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The age old debate Canon versus Nikon, driven primarily by Canon and Nikon!
I should preface this article with a disclaimer. I use Canon, but really like Nikon too, so I will try to be unbiased! I typically advise based on projected use so think for a moment, what do you want to use this camera for? Travel photography, portraits, wedding photography, products, family portraits, or documenting your life? Will you try to make money with it, and even grow it into a photography business? These are the factors that should influence your decision on Canon versus Nikon, not GPS, Wi-Fi, or touch screens.
A second preface. This is a fast change technical world, so to be clear the specific models and prices mentioned are relative to today, Cyber Monday 2016.
So I'm a happy Canon photographer, but sometimes wish I had gone the Nikon route at times. I'll get to why, eventually.
If you are starting out and simply want a camera capable of high quality pictures, that is small and lightweight, and doesn't break the bank the Canon T5 is a great choice. It will produce beautiful images that can be printed huge at 20"x30". Today the Canon refurbished website has the Canon T5 with 2 lenses for $260. That is an amazing deal! The Canon refurbs come with a one year warranty , compared to Nikon 90 day refurb warranty. Both my 5Ds were refurbs, and they have been flawless. Compared to a Nikon D3300 ($447 on Amazon today) you save almost $200. Enough to buy a 50mm lens and an off brand flash (read on for flash info). If you plan to take people pictures, those 2 things can have far more influence on the quality of your pictures, than the difference between Nikon D3300 or Canon T5.
You can check the current stock levels on the Canon refurbished website.
If you're thinking of turning a hobby into a career, particularly if you want to be a wedding photographer, get a Nikon D7000 series (7100,7200). They have dual cards, great build quality and other reasons (really, I'll get to why). If you plan to do weddings, you need a backup, so get 2x7100's instead of a single 7200, With the caveat the 7200 price is coming down currently and you don't have unlimited funds. In my opinion, all pros should have a back up body, but to book a wedding with one body is beyond irresponsible.
If you care to know my origin story, I started down the road of Canon as I planned for a round the world back packing trip. At the same time a friend asked me to photograph his wedding, on the strength of a few point and shoot images taken on a 2Mp Olympus point and shoot. I had a nightmare, the wake up in a cold sweat kind. Al the wedding guests were pointing and laughing, no one was listening or doing as I asked. I woke up, and decided to get a more appropriate tool for the job. My choices at the time were the Canon Rebel XT or the Nikon D70. The D70 is a great camera, but a behemoth compared to the Rebel. If I had to choose one today to lug around the world, I'd still pick the Rebel (or maybe a Sony mirrorless). A few accessories later I was pretty much locked in to the brand. Today Nikon offers small bodies in the 3000 series (D3000, D3100 etc).
I should be clear at this point. There are many extra features on today's cameras, some may appeal greatly to you. GPS does nothing to improve your photography, but auto tagging your images on a Google map, so your family can follow your round the world progress, might be the one feature you look for. So while it's not something I'm interested in, if a camera has a "must have" feature, then let it influence your decision. Just be sure to separate the difference between features that improve image quality, and convenience.
When I started to pursue wedding photography more seriously, I needed a gear upgrade. I got a 0% card and got two Canon 40Ds (the latest in the line at the time, full frame was cost prohibitive for me at that time), and used it to purchase a 70-200mm f/2.8 and a 24-70mm f/2.8 for my primary lenses, the 580EXii, a 430ex and a bunch more stuff including Extreme pro cards etc. My theory was, I would earn enough to pay for it before the 0% ran out. It worked, and spurred me into a new career.
Looking back I still feel good about that, as I took the advice of all who went before me. I think it still holds true today, Invest in great glass!! Bodies will be upgraded but the decade old glass I use is still doing great. You also have the advantage of skipping the intermediate glass step, and using great glass the whole time. I recommend it for aspiring wedding photographers, it's not really necessary for most others, but it's nice to have!
I also own a 580EXii, 430EX and a handful of Yongnuo (3x560 and 2x 565EX). Yongnuo (pronounced (yong-noo... I think) makes a great flash for the money, and are perfect for cheap, powerful off camera lighting set ups. I would still recommend a on brand primary flash for anyone taking money from strangers, but the 568EX (EXii for Canon) is great value for everyone else, and is a budget back up. FYI the 568EX has high speed sync, the 565 does not. If you're not sure what that is, you want high speed sync. :)
Simply put Nikon flashes are sweet. The are smaller and have lots of features. The master/commander system is a nice back up option when radios fail. For me when wireless TTL systems came out I was very excited at the prospect of off camera TTL and HSS (high speed sync). Then the Canon 580EXii proved to be incompatible without an RF shielding bag, aka the "bag of shame". It works great as an on camera flash, but when things get advanced it falls behind the Nikon equivalent. I put all my gear on the table, but eventually concluded switching team would cost me too much.
The other big reason to like Nikon is the mount compatibility. It gets a little confusing here... Canon has 2 mounts for digital, EF-S and EF. EF-S is for non full frame (aka APS-C) bodies such as the Rebels, the xxD (40D, 50D etc), and 7D. EF is for full frame like 6D, 5D, & 1D. If you have an EF-S mount camera you can use any Canon lens, If you have an EF camera, you can only use EF lenses. Nikon uses DX (APS-C) and FX (full frame) mounts. In Nikon either lens fits on either mount, they are interchangeable without issues. How Canon were not able to provide the same bemuses me. If you're going to end up with a bag of mixed bodies and lenses, it would be very nice to not have the restrictions, us Canon uses have to endure. It's a big reason to go with Nikon.
Dual cards are finally available on the 5Diii but have been available in Nikon since the D7000. When you're taking critical photos, such as a wedding, dual cards are a very attractive feature. It's another thing about Canon that irks me, why did Canon users have to wait so long in a very popular wedding camera model for an important feature, that was available in a mid range Nikon for ages.
Canon also left a bitter taste in my mouth with the 40D front focus issue that affected 1000s of users but Canon not only ignored, they charged over $200 to fix. Something you can do yourself of the 50D and 70D in a few minutes. I held out hope Canon or Magic Lantern would unlock the firmware for a self fix, but to date they haven't. I've finally given up hope! So when mine went out a second time I was left with a 40D shaped paperweight, at that point it was beyond economic repair.
I'm sure there as many satisfied and unsatisfied Nikon users as Canon, but the low RF noise of Nikon flashes, and the compatible mounts are 2 big reasons for anyone taking money from strangers to go Nikon. And That's from a (mostly) happy Canon user!
For a small, lightweight and relatively cheap DSLR capable of taking great pictures, the Canon Rebel series is my recommendation. If you think you're going to be taking pictures for strangers and getting paid, the Nikon 7200 is a good choice. If you need great low light performance, like wedding photography or astro (stars), get a full frame.
P.S. Sorry Sony and Pentax, I love your cameras, but the initial price has to come down, and the availability of aftermarket accessories market had to increase before I recommend to all.