Canon vs Nikon: which DSLR or mirrorless camera should you buy?

Canon vs Nikon: Enthusiast DSLRs

Once you’ve outgrown your first DSLR, or need something which can handle more challenging shooting situations, then you’ll be looking towards Canon and Nikon’s enthusiast options. Today, these are headed by the Canon EOS 90D and the Nikon D7500.

Both the Canon EOS 90D and the Nikon D7500 sit in the same kind of category, but being the newer of the two, the Canon is more expensive. That said, given that the EOS 90D inherits some high-end features from models above it, you could argue that it offers better value for money. 

The Canon EOS 90D includes the highest resolution sensor you’ll find in an APS-C body, at 32.5MP. You also get great handling with lots of dials and controls, a long battery life, an optical viewfinder which offers a 100% view and uncropped 4K video recording. That’s a lot of bang for your mid-range buck.

Although older, the Nikon D7500 doesn’t fare too badly in comparison. The biggest difference is the sensor resolution, which is a more modest 20.9MP – but you could very well argue that this makes the files easier to handle, as well as being better suited to low-light shooting. Otherwise, the specs are relatively similar, with a 100% optical viewfinder, 4K video recording and a good battery life.

At this point in your shooting career, you may well already be invested in a system. If you’re already toting a bag of lenses, we probably wouldn’t recommend jacking it all in to switch to a different camera at this level. But if we had to pick one, the Canon EOS 90D would be the winner, especially if budget is not too much of a concern.

Winner: Canon EOS 90D

Pro-spec APS-C DSLRs

There are some DSLRs which straddle the enthusiast and pro category. They feature APS-C sensors, but include a number of high-level specifications that advanced shooters are usually keen to get hold of.

Here, there’s healthy competition between the two brands, with them both offering very appealing models which are great all-round performers. 

There’s the Nikon D500, which goes up against the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. Both are fairly old (in camera terms), but still have a number of class-leading specifications which are still worthy of your attention.

Although many pros will naturally head towards full-frame, having a crop sensor makes a lot of sense for wildlife and sports photographers, as you can get closer to the subject. Both of these models have also been designed with photographers who shoot fast-moving subjects in mind. The Nikon D500 has a 20.9MP sensor, while the 7D Mark II is a 20.2MP affair – so far, so similar.

Where the two diverge is in terms of the focusing systems. The Canon 7D Mark II offers a 65-point all-cross type AF system, while the Nikon D500 boasts 153-points (with 99 cross-type/55 which are manually selectable). Both cameras give you 10fps shooting, but when it comes to the buffer, the Nikon D500 is the clear winner – you should be able to shoot 200 raw frames before it’s full, compared to the more modest 31 from the Nikon.

There’s also a couple of areas where the Nikon comes out on top here too, such as 4K video recording and a larger, touch-sensitive screen. These specifications keep the D500 still looking relatively fresh some five years after its announcement. Meanwhile, the 7D Mark II, now over seven years old, is starting to show its age. In some respects, if you’re a Canon user you’d be better off plumping for the 90D, especially if video work is your forte.

Again, it stands a good chance that if you’re in the market for either of these models, you’ll already be fairly heavily invested in one camera system or the other. But if not, it’s the Nikon D500 that's the clear winner of the two here.

Winner: Nikon D500

Amy Davies

Amy has been writing about cameras, photography and associated tech since 2009. Amy was once part of the photography testing team for Future Publishing working across TechRadar, Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N Photo and Photography Week. For her photography, she has won awards and has been exhibited. She often partakes in unusual projects - including one intense year where she used a different camera every single day. Amy is currently the Features Editor at Amateur Photographer magazine, and in her increasingly little spare time works across a number of high-profile publications including Wired, Stuff, Digital Camera World, Expert Reviews, and just a little off-tangent, PetsRadar.