Canon vs Nikon – Which is Better?  As a professional wildlife photographer I have been asked this question too many times to count and the short answer is Both!  Each brand offers an incredible array of photographic products which assist the photographer in their quest to capture stunning images, however each brand also has its own strengths and weaknesses.  Year on year, the two brands will release new products which leapfrog one another, however they are never too far apart!

If you are reading this post, chances are that you are looking to buy a new camera and want to know which is the better option.  I would encourage you to first decide what purpose you want to use the camera for, decide on your price range and then only choose between these two brands.  Both Canon and Nikon have a wide range of ‘point and shoot’, entry level DSLR and professional calibre camera bodies and lenses to choose from.

Here is a breakdown of my experiences with Canon and Nikon

Canon

What I really like about Canon cameras is that they are simple to use and each different model follows a fairly standard layout of the dials as well as the internal menu functions.  If you buy a Canon body and then upgrade to a newer model later on, you will have no issue setting up and using the new model owing to this simple yet effective layout.

In 1987 Canon developed a new system of AF cameras and EOS lenses.  Any camera or lens produced since then will be compatible with one another and this offers a great benefit to a fully integrated equipment.

Another reason I enjoy Canon is that they are spearheading the innovation of DSLR’s that shoot outstanding video in both full HD and more recently 4K.  Having a body that takes outstanding images and video with the simple flick of a switch is a huge plus for me.

Nikon

My experience with Nikon’s professional grade cameras, such as the D3, has been excellent and they are a pleasure to use.  At times I have felt intimidated by the amount of options and functions available for customising my images, however as I have come to terms with using the camera I have grown to like it more and more.

High end Nikon bodies also shoot great video, however in the last 5 years they have been playing catch up with Canon and have yet to lead the field with DLSR video innovation.

I do not enjoy the entry level DSLR Nikon bodies as I have found the image color to often have a greenish or blueish hue which is not a true reflection of the image captured.  The video capabilities on these cameras are also mediocre.

As Nikon has been making lenses since 1959, you will find that most Nikon SLR camera and lenses are pretty much compatible with each other.  If you have access to old school Nikon lenses, you should be able to use them with todays modern bodies and create some interesting and unique images for yourself.  With this said, please bare in mind that just because the lens is attached to your camera does not necessarily mean that it will be able to autofocus itself!

History

To understand more about the secrets behind the growth and popularity of Canon and Nikon, take a look at this fascinating infographic below:

The secrets behind the growth and popularity of Canon and Nikon.

The secrets behind the growth and popularity of Canon and Nikon.

Finer Details

I have found that each brand gives you a slightly different colour and tone.  Nikon bodies often have a slightly greenish tinge to them which can be compensated by customising the color balance in the menu.  Personally I find the color and tone of Canon products to be truer to the image, however Canon products do not offer the same degree of color customisation as Nikon does.

Both Canon and Nikon have approximately 70 lenses in their ranges. Canon’s top end lenses will often come in a grey color with a red ring indicating that is it part of the L-series.  All of Nikon’s lenses are black, however all you need to do is look at the price tag of the lens to get an indication as to whether it is an entry level or professional grade lens.

If you are new to photography or enjoy it as a hobby then you cannot go wrong with either of the products which these brands offer. It is worth spending a bit of time playing with different models of each brand to feel which you like best and decide how the layout of buttons, menu selections, etc work for you personally.

For those more serious about their photography and the amount of money they are willing to spend on gear, then look to the top end models of each make to decide what works for you. As the evolution of these cameras progresses, full frame sensors, video capabilities, wireless functionality and software plugins are becoming an increasingly important part of the product offering.

A while ago I tweeted a post which provided an infographic breakdown of which photographic brand is better: Canon or Nikon. Given that many photographers and guides often debate this subject, I thought it would be useful to take a look below and decide for yourself which you think is better.

Canon vs Nikon- Which is Better?

Canon vs Nikon- Which is Better?

Canon vs Nikon: Financial Sales

Canon vs Nikon: Financial Sales

Everybody has their own personal preference and reasons for their choice of brand.  For me, personally, I started photography with Canon cameras and thus have always used the brand.  I like the look achieved from the Canon lenses and find the bodies easy to work with. The complexity of Nikon bodies is what makes me hesitant to use them. I would be interested to hear which brand (Canon or Nikon) you prefer and your reasons why.  Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

If you have any questions about which brand to buy, please feel free to ask me in the comments below as well…

A Guide to Wildlife Photography

For many people who come on safari, the anticipation of capturing truly outstanding images is what brings them back again and again. Photography allows for unlimited freedom, flexibility and artistic expression, and what better environment to practice in than the African wilderness.

The Londolozi Family is passionate about photography and we want to ensure that each and every photographer who joins us on safari comes away from their experience with wildlife photographs to be proud of.

