The one question I’m always asked by people that are entering the colourful world of Photography for the first time is this:
What’s better, Canon or Nikon DSLRs? Which system should I go for?
This is how I like to approach this subject - Let’s leave photography aside for a second and talk about music. Here are two highly influential guitarists: Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) and Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple). And here are the two most well known guitar brands: Gibson and Fender.
Jimmy Page used Gibson and Ritchie Blackmore used Fender. They both wrote songs that shaped generations and were listened to by millions of people.
Now here’s a few important questions:
1. Did the brand of their guitar compose those hit songs? Answer: No! They did.
2. Did the brand of their guitar perform those beautiful guitar solos? Answer: No! They did.
3. Did the brand of their guitar spent years and years of practicing? Answer: No! They did.
4. Did the brand of their guitar make millions of people buy their concert tickets through the years? No! They did.
Now lets switch back to Photography and answer the above question together with screaming confidence!
Question: What should I buy, Canon or Nikon?
Answer: IT DOESN’T MATTER!!!
Ahhh.. That felt good! As Gary Moore once said: "I think whatever guitar I pick up I can make it sound a certain way. You should be able to pick up a guitar and make it sound like you”. The same applies to photography, so I’m glad we got this out of the way!
You still need to buy a camera though, so here are a few things to keep in mind:
• Determine your budget: There are 3 main DSLR categories. Entry level, Semi-Professional and Professional cameras. If you have a big enough budget, choose a full frame DSLR and don’t look back. It's image quality will be significantly superior to that of an entry level crop-sensor camera. If your budget is fairly limited, then you can either choose a new entry level/semi-professional crop sensor camera, or find a used/good condition full frame camera. (The shutter count of the camera will give you an indication of how much it’s been used). So, a much better question would be: Crop Sensor of Full Frame? (as opposed to Canon or Nikon or anything else). However, it’s not only about the camera body. The lenses you use with it are very often more important than the body itself in order to achieve the look you want. On top of the above, also consider the cost of various accessories, such as memory cards, camera bag, tripod (especially if you’re into landscapes).
• Ergonomics/Functions: Whether you’re going for a Crop-Sensor, or a Full-Frame DSLR, go to a big camera store, take them in your hand and notice how the grip feels in your hands. Some will feel more comfortable than others. Also, take a closer look at the camera menu and button layout, some will feel more intuitive and easy to use than others.
• Differences: Yes, there are differences between Canon and Nikon cameras if we do a like for like analysis. Some photographers can spend hours, days and even years trying to prove that one is better than the other at something. “This Nikon model has better autofocus than the equivalent Canon”, “Yes, but Canon has a better lens selection”, Yes, but Nikon has more megapixels”, “Yes, but who cares about all those megapixels, the files are to heavy and I’m not going to print billboards”, "This one has two memory card slots, this one doesn’t, yes but this one does” - And so on and so forth!
While all the above may be valid points from both sides, I can safely say that they will not make you a better photographer. Yes, if you are professionally shooting events that only happen once, such as Weddings, it would be a great addition to have a camera with two memory card slots. In case one of them fails, you still have a copy of everything on your second card. On the other hand 10 years ago professional photographers were using cameras with one card slot, small number of megapixels and primitive autofocus capabilities. And before that photographers were using film and manual focus lenses, so no “autofocus" at all.
• Conclusion: The business wars between camera brands are endless, especially the one between Canon VS Nikon. Some battles have been won, while others have been lost for both sides. The same story will keep going on and on like this forever and a day.
My humble suggestion to all new photographers is this: Invest time and energy in photography and not in comparing camera specs down to the smallest little button that you’ll never actually use. Worry more about learning how to manually control the camera, the rules of composition, understanding light better, having a vision and finally develop your own style of seeing and capturing subjects.
There are old rusty hammers and there are new shiny ones that come in a fancy box, but at the end of the day they're doing more or less the same job - they hammer nails! How straight a nail will be hammered is not determined by the hammer itself, but by the person who is using it.