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The "Switch to Canon" Story

Discussion in 'Non-Nikon System Cameras' started by Joe Marques, May 19, 2005.

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  1. Warning - Below is the "long version." Here is the short version: I switched because Canon works better for me. :) 

    The Long Version :D 
    Let me start by saying to those who may not know me - I'm not stirring the pot of "Brand Wars" nonsense. I was asked by a number of NC members to post my thoughts around why I switched to Canon. Now that my gear is sold and the dust has settled I have some spare time to share my rationale for switching.

    The Sell and Buy
    My sell details - I sold a D2H, Nikon 50 1.4D, 50 1.8, 85 1.4D, 17-35 2.8, 70-200 2.8VR, Tamron 28-75 2.8, Tamron 180 3.5 macro and SB-800.

    My buy details - I now own a Canon 20D, Canon 50 1.4, 85 1.8, 135L f2, 300L f4 IS, Tokina 12-24 f4, Tamron 28-75 f2.8, and 580EX.

    The D2H Experience
    My experience with the D2H was mainly very positive. It's a truly excellent camera. Superb build quality, wonderful AF speed and accuracy, bright viewfinder, and enough MP to print 13x19 without too much trouble. The only concerns I had with the D2H was crop room and/or larger prints, noise (very narrow margin for error), out of box skin tones, and weight (I probably have the start of carpel tunnel syndrome and a 2 pound camera with a 2 pound lens is a bit much to lug around).

    My Needs
    My needs prior to switching were very clear. I shoot 90% portraits using either natural light or studio strobes (I despise the look of indoor flash). I enjoy the art of printing almost as much as the art of photography and have a pre-order for a 17" wide Epson 4800 printer to replace my 2200 so my next level print size will be 17x22. I am moving in the direction of making photography my full-time occupation and wanted to be secure that my equipment met my particular needs for the "big marketing push" coming up. :) 

    The Catalyst for Change
    So what triggered the switch? I spend a fair amount of time at www.fredmiranda.com. It's a fantastic site - much like Nikon Cafe - where photography is the focus since there are few gear-head measurebators (can anyone say DPR?). :)  The talent there is super. I started to notice a pattern - I was able to guess portraits made with Canon gear with surprising accuracy. I can't explain it - I just notice the nuances that Canon cameras produce vs. Nikon cameras. I personally favored the look of Canon for portraits - particularly the skin color, overall "smooth" look and dynamic range.

    As a result of my observation I considered making a switch. I spent several hours over the course of 3-4 weekends at my local camera shop shooting the MkII and 20D and bringing home full CF cards for evaluation. The more I saw of Canon files the more I liked what I saw.

    The Canon Experience
    The first thing that amazed me was low noise. As I mentioned, I don't like indoor flash so shooting wide open in low light is a common theme for me. While the D2H is very useable it requires extreme precision in exposure and WB. The Canon is far more forgiving. I have yet to produce a "dog" of a shot in low light at ISO 1600 and 3200. I don't see the point in struggling with Nikon when Canon makes it so easy.

    The next area where Canon impressed was skin tones. I spend significantly less time dealing with the quirks of the D2H which produce a magenta look and greenish look at times. Canon is 99% there out of the box and the more paid work I do the less time/effort I want to spend on post processing.

    The final area where Canon impressed me was the "mythology" of Canon weaknesses. First, the "built-in" noise reduction of Canon makes for a plastic look and unsharp images. Pure bull. I prefer the out of the box ISO 1600 shots WITHOUT PS noise reduction to an ISO 1600 shot from the D2H with PS noise reduction. Second, Canon ergonomics are illogical, stupid . . . you supply the adjective. Again, just not true. It took me about 2 hours to get comfortable with the 20D and I can race through changes just as fast as I could with the D2H. Third, Nikon makes better glass. Sorry but that's simply not true. Both companies make superb optics and while Nikon lenses are more impressive in their solid feel and more "angular" shapes - the capture is all that matters. I miss none of my Nikon glass at this point. It's also worth noting that the 20D is surprisingly solid and has the right feel for me - robust but not bulky and fast to capture the shot.

    What I Didn't Do and Why - The Economics
    The obvious question is why not buy a D2X? Simple - reliability (focusing problems for more than a few) and cost. The D2X was probably the easy choice if money was no object but sensible economics forced my hand. :)  My entire Canon kit cost the same as a D2X body.

    This also explains why I didn't buy the Mk II - not worth the money at this point and too heavy for the field (shooting an 8-10 hour wedding is highly impractical for ME with a super-heavy rig). I do see a bigger Canon in my future - purely for studio work where I can benefit from the shorter working distance of full frame (85mm is useful from 10 feet) and the resolution won't hurt either. :) 

    At the end of the day it's not about "brand" - it's about choosing the right tools for your needs. The 20D fits the bill for the foreseeable future. It has the qualities that matter most to me and no glaring weakness that effect me. For those of you considering a switch or adding Canon to your stable - you won't be disappointed.

