Canon and Nikon have long been like Toyota and Honda, the same but different, different but similar.
Lo and behold, though, they've diverged! To appearances, anyway.
What we have here might be only lack of synchrony in the announcement schedule, but still. Canon has introduced the EOS 80D, the latest in a long and distinguished line of its pro-am* APS-C DSLRs. We're sort of to that point where we're improving the electronic-device capabilities of cameras—everybody's got to have the latest connectivity features and video, for example. Cameras are little computers, and woe betide the maker who misses a trick. But of course anyone shopping for their next DSLR wants whatever they buy to be up to date in all ways, so these regular refreshes are a service. The 80D features a new 45-point AF system and a 24-MP sensor. You can count on this being a highly developed product, as it's the Camry/Accord of the Canon lineup, and Canon is one of the top makers of DSLRs, and this line of products has been through many generations of continual refinement.
Canon also introduced the PZ-E1, "the world’s first detachable zoom adapter that provides silent and smooth zoom and can [be] adjusted incrementally to 10 different levels of zoom speed" for video zoom.
Tiny, premium Nikon DL18-50 looks the business
Nikon, meanwhile, has sailed up alongside Sony's popular and highly profitable RX100 series and fired a full broadside. It introduced the "DL cluster," a range of three 1" compacts. There's the Nikon DL18-50 ($847), Nikon DL24-85 ($647), and Nikon DL24-500 ($997). They differ mainly in their fixed lenses, hence the names. (The focal lengths in the names are 35mm-equivalent, notice.) The DL24-500 has a much great zoom range but is a much slower lens in terms of maximum aperture, and has a different form factor from the other two despite sharing similar internals. You can pick which angle-of-view range you want based on the kind of photography you do.
I like the names, by the way. They seem strange at first but they make sense and I'll bet we get used to them quickly.
Shootouts with the highly popular Sony RX100 IV should be forthcoming on the high seas. Should be interesting, although these are perilously close to cameras for people who don't read comparison reviews.
Despite being one of the great names in the business, Nikon has a noticeably spotty history with consumer cameras. Most of its offerings all the way back to the point-and-shoot revolution of the 1980s have been afterthoughts or OEMs or also-rans. (Even when they're very good like the would-be GR-killer Coolpix A that we liked.) Not since the 35Ti—a "premium point-and-shoot" from the film era—has Nikon really scored a true direct hit—and that was inspired by the competition too (the Contax T2). Unless I'm forgetting an exception. People like some of its tries—a fair number of people have come around to liking the Nikon 1 series, for example—but it seldom manages to lead (or dominate) at the lower end.
But anything Canon or Nikon does is interesting, if only because Canon or Nikon did it. And the market will likely be moving in the direction of 1" sensors as sensible smartphone camera competitors. I suspect the tide is on Nikon's side in this one.
*I detest the term "prosumer." Ugh.
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Featured Comments from:
Jim Tardio: "The Nikon DL18-50 looks to be a street and travel photographers dream...that's really the perfect range for that type of shooting."
Michael Perini: "I don't think they have diverged very much , just a little out of sync—Canon did their 1" offerings a month or two ago. G7x, G5x, G9x. Nikon did the D500 but not the next D7200 (I think). Nikon has had the 1 series, and these new ones are basically the 1 series with fixed zooms. I thought the DL18-50 was a neat idea until I realized that they have gone with a big accessory EVF—I thought we'd seen the last of those—especially when you consider how elegantly Sony integrated theirs."