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Buying a DSLR – Canon vs. Nikon

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Are you thinking about buying a DSLR camera and not sure which camera brand you should buy? It’s a huge decision since as you build a collection of lens and flashes, you pretty much have to stick with  which brand your camera is. I have owned both a Nikon and a Canon and today I am going to break down the pros and cons of both. This is totally unscientific, just the experience of one Mom/blogger and what she liked and disliked about each brand.


Here is what I have owned:

Body – Nikon D60 / Nikon D90
(the D90 is now the Nikon D7100)

Lens – Nikon 35mm f/1.8 / Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
/ Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF /
Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G

Flash – Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight

  • I really like the white balance and color of the images
  • I like the button placements. I especially like that there is a separate dial for both aperture and shutter speed.
  • The external flash produces a softer flash light
  • I don’t feel like the images are as sharp as often
  • The lens and cameras tend to be more expensive


Here is what I have owned:

Body –  Canon EOS Rebel T3i 18 MP

Lens –  Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 / Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6

Flash – Speedlite 430EX II Flash

  • Very sharp crisp images
  • Price – you seem to be able to get more for your money. I find this to be especially true to with lenses.
  • Lighter weight
  • I don’t like the menus set up as much – they seem to be harder to find things
  • Takes longer to adjust your settings because there is not a separate dial for aperture.

When I bought my first DLSR camera I went with a Nikon. I liked it, there is no doubt about it. I used Nikon products for 4 years. I loved the menus and I felt it was so easy to adjust the settings.  It made it super easy to shoot on manual because it was so fast. But 4 months ago I sold my Nikon off and purchased a Canon. Why? For me as a blogger I felt like I could not get sharp enough images. For about every 5 images I took, it felt like only 1 was super sharp. With my Canon I feel like for every 5 images, 4 are sharp and 1 might not be perfect.

I don’t have all of the lens that I want, but I am glad that they are cheaper. For example on a 50mm 1.8 lens the Canon is $123.73 compared to the Nikon at $216.98.

Both Nikon and Canon are great companies and they make great products. For me it came down to needing sharp images every single time. I’m hoping that the menus get easier to navigate. I really miss having a separate scrolling dial for aperture! Really miss it!

I hope this helps if you are thinking about buying a camera.  I would love to hear about your experiences would Nikon or Canon and what you like/dislike about your camera in the comments.


Previous author of Over the Big Moon. I shared my passion for home and family life! I love graphic design, DIY projects, cooking, and working in my garden! My favorite role is taking care of my husband and our 3 amazing and busy boys!

Comments (25)

  • Your comment about the Canon controls is misguided. This is only true on the Rebel series. All of the xxD, xD, and Full Frame bodies have separate aperture/shutter speed dials.

  • Age old debate of Canon vs Nikon. I once came into contact with a pro photographer and asked his advice on which is better for entry level DSLR pics, he didn’t even hesitate when he said Nikon. VERY easy to navigate and they’re workhorses. I’m the team photographer for 6 different sports teams and my shutter count is up to 200,000 + pics and it still performs beautifully, crisp shots and creamy bokeh. All the photogs that I’ve seen @ Disney World and other tourist traps (the ones that jump at you at the entrance) seem to lean towards Nikon.

    • I’m a professional photographer and I wouldn’t hesitate to say canon.

      At the end of the day is doesn’t matter its all about the person taking the picture. I can probably get similar results as my top of the range camera out of an entry level camera.

  • I bought Nikon one old school manual & digital D40 also D90 my D90 & lenses were stolen $1800’s ,which shot bands,food some action pic’s but D40 its good camera cause i can put Nikon lenses on any Nikon camera don’t need adapter like Cannon !! Go in bag pull out any lenses shoot, were cannons I find adapter!!

  • You can make great images with a Canon or a Nikon. The best computer for photography is in your head. The camera simply does what you tell it. Don’t buy a thirty to fifty megapixel camera and but consumer lens on it. You will waste a lot of money. The sharpness depends on the glass. The professional lens are much sharper. The difference in camera bodies is simply controls and noise. The cameras these days only show noise at high ISO. Noise can usually be handled in post production. The bottom line is you can’t go wrong with Canon or Nikon.

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  • When I did the side by side comparison, I found the canon to more expensive. Video is better on the Nikon as well. The main reason I bought the Nikon was weight and size. The canon cameras are to large and heavy. The Nikon D5500 is the best weight to ability in mid range. You will also find the Nikor lenses are lighter too. Of course they are both great options and it depends on what your are wanting to use it for. Just my two cents.

  • Hi recently brought Canon EOS 750d kit lens EF-S 18-55mm. Which I no longer use ,the two lenses I will be using are 18-200mmSTM and 50mm 1.8 .Just need advise about which filters to buy Polarised or Natural Density.

  • I went through the same dilemma years ago. I kept going back and forth between the two brands. I was leaning more toward the Canon since that was what I had as a film camera. What changed it……holding the cameras in my hands at the store! The Canon didn’t feel as good in my hand as the Nikon. The grip on the Cannon just seemed too short for my hand. So Nikon it was and have not regretted it. In truth, you can’t go wrong with either. See how they feel in your hands and then decide1

  • I too own the t3i, and I receive many compliments regarding the sharpness of the images. I often think of upgrading , but this camera gives me more than what I need!

  • The biggest “problem” going from pretty much every other camera to a nikon is the zoom and exposure meter are backwards! Hugely frustrating and a real deal-breaker in my opinion.

  • Canon has sharpening built in to its factory setting. Tripods help with sharp images. Both cameras have their merits, glad you found the system that worked best for you

    • you can modify the sharpening amount with the profiles on canons. however shoot raw and you don’t have to worry just make sure you have a good lens and have the subject in focus.

  • Thank you for your thoughts. We’re trying to decide what to get and though I know both are great, I found a WONDERFUL comparison website that takes identical photos using every camera out there and I prefer the clarity and sharpness of the Canon images over the Nikon almost exclusively when it comes to the DSLRs.

  • Let's Drink Coffee, Darling

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve been leaning towards getting a Canon, but I’m glad to see others’ reasons why they believe Canon is a good choice! So many options, they need to have a store where I can just go use all the different cameras for a full day to decide which one to get!

  • From what I know about both of them, I totally agree with everything you said! I LOVE my cannon, and I love that my 50mm lens was half the price that it would have been for a Nikon! Thanks for sharing! Pinned

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