Is Canon the least reliable brand? Camera reliability survey gives surprising results

The Olympus Pen-F, Canon EOS m100 and Nikon D7200
(Image credit: Future)

As photographers, we all live in fear of our cameras going wrong at a pivotal moment, so it is good to know which brands we can trust for their ongoing camera reliability.

The annual reader survey by Photo Review magazine in Australia has just been published (with some extra insight from Inside Imaging) and there were some surprising results when users were asked about the reliability of their cameras, with OM System (formerly Olympus) coming top and the world's leading camera maker Canon bringing up the rear.

• The best Olympus cameras (OM System) really are among the most reliable in the industry

One factor that might have influenced the results is that 44% of respondents use a DLSR and 22% use a compact camera. Both of these can be considerably older than mirrorless cameras, and can also have more moving parts with mirrors and mechanical shutters. One might also suspect that DLSRs may have been owned for much longer by respondents than the more modern mirrorless cameras, giving them more opportunities to go wrong.

OM System and Fujifilm only sell mirrorless cameras, with Sony also abandoning the DSLR market quite some time ago. It is only Canon and Nikon on this list that actively sell DSLRs, so a lot of the Canon data might be due to the high ownership of older EOS cameras rather than its newer EOS R range of mirrorless bodies.

The majority of respondents (66%) are amateur photographers, with 47% taking less than 2,000 photos a year, so it does raise the question of why cameras are failing when they are used so infrequently.

This survey is just a bit of fun and is in no way a scientific analysis of cameras' reliability. With only 271 respondents the survey is not statistically significant for generalizing to the global camera-owning population, but it does give us a little glimpse of the opinions of camera owners about their favorite brands.

The survey results also do not offer a breakdown of camera ownership by brand or by camera model; it is really impossible to say how many OM System users voted for their camera to be number one, or which camera models are especially unreliable. Camera reliability also can mean different things to different people, with Canon users potentially giving a harsher analysis of their equipment. 

While we can spend hours speculating on what these results could mean, camera owners can rest assured that all these brands offer a manufacturer warranty if anything should go wrong – and despite coming bottom of the survey, Canon offers the longest warranty on its cameras of five years.

You can find out more about the best DLSR camera, the best mirrorless camera, and the best compact camera in our extensive guides.

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Gareth Bevan
Reviews Editor

Gareth is a photographer based in London, working as a freelance photographer and videographer for the past several years, having the privilege to shoot for some household names. With work focusing on fashion, portrait and lifestyle content creation, he has developed a range of skills covering everything from editorial shoots to social media videos. Outside of work, he has a personal passion for travel and nature photography, with a devotion to sustainability and environmental causes.