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How to Choose Between Canon and Nikon DSLRs

Jose Fermoso/ArtBistro

Canon or Nikon DSLR

It’s a question all photographers ask themselves: Should I get a Nikon or a Canon? Pro users are the first to admit that technical differences between the two iconic brands are not deciding factors. In fact, the more experienced the photographer, the more adamant they are that camera brands do not matter, according to veteran photographer Ken Rockwell. "It’s like golf. Winning’s all about the golfer, not the club.” Yet, strong loyalties do exist.

To make the decision easier, we’ve explored the heady combination of features and market forces driving today’s DLRS sales.

A Fork in the Road

Photographers typically develop niche preferences early on and rarely stray from them. These choices often reflect the respective historical reputations of Canon and Nikon.

From its start as a supplier of lenses, first to science labs in the 1920s and then to Japan’s military during WWII, Nikon’s expertise in optical technology has never been questioned. To this day, their lenses are used in equipment in the best labs in the world and most consider theircamera lenses superior. To many, this is enough to choose Nikon.

Canon was a late-bloomer, beginning as a consumer company dismissed for its lack of standout features. Their reputation climbed with years of steady upgrades until the 1987 unveiling of Auto-focus, a marketable, practical technology. The ‘87 EOS autofocus SLR took great action shots at top-speed and forced photojournalists to reconsider Canon. By the early 90’s, almost all sports photographers had switched to Canon.

When DSLRs were ready to go mainstream, Canon offered an attractive price-point that, combined with its 90’s momentum, cemented its lead. InfoTrends analyst Ed Lee confirmed: “The DSLR market [took off] when Canon introduced the EOS Rebel in 2003 at $900 for the body. It was the first DSLR to break the $1,000 barrier.”

With two DSLR monoliths now sharing the stage, it was inevitable they’d try to outdo each other by upping the feature ante every 18 months or so, leading to a proliferation of upgrades and new features.

Next: Small, Real Differences →

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