Why I Won't Buy a Canon Camera

Why I Won't Buy a Canon Camera

They make good cameras. But I won't buy a Canon.

That was the advice given to me by my photography mentor many years ago. My opinion is that it still holds true today.

Why Won't I Buy a Canon?

Are They Bad Cameras?

All the known brands make great cameras, Canon included. Held against a good eye, they are all capable of taking great pictures. That notwithstanding, just like any mass-produced item, they can have their faults.

Google search: the mirror falling out of the 5D Mark II, the 70D motherboard burning out, the EOS R5 overheating, the chemical reaction of the Rebel 4Ti (650D) rubber grips that changes the grips from black to white, resulting in a risk of skin irritation.

But that’s not my reasoning. I am sure you can find a long history of common faults with most other cameras too. Look online, and you’ll find issues with Nikon, Sony, and any other product too.

Canon 5D Mark III

Canon 5D Mark III

Is It the Ergonomics?

Several years ago, I had my heart set on buying a 5D Mark III. It seemed a good choice. Several friends, all accomplished photographers, owned them. Indeed, it has since become regarded a classic digital camera and for good reason. With my big hands, I thought it would be perfect for me. However, in the camera shop, I found it heavy and unwieldy, and my fingers could not comfortably reach the buttons.

I’m always advising my clients to buy cameras based on ergonomics, because any model made by the known brands can produce great results once you learn to use them. So, making sure the camera is comfortable to carry and shoot with is one of the most important considerations when choosing your purchase.

But what doesn’t fit my hands might be quite comfortable in yours. So, that isn’t the reason why I suggest you should not buy a Canon. 

Is It Their Attitude?

Nor is my advice not to buy Canon based upon the bad-mouthing of other companies by its supporters. That seems to be the modus operandi of various Canon users in online forums and blogs. Of course, that behavior is not limited to their fans; other brand flag-wavers do it too. However, if there is one thing that will make me turn my back on a business, it is when they put down their competitors to make themselves look good.

In January, Canon’s CEO, Fujio Mitarai, reportedly took a snipe at JIP’s ability to turn the Olympus Cameras business around, despite JIP having successes at transforming other businesses in its portfolio. For me, that is dishonorable behavior and would turn me off any business.

How About the Environment?

Is it to do with the environmental impact of the business?

Company-wide, Canon claims their environmental impact is low, They do indeed have far-reaching environmental policies with targets. And they claim to have met their CO2 emissions reduction of each product of 3%, with a total reduction of 40% over eleven years. Nevertheless, this does not mean the company is carbon-neutral. In their last report of 2019, they declared they were still producing 7.1 million tons of CO2 per annum. To put that into perspective, over a hundred years, a tree would absorb one toe of CO2; it would therefore take over 700,000,000 trees to absorb Canon's emissions each year.

Canon makes a lot of noise for having met CDP’s A list for water and climate change, but if you look at the other big brands like Nikon, Olympus, and Sony, they achieved this last year too.

Lots of major companies have environmental policies where they pay lip service to conservation, climate change, modern slavery, and shunning extreme politics. According to the camera industry's last Ethical Consumer report, looking at the environment, people, animals, and politics, Canon is near the bottom of their table with a score of just 4.5 out of 20.

Saying that, the entire industry isn’t squeaky clean. Fujifilm also scores 4.5 out of 20. Sony, Nikon, and Olympus all score only slightly better at 5.5. Meanwhile, Leica, Pentax, and Hasselblad score 7.5, and Sigma scored 9 out of 20. Right at the bottom of the current manufacturers is Lumix, scoring an abysmal 4 out of 20. Nikon and Leica were singled out for both actively promoting trophy hunting.

Ethical Consumer says that no camera company was eligible for their Best Buy label and recommended purchasing a secondhand camera instead:

To avoid companies with links to either surveillance or trophy hunting, we would recommend buying from Sigma, Hasselblad, or Olympus (some cheaper options) for DSLR and mirrorless cameras.

Is the Canon Range Too Big?

A large range of similar products is environmentally bad, using more resources, producing more carbon dioxide in the manufacturing process, and making recycling more difficult. Canon currently has 26 models of interchangeable lens cameras, second only to Sony’s bewildering range of 28. Having lots of models is clearly good for sales, but it’s bad for the planet. Additionally, having too much consumer choice is bad for our mental health.

