Ditch the Rest! Is Nikon the Way Forward?

Our allegiance to the big camera companies is weird, isn't it? Sometimes, it's a real badge of honor. Other times, well, I'm a little "meh" about the whole thing. Nikon reds pitched up against Canon reds, in a technical tug-of-war? Stripped to the waist and battling it out to the death? Side-by-side comparisons and sensor wars? Not for me, my friend. If you think I'm going to type out 300+ words on as painfully contrived a topic as Canon versus Nikon, you're wrong. Kind of. 

My first camera kit purchase, when stepping into the world of professional photography, was a Nikon D600. I went with Nikon, because it was the cheaper option at the time and because I didn't envision a world where video would become the unruly overlord of all things digital. It wasn't me then and isn't me now. The 5D Mark II was around at that time, I believe, and crikey, was it pricey. So, it was a nope from me. I wanted a full frame and high enough quality to edit and make it look like I knew what I was doing. The D600 was shortly thereafter recalled because of grease marks leaking onto the sensor, which was so much fun! Nevertheless, I've stuck with Nikon ever since, and moreover, I've stuck to DSLR. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I feel the pull of mirrorless. It calls to me from beyond. I'm 35. Do you think I don't want a lighter body swinging around my neck during eight hours of shooting? I'm also increasingly aware of looking like a bit of a tool taking the D850 on holiday, particularly with a 14-24mm strapped to the front, erupting into the world around me like some enormous compensation tactic. Fitting it into a nice, fashionable, manageable bag with my water and book? Forget it. It's slung around me like a techy sash, the business end letting me know it's there via the odd clang against a railing or thud of a passerby's ribcage. Or, it's dropped perilously into the bottom of a rucksack and doesn't come out again because I frankly can't be bothered with the hassle. 

But, like many others, I love DSLR. And boy oh boy, do I love the D850. There will come a time when it starts to fade and fail me (far more likely that I will fail it — that thing is a powerhouse of a workhorse), and I will likely jump ship or just get a backup for shooting nice European bridges when away.

Anyway, here is Joanie Simon explaining more eloquently and sensibly than I ever could why she jumped over first to Nikon and then to the Z7. I think what is interesting here is that we assume we should change up, move over, improve, upgrade, whatever you want to call it, because it will allow us to be better at what we do. But at the level of the top-end DSLR and mirrorless camera bodies, that's just not the case. It becomes about preference and usability. Simon sheds light on why these changes worked for her workflow in the realm of studio food photography, and this is fascinating to hear, rather than simply going through all the usual chewy tech stuff. 

It's absolutely worth a watch no matter what your preference. Let me know what you're using below.

Michael Barrow's picture

I'm a food and lifestyle photographer, currently living and working in London.

I’ve worked as a writer and educator in photography and maintain a deep and unhealthy relationship with food and cooking. As such you’ll always find me in the kitchen at parties.

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I don't see why color is a problem unless one is shooting jpeg. I would think most pros would be shooting Raw,
I can shoot under the same Light and the same setting with three different cameras and sensors and I can match the colors in LR If I have shot them in Raw! Now jpeg's a different story, There, I think Fuji is the best SOOC.

You are not wrong but I spent too much time to get a good skin tone on the Sony cameras that took me seconds on my nikon. Work flow time is a big consideration for me. So I just stuck with nikon.

If you use Capture One, there are Nikon specific color profiles that look significantly different than Canon, Sony, or anything else that only has the ProStandard or Generic options.

It is the key reason I shoot Nikon too. Color is simply better than the competition in Capture One.

I've been a Nikon shooter for about as long as you've been alive, but it's only because of the ergos. Canon makes great cameras and killer lenses, as do other companies, but I just don't like the ergos with them. I just wish companies would come out with versions of their cameras that are just for still shooters- I have no need for video, and that really jacks the price up.

Yes, I hate paying for video technology I'll never use. But I guess that's the way it's going to be.

Meanwhile, my wife and I will continue to take great pictures that wow our friends and family with our Pentax and continue to use our phones for video. Because it works for us and items that are often described as 'the best' are often only marginally so and no one but fanatics even notice.

