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Canon vs. Nikon: Which dSLR to Choose?

Updated on December 7, 2012
Which dSLR to choose - Canon or Nikon?
Which dSLR to choose - Canon or Nikon?

Nikon and Canon - the Eternal Rivals

"Should I choose Canon or Nikon?" is the most common questions asked by people who want to purchase their first dSLR. Indeed, it's really difficult to make your choice between the two titan-brands in digital photography. And it's even more difficult to write a Canon vs. Nikon comparison because there are just too many things to consider. But I thought I might attempt to compare Nikon and Canon dSLRs, and perhaps help someone make their choice.

First of all, I myself have Nikon D5000 and I'm very happy with my camera. This doesn't mean that this Nikon vs. Canon review will be in favour of Nikon. I promise that I will try to be as objective as I can. And one more thing - both Canon and Nikon are excellent brands. Seriously.

When choosing your first digital SLR, you need to consider several factors, mainly:

  • what sort of photos you are planning to shoot - landscape, portraits, macro, wildlife, etc.
  • your budget - how much are you prepared to spend on the camera body and lenses
  • addition camera features you need (such as HD video recording, GPS tracking, etc.)

Now that you have the answers to these questions, let's compare Canon and Nikon.


From the camera body price point of view, Nikon offers you more for your money. If you compare Nikon and Canon cameras, like Nikon D5100 and Canon Rebel T3i (Canon EOS 600D in Europe), you will see that they have very similar features. OK, Canon Rebel T3i is an 18MP camera, while Nikon D5100 has a 16.2MP DX-format CMOS sensor, but Nikon has some other features that Canon doesn't have (more about features later).

Anyway, the Canon Rebel T3i Kit with an 18-55mm lens costs $770 on, while Nikon D5100 Kit with an 18-55mm lens costs $749.95. So quite a significant difference even on Amazon. Keep in mind that the T3i retail price is $899, while D5100 retail price is only $849. Obviously, Nikon is better value for money.

Photos taken with Nikon D5000

Loch Ness (HDR)
Loch Ness (HDR) | Source
Sea Rocks
Sea Rocks | Source
Dill | Source
Wild Lily
Wild Lily | Source
Little Shambles
Little Shambles | Source
White Horse
White Horse | Source
Country Life
Country Life | Source


Generally speaking, Canon has more megapixels and more features for beginners (such as on-screen guide). But in reality you don't really need either, because a difference in a couple of megapixels is too insignificant to be a real difference. And you will only watch the guide once, if ever.

Nikon has better continuous shooting options - up to 4fps vs. Canon's 3.7 fps. This is great if you are planning to shoot extreme sports. Nikon also has 11 AF points vs. Canon's 9 AF points and a wider extendable ISO range. Other features are very similar, like HD video shooting, filter effects (I prefer purchasing real filters), live view (I never use it anyway), and more. For me, Nikon is the winner feature-wise.


If you think that you can buy an expensive dSLR and use it with cheap lenses, you are very much mistaking. Remember, that most photographers (especially professionals) spend more on lenses than on camera body. So, how do Canon and Nikon lenses compare?

Generally speaking, Canon lenses are more expensive. So, Nikon is a better option if you are not prepared to keep spending $100 more on your lenses on average. Of course, you can also use third-party lenses, such as Sigma and Tamron, on both Canon and Nikon dSLRs.

One advantage that Canon lenses have over Nikon is that you can use any Canon lens on any Canon EOS body and you will still be able to use autofocus. Nikon is not like that - you'll have to use manual focus if you have an older Nikon lens.

Final Notes

So, you've read everything that I've written. And now forget it all. Go to Flikr and browse some photos made with Canon and Nikon. See which ones you like best. See what sort of lenses were used. You will notice that Nikon photos are a bit crisper and fresher than Canon's, which makes Nikon great for landscape and nature photography. On the other hand, Canon photos have a certain warmth about them, which means that Canon is ideal for portrait photograhy.

And finally, go into a shop and hold Canon and Nikon cameras. Choose the one that you like best and that feels right in your hands. Canon or Nikon, Sony, Pentax - it doesn't really matter. What matters is how you take photos and the quality of your lenses.

I hope this Canon vs. Nikon comparison helped you make your choice and you are on your way to shooting great photos!

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© 2011 Snurre


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    • SilverRingvee profile image

      Silver Ringvee 5 years ago from Estonia

      You can also use Nikon lenses on Canon, with an adapter of course, but you can not use Canon lenses on Nikon dSLR. I am a Canon user and I really like those cameras, I have used many Nikons, too and to be honest I can not say anything bad of those cameras, of course for as a Canon user the menu is quote weird, but that is just a habit.

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 5 years ago

      Agung, you're right. Thanks for mentioning it. I forgot to write about this because I always use manual focus. It's more fun. I'll update the article, though.

    • profile image

      Agung 5 years ago

      You forgot to mention the autofocus part. Canon EF lenses works on ALL EOS bodies regardless of when they were made.

      Good luck using Nikon 80-200 f2.8 with manual focus on Nikon D5100.

    • profile image

      Gerard 6 years ago

      Your comparison focuses more on NIKON and it's advantages to Canon,

    • adrienne2 profile image

      Adrienne F Manson 6 years ago from Atlanta

      You're welcome!

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      Adrienne2, thanks for reading and bookmarking :)

    • adrienne2 profile image

      Adrienne F Manson 6 years ago from Atlanta

      Thanks for leaving this link Snurre, informative comparison on dSLR cameras. A little pricey, I'll have to save up for one. Bookmarked your article for future reference.

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      Duchess OBlunt, thanks for commenting! And thanks for linking to this hub.

      I've never heard of that website but it sure is a great find!

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 6 years ago

      Hope you don't mind, but I have added a link to this hub on one of mine :)

      Good info.

      Can I add that you can compare camera options on a really good website? allows you to type in your cameras and they will compare the features.

    • icciev profile image

      icciev 6 years ago from Kuwait

      Thanks for this informative hub with all the information you provided, voted up.

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      poudmamma, thank you for your comment! Hope my article will help you make the right choice.

    • proudmamma profile image

      proudmamma 6 years ago

      Thanks so much for the comparison. I've been wanting a new camera. Now to view the photos in comparison. Voted up.

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      jenubouka, thanks!

    • profile image

      jenubouka 6 years ago

      Loved the detailed info hear, I like to read personal reviews than getting haggled by a salesman.