Canon v Nikon

What’s the Difference?

Like Godzilla and King Kong the eternal battle for supremacy in photography has always been Canon v Nikon. If you’re a photo beginner or looking to change up your camera we’ve got some important tips to help you decide which camera may be suitable for you.

camera comparison image iPhotography Course

What Will I Learn in this Guide? 

  • How to Spot a Canon
  • How to Spot a Nikon
  • Ergonomics & Button Layouts
  • Canon v Nikon – which ones best for beginners?
  • Canon v Nikon – which is best for amateurs?
  • Summary

Note – It’s not just all Canon v Nikon though. There are other good camera brands available – we’re just checking out 2 of the big guns in this guide.

How to Spot a Canon

Canon cameras have a very similar model-naming system to Nikon which can sometimes make it confusing. All you need to remember is that Canon puts the ‘D’ (for digital) at the END of their model’s name i.e. 80D, 5D, 6D etc

Canon lenses and camera comparison image iPhotography Course

You’ll notice some settings on Canon’s camera dial are named differently from the same ones on Nikon. Aperture Priority mode is labelled as ‘Av’ (Aperture Value) on Canon, but just ‘A’ on Nikon.

Canon’s entry-level models are called part of the ‘Rebel’ series (USA) or labelled with a 3 digit numeral. The higher up you go through the range the fewer numbers in the model name, i.e…

Entry Level – EOS 800D / Rebel T7i

Mid Range – EOS 60D

Pro – EOS 5D

Other Canon Ranges

  • R / RP – Mirrorless Full Frame range
  • M – Mirrorless APS-C sensor range
  • EF / EF-S – Full Frame & APS-C DSLRs

Fact – Sometimes in Europe and Asia Canon may name their camera a little different to how they’re advertised in the USA. For example, the Canon Rebel T7i in the USA is known as the Canon EOS 800D in Europe and Asia – same camera, different name.

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How to Spot a Nikon

In trying to spot a Nikon model camera remember that the ‘D’ (for digital) at the START of their model’s name i.e. D3500, D8700, D600 etc. Shutter Priority mode on Nikon cameras is labelled as ‘S’. Whereas on a Canon it’s called ‘Tv’ (Time Value). They work the same, just a brand difference.

Nikon camera in camera bag iPhotography Course blog Canon v Nikon

Nikon labels their cameras similar way to Canon – the fewer numbers in the model’s name, the more high-end it is i.e.…

Entry Level – D7000

Mid Range – D500

Pro – D5

Fact – One difference you’ll spot is that image stabilisation is called IS on Canon lenses but VR (vibration reduction) on Nikon.

Did You Know? Canon used to buy parts for its own lenses from Nikon a long time ago!

Other Nikon Ranges

  • Z Series – Mirrorless Full Frame range
  • Coolpix – Smaller point and shoot cameras

Ergonomics & Button Layouts

While elements such as camera sensors, megapixel count and lens choice are pretty similar it’s also important to look and feel which camera style is right for you.

Ultimately, neither Canon nor Nikon is going to have a certain feature or component that the other one doesn’t. The design of the camera body though, while certainly not the most important camera function, can help you form a preference for either brand. It all comes down to comfort here.

Canon and Nikon cameras in a shop window

The ergonomics of how the camera feels in hand and the layout of the buttons and camera dial is important to resonate with you. Having a complicated layout and a poor grip is something that’ll annoy you after a short while.

Here’s a comparison of button layouts on two comparative DSLRs.

Canon Camera DSLR Button Layout Example
Nikon Camera DSLR Button Layout Example

We would recommend getting down to your local camera shop and holding some Canon and Nikon cameras to see which you prefer the feel of.

Fact – Nikon uses simpler terminology for autofocus modes. For example, Continuous Autofocus on a Nikon is called Al. Servo Autofocus on a Canon. They’re both the same tool, just brand-specific names.

Canon v Nikon – Which One’s Best for Beginners?

We’ve done our research, and while new cameras are always coming on the market and older ones get discontinued, we’ve highlighted a couple of DSLR cameras that are worth investigating from both Canon and Nikon for beginners.

Canon camera screen held in hand
Camera lens
Nikon camera DSLR Canon v Nikon

Canon v Nikon – Which is Best for Amateurs?

We’ve done our research (again) and if you’ve got a little extra money to spend then we’d recommend checking out these Mirrorless and DSLR cameras from Canon and Nikon.


Basically, when you’re deciding on Canon v Nikon it’s really going to come down to a few factors, given how many of the technical aspects are similar with both brands. Ask yourself…

  • What is the most important thing for you? Easy to understand layout? Comfortable to hold?
  • What does each brand offer at your current experience level and for your current budget in the way of lenses (it’s important to future proof)?
  • Do I need a DSLR? Though DSLR cameras have been around for a while, mirrorless technology is rapidly catching up. Despite the smaller form factor of mirrorless cameras, they shouldn’t be dismissed as a lesser unit. Look for equivalent mirrorless cameras from Canon and Nikon within your budget to compare.

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Are our classes made for you? Well if you’re brand new to photography or been practising for a little while but starting to hit a wall then, the simple answer – YES! 

Whether you have just bought a camera or have spent years behind the viewfinder, our photography classes are comprehensive, educational, honest and cutting-edge – there are no other courses like it (believe us, we checked a lot!). 

We’re like the Wikipedia of photography – all of the answers are under one roof.

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