Why 2003 Was the Tipping Point: Nikon Relinquished Its Advantage and Canon Cemented Its Digital Future

Why 2003 Was the Tipping Point: Nikon Relinquished Its Advantage and Canon Cemented Its Digital Future

It was the year of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, iTunes, the final Concorde flight, and the invasion of Iraq. George W. Bush was President, and Tony Blair Prime Minister, whilst Serena beat Venus at Wimbledon and the Devils won the Stanley Cup. In cinemas "Matrix Reloaded," "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Finding Nemo," and "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" first aired. But what happened during 2003 in the photographic world?


The millennium dawned and camera manufactures woke up to the digital future. Nikon led the charge and 2003 saw it release its fourth DSLR in the shape of the D2H. This was a pro-spec camera specifically targeted at sports photographers with a relatively low 4.1 MP resolution, but an 8 fps shooting rate; the D2X released the following year was 12MP. As with all the early Nikon DSLRs, it had an APS-C sensor which had been sourced from Sony. However the D2H was their first to us a Nikon sensor and is a reminder that they have long had sensor design and fabrication facilities. It demonstrated Nikon's rapid R&D, moving on from the cumbersome D1 models with better AF, better battery life (Li-Ion), and iTTL flash, however it suffered from a slower flash sync speed and some IR contamination. Nikon also released one film SLR — the F75 — however all film camera development would cease in 2006 so this really was one of the last models.

Whilst Canon had been second to market in terms of a DSLR, it wasn't sitting back on its haunches, launching the pro-spec 1D in 2001 with an APS-H 4 MP sensor which was succeeded by the 1Ds in 2002 sporting a full frame (FF) 11 MP variant. By 2003, Canon was in a brief hiatus and released the prosumer APS-C 6.3 MP 10D at $2000 (about $3000 today). It has the dubious claim of being the last APS-C model prior to the release of EF-S lenses and so was incompatible with them.

These early cameras highlight the key market both companies wooed: journalists and particularly sports photographers. Continuous shooting speed was critical and the 8 fps of the D2H and 1D was a design target. It is also the reason that lower resolution APS-C and APS-H sensors were chosen as they enabled faster readout and greater lens reach, whilst also being cheaper to manufacture. However Canon realized the importance of FF sensors in terms of image quality and historic lens support. From the beginning their dual strategy of APS-H and FF targeted both these markets. It wasn't until Nikon released the D300 and D3 in 2007 that they followed suit.

Whilst Canon's range of APS-C cameras could mount EF lenses, the design of the body meant that lens elements could be mounted closer to the sensor, so leading to the implementation of EF-S lenses. The release of the EF-S mount in 2003 was therefore a landmark as it allowed greater flexibility in lens design for both wide angle optics, as well as making smaller, lighter, and cheaper lenses. This improvement however meant that FF cameras could not mount EF-S lenses. Nikon eventually settled on APS-C and FF models (the so-called DX and FX lines) with lenses designed for the image circle of each sensor. However FX lenses could be mounted on DX cameras and vice versa. This meant either a crop factor was applied or an image crop occurred, however they were entirely interchangeable.

All of which goes to show both how lens mounts evolved over time and how important they are to the design and flexibility of any individual system. Canon has never been afraid to improve (or break) their system in the search of better performance.

Meanwhile, Pentax managed to release its last SLR and first full DSLR in the form of the *ist and *istD. The *ist was everything you would expect from the last film designed camera and marked the handover to digital. The *istD was essentially the same body housing a 6.1 MP APS-C sensor, the same used by Nikon's D100. The lightest and smallest DSLR of its time (a remarkable 650 g), it was well received and showed that Pentax had managed to hit the mark with its first model. A thoroughly deserving (and competitive) entry in to the digital market and one Pentax fans would have been relieved to see.

