PW

Canon XT vs Nikon D90

The Canon EOS Rebel XT (called Canon 350D in some regions) and the Nikon D90 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2005 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 8 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.

Headline Specifications
Canon XT VS Nikon D90
Canon XT Nikon D90
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
8 MP, APS-C Sensor 12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 720/24p Video
ISO 100-1600 ISO 200-3200 (200-6400)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
1.8" LCD, 115k dots 3.0" LCD, 920k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 4.5 shutter flaps per second
400 shots per battery charge850 shots per battery charge
127 x 94 x 64 mm, 540 g 132 x 103 x 77 mm, 703 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS Rebel XT 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.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon XT and the Nikon D90 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The XT can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the D90 is only available in black.

Size Canon XT vs Nikon D90
Compare XT versus D90 top
Comparison XT or D90 rear

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 (14 percent) than the Canon XT. Moreover, the D90 is markedly heavier (30 percent) than the XT. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the XT 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 (XT) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D90).

Concerning battery life, the XT gets 400 shots out of its NB-2LH battery, while the D90 can take 850 images on a single charge of its EN-EL3e power pack.

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)
Camera
Model
 
Canon XT» 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899iCanon XT
 
Nikon D90« 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 24.8 oz 850 n Aug 2008 1,299iNikon D90
 
Canon 77D« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 19.0 oz 600 n Feb 2017 899 iCanon 77D
 
Canon T6i« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 440 n Feb 2015 749iCanon T6i
 
Canon T6s« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.9 oz 440 n Feb 2015 649iCanon T6s
 
Canon T4i« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.3 oz 440 n Jun 2012 849iCanon T4i
 
Canon T1i« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799iCanon T1i
 
Canon XSi« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.5 oz 500 n Jan 2008 799iCanon XSi
 
Canon 40D« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299iCanon 40D
 
Canon 30D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399iCanon 30D
 
Canon XTi« » 5.0 in 3.3 in 2.6 in 19.6 oz 370 n Aug 2006 799iCanon XTi
 
Canon 20D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 n Aug 2004 1,499iCanon 20D
 
Canon Rebel« » 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899iCanon Rebel
 
Nikon D7000« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 27.5 oz 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499iNikon D7000
 
Nikon D300S« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 33.1 oz 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799iNikon D300S
 
Nikon D5000« » 5.0 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 20.8 oz 510 n Apr 2009 749iNikon D5000
 
Nikon D80« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 23.6 oz 600 n Aug 2006 999iNikon D80
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as 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 XT was launched at a markedly lower price (by 31 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.

 

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 (XT) 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.

Canon XT and Nikon D90 sensor measures

With 12.2MP, the D90 offers a higher resolution than the XT (8MP), but the D90 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.53μm versus 6.41μm for the XT). Yet, the D90 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 6 months) than the XT, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

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 inch or 54.5 x 36.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17.2 x 11.4 inch or 43.6 x 28.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.3 x 9.5 inch or 36.3 x 24.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon XT are 17.3 x 11.5 inch or 43.9 x 29.3 cm for good quality, 13.8 x 9.2 inch or 35.1 x 23.4 cm for very good quality, and 11.5 x 7.7 inch or 29.3 x 19.5 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS Rebel XT has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 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.

XT versus D90 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D90 offers substantially better image quality than the XT (overall score 13 points higher). The advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 1.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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 XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760Canon XT
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773Nikon D90
 
Canon 77D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.397178Canon 77D
 
Canon T6i APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971Canon T6i
 
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 T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363Canon T1i
 
Canon XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261Canon XSi
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364Canon 40D
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659Canon 30D
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462Canon XTi
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162Canon 20D
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455Canon Rebel
 
Nikon D7000 APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.9116780Nikon D7000
 
Nikon D300S APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770Nikon D300S
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461Nikon D80

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D90 indeed provides for movie recording, while the XT does not. The highest resolution format that the D90 can use is 720/24p.

 

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The XT 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 XT (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 0.49x), 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 XT, the Nikon D90, and comparable cameras.