A lifetime ago I discovered something interesting when I was selling stereos and speakers. That for only a very small minority of fanatical customers, functionally and cost were far more important than having the best. Because when they get it home and can't compare it to other models, it works just fine for their needs.

My hat's off to the small minority of people that can instantly spot differences in photos. I'm not one of them so good enough is all I need. And my ego isn't so large that I can handle not having the best.

Thanks for the article, the information was useful

RAW editing software also plays part in the initial colors. I guarantee, the raw files' colors will not look the same if viewed in Capture One and Lightroom. Sometimes, sometimes, it may be cheaper to switch software instead of switching camera brands. :)

I logged in to say the same thing.

A) this video is a year old, so don't bother spend 10 mins composing a comment like I did... lol B) this video makes no mention of whether she is shooting in raw or jpg (I assume it's raw) or what software she uses (looks like Capture One, at least for tethering). Assuming you shoot raw, software is going to play a huge difference in how the colors come out. I don't really care for the Adobe profiles, whether they are 'Adobe color' or 'camera standard'. None of the adobe profiles look like what the camera produces (which you can see shooting raw+jpg). I got the colors I was looking for from my canons by buying an overpriced color chart and using the x-rite software to generated a custom profile. 99% of the time its what I start with when editing. So maybe that color checker wasn't as overpriced as I thought...

I cannot see why spending so much to change from one camera system to another for such little gain and in my view a very subjective gain is madness. Being she is a food photographer, there is no gain in a mirrorless camera. This is gear change for the sake of it. This video is very relevant... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQQreysGn-o

Sony has a crop mode as well. Has done for many years. Same goes for Panasonic. Also, I thought that Nikon introduced DX shooting earlier than that... Could be wrong, I was a Canon shooter.

I never use crop-mode since I've only got 42mpix to play with, but the A7R5 can capture 68mpix at just as high a frame rate (higher I think) if frame rate is the concern.

What's the issue with shooting high mpix images? Storage is pretty cheap these days, or is it the time it takes to generate previews?

I'm not an event shooter, but I can still shoot 1000-2000 a day if doing wildlife or cultural events - For me, I let LR start importing and generating 1:1 previews then go make a tea or coffee. Obviously I'd love it if LR was capable of using GPU acceleration to generate previews, but that's not how it is...

I think Paul is suggesting that Nikon is giving the option to shoot 22MP in Full Frame RAW (i.e smaller RAW size)? Crop mode is fairly common, but none of the cameras I've used has what he's suggesting. In that case, Nikon definitely needs to do a better job of marketing it, because I can see how that would be useful.

I'm a hybrid shooter, which I realize is a dirty word to a lot of people. But I welcome a smaller file size. And from my experience, some companies want *everything*. "Did you get...?" is a common phrase. If it's timely content or corporate brand material at an event, there were cases where I'd transfer a whole card to a Dropbox, so a remote editor could start on it. Usually JPEG is enough, but a lot of these events have horrendous lighting too.

There's the option to resize in post, but there's no post for me in those cases. And that's just another step that eats time if you're frequently having to do it.

Others have it as well. Sony a1 for example: large is 50mp, medium 21mp and small 12mp.

The D850 is ok but painfully outdated.
The AF and speed are way behind. Even the Z9 struggles to keep up with Sony and especially Canon. When you see the R5, a third tier down camera, being cognitively and favorably being compared to the Z9 now that is all you need to know.
I waited and got the R7 as it is far superior to any APS-C from Sony or Nikon. Far better IQ and IBIS. I can use ALL EF and EF-S lenses with no loss of features no matter how old. I gain new features on them with the control ring that no F lens can do. Finally it works amazingly well with ALL my R, FL and FD lenses.
PS, the Z9 only shoots fast in extremely low resolution JPEGS.

Just signed up to post this.

What am I using? A modern camera. I think we come to a point where gear is discussed way too much. And colour.

I've been photographing for 30 years, 20 digital. Some years professionally, now mostly for fun.