Olympus had a relatively long heritage of developing digital compact cameras, dating to 1993's VC-1000 which was to be followed shortly after by their consumer oriented Camedia line. The cash cow was digital compact cameras and they embraced it with vigor. With the demise of the OM line they needed to consider their digital strategy and this they pursued with Kodak in the form of the Four Thirds system which was designed from the ground up to be digital and highly compact. It was the direct precursor of Micro Four Thirds (which removed the mirrorbox from the specification) and is arguably the foundation of all mirrorless products today.

So was Olympus visionary in its maiden release of the E-1 in 2003 or blithely stupid in pursuing an entirely different strategy to everyone else? The Four Thirds crop factor is 2.0x, with the image sensor about the same size as 110 film; it has 30% less area than APS-C. This brings advantages of reach and speed, alongside cost as well as body size and weight. Olympus envisaged pro news and sports shooters as being the main beneficiaries and the E-1 was built to the highest specification using a 5 MP Kodak sensor. Dust and weather sealed, it incorporated the first ever dust removal system (Supersonic Wave Filter). However its frame rate and AF was uncompetitive when compared to Nikon and Canon. Yet again, however, we see the importance of digital to the development of lens mounts with Olympus starting a new system from scratch.

Fuji's dalliance with Nikon continued beyond their collaboration on the E2 and E3, with a prosumer range of Finepix S Pro DSLRs initially based around the Nikon F60, but using a Fuji sensor and electronics. The Super CCD sensor was Fuji produced, using a hexagonal tesselation to increase the resolution. It's a reminder that from the very beginning Fuji has been involved in chip fabrication, which continues to this day with the X-Trans sensor. Both produce exceptional color, but require proprietary algorithms to get the best out of them. However the main 2003 product was the GX645AF, a medium format AF film camera also sold as the Hasselblad H1 and a thoroughly modern update to medium format. By the end of the 2000s both these product lines would end — Fuji would have to reinvent itself.

Minolta was going through tough times behind the scenes. By 2003 it was close to the final merger with Konica whilst also in discussion with Sony about jointly developing its digital strategy. Its Maxxum SLRs were still popular and it released the 3, an entirely consumer oriented auto SLR. Like other manufacturers it also plied a healthy trade in compact cameras. The year was particularly notable for the release of the DiMAGE A1 which introduced the world's first anti-shake system using a 2-axis IBIS integrated in to a 5.2 MP bridge camera. The camera wasn't successful, but the technology ground breaking.

Leica at this point was gearing up for the release of its first digital M in 2006; 2002 saw it release the last iterative development of the film M in the form of the M7 which would finally cease production in 2018. The MP was then released in 2003, a gorgeous, stripped back, M rangefinder that took the camera right back to its M3 origins, or perhaps less sympathetically, "a showy version of the M6 Classic". That is to say, a mechanical camera with a light meter.


As ever, global news continued to break and this kept photographers busy. For a long and lingering look through 2003, take a peek at Time's retrospective for the US, while PA Images provide a well-rounded view of the UK.

World Press Photo for 2003 went to Eric Grigorian for his heart wrenching photo of a child squatting beside the soon-to-be grave of his father. A 6.5 earthquake hit northern Iran killing at least 300 people. The boy is hugging his fathers trousers, volunteers digging graves in the background: it's an image that speaks to the present in terms of the loss of loved ones and the need for burial. However it also looks to the future — what happened to the boy and his family? Grief is so often hidden that it requires photographers to be witness to the events around them.

On a similar note, Don Bartletti of the LA Times won a Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography for his work on migration from South America to the USA, a recurring topic. Again, Bartletti is a witness of long distance migration, a trek he actively participates in. The images taken from moving trains are arresting for their immediacy and the sheer sense of danger. He also drags the shutter very effectively to portray motion. This is an essay showing the lengths people will go to in their search for a better life.

The final selection is from the Time 100 Most Influential Images of All Time titled "The Hooded Man." A haunting image of torture in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, that did significant damage to the reputation of the US Army. The image is influential not so much in and of itself, because there were thousands taken by the soldiers involved and this was less explicit than others, but rather because it is unusual for there to be so much photographic evidence. This clearly shows the social transition to digital photography and the desire to share the images widely, something we take for granted now. It also witnesses — and can help explain — why it happened, something psychologist Phil Zimbardo explores.

