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Canon vs Nikon – which camera brand captures your heart?

Canon vs Nikon

The Canon vs Nikon debate shows no signs of flagging. Both brands were shortlisted for our Best Photography Brand accolade, but Canon walked away with the silverware. Do you agree with our decision?

This camera manufacturer debate usually focuses on digital SLRs, however, the Which? Awards take into account the results of our tests of digital cameras across several categories, and even camcorders and printers (products Nikon doesn’t make).

Customer satisfaction, reliability, diversity, innovation and value for money are all also factored into consideration.

However, the reason the photography world is divided into a group who prefers the ‘D’ to come before the model number and a group who likes the ‘D’ to come after, is often less scientific and a little more heartfelt.

The lenses lock you in

I own a Canon 7D and am over the moon with it, but my purchase wasn’t based entirely on its Which? review. Many of my friends have Canon digital SLRs and the ability to share lenses was a major factor in my decision. And as such, now that I have my 7D, I’m unlikely to jump ship and bat for the opposition any time soon.

This isn’t because I’ve been brainwashed into thinking my Canon camera’s superior, but because I view my growing arsenal of lenses and accessories as a long-term investment. To change allegiance now would be costly.

Canon and Nikon both have enthusiastic customers fighting their corners, and I’ve heard debates between seemingly mild-mannered photographers become searingly heated. Quality and range of lenses always comes up, along with price, speed, noise, control and more recently even video quality.

The following table shows how the two camera brands compare in our lab tests, with information based on the tests we carried out between March 2010 and February 2011.

Camera brand Products tested Best Buys Best Buy strike rate Camera reliability Customer satisfaction
Canon 41 22 54% 97% 87%
Nikon 16 11 69% 97% 82%

Don’t sit on the fence

Pacifists might argue that Canons are better for sports photography, while Nikons are better suited for wildlife – but what’s clear is that nobody’s sat on the fence.

Still, if you’re looking to buy a digital SLR, both Nikon and Canon can cater for you, whatever your level of expertise. At the entry level, it’s likely you’ll shop for a Canon 1100D or Nikon’s D3100. Want something more advanced? Then you may consider Canon’s 60D or a Nikon D7000. Feeling flush and want to take the best shots money can buy? Then it’ll be the latest 5D model or the D700.

So is deciding whether you remove your lens with a clockwise or an anticlockwise twist just as trivial as choosing between Pepsi and Coca Cola? Or is there more to the Canon vs Nikon debate? Why exactly do you favour the camera brand that you do?

Which camera brand do you prefer?

Canon (58%, 392 Votes)

Nikon (42%, 284 Votes)

Total Voters: 676

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Ok heres my take, line up ten images then get someone (anyone) to tell you what camera took what image they wont be able to.
So then its down to personal user preference I Use Nikon,(my current camera is the D7000), but in the past have had Canon,Mamiya,Olympus,Contax,Leica,Rollie ect,ect (even an old Thorton Picard plate camera)
I chose Nikon as I like the build quality top end ther is not much to pick between them but IMO in the non proffessional market (up to £2000) Nikon have the edge over Canon I am not saying the Canons are duffers they make super cameras but for me things like menu selection,user setting memories, mirror bounce damping and general robustness of build is the Nikons biggest plus point for me over Canon.
Having said that all this is rather a mute subject if you already own Canon,Nikon or whatever kit. Because very few users swap makes, as replacing all that very pricey glass you have already bought makes the body cost seem like peanuts

cobweb79 says:
15 February 2012

I’m aware that I’m out of my league with all you high flyers but I’ve never read anything about left handed versions of any slr’s. Why not, my Nikon is a pain to use

I am surprised that so little attention is given to the fact that being left handed is not that uncommon. We now have an obsession about treating the sexes equally but ignore those who are left handed.

I am right handed myself but you definitely deserve consideration and an enterprising manufacturer could easily capture a small but significant part of the market.

I may be unique in having a dominant left hand when writing but use my right hand when using a mouse and for playing tennis but when it comes to using a film or DSLR I have never had any problem when using the controls on my camera bodies. The only problems I have had with my cameras are trying to remember the settings and remembering which way to turn the lens controls. Sigma zoom lenses have their zoom and focussing controls the opposite way to Canon’s and the focussing ring works in the opposite direction.

