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Canon vs Nikon: which camera should you buy?

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.

With both Canon and Nikon now both offering a range of mirrorless cameras as well, we'll also take a look at the offerings from both manufacturers here. 

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 4000D (known as the EOS Rebel T100 in the US), 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 D3400 and the newer Nikon D3500. On top of that, the very affordable Canon EOS 1300D (known as the EOS Rebel T6 in the US) is now approaching the end of its life but can (just about) still be found new, while the newer Canon EOS 250D (known as the Rebel SL3 in the US) has just come onto the market.

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Canon EOS Rebel T6 / 1300D

Canon EOS Rebel T6 / 1300D
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Canon EOS Rebel T100 / 4000D

Canon EOS Rebel T100 / 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
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Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D

Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D

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, and it has a 9-point AF system. 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, so it's best avoided.  

The 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 more advanced, with a newer 24.2MP sensor and Canon's brilliant Dual Pixel CMOS AF system for quick Live View focusing, and it shoots at a slightly faster 5fps. There's also a really useful vari-angle touchscreen, although it packs a similar 9-point AF system as the other two cameras. 

The newest model is the EOS 250D / EOS Rebel SL3, which sticks to a familiar concept as the EOS 200D but arrives with a new DIGIC 8 processing engine, faster burst shooting and 4K video, along with a handful of smaller changes. Not too fussed about these? Save your cash and go for the EOS 200D / EOS Rebel SL3 instead.

On Nikon's side, both the D3400 and D3500 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 D3500 actually features a newer design of sensor, even though they share same resolution. Handling has also been refined, with a larger handgrip for improved comfort. That's not forgetting the battery life, which has jumped from an already impressive 1,200 shots to 1,550 shots. 

Overall then, there's not a huge difference between the offerings from Canon and Nikon, but our pick would have to be the D3500. 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 D3400

Nikon D3400
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Nikon D3500

Nikon D3500