To help photographers of all experience levels we put together a brand new eBook to guide you through the joy of wildlife photography:

A Guide to Wildlife Photography - now available on the Apple iBookstore

A Guide to Wildlife Photography – now available on the Apple iBookstore
A Guide to Wildlife Photography - Richard Laburn

A Guide to Wildlife Photography is the definitive digital guide for photographers who enjoy the natural world. Filled to the brim with technical advice, practical examples and hi-res video and images, this book is presented by Londolozi based wildlife filmmaker and photographer, Rich Laburn.

Filed under Photography

About the Author

Rich Laburn

Head of Digital

Rich is the driving force behind Londolozi’s online storytelling and the Londolozi blog. His passions of digital media, film and photography, combined with his field-guiding background, have seen him take the Londolozi blog to new heights since he began it in 2009. Rich ...

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139 Comments

on Canon vs Nikon – Which is Better?

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Judy Guffey

I use Nikon because I bought it a few years ago for a ridiculously low price on luurylink.com. Included 2 lenses. I’ve added a 70-300 and am debating a macro just for something different. Do I know how touse all the bells and whistles….NO…do I keep trying to learn….YES….can’t get the numbers connected with the words for some reason to stick in my mind….but I do get some good shots anyway.

Rich

Good to hear that you are continuing to learn. Photography is a continual journey and there is always something new to capture and explore. A macro can be quiet fun to use, it is worthwhile looking at a couple of examples of macro photography to awaken you to the full potential of it. Thanks for your comment. Rich

Andrew Smith
Guest

We visited the Veolia BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition at London’s Natural History Museum this year, and were surprised to see that Nikon outnumbered Canon by around eight or nine to one in the displayed entries. Another surprise was the absence of any pictures of spotted cats, with the single exception of an artistically blurred cheetah. Leopard has been very well represented in previous years.

Eileen Fletcher
Guest

I found the comment of Andrew Smith interesting, maybe it is that Nikon has a reputation for being more rugged that there were more photos taken by Nikon users. Also NASA uses only Nikon Cameras in their space programme, apparently the Canon auto focus function does not work in zero gravity and Nikon has no problem with theirs. Nikons low light capabilities are far superior to Canons as well. There will always be more Canons sold as they release new cameras every three months so it stands to reason that more Canons are sold.

Rich

I like your thinking Eileen, Andrew’s comment struck me as well, however what is fascinating is that of the Auto Focus not working in Anti-Gravity.
It is true that the commercial marketing and promotion of new products also does play a huge role in the brand awareness, exposure and perception of Camera and technology brands. Thanks for your comments.

Eileen Fletcher
Guest

Dont you think that the person behind the lens influences the final image more than what make of camera it is? Unless you are a professional you can always tweek the image in photoshop, which in my opinion is no longer photography as an art form. At my level of photography it is impossible for me to tell if the image was taken by a Nikon or a Canon. But have you seen the new Leica? It will make your mouth drool and the only way to afford it would be to take a second bond on your house!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Richard WILSON
Guest

I really don’t give a darn what the comparison is all about, I been using both brand for more than half decade, and I’m happy with both of them, got a Nikon D90 and a Canon 7D :p

kalyn maldonado
Guest

i honestly beleive Canon’s are way better I own a Canon XTI and a Canon 60D and no lie Nikon’s SUCK!

Nicolette Morzelli
Guest

I’m pretty much a beginner and I am good with cameras, but I’ll be using it for nothing major, but leisure, and I was wondering what I should get. A Nikon or a Canon. I currently have a Nikon Coolpix l20 but I was looking into a coolpix l120 but i was curious which was better for me.

Rich Laburn

Hi Nicolette, it very much depends what you are using your camera for. Both Canon and Nikon are great photographic brands and produce world class cameras. If you are buying a HDSLR I would suggest the 5D (simply because I have one and it can film incredible video as well.)
I hope that helps, although please let me know what you are using your camera for and I will try to help you further.
Rich

baju bali
Guest

For me cannon is much suitetable for me. From begining of my hobby in photography .. canon was first camera i had bought.

Ramír Delgado
Guest

With all due respect to the different opinions said, I have mine. Nikon is cheap. Canon is more expensive. Mostly all, is in the photographer. It takes years of practice, but especially, of good research. They say, “it’s not the arrow, it’s the indian.” I disagree. I like cameras that shoot fast, and lens that focus even faster. Is also a thing of how much you invest in your glasses(lenses and filters). And of course, it also depends in what’s your specialty. What I dislike of nowadays is how many teens grab a Nikon camera and immediately say “I’m a photographer”. And also can happen, with a normal Canon camera . My best investment has been a Canon 7D. With a 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS (very good for exterior wildlife and head shots), a 50mm f/1.8 (with is really good on interiors) and a sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3(which is good for group pictures and many macro shots), and lets not forget the UV filters (I’m still saving for the polarizer filters). I don’t judge anymore in the brand of camera you use. I will always be Canon. Photography is everything about the quality a photographer can give.

