“Are you a Canon or Nikon shooter?”
This has to be one of the first questions fellow photographers ask each other. It just so happens that when I’m asked that question, I’m very lucky to get to say “both.”
The main differences between the two come down to performance and controls. I think you may be surprised to find out which I believe is more important when choosing between the two. I’ve been shooting both systems for the past 3 years so if you’re keen to find out the differences between Canon vs Nikon from someone with hands-on experience, then read on:
The BIG question
Ask a photog their opinion on Canon vs Nikon, and you’re likely to stir some s**t up. It’s possible that you might get to see that first-hand in the comments below.
It’s a question that budding photographers ask themselves and others (sorry Sony). It’s even a question experienced photographers either ask themselves or spend time online arguing about.
Canon AND Nikon
I’ve been shooting Nikon since 2008 when I bought my first DSLR – the venerable D90. I’ve continued to fill out my kit and shoot Nikon for my personal work and business since then. Here’s a peek at my current Nikon kit (Jan 2015):
- Nikon D600
- Nikon 16-35 mm f/4.0
- Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
- Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8
- A few old Nikon primes (20mm 2.8, 50mm 1.8, 85mm 1.8)
- Nikon SB910 and SB700 speedlights
I’ve also been shooting with a Canon gear for over three years as part of my day job as brand photographer for lululemon athletica Australia/New Zealand. I got to build my kit from scratch, which includes:
- Canon 5D Mark III
- Canon 24-70mm f/2.8
- Canon 70-200mm f/2.8
- A couple Sigma primes (35mm 1.4, 50mm 1.4)
- Canon 600EX-RT speedlight
As you can see, the kits are eerily similar, so a fair comparison is not out of the question. I know photographers who have switched from one system to another, but I don’t know anyone who has shot both systems for an extended period of time.
I don’t say this to brag, it’s more a matter of circumstance. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to use both brands. This has allowed me to get familiar with each system and get to know the differences in everyday shooting.
Canon vs Nikon
This post is not a direct comparison of a Nikon D600 with a Canon 5D Mark III. It is all about the overarching question of Canon vs Nikon.
In order to answer this question, I need to break this down. By giving you more context about this comparison, I hope to get you to consider a different way of looking at this eternal question.
Subjective rather than objective
This set of posts are based on my hands-on experiences with these two cameras. This makes this Canon vs Nikon comparison inherently subjective. Here’s why:
- I don’t have any specific tools to mathematically compare cameras or lenses. If you’re looking for that, then there’s other people who have done that.
- My experiences are based on mainly two models from each brand. These cameras are not quite equivalent in terms of where they fit in a camera line-up. If you want in-depth comparisons between models of cameras, review sites are a good place to start.
- I probably don’t shoot exactly the same thing as you do. I mostly shoot fast action fitness, slower activities like yoga and lifestyle imagery in natural light. Sometimes I will add some artificial light to a situation if needed. What you shoot will impact what camera system is best for you.
- I don’t shoot the way you do. Even if you shoot exactly the same things as I do above, you’ll have a different creative process than me. Put in the exact same situation, you’ll a make different choices in terms of what angles you pick, what lenses you shoot with and what settings you’ll use. How you access those settings is another difference that get’s layered on top of that. I tend to change some of the custom settings on the camera to make my shooting more effective. I need to be able to access the settings that I use most often quickly and intuitively. How you shoot is even more important than what you shoot.
Let’s get this one big thing out of the way. Both companies produce high quality cameras that give you the tools to create amazing photographs.
I worded that sentence very carefully; I didn’t say that “Canon and Nikon create cameras that create amazing photographs” because that would be incorrect. In all cases, cameras are just a means to an end and only the artist/photographer can choose what that end is.
If you’re not getting the types of photos you want, you’re much better off looking inwards (at things like technique and skills) before you start looking outwards (at things like cameras and gear). You’ll save money that way too!
I’m here to tell you (and I’m not the first to say this) that for 99.9% of buyers, it doesn’t matter which system you choose when looking only at image quality.
Are there differences in image quality? Of course. However the difference between an amazing and mediocre photo is based more on the photographer and the subject than any differences in image quality. The great photographers of the past have images taken with old technology that are better than most of the images taken with the latest and greatest camera gear.
There, if that’s all you wanted to know about Canon vs Nikon, you can stop reading and get back to shooting. However, if you’re interested to know a bit more about my experiences with the two systems and find our my advice if you’re picking between the two then we need to know what to assess.
What to assess?
This is the first of a series of blog posts. Over the next few weeks I will be breaking Canon vs Nikon down using the following categories:
- Ergonomics & Controls – Ideally the camera gets out of my way and allows me to be in the moment to capture the photograph I’m looking for. In my experience, this is the most important comparison.
- Differences in Performance – In addition to image quality, there are differences in sensor dynamic range, colour rendition, speed of auto-focus and continuous shooting, etc.
- What Camera to Choose – Armed with what you’ve learned from my experiences, how does that help you in choosing between Canon or Nikon?
Let me know if you have any specific questions!,