Canon and Nikon are the two biggest rivals in the photography industry. Both make superb DSLR and mirrorless cameras and thus, have a loyal customer base. A heated dispute has also been going on since eternity about which camera is best Canon or Nikon. Of course, Canon users would say Canon cameras are the best than Nikon and vice versa. But – which of these companies actually make better cameras and what are the similarities and differences between them. Let us find out in this article.
The Canon vs Nikon Debate
Every photographer is zealous about a certain brand of cameras. As Canon and Nikon are the two most recognized brands, they also have the largest number of highly devoted users in the world. The debate comes from these users who refuse to accept that the other company can also make good cameras.
The Canon vs. Nikon debate was nonexistent in the era of film photography. Almost all the companies had an equal share of the market in those days. Nowadays, beginner photographers would normally buy either a Canon or Nikon camera. Cameras have come a long way since then as well. They are getting more and more advanced and sophisticated.
Apart from DSLRs, both companies have introduced some excellent mirrorless cameras, challenging the monopoly of Sony. In fact, they are slowly taking over Sony as the leading mirrorless camera manufacturers as well.
A Detailed Comparison of Nikon and Canon
When you want to compare Nikon and Canon cameras, you have to keep their strengths and weaknesses in mind in targeted areas such as lenses, sensors, image and video quality, and speed, etc. In the following lines, we would examine how these brands match and differ in each of these areas.
Canon vs Nikon: Lenses
What makes Canon and Nikon so popular among photographers is their compatibility with almost all kinds of lenses ever produced. For example, Nikon’s F mount came out in 1959 whereas Canon’s EF mount dates back to 1987. Therefore, your modern digital camera would be compatible with a wide range of photography equipment. There are still a lot of photographers who love to use older lenses because of their matchless image quality.
What differentiates Canon and Nikon cameras is the autofocus. With Nikon, only AF-S lenses come with autofocus while all the EOS lenses by Canon have autofocus.
It is pertinent to mention that you can use non-AF-S lenses on modern Nikon DSLRs. However, there is a catch and that is you have to focus the lenses manually.
Nikon’s entry-level DSLRs are also smaller in size because they no longer have the autofocus motor. Therefore, it is impossible to use autofocus if you have an entry-level DSLR with a Nikon AF-S lens.
The best thing about the Canon is that they put autofocus motors in the lenses instead of the camera bodies. Therefore, you can use older lenses with modern Canon cameras and still use the autofocus.
When it comes to performance, there is not much to differentiate between the latest Canon and Nikon lenses. Canon is the way to go if you want to use lenses with the latest technology. Their ‘L-series’ lenses have superior build, autofocus, and image quality.
You would also find a huge number of vintage but third party lenses for Canon. You just need to use an adapter to attach them to your camera.
On the other hand, Nikon’s DSLRs are compatible with its own line of manual and vintage lenses. Unfortunately, that is not the case with Canon.
4. Lenses for Mirrorless Cameras
Canon also produces more and better lenses for their mirrorless cameras. Nikon has fewer but smaller and lighter lenses for their mirrorless bodies. Mirrorless cameras by both Canon and Nikon can easily compete with the Alpha series of cameras by Sony, the current market leader in the world.
Nikon vs Canon: Sensors
Which is better, Nikon or canon in terms of sensor quality? Both have similarly sized sensors for their cameras. However, sensor size is not the only thing that determines the image quality. None of the brands seems to have a distinct edge when it comes to the sensor in our opinion.
1. Crop Factor
Canon as well as Nikon make both cropped and full-frame sensors for their cameras. The crop factor is the total magnification of a certain lens when used on a crop-sensor camera. Both camera brands have different crop factors.
The crop factor for Canon cameras is 1.6x while it is 1.5x for Nikon cameras. It means Nikon has larger crop sensors compared to Canon which also gives a considerable resolution enhancement to your images. The 0.1 crop factor difference may seem negligible but it will make a lot of difference to the image’s resolution since crop sensors are already very small.
You would also like to use a smaller sensor for “better magnification.” For example, you can instantly turn a 100mm telephoto lens into a 160mm lens and 105mm lens with Canon and Nikon bodies respectively.
2. Lens Filter
Newest Nikon DSLRs have also removed the optical low pass filter thanks to their new sensor design. However, they still don’t have a lot of moiré, a distortion in patterns and fine lines. So, eliminating the filter would allow your image to be more detailed and sharp. Similarly, the lack of a lens filter also enables the sensor to catch more light, resulting in better details and improved performance in low light.
It is worth mentioning that none of Nikon’s APS-C cameras produced in and after 2015 feature an optical low pass filter. Similarly, Nikon is also eliminating it from several of its full-frame models.
Canon, on the other hand, is focusing heavily on megapixels in its new DSLRs. Most of their DSLRs still come with an optical low pass filter. There are few exceptions, however, such as Canon EOS 5DS. Their latest DSLRs are full-frame models with sensors sizes as big as 50 megapixels. As mentioned above, you just cannot judge a lens by its sensor size. However, big sensors do offer incredible image resolution. For example, Canon EOS 5DS produces images with a resolution of 8688 x 5792 whereas you only get 7360 x 4912 in the case of Nikon D810 with a 36 MP sensor.
