The Earth-Moving Feeling You'll Get After Switching to Nikon: Meh

The Earth-Moving Feeling You'll Get After Switching to Nikon: Meh

It was the fall of 2014. I was happily wrapping up wedding season, shooting all week and every weekend with my arsenal of 5D Mark IIIs and L glass. All was right, until one event caused me to turn to the dark side.

I’m here to tell you that Nikon hasn’t really done anything for me. However, I have no intention of turning back!

You heard me right. After nearly all of my gear was stolen out of a church, I was in the position to reevaluate my standing as a Canon lifer. Like many wedding photographers at that time, I was seduced by the Nikon D750 and probably just bored enough with my kit to want a change for change’s sake. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that changing sides is probably a complete waste of time.

A year and a half after turning, I can’t imagine I’d have bothered with the hassle if I hadn’t been browsing Amazon with a huge insurance check in hand. Let me explain.

The Good

The D750 is a firecracker, considering the weight and cost. You’ve likely heard by now that the Sony sensor found inside is excellent, the autofocus is nimble, and the extras are all sure to tickle your geeky fancy. I’m talking good Wi-Fi, tiltable screen, slick video features, and all that jazz.

Coming from Canon land, one of the things that I really wanted was a smaller and lighter kit. The D750 is on the smaller and lighter end for a full frame DSLR. But it was the f/1.8 G lenses that really sold me.

I’m a two-body-shooting fool. I love having a 35mm prime on my left hip and an 85mm prime on my right. Switching to Nikon let me do this with two quality lenses that were way cheaper and loads lighter than the Canon L monsters I was carrying before.

Without turning this into a review, I’m of the opinion that Nikon’s 35mm f/1.8 G, 50mm f/1.8 G, and 85mm f/1.8 G is the best bang-for-the-buck prime lineup out there. From that standpoint, I’ve been super happy with my compact, fast primes, backed up by the normal assortment of bread and butter zooms.

With that admitted, I do feel like Canon lens build quality is a bit better, but I’ll hit on that in a minute.

The Bad

The switch is a hassle. It’s a huge pain in the ass, to put it poetically.

Learning new menus and dials is treacherous even if you give yourself a solid week without paid work to do so. It’s very hard to unlearn over a decade of shooting a different system. I wouldn’t label this a deal-breaker, but it does suck.

Perhaps the biggest issue is the cost. Buying all new stuff is like flushing the equity you have in well-maintained, proven lenses down the toilet. I made the switch with the necessity caused by having almost no gear in hand. I cannot imagine pulling it off by selling, trading, and buying my way across brand lines. It seems like you’d be eating a lot of cost.

The only other really big gripe that I have is quality control. This could be luck, or it could be me using the crap out of my stuff. Maybe. For now, let’s assume that I treat my Nikon stuff equally as well as my Canon stuff.

I have way too many things that look or operate “rough around the edges” already. None of these are showstoppers, but they are annoying. Nikon seems to have an issue with how rugged some components are compared to my former brand of choice.

The most obvious thing that Nikon can’t do properly is the rubber grip that graces the focusing and zoom rings of its lenses. Within six months, all of my Nikon lenses had rubber that looked like it had been taken out daily to photograph dust storms and then rode home uncased in the back of a pickup truck. Granted, these are just rubber grips, but dang if they all don’t look worse than even my oldest Canon lens by the time that stuff was stolen!

Furthering my quality control beef is the fact that both of my D750s can’t manage to hold onto an eyecup to save their lives. My 5D Mark IIIs did this too, but I held them for a long time with a little gaffer tape on the side. I'm not sure why, but I’ve lost no less than 10 eyecups in the past year, and I can’t even save them with copious amounts of tape.

This brings me to the control dials. The drive mode dial on both of my cameras is stuck; it stopped moving entirely. Neither has been dropped or exposed to water or other spills. Yet, these dials are frozen (luckily, in useful positions).

So, those are my complaints that don’t include any recall issues. I actually never noticed the whole lens flare shadow thing, so I never bothered to seek service on that issue.

The Ugly

There are two things that I still hate, but are sort of superficial: having to turn left to mount a lens, but still fitting a lens hood by turning to the right? This is total hogwash, and I’ll never be convinced otherwise. Second, the silent shutter mode isn’t so silent. Canon absolutely smokes Nikon in this regard.

So, yes, switching between the primary players is a fool’s game. Sure, there are things about my new Nikon-ian life that I enjoy, but are they enough to make me renounce Canon? Surely not. However, the pitfalls of the switch aren’t so deep that I’m clamoring to climb back towards the light. Switching systems is simply not worth it. The modern camera market is just flooded with viable options for everyone. None of them are a superior decision for the experienced shooter.

I believe Stephen Stills said it best: “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

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93 Comments

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Christopher Eaton's picture

So, you're saying that outside of the superior Nikon dynamic range everything else is the essentially same for Nikon and Canon gear? Yet, you are saying that you would prefer the system with the "absolute garbage" dynamic range? Interesting.

