When Do Manufacturer Delays Make Switching Camera Brands the Right Choice?

When Do Manufacturer Delays Make Switching Camera Brands the Right Choice?

After receiving yet another email stating that my new camera order is still backordered, it is becoming even more difficult to fight the urge to look at other options.

I have a problem: I have no willpower. In almost any situation, given the choice between options, I will almost inevitably choose “all of the above.” It goes well beyond photography. For a man who only possesses two feet, there is literally no practical reason why I need three separate closets lined with shoes. And as I documented my struggle with weight in the past, it mostly boils down to an inability the know when to stop.

Fortunately, I have a superpower. We all have them. And like many of you, I rely on my superpower to overcome my areas of weakness. My superpower? Discipline.

If given the an immediate burst of free will to either make the right choice or overconsume, I can be in trouble. But I am very good at making plans and sticking to them through thick and thin. It is this discipline to deny my own free will and stick to a set schedule of predetermined choices that helps me regulate my consumption and avoid excess.

Here’s a brief example. I love pizza. For all the gourmet dining I’ve been blessed to enjoy over the years, and the multitude of unbelievable chefs I’ve been surrounded by, nothing truly strikes my taste buds quite as squarely as a slice with sausage and pepperoni.  

Like many, prior to changing my life and my physique, food was just one of the many things I used as a Band-Aid to make myself feel better when I was depressed. When we are having trouble finding the answers to complicated questions, we tend to over rely on the things we know for certain. At that time, I may not have known what I was doing with my life, but I did know that pizza was good. Like, really good. And, just my luck, one of the best pizza places in the city just so happened to be right on my way home.

I started to pick up a slice every week. Then it was every few days. Then, I noticed that it’s more of a bargain if you bought a whole pie, so I’d buy the large. Then the extra large. Before I could say “pass the anchovies,” I was stopping to pick up at least a couple full pizzas each week. Telling myself I could spread the slices out over a few days, more than likely I was downing the whole pie in one night. My love of pizza wasn’t the only reason I was overweight (the days off from the pizzeria were often spent at the McDonalds just five blocks away), but it certainly didn’t help.

Thankfully I was able to turn my life around and my waistline reaped the rewards. But while it took me years to finally see the light, the key ingredient to making a positive change was a fairly simple one: discipline.

I don’t believe in denying oneself all the things in life that one enjoys. Life is meant to be lived, after all. But a small bit of discipline goes a long way. I still eat pizza. Boy, oh boy, do I love pizza. But, knowing my lack of will power, I have instead placed preset limits on how and when I can have it. Specifically, I allow myself exactly one slice of pizza per week. Not two. Never a whole pie. Just one. Only one. It’s something of a reward for sticking to my clean diet for the entire week. To be sure, I almost never go a week without a slice, but I also never go over my one slice limit.

This may sound insane to you. I’ve had more than one cross-eyed conversation with my friends over the matter. But this restriction helped changed my life and is emblematic of using my superpower to overcome my Kryptonite.  

By limiting myself to that one slice, I set a hard limit on the number of calories I can ingest on a given week from pizza. Less carbs. Less fat. Less weight. Because I have a preset hard limit, there really isn’t an option of having more than one slice. I never have to walk into the restaurant and think, “I wonder what I’m going to get.” I know exactly what I’m going to get (as do the waiters who start preparing my slice before I even need to order). And because I already know what I’m going to get, I am not tempted by additional options. Because I’m not tempted by additional options, it helps to quell my lack of willpower. It is a strict policy for sure, but it allows me to continue to enjoy something I love, without the inherent risk of excess.

Oh, and on a side note, when you know you only get one slice per week, every single bite of that slice tastes sooo good.

And now that I’ve likely made everyone reading this really want to go out and get a slice of pizza, you’re probably wondering what in the heck this has to do with photography.

Well, to make it short, Nikon is killing me right now. OK, not literally, but it sounds more dramatic put that way.

As a proud member of the Nikon family, I have been shooting primarily with Nikon bodies now for basically the entirety of my professional career. I won’t say exactly how long that career is, but, so you have an idea, I will point out that it wasn’t always completely digital. As a long time Nikon user, I also have accumulated a wide assortment of accessories to accompany my periodic camera upgrades from lenses to flashes to everything in between.

I’ve had no complaints. Except one. It seems as though every time Nikon releases a new camera, there is a simply monumental wait before most photographers can actually get their hands on one. At the time of this writing, I am lost in the mire of the endless backorder that is the D850, but this isn’t the first time I’ve had to wait to get my hands on a new release.

