Why I Chose a Canon Camera

Why I Chose a Canon Camera

I recently had the opportunity to completely replace my camera system. I chose the Canon EOS R and Canon lenses/flashes. If you had asked me a couple of days ago, Canon would have been my last option. This article is about what changed my mind.

I’m a long-time user of Canon, going back almost 15 years. When I got first 5D, Nikon didn’t even have a full frame option, and they were still using CCD sensors that performed horribly. Sony was not even in the equation.

Recently though, it’s becoming increasingly frustrating staying with Canon. The other brands all seem to innovate, releasing features like in-body stabilization and full sensor width 4K. In comparison, Canon seem to be doing just enough to stay in the game.

Bloggers, vloggers and everyone else with a platform have only added to my disappointment with Canon. New models by Nikon, Sony and Panasonic are widely praised while Canon models are largely shot down. I became desperate to move to another system.

Then the unbelievable happened. A client offered to buy me a new system. Finally, I had a way out. I could be using one of the new models that the internet raves on about. Would it be Nikon or Sony or the newcomer from Panasonic? After a ton of research and introspection, somehow, Canon re-entered the equation and by the time I made up my mind, the Canon EOS R had moved to my first choice.

Canon EOS R

The Canon EOS R, a camera that I had written off that is now my first choice.

The Problem With Reviews

Most of us enjoy watching or reading reviews about the latest camera gear. I find them to be very useful for understanding the capabilities of new equipment. The problem with reviews is that they aim to reach a broad audience. This means that they’ll evaluate every feature of a camera. In practice, though, very few people have a use for every feature in a camera. For example, the Canon EOS R and the Nikon Z7 got a lot of flak for only having one card slot. I know this is a dealbreaker for some photographers, but most photographers I speak to have never used a dual card system. Similarly, the video performance is often the differentiator between cameras. This is completely irrelevant to someone who doesn’t shoot video.

Still Shoot

90 percent of my work is still images. For my video work, I've never had a client request 4K output.

Beyond the Specs

On paper, the Nikon, Sony and Panasonic equivalents are all better cameras than the EOS R. In fact, on paper, the other cameras are not even equivalents, they’re a level up.

In sports, you compare the teams on paper to determine a favorite. The commentators often say, “Team A is the clear favorite, but the game isn’t won on paper.” I found this to be true of cameras. There are unmeasurable factors that also influence which is the best camera for you.

Why Canon Is Best for Me

Over the next few years, I will be moving from being a hybrid of a travel photographer and an architectural photographer towards concentrating on just architecture. Most of my work will be still images with some video at a 1080 output.  I will be covering very large buildings with limited space. All my work will be on a tripod. Considering what my shoots will look like, I do not require the following:

  • 4K video
  • 5-axis stabilization
  • Extreme ISO performance

I will benefit from the following:

  • An excellent, fully articulating LCD screen for tight spaces
  • WiFi link to compose with an iPad
  • A balance between resolution and efficiency of image processing
  • 15 years of muscle memory using Canon cameras
  • A native 17mm tilt shift lens
  • Thousands of hours of retouch in Lightroom with Canon color profiles.
Canon 17mm TSE

London, my home city, is full of large buildings with tight spaces to shoot them from. Many of my images could have only been taken with the Canon 17mm tilt shift.

If it is not clear why the EOS R is the best option for me, let me expand on a point. When I photograph a building, I’ll shoot around 200 images. Many of these need to be merged into either a panoramic image (using a tilt-shift lens) or an HDR image. Doing this process on my Canon 5DS 50-megapixel files takes a long time and is very resource intensive. In addition, the 50-megapixel resolution is usually overkill. I’ve recently taken to using my Canon 1DX Mark II for most of my shoots, and it only has a resolution of 20 megapixels. The 30-megapixel resolution of the EOS R feels like the right amount for what I do in terms of resolution and ease of use.  

