Canon vs Nikon

In the history of mankind there have been many polarizing ideas that have pit brother against brother, husband against wife, friend against friend. Ideas such as: Democrat versus Republican, cats versus dogs, and in the DSLR world it is Canon versus Nikon.

So which is better Canon or Nikon?

This is an often asked question because there is no clear winner of which brand makes the best DSLRs. However, this is an important decision to make as a beginner since all your future lens choices and accessories will be based on your camera body brand. Canon and Nikon are not the only DSLR manufacturers, but these are the two main heavy hitters in the DSLR industry. As a beginner, it might be a good idea to stick with a common brand so that you can easily seek out others with similar gear to learn from. Once gear is purchased for one system, it can be quite costly to change your mind and switch to another system. Below are some things to keep in mind when choosing between the Nikon and Canon brands.


1 . Ease of Use.
I highly recommend going to your local camera store or camera rental place and handling both brands of cameras. If there’s no camera store nearby, you can always use online camera rental sites, such as, which will ship the gear to you. How ever you get your hands on a camera, check to see which camera has a correct feel in your hand. There may be subtle differences in the texture, grip, and heft of the camera.

Next, check out the camera bodies’ ergonomics. Are there too many/too few buttons on the body of the camera? Are the buttons too small/too large? Are the buttons easily accessible but not in the way so that you might accidentally press one of them? Are the knobs too tight/too loose to turn? Being able to quickly and easily change the settings on your camera will be crucial.

Additionally, take a look at the LCD screen. Is it too big or too small? Is the clarity of the screen what you want? Further, compare the in camera menu and information layouts between Canon and Nikon. How easy and intuitive is it to change and view settings on screen?


2. Lens selection
Nikon DSLRs can use a majority of the Nikon lenses dating back to 1977. However there are some exceptions and the Nikon website provides charts for which lenses are compatible with each of their camera bodies. 

In contrast, Canon created a brand-new EOS lens mount system in 1987, in order to accommodate for the then new technology of autofocusing. Consequently, older manual focusing Canon lenses are not compatible with modern day Canon bodies. By changing to an updated lens mount, Canon bodies are able to better perform certain advanced features, such as better depth of field preview, as compared to Nikon bodies. Canon already has a wide variety of EOS compatible lenses and is continually expanding its lens lineup.

As a side note, Nikon lenses may be compatible with Canon bodies but Canon lenses are not compatible with Nikon cameras.




Without taking value (features & quality) into account, the Canon brand appears to be slightly pricier than Nikon. The current selection of new Nikon DSLR bodies range in list price from $430 (D3100) to $6500 (D4S) while Canon ranges from $450 (Rebel T3) to $6800 (1D X).

For further comparison purposes, below is a snapshot of prices for a 50mm 1.4 lens:
Nikon 50mm f/1.4G SIC SW Prime AF-S Nikkor Lens(~$334)
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM (~$400)


4. Image colors
There are a series of posts at Alanna Scully Photography that showcases the subtle differences in color and saturation between Canon and Nikon cameras. Canon and Nikon use different “secret sauce recipes” in their image processing which results in slightly different image colors. Neither one is better than the other. It all depends on your taste, and in some cases your brand preference may change from one photo to the next.


5. Features
The DSLR market is very competitive so luckily for consumers Canon and Nikon have been able to keep up with each other in terms of new technologies and on camera features, such as wifi. Granted that you can always use third party software, those on a tight budget might want to also examine the features of the proprietary software that comes bundled with the camera body. For example, the Canon EOS Utility software that comes with Canon bodies, allows you to shoot tethered.