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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Previous comments
Boris Urumov's picture

in the end the gear is just a tool guys, don't make such a big deal if you have Nikon or the dark side i.e. Canon or any other brand out there. It really does not matter and you could never tell if it's either one when looking at a final print for exhibition, let alone spotting a difference on screen...

Andre Goulet's picture

Do keep in mind that if you are strictly a studio shooter, you can shoot almost any camera with great success. Getting all caught up in gear wars is largely an exercise in futility. Wedding and action shooters have the most to be concerned with, studio shooters the least - some exceptions aside. I'm far more interested in stories about the eyecups in the comments because stuff like that has more effect on my shooting than the body I use. I shoot full-frame and APS-C and nobody, anywhere, ever has noticed the difference. Even I only notice because my full-frame camera has some better buttons and features than my APS-C body does.

Eric Lefebvre's picture

If I were to switch ... I'd probably go Sony.
I'd rent a kit before making the jump of course but good clean high ISO images are a huge factor for me.