Screenshot of Canon's DSLR range available at B&H

Screenshot of Canon's DSLR range available at B&H

Three Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Canon

Despite all of those good and bad points about the brand that equally apply to its closest competitors, I have three reasons why you really shouldn’t buy a Canon: they are commonplace, boring, and ugly.

Commonplace

Last time you visited an event with lots of photographers, did any single Canon camera jump out as being unique? The only thing that makes them noticeable is their ubiquity. Everyone’s got one. They are to photography what Opel Vectras were to the automotive industry: a car that sold loads, won lots of awards, and was as exciting as a lunchtime conversation at the annual bus-spotters convention. You have a Canon around your neck, it says you are a sheep following the crowd.

Boring

If you place a Canon side by side with an equivalent Nikon or Sony, there’s not much to choose from in their designs. Just as many cars now look the same, their cameras are boringly similar. Visualize spray-painting their bodies beige, and that would make them less mundane. Please don’t try doing it for real; you’ll damage the camera!

Ugly

Let’s face it, most popular or top cameras are not things of beauty. I wonder whether Canon, Sony, and Nikon thwack their cameras with the ugly stick during manufacturing? Sorry, Panasonic Lumix, your cameras are not exactly beautiful either, although you are a long way from the pug-ugly old Sony NEX range. Pentax, you won’t win second prize in a beauty contest and collect $10 either.

Canon and Nikon side by side. Ugly lumps or works of art?

Compare the design of Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras with those of Fuji, Leica, or Olympus. The latter three manufacturers produce models that stand out from the crowd. They are works of art themselves.

Is that important? Absolutely! Artists should surround themselves with beautiful things that inspire. There is nothing inspiring about the generic shapelessness of most modern cameras. Compare the blobby lump of the 5D Mark IV with the beguiling shapes of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, a thing of beauty. Even Olympus' professional-end OM-D E-M1 Mark III, which although a bit more utilitarian in design, oozes sexiness when paired with the 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro. These are fabulous-looking cameras. When I use them, I get accosted in the street and asked about them as much as I much as I did when I carried my baby son. If you've ever carried a baby in public, you will understand that.

The stylish Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III

Likewise, the Fujifilm X-T cameras are splendid-looking machines. Leica’s SL2 just shouts out: “Look at me! I’m a photographer with passion.”

Leica and Fujifilm cameras

Leica and Fujifilm cameras

That's my opinion why you shouldn't buy a Canon. What's yours?

Log in or register to post comments

256 Comments

Previous comments
Sergi Yavorski's picture

LOL, I don't think you ever used Canon or Nikon professionally if you harp about ergonomics in the most ergonomically designed cameras

Ryan Handt's picture

Sorry, but that is nonsense. you deride canon for its looks, not it's ergonomics. I shot with many cameras being a photographer for 20 years, my first being a Nikon FE. That camera a small and light and I loved it but damn was it not ergonomically sound. Canon and Nikon spent ages coming up at the most comfortable camera you can hold in your hands. The problem now is the weight. Mirrorless cameras took the weight out of the cameras, which is fantastic, but it doesn't mean they're comfortable to hold in your hand.

Michael Dougherty's picture

Ryan, 5 minutes is nothing. You could have wasted several hours by watching baseball since the MLB moved the All-star game out of Georgia.

Ryan Handt's picture

I have zero qualms with mlb taking the All-Star game out of Atlanta, but why bring politics to a photography blog? Keep that in your own telegraph group chat.

Michael Dougherty's picture

Sorry, it was supposed to be a joke.

Pedro Pulido's picture

clickbait article from someone who judges cameras by their looks rather than by their capabilities.
waste of time if you ask me...

Never Mind's picture

I don't believe he judges cameras that way. He's just trying to trap people into clicking. I just banned him from future reads.

jacob hanning's picture

Good idea, No more Ivor articles and possibly no more Fstoppers.

Kevin Loiselle's picture

If you don't mind, serious request, please tell me how you were able to ban him? Did you create an actual filter for your feed, or are you speaking figuratively and mean that you won't read an article authored by him?

Never Mind's picture

Unfortunately I cannot find any means to filter his articles, but it's easy to see the name and photo of the author on the article summary. However you made me click in order to be able to respond ;-)

Ivor Rackham's picture

Thanks for replying. If you read the start of the article I say that the ergonomics are the most important aspect of buying a camera. Also, any camera can take great shots if in the right hands. I could have equally chosen any brand as they all have their USPs and their failings, but they are all also so similar.

