Redux: My Nikon-PC, Your Canon-Mac

Redux: My Nikon-PC, Your Canon-Mac

Last week I postulated that as I was a PC user who shot Nikon, did Mac users shoot Canon? Here's a summary of how readers voted and what they thought.

The PC-Mac rivalry is long documented which has led to some healthy and not-so-healthy debate along the way. Darrell Miller perhaps best summarized this:

I use all kinds of computers [at work] but when I come home I use a Mac. We can talk about price, we can talk about more power out of a PC, more options but I just want to sit down open up my laptop and know it's going to work. If there is a problem (there never is) I know I'll get really really good support from the Apple store less than 3 miles away.

A similar rivalry, but perhaps not quite so robust, has arisen between Canon and Nikon. This led me to think:

My penchant for shooting Nikon and processing on a PC made me wonder if there were those who shot Canon and processed on a Mac. At the simplest level, that clearly can't be true because there are plenty of other camera manufacturers out there but it made me think, from Fstoppers' wide readership, what camps do people fall in to?

So how did people vote? Here's how the over 6,300 votes that were cast (January 31) look:

Besides being a healthy number of votes, this shows that 51.6 percent shoot Nikon, 34.5 percent shoot Canon, and 7.1 percent shoot Sony. What's most surprising about these results is the camera manufacturer split. According to last year's Nikkei report, Canon had 49.1 percent of the worldwide interchangeable lens camera (ILC) market, while Nikon had 24.9 percent. Of course they represent new sales, whereas for those that voted we are talking about their current camera which takes in to account historic sales. The votes are also biased toward the U.S. market which will be different. Nonetheless, these results almost flip the proportions of Canon and Nikon, with Sony lagging behind in third place.

The other breakdown is 62.1 percent on PC and 37.9 percent on Mac. PCs have the largest share, however it is a significant proportion of 37 percent for Macs which shows how important they are in the creative sector. In terms of all computer users globally, Macs have a  near 10 percent market share so this is a real milestone. Of the combined groupings, Nikon users predominantly process on a PC (which sort of supports the original idea), while Nikon shooters on a Mac are similar in number to Canon shooters on a PC. Perhaps the biggest omission in the voting options was Linux (sorry, only one comment from a Chrome user). There is some excellent photography focused software, including GIMP and Darktable, which makes it a viable option. Harold Schmidt gave a good synopsis:

[I use] the current Ubuntu LTS [with] Geeqie for the first round of editing, Darktable for RAW conversion, Gimp for retouching and Nik collection with Wine for final touches and b/w conversion. I keep Windows as a dual boot system but haven't really used it in years. I only fire it up if I absolutely have to use Olympus Viewer to get that gorgeous Oly JPEG look from a RAW file.

So what did people think? Spy Black opened proceedings with "Detonation in 3, 2, ..." however that didn't happen. It was a fascinating insight in to Fstoppers readers, describing how their photographic equipment and computers have changed through the years. David Arthur commented:

I had always shot Nikon and always thought Canon was way too awkward. Then I got a corporate job and they already had Canon. Now on the rare occasion I use my Nikon it feels so awkward. It's all what you are used to. While I was used to Nikon I am now used to Canon. So my Nikon is for sale and I've switched to Fuji at home. Fuji and Canon are such different form factors that I don't subconsciously get them confused anymore.

Anthony S summed up the reason as to why we seem to be becoming so agnostic to specific camera systems

I believe all the majors make great equipment. A preference for one system over the other, to me, seems more personal preference over any significant technical advantage.

Or more bluntly from Terke Bergesen:

My Nikon to your Canon/Sony/Pentax/Panasonic is like my PC to your PC or my MAC to your MAC. Anyone who thinks there is a significant difference is a moron.

Many commented on how one system edged ahead of another at the time of purchase and they have remained relatively loyal since then. Fritz Asuro felt Nikon has the edge for dynamic range, Canon for use in the press due to their customer service and third party accessories, with Sony for video and Fujifilm as a travel camera and amazing JPGs.

There was plenty of healthy debate around computer systems. Paolo Lubrano gave a good example of personal experience:

I [have] purchased 4 Macs since 1993 [and] in the life of the machines I never had a single problem mechanical, electrical, or software.

However it is more than that as William Howell notes:

It is the OS and GUI and the seamless integration across all three devices, (iPhone, iPad and Mac), that is why people use and love Apple. Oh and yeah the coolness.

Jesse Merz didn't quite see it that way:

[It is] consistently years behind the competition in terms of everything that actually matters, but they'll always have an intense cult following because of the aesthetic and "coolness". And with that comes a ludicrous price tag way above market value.