Lizandra Grilo
Guest

I fully agree with you, Ramír.

headshotlondon.co.uk
Guest

Interesting post and it seemed to reignite the questions which one is better:-) The truth is both are great for different types of photography. I am a Nikon user myself and my assistant uses Cannon. Great infographic on the subject and quite entertaining. David

Ronda
Guest

I went shopping today for my first semi-professional camera. I have used a point and shoot but I can’t repress the urge to want to get more and more involved with photography; so at 44, I’m going for it. I looked at Cannons and Nikons, even Sony’s. I am wanting to take family photos – mostly outdoors. Eventually, I would like to take sports photos as well. The person at the camera store suggested Cannon EOS 60D, of Nikon D90. What are your thoughts? Thanks!

Rich Laburn

Hi Ronda, the 60D is a very good Canon DSLR, I have used it before and I think that for the purposes you mentioned it will do a great job. The Nikon D90 also works well, however I personally find that some Nikon cameras tend to give a slightly greenish tinge to the images, whereas Canon offers a far more neutral color balance. Ultimately, though both cameras will do a great job and the quality of the image will come down to the lens you use mixed with your skill.

If you are doing sports photography, both Canon and Nikon offer superb f.28 lens which will be great for high action shots. I hope that helps. rich

Boston Mazlin
Guest

Which is better for a beginner the nikon 5100 nikon d7000 or a canon 60 d.

I will be using the camera for indoor sports .

Rich Laburn

both Nikons are good cameras, however the 60D is also fantastic and the video capabilities are excellent. Which lens are you planning using?

Boston Mazlin
Guest

nikon 18 55 mm lense & 55 200 mm
canon 55 250 mm & 18 55mm

Boston Mazlin
Guest

i am now looking at the canon eos 7d , is this an upgrade over the nikon d5100 and canon 60d .

Rich Laburn

Yes, Canon 7D is a great camera which also has very good video capabilities. Bear in mind that Canon has just released the new 5D Mach III which should be excellent for both photographs and videos.

Yasser
Guest

Hi, I’m going to buy a camera next week. I’m hesitated what to buy. Last time I bought a small Sony cam and it really sucks. What do you suggest me as I’m planning to take photos of people and family for most of the time. I also like to take photos of people in nice scenes at day and night. I want the latest and best professional cam. The price and size does matter a bit. So Nikon or Canon. your help means so much to me. Thank you 🙂

Rich Laburn

Hi Yasser, both Canon and Nikon are great cameras. The latest Canon is either a 1D or the new 5D. They are both fairly pricey, so if you are on a budget and do not want to get a DSLR, I would advise going for a Leica. You can read more about which cameras and lenses I recommend here: http://blog.londolozi.com/2010/10/the-best-photographic-equipment-to-bring-on-safari/

Mckenna
Guest

I am currently looking for a good camera from either Nikon or Canon. I take lots of outdoor pictures of mainly the beach and the sky. Do you have any suggestions for a camera for a beginner?

Rich Laburn

Hi Mckenna, if you read this post you might find some interesting options. Let me know if you have any further questions – http://blog.londolozi.com/2010/10/the-best-photographic-equipment-to-bring-on-safari/

Boston Mazlin
Guest

ok i have the canon 7d now . i also bought a 18 135 lense .
i take a lot of indoor sports pics , what would be the best option lense taking cost into consideration .

i am looking at the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS or should i save and go for the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM or sinilar .

cheers and thankyou for your help.

Rich Laburn

Go and save for the EF 70 – 200mm f/2.8 IS II USM. You won’t regret getting a 2.8 lens and this particular one is excellent. Just make sure that you get the lens with image stabilization on it. rich

Boston Mazlin
Guest

Hi Rich,
What is the best option lens price wise below the canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM .

Will only be used for indoor basketball and matched with the 7D .

thanks in advance.

Rich Laburn

Both B&H and 42nd Stree Photo have good prices on this particular lens. I am not sure what the exact price is, however if you go onto their sites you fill be able to find it out. rich

Boston Mazlin
Guest

Hey Rich ,
I have checked out the canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM , and its way too big for weekend sports shots for me .

What Canon lens is the one below the 70 200 for indoor sports , but a step up over the 28 200 f/4.
Cheers

Rich Laburn

Check out the 24 – 80mm Canon lens. Try get the semi pro lenses as they are just that much better in quality.

