Canon and Nikon Released the Worst Cameras of 2018

Canon and Nikon Released the Worst Cameras of 2018

I've been sitting here for a bit, wondering what the worst gear release by a major manufacturer was in 2018, then I realized the answer was crystal clear.

We talk a lot about the best gear of the year, but that got me thinking: what was the worst gear of the year? I could easily go for something hideously bad, but then I thought that "worst" should also be measured by expectations and context. When a company you've never heard of sends you a camera that clearly shows they've bit off more than they can chew, the results are hilarious, but I have a hard time calling that the "worst," because expectations were never high for that camera. Rather, the more I thought about it, "worst" should be a label applied to products put out by companies that know better, that can do better, and that know their customers want (and would mostly happily pay for) better. That's the type of gear that you feel truly let down by.

When I thought of it that way, the answer to the question was blindingly obvious: the Canon EOS R and Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 cameras. These were by far two of the most highly anticipated pieces of photography gear not just in 2018, but of the last several years. Finally, Canon and Nikon were responding to the ever-growing success of Sony and Fujifilm. Finally, after years of consumer frustration, migration to different brands, and rumors flying about, the real deal. Finally, we were going to see what the two oldest photography companies with the most history would be capable of when they threw their weight behind mirrorless technology seriously. Except, it turns out they were only sort of serious.

Let's get something out of the way first: yes, they're capable cameras that you can take great pictures with. I'm not disputing that. What's so frustrating, though, is that Canon and Nikon could have done so much better. They have the experience and the funds to do so. Rather, what we got was almost an insult to photographers: the bare minimum to appease the growing chorus demanding a response to the companies that have made great strides in the mirrorless realm. These are the cameras released by companies with the hubris to believe that the inertia of their market shares, brand names, and photographers being invested in their systems will keep them in the game. They've chosen wringing every last bit of momentum out of the old state of affairs over leveraging their market positions to push forward all the more.

Perhaps particularly infuriating was Nikon's ad campaign leading up to the release of the Z 6 and Z 7. If you don't remember it, it was a series of YouTube teasers steeped in melodrama, as silhouettes danced and Nikon dropped grandiose hints about how 100 years of camera experience were going into this revolutionary device. They dragged on for weeks, teasing photographers into thinking that whatever Nikon was planning, it was going to be something that officially put Sony on notice. At that point, it seemed like Nikon was not only going to match Sony, but blow them clear out of the water, and given Sony's progress (the remarkable a9, the a7R III, the first camera that doesn't make one pick between resolution and fast frame rates), we expected something spectacular. The teaser video below seems really silly in retrospect. 

Canon didn't go so overboard with the buildup to their release, and while we've all come to expect Canon to build solid cameras that evolve at a glacial pace, we hoped that with them finally acknowledging a paradigm shift led by a company with the polar opposite philosophy that they might recognize the need to at least meet them at the same level if not surpass them. That, of course, did not happen. They tripped over their own shoelaces just like Nikon did.

A lot of people make the argument that Sony has been at the full frame mirrorless game longer than Canon and Nikon and thus has the advantage of several generations of development. I don't buy that argument. Sony may have a couple years up on Canon and Nikon in full frame mirrorless development, but Canon and Nikon have decades on Sony in camera development. And were the issues highly technical things — things that take intense research and development to solve and integrate into a complete system, I might give them a pass. Thing like dynamic range and sensor architecture? I might be inclined to give the companies a pass.

But those weren't the issues. The issues were the most basic, fundamental sorts of things — common sense to the point that most people had assumed they were now unquestionable standards at this level. Things that Canon and Nikon had watched Sony make mistakes with and evolve from. The most glaring? The single card slots. It's not exactly a secret that cameras of this level are used by professionals and serious amateurs for whom in-camera backup is not a luxury, but an expectation and often, a dealbreaker. To make matters worse, Nikon inexplicably went with the expensive and proprietary XQD format.

Then there's the ludicrous 1.83x crop factor for 4K on the EOS R. Middling autofocus performance from all three cameras. No IBIS in the EOS R and a lack of IS in some of its lenses. Lackluster continuous rates on the Canon. A limited buffer with long write times and exposure lock on the first frame on the Nikon. The battery life of mirrorless camera two generations back. As Tony Northrup put it regarding the Z 7: "they promised me my D850 in a mirrorless form, and that was not my experience.”

This is what I like seeing.

I will give credit where it's due. One thing that does excite me is seeing Canon and Nikon (to a lesser extent with the 58mm f/0.95) taking advantage of their new mounts to push the boundaries of lens development. Seeing a 28-70mm f/2L zoom and the spectacular albeit ludicrously expensive 50mm f/1.2L is awesome. More of those, please. 

