What Makes Us Click With Camera Brands?

What Makes Us Click With Camera Brands?

Photography is an art form that allows us to capture moments, express emotions, and tell stories. The skill of the photographer is paramount to this, but the same can be said of the camera brand that they choose to shape their vision. We are all drawn to certain camera manufacturers for our own reasons, It can be said the right tool for the job applies here. So, why do photographers prefer certain brands over others?

During your time as a photographer, I'm sure you have been asked what's the best camera and why you shoot with A, B, or C. The second question is a relatively easy one to answer; because it suits your needs. The first, however, is not so easy to answer, but this article is not aimed at that. It's ultimately aimed at providing an informative approach via your experiences for new photographers or photographers who are considering changing systems.

A Myriad of Choices

With so many systems on the market and so many choices within these systems, how do we know what we want? Fstoppers writers provide an unbiased review. We'll mention the pros and the cons and how we interacted with the gear from our own experiences to try to help you form an opinion on your next purchase. Sure, we'll have our favorites, as you all do, and personally, I've gone out and purchased some of the gear I've reviewed because it performed so well for me and my style of photography. That has been my fortunate position as a writer here; I get first-hand experience with some of it. But not everyone does, so we have to rely on reviews, recommendations, and the like to make a balanced decision for our next photographic purchase. With so many choices, how do we know which is the right one? 

My main reasons are ergonomics (size and weight), lens quality, and unique features such as the computational photography. - Ivor Rackham, Olympus user.

With the college term here in the UK coming to an end, many of the students are now considering upgrading their systems in preparation for the following semester. Yes, the old adage of "the best camera is the one you have with you" still applies, but when you have photographers who feel they have outgrown or want more from a system, how do you recommend what one to spend their money on?

Camera Brands

The systems mentioned below are systems, not the models, that I personally have owned or have used for an extensive period of time. My current setup is the Fujifilm X-T5 and the Nikon Z7 II and for different reasons. Both are excellent cameras and serve me well. 

Canon: The Workhorse for Professionals

Canon has been the long-preferred system for both professionals and amateurs. With a comprehensive range of both cameras and lenses, they provide a system that caters to everyone's photographic needs. An extensive range of lenses, excellent autofocus, and reliable performance in various conditions make them a good choice for photographers across different genres, including, sports, portrait, wildlife, and landscape. This, coupled with their strong market presence, earns them a trusted reputation in the industry.

Nikon: The Pursuit of Technical Excellence

This is another brand of choice with its robust build quality, ergonomics, and optical performance. Nikon cameras often boast exceptional dynamic range, good noise performance, and color reproduction, making them a good choice for landscape, wildlife, and studio photographers.

Sony: Pushing Technological Boundaries

With its innovative technologies, Sony has become one of the top three manufacturers considering they are a relative newcomer to the marketplace. Their cameras boast industry-leading autofocus capabilities, high-resolution sensors, and very impressive video capabilities. Sony is pushing the technological boundaries of camera technology and is attracting photographers who value cutting-edge features and performance in a compact body without compromising image quality.

Panasonic: Mastering the Art of Video

Panasonic's Lumix cameras have earned recognition from creatives who prioritize filmmaking and vlogging because of their exceptional video capabilities. Their advanced features, such as high-quality codecs, Log profiles, image stabilization, and their commitment to push video boundaries have certainly carved a niche for those for a passion for cinematic storytelling.

Fujifilm: Embracing the Legacy of Film

As a Fuji photographer myself, I really do appreciate the tactility of the cameras and the aesthetics, but that's not what makes a good photograph. Ultimately, it's the photographer and what's under the hood of the camera that do this. The company's extensive experience in film photography has influenced the development of its digital cameras, resulting in exceptional image quality and color reproduction. Their film simulations have particularly appealed to photographers who appreciate a vintage-style aesthetic. The compact size of both the camera bodies and lenses is also appealing due to their unobtrusiveness and weight. The quality of the glass and the number of third-party lenses available also make this brand a great choice.

