon D4S
Nikon Df« »-81/1004/54/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749 i i Nikon Df
Nikon D3S« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
Nikon D3« »-HiRec5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999- i Nikon D3
Nikon D70« »-HiRec-rev- Jan 2004 999- i Nikon D70

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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