By far the most frequent question photography-related question that I am asked has to do with the Canon vs. Nikon debate. Before I give my shpeel on what is probably one of the most insensibly controversial discussions in the photography geek kingdom, here is why I ultimately recommend sticking with one of these two brands:
- They are extremely popular. If you have a question about your equipment, you are more likely to know someone with a Canon or Nikon who can solve your problem. Even Google searches are easier to find for Canon or Nikon cameras versus say, a Pentax, Sony or Olympus.
- Great entry-level cameras, and even better high-end pro-level cameras. So later down the road if you decide to upgrade your camera body to something more fancy, you’ll be able to use whatever lenses you’ve amassed by then (Canon lenses only work with Canon cameras, and Nikon lenses only work with Nikon cameras).
- Very wide range of lenses. So unless you are shooting very specialized photography you will not have a problem finding any lens you might want whether you are shooting Canon or Nikon.
So here’s the thing – Canon is not better than Nikon and Nikon is not better than Canon. You will hear many reasons why one is better than the other, and some may be valid but even if they are, they generally only apply specifically to the pro-level, HK$15K+ camera models. For example, Nikon’s D700/D3/D3s models are known for their superior low-light/high-ISO capabilities and reliable auto-focus, while the Canon 5DMk2 has been recognized for its cinematic video capabilities and accurate rendition of skin tones. But who really cares since most hobbyist photographers aren’t interested in buying those cameras anyway?
In other words, at the entry-level side of the spectrum, Canon and Nikon camera quality are virtually equal, and at the higher-end, quality diverges in very specific areas.
So, if you are buying your FIRST SERIOUS camera, then I would suggest basing your choice on the following criteria:
- Go to a store and play with comparable cameras (currently, the Canon 600D and the Nikon D5100), and see which one “feels” better. Some people say that the Canon Rebel line (550D, 600D etc.) feels a little plasticky, others feel it fits their hand well. Decide for your self.
- If you have a photographer geek uncle or friend, get the same camera brand as them. They will likely be the first person you borrow lenses from, ask questions, or generally just talk with about photography – all of which are super important for the budding photographer.