Pedro Pulido's picture

you can also own your intentions with this article. and congrats cause you definitely achieved it.
Having people comment and talk about your article is Marketing and Marketing is always good, be it positive or negative.
However, this is only real for one side of the story. For us readers and followers of such a wonderful website as Fstoppers, articles like this are what we (hopefully most of us) avoid and consider a lack of respect for the readers.
Stop and consider this for a second and show a bit of respect. write useful stuff that means something to you and your readers. Not just to attract attention for a few more minutes and get more $$ out of the ads on this page. This is more of the same and we don't visit Fstoppers to have more of the same.

nigel walker's picture

Someone should write about quality vs quantity and the business of websites. This was the usual rubbish.

Matt Williams's picture

yuuuppppppp.

This article is actually damaging to Fstoppers credibility and pedigree. I'm being 100% serious. It's embarrassing.

David Pavlich's picture

I've learned to read the comments first when I see this sort of article. It is a very good practice and saves time.

Terry Manning's picture

Despite the fact I owned a Canon 70D whose motherboard burned out, I continue to find their haptics the best in the industry. By a long shot. And while I have tried shooting other labels (Olympus, Sony and currently Fuji) Canon cameras are still my favorite to recommend to others, especially because of their reliability and ease of use.

Who gives a fart with your camera “looks like” compared to others at an event?

Ivor Rackham's picture

Hi Terry, Thanks for taking the time to comment. Early in the article I do say that every manufacturer makes great cameras (including Canon) and that ergonomics are the most important aspect of buying into a brand. All brands have their failings and their successes. There's no denying that canon has its successes because of the number of people who buy them. The last bit of the article was a bit tongue in cheek, and I had originally intended this article to be an April Fool's joke - that was the only bit that survived. (Would you admit that your Fuji is a better looking camera than the 70D? :D )

jacob hanning's picture

Why do you care what his camera looks like?

Tim Simms's picture

That’s the thing that gets me. I get humor and tongue-in-cheek, but it has to be clever and at least mildly intelligent. This one misses the mark by light-years.

Kevin Loiselle's picture

Would you admit that your article has a lot of mistakes. The worst being that it's titled "Why *I* won't buy Canon", but in your conclusion you proceed to tell other people that they are sheep. Saying that you prefaced the article with facts about all major camera companies or that you could pick any camera brand besides Canon isn't a valid argument. Your replies to people's comments are essentially calling them dumb for not getting your "joke"

Never Mind's picture

Clickbait. Does this author get paid per click? Because this will be the last click he'll get from me.

Aaron Dougherty's picture

My opinion? I'll never get the 20 minutes back that I just burned reading that. And writing this.

Gabriel Lozano-Moran's picture

This was hilarious to read.

Ivor Rackham's picture

I think it rattled some cages! It wasn't really a dig at just Canon but the industry as a whole.I won't retype what I have already replied to others. Thanks for commenting.

Sergio Dabdoub's picture

It wasn't ruffled feathers or rattled cages...simply put this was a waste of people's time.

Kevin Loiselle's picture

You're sorely mistaken if you think you've upset people because you "bad mouthed" their camera brand. Commenters are mad because the logic in the conclusion of your article absolutely made zero sense, and you've lost credibility as a writer here

Steve White's picture

Sure, fine Sparky, whatever.

If Fstoppers can't do better than this, I'll be reducing my visits here. I come looking for tips, instruction and hints. If I wanted to be harangued I'd listen to CNN.

Luca Santirocco's picture

I'm a Fuji owner and I think this article should be deleted to avoid fstoppers loses credibility

Rick Pappas's picture

I don't come to the Fstoppers website as often as I used to. This article exemplifies why that is so.

Richard Tack's picture

Cancel Culture is now going after camera brands? WTF....?

Ivor Rackham's picture

Hi Richard, thanks for commenting. It's not my intention to cancel the brand, right at the start I say they make great cameras. It's more of a criticism of the industry as a whole. I could have equally made similar points against every brand, and the subjective choices at the end just go to illustrate that there is little to choose between most of them.

Richard Tack's picture

"Commonplace, Boring, Ugly." You need to get woke on this Ivor, clearly Canon cameras are RACIST ! ! !

Paul Clark's picture

Wow! I expected more from the title. You don't like Canon because everyone owns one, they are boring and ugly.

1. Everyone owns one - The number one reason to own a camera brand - The popularity probably means people are happy with them. It also means that if you need support there will be a large customer base to ask questions. It also means when you are looking for lenses there will be plenty of used options should you go that way.

