Canon or Nikon, does it really matter?

Taken with Canon G12 1946 Ford Woody
Taken with Canon G12 - 1946 Ford Woody

Canon or Nikon, does it really matter? What about Sony or Pentax? Will you take better images if you buy a $2500 camera or a $800 one? In my opinion the answer is an easy “NO” to all three questions.

I’ll prove it to you. Are you aware that about 6-7 years ago the top pro Nikon body, the D2x had a 12 megapixel DX sensor, 5 FPS, ISO of only 100 to 800, 11 AF zones,  plus a lot of other “high end” options of the time. The Canon 1D mark II and the 1Ds mark II had similar specs, yet the “professional” photographers produced excellent images for their clients, families, websites, etc., using these camera’s that are actually inferior to today’s DSLR’s.

Most of today’s entry to mid-level DSLR’s have a minimum of 12 megapixels, can shoot at 5 FPS, and surpass the D2x in the ISO range by leaps and bounds. If pro’s were able to produce excellent images with a D2x or a 1Ds mark II, then why does everyone think a $2000 camera body will produce better images than a $800 body? How much more megapixels will it take for you to produce a better image? How many FPS do you need to catch that special moment? How many focal points will it take for you to produce a focused image?

Six to seven years ago, the D2x and 1Ds mark II were considered the top of the DSLR chain, if millions of excellent photos were taken with them, then shouldn’t a current $800 Nikon or Canon camera with superior specs produce at least the same great photos from the same people who used the D2x and 1Ds mark II? Of course they could, and so would advanced users, and amateurs alike. You see it’s not the equipment, it’s the user. I know thousands of articles have been written about it, but this week twice I heard statements that referred to the contrary.

First, while I was in the parking lot of a local beach getting ready to photograph some surfers, one of them walking by and asked “excuse me, what camera would I need to take good pictures of surfers from the beach?”. My answer: “you need someone who knows how to use a camera and a 200mm to 300mm fixed or zoom lens”. After some explaining he understood what I meant and thanked me. The second time happened when a friend made the following statement about a photo, “that is a great picture, did you use a professional camera?”. My answer: “It’s not the camera, but the person pushing the trigger that captured that great image!” 🙂

So only if you’re a pixel peeper, examining every image at 100% on your monitor or if you plan to print billboard size images will more megapixels ever make a difference. For 95% of photographers who are not making a full time income, the brand or cost of a camera will not produce better images for you. But enhancing your photography skills over time will. Camera brand only matters when it comes to lenses, for once you choose a system like Canon or Nikon, one tends to stay with it because they have invested in lenses. I use Nikon’s because I own several Nikkor lenses, I wouldn’t switch to Canon because I think it’s inferior (it’s not), but because switching would be costly for me. Nothing would be gained by switching, I would produce the same images with a Canon that I do with my Nikon.

Finally, don’t let the brand of camera stop your learning process, focus on your technique before your trade up. Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax, all these companies produce good camera’s. The majority of people tend to stick with Canon or Nikon simply because of the vast number of lenses available. Either will do, this includes compact cameras as well. You can take great photos with then, I used a Canon Powershot G12 to photograph my toy 1946 Ford Woody Sportsman, which is only about 2.5 inches long! 🙂

One thought on “Canon or Nikon, does it really matter?

  • avatar
    February 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Very good article; with excellent points. You are correct, in that – just a few short years ago – the capabilities of most camera’s were considered to be incredible; and the quality of photo’s – amazing. For guys like me – I just wanted a DSLR that’s comfortable – and one I could grow with. I’m not a professional, but I love photography. I bought the Sony Alpha 350, and have been happy for years. Since purchasing – I’ve spent most of my time learning how “I” can be better; which in turn has gone a long way to helping me understand photography – situations, lighting, editing, etc. The one “constant” is my camera (and lenses). It’s been a great camera and will produce fantastic photo’s – as long as I continue to practice and study. I’ve long felt the key is the photographer – not the camera. Your article confirms it — thanks again!


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