OM System: Compact Excellence With a Focus on Photography

OM System's niche seems to be compact, lightweight cameras with great image stabilization. Their system excels in nature, wildlife, and street photography, where their compact size and maneuverability are required. Their micro four thirds system also offers portability without compromising image quality, and Olympus has a loyal following among photographers who value mobility and the innovative high-resolution mode. You can read more about OM System here from a long-time user, Ivor Rackham.

DSLR or Mirrorless?

Another point of note is whether you should consider DSLR or mirrorless. Canon and Nikon still sell DSLRs, while the other manufacturers mentioned above only sell mirrorless, with Sony being the current market leader in mirrorless sales. Personally, I went mirrorless as I see this as the way forward, but again, this is only my opinion and only barely justified by the advancements in technology. It also provided a lighter, more compact system compared to my D850 or D800. 

Extremely reliable, I can just trust them to work. - Jeffrey Tadlock, Nikon user

Many new photographers start out with a DSLR. That could be down to two things: cost and recommendation. Rightly or wrongly, I am going to make the assumption that most of you reading this article started with a DSLR or even a film camera due to availability, technology, and cost when you started photography. With current technological advances, would it not make more sense to recommend a mirrorless system today, or would you still recommend DSLR?


Ultimately, the most important aspect is to choose a camera brand that aligns with your creative vision, shooting style, and specific needs. Regardless of the brand, it's your skill as a photographer and your ability to connect with the subject that truly brings a photograph to life. I'd love to hear your opinions in the comments as to why you invested in brands A, B, or C. And although we can, as photographers, be quite opinionated and protective about our choice, I'd love it if the comments were constructive and informative so that as a community, we could help better shape someone's choice if they are new to photography or are considering swapping systems. Go on, help them out.

Gary McIntyre's picture

Gary McIntyre is a landscape photographer and digital artist based on the west coast of Scotland. As well as running photography workshops in the Glencoe region, providing online editing workshops, Gary also teaches photography and image editing at Ayrshire college.

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All the brands can match any newcomer's or pros' needs. This is click-bait!

The article asks 'I'd love it if the comments were constructive and informative so that as a community, we could help better shape someone's choice' no click-bait, nothing. It was actually appealing for an individuals own experienced opinion as to why they chose brand(s) to help further inform someone else.

At some point, the brand loyalty mostly comes from owning lenses for a certain brand and not wanting to reinvest in new lenses... Years ago, I was photographing a TV series on an ARRI Alexa and needed a small camera to shoot images to play on monitors, so got a Sony NEX6 and a number of lenses... later upgraded to A6500, etc. It's a good APS-C camera but I sometimes wish I had gotten into Fujifilm.

While much of the reason people will stick with a brand comes down to owning many lenses and other accessories that are only compatible with it, one area that can get people to switch is how a company treats customers after they have given them their money.

For example will a company pull a Nikon DSLR, and refuse to ever do firmware updates that improve performance on anything mid range and lower, or will they behave more like fujifilm and push out firmware updates for years with significant performance improvements over time.
will they revisit older cameras to fix newly discovered bugs, or will they abandon the older devices and release a new camera with essentially just a firmware fix and the same hardware.

Eventually being mistreated by a brand, will cause people to sell off old gear and switch.

As David stated, there is a financial cost to changing brands. However, this is a psychological question. Like all psychological questions, the answer is complex and nuanced. In this case, cognitive dissonance is particularly relevant.

Cognitive dissonance refers to the psychological discomfort or tension that arises when individuals hold conflicting beliefs, attitudes, or values, or when their behavior contradicts their beliefs or values. In the context of people sticking to a particular brand, cognitive dissonance can play a role in their decision-making and subsequent brand loyalty.

When individuals develop a preference for a particular brand, they often invest not only their financial resources but also their emotions and personal identity into that brand choice. This creates a sense of attachment and loyalty to the brand. As a result, individuals tend to seek out information and experiences that support their choice and reinforce their positive beliefs about the brand. This behavior is driven by the desire to avoid cognitive dissonance.