2. Boring is a large nebulous definition and subjective. - I think they are boring but that for me, means familiarity which when using it as a tool for business equals a win.

3. Ugly - Again, subjective. They are tools. I think trains and diesels are ugly too but they get the job done when it comes to hauling cargo. I guess I never thought of a camera being in a beauty contest.

You could have done better. We expect better. Next time bring your A game. ;)

David Pavlich's picture

Funny how people see thing differently. In my most subjective opinion, the best looking cameras on the market at the moment are the Nikon D5/6 and the Canon 1DxIII. Go figure! ;-)

Matt Williams's picture

I love the 1DX III and Nikon D5/6. I think the nicest looking cameras that are mainstream (i.e. no Leica rangefinder) or semi-mainstream at least would be the Leica Q2, Leica SL/SL2, Leica CL, Hasselblad X1D/X1D II, Nikon Df, Fuji X-Pro3, and the Olympus PEN-F. The Leicas and Hasselblad are my favorites but the Nikon Df is probably my choice from a mainstream brand.

The upcoming Nikon Z9 may well be in there, above the 1DX and D5/6, if it looks like I think it will based on the announcement photo.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Thanks for the comments. The last bit of the article was tongue in cheek, and some got the joke and others didn't. I say at the beginning that all manufacturers make good cameras and that ergonomics are pretty much the main reason we should choose a camera. When so many are so similar, then there is not much we are left with.

Matt Williams's picture

dude.

the problem isn't that you have issues with Canon cameras.

It's that this article is TOTALLY POINTLESS. It should be in the damn dictionary under "Clickbait"

Give me one good, solid reason that this should EVER have been posted. One. Tell me one thing in here that is valuable to people who read this site. Other than the carbon emissions mention, which is NOT the topic of your article.

I see you never did respond to my lengthy comment above.

Like, if you're going to write stuff, be a good writer.

johan saarela's picture

Wow all this because ome person from Canon ”took a Snipe” at jip and olympus, it was a pretty relevant to. No one should buy a Canon because they Said something bad About ”My” brand is pretty much what he Said hear because all his Reasons ended with the conclusion that the other big brands have the same ”problem” to. He is a profesionell photographer And that most important thing is how they look and that they are not popular.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Hi Johan, thanks for replying. The comment about the "snipe" was just an add on that cropped up when I was looking for criticisms of other brands, including Olympus and Fuji. At the start of the article I say that the most important aspect of choosing a camera is the ergonomics of it. All the brands make great cameras, Canon included, but the industry as a whole is pretty bland and I could have picked on any of the major brands in the title.

Gord .'s picture

"Artists should surround themselves with beautiful things that inspire".... Bravo, Mr. Rackham!

Ivor Rackham's picture

Thank you Gord

Martin Smith's picture

Could not agree more.

Carlos Dacosta's picture

What do you guys expect. Its Fstoppers. They are not writers. Mostly they copy other peoples articles or videos, add a credit and done. No creativity. Then once in awhile they write a piece, like this one. What a waste. Ive already stopped reading Alex Cooke's articles, now i just added another name to the list.

Travis Ackerman's picture

Alex Cooke is definitely the worst 🤣 Just posts videos other people make with cliff notes. Such a talent 😂😂 😂

Salty Cremepuff's picture

Huh?

Nasiha Solakovic's picture

I registered only to say that this article is utter, amateurish garbage, and I say that as an amateur. As a photographer to say that you choose a camera based on its looks only undermines your credibility. I really expected more and I don’t know why. This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever read.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Nashia, I appreciate you expressing your point of view. At the start of the article, I say that all brands make great cameras and one should choose a camera based on ergonomics. I continue to show that they all have their failings, mostly through their negative environmental and ethical impact. I also point out that the designs are so similar that they are bland and then all we have let to choose between them is their looks, and that last part was tongue-in-cheek.

patrick ray's picture

I made an account just to comment how stupid this article is. This is a waste of journalism

Mike Shwarts's picture

I like how some of the OM-D line reminds me of my OM-1n, OM-2n and OM-2s. I would like to purchase a Pen F. That's a nice looking camera.

I also don't find the article a waste of time. Videos are a waste of time. They get near the end before they get to the point. Fast forwarding to the beginning of the point is hit or miss. I skimmed the article till I got to the point. Even if I found no value in the article, I didn't "waste five minutes of my life." YMMV :D

Paul Asselin's picture

Never mind........

More comments