Ok I first want to start with saying... this is not a post to start the age old Canon vs Nikon war!! : ) I'm writing this post because I have SO... many begging photographers, family and friends ask why I shoot Canon, or if they should buy Canon or Nikon. I will be putting the pro's and con's of both camera's. I have read tons of review's, statistic's and survey's on the two camera's and I have used both brands, though I've never owned a Nikon.
That being said... I only shoot Canon and wouldn't ever use anything else!!! I LOVE my Canon camera and equipment so that will probably seep into this post somewhat, but I will try to keep it to the facts! : ) I do have friends though that would say the same thing about their Nikon's that I do about my Canon's! Both Canon and Nikon camera's are superb and will create stunning and beautiful images if used correctly. Loyalty's are naturally developed depending on what camera is purchased first much like a loyalty to certain brands of clothing or food products. For instance, I grew up eating Campbell's soups, I have heard and seen commercial's about Progresso's soups and how healthy and tasty they are, but I have never bought a can of Progresso soup!! : ) I am a loyal Campbell's soup fan and just naturally buy what I am familiar with. I know what I'm getting when I buy a can of Campbell's soup and it would be a mystery to me to buy a can of Progresso and I would most likely not like it as much because I have already put my trust in another camp! : ) That being said Progresso may be an awesome tasting soup and may be better then Campbell's in some ways! Ok so this was supposed to be about Camera's and not soup, haha I kinda strayed there a little I think, but you get the point. It's the same type of thing with Canon vs. Nikon.
So let's start out with survey results done by an electronic company on both Canon and Nikon users. This survey was done on consumers that owned their camera's for 3 years or more. When asked who had problems or malfunctions with their camera's in the past 3 years, Canon users responded with a low 5.4 rating compared to Nikon users with a 6.5, also I have personally know more people to have problems with their Nikon's then Canon users. Canon was rated 89.5% for 'Extremely Satisfied' while Nikon was in the lowest percentage of all camera's surveyed. Canon also rated 'Better then Average' on reliability while Nikon only rated 'Average'. Users also said they felt Canon lens were more reliable then Nikon's, whose shutter's tended to stick.
Now Nikon is know to perform better in low light situations hands down, no questions there. Nikon is also said to produce better color out of camera when shooting in Jpeg format, while both Canon and Nikon produce gorgeous photo's when shot in Raw.
Canon however seems to have a much sharper focusing system especially in the new Canon 5D mark III offering an amazing 61 Autofocus points. Also Canon's LCD screens do have higher resolutions then the Nikon's normally, so viewing images on the back screen when shooting is much clearer with Canon then Nikon.
Now Canon has a much wider variety in lenses then Nikon and are a little cheaper then their counter part Nikon lenses. Nikon however does have superb optical glass quality and their kit lenses are better then Canon's kit lenses. Canon lens's, while somewhat larger, have all internal elements — meaning nothing on the outside moves except the switches and rings. The Nikon, on the other hand, has a telescoping front element that moves in and out with both focus and zoom, and manual focusing spins the whole barrel. It feels a bit chintzy, like it couldn’t handle a good ding on a door frame, and it’s poking out of the front all day long.
When viewing Canon and Nikon images shot with the same settings side by side on my computer Canon tends to retain fine detail without as much noise better when zoomed in at a 2:1 ratio. Canon has also tested to shoot more images per battery life then it's counter part Nikon camera.
Another thing I would like to mention, and this is strictly personal preference is that Canon's shutter sounds are quieter and not quite as disturbing as Nikon's. ( Which is actually the mirror inside of the camera flipping up to expose the photo that makes the noise and not the actual shutter. ) I personally think the Nikon's shutter noise is loud and sounds like cheap plastic or something. This again is just preference but I thought I should mention it as it is one of the reasons I prefer Canon for weddings. The Canon's 5D mark III has especially quiet shutter noise! : )
Personally, I find on entry level DSLR's, Canon places all the main settings and knobs around the LCD screen where they are easily found. Whereas Nikon requires photographers to take a couple more steps when changing settings. However, when it comes to settings, it really comes down to what you get used to. It's up to you, to know your camera!
Nikon has put the ISO button in a "fiddly" position, where it can't be changed while the camera is at eye-level which is annoying to me. I feel Canon is much more user friendly over all. That being said, in terms of features, it's often so close to a tie it doesn't matter! They tend to keep up with each other very well. One will out do the other, then next you hear, the company behind will bring out a new SLR to counteract it. This competition is always great for photographers :)
So who should buy a Nikon camera generally speaking? Those wanting a starter kit that includes a camera body plus 1 or 2 good lenses that they won't need to upgrade any time soon. Photographers after great general purpose lenses. ( quality vs. value )
Who should buy a Canon.... EVERYONE!, no just kidding! LOL Canon's are great for professional's or serious amateur's. Canon offers a wide range of lenses down the track to suit a variety of budgets. At the professional level, they are generally cheaper then Nikon lenses. That's not to say that will always be the case.
To wrap up this post I'd like to put a huge emphasis on what REALLY matters in the debate on Canon vs. Nikon..... It's simply this... it doesn't really matter which one you have, Canon or Nikon. What truly matters is that you fully know and understand all the features and functions of your specific camera and how to use them to create great images. It's not a camera that creates a GREAT and STUNNING image, it's the person behind that camera that makes a perfect photograph! You as a photographer must put your heart and soul into your photographs to create meaningful and beautiful imagery that will leave your viewers in awe of your talent, and not your camera. Your camera is but a mere tool for you to use in conveying what you feel when looking through that view finder, wether it be Canon or Nikon.... and you must know how to use your tools properly to be able to transfer your feelings through your image to the viewers. : )