I'm currently considering to buy one of the next generation enthusiast DSLRs. Either a Canon EOS 60D or the slightly more expensive Nikon D7000. I'm quite new to the SLR discussion but I know there are some controversial opinions about Canon vs. Nikon.

But I often read that (the better) Nikon lenses are higher quality but also much more expensive (more premium, in quality and in price). Is that the case?

What is your opinion of the Canon vs. Nikon lens comparison? Which types of lenses are better from Canon which are higher quality from Nikon? How do the prices compare? What is the quality/price ratio in your opinion?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I voted to close this question. Nikon vs Canon questions will always boil down to subjective arguments not based on fact, but opinion, and religious zealotry. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan
    Commented Sep 18, 2010 at 19:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hmm this is a relevant question though. We all know that a camera is just part of the equation. Many people end up spending even more money after that on lenses alone. So committing to one brand or another is not a light decision in that respect. I didn't pick a Canon for the lenses at the time, but what I've heard is that Nikon lenses are generally, all things being equal, more expensive. I think this may have to do with the way they are motorized or not (whereas for Canon it's basically always USM?). Can we just down vote troll answers? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 18, 2010 at 22:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @sebastien.b: The way I've tried to influnce Photo.SE is to always emphasize things that matter in photography. You are right, a camera system is a serious investment, but my belief is that any perceived differences between the two major brands (Canon & Nikon) will have zero impact on photography. I think lens comparisons, and pixel-peeps, etc take away from what is really important in taking awesome photos. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan
    Commented Sep 19, 2010 at 1:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ In general, yes, but there are a few niches where there are genuine differences between the lens lineups that go far beyond pixel peeping (such as IR photography as I mentioned above), so I don't see why we can't discuss Canon vs. Nikon lenses on this site in an objective and respectful manner. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Commented Sep 19, 2010 at 8:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ When writing this question I was aware that there might be a potential brand-war. But being not on a bulletin-board but on a stackexchange site usually means that the chance in brand-related trolling will be substantially low. So I cannot more agree with sebastien.b. Encourage high-quality discussions of the topic with upvotes and degrade flameing/trolling answers with a downvote. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 19, 2010 at 9:10

5 Answers 5


Some starter references (while these sites might be biased, they do enumerate the points to look at).
Some of the discussions also compare Nikon and Canon bodies

  1. Canon versus Nikon lenses at Radiant Lite Photography
    • rounds up with a reference to third party pro grade lenses such as Sigma, Tokina and Tamron.
  2. Nikon vs. Canon at Kenrockwell.com
  3. A list of Nikon D1 Lenses and one of Canon lenses.
  4. An old (film) Nikon and Canon comparison as reference
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Your answer might be - while looking at the comments of this question - the best possible. The links refer to some 3rd party statements and is not biased with your opinion. +1 for this type of answer on this type of question :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 19, 2010 at 9:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ any reference to Ken Rockwell gets an automatic downvote... \$\endgroup\$
    – jwenting
    Commented Jul 11, 2011 at 6:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @jwenting, that is quite harsh. Maybe you should write up a bit more on your judgement there. \$\endgroup\$
    – nik
    Commented Jul 18, 2011 at 7:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nik - Harsh? Do a Google search with autosuggest on. Search for "ken rockwell is a" (without the quotes). The internet has spoken =) \$\endgroup\$
    – anon
    Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 4:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @anon It s not because many people does not agree with him that he's opinion is totally wrong. I appreciate the lenses review Ken did but I always cross his results with other sites (like dpreview and photozone.de) and it often converge in the same conclusion. I do not agree with him all the time for everything but finally it is his personal opinion and nobody can make such a good site to please everybody. I really appreciate the Nikon lenses history and compatibility articles. \$\endgroup\$
    – рüффп
    Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 22:54

It's worth knowing that there are certain lenses that only Canon or Nikon make, for example there is no Nikon 800mm f/5.6 currently in production. For some photography niches there's a genuine reasons to go with one manufacturer.

It's also worth noting that there didn't used to be tilt-shift (perspective correction) lenses in production at Nikon a couple of years ago, but there are now. So just because there are gaps now in a manufacturers lineups doesn't mean it will stay that way for long in the ever more competitive DSLR market!