To reduce cognitive dissonance, individuals may employ several strategies:

1. Selective exposure: People may actively avoid or ignore information that contradicts their beliefs about the brand. They may seek out positive reviews or selectively interpret information to align with their existing beliefs.

2. Rationalization: Individuals may engage in rationalizing their choice by downplaying or dismissing the negative information. They might attribute the negative experience to external factors or consider it an exception rather than a reflection of the brand's overall quality.

3. Seeking confirmation: People may actively seek out information or experiences that validate their existing beliefs and reinforce their loyalty. They may join online communities or interact with like-minded individuals who share their positive views about the brand.

4. Justification: Individuals may emphasize the positive aspects of the brand and amplify its benefits in order to justify their continued loyalty. They may focus on the brand's reputation, past positive experiences, or unique features that align with their values.

Additionally, when individuals are voluntarily spending a significant amount of money on a particular brand, the effect of cognitive dissonance can be strengthened. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Financial Justification: The more money someone invests in a brand, the stronger their motivation to justify their purchase decision. High-cost purchases can create a sense of urgency to validate the expenditure, as individuals want to believe that they made a wise investment. Cognitive dissonance can arise if they encounter negative information about the brand, as it challenges their perception of making a financially sound choice. To alleviate this dissonance, they may actively seek positive information or downplay any negative aspects.

2. Perceived Value: People tend to associate higher-priced products or services with higher quality. When individuals spend a significant amount of money on a brand, they may develop a belief that it must be superior to other options. This perception of value can strengthen their commitment and loyalty to the brand. Any negative information or experiences that contradict their belief in the brand's superiority can create cognitive dissonance. To reconcile this, individuals may engage in selective exposure, seeking out positive information or dismissing negative feedback.

3. Self-Image and Status: Expensive brands can also be associated with social status, luxury, or exclusivity. When individuals make substantial financial investments in such brands, it becomes intertwined with their self-image and how they present themselves to others. Cognitive dissonance can arise if they encounter information that challenges their perception of the brand as prestigious or exclusive. To maintain their desired self-image, they may engage in strategies such as selective exposure, rationalization, or seeking confirmation to reduce dissonance and continue their loyalty.

4. Effort Justification: People tend to value things they put effort into acquiring. When individuals spend a lot of money on a brand, they may perceive their investment as an effort they made to obtain it. This effort can create a stronger attachment to the brand, making it harder to accept any negative information that contradicts their positive beliefs. Cognitive dissonance can arise if they encounter negative experiences or feedback, as it challenges the notion that their effort was worthwhile. They may employ various strategies to minimize dissonance and protect their investment.

Or, we just like the brand(s) we own.

What was it Asimov said about the cult of ignorance...

Mr Pavlich, like everyone, likes to think he's unique; I promise, he is not.

Was it Gene Simmons that said, "the world doesn't need you"?

"Mr Pavlich, like everyone, likes to think he's unique;" Everyone...so you're included? Good to know.

Yes, me included.

My wording was quite clear.

Your attempt to get under my skin is illustrative of the fact that humans tend to believe others have the same worldview, morality, and emotional drivers as they do. No, your comment didn't sting. It was however obvious; being low hanging fruit.

Or maybe you are just over analyzing everything.

Not saying you are wrong but still - wtf was that? A chatGPT quote?

Or maybe I studied psychology, and have interviewed about 10,000 people in an investigative context.

Festinger's work has been widely confirmed, and exploited by marketers.

I ran the numbers assuming that you've been interviewing for 20 years and that may be a bad assumption on my part, but I went with it. That means that you've interviewed 1.3 people per day, every day, no time off. If you've taken Saturday and Sunday off, that's 1.9 people per day, 260 days a year. May as well say 2 per day, everyday since I'm sure there were days that you didn't interview (vacations, conferences, sick days, etc). And why would I care if you interviewed 10 or 10,000?

I had a guy tell me that he strung 10,000 tennis racquets in a year. I used to own a tennis shop and my busiest year, I did about 2600, so I ran the guys numbers. In the end, 10,000 was a gross exaggeration.