So where does this all leave 2003? Both technically and socially the world had inextricably shifted to digital. Whilst smartphones weren't "a thing," the mindset for digital photography — sharing — was entrenched. It enabled journalists to file imagery quickly for fast news as much as it allowed friends to distribute photos between themselves. The world became a smaller place and "The Hooded Man" is one manifestation of that. However it was Canon that hit its stride in offering FF and APS-C DSLRs, something that Nikon was going to have to play catch up with. That early misstep is something it is still trying to recover from.

Lead and body images courtesy Paul Fisher, Oswald Engelhardt and Cburnett via Wikipedia, used under Creative Commons. Hooded Man in the Public Domain, via Wikipedia.

Mike Smith's picture

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

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I used to frequent nikonians and people were jealous and pissed canon had a ff early on and nikon only had a 6mp apsc camera. there was unrest. the d2h/s was a fantastic camera except for the crap sensor. it was a joke. shame on them.
canon released the EOS-1Ds early and I remember being pissed nikon was way too slow to react. around 4-5 year late. I remember a popular photography article (good bye good riddance) showed the 1ds vs kodak film 100. they did a closeup comparison of resolution. there was a sign in the background of the images taken from both. the digital file was VERY legible vs film. night and day difference.I was certain it was a setup. then I saw an article (Luminous Landscape) that compared the 1ds to the pentax 645 film scanned, if I remember correctly. he shot some architecture/tall buildings and compared them. the 1ds was better. I was skeptical and certain it was a fanboy setup. 1 because I didnt want to leave film (thinking it was superior) and 2 they seemed to be lending a hand to canon to push their product. I was wrong though. it was true. the 1ds was amazing for its time.
D3 was a great camera though when it finally came out. my first digital camera. all the apsc before looked horrible to my eyes. many jumped on the bandwagon from the d100/d70 and tried to convince me but they looked horrible when I saw them printed. so much smearing and ca and the grain didnt look natural at all. the d3 changed a lot of that. I couldnt believe I could shoot at iso 3200 and get amazing IQ.

they also were slow to add good video performance and features into their dslr and only the d850 and also the d750, were the first that were good. now the d780 and z6.
shame they didnt continue the momentum of the d300s/d90s
the d4/d4s has worse video performance then the d3300. it isnt a video camera but when youre paying that much, your cheapest camera cannot be better then your top.
ultimately slow to react.
many who were moving to do dslr wedding videography, moved to the 5dII and III and 6d till those guys finally moved to the gh5 and a7 models. nikon had nothing to compete.

Nikon's biggest mistake was not branching out into enough different industries the way Canon did over the decades. Yeah, they made binoculars, medical optics, rifle scopes, etc. but nowhere near the breadth of products that Canon makes (or Sony and Panasonic). That lack of diverse revenue streams is what is kicking them in the ass right now with the industry in the toilet.

With the market contracting, it's likely that the camera companies that will survive are the ones that don't pretty much exclusively rely on their imaging divisions to turn a profit.

When? Back in the '40s or '50s? By 2000, Canon was already a multinational behemoth with it foot not only in camera tech but also in all areas of imaging. I remember purchasing a Canon laser printer to replace my original HP Laserjet and also considering Canon inkjet printers for color imaging, and lusting for Canon primarily cassette then digital video cameras. Canon's advertising was huge. In 1980 or '81, I purchased a Nikon FE to replace a stolen Minolta SLR. However, by the 1990s my photographer hobby had waned but not disappeared. I remember lusting for a Canon Rebel due to the heavy advertising featuring tennis legion Andre Agassi. I got my first DSLR in 2003, the original digital Rebel (Canon 300D), again based on Canon's omnipresent advertising. I had no clue what was available; I had the feeling that Nikon was targeting pros and "serious" enthusiast, of which neither category included me. I had never had a lens collection, so I didn't consider myself switching. Thus, Nikon wasn't a serious consideration until much later in the decade when I became serious about photography again. At that time, I saw images produced by my cousin's Nikon D70 or D80 in low light and was blown away by the quality and richness of colors. My DReb was no match.

