This is a helpful guide discussing whether Canon or Nikon is right for you.
In this all-new guide you’ll learn about:
- Differences between Nikon and Canon
- What Canon and Nikon cameras professionals use
- The features between the two
- Which is more popular
- Which is older
- Which is better for beginners
- And lots more
Let’s dive in.
There are so many options when it comes to camera brands.
But we all agree that the two biggest names are always Canon and Nikon.
Sometimes it feels like the debate on Canon vs. Nikon may never end. Each brand has its own users and loyal fans with their own reasons.
But this can be a little bit frustrating for beginners who plan to buy their very first camera. (View 12 best cameras for beginners).
Which brand to get? Which one is better? Which one is more beginner-friendly? Which one is best for long-term use?
This article will provide you with some helpful information and guide you through the process of choosing the best of the best between Canon and Nikon.
Do Professional Photographers use Nikon or Canon?
Every photographer has their own taste and needs which influence their choice in which camera brands to use.
Professional photographers will look for a camera with great resolution, high ISO, lower image noise, fast and effective focus, weight balance between camera body and lenses, color accuracy, and camera durability.
Both Canon and Nikon have products that provide those qualities, and naturally, there are professionals who have their own view of the Canon vs Nikon debate.
But maybe we can get a better idea if we look into the statistics of popular camera brands used by famous award-winning photographers.
For instance, the top 8 cameras used by photographers who won World Press Photo are:
- Nikon D5
- Nikon D810
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III
- Nikon D800E
- Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
- Nikon D4S
- Nikon D750
- Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Based on that list, we can see that both Canon and Nikon are used by award-winning professional photographers.
But if we examine that list closer, Nikon cameras appear more often.
Not only that, but the Nikon D5, being first on the list, is the most popular camera among award-winning professionals.
We have to keep in mind that list pertains to awards for photojournalism; that means the Canon camera vs Nikon camera data is skewed due to the choice of cameras used by journalists who often have to take their gear outdoors.
Which is Better: Nikon or Canon?
If we want to know the camera that rises to the top of the Canon vs. Nikon debate, we have to set the criteria of comparison first. These are the criteria, click a header to jump to its section:
- Telephoto Zooms
- Wide-Ratio Zooms
- Lens Correction
- Flash Control
- Camera Setting Memories
- Power Switches
- Flicker Shoot-Through
- Quick Control Screen
We know that different shooting situations need different camera capabilities.
Each brand has its own quality to fulfill certain situations. No single camera provides for all needs. For example, a camera that is good for photojournalism might be not the right choice for a wedding photographer.
Different occasions need different gear. That’s why deciding which one is better is not as simple as it may seem.
To make it less complicated, let’s compare based on their features and criteria:
1. Nikon vs. Canon – Production
Canon makes most of their cameras, even the less expensive ones, domestically in Japan.
Nikon, on the other hand, only produces domestically for their flagship pro products.
This is the reason why Nikon cameras are usually cheaper than Canon cameras. They produce offshore to save money.
Even when they take care in handling quality control, there will always be some quality differences.
2. Nikon vs. Canon – Lenses
Both brands make excellent quality camera lenses.
To choose which one is better, you need to know your needs and what’s more important to you.
If you want one lens that covers everything, maybe you should pick Nikon.
But if you intend on taking more detailed telephoto pictures or playing around with macro photography, Canon will be a better bet.
3. Nikon vs. Canon – Telephoto Zooms
It can focus closer than most other professional – 70-200mm to 400mm simply by twisting!
You don’t need an additional macro lens because this lens can focus so close it gets the job done.
While Nikon’s 80-400mm VR lens can’t focus nearly as close as that.
4. Nikon vs. Canon – Wide-Ratio Zooms
If you are looking for one lens that does everything, you are better choosing Nikon.
Canon lenses require you to manually switch between auto and manual. Nikon lenses are generally a lot simpler.
5. Nikon vs. Canon – Ultra Wides
6. Nikon vs. Canon – Lens Correction
Modern Nikon cameras automatically correct color fringes whatever the lens.
In the Canon ecosystem you must manually choose the profile matching the attached lens.
Unfortunately, there are few profiles available for older 3rd party lenses. The majority of Nikon cameras let you manually correct lens distortion using the cameras menu system.
7. Nikon vs. Canon – Flash Control
In the past, Nikon cameras were considered superior when it came to flash systems.
Nowadays, both Canon and Nikon make great products that are fantastic at flash filling.
Neither works particularly well indoors, but they are equally good for outdoor photography.
8. Nikon vs. Canon – Camera Setting Memories
Canon cameras can memorize camera settings for different shooting needs on the mode dials.
This comes in handy since you can shift to a different mode simply by rotating the dial.
Nikon cameras also have two mode dials but they can’t store or ‘remember’ the settings like Canon cameras.
You have to reset them manually each time you need to take another type of picture.
9. Nikon vs. Canon – Power Switches
Canon cameras have a lock button on the camera casing to keep the camera on so you can pick it up and continue shooting any time you need.
Nikon removed the lock button on their power switches, which means their cameras can just switch off automatically.
This one is simply a matter of preference. If you have to shoot all day and catch moments fast, it’s better to have your camera on and unable to shut itself off automatically so you don’t miss any shots.
10. Nikon vs. Canon – Flicker Shoot-Through
In 2014, Canon added a new feature – the ability to shoot through flicker.
Newer Canon cameras monitor. They then delay the shutter for a few milliseconds as necessary to avoid color changes caused by flicker.
This feature is extremely helpful if you shoot at night or in indoor sports photos. This is one area Canon wins the Canon vs Nikon debate.
11. Nikon vs. Canon – Quick Control Screen
Canon has a quick control screen so you can set anything quickly.
Nikon possesses a similar info screen but shows fewer items and only lets you control basic settings.