I spent a year with the Sony A7R II. Everything that was said about the image quality proved to be true: incredible dynamic range, low light performance, and noise handling. However, it took a lot more time in Lightroom to get the best out of a file than it takes for a Canon file. This could be because I’m used to working with Canon files, or it could be because Canon files look more “natural” by default. Either way, I get through photos from Canon cameras in less time.

Considering I will be using this camera every day, I want the workflow to be painless and efficient. This is worth more to me than extra resolution or dynamic range.

Why Not the Other Brands

The Panasonic S1R looks incredible, but currently, it lacks the specialist lenses needed for architecture.

The Sony A7R III was my early favorite. It seemed to be the complete package, performing well in every aspect. Like Panasonic, it doesn’t have specialist architectural lens options, but Canon lenses can be adapted to it. What put me off Sony is that the adapters are not supported by either Canon or Sony. When I used a Sony A7R II for a year, the performance of two of my Canon lenses took a big dive while the rest seemed unaffected. This inconsistency poses too much of a risk for professional use.

Nikon Z 7

The Nikon Z 7 was the closest contender. If I had been a Nikon user previously, it would have probably been my first choice.

My choice finally came down to Canon EOS R or Nikon Z 7. I have the opinion that the Nikon D850 is the best DSLR ever made and with the Nikon Z 7 sharing a similar chip, it was a compelling option. Nikon also has native, architectural lenses. When I compared all the factors that were important to me, the cameras were like for like. It was the familiarity with the Canon system, my existing Canon lens collection, and my time spent retouching Canon files that became the differentiator.

Apple Versus Android

The best Android phones are all better on paper than Apple phones. I have a few friends who are software developers and they love the flexibility and power of Android phones. However, when it comes to usability, for the average user, Apple wins. This makes Apple the better phone.

It is for a similar reason that the EOS R is the best camera for me. The best camera is the one that best serves my needs and makes my job easier. Despite my initial reluctance, after making these considerations, I feel surprisingly at ease with my decision for the Canon. The reason I chose the Canon EOS R and the Canon system was not because it was the best system. I chose it because it was the best system for me.

After reading through my thought process, do you think I’m going to regret my decision? If so, why?

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195 Comments

Previous comments

@Yin Ze Providing you have the opportunity to get back a the most appropriate time, that could be true. But in most group travels, you can't go back at a better time because you won't be there anymore. He probably says dynamic range is overrated because I bet he shoots Canon.

Hi, please discuss this further with Usman, I do not have the experience as he does to explain that dynamic range is overrated and getting the shot at the right time of day is underrated.

Colin Robertson's picture

I don't know if I'd call DR "overrated", but the R (& 5D IV) are NOT lacking in DR.

"Dynamic range is such an overrated feature" lol as overrated as flip out screen?

Usman Dawood's picture

Nope.

Sounds like you're mixing up something being important vs something being overrated. There's a difference. Flip out screens aren't as important but they're definitely not overrated.

Dynamic range is important for many but it's still overrated.

this is the dumbest thing you have so far written. i can't beliebe how low the standards are at fstoppers.

Usman Dawood's picture

*believe

Wrong choice of words. I should have used the word essential.

Something can be essential and still be overrated. For example megapixels are essential for digital photography but as we increase resolution they become overrated.

I find it difficult to beliebe that you don’t understand this concept. I think you’re being intentionally obtuse

not being "intentionally obtuse"

It's easy to misunderstand a "writer" who uses the "Wrong choice of words" who makes false accusations of others "mixing up something being important vs something being overrated."

why not shoot with a Nikon D1 or EOS 30d if megapixels, dynamic range....etc are not "overrated"/ "important"/"essential"

btw some of your photos would've benefited from more dynamic range since the eye tends to go straight to blown out highlights first.

Usman Dawood's picture

My point was fairly straight forward but it seems you were being pedantic about certain things and you're continuing in that vein.

Which images specifically, please?

pedantic
/pɪˈdantɪk/Submitexcessively concerned with minor details or rules; overscrupulous.

example:

"Sounds like you're mixing up something being important vs something being overrated. There's a difference. Flip out screens aren't as important but they're definitely not overrated. Dynamic range is important for many but it's still overrated."