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    \$\begingroup\$ It also looks like that Canon MP-E 65mm Macro has no Nikon equivalent currently. \$\endgroup\$
    – che
    Commented Sep 19, 2010 at 10:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I knew there was a better example than the 800mm! The lack of tilt-shift was a big difference for a long time along with a few wide primes (e.g. 24mm f/1.4) but it seems Nikon are catching up fast in these areas. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Commented Sep 19, 2010 at 10:07

I will try to be as impartial as possible here. Both Canon and Nikon make some simply stunning lenses. As already noted, it's worth checking that if you have any specific requirements that the manufacturer does indeed make that lens.

Although it doesn't make any difference to the photos note that the Canon's and Nikons attach to the body in different ways - the Canon twists counterclockwise to lock into place, whilst the Nikon twists clockwise. Also, any zoom rings on Nikon are the reverse of Canon, so on a Canon lens, a 24-70mm would read on the zoom ring as you look at it, as 24 on the left, twisting round to 70, whereas on a Nikon lens, the 70 would be on the left, and as you twist it goes down to 24. (I'm not sure I've explained that entirely well??).

The other thing to note with Nikon lenses, is that depending on the body, it may not have the ability to autofocus. If the camera body you purchase does not have an in-built focus motor, then if it's not an AF-S or AF-I lens, it will not autofocus. With Canon, unless otherwise stated, all EF lenses have the motor built into them and so will autofocus regardless of the body they are mounted on (the EF MP-E 65mm f/2.8 is an example of a lens that won't autofocus - but it is a very specialised lens). That said, you did note that your Nikon body of choice would be the D7000, and this does indeed have a focus motor so this won't affect you. But it's just something you should bear in mind as a difference of the lens if you should ever wish, say, to put a lens on a D40 or something that doesn't have the focus motor.

Another thing is the aperture control. In Nikon, this is mechanical. There is actually a little catch on the back of the lens, which you can manipulate with your finger and see the aperture open and close. Canon's are all electronic, so you can't do this. On the subject of aperture, Nikon also make their D series of lenses which have the aperture control ring on the lens, so if you wish you can manually stop your lens down to whatever you wish. No Canon EF lens (that I know of) allows you to do this.

Optical quality between Canon and Nikon is subjective. Both companies make fantastic quality lenses with the Nikon 85mm f1.4G, or Canon 85mm f/1.2L, etc. But equally both companies also make comparitively cheap lenses such as the 18-55 kit lens and slow 70-300's etc. It really is 6 of one and half a dozen of each other. The camera you attach the lens to will have a lot to do with how the lens performs too. But I hear great things about the D7000. Not so sure about the 60D as I've not had any experience of it but I'm sure it's a fine camera. I believe it has the same sensor as the 7D so should be more than capable!

Regarding third-party lenses, most manufacturers make their lenses for both Nikon F mount and Canon EF mount. Zeiss and Samyang lenses are all manual focus only. Sigma, Tamron, Tokina etc should be AF.

Hope that helps.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Did I read that to mount a Canon lens you turn anti-clockwise, if I did it is totally WRONG!I have Canon and you turn clockwise to mount it to the body. \$\endgroup\$
    – user26974
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 2:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nikon is counterclockwise, he swapped them. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 21:18

Well, Nikon makes a 12-24/2.8 zoom and Canon has nothing like it.

Canon has the 85/1.2.

For a given price point and spec (e.g. canon or nikon 300/2.8), there's little point arguing as differences will be insignificant.

Canon L's are white, which can attract attention. I recall someone lauding the Canon 200/2.8 because it was black and more likely to pass-off as an amateur lens (and thus avoid scrutiny by overzealous security guards).


CANON 1Dx is the fastest and toughest camera ever build.

canon has 17mm TS-E, 100mm macro IS (truly effective not like Nikon), 50 mm and 85mm f/1.2 (fastest prime for less than $2k)

Nikon has 14-24mm f/2.8 (sharpest wide angle zoom), 13mm (legendary but not as sharp as other)

Similarity but price/performance different:

800mm (Nikon just launch it for $4000 more vs CAnon $14000), hard to kill cheap 17-40mm L (Nikon 16-35mm is fragile), 28-300mm L (Nikon version is inferior but half price), $1400 100-400mm L(Nikon version 80-400mm $1300 more but similar image quality),

200-400mm (CAnon is sharper but $4000 more expensive than Nikon).

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ These statements could use some references or other evidence. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 0:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ We expect answers to be backed up by FACTS. If you could provide evidence of all your statements listed above i'll happy change my downvote to an upvote. \$\endgroup\$
    – NULLZ
    Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 2:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not sure what the Canon 1DX has to do with a discussion around lenses? \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 3:11

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