Choosing Your First DSLR: Canon vs. Nikon

by Chris Mendoza

If you’re thinking of getting into photography, you will want a camera that will suit your needs to the kind of photography you will want to do. Most likely, you have never even thought about what kind of photography you will actually do or be good at. At this point you want to just be able to make incredible and beautiful photographs. In which case, you don’t really need a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera to do. All you need is an eye for something beautiful and the ability to compose and frame it into a photograph. And if you are like me and you can make interesting photos with just your mobile phone. But if want to take photography more seriously, and be able to do more with your photographs then it’s time to upgrade to the big leagues.

The first question you should ask yourself is, what are you willing to spend and how far are you willing to take your photography. If your answer is just to take good pictures when you are on vacations, celebrations with friends, holidays and other special moments - then Point and Shoot cameras are for you. Nowadays they are packed with enough pixels and are user friendly enough. However if you are serious about making real beautiful masterpieces, then you will want to look into entry level DSLR cameras.

All DSLRs follow the same rules when it comes to function and purpose. Although they may vary in how they individually operate, when you learn how to use 'one' you will know how to operate them all. One of the pet peeves all photographers share weather lightly or heavily in their point of view, is a person having a DSLR and shooting in "automatic" mode all the time. I personally see this in tourists. Think about it. It's like owning a race car and driving it in the city that has 25mph speed limit and stop signs every 200 yards. The difference is, you will not break the camera unlike driving a car that has too much power for your driving skills. However if you have money to to burn, then you probably are looking at the wrong article. Just go out to the store and buy the first thing that catches your eye.

But if you are serious about photography here are some brand choices that you will see as you walk into the Camera section of your electronics store; Canon and Nikon. Most electronics stores will have a section just for DSLRs and might also have other brands like Sony or Olympus. Photography specialized stores, will have larger selections and possibly carry Hasselblad, PhaseOne and Leica(the Lambo) of photography. But just keep in mind, there may not be a lot of lenses/accessories of the same brand or aftermarket available as much as Canon and Nikon would. The most likely choices you ultimately end up with is either a Canon or Nikon. Just because they are far more popular and are the current leading brands in cameras for the past century. Not to mention they will also have more available lenses to choose from. Each photographers are different, in what they do, their style and most importantly – their budget.

In the last few years, Nikon has been a more popular choice across all skill levels and especially beginners due to the range of cameras they offer at different levels. As a beginner you will most likely be taking photos mostly of landscapes and the occasional portraits for special events and such. For that, you will want to look at Nikons. This is not to say that Nikon is for beginners. Nikon cameras usually have a slightly better HDR (High Dynamic Range). Now what does this mean exactly? This means that the camera can see a bigger difference between light and dark. Nikons are better in in portraiture, landscapes and astro-photography. 

If you are doing a lot of traveling like a safari where you will be taking photos of animals, or sports– then you will want to lean towards Canon. Canons focuses slightly faster which are better for moving objects like animals or athletes. I’d like to also note that Nikons are a bit more pricey than Canons but not by much. At least in my opinion. Although as I said before, Nikon has newer cameras at present that focuses much better as of late. However this is only true with their flagship and professional end cameras, for now.

“But what if I bought a Nikon and I want to do sports photography later on or vice versa?” The answer to that question is, it doesn’t really matter. Notice my wording a paragraph ago? “Slightly”. Differences between these two makes are so minimal that as I said “they are practically twins”. The only ones that will be able to tell the difference between that two are photographers who use their cameras on a daily basis and for a living. And even then, they will tell you the same thing.

“It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer.” 

In the end, every experienced photographer will tell you - get the camera you want, can afford and makes sense to what you are taking photos of. In the ends, if you are just starting out as a photographer it is best to learn how to operate a DSLR first. Once you are more experienced with your camera, you will know what will work best for you and will know which brand is right for you.