"Something can be essential and still be overrated. For example megapixels are essential for digital photography but as we increase resolution they become overrated."

Usman Dawood's picture

My comment was the original point lol. You challenged it and I explained. Your scrutiny of what I was saying is pedantic. That’s why I said you’re being intentionally obtuse.

still won't change the fact that your photos suffer from blow hignlights that could have benefited from what you call "overrated" dynamic range.

overrate
/əʊvəˈreɪt/ attach too much importance to

Colin Robertson's picture

Sorry—I own both the EOS R and a Fujifilm X-E3, and while the DR on Fuji's are incredible, the smaller sensor just doesn't compare. Sure, it *might* have more ability to recover shadows (the R is no slouch), but the noise is much more apparent.

Andre Goulet's picture

Based on this conversation thread, there were no good photos ever taken more than five or six years ago when technology wasn't like it is today.

why live in the past? i appreciate every technological advance as it allows me to do capture images more efficiently for clients. i have switched to 4k 24p workflow with sony a9 and massive crop of the R is ridiculous. I use 24-70/2.8 and a 1.8 crop would be a dealbreaker for many situations.

Andre Goulet's picture

So do I, but we don't need to buy into hype and marketing to take great pics either. But your point is valid, if you have specific need for certain tech.

I popped in an old dvd the other day of one of my favorite movies and it looked like crap on my tv. Looking at 1080 is like looking at iphone 3gs screen after iphone 4 ceme out. These days many clients want stills and hi-res video and since I do not have clients buying me gear for specific projects after a lot of soul-searching and research I officially announce my next camera will be a Sony.

Hi, I need help on a low budget camera for architecture. I'm about starting architectural photography and I want to ask you experts what camera I can get. budget for camera is $600 - $800

For the said reasons, I believe Canon EOS R seem to be the right fit and pragmatic choice.

I believe (1) existing investments (2) familiarity a.k.a muscle memory (3) precise usage based requirements (4) photography requirements (5) mobility requirements (6) manufacturer support and (7) community support must dictate the gear purchase.

But then, I didn't apply none of the above (except low light) when I bought my GFX-50S :-)

Jonathan Reid's picture

Haha, the pragmatic decision is never the exciting one.

Nope, pragmatic decisions are no fun, but if you/we head to it, we might become a better photographers :-)

Didn't help me when I jumped from 6D to 5D m3 and the 5d m4 and the xt2 and then xt3 and then gfx :-)

It might help moving forward

Wasim Ahmad's picture

I have tons of Canon muscle memory from 13 years of Canon shooting, but that EOS R is a different beast entirely. To be fair, I only used it once, but I found myself missing the larger wheel out back, the joystick/lever thing for autofocus and that touch bar made no sense to me. I'm actually hoping they release one with the "classic" control scheme (which is what I guess their DSLR controls are now?).

Jonathan Reid's picture

As I mentioned in the article, I spent a year with the Sony A7RII. It took about two months of continious use before I could operate the camera without looking. That alone isn’t all I’m referring to with muscle memory, it is also the familiarity with the files. I know exactly how to expose a canon file to get the most out of the image in post production. For a long time with the Sony, I was constantly over exposing as I was still exposing for the Canon. Learning new controls comes relatively quickly, learning a new type of file takes a little longer.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

That's a good point. I have to constantly retrain my brain with every different brand I shoot, and I shoot them often interchangeably.

Jonathan Reid's picture

One of the reasons I took so long to learn the exposure differences for the Sony was that I was on a travel assignment for 3 months and only saw the images on a laptop screen. I also wasn’t doing any post production whilst on the road. I think my learning time would have come down dramatically if I was outputting finished images.

While, I do respect your choice, ..leave it! It's your choice 😁 good bless !

Mr Hogwallop's picture

It doesn't really matter that you chose Canon, Sony, Toyota or Honda but my question is why did your client buy you a new camera system?

Jonathan Reid's picture

Because they’re legends!

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Hmmm. That's not really answer but ok.

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