The higher resolutions sensors are a better option if you want to print the images. Similarly, they allow more cropping without compromising the image quality.
Both brands offer superb image quality even though their sensors focus on different areas of technology. However, you should not expect the same image quality when shooting from two different cameras belonging to the same brand, let alone the cameras from different brands. For example, the images shot with Canon and Nikon cameras would have noticeable color differences. Which camera is better, Canon or Nikon, when it comes to colors is a matter of personal preference.
Canon and Nikon cameras are neck to neck when it comes to the speed. However, their continuous shooting speeds differ subtly from each other. DSLRs are not known for their speed. On the contrary, some mirrorless modes have burst rates as high as 14fps. DLSRs cannot achieve such a high speed because they have parts to capture a shot.
Canon in genera has faster DSLR models on offer. For instance, the Canon EOS 7D Mark II is an excellent camera for sports photography because of its maximum burst rate of 10fps. The fastest DLSR by Nikon, the D7200 can only hit the maximum speed of 6fps.
Talking about advanced full-frame cameras, the Nikon D4S has the maximum burst rate of only 11fps. Meanwhile the similar Canon 1D X offers 14fps of burst rate.
Budget-friendly or entry-level cameras by Nikon are faster than comparable models by Canon. However, it is only a matter of one or two frames at most. For example, the Canon T6S has a burst rate of 5fps whereas it is 7fps for Nikon D7200.
Is Canon better than Nikon in terms of speed or burst rate? I would say yes. However, it also depends on your requirement and the type of photos you want to take. You definitely need higher burst rates if you are a sports or wildlife photographer. It is not particularly necessary for landscape, fashion, architectural, or portrait photography, etc.
People would normally buy a Canon camera if they want one solely for recording videos. Canon has been making cameras with superior video quality for years now. It was the first brand to introduce a hybrid autofocus system that allows the camera to refocus while shooting videos. Canon cameras also have a great reputation for offering better subject tracking while recording. Besides, they also have a wide range of lenses designed especially for videos.
Canon was arguably the best brand for video quality a few years ago. Nikon did not have hybrid autofocus for recording videos and they still don’t. However, they are catching up with Canon thanks to the introduction of continuous autofocus in their latest DSLRs.
Some Nikon models have a frame rate of up to 60fps while the comparable model by Canon only has 30fps. Nowadays, you can choose a camera from any of these brands for professional filmmaking or learning purposes.
Canon vs Nikon: Beginner Cameras
Once again, there is no clear winner when we compare beginner cameras by the rival brands. The most popular entry-level cameras by these two brands are Canon T7i and Nikon D5600. Canon T7i has a faster burst rate and therefore, it is better for fast-action photography. Meanwhile, Nikon D5600 performs better in low light conditions.
The new version of Canon T7i, the T8i also delivers pretty much the same results. The T8i does not improve much upon its predecessor. Most of the upgrades are purely incremental. It has a better sensor but still no match for the high ISO settings offered by Nikon. Canon maintains an edge in terms of speed as T8i has an increased burst rate of 7fps. However, there is nothing else to talk about.
Some Canon entry-level cameras also lack the Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus that is part and parcel of their high-end models. The Canon T8i does have a 4K video at 25fps but that is all you are going to get. In fact, any entry-level Canon or Nikon DSLR for a beginner doesn’t have strong autofocus. Therefore, we cannot recommend any particular camera for videos. However, Canon traditionally offers superior video compared to Nikon.
You can use both Canon and Nikon entry-level cameras for taking excellent pictures. You can further enhance the image quality by pairing them with good lenses. But – you cannot declare a clear winner considering their features, functions, and capabilities.
You also cannot separate the two brands when it comes to more advanced DSLRs. They have highly advanced and comparable models for every kind of use. However, Nikon hasn’t been able to replicate the success of the Canon’s high-speed EOS 7D Mark II with a 10fps burst rate. Similarly, both companies also have dedicated cameras for astrophotography that are Nikon D810A and Canon EOS Ra.
Ease of Use
You must also consider how easy a camera is to use before purchasing one. Canon DSLRs have always been very easy to use. When it comes to mirrorless cameras, Nikon takes the lead.
It all depends on how easy you feel while using a certain camera. You are not likely to switch once you have chosen your brand, just like most photographers. Therefore, you need to think long and hard before investing in a camera.
What Camera is Better Canon or Nikon?
It is much more difficult to buy a mirrorless or DLSR camera compared to a compact camera. It becomes too costly to switch brands once you have amassed all photography gear such as lenses. Similarly, different brands have different terminologies and they work a little differently as well. Therefore, you would have to learn quite a few things as well if you decide to switch.
So, which camera is best, Canon or Nikon? Which of these brands you should choose to quench your thirst for photography.
Both companies produce excellent cameras with fantastic image quality. However, none is better than other otherwise one of them would have gone out of business decades ago.
