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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Previous comments
Jonathan Reid's picture

I don’t know what more to say. It wasn’t something I was expecting, just an act of generosity.

As crazy as this sounds, this is actually the second time a client has bought a camera for me. Another client bought me the Canon 1DX Mark II, specifically because they loved the video output.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Weird. There's gotta be more to the story but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

michaeljin's picture

There is no "native" 17mm tilt-shift lens for Canon MILC. There's a Canon tilt-shift lens that can be adapted to it, but then again it could be adapted to any MILC system just as easily since it's a DSLR lens.

Jonathan Reid's picture

The 17mm TSE was one of the lenses that went a bit pear shaped when adapting it to the Sony A7RII. The fact that Canon makes the adaptor means that they support it. If any of my EF lenses stop working properly or produce an inferior result, Canon will have to rectify the situation.

Sony can’t offer that support with Metabones which is why I can’t use Sony with Canon lenses for professional use.

michaeljin's picture

Interesting. Think it's due to the different sensor stack? I wonder if the situation would be the same with a Nikon or Panasonic body.

Jonathan Reid's picture

I know very little about the technical aspects of cameras and lenses, but I know the problem with the Sony and 17mm TSE is quite a common one. If you google it, you’ll find very technical conversations about it in a Fredmiranda forum. Regarding the other brands, I have no idea, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable using an adaptor that is not supported by either the lens maker or camera maker. If sigma made a tilt shift lens, I’d be happy using their adaptor on the other brands as at least the lens side would be supported.

Gergö Nyirö's picture

what support are you talking about seriously? that is just a bunch of cow poo what you are saying

Jonathan Reid's picture

If you have a problem connecting a Canon lens to a Sony camera, it’s YOUR problem. You won’t get any help from either Canon or Sony. If you can’t connect a Canon lens to a Canon body, it becomes their problem to solve. That’s the support I’m talking about.

Vu Nguyen's picture

the adapter for the EOS R is completely seamless and invisible to the user. so far, the only issues have been with some Sigma lenses. You can trust the adapters for the R. And they even have cool things like the control ring or interchangeable filters. you can't say that at all with the Metabones or other adapters on the Sony. No true Sony professional will claim that Canon glass works perfectly or well on Sony. they'll all say that for professional shoots under intense pressure and duress, you can only depend on Sony glass.

Andrew Morse's picture

I don't think you'll regret it. Different tools for different jobs. I don't think you should feel guilty for choosing a camera that suits your need. Frankly, the fact that bloggers feel the need to justify using a brand says more about the community than the brand IMHO.

Jonathan Reid's picture

The point of this article was to highlight my surprise at choosing Canon and the realisation that each photographer is going to have a different camera that is best suited to their needs. I wanted to highlight the importance of considering your own needs when choosing a new camera. I hope that message came across.

I certainly hope that people don’t think that I’m trying to justify my decision or that I’m hoping for some extra support for making my decision. I just used my example because of the unique situation being offered any camera system.

Ed Sanford's picture

Jonathan, I agree with everything in your article. Nevertheless, I wish you hadn’t written it. Why? You sound like an apologist, and judging from the comments below, many are taking it that way. I know that in this PC world we live in today you can’t (as in not supposed to) say what I am about to say. That is, on a “man to man” basis, I don’t feel the need to justify or apologize for anything I say or do. If you are going to stay with Canon, stay with Canon. You don’t need to write a long article justifying it. There is no need to throw meat into the den of the carnivores who are going to disagree with you no matter how well reasoned your decision is. Let the quality of your photography speak for you. I can’t wait to see some of your new work. All the best....

Jonathan Reid's picture

Thanks Ed. The reason I wrote this article is that I found the exercise to be very interesting (being able to choose a new system from scratch) and my final choice surprised me. I felt that the conclusion that I reached, that the best possible camera differs from person to person, based on their specific needs is an important one to make for everyone tempted to change cameras.

I know that some people are so brand loyal that they can’t look past the discussion of different brands to the main point, but I’m hoping this article will be useful to people who are simply looking for the right tool for the job.

This was never about Canon/any other brand.

Ed Sanford's picture

Oh I totally understand what you did and why you wrote about it. I am frankly tired of the feeding frenzy of all the early adopters. They haven’t come to the conclusion that their desire to pile on is completely boring. I learned a long time ago that when you see a crowd running in one direction, your best course is to often run in the opposite direction.

michaeljin's picture

"Early adopters"? We're over half a decade and more than a couple of generations into the mirrorless thing now. In tech terms, that's a LOOONG time. I think we're well beyond early adopters at this point.

Ed Sanford's picture

You’re early adopters because the market is still settling.... smartphones are actually outperforming mirrorless on a total market basis. Through 2017, DSLRs were shipping more than mirrorless at a 2:1 margin source: Photography Life. Mirrorless, anecdotally is making a small penetration into the hard core pro market I.e. sports and news. It’s still a very new technology.... ergo my opinion that it is still an early adopters product. In fact, it is a prosumer product. But none of that matters. My point to Jonathan or anyone else, there is no need to proselytize or justify. If you want mirrorless, buy mirrorless. If you don’t, then don’t. By a Mercedes or buy a BMW. Same reasoning. I think that there are a lot more interesting things to discuss... like making good prints.

michaeljin's picture

Well, smartphones are actually compact mirrorless cameras so it seems to make sense to add them to overall mirrorless sales rather put them against MILC sales.