So it became a bit of a hobby. 5 minutes with a calculator can produce interesting results.

My first camera was given to me by my dad. When I bought one myself, I chose the same brand simply because that's what I knew. Later, I chose another brand because I believed it to be more "professional". I explored other brands out of curiosity and others in a misguided search community. At one time or another I've owned or used nearly every camera system the exists. Finally, I've ended up with the one camera brand I long swore I would never own. Seems like this is a journey everyone is bound to take.

"Seems like this is a journey everyone is bound to take."

Not me. I picked a brand for my first brand-new camera, way back in 1977, and have stuck with it ever since.

Most of my photography happens when I travel. This typically includes landscape, cityscape, wildlife, long exposure and night photography. At home, I also do a bit of macro. For me, it’s all about image quality, ergonomics and durability/reliability. This has always led me towards Nikon from back in the SLR days. They may have been slower to develop their mirrorless line, but they now have an excellent offering of Z mirrorless bodies and lenses. Legacy lenses can also be easily adapted with improved performance over the F mount bodies.

I think a lot of it comes down to familiarity and comfort. I’m familiar with Nikon and am confident that their cameras and lenses will not let me down regardless of the situation. I’m assume they are not necessarily unique in this regard, but they have earned my trust over the years.

I’ve tried Canon, but didn't care for their menu system. Sony was even worse for me. I used Fuji for travel for many years, but replaced it when Nikon came out with their crop sensor mirrorless bodies. I also recently tried the OM-1 with 100-400 to see how it performed for bird photography. It was good, but not compelling enough to make me switch.

My suggestion to anyone looking to invest in gear would be to rent before buying and spend time using the camera in different situations. While all the brands will allow you to create excellent images, none of them are perfect, so you will have to decide what features are most important to you. If you don’t like reading manuals, there are lots of great how-to videos out there to get you started.

My $0.02.

Ann Arbor, MI

Mirrorless cameras have solved many annoyances that have plagued DSLRs, especially in the lower end range where looser tolerances and not allowing AF calibration on the entry level have lead to many image focusing issues. Since the phase detect happens at the sensor level, users are unlikely to encounter front or back focusing due to loose manufacturing tolerances. Sadly the pricing has gotten out of control even though the BOM + manufacturing costs are lower.

cost vs performance for me. Nikon had that in spades for a looong time until the mirrorless wars really kicked off and they jumped in the fray with a cap gun from the dollar store while Sony came in with A-10 wart hogs and canon and Fuji were firing howitzers. I primarily shot Nikon for the past 15 years until they started releasing their mirrorless cameras, So instead I added Fuji cameras to my gear bag. They are smaller, lighter, cheaper, and provided similar image quality with better colors straight out of camera. My Fuji files require less work which save me loads of time in post. I have multiple Fuji cameras now and they're great. I still have my nikon dslrs/lenses because they are still reliable and work but Nikon drug their feet for too long before releasing anything worth upgrading too that their competition didn't have a large lead on them in the same price brackets. It's like they pumped out cameras just to say "hey guys we know ya'll like mirrorless so here's the Z mount and we'll figure out something actually worth upgrading to later but for now spend thousands on our par for the course products". Then FINALLY they release the Z9 and the Z8. Now they need to start trickling those focus systems and global shutters down to their Z6 and Z7 line of cameras. I'm actually kind of pissed at the quality of their F mount 14-24mm f2.8. I payed a bunch of money for that lens to replace the Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 g because it's wider and supposedly one of the kings of wide angle sharpness. The 14-24mm was soft as hell and had purple fringing galore. The vastly cheaper 18-35mm I have is far sharper, lighter, and controls purple fringing and flares much better. It's also superior in contrast too. Distortion was about the same on both. The only thing the 14-24 has over the 18-35 is a wider focal length. If any of you are planning buying one of those Nikon F-mount lenses, Don't get the 14-24mm f2.8G. Even My Fuji 18-55mm kit lens is better. Honestly The fuji 18-55 is one of my favorite lenses ever.