My basic message? Our onlookers, can't tell differences in gear and colour we fret about. I've literally never had anyone tell me whitebalance is off or with what camera a single picture was taken with. There is usually a lot more latitute in what customers will tolerate then we think. Important is that they like what they see. That has almost nothing to do with exact gear or exact colour.

If you show me random photos I took over the years, I can usually tell if I took the shot or not (not always). I can also tell if it was a good photograph, and if I like the colours or not.

But with exception of some really big leaps in camera and processing tech in the earliest years, I usually cannot tell which body, which lens and which sw was used!! Unless I literally remember, which I don't anymore for the majority (no cheating allowed).

Not to say gear doesn't matter, could be very well I cursed the limits of my gear for a particular shot or put waaaay too much work with now literally stupid sw. Things move on!

But looking back, no it doesn't matter far as much as the time many seemingly put into it. I took great photos with gear I would think is pretty awful today....

Neither does one need to obess about colour, now with modern stuff, I more often then not end up liking the sooc jpg colours better then putting much time in post for a difference most people don't even notice. Or for effect, apply the same filters on the lot and maybe correct some for consistency but don't over think it. Not that it matters, some great photographers of the past didn't care too much either about some colour cast here and there it seems...

These realisations remind me to just go out and shoot, enjoy it, be free from obsessing about details and instead 'see the big picture', and all the great things one could have done, photography or otherwise, instead of researching every last lens or body out there to be sure you the 'best one'.

And I've been pretty good at being minimallistic with gear and GAS, I 'check' the market every few years and only consider changing gear when there are 'leap frog' improvements which I usually stumble apon as other photographers will inevitably tell you! And I use those to make my creative life easier, rather then having to (technically) maximise every possible shot I could take with the last drop of sharpness, low iso, colour accuracy. Law of diminishing returns apply.

I think I am writing this also because my current 'market check' is drawing me in harder then ever, vids/ads/article suggestions on everything are really working hard on making this stuff very addictive. When before I could just wonder off, it seems I need to actively check out and remove recommendations.

So don't forget to 'check out' and just use whatever tools you have without fear of missing out - in fact, you are doing the exact opposite then.

Happy shooting ;)

I agree that non photographers don't notice, but that being said, there's nothing wrong with we the photographers enjoying what a new and improved bit of gear helps us achieve, even if a non photographer will never notice it.

Well, depends for who. I am long term Canon user and I've made switch to Sony. From EOS R to a7IV. I never be happier and first time I have system with I am fully satisfied. Fantastic AF, beautiful colors, great control customization, best on the market sensor and one very important thing - OPEN SYSTEM. I will never go to a closed system again. I want to have full freedom to choose all AF optics I want and dont want to be limited by my brend.
Also Sony lens are smallest and lightest on the market without compromise in optical quality. So, Sony is by far the best system for me.

Back in the 'day' as in the late 60's Nikon was the thing if you were a news photographer. Started buying their lens then and still have some of them. They fit on everything up till the Z series and now with an adapter still work. I've stayed with Nikon because they work no matter the conditions. Just back from Ukraine and knew there would be no second chance on some images, so 2 Z9's and a lens each, got what I wanted. And yea the video adds to the price, but 8k on my Samsung 23 ultra does just fine.
Works for me, your milage might be different... :-]

IMHO, results are primarily a function of the photographer and not the equipment. That being said, Nikon seems to be more open with their software. In the past, I compared Photoshop with Camera Raw and Canon's proprietary software Digital Photo Professional, and felt Canon's software did a better job. Today I used an employer's 70D but I can't get a newer version of Digital Photo Professional because I don't own the camera. Correct me if I'm wrong Nikon users, but can you easily get the needed Nikon software for your job? I checked the Nikon website, and it appears there aren't any barriers, unlike Canon. A friend was shooting with a Nikon and I noticed the Nikon would automatically adjust ISO unlike the 70D. We were both shooting existing light, you set the shutter speed to be fast enough and hope the lens aperture is wide enough. To ensure proper exposure I upped the ISO manually. I noticed the Nikon would automatically up the ISO. My point being, that factors like workflow, availability of software, ease of use of the camera and software, etc. may be more important than bodies and lenses per se.