Thus, the biggest mistake I saw Nikon making was its inability to match Canon's advertising penetration. Pros and serious hobbyist may keep up with the latest/greatest, but back then the amateur photographers who purchased consumer-targeted APS-C/DX and compact (point-and-shoot) cameras were the fuel that kept the R&D pumps working.

Thank you for the nice article and trip down memory lane.
2003 was an eventful year for me as well. In the spring I bought a second hand Nikon F100, my first AF SLR, and by October had switched to digital with the purchase of a Canon 10D. My MF Nikkor lenses wouldn't work with the Nikon or Fuji DSLRs of the time, meaning I'd have to get new lenses anyways, so switching brands was not too expensive.

What I didn't expect in 2003 was that I'd never shoot film again. While I don't miss using film at all, I do miss my Canon 10D. It was kinda clunky and slow, and noisy above 400ISO, but it produced photos with lovely colors under certain conditions.

Miss my 10d as well

In 2003 I was seriously shopping for my first DSLR. A big factor for me was finding one lens to cover the range I needed.

The most common Canon and Nikon setup was a 16-35mm and 24-70mm, to cover 24-105mm across two lenses, which I didn't want to do - swapping lenses, or buying two bodies, was out of the question.

I liked the *istD, but the 18-35mm f/4-5.6 (27-52.5mm) was rather boring.

Then Olympus came along with the E-1, which had a 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 that was a 28-108mm equivalent. The range I needed, fast, and with no barrel distortion on the wide end. That, for me, was the killer thing I needed, and the dust reduction feature just sealed the deal.

The D3 (and subsequently the smaller, more affordable, but same IQ D700) were major breakthroughs in imaging tech. They by far had better low-light image quality than anyone else - not to mention other advantages.

I think two of the biggest mistakes Nikon made early-on were: 1) their lens mount, integrating AF into an old mount, as well as the use of subpar screw-driven AF-D lenses vs. Canon's USM. This later created issues with compatibility (particularly on lower-end models) and issues with needing to develop new AF-S (or later AF-P) lenses. Heck, Canon's CURRENT 85/1.8 lens dates back to the early 90s.... 2) They didn't seem to cater to the lower-end of the market as much as Canon. Those D3xxxx and D5xxx (or previously Dxx, e.g. D40, D70) models are what made up the majority of sales in the 2000s, just like Canon's Rebel series. The lack of full-frame sensors may have swayed professionals toward Canon to begin with, but a majority of the money was made on those low/mid end models. A lot of pros also switched to Nikon once they pulled ahead in 2007/2008.

The 5D Mark II also can't be underestimated - though a more niche market compared to photography overall, Canons were THE camera to get for video/filmmakers. I got my first digital camera (a T2i) because of that alone. Though it's funny to note that Nikon actually had the first HD video in a DSLR, though only 720 and not full frame.

The decision to keep the same legacy lens mount made a lot of sense (same with Pentax), but ultimately probably wasn't the best choice. Especially since they probably didn't foresee digital cameras when they started making AF/AF-D lenses. Canon's choice made a lot of people angry at the time, but likely worked out best for them in the long run.

Also worth noting: the first FF digital camera was the Contax N Digital using a Philips sensor. It fizzled out quickly, though the Contax N1 (the 35mm predecessor to the N Digital) was a nice camera and the lenses (Zeiss) were amazing.

they reacted too slowly twice. no ff till 5 years later then canons first and they didnt invest in the video part in dslr.
it could have been nikon who had many more users when people were doing dslr wedding videography. but canons 5dII would bring many users to them. after that everyone was using the 5dIII and some c100 users also. but then jumped again to the gh5 and a7 bodies after that. in weddings its now fs5/7 or a7 variant shooting weddings that I see. the r5 is the call to get people back. hopefully if it doesnt overheat and deliver the good. nikon fell asleep and is trying to up their video level. but no good offering for weddings atm. d780 no grip overpriced and no prores option. z6, I never shoot any wedding without 2 cards. read a lot about banding issues at higher iso. saw some articles saying yes, some "proving" it doesnt. but 1 slot makes it a no go.

