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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191 Comments

Previous comments
Philipp Pley's picture

Try out the accuracy of the peaking and that focus green square with the direction arrows, and brace yourself for disappointment. Using the 10x magnifier works as good as ever though.

I chose Canon back in the days of the 10D.
After that my collection of lenses and the seesaw of competition between Canon and Nikon meant that I stayed with Canon.
I completely agree that Canon sensors have not kept pace with Nikon. However, at the point when they started falling back, the sensors were so good I did not miss the improvements in the competition.

I admit feeling worried by the shouts of hosannas from Sony and Nikon users about the DR of their sensors, but when I borrowed a Sony A7RII for testing I found that while the DR was indeed better, it was not a difference that warranted a change and one that no client would ever see.

The 30MP sensor is a nice improvement over the previous generation but in truth, the subjective operational improvements of the 5DmkIV were more meaningful to my work.

I acquired an R after reading about it and trying it in the camera shop. I am an architectural photographer with a certain amount of corporate portraiture business. For me the major attraction was the wicked accurate AF of mirrorless and the low light AF performance. It is smaller and lighter but as I work on a tripod this is not very relevant.
Adapted lenses work perfectly and as the author noted, no one makes a 17TS-E and the 11-24 Canon lens is shockingly sharp.
I use a CamRanger with my cameras and the USB-C connector is far better than the flaky USB-3 connector on the DSLRs. I do wish Canon made better software for their WiFi as I would then ditch the Camranger altogether.

Overall, I like the R a lot but the controls and customisability requires a lot of learning. I also expect firmware updates will solve some bugs in the system.
At bottom, any camera today is capable of delivering superb results to a client. The partisanship of brands is overwrought as no brand will transform mediocre to magnificent by sheer force of hardware.

FFS how many times do u guys need to milk such clickbaity headline.

I had to pay for my own, but I also had the opportunity to go with a new system recently.

Your decision is not surprise at all, considering your interest in architectural photography, which is also my primary interest. I'm just a real estate hack, but for architectural photography, the first and most important question is what will work best with the TSE 17mm.

Since it's manual focus, it might adapt easier than an auto focus lens, but how can there not be any difference?

Sony is the undisputed leader in dynamic range and random electronic gadgetry and the best system for many, particularly those who will only use basic lenses and don't beat up the camera too much. They can't touch Canon in optics, particularly exotic optics, ergonomics, color, toughness, reliability, service, and once again, with the EOS R, single point and low light focusing.

"They can't touch Canon in....single point and low light focusing"? lol

"When i am so insecure about my choices that i have to make a dumb article"...that is a better title. Or maybe " why i pay more for a lesser product: a fanboy confession".

Jonathan Reid's picture

If you read this and thought I was a fan boy, your comprehension skills are as good as your comments

Fritz Asuro's picture

If you like a certain camera brand, there's no need to defend or write about it. Each and everyone has their own preference - that simple. No matter what you excuse for loving Canon, a photographer from a different brand most likely won't care unless they're starting to lose interest on their equipment due to lack of features.

I am currently using Nikon, Canon, and Sony, I'm gonna be honest, I couldn't give a damn which camera brand is better - I focus on which camera can do the job based on the project I'm working at.

Jonathan Reid's picture

Is that what you got from the article - that I love Canon? I blatantly state that I was desperate to move to another brand because of how Canon is lagging.

worst part is you state all the limitations of the eos r, then write an exhaustive piece on how you ended up choosing canon. worse than fan-boi-ism. is your next car a pinto?

I think, if you're already a Canon user with lots of Canon glass, batteries, and/or sperdlights, the EOS R is a far more visble option than any other system. Neither Canon RF or Nikon Z offer a full native system yet. Which RF lenses did you get with the new system?

Jonathan Reid's picture

I’m still undecided with the lenses, but I think I’ll go 17mm TSE, 24m TSE and the RF 24-105mm for the flexibility

I came from decades of shooting Canon and I too left them because they stopped innovating. They have still continued this insane trajectory with the R camera. Now you embrace the very reason you left Canon. I have to tell you that's a real head scratcher. But hey if you are happy with the subpar mirrorless iteration Canon has come up with so be it and enjoy. If features that should be in the camera but are not it's a great fit for someone like you that does not need them. Looks like Canon has hit the sweet spot of mediocre.

this is what puzzles me about the whole article: "Now you embrace the very reason you left Canon"

while i did not have a client offer to buy me gear for the second time i had the option of staying with nikon, or switching to canon or sony.

i did not choose sony because of 1.8 crop, bad iso, bad tracking...

if i did i'm sure there will always be a place for an article on fstoppers...

Really?!?! This would be funny if it wasnt sad...

You dont need good high iso perfomance?
You dont need ibis?

Man go buy an good point and shoot and you are all set. And make it a canon at that.

R u sure this isnt a canon advertorial?

Ps. I am a canon user for the last 25 years. Was hoping to continue to be one, but now that i would need to adapt lenses and invest in a new mount, canon is not even in the list of choices.

Even if they had a competive product i would switch. Reason being is that they proved beyound any doubt that they would innovate only if they have to, not because it is in their dna anymore. Long gone is the canon who was opening the road for the rest to follow.

