Switching from Nikon to Canon

In About by lisa@lisabeaney.co.ukLeave a Comment

I have had a few other photographers ask me recently why I decided to switch camera manufacturers from Nikon to Canon. This is the answer I originally wrote for my Facebook page….

Like many people I bought my first “serious” dSLR based on the advice I had read online and the advice from the staff in the camera shop…. I bought Nikon. Then your lens collection and accessory collection grows and it makes financial sense to stick with the same manufacturer so the decision to switch is not an easy, or necessarily cheap, decision.

I have always liked working with two camera bodies and when Phill started working with me we knew we would have to buy some additional equipment. We spent a long time looking at the new camera bodies being released by both Nikon and Canon with a real interest in their video capabilities. One thing we both have in common is a love of technology and looking at where we can use our previous skill set to make us different so we can offer our clients the very best that the new technologies can offer. For us this meant looking at the video capabilities of both manufacturers as well as the photographic element.

Phill spent his time researching the video side while I looked at the financial implications of switching and what kit we would actually need to buy. I also spent some time researching the timelines at which both Nikon and Canon release new models to work out what was likely to be released and when. At this point I was working with Nikon D700’s and they are great cameras in low light, at ISO3200 the images are lovely and can be used in an album without any real work. Nikon have always had a great reputation for their low light capabilities and ergonomic cameras. BUT the only video Nikon had was motion JPEG at 720p (not full HD) and this was not available on the D700. I wanted to stick to full frame cameras and I also wanted us to have identical camera bodies so all lenses, batteries and accessories are interchangeable.

Looking at the timeline I could not see Nikon releasing a replacement for the D700 with video until at least August 2010 ( we were looking at this in Nov last year, to date Nikon still haven’t announced a replacement for the D700)

So, we decided to buy a Canon 5dMK2 and a 24-105 IS lens for Phill to use and for me to test to see how I got on with it. To be honest I think it is fair to say that both Nikon and Canon make excellent cameras. Both have had their problems and both have different things that you love or hate about them, but both makes are more than capable of performing and doing what I need them to do.

I spent a few weeks doing side by side testing of the Nikon D700 and the Canon 5dMk2, both in the studio and on location, in bright sunlight and low light and I was impressed. There are things that I found harder to use on the Canon… and why there are three different methods of selecting the focus point is beyond me…. I also found the Nikon far more forgiving on focusing, I’m not sure if that is my technique or something withing the Canon algorithms but when I focus and recompose with the Canon using wider apertures I got far more out of focus shots that I did with the Nikon. I still haven’t fully got to the bottom of that one ! (I’m just aware of it and careful….)

So, just before Christmas I sold all my Nikon kit and replaced it with Canon. There are some lenses that I realised I hardly used so I haven’t replaced them… and others that I didn’t buy immediately. Going out and buying 3 x Canon 5dMk2 bodies, the 24-105, 24-70, 70-200 IS lens and 2 580EXII speedlights along with spare batteries etc is not cheap. The other lens I did buy was the Sigma f1.4 50mm lens and this is one I really love. We have since bought the Canon 85mm f1.8 and the Sigma 150mm macro lens…

The timing of the switch over was also important; after Christmas is one of our quietest times and this gave us plenty of time to get to know the Canons, their quirks and differences and the menu settings really well before the wedding season really got started.I certainly wouldn’t advise switching manufacturers during a busy period !

The low light capabilities of the 5dMk2 are not noticeably better or worse than the D700, I use Lightroom for RAW conversions and don’t normally need to use any other noise reduction; I frequently shoot at ISO3200 and even ISO6400 at weddings and for our natural light boudoir sessions.

We have now had several months for Phill to use the 5dMk2 for filming…. we are not planning on offering wedding videos but incorporating film clips in to the stills coverage that we offer. The 5dMk2 is more than capable of producing excellent film images with the range of lenses available, you only have to look at the interest in the camera from Hollywood film directors to realise the potential….

If Nikon had a D700 equivalent with full HD video available a year ago then I would have stayed with Nikon. They didn’t. By switching to Canon we have gained a year to develop the new products we want to offer so we will have real samples to show from real weddings at this Autumns wedding fairs, have a look at our Movie Slideshows page to see what we have been doing…

There are still a few things that drive me nuts with the Canons.. but at the end of the day it is a bit like driving, once you have mastered the key controls you should be able to get in to any car and drive……

I would also like to mention my local professional camera dealer Park Cameras, they are incredibly knowledgeable about the products they sell and have great prices (often matching online prices) they also ran a series of seminars that allowed me to test the latest kit from both Nikon and Canon before finally making our decision. I have bought all my Nikon and Canon kit through them, quite often it isn’t until you have a problem that you realise the value of a good supplier. Park Cameras have always provided excellent service and support.

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