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Nikon vs Canon vs Sony – Which is Best in 2023?

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When it comes to full frame cameras, it’s a Nikon vs Canon vs Sony debate. All three brands create excellent cameras and optics. So the tough question remains—how do you choose between them?

All three offer excellent cameras at every skill level. They have cameras for professionals, Enthusiasts, and entry-level cameras for beginners.

But once you commit to one brand, switching becomes expensive. You need to swap lenses and flashes too.

This makes choosing the right brand from the start is all the more important. To help you make that choice, we’ve put together all you need to know about Nikon, Canon, and Sony.

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Nikon Vs Canon Vs Sony

Please keep in mind that here we’re only comparing brands that offer extensive full frame options. With that said, let’s dive right in!


Canon dates all the way back to the “Kwanon” 35mm camera in 1934. Today, Canon produces cameras in almost every category, including DSLRs, mirrorless, and compacts.

Canon’s DSLRs carry the EOS name, which stands for Electro-Optical System. Their EOS film cameras marked the first fully electronic system in 1987. These Canon lenses and bodies can communicate with each other. Check out our review of their classic SLR, the Canon AE-1.

Even digital cameras continue the EOS name. Canon offers a wide selection of different EOS lens options with the EF mount as well as the EF-S mount. The latter is designed for the company’s APS-C DSLRs, which have a smaller sensor than a full frame.

Today, the brand is known for both its high-end cameras and beginner options. Canon tends to have lower prices on lenses and higher prices on bodies when compared to Nikon and Sony.

Many of the EOS bodies use a Dual Pixel autofocus system. DPAF involves two halves of each pixel working together when autofocusing. This is a system that works well with both stills and video.

A humorous portrait of a giraffe with camera lenses for eyes Canon’s best (and most expensive) DSLR series is the EOS-1D line. The current model is the brand-new EOS-1D X Mark III. It has a 20 fps burst and a 20 megapixel full frame sensor. This series is a popular choice among professional wildlife and sports photographers.

The next line of DSLRs is the EOS 5D series, like the 30.4 megapixel EOS 5D Mark IV. It’s a powerful full frame DSLR with excellent photography features. A cheaper full frame option is the EOS 6D line. This has two cameras at the moment, which are the 6D and the newer EOS 6D Mark II.

The only other line with a single-digit marking is the 7D series. The 7D series consists of Canon’s semi-professional crop-sensor cameras. This line also holds two models—the original EOS 7D and the EOS 7D Mark II.

Canon’s other APS-C DSLRs have a two-digit number, like the Canon EOS 80D. They also have the Canon EOS 90D. This is a landmark APS-C DSLR. It has a powerful 32.5 MP sensor. And the video features are some of the best in any DSLR camera.

Canon Rebels are the brand’s most affordable options. These are excellent for beginners. The Canon EOS Rebel T8i is their best entry-level DSLR. The 24.1 MP image resolution gives you beautiful images. And you also get 4K video recording.

A close up of a canon dslr lens

While Canon is more known for DSLRs, the company has excellent mirrorless options too. Their mirrorless cameras are some of the most popular and advanced on the market.

The EOS M line is a series of mirrroless camera with an APS-C sensor. The Canon EOS M50 Mark II is a fine example. The mirrorless body is compact and lightweight. And it has excellent features for photography and video. It’s a great choice for vloggers and content creators.

Canon has been quite slow with stepping into the full frame mirrorless world. Their lineup there is still very limited, it consists of only two models.

The Canon EOS R5 is one of the best mirrorless cameras right now. It powerful full frame sensor gives you incredible 35.4 MP image. And perhaps even more impressive is the 8K video capabilities. It’s a pure hybrid camera. And a brilliant investment for professional multimedia makers.

The Canon EOS R6 is another mirrroless beast. It doesn’t have the 8K video of the R5. But it’s another example of how Canon are pushing the boundaries with their mirrroless camera range.

The bottom line? Canon is an excellent brand that’s trusted by many photographers. Image quality and contrast are consistently excellent. And their latest model also feature outstanding video functions. And their Dual Pixel autofocus is always fast and reliable. You can’t go wrong with a Canon DSLR or mirrorless camera.

A canon dslr camera


Nikon has been developing optics since 1917 and launched their first camera in 1948. Today, Nikon is known for their reliable and high-performance DSLRs. They make DSLR camera for everyone from beginners through to professionals. They also have a few bridge cameras like the popular superzooms with a best-in-class zoom.

Like Canon, Nikon’s long history means that there are plenty of lenses to choose from. These cover the super-wide to the extreme telephoto. They also have a great speciality lens range like macro and fisheye. You can find any type of lens in their F-mount series.

Nikon also has a good selection of flashes and accessories. Nikon lenses tend to be priced higher than Canon’s. But a Nikon body is typically priced lower.

Nikon today is most known for DSLRs. They are instantly recognizable by that red swoop on the grip. Images from the latest Nikon DSLRs tend to have limited noise, sharp subjects, and solid color. Even so, some say Nikon colors have a bit too much green and yellow.

Nikon also use terms that can be easier for beginners to understand. Continuous autofocus is AF-C instead of Canon’s Al Servo.

Nikon’s spot metering modes will also read the light at the focal point instead of only metering the light at the center of the image. This makes getting an accurate exposure faster.

A Nikon DSLR camera

Nikon’s priciest DSLR is the Nikon D5 with 20.8 megapixels and 12 fps continuous shooting. It’s a high-performance professional DSLR. Nikon’s D850 is their most popular DSLR camera among professional photographers. It’s packed with advanced features. And the full frame sensor gives you a 45.7 MP image resolution. It’s a reliable workhorse professionals love.

