Nikon vs Canon – Clash of the Titans

The place: Postwar Japan.

The players: Canon Camera Company, Inc. and Nikon Corporation.

The stakes: World domination in the modern camera market.

At the time, probably few appreciated what a clash of the titans the world would see as Nikon and Canon began to wage a seemingly never-ending battle to claim the position as the world’s greatest camera maker.

Both top-quality camera makers have grown into their roles over the years and both have carved out markets for themselves as well as legions of loyal users.

Of course, these aren’t the only two brands on the market, but when you’re looking to buy a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera, it usually boils down to these two heavyweights.

Both take beautiful images

Because each maker has many of the world’s best photographers in its camp, you know that you are fully capable of making great photographs with either camera as well as the lenses each company makes for its cameras.

Further, in terms of price points, they are both competitive. You can find quality gear with either name on the front starting at entry level packages and going all the way up to the full-frame bodies.

One quick word about full-frame bodies and lenses. Originally most SLR cameras were loaded with 35 mm film. Today, a full-frame DSLR has a sensor that captures an image that’s the same size as a traditional frame of 35 mm film. Most consumers do not purchase a full-frame DSLR. They are bigger and more expensive than the compact DSLRs.

Lenses and operating systems

There are two issues to examine when you’re choosing which brand to buy. Decide which lenses you will want to have and get a feel for each operating system. There’s a good chance you’ll use your lenses with a variety of camera bodies over the years, so choosing lenses properly is important.

Are you going to be taking pictures of your kids at sporting events? If so, you’ll want a high quality telephoto lens. Check at your local camera shop to get a feel for what’s available and pricing. While there are decent third-party lenses, you’ll find that the Nikon and Canon brand lenses are superior. When you find the lens you can afford—watch for sales and other promotions—that has the features you need, that will push you in the direction of either a Nikon or Canon body.

Just like some computer users prefer the Apple operating system, while others stick with Windows, check out the user-friendliness of the camera that matches your lens. If you’re fairly new to DSLRs, have a salesperson show you the most simple modes of operation first. Then discuss any special situational photography you plan on doing, such as sports or landscape photography. Test drive the modes that best suit those functions.

Get the features you need

There’s a dizzying array of features available today in camera operating systems. They’re beginning to rival our smartphones and tablets for connectivity. Think about which features you know you will use.

If you gather up all the reviews and average them out, you’d probably find that Nikon is a nose ahead in the comparison competition. Certainly in the days before digital cameras, Nikon was the “go-to” equipment. The Nikon F is legendary. Probably some of this mojo carries over to the Nikon brand today, helping it edge out Canon. And if you’re investing in a full-frame DSLR, Nikon is your best bet due to lens availability.

However, for the hobbyist or family photographer, either brand will deliver the results you’re looking for. Find the best lens you can afford, let that lead you to a brand and then find the body that has the features you need—but not so many that they keep you confused.