Having previously blamed Nigel Mansell for me choosing Canon over Nikon, I recently had a chance to review the entry level Nikon SLR (D3400). I would love to tell you how it's nowhere near as good as Canon, but that's not true. Conversely I can't tell you that it's miles better than Canon. It has a few things which are better: the entry level lens has surprisingly good optics, the intuitiveness of it (it feels more natural than Canon, which may seem odd given I've used Canon for years), and great resolution (more of that in a moment). For balance it has a few things not so good (there is no sensor cleaning on this updated model, and there's not enough focal points for tracking... perhaps a problem for all entry level cameras).
So I find myself with an entry level camera with a lens that doesn't match the rest of my kit. However, I'm delighted... and it all comes down to the fun of photography and megapixels. Megapixels first... this kit features a 24MP sensor with a 17-55 lens (equivalent to 27-82mm in old money). It's lightweight, compact (especially compared to my Canon 5D), and isn't that much bigger than a bridge camera. . With 24MP I can afford to crop the images a little so by my very approximate calculations I've got a camera that will print at sufficient resolution on A4 when outdoors for the equivalent focal range of 27-200mm. That's plenty for family holidays/days out where I would previously have to compromise between a compact camera with reasonable results and a bulky SLR with great results. I appreciate high pixel count can bring in noise, but the quality of this SLR will still far outperform my older generation cameras (notably a Canon 5D) and a Pentax compact.
It also brings me the fun of photography. A friend taught me a trick some time ago which is to take one camera body and one lens, and photograph what you see. For specialist stuff (air shows, pro portraits, wildlife) you need the higher end lenses and flash kit. Once you have it, there is almost an obligation to take it all with (just in case). For me though, I now have a second system with a quality way beyond my compact camera, and much less quality higher than a compact camera. It fits in with my RAW workflow, so I'm delighted.
Coming back to the Nikon's resolution - at the time of writing, the entry level Nikon has more megapixels than the Canon one, but the same as the next level up from Canon. In terms of spec, the Nikon probably sits between the two Canons, so which should you go for? I am still of the view that they are equivalent enough not to matter. There are other camera systems which are just as good (especially at the entry level) but if you invest in Canon or Nikon now (notably the lenses) then you will have many years of photography enjoyment to look ahead to.