Why is Canon More Popular than Nikon?
Canon has a larger sales volume than Nikon.
This fact doesn’t necessarily make it better. There are a lot of factors involved, including the marketing and advertising strategies used by both companies.
Canon is also known for having a wider range of products. And it’s not just cameras; they also produce printers, copy machines, scanners, calculators, camcorders, etc.
This makes people feel more familiar with the brand. And it is not strange if a Canon printer user, who is satisfied with the product, finally decides to get a Canon camera.
They already trust the quality of the brand.
Canon is more consistent in creating new, innovative products.
Canon introduced the autofocus motor located on lenses in 1987.
This feature provides faster focus speed, which is very important for sports shooters. Canon also produced full frame sensors while Nikon decided not to.
Around 2007, Nikon introduced the D3, but it was just a little too late.
Another reason for Canon’s higher popularity is that Nikon doesn’t have AF motors in their entry level cameras, while Canon does.
Beginners are more likely to buy a product with higher specs in the same $ range. This is resulting in bigger sales and more users for Canon.
Canon are also known for having great after-sale services, like free camera cleaning.
They also have more outlets, so they are easier to find.
Lastly, they often host programs to engage more with their customers, like photo marathons, photo expos, etc.
Which is Older Nikon or Canon?
The Canon camera vs Nikon camera choice has been going on for a very long time now.
Nikon is the older of the two companies, but didn’t produce its first camera until more than a decade after Canon did.
Canon produced its first camera, the Kwanon, in 1934 before trademarking the brand Canon a year later. Nikon produced its first camera in 1948.
Nikon started as an optical instruments and glass company producing Nikon lenses in 1932 (and continues to do so to this day) before producing cameras.
Nikon even made lenses for Canon’s early cameras.
So, as a company, Nikon is older, but in camera making, Canon came first.
Which Is Better for Beginners: Canon vs Nikon
This is not the type of question that can be answered in a single word.
The Canon vs Nikon for beginners argument will forever persist.
Each brand has its own superiority and it really depends on what you think is important.
To make it easier to understand, here are some positive qualities you can expect from both brands:
Reasons to choose Nikon:
Nikon has better quality and a selection of wide to zoom lenses.
As a beginner, it is important for you to have a lens that does it all.
With wide to zoom ratio lenses, you will have a lot of flexibility. As your experience increases, you can start to invest in more advanced lenses.
Reasons to choose Canon:
While Nikon is better at providing a beginner-oriented wide to zoom lens that does it all, there’s no doubt that Canon is superior when it comes to overall lens selection.
From wide to mid, zoom to super zoom, Canon can cover your needs at every level of photography.
A big lens selection will absolutely benefit you in the long run especially when you become more advanced.
Canon also leads the Canon vs Nikon argument with a better video offering than Nikon.
Whether you make videos or not, it is something you should consider.
Best Beginner Canon Cameras
Canon EOS Rebel SL3/ 250D
Size and weight must be important for a beginner to consider when buying their first camera.
The Canon EOS Rebel SL/ 250D is so compact and light, and almost the same size of mirrorless camera. Even though it is light, it is still full of features and has a longer battery life than mirrorless cameras.
It comes with DIGIC 8 image processor, wider sensitivity range, ultra HD 4k video, time lapse movie recording, and creative assist mode that allows you to adjust color tones and compose images more creatively.
Canon EOS 80D
The Canon EOS 80D is the one you should consider if you want to take photography seriously.
It is beginner-friendly, but also good in the long run. It will give you professional grade images with the 24,2 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 6 processor.
It is also complete with noise reduction and extended sensitivity up to ISO 25600 which will help you in low-light settings.
Canon EOS M50
There are so many things to appreciate about the Canon EOS M50. It has the most advanced sensors and image processors and an interchangeable lens.
Not only that, but a 24,1 MP APS-C CMOS sensor, DIGIC 8 image processor, dual pixel CMOS AF, and 5 axis image stabilization system all tucked neatly into a small and compact body.
Also, check out the best lenses for the Canon M50.
Best Beginner Nikon Cameras
This camera is best if you are just starting out. It is simple enough to understand for a beginner.
The D3500 is the entry level in Nikon’s DSLR range (view the best Nikon D3500 lenses), but it has 24,2 MP sensor and it is as good as cameras worth twice the investment.
It is also complete with guide modes to help beginners get started and understand the basic principles.
It also has the manual controls you can familiarize yourself with in order to improve your skills.
The Nikon D5600 is a step up from the D3500 models. It has a stronger set of specs, including a larger LCD screen that can flip out and turn around facing forward for vlogging.
Side note, here is a list of the best vlogging cameras.
It also responds to touch, and has a more advanced autofocus system. It has wi-fi connectivity and a range of additional controls on the inside.
Also, check out the best lenses for the Nikon D5600.
The Nikon D5300 has a small size and light-weight construction. This is a great option if you move often.
It has pretty good basic specs, even complete with wi-fi and GPS.
However, the Nikon D5300 is a true entry level camera so it lacks a larger native ISO range, and its body is not weather-sealed.
Now that you have all the information in your hands, the next move is up to you.
The Canon vs Nikon debate will never end.
If you are still unsure, talk to your friends or family. They probably have some recommendations along with their reasons.
Getting the same brand as theirs can actually give you advantages such as similar gear and lenses you can swap.
So, if you go on a photo trip together, you can lend each other a hand.
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Nate Joaquin Torres is a portrait photographer based in Southern California. As a photographer, Nate loves testing different photography styles and gear to expand his skill set. Outside of photography, Nate enjoys learning about new digital marketing strategy and new ways to think creatively. Nate is also the founder of Imaginated.com, DEEP IN THE MIX, and Blue Hour Candle. Connect with him on Instagram.