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
Andrew Odame's picture

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

Jonathan Reid's picture

If architecture is your passion, I would save up a little more. Honestly, you can get by in architecture with most cameras, but you will need a specialist lens and they’re not really available for under $1000. Don’t make my mistake. I first went cheap and bought a 3rd party tilt shift lens. The barrel distortion was so bad, I had to replace it. If I were you, I’d go with a cheap second hand body (maybe the Sony A7R2) with a Canon 24TSE

Andrew Odame's picture

Thank you for your reply, I appreciate it.

Also, what do you think about the canon 80D for the same architecture?

Jonathan Reid's picture

I think it is worth your while to go straight to a full frame camera if you wan't to be an architectural photographer. The 80D is not a full frame camera and doesn't have access to the same lenses.

Bryan scooby Miranda's picture

you chose canon cause, your already a canon fan, already have all canon lenses, and mostly dont want to spend more money for different lenses

Jonathan Reid's picture

Partly for the lenses, but remember, my client are buying lenses. The fact that no other company makes a 17tse is quite compelling. In terms of being a Canon fan, before this excercise, I was completely fed up and dissolutioned with Canon. The reason I wrote this article is that I was surprised to have chosen Canon. Objectively, the EOS R is the best camera for my job. I totally get that for others, it will be another camera, but most architectural photographers agree with me.

Am I a fan of Canon? I’d like to think that brand doesn’t matter for me and I choose the best tool for the job, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

Thomas Brown's picture

The cognitive dissonance of this article is astounding!

vin weathermon's picture

A thoughtful, well-written article about the photographer's decision-making process seems to elicit the most fervent, never-been-a-professional-photographer-but-proud-of-their-technology-choices crowd. Hard to read such pointless commentary. Thanks to the author for trying to do a good thing regardless of the audience's sad behavior.

Logan Sorenson's picture

Haha. The comments are so fucking salty... If you don't want to use Canon? Awesome. The title and content was "Why I chose..." Not "how I make the best of" ... "How I cope" ... "Learning to live with" ...
😂 Calm it down. How do you get through your day? ...

Isaac S's picture

Dude. You're in denial. No need to write about it.

Joe Clark's picture

Hey Jonathan, I've been using a7r with shift lenses via metabones for some years now. What I'm curious about with your Eos R experience would actually be the ergonomic side of things.

Using the metabones with the rrs l bracket the weight was balanced on the adapter. This feels nice with the 24 and 17mm. How does the R feel? Do you use an L plate? How is the cable release experience?

Pretty basic I know, but important to me. I'd love to see a follow-up focusing on your set up and the more nuts and bolts aspects of using the system for architecture, for example, which focusing aids you find yourself using etc. Also pictures of your rig(!)


Jonathan Reid's picture

Thanks Joe, I’ll do a follow up article sometime as I’m happy with my decision. The tricky part is finding images to share as I can’t use images taken for work.

Joe Clark's picture

That's an interesting question in itself. Do your clients demand an exclusive licence?

Gary B's picture

Stumbled across this article today. I am glued to Nikon for exact same reason of having and using tilt-shift lenses. However, Canon users have adapters for Sony and now Panasonic S1/R (looks like it wasn't available at the time of the article) while Nikon t/s apertures are operable only when on their own bodies. This is very unfortunate as I'd love to try the S1R. There's a great article about using it with Canon lenses via Sigma adapter: http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/using-the-panasonic-s1r/