Not so much a comment on the main topic, though my vote goes to Canon, but a follow up on various comments on software.
I borrowed a Nikon Coolscan V, a very expensive film scanner. They aren’t available new but bring around £1000 second hand on eBay. I was worried about finding drivers after reading various forums but they all seemed related to 64bit Windows7. However I downloaded the Vista drivers which work with no trouble with my 32bit Windows 7. I find it amazing that Nikon don’t continue support for such an expensive piece of equipment and don’t even mention the use of Vista drivers for W7 on their website.
Incidentally the scanner is marvellous for scanning slides because of a remarkable bit of software for cleaning up slide scans. It is otherwise unremarkable, being painfully slow. Anyone know of software I could use for cleaning up slides with my Epson V300 scanner which is faster and of equally high resolution but whose clean-up program is relatively poor as is Photoshop Elements 6.
The previous posts concerning Photoshop Elements are interesting. I had Elements 4 which din’t work when I changed to W7. A disappointing Adobe failure to provide patches for later operating systems. I replaced it with E5 which works fine on W7 but is significantly slower. I now also have E6 which I rarely use as it is even slower. Adobe keep bringing out versions of Elements which add little to the functionality, I started with E1 and have used E2, E3, E4, E5 and E6 all with small additional features but increasingly resource hungry. I have no use for the cataloguing functions of Elements which I find intrusive. If I was starting from scratch I’m sure they would be fine but I developed my own system for my large collection long ago.

Tony Dutton says:
15 February 2012

My Canon 550D is superb except for a serious fault. The camera is used on a microscope with a Zeiss “Biotar” and suitable adaptor in order to get the image coming from the microscope eyepiece, on the sensor to the correct size. ALSO I use the camera on a copying stand held vertically.
Using the excellent 18 to 135 mm lens, on a nice warm day, the zoom ring tends to turn, under the weight of the front elements which descend downwards. A rubber band arrangement prevents this.
But why, oh why, can’t the lensmakers simply include some sort of a brake, either optional using a
screw mechanism or a braking action via a crinkle-washer acting against the upper or lower edge
of the zoom ring. I have contacted Jessops from whom the camera was purchased and they were pleasant and sympathetic. ‘Phoning Canon they were also sympathetic and this fault was being investigated. A friend who has a Nicon has also reported this problem.

Well – I have a Nikon D7000 and it is great – so far it has been easy to operate and results first class – to be honest I doubt if I’d change to a Canon. The cost of lenses and camera is too great an investment. Really first class for portraits of greyhounds.

I used to use Minolta SLR kit with a full range of lenses from 1000mm to a fisheye. I simply updated the body (always had a pair) – The quality of results were extraordinarily good and I sold many photos and had a number of commissions (specialist area medical photography) .I loved the quick change bayonet fitting lens. If a Minolta DSLR had been available to use the excellent bayonet lens I’d had bought that instead of the Nikon

But I do have an excellent Canon IXUS for recreational photography the results of which please the viewers – but it is cruder and I often wish it had more manual control.and sensitivity.

Leon Z Newman says:
7 March 2012

…and so it goes on. Photography is becoming too geeky. The differences between the cameras are not that great. Once you have chosen one – you get stuck by your investment into the lens system. If you are just starting out, just go and play with the cameras and see what suits you (hand size, button positions etc). See which one is popular in your local club/friends/camera shop. Whatever you buy there will be a new one out next year with a “must have” addition.
I defy anyone looking at prints or projected images to tell which is Canon & which is Nikon.

There are those who must have the latest equipment but many good photographers carry on using the same camera for years, although not quite as much as they did in the days of film cameras. The geeks who are prepared to spend a lot of money on their hobby are not harming anyone and many of us could be branded as geeks for some reason or other.

The fact that respectable photos can be taken using modern compact cameras means that photography is no longer just a hobby for the rich. That seems a bigger step forward to me.

Leon Z Newman says:
7 March 2012

I agree – the digital medium has opened up photography to everyone. It wouldn’t surprise me if more photographs are taken these days by phones rather than cameras!
It is fun to discuss the varieties of cameras comparing Canon 600 to the 60 or as in this discussion Canon vs Nikon. The financial investment photographers put into their lenses is large and that ties them to a specific brand. I looked at many of this type of discussion when looking to buy my first digital SLR – I was still using an Olympus OM10. They are helpful as there is a lot of info but there is no conclusion.
What I am getting at is that these “geeky” discussions shouldn’t be taken too seriously as there isn’t a correct or clear answer. The best camera is the one that produces pictures of the quality you desire in the format that you will look at them, whether print, projected image, poster or just on a digital photo-frame.
Whichever camera you have – the skill lies with the photographer as most cameras (esp DSLR’s) produce excellent quality photos.
PS – actually the “best” camera is the one you have with you in your pocket/handbag – so I doubt if it an SLR at all.

Jeff Stevenson says:
28 June 2012

VIDEO: I am comparing Canons to Nikons in the Full frame HD video capabilities.
D700 compared to the 5D. Have you shot any video and if so, what are your views?

anton randle says:
14 July 2012

I’ve stuck with Canon, because I started with a Canon compact. Just like a mac is more intuitive than a pc for me, a canon appeared more logical. Plus I mainly take landscapes. Nikon’s are meant to be better for portraits! Now I have a few Canon lens’s I’m unlikely to change to Nikon. Both are good products, although my 7d didn’t like accidentally falling into a rock pool!