The camera market has evolved significantly in the past few decades. Before the 21st century, companies like Pentax, Leica and Olympus had a meaningful share in the developing camera market. However, like any other competitive business, only the best manufacturers could be the best at their game. In this business, it was Nikon and Canon.
In the present day, a potential camera buyer decides between these two rivals. The question of which one is better is not as crystal clear as other product comparisons. Each company offers a gigantic ecosystem of digital equipment with its own pros and cons. So to compare the two brands, we need to divide them into three categories: Budget DSLRs, Mid-Range DSLRs and the High-end DSLRs.
Budget DSLRs ($350 – $800 for the camera body)
Camera equipment can cost a pretty penny. Fortunately enough, both of these companies retail cameras that won’t break the bank. Maybe you’re a parent and you want to capture photos of your children, or you’re a social media junkie who wants to up their Instagram game without spending a lot. If so, then these DSLRs are just for you.
Nikon has a fairly decent range of cameras at this price point. The two cameras that really stand out are the D3400 and the D5600 that were both released earlier this year. Both of these cameras have excellent 1.3 crop factor and crop sensors with great dynamic range, and a high ISO performance. Both of these models are compact and versatile, weighing less than 400 grams. In addition, they can be coupled with both FX and DX Nikon lenses. The D5600 sports an articulating touch screen with touch to focus so users can easily take photos from over the crowd and at different angles. The camera also has a wireless control function, and SnapBridge so transferring photos from your DSLR to your cellphone is only a few taps away, saving you from the worry of forgetting your camera cables back at home. Nikon was also able to fit beefier batteries inside both of the cameras compared to the models from last year. So with a single, full charge, these cameras can last up to 800 shots.
The camera does fall short in some areas. The live view focusing is slow and jittery – a problem that is persistent in the Nikon lineup for years. The kit lens that arrives with the camera is slow and has inferior optics. Moreover, users have complained that they are unable to change the aperture when they are in the live view mode. However, these shortcomings can be ignored as the camera offers excellent image quality in return.
Canon offers the T71, also known as the EOS 800D at this price range. Released in early 2017, the T71 shows great improvements over its predecessors of the Rebel Series. It sports a new CMOS sensor with a 1.5 crop factor. The larger the crop factor indicates that the sensor will utilize a lesser part of the lens and the image will be noisier. The new chip that Canon integrated into this camera makes it faster in processing raw images than its Nikon counterpart, so the camera will have a higher burst rate but that’s about it. In every other area, the two Nikon products are ahead of the game. The T71 has a much shorter battery life than the D5600. It’s also heavier (150 grams more) and has an anti-aliasing filter that decreases the sharpness of the image. Canon’s outdated user interface and a low resolution touch screen makes it a lot less appealing.
When you’re buying a camera, you obviously need a lens to go with it. Although both cameras come with cheap kit lens, they can easily be replaced. Both companies produce superior quality optics, but Nikon really shines here. Nikon’s 35 and 50 mm lenses, known as the nifty fifty, are a great bargain. With a price tag of US $200, this lens offer image quality that is equal to, if not better, than the Nikon higher-end lenses that cost between $1000 and $2000.
Mid-range DSLRs ($1500 to $3000 for the camera body)
These cameras are designed for photography enthusiasts, or those who want to make a living out of their hobby. The image quality and reliability is the priority of these customers so if you’re that kind of person, read on!
You can get yourself a Nikon D500 or a Nikon D810 at this price range. The important specifications include a cropped sensor with an advanced auto-focus system. The D810 has a full frame sensor that provides higher pixels. Both of these cameras have an extremely high burst rate with complete weather proofing, so you can take photos in the rain or during the snow without damaging your gear.
Unfortunately, again, Nikon has poor live-view autofocusing. On top of that, the weather-proof body requires lenses that weather-proof as well, adding to an additional investment.
Canon offers the 5D Mark IV that has an immense repute among the professional photographers community. The camera features everything that a photographer needs in her his or her daily shoots. The fast autofocus system, huge dynamic range and easily reachable buttons are just to name a few. The camera sensor is able to capture accurate and realistic colors.
Canon also manufactures far superior optics than Nikon at this price range. EF lenses, such as the 70 – 200 mm f 12.8, 85 mm f 11.2 and 100-400 f 4.5 -5.6 all produce sharp images with a pleasing depth of field known as the ‘bokeh’. These lenses must be in every serious photographer’s bag.
High-end DSLRs ($5000 – $7000)
The flagship cameras offered by Canon and Nikon are the 1dx and the D5 respectively. Only a very few (if any) photographers out there would consider asking which one should they buy. These customers would want the most feature-packed camera as they would be investing a lot of money on it.
Both of these cameras are worth the investment though! High speed raw image capturing, 100% view finding coverage, long lasting batteries, complete weatherproofing and high noise cancellation capabilities are features common to both.
Nikon has the touch screen with back lit buttons, allowing easy operation of the camera in the dark. The Nikon camera also has three times the battery life of Canon and its maximum ISO is two times greater than that of Canon. It also makes features such as 4K Photo mode which renders it a more appealing purchase.
The lenses offered at this price by both manufacturers provide crystal clear imagery with vibration reduction technologies built in to stabilize the camera and avoid blurry shots. These lenses also have a long focal length up to 2000 mm to assist wild-life photographers in taking shots from a great distance. There’s not much to compare here as the choice of lenses comes down to personal preference.
In the end, it all comes down to personal preferences and the money you are willing to invest. Nikon clearly shines in the budget aspect and the flagship market because of its unique features and price to performance ratio.
Canon DSLRs, on the other hand, shine in the mid-range market because of the extensive lens equipment available for their cameras.
So, the decision is ultimately up to you. Personally, I prefer the Nikon cameras but whatever you choose, Nikon or Canon, you won’t be disappointed!