Canon XS vs Nikon D90
The Canon EOS Rebel XS (called Canon 1000D in some regions) and the Nikon D90 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2008 and August 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 12.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS Rebel XS and the Nikon D90? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon XS and the Nikon D90. 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D90 is notably larger (10 percent) than the Canon XS. Moreover, the D90 is substantially heavier (40 percent) than the XS. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the XS nor the D90 are weather-sealed.
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. Yet, since both cameras are based around an APS-C sensor, their respective lenses will tend to have similar dimensions and heft. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (XS) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D90).
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon XS||126 mm||98 mm||65 mm||502 g||500||n||Jun 2008||449|
|2.||Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299|
|3.||Canon T7||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||475 g||500||n||Feb 2018||449|
|4.||Canon T100||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399|
|5.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|6.||Canon T3||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|7.||Canon SX20||123 mm||88 mm||87 mm||600 g||..||n||Aug 2009||399|
|8.||Canon T1i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|9.||Canon SX10||123 mm||88 mm||87 mm||600 g||..||n||Sep 2008||399|
|10.||Canon XSi||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799|
|11.||Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|12.||Canon XTi||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|13.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|14.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|15.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|16.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 XS was launched at a markedly lower price (by 65 percent) than the D90, 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D90 is 13 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (XS) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 12.2MP, the D90 offers a higher resolution than the XS (10.1MP), but the D90 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.53μm versus 5.71μm for the XS). It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D90 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D90 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.5 x 36.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17.2 x 11.4 inches or 43.6 x 28.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.3 x 9.5 inches or 36.3 x 24.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon XS are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.4 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.6 x 10.4 inches or 39.5 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 13 x 8.6 inches or 32.9 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS Rebel XS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 800, which can be extended to ISO 100-1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D90 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 200-6400.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The D90 indeed provides for movie recording, while the XS does not. The highest resolution format that the D90 can use is 720/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The XS and the D90 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 viewfinder in the D90 offers a wider field of view (96%) than the one in the XS (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D90 has a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.51x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon XS, the Nikon D90, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon XS||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|2.||Nikon D90||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5||Y||n|
|3.||Canon T7||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon T100||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|5.||Canon T5||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|6.||Canon T3||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|7.||Canon SX20||202||n||2.5 / 230||swivel||n||1/3200s||0.7||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon T1i||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4||Y||n|
|9.||Canon SX10||202||n||2.5 / 230||swivel||n||1/3200s||0.7||Y||Y|
|10.||Canon XSi||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n|
|11.||Canon 40D||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.5||Y||n|
|12.||Canon XTi||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D7000||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D300S||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||n|
|15.||Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7 / 230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n|
|16.||Nikon D80||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
One feature that is present on the D90, but is missing on the XS is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the XS and the D90 write their files to SDHC cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS Rebel XS and Nikon D90 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon XS||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D90||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon T7||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon T100||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon T5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon T3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon SX20||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||YES||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon T1i||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon SX10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon XSi||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 40D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon XTi||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D7000||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D300S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D5000||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D80||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the XS and the D90 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The XS was replaced by the Canon T3, while the D90 was followed by the Nikon D7000. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon XS or the Nikon D90 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel XS:
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 201g or 29 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (65 percent cheaper at launch).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D90:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 10.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/24p video.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (96% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.51x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (850 versus 500) out of a single battery charge.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D90 is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 2 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon XS and the Nikon D90 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the XS or the D90. 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 expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon XS||..||82/100||..||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2008||449|
|2.||Nikon D90||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|3.||Canon T7||..||o||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||449|
|4.||Canon T100||..||o||3/5||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399|
|5.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|6.||Canon T3||..||80/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449|
|7.||Canon SX20||..||+ +||..||73/100||..||4/5||Aug 2009||399|
|8.||Canon T1i||..||+ +||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|9.||Canon SX10||..||+ +||..||..||..||4/5||Sep 2008||399|
|10.||Canon XSi||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799|
|11.||Canon 40D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|12.||Canon XTi||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|13.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|14.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|15.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|16.||Nikon D80||..||+||..||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon XS vs Nikon D90
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon XS||Nikon D90|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2008||August 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 449||USD 1,299|
|Sensor Specs||Canon XS||Nikon D90|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.2 x 14.8 mm||23.6 x 15.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||328.56 mm2||372.88 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.7 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10.1 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3888 x 2592 pixels||4288 x 2848 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.71 μm||5.53 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.07 MP/cm2||3.28 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||720/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 800 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 1,600 ISO||200 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 3||EXPEED|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||22.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||977|
|Screen Specs||Canon XS||Nikon D90|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||96%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon XS||Nikon D90|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||4.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon XS||Nikon D90|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon XS||Nikon D90|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||850 shots per charge|
126 x 98 x 65 mm
(5.0 x 3.9 x 2.6 in)
132 x 103 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||502 g (17.7 oz)||703 g (24.8 oz)|
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