Difference between Canon and Nikon Camera Brands

VD July 07 2021

The two most established brands that most DSLR camera buyers choose from are Canon and Nikon. The two camera brands have a long and established history in digital photography. However, most buyers struggle to decide which brand to choose.

Modern digital photography debates are based on arguments on the difference between Canon and Nikon DSLR brands, indicating how each brand suits its users and their photography needs. The competition between these two camera brands and their advanced technologies, such as incorporating mirrorless cameras, has made it hard for buyers to decide which brand to choose. The following analysis of Nikon and Canon brands will help you make an informed decision.

Comparison of Features of the most popular camera brands


Autofocus is the main difference between Canon and Nikon. All EOS lenses of the Canon camera have autofocus, but only AF-S lenses have autofocus in Nikon cameras. The autofocus feature enables the photographer to choose a part of the photograph that will be well defined and sharp. The quality draws attention to the essential part of the image.  However, non-AF-S lenses can work on Nikon cameras when adjusted manually.

Removing the autofocus motor from Nikon entry-level DSLR was the brand's move to reduce the camera size. Third-party lenses can be attached to Canon cameras through adapters. On the other hand, Nikon lenses are manual and vintage, so they compatible with its DSLRs.


The camera’s crop factor shows the magnification power when used on a crop sensor camera. The crop factor of Canon is 1.6x, while Nikon has a 1.5x crop factor. The difference in their sensor accounts for their image resolution qualities. However, smaller sensors have enhanced magnification. For example, a 100 mm telephoto lens can be quickly changed to 150 mm with Nikon and a 160 mm with Canon. Based on their usability, Nikon wins for mirrorless, while Canon is favored for easier handling.

DSLRs Levels 

For entry-level, Nikon provides 24Mp resolution, 60p video recording, an ISO ranging from 100 to 25,600.  Equally, Nikon batteries last longer with 1,550 shots. However, the Nikon body is larger and less compact than its Canon equivalent.  

In mid-range DSLRs, Canon is favored for its current 90D and 850D updates that have improved its mid-range body. On the other hand, Nikon only released D5600 and D7500 in the past three years with no significant body updates. Nikon's D7500 only provides 21MP, 8fps, and 15 focus points, whereas its competitor Canon’s 90D provides a 33MP resolution with a tilting LCD screen, 11 fps continuous shooting, webcam functions, enhanced battery life, and focusing breaking features.

Nikon is preferred for prosumer DSLRs since its body provides extensive ISO ranges with over twice as many focus points as Canon. Canon is appreciated for DSLR full frames as it allows for the cheapest 6D Mark II option. However, the 2020 Nikon's D780 body outperforms Canon in ISO ranges, video and image qualities, auto function accuracy, and speed.

Top-end DSLRs contrast Canon 1DX Mark III against Nikon D6, whose capabilities almost match. However, 1DX Mark II has added benefits like the video shooting quality of 5.5K resolution with 120 fps, 20 fps continuous shooting, and inbuilt GPS.

DSLRs Mirrorless Levels

Canon lacks a significant competitor in the entry-level mirrorless cameras, M200. The M200 provides 24MP resolution, an ISO range between 100 and 25 600, 6 fps continuous shooting with an internal flash. It also has other enhanced features like Wi-Fi, touchscreen, and Bluetooth.

The mid-range mirrorless camera level experiences stiff competition between Nikon Z50 and Canon EOS M6 Mark II. While these two camera brands have standard features, Z50 has additional features unavailable in EOS M6 Mark II.  Z50 has 209 focus points, ISO range twice as wide, long flash range, and weatherproof. However, these two brands share an APS-C sensor, adjustable LCD screen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, webcam enabled, and touchscreen features.

There are various categories in the top-end mirrorless cameras. Canon EOS RP is not a significant competitor in the low-end market. However, Canon R6 competes with Nikon Z6 in the full-frame mirrorless market segment. 

It is not easy to point out an effective competitor in this sector. The two brands have unique features with varied functionalities. For example, Z6 has a sensor handling system. Its price is generally favorable, but R6 has enhanced video shooting functionalities with low light management.

Also, Canon R5 competes with Nikon Z7 with enhanced video quality and low light management plans. Niko Z7 has been lagging since it was last updated two years ago. In that period, important mirrorless developments have occurred in Canon R5. However, Nikon’s Z6 II and Z7 II have indicated significant improvements. To this point, Canon provides a robust camera body.  


The commonly used digital photography brands are Nikon and Canon. The difference between Canon and Nikon is based on their weaknesses and strengths. While Canon is favored for its compatibility, Nikon wins in the mirrorless aspects. It is recommended that buyers refrain from brand obsession and become objective about their photography goals in selecting a suitable camera brand.

Among the guideline principles when purchasing a brand include price considerations and suitability, and above all, buyers should trust their intuition and instincts about these two brands. 

So which camera brand is the best?

While Canon and Nikon still dominate the professional photography field. In general, Nikon is more suitable for beginners since its settings and terminologies are easy to understand. In addition, Nikon provides relatively affordable cameras for beginners.


Is Canon or Nikon better?

The digital photography industry has two significant rivals, Canon and Nikon. However, there is no single winner or favored camera brand between the two since they all their strengths and respective weaknesses. Most people prefer Niko due to its high ISO performance, while those who favor Canon base their arguments on the brand’s superior video shooting capacities.

Do professionals use Canon or Nikon?

While professionals have varying tastes between these two bards, most of them favor both high-end Nikon and Canon DSLRs, including Nikon D850 DSLR cameras and Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSL Cameras. These high-end DSLRs are designed to provide excellent outputs since they feature cameras of more than 30MP, 4K video recording functionalities, autofocus, enhanced ISO sensitivity, and competitive frame rates.