Tony Northrup's picture

This is my experience, too... it's like switching from a Toyota to a Honda. They're both good. They both get you there. If you're really nit-picky, you can find some little difference that's important to you, but both camera manufacturers quickly catch up with the other anytime one makes a significant improvement... so, meh.

If you want to actually feel something, switch to a Sony a7R II. You'll alternate between "WOW!" and "WTF!" but never "meh."

Chris Cheek's picture

Cmon now..to be fair you raved over the D810 once you got your hands on it..:) Sony is Meh...

Tony Northrup's picture

Yeah, it was a big step up from the 5D Mk III at the time, but now that the 5DS-R is out... meh. We pick up whichever is closer, unless we need a specific lens.

Joe Hoddinott's picture

WOW, look at all those pixels!
WTF happened to my battery!?
;)

Jonathan Lobb's picture

I know for a professional it doesn't make much of a difference, but if somebody were coming to me today asking about which system to buy into, assuming they weren't already open to spending FX sensor money, I would tell them Nikon in a heartbeat for one reason alone; the 35mm f/1.8. Canon doesn't even have anything close for the price and quality, and it's hands down the best lens a new shooter can own.

Wouldn't that depend on the usage scenario. So much lens options for Canon on the longer end.

Keith Bradshaw's picture

I feel the same way about the Canon 24mm 1.4. It just always looks beautiful.

I think the point about the costs of switching is most important.

Selling gear is super tedious and soul-draining. Dealing with scams and trolls who want to pay nothing yet want like new condition with original boxing and warranty cards etc quickly gets enraging.

For all those people who think it is easy and that their gear has fantastic value, they have NEVR tried to sell their gear.
Nikon and Canon both make excellent cameras. This is a business decision. Unless there are compelling reasons to do so the fantasy of new gear quickly turns into a sick nightmare.

George Pahountis's picture

great post, I envy the sensors, the cameras are great too but I do not think it is worth the investment to switch between those two brands in *most* cases.

Justin Haugen's picture

I made the switch in November. Sold off two 5dmk3's, an 85 1.2, 24 1.4, and 135 f2, and go 2 D750's, an 85 1.4G, sigma 24 1.4, and 70-200 vr 2.8.

I did it at no extra cost to myself. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Aside from some markedly NOT PRO nuances about the D750, the switch has given me some new style and direction that I was starting to tap into with my Canon setup. I hate to credit gear with an improvement in my work, but it was the fuse to my dynamite.

After 11 years of shooting Canon, I welcomed the shake up to my creative process and I'll give it a little more than a "meh". But I can see it from your point of view in why it does not mean that much to others like it did for me.

Scott Free's picture

I switched to nikon by selling gear at the very start of 2014. Sold off a 5d mark 2 to get a d800. The increased resolution was relevant to the production of large scale art prints I was looking to go for artistically at the time, also the 5d2 couldn't autofocus in slightly dim light to save its life. The nikon is amazing at this. I think it was easier for me, cos if memory serves there was no 5d mark 3 at the time. I think apart from that little period where the d800 smoked the 5d2 significantly, that changing between canon and nikon has never really been worth it

Fritz Asuro's picture

The 5dM3 was out in the market before the D800 came in...

Scott Free's picture

Ok my bad, but i can see how the big difference in focusing ability could have justified a switch to nikon for the d700 prior or The other way for 20+MP

Fritz Asuro's picture

I was just straightening the facts. Fear not, I use both systems. Though I love my Nikon.

I love the lyric from the CS&N song "Love the One You're With". I could've switched to Nikon when I bought a DSLR since my Canon FD lenses couldn't be used on Canon's current cameras. But I felt like I was a Canon person since my first camera was the A-1 that I bought new in 1980 and still use today. The brand loyalty can be compared to automobiles; although most of my cars have been Chevys, I've owned two Fords, both Mustangs: a 66 and a 74.
I own three Canon cameras: A-1, F-1N, and 5D III. Now, I need to buy EF lenses for my 5D to expand my range past 24-105. I did buy a rare Canon Macrophoto lens that is used on bellows.
Going digital has been a "culture shock"; my 5D has more controls than my A-1 and F-1N combined. But I do love the autofocus and the ability to change ISO without changing film.

Peter Timmer's picture

I began shooting with canon, a 60d..
And when i wanted to upgrade to full frame i had the choice of buying a 5d mark iii or d810.

I chose the d810 because of the amazing image quality.. When i switched over to Nikon i really had to get used to the difference in menu and where all the buttons are.. I still think canon's build quality, the menu and the button placement is better (this is probably just a personal preferment)...

But in the end it's about the image quality for me.. Therefore i'm still very happy with my choice, but than again i think if i'd have chosen canon i would say the same..

When people who don't know much about photography ask me why i chose Nikon and not Canon i always tell them both systems are great! It's a personal preference, like buying a guitar, a Fender has a different sound than a Gibson.. But both guitars are great..

