Kevin McGloshen, KPM Photography

Nikon Versus Canon

It’s the age old question: Who makes the best camera, Nikon or Canon? Any photographer worth her salt has had this conversation with a colleague. Maybe it was over a pint after class, or maybe on assignment as you wait for the president to arrive. Regardless, as photographers we’ve all fought for our particular brand … but what’s the deal?

As a photojournalist, picking a brand of camera to use is not a particularly difficult decision. You have two options. If you plan to work for a newspaper, you’ll be shooting Nikon or Canon … guaranteed. If you’re a commercial photographer, more than likely you’ll be using your own equipment, so, whatever. Fashion photographers are probably using a combination of 35 mm and medium format, but I’d bet a dollar their 35 mm rig is Nikon or Canon.

Let me take you back to my early days of college, the days when I was first moving into my courses on photography, the days when I had no camera.

My first camera was a Canon Elan II, which I purchased in a kit with a medium telephoto lens and a little cash from my father. So, my first real camera was a Canon. I learned how to make photographs on that camera, and I carried it everywhere with me. There was a pretty good reason why I opted for Canon over Nikon. There was a beautiful young girl in my photo class, and take a guess what she shot with? That’s right, a Canon Elan II. No real science or thought in that decision. Pretty girl equals good camera. I was sold.

Now, I loved that camera and still own it. I was eventually able to buy another lens, which was a used 70-200 f/2.8 (which incidentally I dropped a week after purchase, popping the front element onto the sidewalk) and I loved that lens. I still have it today also. So I’ve already made my decision: Canon all the way. I was buying new gear, eventually working up to an EOS 3 (my last film camera) and new lenses, flashes. I had spent so much money before I had even graduated from college, there was really no turning back.

Fast forward to my first internship with The Hays Daily News, and suddenly I’m the only person shooting Canon. I still considered myself a student, but I was working on a real staff with terrific photographers on a REAL newspaper. This was not the Ball State Daily News. There were situations that begged for certain equipment, but I couldn’t use any of the staff gear so I was left saying, “well, if only …”

As I moved into the working world, I had a great rig with my first full-time job at a newspaper. I won’t go into details, but I will say it was Nikon. I was familiar with my Canon rig, but the transition wasn’t too difficult. I knew the fundamentals well, I just had to reverse the way everything on the camera functioned. The battery life of that camera was terrible, but the lenses were impeccable, and I loved shooting with it.

None of this crap really matters. I guess the point I’m trying to make is go with what feels right. If someone you trust tells you they shoot with Nikon and it’s great and wonderful and all the rest of it, go with Nikon. If the guy at the camera store shoots Canon and swears by it … and you trust him, go with Canon. Do you like Coke over Pepsi? Drink Coke.

In the past eight years, I’ve probably had a conversation about the “best” camera system a handful of times, but rarely with a working photographer. Every photographer has their favorite brand, but they also know that you go with what feels comfortable. Obviously, different systems will have different options, and knowing how to weigh those options most often comes with trial and error, repetition and everyday shooting. If your results are good, stick with it. Not counting a technical problem, if your results are bad, it probably isn’t the camera. The photographer makes the photograph, not the camera. Did Van Gogh create masterful landscapes and portraits, or did his paintbrush?

The truth of the matter is … who the hell cares. I shoot Canon because I like how it feels in my hand. I like the placement of the controls, and it feels familiar. What’s more important is shooting, shooting, shooting.

5 Responses

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