That doesn't change the fact that these cameras felt like getting a gas station gift card that your brother picked up on the way to the house on Christmas morning because he waited until the last minute and had to address the occasion somehow. And it's upsetting because big bro has plenty of money and knows you well enough to put thought and resources into something that will really wow you. Let's see if Canon and Nikon can do better in 2019. I know they can. Come back to the forefront, Canon and Nikon. Excite your customers again. Make the market more competitive. Show us what you're really capable of.

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235 Comments

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Rahadi Purnawan's picture

The article tittle are un appropriate and will give a bias and miss perception.. Canon EOS R and Nikon Z 6 & Z 7 are the worst camera compare to all of the new releases of Canon and Nikon brand in 2018? Compare to all of camera brand new releases in 2018? Or compare to the recent mirrorless standard by Sony? I'm referring that your article is an opinion that expected more standard featured by Canon and Nikon compare to Sony on mirrorless race but your title are giving an expresion that on overall camera brand, Canon and Nikon are released the worst camera of 2018.. nice klikbait.. but it's just not appropriate..

Deleted Account's picture

How can you criticize camera without even using it? The Nikon has the best viewfinder on the market, you need to try to see that and it has a very good grip. You can't say this is the worst camera

Yin Ze's picture

Nikon has best viewfinder and ergonomics but I can't tell that to client when they ask why image is out of focus. Sony ergonomics takes a lot of getting used to and when I put my hands on the Nikon it feels like slipping into a really comfortable couch.

Deleted Account's picture

Another article that basically says very little. I guess the author of it got a fee and the site will gain some advertising revenue. Beyond that, I can't see that anyone would benefit from this piece if predictably vapid prose.

thai Rat's picture

This is no accident, neither Canon nor Nikon want to hit the ball out of the park, they merely want to get people on-board, knowing they will want to upgrade after being frustrated, and later realizing they jumped ship to soon! Then they will discover a greatly superior new model come out a year later, and will be suckered in.

Canon and Nikon, are followers not trend setters, they rely on the faithful to once again buy into a dynamic ecosystem, that continually saps the consumers pocketbook.

Yin Ze's picture

Nikon and Canon milked the user desperation to move to mirrorless. This is why I chose not to participate in their game. Sony is like Apple now: they are going all out on their products such as iPhone X which I am using still as it is very fast.

Rob Davis's picture

First, put a disclaimer in bold at the top of this article from what you said in the comments here:

“I’ve never actually used any of the Nikon’s, I’m just repeating what Tony Northrup says.”

Second, a camera you don’t want to buy is not a bad camera. Companies have different philosophies. Sony has its roots in consumer electronics. They’re flashy. They’re fun to talk about. Despite their impressive sales figures, I still don’t see A7’s in the hands of many professionals with the sole exception of the wedding photographers who have money to spend on vanity vlogs.

Yin Ze's picture

I work with a lot of professionals and many of them would switch if it wasn't for financial reasons or their company is invested in a particular system. So far half a dozen of my colleagues have switched or decided to switch Sony after many discussions with me. They get it. Nikon mirrorless is like a luxury car--- great seats, great gps, wipers, but bad steering wheel. Sony is like Panasonic -- horrible ergonomics but gets the job done where Nikon mirrorless would still be looking for a face to track.

Oliver Neumann's picture

There is a good point in stating that "Sony may have a couple years up on Canon and Nikon in full frame mirrorless development, but Canon and Nikon have decades on Sony in camera development." as both Canon and Nikon already do or have done MILC systems. As Nikon has only recently released what was appraised the best DSLR ever I wonder why the Z series had some (avoidable) technical flaws. There are rumors that Canon will release some new DSLR Pro cameras soon. Maybe that is why the EOS R has been "crippled" but that would be a new episode of "Camera Conspiracies" ;-)

Alex Yakimov's picture

Canon and Nikon are clearly not unlike Apple in showing some "courage" regarding popular opinion​.

Adventure Photo's picture

Article is spot on! I switched to Sony 3 years ago from Nikon after 20 years of pro use and vey happy in the Sony camp now. Recently I rented an EOS R for a week with 24-105 and RF 50 1.2 and borrowed a Z7, 24-70, FTZ adapter from NPS for two weeks. I basically came to the same conclusions.

Yin Ze's picture

The easy decision for me as a Nikon user would be to get the z6. Heck, i even had a preorder for two on the first hour. Thank god I spent extensive time testing all three systems. I love holding Nikon and Canon but they don't get the job done.

Rob Davis's picture

What are these cameras preventing you from doing?

