Canon's name is synonymous with a plethora of the best cameras on the market. In the DSLR market it's the key player, and has outsold its nearest rivals for several years.
Loyal customers help contribute to this success, yet Canon's world-class range of up-to-date cameras ensures there's always something worth coming back for.
So which Canon camera is best for you? We give you the lowdown on the Canon range of DSLRs, compact system cameras (CSCs) and compact cameras.
Best Canon DSLRs explained
The Canon EOS DSLR range encompasses three sensor sizes: APS-C, APS-H and full-frame (35mm), with its CSC also using an APS-C sensor.
The Canon-produced APS-C format sensor can be found in the company's range of consumer cameras. However, its size differs from the Sony-made sensors found in Nikon and Pentax cameras. As such, these (ever so slightly) smaller-sensor Canon DSLR cameras have a 1.6x crop factor.
This means that on an APS-C format Canon camera a 100mm lens produces images similar to a 160mm on a full-frame camera, whereas 100mm on a Nikon/Sony/Pentax DSLR offers a 150mm equivalent.
Canon also makes a full-frame DSLR series that's a great option for professionals or serious amateurs. The 36 x 24mm sensor size - the same size as traditional 35mm film - is ideal for producing the utmost in image quality, and offers greater depth of field control than small sensors.
The Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, now discontinued, sported a APS-H CMOS sensor. The APS-H sensor is a Canon-only venture. The 1.3x crop (ie a 100mm lens provides a 130mm equivalent) is roughly halfway between APS-C and full-frame sizes. It's this balance between final image quality and a smaller overall kit that makes it ideal for many on-the-go pros. We wonder if we'll see it again in a future Canon camera.
In terms of lenses, all Canon DSLRs use the EF-mount. However, it comes in two flavours: the original EF and the more recent EF-S version. EF lenses are the pricier, often pro-spec lenses designed to produce an image circle large enough to cover a full-frame sensor or 35mm film. EF-S lenses are designed for the smaller-sensor APS-C format Canon DSLRs.
Meanwhile Canon's first compact system camera, the Canon EOS M, features a new EF-M mount. However, EF and EF-S lens can be mounted on the M via the Mount Adaptor EF-EOS M.
EF-S lenses are designed to fit with a shorter distance between the lens's rear element and the compatible host camera's sensor than their EF equivalents. This means an image circle only large enough to cover APS-C sensors is produced.
But also, due to their design difference, mounting an EF-S lens on a larger-sensor Canon DSLR would result in damage, due to a clash between the camera's mirror and the rear lens element. This isn't applicable the other way around, so new photographers using a post-2003 Canon EOS DSLR with an APS-C sensor size needn't worry about compatibility.