Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Nikon vs Canon - the winner? You!

The blog is called 'Amateur Nikon', and Nikon is one of the two big guns out there - the other being Canon. Like with virtually any other item produced by our capitalism-driven need to shop-and-belong, digital cameras can become what their owner intends them to become.

For those of us who want a camera to take nice pictures, it is just that. For those of us who need a device to help us produce a certain image in our head, it is that (and for the artistically aware, a necessary evil between the subject and our brain). For those needing a tool, a workhorse to help them deliver goods to clients, it becomes that. And, yep, you saw it coming, for those who need an idol for their religion, it can become that.

The Nikon vs Canon pseudo-dilemma can be almost as intense as the PC vs Mac one. We've all been amused reading about "fanboys" - and some of us secretly (or not!) pick sides and cheer for the "right" guy. So, which brand is the best?

It's a Nikon. So what...It's just a tool

Well, you don't expect an answer to this one, do you? Cliche as it might sound, these two (and many other) brands have been highly successful in producing great products for many decades - that should tell you something. Both Nikon and Canon (any given model of theirs) are capable of producing excellent results in the right hands. And, inevitably, in the wrong hands, you could have 10.000$ worth of equipment; it will change nothing.

Competition between brands can only be good for the consumer.It theoretically pushes all companies involved to manufacture even better products, at even more competitive prices. I say "theoretically", because there are some things to consider: Companies, although of course still wanting to increase their sales and come on top, they have a variety of strategies for achieving that goal. Declaring total war, with models directly comparable to their competitor's, is not necessarily one of them.

Yes, both Canon and Nikon have entry level models; they both have advanced amateur models; Full Frame models, high-end professional bodies. But at least some of these are not directly comparable. Although especially Nikon is in a process of rethinking their lineup, I think that, traditionally, both Nikon and Canon were happy not stepping directly on each other's toes - merely nudging a bit, hoping for a better spot. Typical example from a few years back (before the rethinking process had begun): the Canon 60D was not exactly on the same category as the Nikon D300, yet they were both addressed at the advanced amateur, with the D300 being the tool (backup or even main) for quite a few pros as well.

Taken with a Canon? A Nikon? A Sony? Or an Olympus?

So, what are we to conclude from all that? Simple (and yet infinitely complex): The consumer is the winner - the more options the better. The key is, however, to identify your individual needs carefully. When you buy a camera, you buy a system (unless if you will always have one camera and one lens no matter what - then you should probably not get a DSLR but a mirrorless). And for better or for worse, jumping ship can be a complex thing. Not only because you lose some money on the process (having to sell pretty much everything and buy the same equipment of the other brand), but because you will need a period of readjustment.

My business partner uses Canon; I use Nikon. I considered changing, as it would make more sense to use the same tools, but I just cannot bring myself to forego my knowledge of Nikon - both in terms of camera functionality and lenses. With Nikon, I can give you dozens of dozens of lists of lenses, their specs, their weaknesses and strengths, and a good estimate of their price, without having to google anything of that. With Canon, I don't even know how much their 50mm f/1.8 costs - heck, I don't even know they sell one; I assume they must!

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