Canon and Nikon Are Approaching the Mirrorless Market From Opposite Sides, but Who Is Right?

Canon and Nikon Are Approaching the Mirrorless Market From Opposite Sides, but Who Is Right?

With Photokina behind us and the unprecedented amount of new cameras and lenses announced over the past few months, we’ve had some time to let the dust settle, and there is something very interesting about just how differently Canon and Nikon are approaching the full frame mirrorless camera market. The question is: who is right? 

Over the past few months, both Canon and Nikon have released their first full frame mirrorless cameras, Canon with the EOS R and Nikon with the Z7. Canon markets the EOS R as a sort of prosumer/enthusiast-level camera along the lines of the 6D Mark II and priced to match at $2,300 for the body — very similar to the 6D Mark II's price on release. This contrasts the Nikon Z7, which is being touted as a sort of mirrorless D850, and its $3,400 price tag suits this comparison very well.

While two cameras having different prices isn’t interesting, when we take a deeper look into their currently available, upcoming, and rumored lenses, we can see the different approaches that Nikon and Canon are taking with their mirrorless full frame cameras. Alongside Canon’s enthusiast-level camera, they have released four lenses: the 28-70 f/2L zoom, the 50mm f/1.2L, the 24-105 f/4L, and the 35mm f/1.8 Macro. If you notice, three of those four lenses are L branded, Canon’s professional-level branding. 

Photo by Adam Ottke used with permission

Comparatively, Nikon’s currently available lenses for the Z7 are the 35mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.8, and the 24-70mm f/4. Now, I’m not saying that any of these lenses are bad lenses; they’re probably fantastic pieces of glass. But the 1.8 apertures really showcase that Nikon doesn’t necessarily seem to be targeting professionals with their lenses yet. They seem to be starting out by introducing a professional body and mostly prosumer lenses, while Canon seems to be releasing a prosumer body and professional lenses. It’s definitely an interesting approach from the both of them, but whose is better?

In my personal opinion, I feel that Canon’s approach is the proper route for now and the near-future (though in five or ten years, everything should all balance out). I’ve heard a great saying: “marry lenses, date bodies." Canon seems to really be banking on this outlook for their new mirrorless system. With the EOS R is seemingly targeted towards enthusiasts, their lenses are priced and specced towards professionals, and with their rumoured 14-21mm f/1.4L, Canon seems to be going all in on people buying the EOS R with the plan to upgrade in a year or two but buying their lenses to stay in the bag for much much longer. 

On the contrary, with the Z7, Nikon seems to be selling their pro-level camera first and banking on people either adapting their current glass with the FTZ mount adapter or buying lenses that are mostly going to get replaced once the 2.8/1.4 variants get released. I feel that both are respectable, smart approaches, and it will be interesting to see how the market reacts. But really, don’t we all win by having such fierce competition giving us better tools?

Log in or register to post comments
55 Comments
Previous comments
Timothy Roper's picture

A little ironic, since Nikon started as an optics company (although Canon did, too, just later). But in any event, Nikon uses Sony sensors, and there are rumors Canon might be, too, for an APS-C body. So going forward, the glass will be an even bigger reason to chose one system over the others. Which of course is as it should be--it's always about the glass.

Francisco Eduardo de Camargo's picture

This text and comparison just forgot to say some fundamental aspects of the different approaches of Nikon and Canon:
1) Canon's brighter lenses are much heavier and the prices high;
2) Lenses that need stabilization of the image since the body does not count on it;
3) f / 1.8 lenses without stabilization, size and smaller weights, in addition to smaller prices give a huge difference in approach issue;
4) Professionals who use Nikon can continue to wear their "Pro" lenses without any problem, without the need to immediately invest a lot of money.
5) Nikon certainly thought about its customers and loyal users.
6) In the medium and long term Nikon can make the lens you want from super bright and expensive ...

Alex Stevens's picture

SUPER funny that in an article re:Canon and Nikon the picture posted is from the Sony Be Alpha LA event.

Anthony Cayetano's picture

As a Nikon user, I have to admit that Canon does have quite an edge with their range of lenses, apparently that historical trend still continues.

frank nazario's picture

-"Comparatively, Nikon’s currently available lenses for the Z7 are the 35mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.8, and the 24-70mm f/4. Now, I’m not saying that any of these lenses are bad lenses; they’re probably fantastic pieces of glass. But the 1.8 apertures really showcase that Nikon doesn’t necessarily seem to be targeting professionals with their lenses yet."-

So if a there is not a 1.4 or a 1.2 they are not professional for the professional... wow brother, if this does not tell me you are a Canonista nothing will... so all the 5.6 or f8 photos taken or the 99.99% of photos taken at 2.8 by "professionals" do not count right? Thi is why Fstoppers is loosing credibility... articles like this.

Look at your featured photos and check the specs... aren't those professional photos? one is eve shot at the sacrilegious Fstop of F9!!! OMG he CANT be a professional if he uses a 24-70 f4 for that!!!!

I know its your opinion... but the above is mine.

Oh , and yeah I shoot Nikon...