As for the use of the term "early adopter", I can understand calling people buying first or second generation products "early adopters", but we're on third and fourth generation products now so I'd say that we're pretty safely out of that phase with companies like Sony, Fuji, and Olympus sporting robust product lines that are just as capable as anything else out there. The only part of the market that hasn't "settled" at this point is the new entrants. I think the existing players are pretty settled.

There's almost nothing about MILC's from a hardware standpoint that's "new technology". Take a DSLR and put it on Live View and you're effectively using a mirrorless camera. I'm not really sure why you seem to think that it's a paradigm shift rather than a logical evolution of existing products.

LOL! Making prints. That's funny. Do people still do that? :P

Z K-P's picture

The market is still settling? What a useless statement. No market is settled, it is the very nature of markets. This is the same mentality used by people waiting for the right time to be a computer. LOL

There is never going to be an exclusive 'everyone is using it' time when mirrorless is the only thing people will use. Just like people are still shooting on film, despite digital having proven itself as a more than worthy substitute. Anyone buying a mirrorless camera today cannot be called an early adopter. They are simply a camera buyer. That is all.

Ed Sanford's picture

Well I can argue that there are settled markets, like the market for jelly which is why Smuckers isn’t growing as a company. I agree with your point on exclusivity which is why I started this discussion with the fact that Jonathan didn’t need to justify his purchase of Canon. A person can buy whatever they want without explaining it. By the way, I hope you follow your own logic to the extent that there is no such thing as a settled science either.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

But smartphone sales blow away mirrorless, DSLR and MFDB combined when it comes total market sales and they are very good at texting, email, and Facebook. Seems like an apple to oranges comparo.

Penny Fan's picture

Your points are valid, problem is that Canon trying to sell cameras with fewer feature/outdated tech with price that is on par with other rich feature/better tech competitors.

Ambrose Liu's picture

Disclaimer: I know this isn't the main point of your article but rather a secondary issue.

I understand the usability argument for someone who has used Canon for several years. I understand the usability argument for someone who has used iPhones for several years. That being said, I disagree with how you said that for the average user, iOS is more usable. This myth used to be more true, but now I'd say each platform is about equally usable, each with their own pros and cons (I currently use both OSs). iPhone users usually find iPhones more usable and Android users usually find Android more usable (and there are many more Android users). In fact, from my experience, iPhone users find it easier to use an Android device than vice versa, mainly due to the lack of 'buttons' and common use of unique gestures by Apple. Furthermore, especially as a photographer, it is usually way more difficult to transfer files on and off of iOS devices than Android ones. It also took me forever (then a Google search) to figure out how to set a time for when the screen automatically turns off. Samsung calls it Screen Timeout. Apple calls it auto-lock. Which is more intuitive? Add optional fingerprint readers, a more usable AI, optional headphone jacks, options in general for phones etc... and you might see why many would say Android wins in usability. For some reason, some people think less features means more usable, which is something I disagree with. Again, I know Apple has usability advantages too, but the point is I don't think one is objectively better than another. I'd say usability is subjective, but IMO, Android is easier to use. You can leave an Android phone and keep it as simple and featureless as an iPhone or customize it to be easier or more complex, depending on what you want.

Then saying that generally "This makes Apple the better phone." is just wrong, at least IMO.

Regarding the rest of the article, I do understand your thinking. I'm one of those people who switched from Canon DSLRs to Sony mirrorless and do not want to switch back as of right now (though I do envy the Z6 and R grips). I also understand that though, as you stated, Canon falls behind in many categories compared to their competitors, if the advantages don't matter to you, then it shouldn't affect your purchasing decision. Many people in forums like to argue that one camera is objectively the best one, but that's just not the case, mainly because every photographer is different. Though some may question why you wrote this article, I can see this lesson being a good one for people who make decisions on what other reviewers say rather than trying to figure out what's best for them and their needs.

Overall, I appreciate your work, I just didn't agree with your cell phone illustration. Maybe consider following "This makes Apple the better phone" with "for me."

Errick Jackson's picture

In regards to the time it takes for 5dsr files to play ball in Lightroom, I really have to urge you to use, as has been suggested all around this site I'm sure, Capture One Pro. I've been using an arguably pretty weak computer since my desktop died and it still flies with files from cameras such as the GFX and Phase One.

Tim Cool's picture

personally i dont choose camera based on brands, my first camera is fm2, and then eos 1, my first dslr is kodak 760, i also use a pentax 645, then i owned alot of canon and nikon dslr, each brand has it advantage and disadvantage

Jonathan Reid's picture

I was hoping that was the point of this article - choose according to your needs, not brand loyalty.

Isaac S's picture

An article on denial. Fuck Canon and fuck the the eos R

michaeljin's picture

He likes his 17mm TS lens...

Philipp Pley's picture

I only use manual focus lenses and was itching to get a mirrorless camera, tried out the EOS R and was shocked as the focus assists are so inaccurate and unreliable: Sony A7R III on the other hand lets me nail focus with ease.

Please write a follow up on how you get on with your tilt shift focusing!

Jonathan Reid's picture

Probably exactly the same as they’re manual focus lenses.

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