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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Canon XToptical n 1.8 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Canon XT
 
Nikon D90optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 Y n Nikon D90
 
Canon 77Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n Canon 77D
 
Canon T6ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Canon T6i
 
Canon T6soptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Canon T6s
 
Canon T4ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Canon T4i
 
Canon T1ioptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n Canon T1i
 
Canon XSioptical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n Canon XSi
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n Canon 40D
 
Canon 30Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n Canon 30D
 
Canon XTioptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Canon XTi
 
Canon 20Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n Canon 20D
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n Canon Rebel
 
Nikon D7000optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n Nikon D7000
 
Nikon D300Soptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y n Nikon D300S
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D80

One feature that is present on the D90, but is missing on the XT 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.

The XT writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D90 uses SDHC cards.

 

Connectivity comparison

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 XT and Nikon D90 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Canon XTYnonenone--none2.0---Canon XT
 
Nikon D90Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D90
 
Canon 77DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon 77D
 
Canon T6iYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Canon T6i
 
Canon T6sYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Canon T6s
 
Canon T4iYstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon T4i
 
Canon T1iYmonomono--mini2.0---Canon T1i
 
Canon XSiYnonenone--mini2.0---Canon XSi
 
Canon 40DYnonenone--none2.0---Canon 40D
 
Canon 30DYnonenone--none2.0---Canon 30D
 
Canon XTiYnonenone--none2.0---Canon XTi
 
Canon 20DYnonenone--none1.1---Canon 20D
 
Canon RebelYnonenone--none1.1---Canon Rebel
 
Nikon D7000YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D7000
 
Nikon D300SYstereomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D300S
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D80Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D80

Both the XT and the D90 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The XT was replaced by the Canon Xti, 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.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon XT better than the Nikon D90 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

ilogo

Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel XT:

  • More compact: Is smaller (127x94mm vs 132x103mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 163g or 23 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (31 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2005).

ilogo

Arguments in favor of the Nikon D90:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 8MP), which boosts linear resolution by 24%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (13 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.7 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • 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 0.49x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 115k 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 400) out of a single battery charge.
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 6 months of technical progress since the XT launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D90 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 4 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

XT 04:13 D90

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon XT 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 comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the XT or the D90. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cam
era
  labs  
dp
re
  view  
e
photo
  zine  
ima
ging
resource
photo
graphy
  blog  
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Canon XT80/100+ +oo.. Feb 2005 899iCanon XT
 
Nikon D90+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299iNikon D90
 
Canon 77D..82/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Feb 2017 899 iCanon 77D
 
Canon T6i..75/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749iCanon T6i
 
Canon T6s+77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649iCanon T6s
 
Canon T4i+ +77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849iCanon T4i
 
Canon T1i+ +74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799iCanon T1i
 
Canon XSi+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799iCanon XSi
 
Canon 40D+ ++ +4.5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299iCanon 40D
 
Canon 30D+ ++ +oo.. Feb 2006 1,399iCanon 30D
 
Canon XTi+ ++ +o4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799iCanon XTi
 
Canon 20D..+ +..o.. Aug 2004 1,499iCanon 20D
 
Canon Rebel..+ +..o.. Aug 2003 899iCanon Rebel
 
Nikon D7000..80/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499iNikon D7000
 
Nikon D300S+ +82/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799iNikon D300S
 
Nikon D5000+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749iNikon D5000
 
Nikon D80++ +o4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999iNikon D80
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon XT:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D90:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

~

    Specifications: Canon XT 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 Specifications
    Camera Model Canon XT Nikon D90
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2005 August 2008
    Launch Price USD 899 USD 1299
    Sensor Specs Canon XT Nikon D90
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 8 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3456 x 2304 pixels 4288 x 2848 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.41 μm 5.53 μm
    Pixel Density 2.42 MP/cm2 3.28 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 720/24p Video
    ISO Setting 100-1600 ISO 200-3200 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 200-6400 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC II EXPEED
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 60 73
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.8 22.7
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 12.5
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 637 977
    Screen Specs Canon XT Nikon D90
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 96%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.49x 0.63x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 1.8 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 115k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon XT Nikon D90
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 4.5 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy50 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon XT Nikon D90
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon XT Nikon D90
    Battery Type NB-2LH EN-EL3e
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge850 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 127 x 94 x 64 mm
    (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
    132 x 103 x 77 mm
    (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 540 g (19.0 oz) 703 g (24.8 oz)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

    You are here Home  »  CAM-parator  »  Canon XT vs Nikon D90