No matter what stage you are at with photography, the decision between Canon vs Nikon DSLR will ultimately be the choice you have to make at some point. Unless money is not an issue for you, working your budget and researching tons of articles to find the suitable brand can be very challenging. I’ve been through this and I totally understand your agony. That is why I want to dedicate this post to share with you the top 8 differences between Canon vs Nikon DSLR that I used to make my decision when I first started.
But first, you may wonder why I am not covering companies such as Sony, Pentax, Leica, etc? They are great companies too right? Great thinking and I have to say there are two reasons. First, I do not have personal experience with those products so I don’t want to alter your decision based on any uncertain fact. Secondly, I want to focus on Canon and Nikon exclusively because they are the two most popular brands among photographers. I do not think anyone will disagree with these two reasons.
In addition, I want to give you a heads up that both Canon and Nikon are both fantastic cameras. They both have superb quality and there is nothing wrong with going either direction. However, the only precaution I want to give is that IT WILL COST YOU A LOT if you decided to switch gears later down the road. I also want you to know the points below are solely my personal opinion based on what I saw and experimented. My purpose is to let you draw your own conclusion after reading this post and to let you be better informed on the overall differences so you won’t have to spend the time I did to get to this stage. If you disagree with any of my points that’s perfectly ok! Please feel free to comment below and I’d love to hear your feedback so we can all learn together!
With that said let’s move on.
1) User menu interface (CANON WINS)
Canon hands down has a better menu interface that I personally feel is easier to navigate than Nikon. I can find the settings easier and the layout/icon just seems more logical in my opinion (may be due to the horizontal layout). Nevertheless, when you compare Canon vs Nikon DSLR side by side, you will notice their menu interface bring you back memories from an Intel 486 DOS system! Not to make fun of the designers of either company, but I seriously feel there is a need to step up the menu design in the near future. I’ll let you compare and draw your own conclusion in the following videos.
2) Megapixel (NIKON WINS)
Canon used to be winning the mega pixel race. But until late March 2012, Nikon surpassed Canon after the release of Nikon D800. This camera has a stunning 36.4 megapixel that out perform any DSLR in the whole industry.
Initially, there was a concern that more megapixel led to the decrease of low light performance. Why? Because more megapixel means each pixel has less space to capture light into the sensor. In English term, think of the camera sensor as a room and each pixel represent a water bucket inside this room (more megapixel means more smaller size buckets in the room). So if water (light) is being pour to each water bucket less water will hold in each bucket hence less light. Lots of tests were done to proof that Nikon do not have a decrease of low light performance so I give Nikon a big win in this category.
3) Video (CANON WINS)
Generally, Canon offers a better picture color, smoother video performance and clearer audio quality. Nikon used to not even have a HDMI video recording feature but now it has finally caught up. If you read online, one of the major issues for Canon was the real time autofocus feature because Nikon was better with this feature before the 5D Mark III came out. Watch the video for further understanding.
4) Autofocus points (CANON WINS)
Nikon used to be a big winner in autofocus points. It still does in most of the models but Canon has finally caught up. In fact Canon had surpassed Nikon in this feature with its 5D Mark III. If you don’t know what autofocus points are, they are the little focus boxes you see when looking in the viewfinder of the camera. Currently Canon has 61 autofocus point in the latest model and Nikon has 51 points. Are having more autofocus points better? It’s really up to you. Personally I feel it’s distracting me from looking at the object so again I’ll let you draw your own conclusion here.
5) Low light performance (NIKON WINS)
This one is hard to draw a line. But I’d say Nikon has a small advantage over Canon in low light performance. It’s hard to see the differences but after comparing numerous pictures and researching online I do see better contrast in Nikon cameras when shooting in low light condition. However one thing to note is that Canon has less noise when shooting in high ISO. Overall, both companies are excellent in lowlight so I wouldn’t worry too much that going for one brand has a huge disadvantage than the other.
6) Price (NIKON WINS)
This varies depending on which line of DSLR you are looking for. Traditionally Nikon is more expensive than Canon but recently Canon has increased their price. According to my calculation, Canon cost about 5-10% more than the comparable Nikon camera by the time I am writing this article.
7) Company size (CANON WINS)
Not many people would look at the financial statement of the company before buying their stuff. I know I am weird but I do look at them. I want to know if the company that I spend my hard earn money on is going to have enough ammo (money) to sustain future competitions. Not to my surprise, Canon is a much larger company than Nikon with net income of 2.5 billion US dollars compare to Nikon 722 million US dollars. This is just a very high level overview but the fact is Canon is at least 3 times bigger than Nikon financially in 2012. You may say Canon is better because of its abundant resources or you may say Nikon is better because of its niche in the market.
8) Look and feel (CANON WINS)
Even though this is my personal opinion, but you have to admit that Canon looks better than Nikon DSLR 🙂 Especially the L series lens it looks way cooler than the Nikon’s black and gold combination. I also like the feel of holding a Canon DSLR more than Nikon but this is totally up to the photographer.
With 5 wins Canon in my opinion is better than Nikon. I understand this is subjective but I hope by the time you read up to this point you have a better idea on the overall differences between Canon vs Nikon DSLR. I’ll keep updating this post so you will get the most up to date information in the future. As always, if you have any questions, comments, improvements please don’t hesitate to contact me HERE or write comments below.