The banding "issue" with the Z cameras is a nonsense problem stirred up by folks at places like DP Review. Yeah, sure, you'll see it if you push your image 5 stops or something, which is not at all indicative of real world usage. It's a stupid problem created by reviewers, not photographers.

I still see a lot of C300/other Cinema EOS cameras and 5D Mark III/IV cameras used on reality shows, documentary type stuff, etc. Can't speak to weddings myself.

maybe nonsense maybe not.
for me the z gen 1 is not a viable option. gen 2 may be better.
I havent seen anyone shooting with a canon camera as of late in a wedding. but im sure that r5 will definitely interest many to move back if it can deliver. we dont know yet.

Understood, not all cameras work for all people - not trying to convince you otherwise.

I don't shoot weddings so I believe you there. But in the TV world, Canons are still incredibly popular due to the lenses and the excellent dual pixel AF, which makes reality/doc/similar work much easier.

Three times, actually. They missed the autofocus boat in the late 80s. The EOS system was far superior to Nikon's. That's why so many sports photographers switched from the Nikon F range to Canon.

I think the F mount is to blame ... at the core. It lead to all the other issues

Considering the fact that some of the best DSLR lenses available right now exist in F-mount (from Nikon's own 70-200 f/2.8E to various Sigma and Zeiss offerings), care to elaborate?

Of course Nikon lenses are good. But most if not all of them play second fiddle to Canon lenses as per article. Much of it doesn’t matter much in typical use, but it does becomes blatant on technical lenses where Nikon lenses just can’t keep up and in wide angles.

Where it does matter most is in development - the larger flange distance is driving up both developments cost and time and reducing quality output. In wide angles you need front bulging elements to achieve the same quality a Canon lens would with a flat surface ... making handling more difficult especially when you want to use filters.

It makes Nikon lenses typically more expensive, more difficult to handle for the same if not quite as good quality.

Canon lenses are designed to work well beyond the Image circle required for the sensor - cannot be said of Nikon. Indeed the image circle of Canon lenses are so large and good you can use them on medium format cameras such as the Fuji GFX - the 16-35, and all of the Canon TS lenses work extremely well. Forget doing that with a Nikon lens. This is particularly interesting for technical purposes (Shifting) but also a remarkable demonstration of their superiority.

All of it is due to the larger flange distance of the f-mount. That’s also most probably the reason why it was harder for Nikon to launch a Fullframe Camera at the start.

And indeed Nikon made a big deal with their shorter than Canon flange distance this time around when they launched the Z system. Flange distance was really what they were going for. I hope it isn’t too little too late. The Pandemic may just kill them. That would be truely sad.

In 2003 I wasn't into photography. My journey started in 2004 with the Olympus C-310 Zoom. Finally in 2010 I was ready to purchase my first dSLR. My mind was set on the Olympus E-620. Don't know why but I thought the E-System was awesome. Strangely enough the seller talked me into mirrorless and I walked away with the E-PL1 with the 14-42 kitlens. No regrets.

I've always owned Nikon, never Canon. Not for any reason other than my friend had a Nikon, raved about them, so I followed suit. I asked why not Canon? He stated no reason, Canon is good too, but he had already invested in Nikon, and continued to do so.

I will say this, I am very happy with Nikon. One of the reasons why, the lens mount, consistent throughout the years / models - with the exception now of mirrorless (Z). I have had the D7000, D800, D810, and now the D850. I have had the luxury of "If you like your lens, you can keep your lens!"

So, I don't have any actual experience to really make a serious comment on Canon performance / quality.

But this begs me to ask, in DXOMark, how are Nikon's sensors rated so high and Canon's are not? If I were to use that as a buyers guide, putting the emphasis and expectation on quality of the sensor to deliver the best image, I'd always choose Nikon first.

