Canon or Nikon?

Nothing riles up photo pros on forums more than a newbie "Canon or Nikon?" question. And yet, the fact that this question is asked by so many people is an indication of a large communications inefficiency that has spawned a thriving camera review industry.

Remember how marketing textbooks always said that people don't really buy drills, they buy holes? Well, you'd imagine that when shopping for cameras, people are really buying pictures and not the expensive black boxes, but you can't really tell by the way cameras are sold today.

There are a lot -- a huge unmanageable lot -- of resources that let you compare the boxes down to their smallest and, to many, meaningless details. About the only way to compare pictures these different boxes produce is to shovel through the Cameras section on Flickr.

This doesn't make sense. I'm trying to think of another consumer electronics product that you buy for its output where you want but are unable to compare the output of different models. You can compare TV sets by walking up to the wall in Best Buy. For shredder shoppers, confetti samples are readily available on display. It might be tough to compare irons, but then I guess most people don't expect deviations in the quality of heat and steam.

I wish there were an easier way to make up my mind about a camera than trying to understand complicated reviews when all I need to know is what body+lens combinations produces nice baby pictures for under $700.


  1. I am using Canon but I've never used Nikon. I'm glad of Canon but the other i dont know.

  2. Its an interesting comparison you've made, between televisions, shredders and cameras. The difference, I think, is the reference input needed to accurately compare the output.

    Televisions can be compared with two identical DVD players and two copies of the same DVD, etc. Shredders can be fed identical sized stacks of the same paper stock. But photography relies on so many variables of input; light, lens, settings, etc., plus the whole artistic "flair" aspect.

    I know that doesn't help you decide on a camera, but I was more commenting on the middle of the post, rather than the end. (All that having been said, I like Canons.) Good luck!

  3. I too, was mostly interested in the middle part of the post, since I'm probably settling on a Canon. I think even an imprecise comparison would help -- show me two images shot by an entry level DSLR from Canon (Rebel) and Nikon (D90) with a 28-50mm kit lens, images of the same subject under a variety of controlled conditions.

    With all the variety of camera review sites, I think there's room for one more that does it right.

  4. the solution is simple. u go to discussion/ forum section of the review sites and ask a question mentioning your specific needs.

    or u just go for the most popular camera and lens combination...

    save money and dont follow this hype of better machines make better foto. do u need an SLR anyway? some point and shoot cameras are really good and they are really portable. why carry a kilo of equipment when all u need is something decent to make photos.

    if u look how canon and nikon keep on upselling their customers, u ll find it an amazing business.

  5. I got a Nikon because the price was clearly unbeatable during a specific offer. Entirely happy with the choice. My suggestion is: figure out a budget, find a good deal (no matter which brand) and go with it. You'll still be able to resell the hardware on ebay for good value if you are not satisfied. All this to make you concentrate more on taking pictures. Unlike TVs, it's what you create with it that matters. At this level of quality, both are equal in my opinion. The pictures matter (check on Flickr amazing shots taken with mere iphones). Nothing else.

  6. I think the tribalism within camera owners (at least SLR owners) stems from being effectively locked in to your chosen brand.

    Once you've bought the lenses, changing is a lot of hassle – it's far easier to change the camera body but stay with the same brand.

    Plus, everyone likes to think they've made the right/best decision (especially with high ticket items) so will defend it vigorously.

    But maybe that's just the Canon owner in me speaking.

  7. Right.
    Walk into a store and ask for a test print from a printer you want to buy. A question of cost per page will certainly make you very unwelcome there :)

  8. It's fun to go into a musician forum and a thread starting with "Which is better -- strat or Les Paul?" Good times. That said, I agree with the above post that some fixed lens cams are pretty darned flexible. I have a lumix with a huge telephoto range that accomplishes all I need. Only complaint is I wish I'd bought the one with a hot shoe so I could bounce flash. Another thing to consider if you're planning to keep if for kids is that eventually if they get into sports, you'll need one that doesn't have so much shutter lag that you have to see into the future to get the shot.

  9. @Max: printers were the only other example I could think of, but I've never bought one and I don't know how the printing quality ranges.

    Oh, that and maybe scanners, but that's less mainstream.

  10. I agree it's a bit of a minefield, personally I'm a Nikon shooter but many of my friends choose Canon.

    At the end of the day the best combination is what you can afford and what feels right in your hands. Try the different brands in store - I found the Nikon layout suited me better.

    Whichever you choose will be a vast improvement on any compact camera, and the short shutter lag will help to capture those wonderful baby expressions!

    Have fun choosing.

  11. Look at a Nikon D40 Kit for around $400 and if you still want to spend the other $300 you have left over then buy another lens the interests you. Try for a highly regarded recommendation and a site full of reviews from someone who's tested and shot with everything under the sun. You won't be disappointed.


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