To be fair, as someone who graduated with a business degree, I understand there can be a marketing benefit to scarcity. In fact, many businesses use scarcity as a strategy. For those who don’t already know, the idea of scarcity is based on supply and demand. In this case, when demand is high, and supply is low, the result will be a product of higher value. In basic terms, you can charge more for a product that everyone wants but is in limited supply. People are willing to pay more to feel part of an exclusive club.  

Even if you’re not using the strategy to increase prices (which I don’t think is Nikon’s goal here), you can also use the strategy to improve promotion. If word gets out that everyone wants something but only certain people actually have it, that thing starts to be perceived as more valuable. Because it is perceived as more valuable, more consumers want to buy it.  

To put it in less economic terms and in more photographic terms, if you create a photographic masterpiece and only make one print, that print will be incredibly valuable and you’ll be able to charge a mint to someone who wishes to buy it. If, on the other hand, you flood the market with thousands of prints of the same image, each print is no longer perceived as unique, and thus the price you’ll be able to demand will be less.

Of course there’s a third and far more practical reason for market scarcity: limitations in a company’s supply chain make it impossible to meet demand. They simply can’t make the cameras fast enough to keep up with the market demand. This, I suspect, is the real reason why it is always so difficult for me to get my hands on a new upgrade and why I’ve been waiting so long for my D850. Presumably, it’s a darn good camera and worth the wait.

But while this is decidedly understandable, it does, in actual practice, provide an opening for my old nemesis. It puts incredible strains on my willpower. You see, I like Nikon. No, I love Nikon. I don’t want to switch camera brands. I’m happy where I am. So happy, in fact, that even the idea of switching brands wouldn’t even occur to me under most circumstances. Because it wouldn’t occur to me, even though the speed of technology has introduced a flood of amazing cameras to the market since my last upgrade, I hadn’t really been paying any attention. Why would I? Like my slice of pizza, I already know what I’m going to buy the next time I open my wallet, so knowing all the other options available only makes it more difficult for me to fight the urge to buy everything in the store.

But therein lies the downside of scarcity. As much as I love Nikon and have no desire to leave, I do have a business to run. And while I try to keep my equipment budget limited, I do need upgrade my technology from time to time to meet increasing demands in the marketplace. In my particular case, it is the need to greatly upgrade the video capabilities available on my D800. The longer I have to wait to implement the new technology in my business, the more stress that lack of technology will have on growth. And, in a business where you either grow or you die, it is somewhat impossible not to start to look around to fully access your options.

In just these couple months that I’ve been waiting for my order to be fulfilled, I’ve discovered a vast sea of competing products that can address my business concerns and are available now. Many of these cameras I had never even heard about and probably would never have heard about were I not made to wait so long to get the new Nikon in a more timely fashion. And while I haven’t jumped ship yet, and I still really feel as though the D850 I ordered is the best fit for my needs, the longer one has to wait, the stronger the urge to look around.

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“it is becoming even more difficult to fight the urge” - especially when all your cameras are suddenly broken... They are OK? Then go and shoot with what you have! :)

I understand the desire, and sometimes need, to upgrade but, if you were to switch brands, presumably to Sony to satisfy your video need, what of the desires and needs that kept you with Nikon for so long? Every single time I hear about somebody switching from one brand to another, except in actual cases of long-term need (not very often), I lose a margin of respect for them. It says something about them.

How does it say anything about them to want to try a different system? It actually says more about you that you base your respect for someone based on brand loyalty. Especially with camera gear people sticking with a system is usually not based on actual loyalty but due to the fact that they have a lot of money invested in that system.

Open minded, not ready to compromise something for something, decisive. Says a lot.

Completely unrelated to the article or anyone's comments but I've never associated "open minded" with "decisive". It seems like you could be one and then the other but not both at the same time.

I didn't write what it says because nobody would agree with me. I only responded so you wouldn't think I was ignoring you.

Susan Stripling is a good example. Totally lost respect for her and the Canon Explorer of Light program. She is not an Explorer of Light, she is known for her Nikon work and to suddenly switch brands and then becomes an Explorer of Light. If they waited a year and then gave her the Explorer status would have been better. But all her work she posts on Instagram from all the weddings she did in 2017 were Nikon images. Where is her outstanding work with Canon?

Same with Scott Kelby. When he switched, almost everyone working with him did too. He would have us believe it was coincidence. :-/

Disclosure: I'm a Nikon guy but I feel the same way no matter what one switches from or to.