Lower numbers in the name mean fewer features. But the D7500 and D610 are still capable cameras.

For APS-C cameras, Nikon offers a wide range. They have inexpensive beginner cameras to high-end, fast cameras.

The Nikon D3500 is widely considered to be the best camera for beginners. It has a 24.2 MP sensor. And it has fantastic guide modes for beginners.

The Nikon D500 is the current flagship for the company’s DX series cameras. It has a 20.9 MP sensor and a 10 fps burst mode. The sophisticated AF and excellent low-light performance make it an ideal choice for sports and wildlife photographers.

The Nikon D7500 is another great option for beginners. It’s a great camera and a reasonable price. The Nikon D5600 offers a few more extras while still sticking with a low price point.

A Nikon DSLR set up on a tripod

Some of the best Nikon DSLR technology has migrated their mirrorless cameras. Nikon was a bit late to the mirrorless party. But their Z series mirrorless range now has some excellent cameras.

The Nikon Z7 and Z6 offer many of the favorite features of the brand’s DSLRs. And they add extras like image stabilization and more advanced AF features.

The Nikon Z6 II is their most complete mirrorless camera. It’s an upgrade from the original Z6. And it’s a top-quality full frame mirrorless camera for enthusiasts and professionals.

The Nikon Z50 has an APS-C sensor. That means it has a compact and lightweight body. And the photo and video features make is a strong hybrid camera. It’s ideal for vloggers, influencers, and content creators.

Photographers will likely be very happy with a Nikon camera. Nikon offers solid image quality, an excellent build, fast performance, and plenty of accessories.

Some photographers prefer Canon’s color quality. If you’re inexperienced in color editing, it may be a big deal for you. But the terminology used by Nikon may be a bit simpler for beginners.

Nikon camera and camera gear resting on a map


Sony is a mirrorless camera specialist. They don’t make DSLR camera models. But their range of mirrorless cameras at all levels is second to none.

Sony didn’t start producing their cameras until 1988. And they were never heavily invested in DSLR cameras.

But in 2006, it acquired Minolta, a camera company with a long history in making SLRs. After this, Sony turned their focus to mirrorless cameras.

At the beginning of the decade, Sony took risks launching the Alpha series. This was a full frame mirrorless series. The A7 evolved into a series with a long list of features and stirred up the professional market.

The Sony full frame line now consists of two different series, the A7 and the A9. The A9 is aimed at sports and wildlife photographers, as a direct competitor to the 1D series and the D5.

Cameras with the R in the name have a higher resolution sensor. Those with an S are designed for low light and video shooting. And cameras without any letter add-ons are designed for relatively affordable features.

A photographer shooting through a Sony dslr camera

The A7 series is now on its fourth generation. Compared to the EOS R and Nikon Z, the company has had more time to refine, add features, and create a strong autofocus system.

The Sony A7 III is one of their flagship products. It’s an advanced full frame mirrorless with a 33 MP image sensor and 4K video recording. It’s packed with other high-tech features.

Then there’s the Sony A7R IV. This is a trailblazer in the mirrorless camera division. The 61 MP image sensor is out of this world. That’s unparalleled image production for a full frame camera. The results are breathtaking.

Sony’s APS-C line is also fantastic. Of course, you don’t get the headline-stealing resolutions. But the Sony a6600 is a brilliant mirrorless camera. It produces fantastic photos and videos.

Sony also have some compact cameras you should know about. The Sony ZV-1 is compact and portable. And Sony designed it for vloggers and content creators. It has excellent video features for such a small camera. The Sony RX100 VII is one of the most advanced compact cameras you can find.

A photographer shooting with a Sony camera

Sony is also the world’s largest supplier of imaging sensors. Camera brands don’t always like to share who made the sensor. You might buy a camera with a different brand name on it and end up with a Sony sensor. (Like on the newer Nikon models.)

That’s okay because Sony makes good sensors.

Sony has some of the best mirrorless camera systems on the market. But they haven’t been around as long as Canon and Nikon. Sony’s native lens options are a bit limited compared to Canon’s and Nikon’s.

That’s changing as Sony camera systems grow in popularity. Third-party manufacturers offer all their lenses for Sony E-mount. There are plenty of lenses that you can only use with Sony (or other, like Fujifilm) mirrorless cameras. Their short flange distance allows for greater flexibility in lens design.

A flatlay of a sony compact camera and lenses

Which Is Better: Nikon or Canon or Sony?

Each camera brand has some quirks. But Canon, Nikon, and Sony all make great camera systems. The best part about the Nikon vs Canon vs Sony debate? The constant competition has each camera manufacturer pushing to launch the best camera.

One year, it may be a Canon, the next a Nikon, and the next a Sony. It all depends on the individual camera.

Photographers will often prefer one camera system over the other. When viewing the photos side by side, no one can tell if you shot that image with a Canon, Nikon or Sony.

A camera is just a tool. The photographer using that tool matters more.

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If you’re ready to buy a new camera but aren’t sure yet what brand to choose, here’s what you should do.

Go to a store that sells camera systems and shoot with the ones that are on display. How do they feel in your hands? Does working with one feel easier or more natural than the other?

Dig into the menu systems. Does one brand’s feel more intuitive to you than the other? (An alternative is to rent a camera body from each brand).

Then, look at the lens selection. Do the lenses you can see yourself buying in the future exist? How expensive are they?

Once you find your perfect camera, get all the skills to use it with our Photography for Beginners course.

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