I think that's exactly what you've experienced here, you had a Gibson and switched to a Fender.. It's just different, it handles different, has a different feel and different sound but it's not better or worse..

OMG, another Canon vs Nikon article? Really?

Fritz Asuro's picture

In short... "I love Canon, I hate Nikon".

I use both systems (Canon for my work in our publication and Nikon as my personal camera) and all I can say is I still prefer Nikon. Your complaints are somehow "silly". Canon isn't heaven at all. I guess you just got comfortable with your previous brand of choice that it became your bar for standards.
(And the 1.8G's are cheap lenses, so don't expect a robust constrcution from it)

michael andrew's picture

I hate that I can't do all my photography in the computer --- said a bunch of people on the Internet, non stop forever.

They are the exact same system. A box that takes pictures.

This brings me to the control dials. The drive mode dial on both of my cameras is stuck; it stopped moving entirely. Neither has been dropped or exposed to water or other spills. Yet, these dials are frozen (luckily, in useful positions).

My D7000 has the same problem but mine hasn't completely stopped working.

Must say that I am totally envious of Canon's silent shutter. For the rest, I am not so sure it matters. One system or the other. You can workaround most things sufficiently, though it will take time. Skin tone rendering, flash capability, button navigation... even Dynamic Range. Yeah.

Yet, if it came down to a good AND lightweight budget option, the choice seems clear:

• Canon if you choose APS-C. Wonderful STM Prime Lenses.
• Nikon if you choose Full Frame. Wonderful 1.8G Prime Lenses.

Rex Larsen's picture

There is no shortage of camera choices. Decide what works best for you and change as needed. New models are introduced all the time.

Felix Wu's picture

nikon is still leading the sensor DR game but nothing else really worth comparing...what a waste of $ switching...lol

Gil Gamesh's picture

Browse any of the World Press Photos competition winners and read the gear they use and you will note that Canon predominate.

http://www.worldpressphoto.org/

Not sure why you have the slow lenses though, when the 85mm f1.4 is such a superior lens to the slower f1.8, likewise the 50mm lens, likewise the 35mm lens.

Typically Canon make a f1.8, a f1.4 and an f1.2. Faster lenses, more options though the prime lenses, yet you have go backwards to handling f1.8 for some strange reason. Or Zeiss win hands down in the DxO / sharpness ratings - don't believe me, then go to their site?

http://www.dxomark.com/lenses/brand-nikon-carl_zeiss/launch_price-from-0...

I shoot Nikon, but the fact that most everyone around me, be it shooting sports at Wimbledon or in Kiev at the Euromedan event shoots with a Canon 5 mk 2 or 3 tells me the complete opposite to your findings.

If I was shooting with so many bodies around my neck, then I would, and have bought into the Sony a7r series - that's a no-brainer to be honest.

Experience tells me that your move is a retrograde move, and you have gained little, if anything at all 'cept a headache.

Really have to look after our gears carefully. they are too easy to be stolen while we are shooting.

Anyway, I have Canon 5d3 and canon 85mm 1.8 lens, I have also owned Nikon D800 and some cheap Nikon lensfor a few months, like nikon 85mm 1.8 etc. But what I found is that, the nikon 85mm 1.8 G lens focuses a bit slower than the canon 85mm 1.8, both silence motor, but there is a difference of focusing speed. I feel other nikon lenses ( cheap ones) are a bit slower too. Finally, I gave up Nikon as the focusing speed is not as fast as canon lens. Do you guy agree with that? or I haven't try the expensive Nikon lens?

Thanks

It seems to me that your review is more an indictment of how poorly you treat your equipment. Poor baby you have to read the instruction book on how to use your camera
This whole review is trivial subjective opinions without any substantive information. I've seen Apple fanbots but now we are introduced to a Nikon Troll.

My son turns 25 next month, which means I'll have been shooting with the EOS system for 25 years now. (I also shot with Canon FD, plus several medium format film cameras) Clearly, I'm too set in my ways. I have dropped and cracked bodies, yet they still work. I have broken a few lenses, and even have the original 35-135 zoom, which now has three brass screws in the zoom helix, but still works. Through it all, I have never had a Canon fail on me, other than wearing out a shutter. There is nothing Nikon (or Sony) could do to convince me to switch. Also, I have WAY too much in glass and accessories.

But really, I can't be bothered to twist a lens in the opposite direction.

Spy Black's picture

Adam, you can't work with one system for years, then start ranting about the differences of another you've been working for a shorter time. All camera systems have their differences. You undermine your own professionalism when you publicly rant about a lens mounting in an opposite direction that you're used to, yet freak that the hood mounts in yet the opposite direction.

You're letting minutiae instill a lot of unnecessary stress in your daily production life. In all honesty, it seems to me you're much better off returning to the Canon system you've invariably ingrained into your psyche, regardless of cost. Be a happy camper in life, it's incredibly short, and will pass you by before you know it. ;-)

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