I'm a camera whore. I'm not monogamous to any brand. Whatever I find cheap at a garage sale, I buy it: Nikon, Mamiya, Yashica, Canon, Minolta, Polaroid, Pentax. Not sure what that says about my camera morals. ;-)

I really wish people would spend even a fraction of the time it takes to write my comments, into reading them. <sigh>

The article is about switching brands for a particular reason. His main point is about lacking willpower (the point of my comment) but he also mentions, almost as a side issue, his need for video. My comment makes exception for need. If he's doing a lot of that, I think he should go ahead and switch or, as someone else stated, get a more dedicated video camera. In this case, he'd be more happy with a Sony than the D850 for video so that's something he *should* think about.

Since you're nice and usually funny, I'll tell you the thinking behind my original comment. People's habits influence their attitudes about seemingly unrelated subjects. People who randomly switch from one shiny bauble to another (the point of my comment) are more likely to treat morality, principles and even people in the same way. That's clearly not the case for a camera whore, not that there's anything wrong with that! I own three different makes of cameras. ;-)

I've been meaning to ask you since you live in Detroit. Having read articles about photographing abandoned industrial buildings, what is the reality of being able to do that? Have you ever done it? I don't live a great distance away and had thought about visiting some time to try it. Not being a young man, however, I've been a bit reticent.

Oh, Sam. i wasn't picking on your comment. I was trying to be funny, but it apparently fell flat. :-(

As for photographing abandoned buildings, there are some hotspots where there are muggings. Theives have learned that photographers flock to those particular buildings and they wait for them.

In other cases, where the buildings are owned, I have gained permission and paid the owner to photograph the building. I'm one of those follow the laws kinds of persons and won't trespass. <- not a joke.

I knew you were kidding. :-)

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

TL;DR: Nikon give him this f**king camera :)

While he often strays away from photography, he's an excellent writer and worth reading if you have the time.

And a slice of pizza for the inconvenience of waiting!

david squire's picture


Grant Schwingle's picture

Nice article, I appreciate the candor about willpower. It's something I deal with as well. I had my D850 ordered from B&H for a month on back order, when I finally cancelled and got it within a week from my local seller. Should have done that at the start and just taken the hit on the tax.

As for video, your new 850 is not stopping you from creating. I've used my 800 a bunch and it's been fine, though the one thing I've preferred working with video is having a dedicated camera for it. I like the idea of dialing in and setting up a rig specifically for video work so it doesn't interfere with either medium, as trying to do both on the same camera can be maddening.

Agreed. I don't understand wanting one camera for both if you do a lot of each.

so buy a pizza already,.

Great and funny article. Pizza is certainly bad for your waistline.

No more so than any other food with the same amount of calories.

True. I love pizza but my intestines don't.

Except it's more addictive than most other foods. :-)

Nah, people have simply been conditioned and told it's OK to stuff their faces because it isn't their fault. Christopher luckily knows better.

Kawika Lopez's picture

Great write up. I hope people can appreciate the relevance of self awareness and how it relates to your professional decision.

I think it takes a lot of emotional maturity to accept your strengths and weakness and to leverage them in order to love more effectively.

I just hope this doesn’t get interpreted as just some memoir of a struggling pizzaholic. There is great value in recognizing the psychological factors that make us tick, and our professional decisions are not immune to them.

I am not a pro and I would like to switch from Sony (aps-c) to Fuji. I love what is coming out of the camera, but I hate the fiddly ergonomics of the a6xxx series.
However photos and videos are just a hobby and cost money.
Switching brands is rather expensive. So I am staying for now.

michael buehrle's picture

in %99 of the people switching brands it is not needed. you don't NEED a new camera to make you a better photog. cameras that are 10 years old are still kicking ass. glass is what effects pictures the most. i laugh every time i see a guys or girl switch brands to a "better" platform. what a waste. every brand has great gear, period. no one will hire you just because you have a D5 or 1Dx as opposed to the other brands. you might like to think so. you will get hired for your work. period.

Yep, I'm shooting on very old digital gear. 10 year old Canon.

I won't include the film cameras, which are obviously older. ;-)

However, if those who switch have the disposable income, I don't fault them. It's their money and their choice. They can do what they want.

This feeling makes perfect sense to me, if you can´t trust the camera manufacturer to sell you a brand new and expensive camera, how can you then expect them to get a replacement to you quickly, when something breaks.

You really think trust is the issue here? The D850 was wildly more popular than they had anticipated. End of story.

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