Now, I get it, when you speak about Nikon lagging behind in a few areas, that Canon is a better product, like as a wedding photographer, I'd choose Canon, right? Because it's quiet. Nikon's make noise etc. No good. You know us pesky photographers are there, if you own Nikon. Clicky Clicky Go Away!

And I am reading Canon had an early start to some core technologies (FF) and is generally more versatile, or has been until maybe as of recent. That Nikon D850 can go a lot of places, right? And the image quality, wow, love it.

I also know that Nikon has struggled financially, probably due to their lagging behind / poor decisions. I won't be helping any I suppose - you'll have to drag me kicking and screaming into the world of mirrorless, I'm not going...

So, is Canon better? I don't know. I could be that bug that hit the windshield in this conversation, and splatter you with passive / aggressive insults like - McDonald's was the first to sell a billion hamburgers, so what. Should I continue to buy that product because of that accolade? There are better burgers to be had out there folks.

Do I think I'm better than you because I own a D850? No, not really. Am I happy with the performance and IQ of what I own? Absolutely. Would I have been happy had I invested in Canon, probably / most likely.

I am not a professional photographer, I have only been in the hobby about 10 years, and find it to be a great sense of accomplishment - kind of like climbing a mountain. I retire my camera bodies to move to the newer model when I feel the newer features can help me accomplish more. For example, the Nikon D810 afforded me native ISO 64, electronic front curtain shutter, no anti aliasing, all translating to better IQ on an already great sensor. Does that make me a better photographer functionally - that's subject to interpretation, but generally speaking, no it doesn't.

But let's drop back to my friend for a moment, who could have gone either way (Nikon or Canon), he is a photographer at heart, and always puts the emphasis on "be the photographer," learn to take a better photograph. To me, he is the "Yoda of Yodas" with respect to photography. He is not so hot on who had it first, who is crossing what finish line, how many bells n whistles a camera has, parenthetically hates the megapixel race, and gives a rat's ass about video capability. He is happy with the most basic full frame, on the anvils of, a DSLR should have always been that, matching the 35mm format. And I, am probably the biggest annoyance to him with all this shrubbery I throw at him...

No matter what I've got in my bag, he often reminds me to, "just shoot the picture stupid..."

and so it goes.

"But this begs me to ask, in DXOMark, how are Nikon's sensors rated so high and Canon's are not?"

Virtually everyone except Canon gets their sensors from Sony. Some - like Nikon - design some of their own (the D810, D850, Z7, for example, are all Nikon designs) but Sony manufacturers them. They manufacture for Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Hasselblad, Phase One, Leica, Fuji, etc. In fact, many of the same base sensors are shared across different manufacturers - with the companies doing tweaks to the imaging pipeline and possibly other things (like Fuji uses their own X-Trans CFA instead of a bayer). This is why cameras can share the same base sensor (e.g. Hasselblad X1D, Fuji GFX50, Pentax 645Z) but produce different looking files.

Long story short, Canon has never quite caught up with Sony's sensor tech. Their sensors tend to lag by about a stop of DR and for a long time they were not ISO-invariant, but they're still more than capable. Obviously with Sony being the largest manufacturer of camera sensors, they have more R&D to invest.

After Nikon released the D3/D700, they pretty much had the better sensors over Canon from that point forward. But DXO Mark scores shouldn't be a huge factor for someone - Photons to Photo is better, but even then, you may be talking about extremely diminishing returns.

Thank you for the reply. For me, my path is to become a better photographer. I have a really smart camera being attacked by a really ignorant index finger, and while I may be more lucky vs. good in some of my shots, honesty on the table, I have lots to learn before rendering a true sea-worthy opinion amongst peers. My original post was to ask a legitimate question coupled with some statements that seem to fit the topic...

Your question seemed totally legitimate. Didn't mean to imply it wasn't at all.

I shoot with whatever works for a given environment for me. I have Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus, Sony, and Canon gear. People get hung up on brands and start worshiping them. People are stupid. It's gear. Use whatever you need to get your shot.

