Me & this guy.
Luckily, the overall switchover hasn’t been quite this dramatic:
It has actually been pretty easy sofar. But before we get into that, let me explain why I chose to switch, especially since I was absolutely never ever going to. No matter what. Not because I have deep loyalty to Canon, but because I sort of hate any type of “band-wagon” which seems to be fueling a lot of switchers lately. In fact, the only reason I’m writing a blog post about it is because I won’t seem to stop getting emails about why I chose to switch until I do. Apparently, the whole Canon vs. Nikon bit is something people feel quite passionately about.
Not me. I choose things (cars, computers, washing machines, etc.) based on what works best for achieving the specific goal I want to achieve at the time. That’s it. Nothing more. In fact, this has probably been the least emotional decision I have made since starting my photography business, so if anyone out there takes any type of offense to me joining “the dark side” really, you shouldn’t. It’s nothing personal whatsoever. Canon is a great company, and may be perfect for you. But for now, I’m taking darkness out for a spin to see what I can do with it.
Here’s how it started: I had a very irritating experience with a Canon customer service rep when I contacted them about getting some calibration done. I immediately thought to myself “this is probably why so many people are switching to Nikon” and I decided to investigate it. I began to google and learned all sorts of interesting things. And for the record, most Canon CS reps are probably perfectly nice people. I just happened to get a hold of a cranky one. That is NOT a good reason (in itself) to switch. It was just a catalyst.
I began researching and reading blogs/boards/etc. about the big differences people were noticing in Nikon vs. Canon, particularly regarding Nikon’s ISO capabilities and their Auto-Focus technology. Then,I began to think about how I shoot. My style is to typically shoot with a long lens (I prefer at least 100-200mm for portrait work) and I absolutely love to combo a long lens with getting as close to my subject as possible for head shots/portrait work. If you want to learn why, read this post. I did notice that my Canon 70-200 was limiting in this aspect (even when switched to the 1.5m focus mode) and there were several blurred shots from several shoots that could have been avoided had it’s capabilities to focus just a little closer at 200mm had been better.
I also realized that the camera I was shooting with (5D Mark II) had great ISO capabilities, but it was limiting compared to what Nikon shooters were capturing, and that is a big deal to me. Especially since I do a lot of shooting in particularly weird locations that don’t have a lot of light.
So, I thought I’d give Nikon a try. I didn’t rent, I just went ahead and purchased the D700, Nikon’s version of the 70-200, and the 50mm 1.4. This was my starter kit. I purchased from B&H because they have an amazing no-hassle return policy, and I knew I’d be able to tell pretty quickly whether or not Nikon was for me (at least, I knew I’d be able to easily figure it out in under 200 shots – which is the limit you can put on a piece before returning it) and I set aside a couple of days to play with it.
I also knew going in that I was going to loose some money. I was okay with that. If you are at a point professionally where money is tighter (been there, done that…) I would not recommend making a switch, because it is costly. For me though, it was worth it. For now at least.
So why do I like Nikon better? Very specific reasons that pertain particularly to me, the way I shoot, my style, and how my brain works. Please, for the love of all things decent, do NOT switch based on my recommendation. In fact, this isn’t a recommendation at all. I think Canon will always be the better product for some people. And who knows, some day, I may even switch back (is it so wrong to love both?) but for now I prefer Nikon. Here are the aforementioned very specific reasons that very well may only apply to me:
1.) The ergonomics of it. I absolutely LOVE the way the dials are set up, and how quickly and easily I can change everything from ISO to shutter speed to Aperture without even taking my eye off the eyepiece. Do not ask me why these ergonomics work better for me. It is the bizarre and specific way my brain is set up (a brain that, I might add, baffles my husband on a daily basis with it’s inner-workings…) that makes Nikon’s operating system just flow and click. Pardon the pun. In fact, although most of you will think this is a bad reason, it is probably what I love the most about it.
2.) The ISO abilities are as amazing as you hear, and the 70-200 really can focus in a much shorter distance from my subject. LOVE both of these things. They absolutely apply to the way I shoot.
3.) The auto-focus really is better, and I’m noticing just a tinge of extra sharpness on my 70-200. This is a big deal to me.
And that, my friends, wraps up the three big reasons I switched! Now, I’ll share a few things I’ve noticed, and what I’m going to miss about Canon.
1.) Skin tones. It’s no secret that I like bright, pretty skin and nice, colorful, dark backgrounds. It’s sort of my thing. I will miss the skin tones I get from Canon L-glass – they are amazing, and in my opinion, incomparable. They truly have a “look” of their own, and I can almost immediately tell if someone shoots Canon or Nikon just by the skin tones of their images. Canon tends to be a little more red, and Nikon tends to be a tad more green (it’s digital people!) but overall, Canon’s skin tones are just gorgeous. HOWEVER, where I noticed a touch of red in my Canon’s 70-200 skin tones, I’m noticing a touch of…..NOTHING…in my Nikon’s 70-200 skin tones. They are as near neutral as I have ever seen, and that particular look actually works better with my style than Canon’s slightly-more-reddish tones. That explanation probably made sense to exactly one person (me) but it’s the only way I know how to try to tell you. Neither is better in my opinion, but there is a little difference. And for me, for now, I’m totally okay with the whitish/neutral tones my Nikon provides. Especially with the 70-200. Love it.
2.) I prefer Canon’s general build quality, but I prefer the way Nikon makes the little things easier. Like the snap on/snap off lens caps. LOVE that. And the ergonomics, which I mentioned before. Nikon just seems to be designed a bit on the smarter side.
3.) Not a fan of Nikon’s user manual. I know that sounds silly, but Canon’s is much more user-friendly. Which is always a good quality in a user manual. If I didn’t already know what I was doing, I think Nikon’s manual would be very difficult and confusing.
4.) Brightness/Lightness….oh my. The rumors are true. The first shot I did with my Nikon was totally blown out. I shot 2 ticks over the bar (as I did with my 5D) and it was WAY too bright and overexposed. There is definitely a (very slight) learning curve here, but it doesn’t take long to master.
5..) Canons colors do seem to come out a little more saturated than Nikon’s do. To me, this is noticeable. The exact same actions actually look a little different on shots created with my Nikon than they do on shots created with my Canon – and the “look” is consistent. This, though, is not a big deal to me, and I’ve been told that with a few White-Balance tricks, this can be overcome easily.
As far as the overall cost of switching, it really wasn’t that bad. I’m going to add two more lenses and flashes to my “Nikon starter kit” as soon as the holidays are over, and I have some time to devote to new camera equipment. I expect, when it is all said and done, that there will be a roughly $2,000 – $3,000 difference overall…that is IF I’m replacing every single item – piece for piece. I’m lucky, most of my equipment sold right away and with little hassle. In fact, there are only two pieces left which will find their way to ebay next week.
Alrighty, gang – that about wraps it up! As a disclaimer, I know my readers are smart people, but my lawyer has asked I remind you all that I claim absolutely no liability whatsoever for any decision you make regarding camera system choices, I endorse neither Nikon or Canon, and that I am not responsible for the decisions you make. He words it much more eloquently than I do, but you get the gist.
Oh, and a tip: If you are going to switch systems, wait until after Christmas. The lines at UPS are sure to be shorter.
Hope you’re having a great holiday season!
Until next time-