Yasser
Guest

Hi rich, here I’m again. And thanks for your previous reply it did help but I still want to make sure what to buy coz I’m buying the cam this weekend.
My budget is up to 1000$. And I want a god dslr camera that I can’t regret buying it.
I want to use it for family pictures and for my personal pictures with nice scenes around the world. So is 5d is the one for me. And what lens should I buy for it. I want a one with good zoom.
And do you also recommend a good compact camera for my brother with the same uses above.
Thank you so much. I really appreciate your help.:)

Yasser
Guest

I also like to have a very good video resolution in my camera. Does 5d has that. And what do you think about 600d and which lens is better for me. I’m in china now and next week will be in Canada if there is different prices or anything please tell me.
Thanks again

Rich Laburn

5D has incredible resolution, it is much better than the 600D. As for the lens, I can highly recommend the 70 – 200 f2,8 lens. Fantastic quality matched with the 5d for both photography and videography. The price will be quite steep, but definitely worth it.

The 5D Mach III has been announced, I am not sure if it is on the market yet, but also look into buying that camera as I am sure it will be superb.

rich

Yasser
Guest

Rich. And I would like to ask you about Nikon 1j1 and 1v1..how good are those cams comparing to 1d and 5d.. And are they gona last for long time???

Yasser
Guest

I’m sorry for posting all this. It’s coz I’m confused and can’t deside by myself. Anyway here is what I want in my cam
@no more than $1000 and new one
@The best hd video
@at least 12 megapixel
@Good shoots with low and bright light. 
@Good for family photos with clear faces and people with landmarks and beautiful scenes.
@I want to get only one lens with very good zoom and stabilization, and that one that is for many conditions. If very necessary I’ll take another lens If you recommend. 
@I don’t care about the cam screen coz I’ll always see the photos at my Mac.
@i kind of like many function in the cam.
I have seen till now canon 5d . Nikon d3100, Nikon 1 but I don’t know if it’s good enough.
I’m buying dslr and a compact cam. Or should I go for Nikon 1 or any similar cam

Rich Laburn

Hi Yasser, thanks for all your questions and detailed list. The $1000 price limit you have imposed is automatically going to prevent you from getting a top of the range camera such as the 5D, 1D or 1j1. The Canon 5D is phenomenal camera with some of the best video HD video capability around. I can highly recommend it if you are willing to pay the premium for it. As for Nikon, they are also exceptional cameras and both will last a long time if looked after properly.

I am not going to make the decision for you, however I think it would be best to go to a camera shop and price the different cameras whilst talking to an expert about the different features of each one. If you get a Canon or Nikon dslr, you cant really go wrong. Just make sure you get a decent lens to go with it.

Hope that helps,

rich

Beni
Guest

What’s the best Canon or Nikon camera available for wildlife photography that :
1. suits taking stills of birds and animals in motion?
2. has Full HD (1920 x 1080) recording capabilities at 30p (how many minutes can it record?)
3. can take stills during video recording
4. is weather sealed (from dust and rain)

I hear Canon 7d is a good option and I am okay with its price. Does it have all the 4 features I listed? Also, whats the Nikon equivalent of the 7d?

Rich Laburn

Hi Beni,

Hi Beni,

All most DSLR Canon and Nikon cameras work great for taking stills of birds and animals in motion. The real difference comes in the type of lens you use. A f2,8 lens will allow you a faster shutter speed and give you a more blurry background, enhancing the image. Whatever camera you do purchase, it is worth purchasing an f2,8 lens specifically for stills of bird and animals in motion. Birds often require a much bigger lens, such as a 500mm, in which case you will have to do a bit of research as to what suits your budget.

THe 7D is a great camera and can film at Full HD, however the Canon 5D offers better video quality. The amount of minutes you can record depends entirely on your memory card size. The larger your memory card, the more filming you can get done.

The 5D and the 7D both allow you to take stills whilst video recording.

All DSLR cameras are sealed to a certain extent, however when changing lense you open the camera up to exposure from the elements. If you are careful it shouldn’t be a problem, however I have got dust on my sensor before and it can be a pain. Most DSLR cameras are hardy and will handle minor rain, however if your gear is caught in a downpour, it will get wet and water could get in between the different controls.

I am not sure what the Nikon equivalent of the 7D is, however I think that the D3s would be fairly close and shoot pretty good video quality. I suggest chatting to a salesperson at the camera store you go to.

I hope that answers your questions.

rich

Dani Rios
Guest

i’m hoping to get a camera for my 21st birthday i’ve been hinting for it but i’m stuck on which brand to go with. i’m a fashion design student so i good quality camera will help with my designs and for inspiration and so on. can any one give me any pointers?

Rich Laburn

Hi Dani, if you are not sure which brand to go with its going to be tough to decide whether to go with Canon or Nikon as both are amazing brands. Likewise, the smaller Leica cameras are also excellent. I guess it all comes down to the price you are willing to spend and how much functionality & quality you want your camera to give you. A DSLR will allow for easier shooting, whilst a compact camera is easier to carry around wherever you go. What are your requirements and price limits?

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