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?

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256 Comments

Previous comments
Jeff McCollough's picture

What in the heck did I just read?

Ken Evans's picture

Ug!

Maciek Gornisiewicz's picture

This is the biggest waste of publishing space I have ever seen on this website. This is going beyond low and pathetic.

David Moore's picture

The brand of hammer I use is better than the brand of hammer that you use.

C North's picture

Ooof a mediocre article by a mediocre photographer, and an elderly one at that. It's like he's trying to make up for a lifetime of mediocrity. There's nothing inspiring or artistic about the authors work. It's bland as toilet paper, and coincidentally, toilet paper would probably be a suitable medium to print this authors work.

He focuses very much on how a camera looks. A real photographer doesn't need to look at their camera and say "Look at me! I'm a photographer with passion!".

I'd kindly think that somewhere along the way, this person simply lost the memory of what being a photographer at heart means, but I'm not entirely sure he ever actually had that spark within him to begin with. Imagine...your life's work being akin to a bowl of rotten fruit.

WestEndFoto .'s picture

The author said, "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"

You can say what you want, but my observation about many photographers is that they lack in creativity and style, which I think is central to a lot of photography. Now I am sure that you don't need "creative looking" gear to make "creative images", But blandness in one area often goes together with blandness in other areas.

Patrick Rosenbalm's picture

Glanced at article, rolled eyes and laughed. Read some comments this afternoon and laughed some more. Read comments tonight for more laughs. Looked at writer's profile. Empty. Looked at writer's website. Boring common looking photos by a average looking guy. No surprise there. Laughed even more and then wrote and posted this comment. Fstopper's needs to raise the bar. Starting with picking it up off of the floor!

Warren Carr's picture

The only thing note worthy about this article was the shear, awe inspiring, lack of substance.

William Ross's picture

Some of his comments are very valid. For one, he mentions how a camera fits one hands and where the controls are that one uses is important. That is one of the reason I shoot what I do. On my near two week trip in Germany I watched some of my follow travelers hauling 2 to 3 times the size, at least 2 times the weight, and still did not cover the single lens coverage I had. They were changing lenses on a regular basis while I changed my lens out once for a total of three shots. As the author mentioned, not needing to change lenses is as important as being as inconspicuous as possible becauseof size. Canon, Nikon, and Sony full frames really don't offer something like that. And there are features that are not available on the Canons, Nikons, and Sonys that are exciting to have. In some ways, the author is right that they are more boring than the Fuji, Leicas, Olympuses, and Panasonics.

Greg Wilson's picture

Why should we care why you buy or don't buy anything?

Malcolm Wright's picture

Great article, most cameras look like bricks.

Can we have another article about the stupid prices paid to get a lens so you can only get a small portion of the picture in focus..

Sam Sims's picture

Why I won’t buy a Canon camera? Because I found a brand and lenses that better suits my needs than what Canon have to offer. Nothing more uninteresting than that.

Joe Hogan's picture

Gosh, aren't we lucky that photography has nothing to do with art.

mad xam2's picture

Excellent article, let´s face it, it is more about the guy behind the camera that disturbs
you, take cars for example, as soon as you got an Audi you become an absolutely
ASSHOLE on the Autobahn, and you won´t get that boring ugly and rational bloke
behind a Kwanon, äehm Canon at least i won´t. Amen

Zoli Tarnavölgyi's picture

OMG, first I thouhgt, it is an April's Fool, or a funny article with full of sarcasm. But not. He thinks it fully seriously and even replies to the comments. :-))))) Jesus. Pls don't reply to this!

Kirk Darling's picture

Glad I read the comments first.

Jeff Durand's picture

This article was so bad, and so uncalled for that it forced me out of lurking. What a poor choice for an article. It's like FStoppers picked up a troll comment and made it into a full article. Bashing on any camera for its popularity is completely backward thinking. I suppose we should all be driving unique cars too? Maybe you can lend us all money to drive around in artistic Maserati's or Pagani's? Asinine.

Sridhar Chilimuri's picture

It is written by a man. I failed to understand why you used that lady with tripod in the article.

Charles Mercier's picture

I thought it was a good article - until he got to the 3 reasons NOT to buy a Canon. Geez.

Ken Hart's picture

Upstairs, in my 'camera room' there are over 650 Canon FX cameras (1964-1969). In my 'lens room' there are over 1000 Canon FL-mount lenses, including (3) 1200mm. Clearly, I don't need to buy another Canon camera. But if I see one at a good price, I will buy it.
The camera feels good. It is rugged and dependable, even at 50 years old. Finally, it is a tool. A tool that I use to create my photographic art. If I could be as creative with a coffee can and a pinhole, I would use that.
So what if the camera looks ugly. How do the photos you create with it look?

N A's picture

Just curious, are you a collector or do you repair/test/sell them?

Malcolm Wright's picture

Now those cameras look stylish, compared to the current offerings.
When did bland set in and do you think we might get some more stylish models in the future?

