There’s been a war going on between Canonians and Nikonians for years. The two camera manufacturers were at each other’s throats long before Apple and Samsung even released. You can either a fan of any one among them, there’s no way that you want to stick in between.
Which camera should I buy , Canon or Nikon?
A question I’m asked regularly by those about to make their first SLR purchase is, which camera should I buy, a Canon or a Nikon? In short, whichever brand has the better price deal at the time of purchase. The truth is, in my opinion neither is better than the other. Those who point you to one brand, are often biased and base their recommendations on their own personal preference. Of course if you ask a Canon photographer, they’ll suggest you to buy a Canon DSLR, and vice versa. This is often confusing for someone about to buy their first DSLR camera. It is my hope that this article answers some questions you may have.
Canon Vs Nikon: Handling
It’s the subtle differences in handling between Canon and Nikon camera bodies that invariably have the biggest impact in helping you decide which system is right for you.
The most obvious difference comes in the mid-range ‘enthusiast’ DSLRs and the professional cameras.
Here, Canon opts for a large Quick Control Dial on the rear of the camera, combined with a command dial near the shutter release and, in the majority of cases, a multi-controller ‘nipple’ for quickly moving the active AF point.
Nikon’s DSLRs have two command dials – one on the front of the grip and one on the back, plus a multi-selector D-pad on the rear of the camera.
Nikon’s lens mounting, focusing, zooming and exposure compensation are all carried out in the opposite direction to Canon’s and it can take time to grow accustomed to this change in handling if you decide to jump ship to the ‘rival’ camera system.
Canon and Nikon are equal.
Canon Vs Nikon: Hybrid Autofocus
The majority of DSLRs use two types of autofocus: fast ‘phase detection’ AF for viewfinder shooting and a more accurate but very slow ‘contrast detection’ for live view autofocus.
The two aren’t compatible as in order to activate Live View the mirror has to be locked up out of the way – and that means that no light can be diverted to the dedicated phase detection AF sensor.
Canon has addressed this problem with its hybrid autofocus system for Live View still and movie shooting. Found in all its entry-level DSLRs apart from the EOS 1200D, ‘Hybrid CMOS AF’ combines both systems – with phase detection AF embedded in the sensor to quickly put the focus in the zone before fine-tuning it with contrast detection.
The Canon 70D features a more advanced ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ system. This enables 80% of the sensor area to be used for phase detection AF before reverting back to image recording when you take a picture. It’s with movie recording that this system excels, offering smooth, continuous autofocus.
Nikon’s hybrid AF system is currently restricted to its Nikon 1 series of compact system cameras
Canon is the best choice, for now.
Canon Vs Nikon: Video Coverage
Although it wasn’t the first camera manufacturer to release a DSLR capable of shooting high definition video – Nikon scooped that honor when it announced the Nikon D90 in August 2008 – Canon was the first to market with a DSLR capable of recording 1080p Full HD video in the shape of the 5D Mark II.
The Canon 5D Mark II went on to dominate the indie filmmaking market, as well as being used to shoot footage for major Hollywood action movies such as Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 2, and The Avengers.
Nikon is making inroads into the professional broadcast market, particularly following the launch of the D800. This Nikon ‘HD-SLR’ has found a home on the set of everything from Dexter to horror short Broken Night to new 24-hour TV station London Live. In the right hands, both Canon and Nikon DSLRs are capable of capturing high-quality high-def footage. Both systems offer models with Full HD recording at a range of frame rates, manual exposure controls, jacks for stereo sound recording and headphone audio monitoring.
Canon is the first to come up with a convincing focus tracking system for video in the shape of Dual Pixel CMOS AF, and when combined with Canon’s compatible STM (Stepping Motor) lenses that have been designed specifically for videography, that autofocus is smooth and quiet.
So, overall you have to hand this one to Canon.
Advantages of buying a Canon DSLR camera
Personally, I find on entry level DSLRs, Canon places all the main settings and knobs around the LCD screen where they are easily found. Whereas Nikon requires photographers to take a couple more steps when changing settings. However, as far as changing your camera settings are concerned, it really comes down to what you get used to. Once you know your camera, this really is a minor difference.
Many argue that Canon offer a larger choice of lenses to suit all budgets and needs, from general purpose, EF-S lenses, DO lenses and professional L range. Nikon on the other hand doesn’t have a naming label or a lens tier system.
At the time of writing, all Canon digital SLR cameras come with photo editing software. Digital Photo Professional (DPP), is a photo editing software that allows you to manipulate exposure compensation, color adjustments, brightness, contrast, saturation and many others in post processing on your PC or MAC. Nikon does not come with any such software and will need to be purchased separately.
Advantages of buying a Nikon DSLR camera
As I mentioned earlier, Nikon doesn’t have a naming label or a lens tier system. All Nikon lenses are built to a high standard. You can be assured that the lens that is packaged in your camera kit when purchasing a Nikon is of a higher standard than those packaged with a Canon kit. You only have to read comments on message forums to realize that photographers who purchase a Nikon entry level DSLR are more happy with the lens packaged with their kits, than Canon counterparts. In other words, if you are looking to purchase a kit that couples a good camera with a good learning lens that you won’t be looking at replacing any time soon, then Nikon is the way to go.
Note: You may have noticed some Nikon lenses have a gold ring. This does not imply it is a professional lens. It is simply a lens that was built with ‘Extra-low Dispersion’ glass, created to reduce chromatic aberration (purple fringing seen in some photos when viewed large).
In fact, it’s quite common to find photographers swapping systems, moving from Canon to Nikon or from Nikon to Canon.
The conclusion ? Canon wins, barely. I suppose most Nikonians won’t agree, but you never know, the battle is always on!