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Difference Between Canon and Nikon

nikon_d90Canon vs Nikon

Photography professionals and enthusiasts know their equipment, and when it comes to cameras and lenses, the battle between Nikon and Canon presents the most heated confrontation.

Nikon and Canon are both imaging and optical product manufacturing companies. They provide the best lenses and imaging products on the face of this planet. Each and every one has its own take with this epic clash of the optic titans ‘“ from the average shutterbug to the hardcore photography connoisseur.

The competition between these two is a back and forth affair. With every new development, the other seems to leapfrog the competition. They may sometimes exchange blows to the point where there is no emerging winner. Yes, Canon and Nikon often play the game into stalemate.

Preference does vary from one person to the other. Deciding which is better, between Canon and Nikon, can start a religious war, with everyone expressing their own strong opinions on the product they fancy. This article will merely tackle the basic differences between the two giants, and will not be about their pros and cons. It should also be mentioned, that this is not about a comparison between two products, since there are a lot of products to consider.

The Nikon Corporation was established in 1917, about two decades earlier than Canon. The Nikon Corporation was the result of the merging of three leading optical manufacturers, and over the next six decades, it become the leading manufacturer of optical lenses and equipment.

Canon, on the other hand, was previously known as the ‘Precision Optical Instruments Laboratory’. It was founded in 1937, by four Japanese individuals. The name ‘Canon’ was coined by one of its founders from the Japanese name ‘Kwanon’. It was in 1947, when the company was renamed Canon Camera Co. Inc, and was soon changed again to Canon Inc.

At some point, Canon cameras used the optical lenses manufactured by Nikon, but Canon was the first to make and market Japan’s first 35 mm camera, with a focal plane shutter and rangefinder, in 1934. Nikon soon followed suit with camera manufacturing, and, in 1948, Nikon released its first camera.

However, it was Nikon that created the first practical DSLR, Nikon D1, in 1999. For about two years, they monopolized the digital photography market. Canon then created its own brand of DSLR. Canon’s D30 was the first DSLR of the company. It offers the same image quality of Nikon’s D1, but with a significantly lower price at that time. In 2001, Canon overtook the digital photography throne from Nikon, but only for a while.

Ever since, it became a seesaw battle between the two companies, with one product matching the other. It is very likely that the first camera brand you acquire is the one you may consider as the best.


1. Nikon, as a company, was established earlier than Canon.

2. Canon was the first to create and market its camera. It was more than a decade thereafter, when Nikon finally released its own brand of camera.

3. Canon, at some point, used Nikon lenses in manufacturing its products.

4. Nikon was the first on the DSLR scene, but Canon’s version a year later, was cheaper, although it provided the same quality.

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  1. You forgot to mention the Nikon F 35mm SLR camera introduced in 1959. This was the first professional SLR and interchangeable lens system which heralded the eventual dominance of the 35 mm SLR camera over other systems such as the rangefinder, twin-lens reflex, large format press cameras such as the Speed Graphic, etc. The Nikon F mount still used today by Nikon DSLRs making it one of the longest running lens format system along with Leica’s M mount for its M-series rangefinder cameras. While certain compatibility limitations exist (for example manual focus only with pre-AF AI and AI-s lenses, manual focus only with AF lenses when used in entry level Nikon bodies without a built-in focusing motor (D5100 and below), need to modify pre-AI lenses aperture ring mechanism, etc. the F mount nevertheless gives the modern Nikon DSLR owner the option to use older, cheaper but still high-quality optics within the above limitations. Canon by contrast change lens mount formats several times, the last time when they abandoned their manual film FD lens mount in favor of the EF and EF-S mount used in their DSLRs. It is ironic that today, some Canon users can use Nikon manual AI lenses on their DSLRs especially for making videos but not Canon’s own FD lenses. Also Nikon APS-C or DX lenses can be used on Nikonfull-frame or FX DSLR bodies via the automatic DX-crop mode which gives FX bodies an automatic 1.5x zoom factor but at reduced number of pixels. Canon EF-S lenses for their APS-C bodies cannot be used on Canon full-frame bodies. The full frame FX lenses of Nikon can be used on Nikon APS-C DX bodies similar to Canon EF full-frame lenses which can be used on Canon APS-C bodies.

    • I was hoping to hear about real visible differences, that is in pictures. This is my secound digital camera the first a Lumix with a Leica lens then a Canon T3i.I can see quite a difference between the two cameras.Why do some so called experts say that “you dont need any more than say 6 or 8 mega-pixels” who are they to suppose that I may or may not want to enlarge to 20 x 36 inch?I have used Linhof, Hasselblad and Leica(and Arriflex) in the past so dont tell me that’s good enougfh.

  2. Many of the Nikon D3400 bundles show two additional lenses that mount on to the main lens. One says wide angle, this I understand. The other says Macro. Does this make it a macro lens for close work? Please explain.
    Thank you


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