Steve McKenzie's picture

If this clown replies once more with "but I could have equally chosen any brand" ... Yeah but you didn't choose any brand did you; you chose Canon. Was there a more pointless article ever written in the entire history of our civilisation?

Adil Alsuhaim's picture

Commonplace, boring and ugly. Those are his reasons, which is what a hipster would say, not professionals.

I am an enthusiast, not a professional but I disagree on the "commonplace" point because being commonplace means I can find more people to borrow lenses and/or extra bodies if needed.

But I agree on the "Boring" and "Ugly" points. I would love to have a camera with mechanical dials like the Fujifilm XT4. Nikon did something like that with the digital Nikon Df years ago, and I wish they kept a tradition of releasing classic-styled versions of their popular cameras. You may think it's silly, but I think Canon, Sony and others should consider making classically styled camera for the aesthetics. After all, he makes a great point about the tool itself being a source of inspiration.

Kirk Darling's picture

Well, dials have a utilitarian function beyond aesthetics. I notice that understanding exposure functions were easier for photographers to learn when we saw the entire f-stop and shutter speed progressions in front of us in one glance. "Two clicks of this dial this way, two clicks of that dial that way...same exposure."

OTOH, many people prefer the aesthetics of a sleek all-black camera to chrome. Canon's original "melted" shape (first seen in the T90) was the brainchild of a world-famous German-born industrial designer Luigi Colani. At the time it was hailed as a milestone in modern camera body design.

Buzz Crisafulli's picture

I’m having a bad day, and this article cracked me up. I’ll chuckle next time I pick up my “ugly” 5D MkIV. Or maybe I’ll hide it in shame and just use my less embarrassing Sony.

jacob hanning's picture

I typically respect Fstoppers, but this is trash and the passive aggressive replies from the author aren't doing anyone any good.

J Seltzer's picture

There was a saying that a camera was a light tight box that held film and the lens is the crucial element to the duo. You can spend thousands on all the bells and whistles but if you have crappy glass, you'll get crappy images. Couldnt even finish the article

Steve McKenzie's picture

Yep, date your cameras and marry your lenses is how the saying goes ...

Michael Krueger's picture

Eveyone is entitled to an opinion but if your opinion is people shouldn't buy a Canon because it makes them a sheep or that you should buy a camera based on how the camera looks then your opinions aren't worth my time reading in the future.

Mike Robinson's picture

Yes, when instagrammers started becoming pop culture, they all bought Canon because one of the first among them saw someone else using a Canon and the rest piled on, and so Canon have more sales than other brands. But this doesn't mean Canon is a camera to avoid. I've used several brands and presently don't use Canon, but for other reasons entirely.

Michael Clark's picture

Canon has held the #1 position in the interchangeable lens camera market since the mid-1990s. It has nothing to do with Instagram. The majority of IG photos are shot with iPhones.

Craig Boudreaux's picture

Well that was a waste of time. I wish Google let you pick authors that will not show up in your feed anymore. I can only put in the source site.

Mike Hines's picture

This is hands down the worst article I've ever read, no hyperbole. I would have rather read a tmz article called "17 celebrities who had plastic surgery gone wrong!" and to see each celebrity you have to sift through a ton of ads and hit the next button, and every time you click next a pop-up ad comes up.

Matthew Marchbanks's picture

I had to create an account to comment on just how stupid, pointless and ridiculous an article this is.

This is, quite simply, garbage writing. Don’t buy a Canon because it’s ugly, boring and commonplace? Good lord, this is such a complete waste of space. I am genuinely angry over the fact that this was allowed on the site. This is low, even for Fstoppers.

This has a complete lack of factual argument and is complete subjectivity. Ivor, honestly you should be ashamed of this. I don’t care how good your work is. This simply sucks. I don’t know you, but if I’m judging on this article? Yeah I’ll pass, thanks.

And before you say that I missed the point of your article because you were making “a larger statement about the environmental efforts of the camera industry as a whole”, no I didn’t. I didn’t miss the point because that wasn’t the point of your article. Even by that standard, you failed miserably because you didn’t even accomplish that task. So stop acting like you are smarter than everyone in the comments and let’s call your article what it was: a low effort, low IQ hot take meant to stir up anger in the comments.

By that standard, I guess you achieved your goal. But are you really happy with this kind of writing? I wouldn’t be. I hope you got paid well.

Jerry Milton's picture

100 percent CLICKBAIT article. Fstoppers must be so proud. Good work. Google Ad's thank you.

John baca's picture

After listing some good reasons Canon doesn't work for him personally, the writer of this article lists three of the most childish reasons not to do anything I have seen put in one place. I mean I would expect this kind of talk from a bunch of trust fund hipsters circa 2007, but he seems to be an adult?

A tool needs to work period. It needs to do so reliably, and it shouldnt be annoying, end of story.

The author isnt treating cameras as tools, for him they are vanity projects. They are to be treated as a garment accessory. That's fine if the aim is fashion, otherwise this is rubbish.

Trevor Faivre's picture

I registered on this site just so i could comment here.

Booo. Boo this man.

