Canon vs Nikon: which DSLR should you buy?

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The most common question people ask when buying their first DSLR is whether to side with Canon or Nikon. Indeed, even more experienced photographers tied to one system often think about what they would gain by switching sides. 

The fact is that both companies make excellent DSLRs. Nevertheless, at any given point they each have slightly different offerings on the market, and so it follows that some models will be better suited to your specific needs than others. 

To that end, we’ve rounded up the main DSLRs currently available from the two (bar the most senior models designed for professionals) and compared them with their rivals in the same price bracket.

Whether you’re a photographic novice looking for your first camera, an enthusiast keen on exploring a range of options or a more advanced user looking for a full-frame powerhouse, read on to get the best idea of what your money gets you. 

Canon vs Nikon: Entry-level DSLRs

If you’ve got up to £500/$500 or so to spend on your first DSLR, you’re very much spoilt for choice. Not only do you have a raft of brand new models to consider, but there are also many older ones that manufacturers typically subject to discounts and cashback offers to hook you into their system.

Currently, the cheapest options are the Canon EOS 1300D (known as the EOS Rebel T6 in the US), Canon EOS 4000D (though it's not available in the US just yet), Canon EOS 2000D (known as the EOS Rebel T7 in the US) and Canon EOS 200D (known as the EOS Rebel SL2 in the US), as well as the Nikon D3300 and the newer Nikon D3400

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Canon EOS Rebel T6 / 1300D

Canon EOS Rebel T6 / 1300D
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Canon EOS 4000D

Canon EOS 4000D
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Canon EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D

Canon EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D
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Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D

What's the difference then? At the bottom end of the scale is the EOS 1300D / EOS Rebel T6, which features a 18MP sensor and can shoot at only 3fps, while there's a 9-point AF system featured. Then there's the EOS 4000D - similar in spec to the EOS 1300D / EOS Rebel T6, but the newer camera isn't worth the extra cash as it features a plastic lens mount and pretty horrible 2.7-inch display.  

The new EOS 2000D / EOS Rebel T7 is the next step up and is worth the extra money thanks to the jump in resolution, from 18MP to 24.1MP. The EOS 200D / EOS Rebel SL2 is the most advanced Canon of the bunch. It has the latest 24.2MP sensor and features Canon's brilliant Dual Pixel CMOS AF system for quick Live View focusing and shoots at a slightly faster 5fps. There's also a really useful vari-angle touchscreen. That said, it sticks with a similar 9-point AF system as the other two cameras.

Over at Nikon and both the D3300 and D3400 have 24.2MP sensors and can shoot at 5fps, and each is furnished with an 11-point AF system. 

With very similar headline specs, Nikon’s D3400 isn’t a significant upgrade over the D3300, and the fact that it doesn't offer automatic, built-in sensor cleaning places it at a disadvantage over its predecessor. That said, the D3400 does offer Bluetooth connectivity (known as SnapBridge), allowing you to transfer images to your smartphone. If you want to do that on the D3300, you have to buy an optional accessory in order to do this.   

Overall then, there's not a huge difference between the offerings from Canon and Nikon, but our pick would have to be the D3400. It's not perfect, but what it does do, it does very well and is incredibly easy to use for the first time user.

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Nikon D3300

Nikon D3300
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Nikon D3400

Nikon D3400