Yeah me too! I always heard nothing but good things about it! It's entirely possible I got a bad copy though. Sadly it's left a pretty sour taste in my mouth for that lens.

Wow, I am so glad to know that I'm not the only one who loves both Fuji and Nikon. I like to carry Fuji since it is compact but the workhorse is the reliable and fast Nikon. I 've found both cameras to be very consistent with each other. Oh I have X-T3 and D750 but may upgrade the Nikon eventually.

I've been shooting weddings since 2010. Im very brand agnostic. I just want the best tool for the job. I started on a Canon point and shoot and then upgraded into Canon DSLRs. After a few years, I switched to Nikon because their DSLRs had way better AF and shadow recovery. I stayed with the Nikon D750 for 7 years and last year I switched brands again into the Sony A7iv.

For personal use and travel I've had Fujis, Ricohs and Canon 1 inch sensor P&S.

Sadly I don't love any brand. I like many features, but no brand has given a complete satisfactory experience. Nikon has been the best of them in my experience.

I dream to see a camera that combines the best of every brand:

-Easy and well designed User interface
-LCD quality
-Double exposure implementation
-Touch screen snappynes

-The ability to install custom LUTs in camera for video and JPGs

-Best features for the money
-RAW colors

-Great JPG settings and Film Simulations
-Love that you can set 3 different Auto ISO settings
-Beautiful designed cameras

-Extensive Button customability
-Mobile App to transfer photos (they have the best one with Canon)

The convoluted header image is made up of the brands you mention. Unfortunately ergonomically it might not work though :)

Holy moly. The d750 is already 7 years old? Boy howdy time flies. What do you like about canons multiple exposure implementation over the other brands?

Really appreciate the varied comments and explanations as to why or your journey's through your photography.

I've just been reminded that I really don't like most photographers.

You don't have to have an IQ above room temperature to press a shutter button.

I like a camera that is exciting and different, stylish and sturdy! And a bit of a challenge!

The Sigma DP3 Quattro with its magical Foveon sensor is no longer easily available, but it is one such camera.

And don't forget manufacturers who provide excellent service!

I have always received prompt and thoughtful help from Sigma whenever I made an inquiry or asked for special assistance.

Sigma is certainly a brand to follow-- I love reading news about it!

Thank you for the article!

Let's turn your question on its head somewhat...

You've been given a generic camera lens (let's say a 50mm, 1.7), and a camera body, with EXACTLY the same grip, functions, sensor size, etc), which camera body are you going to use to take a shot with?

Here's where it gets interesting - my answer would be PENTAX. This choice is based purely upon user experience, reputation, etc.

There is no "right or wrong" answer - we are influenced by advertising, more than global reputation these days. It follows that if, say, Canon spend more money on advertising, as opposed to Ricoh, most people will opt for a Canon camera, since it has "put itself out there". It doesn't neccessarily follow that, because Ricoh aren't as much "in your face, that their camera equipment is "crap". A "blind" test would determine what is "best" for a particular user. If, as an individual, we are happy with tbe results, thats all that matters, surely?

I started photography with the Canon A-1 in 1980. At the time, besides offering aperture priority, as other brands offered, it also offered shutter priority. When I went digital, I could've switched brands since Canon changed their mount from FD to EF. But I stayed with Canon and bought their 5D III.

Gary McIntyre asked,

"What Makes Us Click With Camera Brands?"

A corporate mindset that does not seem to be all about profits. A brand that wants to give its clientele freedom of choice, and not coerce them into buying things that make the company more profit. A company who is find with 3rd party brands being used in conjunction with their gear. A company who designs gear with the photographers needs in mind, and does not worry about a product being so good that it will cannibalize sales of other more expensive products.

That is what makes me "click with" a camera brand.

It is also why I have abandoned Canon and will not ever buy another product from Canon.

Amans muh dude.

Chris Rogers typed:

"Amans muh dude."

Chris, I have no idea what that means. But if it is good, thank you. If it is bad, you're certainly entitled to your opinion.