Steve Salier's picture

I registered just to comment on how inane this article is. What is even the point of it? Buying a camera based on whether or not it's boring, commonplace or looks good? Ridiculous

Leslie Baker's picture

Actually, I love cannon. Compared to my Nikon cameras all my Cannon cameras let more light in and produce a warmer photo.

Timothy Roper's picture

And with that shocking bit of click-bait, I think F-Stoppers has jumped the shark. Not an easy feat on the Internet, I know. But things are going downhill fast.

Kevin Loiselle's picture

Reasons why I don't buy Windows PCs: they're commonplace, boring and ugly

Reasons I don't buy Toyota Camrys: they're commonplace, boring and ugly

Reasons why I don't buy iPhones: they're commonplace, boring and ugly

I hate things that are ultra reliable and that other people love. I only buy tools that inspire me when I look at them. I'm not inspired by the work that is created with the tools, only the tools themselves.

There's no logic in this article's "reasons" to not buy Canon. No one should buy a camera based on looks or if no one else is buying it.

Nice try Olympus marketing team

Howard Shubs's picture

That's a lot of words to say nothing notable. I'm not currently a Canon fan, but nothing you said is more than a weak opinion.

Elie brakhya's picture

Is this a "serious" article!?

Adam Geldhof's picture

Are you suggesting that we should prioritize a camera’s looks over its functionality?

DAVID CARNAHAN's picture

Wait... You didn't bust on Canon for the worst button layout of all cameras made today? Canon is the only company I hate to use. I have Sony, Nikon, Panasonic, and Sigma all in my line up. I have a 5d mkIV given to me from work and it has around 100 clicks on it. You skip the one reason to dog Canon and pick BS. I need to stop reading trash on this website.

Tim Simms's picture

Let me get this straight: you consider an object, a tool, that has only one purpose, which is to look at and record images of other things, and you just want it to say, “look at me.”
Wow.
You have no idea what the art and craft of photography is at all, that’s obvious. But you don’t even understand basic logic. That’s what amazes me most.

“I won’t buy a hammer that can’t cut lumber!”

Andy Hutchinson's picture

These things are of course entirely subjective and while the styling of a camera might influence your purchasing decisions, it doesn't mean it has any relevance at all to other photographers. Personally speaking I agree that most of the current Canon, Sony and Nikon range are vile looking blobs of snot-shapped plastic that appear to have been developed in a wind tunnel and have all the aesthetic appeal of a melanoma, but so what? That's just my opinion - has no relevance to other photographers who might prefer that melted-Lego look.

I agree that there is something inherently dull about current Canon, Sony and Nikon cameras that speaks to a need to conform, but some folks like being the same as everyone else and feel more comfortable with it - after all, the best selling flavour of ice cream is vanilla. Canon, Sony and Nikon shooters boast about their cameras being workhorses - a phrase that would have me running a mile - but if they are professional shooters then workhorses are what they need and aesthetics be damned.

In short I guess I echo the views of most people here in wondering what pertinence your choice of camera has for anyone else on the planet. I feel exactly the same way when I see some YouTube photography influencer posting a video titled, "Why I switched to Sony" or "Why I'm Ditching Canon"- who fucking cares? Buy what works for you using whatever criteria are important to you, but don't expect anyone to give a shit about your choice. That's it.

JJ Castillo's picture

This article annoyed me so much I made an account. Let me just say this, the magic is all about what is on the other side of the lens, to say otherwise is so utterly elitist and personal preference driven and soooo bourgeoisie for the sake of WHO CARES. "Your camera looks like a camera, how gross!" Ridiculous and reals of privilege. You know who are the best musicians, the folks who can play a song that will make you cry with a $10 thrift store guitar, you know who are the worst musicians? People with deep pockets who buy the shiniest more expensive things because they think it's about how pretty the tool is. I used to carry around this behind the scenes photo of Kubrick on set for 2001. It blew my mind because it was this huge set but behind the lens was just a minimal setup with a standard film camera and tripod no video village or huge cranes and I carried that photo around to remind me it's not about how fancy or new your gear is, it's about the magic in front of the lens... And this pinky in the air manifesto youve written is the complete opposite notion. Forget your talent forget your moxie, how quirky and expensive is your camera? Never once in your article did you mention that so many other factors play a role in the cameras people purchase... Like different settings and frame rates and sensors and lens mounts etc. Look tools are tools, I like quirky cameras too! I buy old film cameras and lenses and accessories and shoot with them all the time but I don't expect or demand those quirks in my go to workhorse camera. If we all cared about having cameras that stuck out with new and amazing designs and color schemes then we'd be screwed because we wouldn't be able to take photos of these beautiful works of art. You sound like a guy who buys some really fancy cameras because you can and look down on everyone else if they can't? And what does that have to do with photography? And should someone with that kind of condescending attitude be teaching photography? I congratulate you and the website for kicking up so much engagement and clicks but I hope you come away from this with a different outlook.

Michael Clark's picture

That's why this article is a huge success. It has motivated a large number of you to sign up on F-stoppers just so you could comment on how utterly stupid the article is.

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