It is also wrong to say that everyone can use any camera from either brand. For example, beginners just need a good DSLR regardless of the brand. However, Nikon has a slight edge in this area because their beginner-friendly cameras are more affordable and feature-rich. Similarly, their terminology is also a lot easier to understand.
On the other hand, higher-end models from Canon are popular among sports and wildlife photographers for their incredible speed. Similarly, you can record quality videos with cameras from both brands. But – Canon has specifically made lenses for videos besides having smoother autofocus systems.
We would also recommend comparing cameras individually when you are trying to choose a camera brand. That is the only way to know why Canon is better than Nikon or the other way around.
Things to Consider while Choosing between Nikon and Canon
- What is your primary requirement? Do you want a camera for video quality, resolution, or speed?
- What is the best camera according to your budget and experience level?
- Are you looking to upgrade anything in the future and does the manufacturer offers it? You would not use the same camera after five years. But – the manufacturer is most likely to continue updating a certain technology if they are currently offering it.
- Does your chosen brand offer the lenses you want to add to your kit?
So, which camera is best Canon or Nikon.
Canon and Nikon are two of the most popular photography brands. The debate about which brand is better has been going on for ages and isn’t going to end anytime soon.
Both brands have their merits and demerits as well as strengths and weaknesses. Nikon dominates the mirrorless market whereas Canon is a better option for compatibility.
The point to note here is that you should not be obsessive about any brand. What matters most is what you want to achieve in your photography. If you think a certain Canon or Nikon camera would help you attain your goal, just go for it. Similarly, you also need to keep your requirements and budget in mind.
Compare two cameras from both brands individually and listen to your instincts. One of those cameras would feel more natural, more instinctive, and better in your hand. That is the perfect camera for you.
I am amazed at the number of people who tout one brand over another but have Never. Actually read the manual and tried the features. WOW i actually have sat down and tried everything listed in the manual.. why buy something and not learn how to use it correctly
Nikon does not have AF motor in camera and thats bad but Cannon also does not have it and its good.
When your web address is cannon view why bother to make such reviews when you are never going to be fair and you wording clearly reflects that mind set.
Perhaps, you need to read the article once again and really strive to understand what I am trying to say. We are not taking sides here. It is an honest review . I also understand what you mean by “we are never going to be fair”. There is no such thing. If you have gone through our website, you would have noticed that we have also written articles about cameras and lenses from other brands.
Any Nikon DSLR can focus an AF-S lens, since the motor is in the lens. Even the cheap entry level cameras. The more expensive DSLRs can focus AF-D and AF lenses, which use a motor in the body.
The APS-C D500 competes with the 7D mark ii, not the D7200, and it reaches 10 fps while also having well over double the number of focus points.
Nikons have better metering systems in general, with the top of the line DSLRs always featuring 1000 segment + RGB meters, something that first appeared in the 1DX and 7D mark ii for Canon.
Nikon lenses have the same technology in them as Canon, both have their benefits and drawbacks. Nikon pioneered nano-crystal coating. Saying Canon is “the way to go” for the latest technology is false.
The 5Ds and 5Dsr compete with the D850, not the antiquated D810, and the D850 has triple the focus points and much higher video quality and continuous shooting speed compared to canon’s offerings.
The 1DX can only reach 14 fps in mirror lockup with AF and metering locked, which makes it basically pointless for shooting.
The 1DX is only 12 with metering and AF, barely better than the D4S.
I hope you can clear up some of the misinformation in here, especially regarding Nikon AF lens compatibility, which was wrong even when this article was relevant, which based on the cameras mentioned was 2014-2015. I’m not sure why it’s published so recently given that the only camera mentioned here that isn’t obsolete is the 7Dii.
Thanks for your input. I will update the article soon.
Exactly my point this article was more convincing to buy canon than giving an insightful comparison.
Thanks for your message. However, it is wrong to say that the article is more convincing to buy Canon.
Nikon is the best…dslr means Nikon only Nikon..not other options
I don’t agree with you that you tried to convince us for canon, I am using Nikon from last 10 years. Nikon is one of best choice for both beginners and professional photographer. My dream camera Nikon D500. I love bird photography.
The article is well balanced to give a clear point to buyer decisison /s. The author did good comparison on the main points to consider while selecting camera for the purpose in mind .Both brand’s have great camera’s depending on the budget ! I m a big fan of canon and love it . Thanks you very much .
Thanks for liking our article. We have tried to provide balanced information about both the brands, what their merits and demerits.
Usual utterly pointless comparisons. Both brands are mostly better and more capable than the average user.
A “real pro” can use virtually anything and get great results…?
Yes, it basically depends on the user. The camera brand does not matter if he is a pro.
Which is better Chev or Ford? Which is better Honda or Toyota? Which is better Berreta or Smith & Weston? All of these have been argued over years and years and the outcome is always slanted by the writer or reader. In this case it is far too close to count or matter. The scale slides back and forth with each iteration of new camera. Enjoy what you use and get the most out of that camera or lens. I have witnessed fantastic images from both.