Yin Ze's picture

Hi,

I often work in tense situation where absence of loud Nikon sewing-machine shutter is a benefit. That is why I always wish Nikon had quiet/soft 5d3 shutter. i can also shoot video very easily without having to use loupe or back of screen and often the result is bad because there is no peaking. the biggest benefit of the a9 is i can work in fast moving situations without people objecting to my presence due to loud shutter. look at story about exclusive photo due to a9 quiet shutter

https://www.sonyalpharumors.com/owen-humphreys-explains-how-his-royal-we...

A competitor was told to stop shooting due to loud Nikon shutter in a pool court position. This is one less thing I have to worry about.

i am not loyal to any brand. i use the best tool. sony is now the right tool for me. i actually loved the feel of the Canon R and the lenses look spectacular. Unfortunately I cannot wait till EOS-1Rx.

Jim Cutler's picture

They don't get the job done?

Alexander Nikolis's picture

Nikon didn't live up to their own hype but at least they created an objectively better product with IBIS and great video capability, unlike Canon that didn't even try IBIS and stuck with 3 year old specs. They have flaws but they're not at all on the same level.

Alik Griffin's picture

You know, the EOS R still has over four times the 4k bitrate over the competition, yes it’s a crop, but it’s a better looking 4k in terms of RAW data. Not by a small margine either. Nobody talks about that. So if you want a full frame camera that can shoot 4k. EOS R will output the best techincal footage by a massive amount. 480Mbps vs 100Mbps, Plus it has 10-bit out.

Mike Stern's picture

Canon and Nikon released the worst cameras of 2018...

My initial opinion of reading this title and thinking it is a bad click bait did not change after reading the article and all comments.

C’mon Alex. Really? Everybody knows it’s not true. Why all this anger and frustration?
We just witnessed Yashica y35 release this year.

Tevan Alexander's picture

An insightful read — thank you!

super steel_'s picture

we can all agree that canon and nikon half assed their first gen so they can:
1-get it to market already and get back some money from investment
2-slow down sales from sony and stop those on the fence going to sony
3-delay time to make gen 2 much much better

otoh, sony's first gen was absolutely crap vs nikon/canon first gen. its easier to follow then to invent from scratch though.

Glem Let's picture

Alex you are entitled to your opinion but the main focus of this site is about what....??

Taking great pictures....!!!!

How you do that is up to you but it has absolutely nothing to do with ‘GEAR..’

Nothing whatsoever

So get over your twin card slots and be grateful that the photo industry still has resources to develop lenses and bodies.

The fantastic photos that inspired you when you started out where not taken on twin card slot cameras or anything like that, they were heavy, slow, frequently jammed and despite all of this. Amazing images were created. By photographers who did exactly that, got out and took photos.

I suggest you walk away from your keyboard, stop being a journalist or blogger.

Go get one of your old cameras, your favourite lens and go for a walk.

You might come back and realise we are so lucky with the choice we have.

The perfect camera...???

It’s the one you have with you... right now.

Steve

Sandi camera's picture

Thank you for posting review of a camera without actually using it!
And it gets even better when you quote Tony Northrup, a person who is widely known for posting biased reviews from a hotel room (while being visibly drunk) paid for by a camera company.

Christopher Thorpe's picture

Alex I have one question - What did your brother do to you this Christmas to be dragged into this article?

Alex Cooke's picture

Hahahaha one too many gas station gift cards, that's what! :)

Caleb Berg's picture

An entire article and glaring headlines about worst product. All he can mention on Nikon is the card slot??
What a load of drivel and horse shit. MOST USELESS READING OF 2018 in one article. Who even makes this worthless, information-less piece an article?

Alex Cooke's picture

Maybe read a little closer; I mentioned way more about the Nikon than that.

Caleb Berg's picture

Maybe if you bothered to fill your article with useful information, instead of hyperbole and useless, we wouldn't have to meticulously dig through it to find a tiny useful morsel. This piece is a real shit-show Alex!
Many readers are displeased with it because it looks like it could be informative, then it robs us of the integrity of our time and brain cells.

Alex Cooke's picture

I spent two entire paragraphs laying out specific, objective issues. Again, if you think that’s something you have to “meticulously dig” for, maybe read a little more carefully.

Caleb Berg's picture

Alex, fail, fail / miserable fail on your article. It reads like this:

Sony, Sony, Sony... little annoying mix of drivel about Nikon and Canon... Sony, Sony, Sony. But let me drag this article out a bit longer with camera history of what we were expecting... Sony, Sony, Sony. So that's why I think it's the worst cameras of 2018. Sony, Sony, Sony.

What a piece of crap writing, waste of time. It's like an annoying social media comment, dragged out for pages. Oh wait, you're editor-in-chief? No wonder your article gets approved.

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