Jonathan Reid's picture

This wasn’t a defence of the Canon brand. The article was about “how the best camera for you” is based on your specific needs, not on the overall best performer according to reviewers.

As I also mentioned in the article, I used the Sony A7RII for an entire year before going back to Canon. I think I’m qualified to comment on the real world usability of 5axis stabilisation and ridiculously high ISO performance. In the entire year that I used the Sony, I turned off image stabilisation as I was on a tripod and I never needed to shoot over iso 3200.

just shoot film already man...

Fair reasons to pick the Canon. I hope you have a good time using it. As for your comparison between Android and iOS... Way to open a can of worms for no reason.

Jonathan Reid's picture

Haha, I thought it was a good analogy, but in hindsight, mentioning Canon, Nikon, Apple and Android in the same article is asking for trouble

Z K-P's picture

LOL what a joke of an article. And after reading the article, yes you are going to regret this decision.I just moved from Canon to Sony A7III and the Metabones V is amazing now. Sadly you based your decision on an A7II and some unnamed adapter. Having used my 70-200 F2.8L on Safari in Kenya recently I can tell you you made a huge mistake.

Capturing high FPS shots using that lens and the A7III was amazing. Focus is fast even the eyefocus works well.

Pro tip, if you can send the Canon back, do it.

Jonathan Reid's picture

My unnamed adaptor was the Metabones V. As I stated in the article, the adaptor worked well with 5 of my 7 lenses. It was my ultra wide lenses that caused the trouble. I can also see from your comment that we're completely different photographers. If I was a wildlife photographer, I wouldn't hesitate for a second moving over to Sony, however, for my needs, it was an even race between the Canon and the Nikon. I was completely surprised that the Canon became my first choice as I am quite anti Canon. That is why I chose to write an article about the process. It's important to consider your own needs and not the generic needs of the vloggers when buying a new camera.

Z K-P's picture

No vloggers determined my decision. Specs, ease of use, performance, features and picture quality were the factors. And I've shot Canon for literally decades. I tried both cameras and sorry but regardless of what you are calling your 'needs' the Canon does not hold a candle to the Sony. Canon missed the mark widely with this release.

I would rather have equipment that can handle situations that might crop up, rather than just buy something that only satisfies a narrow band of application. It is like buying a car without AC. One day it will be hot and you will want that feature badly. Why wouldn't you cover all bases?

Can I ask did Canon pay you for this article? Because you seem to be jumping in with replies to people, and normally authors don't do that for no reason.

Jonathan Reid's picture

I always reply, go look through my previous articles. If Canon were paying me, I’d probably lose the deal after this article that openly derides their recent decisions.

Regarding your AC example, some people buy track day cars without an AC as the weight saving helps them go faster. As I said in a previous reply to you, if I were another type of photographer, I’d have gone with a different camera, but for my specific needs, the EOS R is the best camera to meet them. You haven’t given me even one point that suggests otherwise. All you’ve done is told me about your needs, and we can agree that for your needs, the Sony is best.

As a side, before I posted this article, I asked which system people think is best for architectural photography in 2019 in the Fstoppers architectural photography group and the majority listed Canon.

Jan Kruize's picture

Oh yes ZKP.... i see it image quality of the sony is much better. I see it in the pictures you have in here..... oh.... wait...

Z K-P's picture

I've never used this site before today. Doesn't seem that impressive honestly, going by comments like yours. This article brought me in from Google news. And so far it looks like advertising or worse.

I love my EOS R! The only thing I wish for is faster shooting in servo mode. I also wish I could use the Bluetooth remote and smartphone connection simultaneously. It sucks to have to pick one or the other. And I miss the GPS of my last Canon. Otherwise, I think they nailed things so well. It's very balanced as a camera. The pics are very easy and fast to edit. The UI and touchscreen are amazing. The funny thing is I had a lot of Canon muscle memory. But the EOS R really is different and part of the reason it's really different is that you can completely customize it. Like everything is adjustable. Which means you can set up your camera to be completely foreign to people (but making it perfectly tailored to your workflow). So when I was totally comfortable with the R, going back to my older Canon gear, it took me a bit to remember how to do things.

Z K-P's picture

Jonathan Reid:

"I do not require the following:

4K video
5-axis stabilization
Extreme ISO performance"

That is until a client wants some slick B roll, or low key 'art' shots of a building feature or art installation. Just discounting the need for 4K is blowing my mind. You are saying you will never shoot video? Really? When a client asks for it, and they will, will you tell them sorry, I don't do that. Really?

Jonathan Reid's picture

This wasn’t clear in the article, but the requirements I listed (not needing 4K, etc) is specifically for the client buying the camera. If another client requests 4K, I’ll use my 1DX Mark II. If I need to shoot “artsy” video, I’ll use my gimbal. Those features that the EOS R lacks are a nice to have but they’re not as compelling as the features that influenced me to choose the EOS R.

Z K-P's picture

Since the question has been ignored a few times now from what I can see..

DID CANON PAY YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE?

Jonathan Reid's picture

You accused me of taking Canons money and said that it’s because I’m replying to comments and then get annoyed that I’m taking too long to reply to you?! No, I’m not getting paid by Canon. I make 100% of my income from photography - not from endorsement deals, workshops or photo tours.

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