The battle between camera giants Nikon and Canon has been raging for decades, and it’s not likely to stop soon. Both companies manufacture many of the top models on the market today, and they are constantly vying to release new products that outdo each other. We are not going to try to convince you that one is better than the other, as that is simply too broad a statement to make. Rather, you should consider what kind of photographer you are, what your budget is, and what features are most important to you.

Action Photography

If you frequently shoot fast moving wildlife, sports games, or other action scenes, then you will be relying heavily on a camera’s burst mode.

Canon’s cameras generally outpace their Nikon counterparts when it comes to burst speed. The company’s top DSLRs, such as the 1D C, can hit 14fps. Similarly priced Nikon DSLR cameras only have burst speeds of around 7-12fps.

The same holds true for mid-range cameras. The Canon 7D Mark II costs around $1,000 and has a 10fps burst. The similarly priced Nikon D7200 only has a burst of 6fps. You can make this same comparison between most models, and you will find that Canon generally edges ahead.

For entry-level cameras, the differences are much less pronounced. Both companies’ cheaper models typically range from 1-8fps. When comparing models at the same price point, you may notice that Canon inches ahead with maybe one more frame per second. Regardless, this isn’t a significant difference.

In general, Canon is better when it comes to burst mode speed. This may change in the future, however.

+1 for Canon

Sensors

When it comes to sensors, Canon seems to put more focus on megapixels than Nikon. The company is always striving to release cameras with at least 20 megapixels, and in the case of the Canon 5Ds, as much as 50 megapixels. Is this overkill? Perhaps. The most important thing about a sensor is its size. Megapixels are more like the icing on the cake and are not as important as they are hyped up to be.

In saying this, both companies have a range of cameras at different sensor sizes, ranging from 1/2.3 inches up to full frame.

Overall, it’s pretty hard to select a winner in this category.

Video Quality

If you want to film in 4K, then you will notice that Nikon is pumping out a lot of 4K cameras. Canon is doing the same. However, Nikon is offering them at a range of different price points. If you want a Canon 4K camera, then you will need to pay upwards of $900. Nikon, on the other hand, offers entry-level cameras with 4K capabilities such as the W300 for around $340.

When it comes to 1080p video frame rate, Nikon also wins out. It has put a greater emphasis on offering users the ability to film 1080p at 60fps, rather than just 30fps. This is true for high-end, mid-range, and low-end models.

+1 for Nikon

Lenses

Both manufacturers are always seeking to overthrow the other when it comes to releasing new lenses, and Canon appears to be doing the better job. Every time Nikon releases a new lens, Canon appears to release one that’s better, bigger, or has some other innovative feature. For example, in 2017 the company released a tilt-shift lens (the 135mm f/4 TS-E Macro) with a greater focal length than any other lens from either manufacturer.

Canon makes great cameras, and it makes especially great lenses.

+1 for Canon

Battery Life

While both manufacturers produce cameras that allow users to take hundreds of photos on a single changer, Nikon typically outperforms Canon. A good comparison to make is the Nikon D7100 against the Canon EOS Rebel T6i. Both are mid-range models that cost around $700. The big difference is that the D7100 can take about 950 shots on a single charge while the T6i can only take 440.

This example is no exception. Nikon’s models frequently have longer battery lives when compared to their Canon counterparts.

+1 for Nikon

Options

If you’re seeking a professional level or midrange camera, then both Canon and Nikon have a similar range of options. If you line both companies’ cameras up side by side, you will notice similar features, specs, and prices. Every time one manufacturer releases a camera, the other quickly trys to counter with a competing device.

However, when it comes to entry-level cameras, Nikon offers more possibilities. The company has affordable models that offer 4K video and advanced autofocus systems. Canon’s cameras typically lack these features and often cost more as well.

Take the Nikon A900 and the previously mentioned Nikon W300. They offer 4K video and powerful autofocus and burst modes for under $350. Canon currently has nothing that compares in that price range.

+1 for Nikon

Total Scores

We have tallied up the points below.

Nikon: 3

  • Video Options
  • Battery Life
  • Entry-Level Camera Options

Canon: 2

  • Burst Mode
  • Lenses

Which is Best?

While one user may swear by their Canon and another may swear by their Nikon, it’s impossible to state that one brand is better than the other. These photography giants each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and the focus should be more on what you’re seeking as a photographer.

We have summarized the key differences below.

  • If you’re an action photographer, then Canon is probably the better option for you. They offer cameras with higher burst speeds than their Nikon counterparts.
  • Both companies offer excellent 4K However, Nikon offers them at the greatest range of price points. If you’re seeking to record ultra-high definition video while also being on a tight budget, then Nikon is the first place to look.
  • Those seeking to film 1080p in 60fps will find that Nikon has the greatest array of options.
  • Those seeking entry-level cameras will find that Nikon offers more choices.
  • Photographers who are more concerned with lens performance than camera performance should consider Canon.
  • If you plan to take hundreds of shots in one session, then Nikon typically offers cameras with longer battery lives.