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Canon vs Nikon – Which give better skin tones?

Canon vs Nikon – Which give better skin tones?

As a portrait photographer skin tones are quite important. A lot of how the final images look are in the editing and I believe the the camera is just a tool and it doesn’t matter if you can Canon, Nikon, Sony or even pentax (other brands are available). I’ve heard recently a lot of people say that Canon or Nikon give more pleasing skin tones. This is normally from people already shooting one brand already but I’m in a fairly unique position in that I’ve shot with Canon and Nikon for many years. Both on their own (I started with canon) and together (for 4 years) and now I’m 90% Nikon. So I have a fairly good handle on how each camera behaves and if it is an advantage to shoot one brand of camera over another.

Can you tell Canon from Nikon?

So in order for this to work best I wanted to make sure that there were as few clues as possible, so to make it a true fair test I chose an older wedding from winchester under a fading sun so that white balance doesn’t give as much away. I also processed using VSCO presets that are configured to work for each camera differently. The cameras in this test are Canon 5d mark II, Canon 1DS mark iii and Nikon D3S. I do find that there are sometimes differences in different generations of camera sensors but thats a post for another day.

Guess your cameras!

I’m going to present a series of 10 photos below, some are canon, some are nikon.. probably. I’d love to hear which ones you think or which… leave your answers in the comments and I’ll give you all a mark out of 10.

dorset-commercial-photographer-canon-v-nikon-skintones-10 dorset-commercial-photographer-canon-v-nikon-skintones-1 dorset-commercial-photographer-canon-v-nikon-skintones-2 dorset-commercial-photographer-canon-v-nikon-skintones-3 dorset-commercial-photographer-canon-v-nikon-skintones-4 dorset-commercial-photographer-canon-v-nikon-skintones-5 dorset-commercial-photographer-canon-v-nikon-skintones-6 dorset-commercial-photographer-canon-v-nikon-skintones-7 dorset-commercial-photographer-canon-v-nikon-skintones-8 dorset-commercial-photographer-canon-v-nikon-skintones-9

I am a commercial, portrait and wedding photographer based between Blandford and Portland, available worldwide for photoshoots. Please get in contact if you would like more information about booking a shoot.

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  • May 2, 2014 - 11:54 am

    Paul Apaullo Woods - Hmm, tricky. I will go for: CCNCNNCCCC

  • May 2, 2014 - 12:42 pm

    Richard Alexander Roworth - NCNCCNNNNC

  • May 2, 2014 - 12:52 pm

    John Armstrong-Millar - For what it’s worth CNCCCNNNCC

  • May 2, 2014 - 2:48 pm

    Brett McNally - ooh this looks like fun lol, im going to go with: NCCNCNNCNC πŸ™‚

  • May 2, 2014 - 3:16 pm

    Georgi Mabee - I can’t believe I’m doing this but am so curious! I think: NCCNNCCCNC

  • March 11, 2015 - 11:50 am

    Nichola Rogers - i want to know nowww haha i think CNCCCNNNCC πŸ™‚

  • March 11, 2015 - 12:11 pm

    Rob Dunlop - NCCNNNNCCC

  • April 10, 2016 - 12:40 pm

    David Mawson - These are all good photographs but the style used, with it’s deliberate slight over-exposure and lack of skin detail, is one that will make most sensors look the same – it’s designed to flatter at the cost of detail. And the real differences between sensors are how much and *what* detail they pick up at different frequencies.

    You can push the final colour balance anywhere you want, but sensors that prioritize green and blue sensitivty too much reveal more Bad Skin Stuff relative to Good Skin Stuff – the extreme example of this is a Sigma Foveon, one of which should be in the office of every ambitious dermatologist, and the Fuji x-trans aka The Sold State Retoucher.

    The advantage to a more skin friendly sensor is that it allows you to keep more detail and retouch less, all things being equal. And the only meaningful way to test would be to take a version each shot with each sensor. I’m fairly confident saying the results would be something like Fuji > (Canon = Sony) > Nikon > Sigma Foveon Merrill. Although ISO and light angle will have a large effect, especially on the Sigma; it can do spectacular portraits with enough care, which isn’t really feasible outside of a dedicated portrait shoot.

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