Small things niggled Hasan Akay: "The File Finder is so archaic compared to File Explorer that it feels like a toy computer. I cannot understand how anybody can put up with this primitive file system." RT Simon summarized more succinctly: "[PCs] are generally cheaper, you can build your own, and the type of software one uses might not be running on a Mac (and vice versa)." However he also pointed to one of the earliest commentaries on the PC-Mac debate:

The original analogy made between comparing PC vs Mac users was written in a semi-political essay by Umberto Eco with the premise, are PC users more likely to be protestant, and are Mac users mostly Catholic? Eco’s analogy is thought provoking. It is the predecessor of every PC-Mac user-question ever asked.

For those that haven't read it, as I hadn't, here's a link.

Bert Nase flatly refuted my original question in the best way possible: "No, it isn't. My Mac and my Nikons are the best!" Coming back to my own preferences, it was fascinating that the single biggest group were PC users shooting Nikon. However this wasn't by a particularly large margin. All we can say for certain is that from this sample, there were significantly more PC users and that (against expectation), more Nikon shooters. Like many who commented, I've stuck with the first system (computer and camera) I was introduced to. With ILC sales in decline (and Canon thinking they may slump by up to 50 percent over the next two years), someone's first camera may well be a smartphone which breaks the link to traditional makers. How can camera manufacturers break this lock-in? What will a hybrid smartphone-camera market look like in five years? If nothing else, these are interesting times.

Lead image courtesy of Pexels via Pixabay, used under Creative Commons.

Mike Smith's picture

Mike Smith is a professional wedding and portrait photographer and writer based in London, UK.

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what was the actual point? i fail to believe, "i use a nikon and windows, so i guess canon users must use macs, what do you think?" was the actual thesis. there has to be more than this, even if it's a matter of someone simply buying a new, wooden spoon and deciding, instead of cooking with it, they chose to stir a pot of shit.

it's like the verbal version of someone drawing a venn diagram on a whiteboard, then drawing a small, third circle off in the upper right corner and labeling it "chocolate."

I had an argument with some dude about mac vs PC on YouTube. At the end of the day for photo it won't matter. Video it will make a difference. I've got a decked out PC and if I'm using DaVinci Resolve it I'll take everything out of the PC if I start doing composite and particle work. Throw multiple GPUs and it will still run that at 100% if you give it the option. The Mac just won't handle it without pre registration which really takes extra time.
Programs like Lightroom are so poorly coded that you could setup a super computer and it will still give you issues.

There are three kinds of lies as the saying goes- lies, damn lies, and statistics. Without context it's hard to draw conclusions from any poll. As far as computers and cameras...I've been servicing, supporting, and using Windows and Apple machines for a loooong time. The bottom line is they are more the same than different. And the vast majority of Mac and Windows users have no computer problems. Ever. They turn it on when they get home from the store, spend two weeks being pissed off setting up and configuring, and then replace it five or ten years later when it dies. They think about their computers less than their cars. Anecdotal evidence like "I bought four macs and they were all awesome" or "I bought a MacBook and it died I'll never buy another" is meaningless to the actual quality of the product but it certainly makes a difference to people. I can only assume the same is true in the camera world, and it certainly seems to be the case online. Lots of mostly good products and a lot of "Hold my beer, I can swing my dick way harder than that guy".

I can qualify my use of Sony and Mac absolutely directly and without any vagaries.
I shoot Sony because the dynamic range is superior to anything but Nikon or Fuji GFX (equal, essentially, to the former and very close to the latter,) for the ability to shoot large aperture lenses wide open, when desired, without concern for lens/body calibration or changes in focus accuracy and for the ability to shoot silently quite seamlessly, which comes in handy enough to make me never want to be without it.
I've shot Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Leica and Sony and while I wish the layout and functionality of the Sony gear was more like Fuji (my fave for ergonomics,) everything else still makes Sony the most solid choice for my needs.
And Mac? I've been using it for almost 20 years and 1) I can find my way around and locate and move anything easily, not to mention the remote accessibility is evolving and fantastic and 2) It rarely or almost never malfunctions and holds up extremely well. I primarily use Lightroom and a little bit of Photoshop and they each do what I need them to.
One thing is for sure, I will never fault anyone for their gear choices. As I love to research and try new gear, I'm just happy that I'm as aware regarding my specific needs as I am. That's been a process all in itself and over the years, I've made some terrible and expensive decisions. However, in the end, I suppose it's all brought me to knowing what works for me, so while my wife may not agree entirely, I wouldn't change a thing.

Some of the dumbest people I know are photographers .. and those who write about photography .. but it's funny that they are relatively smart in other avenues.
Photo opinions and articles are like political statements ... Dumb !
Write one on what automobiles Nikon Canon and Sony users drive ..

It's so sad when a deadline is approaching and one cannot come up with a good subject. Cheer up Mike. There will be other days.