Indeed. Same goes for processing software. End product is the goal.

Thank you, yes the tribalism--"fanboys"-- we see is common all over the Internet. Everything is this vs that, and it's infected the usually more genteel photography world. I currently shoot Nikon, and as I am building out my Z lens catalog, I probably will for the foreseeable future (provided Nikon is still around!) but I have shot Sony and even Samsung for that brief window when they were making MILCs and found the cameras quite capable. Every camera has pluses and minuses so you just get what works for you.

One Big reason you started seeing White lenses on sidelines - Nikon was more than 4 years behind Canon in coming out with Big, Fast Autofocus glass. Many who tried the Canon AF glass at sporting events compared it to their manual focus Nikkors - and made the switch. It was that good - a game changer for sports and wildlife shooters. Eventually Nikon came out with their own Big, Fast glass in Autofocus but had lost so many shooters it hurt them.

Ironically enough Nikon was the first to have a "white" lens like you now regularly see on Canons, but reverted back to black lenses.

What about Kodak Pro DCS line, that was ahead of it times using both Nikon and Canon Legacy Glass...

About that time same time at the magazine I worked for the staff photographers finally convinced management to invest in digital. They bought us all EOS 1D bodies and a few lenses. But we couldn't start shooting digital until they built an internal searchable database to store and retrieve images company wide. There were so many companies offering so many different database solutions at that time. By the time the company had one up and running the 1D bodies had been collecting dust for over a year and the 1Ds was out. We all got the new bodies. I had been a career-long Nikon shooter but Canon was putting out a superior digital product and so had to learn to focus in the other direction. . . literally. Nikon has some wonderful cameras now and picking a system today would be different. But I've been through so many EOS iterations since and I'm still happy with my Canon gear. My old F3HP and FM2 bodies are on the shelf ready to go. Right next to my OM-1's. I do miss those days of staff jobs and having management paying for gear. But those days are long gone.

I used to work for a small town daily newspaper in Michigan. In 2002, we had purchased two D1H bodies, and a couple years later, we decided to get a third body. At that point the D2H was the latest thing for news shooters, so that's what we got. Compared to the D1H, the ergonomics and handling were great. The battery life was head and shoulders above the D1 series, too. But I always wondered if there were problems in the early part of the D2H production run, because ours certainly had its issues. For example, the LCD monitor seemed washed out, overly bright, and blue-shifted. Images in low light seemed to have a large amount of noise. Also, after a while there was a tendency for the the camera to lock up and display an "ERR" message after shooting the first frame upon starting up after having been idle for a while. Sending the camera to Nikon fixed the issue... for a little while, but then it returned. Restarting the camera and releasing the shutter seemed to fix the issue for a while, so we didn't bother sending it back to Nikon again. The low resolution wasn't really a problem, because no matter how good your image looked on the monitor, it was going to look like mud by the time it ended up on newsprint. All in all, it was a fun, and fast handling, camera. But I'm glad the newspaper paid for it, because if I had, I'd have been seriously upset over the quality. Nikon seemed to "fix" these issues with the release of the D2HS a short time later, but that didn't really help anyone who had already bought this stinker. It's little wonder Nikon lost so much market share to Canon in that time period, but I'm glad they eventually had some winners with the D300/D3 releases.

2020 is the next pivotal year

It was all over but the crying in 1987 when Canon made a clean break with the past and introduced the all electronic EF mount. Coupled with the introduction of piezoelectric AF motors they called Ultrasonic (USM), the pro sports and photojournalism market went from being dominated by Nikon to being dominated by Canon in barely half a decade. By the time pro grade digital SLRs came along a decade after that it would not have mattered if Nikon would have matched Canon with camera bodies like thec1Ds and 10D. They would have had to bring cameras far superior to Canon's offerings to convince news agencies to change over from the EF mount, and the capital those agencies had tied up in EF lenses, to the clunky F-mount still stuck in the 1970s.