Canon vs Nikon: which DSLR should you buy?

The best from the current Nikon and Canon DSLRs

Canon and Nikon remain the two biggest players in the DSLR market, having launched a veritable feast of new cameras over the past couple of years.

The age-old question of which brand to side with can be a tricky one to answer, but rest assured you'll finish reading this guide with a fuller idea of the best solution for your needs.

We've rounded up the main Canon and Nikon cameras from each manufacturer's DSLR line-ups, with an in-depth comparison of the key specs and features on offer.

Using this, we've analysed how you can get the best for your money from the current Nikon and Canon DSLRs in the three main category brackets of entry-level, mid-range and top-of-the-line. This roughly equates to cameras under $1,000, between $1,000 and $2,000, and $2,000 and above.

Ultimately, we want to answer the question: which is better for you, Nikon or Canon?

Canon vs Nikon: Entry-level DSLRs

Canon 100D: AU$750
Nikon D3200: AU$820

The beginners' range is ultimately one of the most important markets for any camera manufacturer, because despite the cheaper price, this is where you get hooked on a particular system that more often than not becomes the one you'll stay loyal to.

Nikon has done very well with its entry-level DSLRs, which have been the biggest sellers for some time now. The D3200 isn't the newest model available in the D3XXX range – that status belongs to the D3300. But for now the latter is pretty expensive at AU$949, so we've chosen to look at the former in our comparison.

Nikon D3200

Despite being an older model, the D3200 features a 24.2 million-pixel sensor, which is a pretty high resolution in the entry-level market. Having such a high count is useful when you want to crop images and retain a decent enough size for printing, and it's reasonably handy if you only have one lens and don't have the funds to purchase a telephoto optic.

The D3200 also features an Expeed 3 processor for low noise, a range of frame rates and full HD video recording. If you can stretch to the extra budget, the Nikon D3300 offers better detail resolution thanks to the removal of the anti-aliasing filter.

Meanwhile, the Canon EOS 100D is the world's smallest and lightest DSLR, coming in at roughly the same size as the Panasonic G5 and G6, both compact system cameras. It features the same 18 million-pixel APS-C sized sensor as the Canon 650D.

Canon 100D

The sensor is a hybrid CMOS AF II, the second generation of the type of sensor found in the Canon EOS M. It features phase detection pixels to assist with autofocus when shooting video or using Live View.

Both of the cameras offer a host of functions that will appeal to the beginner user, as well as everything needed to explore the more in-depth aspects of photography once you're ready to leave that comfort zone.

The D3200 is particularly appealing as it has a Guide Mode, which is handy for helping to get the shot you need when you're out and about, without having to delve into the instruction manual, or search online for help.

Image quality from both cameras is excellent, but colours are perhaps a little punchier from the Canon 100D. The 100D also has a range of creative filters for experimenting with different looks in camera, something that's missing from the D3200 (but can be found on the D3300).

The 100D has a 9-point autofocus system, while the Nikon D3200 features an 11-point system. Both feature an extra sensitive cross-type AF point in the middle of the frame. Both cameras also feature full HD video recording and a jack for attaching an external microphone.

Read our full Canon EOS 100D review

Read our full Nikon D3200 review


News Reporter

Amy (Twitter, Google+, blog) is a freelance journalist and photographer. She worked full-time as the News Reporter / Technical Writer (cameras) across Future Publishing's photography brands and TechRadar between 2009 and 2014 having become obsessed with photography at an early age. Since graduating from Cardiff Journalism School, she's also won awards for her blogging skills and photographic prowess, and once snatched exhibition space from a Magnum photographer.