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Nikon D2X versus Canon 5D

The Nikon D2X and the Canon EOS 5D are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2004 and August 2005. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D2X) and a full frame (5D) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 12.2 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 12.7 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: Nikon D2X vs Canon 5D

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D2X and the Canon 5D is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the D2X – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Nikon D2X vs Canon 5D
D2X versus 5D top view
D2X and 5D rear side
Body view (D2X on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 5D is notably smaller (28 percent) than the Nikon D2X. Moreover, the 5D is markedly lighter (29 percent) than the D2X. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

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 Nikon Lens Catalog (D2X) and the Canon EF Lens Catalog (5D).

Concerning battery life, the D2X gets 3800 shots out of its EN-EL4a battery, while the 5D can take 400 images on a single charge of its BP-511A power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Nikon D2X (⇒ rgt) 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 YES 2004 4,999discont. check
Canon 5D (⇒ lft) 152 mm 113 mm 75 mm 895 g 400 YES 2005 3,299discont. check
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 YES 2015 3,699 latest check
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) 145 mm 111 mm 71 mm 770 g 1090 YES 2012 2,099discont. check
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 950 g 950 YES 2012 3,499discont. check
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 152 mm 114 mm 75 mm 850 g 850 YES 2008 3,499discont. check
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) 156 mm 156.6 mm 80 mm 1155 g 2200 YES 2007 4,499discont. check
Canon 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt) 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1565 g 1200 YES 2005 3,999discont. check
Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt) 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1240 g 4200 YES 2009 5,199discont. check
Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt) 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 938 g 950 YES 2009 1,799discont. check
Nikon D3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1300 g 4300 YES 2007 4,999discont. check
Nikon D300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 147 mm 114 mm 74 mm 925 g 1000 YES 2007 1,799discont. check
Nikon D2Xs (⇒ lft | rgt) 157.5 mm 149.5 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 YES 2006 4,699discont. check
Nikon D200 (⇒ lft | rgt) 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 YES 2005 1,699discont. check
Nikon D2H (⇒ lft | rgt) 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1070 g .. YES 2003 3,499discont. check
Nikon D1X (⇒ lft | rgt) 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 YES 2001 5,999discont. check
Nikon D1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g .. YES 1999 5,499discont. check

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 5D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 34 percent) than the D2X, 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: Nikon D2X vs Canon 5D

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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D2X features an APS-C sensor and the Canon 5D a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the 5D is 132 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D2X and Canon 5D sensor measures
Sensor size

With 12.7MP, the 5D offers a higher resolution than the D2X (12.2MP), but the 5D nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 8.25μm versus 5.52μm for the D2X) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the 5D is a somewhat more recent model (by 10 months) than the D2X, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

D2X versus 5D MP
Sensor resolution

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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 5D offers substantially better image quality than the D2X (overall score 12 points higher). The advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 0.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.5 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 Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Nikon D2X (⇒ rgt) APS-C 12.2 4288 2848 no 22.1 10.9 476 59
Canon 5D (⇒ lft) Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912 no 22.9 11.1 1368 71
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 50.3 8688 5792 1080/60p 24.6 12.4 2308 86
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 20.0 5472 3648 1080/30p 23.8 12.1 2340 82
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 22.1 5760 3840 1080/30p 24 11.7 2293 81
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744 1080/30p 23.7 11.9 1815 79
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-H 10.1 3888 2592 no 22.7 11.7 1078 71
Canon 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-H 8.2 3504 2336 no 22.3 11.2 975 66
Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832 720/24p 23.5 12.0 3253 82
Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 12.2 4288 2848 720/24p 22.5 12.2 787 70
Nikon D3 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832 no 23.5 12.2 2290 81
Nikon D300 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 12.2 4288 2848 no 22.1 12.0 679 67
Nikon D2Xs (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 12.2 4288 2848 no 22.2 10.9 489 59
Nikon D200 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 10.0 3872 2592 no 22.3 11.5 583 64
Nikon D2H (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 4.0 2464 1632 no 18.9 10.0 352 40
Nikon D1X (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 5.9 3008 1960 no - - - -
Nikon D1 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 2.6 2000 1312 no - - - -
Neither the D2X nor the 5D offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison: Nikon D2X vs Canon 5D

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D2X and the 5D 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D2X and Canon 5D in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Nikon D2X (⇒ rgt) optical YES 2.5 235 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Canon 5D (⇒ lft) optical YES 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 3.0 no no
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 fixed no 4000 4.5 no no
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 6.0 no no
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 3.9 no no
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 230 fixed no 8000 10.0 no no
Canon 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 8.5 no no
Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 921 fixed no 8000 11.0 no no
Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 7.0 12 no
Nikon D3 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 922 fixed no 8000 11.0 no no
Nikon D300 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 922 fixed no 8000 6.0 12 no
Nikon D2Xs (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Nikon D200 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 5.0 12 no
Nikon D2H (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 211 fixed no 8000 8.0 no no
Nikon D1X (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.0 120 fixed no 16000 3.0 no no
Nikon D1 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.0 120 fixed no 16000 1.5 no no

Both the D2X and the 5D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D2X was replaced by the Nikon D2Xs, while the 5D was followed by the Canon 5D Mark II.

Review summary: Nikon D2X vs Canon 5D

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D2X or the Canon 5D – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D2X:

  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (3800 versus 400) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2004).

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Advantages of the Canon EOS 5D:

  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (12 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • More compact: Is smaller (152x113mm vs 158x150mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 357g or 29 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (34 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (10 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 5D emerges as the winner of the match-up (6 : 3 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.

D2X 03:06 5D

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D2X or the 5D. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
.com
dp
review
.com
ephoto
zine
.com
imaging
resource
.com
photography
blog
.com
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Nikon D2X (⇒ rgt) - HiRec - reviewed - 2004 4,999discont. check
Canon 5D (⇒ lft) 88/100 HiRec reviewed reviewed - 2005 3,299discont. check
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 83/100 Silver 5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 3,699 latest check
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 83/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 2,099discont. check
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2012 3,499discont. check
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 91/100 79/100 HiRec 4/5 5/5 - 2008 3,499discont. check
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - reviewed - 2007 4,499discont. check
Canon 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - - 2005 3,999discont. check
Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt) - 89/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2009 5,199discont. check
Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt) 90/100 HiRec 82/100 HiRec 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2009 1,799discont. check
Nikon D3 (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec 5/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2007 4,999discont. check
Nikon D300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 90/100 HiRec HiRec 5/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2007 1,799discont. check
Nikon D2Xs (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - reviewed - 2006 4,699discont. check
Nikon D200 (⇒ lft | rgt) 91/100 HiRec HiRec reviewed 5/5 - 2005 1,699discont. check
Nikon D2H (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - reviewed - 2003 3,499discont. check
Nikon D1X (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - reviewed - 2001 5,999discont. check
Nikon D1 (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - - - 1999 5,499discont. check

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.


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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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