    The 20D is a joy to use - solid, fast, and responsive in delivering low noise results with very good detail. The lenses are a treat as well. The Tamron 28-75 happens to be a great sample - it's very sharp at 2.8 which makes it a ridiculously good bargain (and hard to find since 2.8 is typically the compromise with this lens). The Canon 85 1.8 is gorgeous - with the advantage over BOTH the Nikon 85 1.4 and Canon 85 1.2 in that it focuses faster (USM and shorter throw). The 135L f2 is AMAZING. On par with the Nikon 85 1.4. The bokeh is out of this world. The 300 f4 IS is another winner. Lighter than you would expect and IS makes it more practical than the Nikon version for indoor shooting. The 50 1.4 is on par with Nikon with the added value of USM for faster focusing. The Tokina 12-24 f4 was a pleasant surprise. It's sharp, has reasonably low distortion, and another solid bargain at 1/2 the price of the Nikon 12-24.

    I now have a new kit that is more in line with my needs than my Nikon kit. As a bonus I have a few $$$ left over to pay for the new Epson 4800 printer.

    As you can see I put a whole lot of time and thought into this switch. Probably more than I should have - I actually created a spreadsheet to analyze my options (I'm a bit anal retentive if you haven't guessed). :)  Just remember it's purely subjective - the decision makes sense for me. I hope you find this information useful in either re-affirming your equipment choice or providing insight into what other equipment might meet your needs.

    At the end of the day it's all about the image. I'm a proud honorary member of Nikon Cafe and wish you all happy shooting with whatever gear you hold to your eye. :D 


  2. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Thanks Joe.

    Me and an astronomer buddy were discussing the Canon 20Da, a special version of the 20D for astronomy. How long did it take you to be able to work all the 20D controls without looking?
  3. gho


    Feb 7, 2005
    Congratulations on your new setup! Of all the people to jump ship, I figured that you would be one of the last, as you seemed like a die hard Nikon fan. I'm glad that you were able to keep an open mind and evaluate your needs and what works best for you.

    I agree with you on all of your points from what I've seen and tested. Especially the "mythology." I usually don't voice my opinions so as not to be called a troll or anything.

    I've long been considering switching myself, but I'm just too heavily invested in Nikon. The 20D is a real winner in my books. In fact, I'm considering adding it to my Nikon equipment.

    I was all set to buy the D2x when it was announced, but since it's release and its issues, I've decided I will not be getting the D2x.

    Anyways, glad to see you're objective! I admire your photography and I think you'll do great with any system.
  4. The first time that I read a convincing switch story, with neither bashing nor apologizing.
    I would choose you as the good attitude representative of this forum.
  5. TheKO


    May 3, 2005
    Tampa, FL
    Does it count if I have a Canon i9900 printer?
  6. Joe, this is by far the most reasonably argumented switch story I've ever read. However, it proves more on your personality and character rather than the switch itself.

    You know that the cafe is always "open" for you and you will be welcomed with joy every time you post your wonderful images.
  7. The above posts are a true indication of why this is such a brilliant place to rest your views.

    Well done Joe and the others.

    When you have time post some of your portrait work with your Cannon 20D

    BW. Bob F.
  8. Congratulations Joe and no matter what you shoot you are a fantastic photographer. I hope all goes well for you with your career change. I consider you a friend.
  9. Well said, Joe. Glad you found what works for you. Please share some of your portraits. I hope your new photography/business venture is rewarding as well as profitable.

  10. patrickh


    May 4, 2005
    Thousand Oaks

    Joe, thanks for a fine article and a pause for thought. Many of us are not so driven to make a completely rational review like yours (we are ams and intending to stay that way). I for one do not have a fraction of your talent, and will live with my choice with no regrets and 100% respect for your reasoning and choice.
    For the rest of this thread - as a relative newbie to the forum - I am gratified by the very adult responses, no flames. On many other forums a post like Joe's would have been met with the fires of Hades.
  11. Re: Switching

    I was tempted :twisted:.

    Seriously, I'm glad Joe's happy, but until I'm pushing the envelope on my d70, I have no reason to consider upgrading or changing brands. And I can assure you that my gear isn't the weak link in the chain at this point in time.
  12. Tui

    Tui Guest

    Nice job!

    Nice explanation. I think you explained very eloquently here that is not the brand but the tool that allows you, the individual, the best results possible for your individual tastes. I hope your new equipment works well for you in your future endeavors.

    Personaly I can say that I have not yet lived up to the potential of my D70 and at present could not justify switching to another brand, yet alone another Nikon model.
  13. strobel


    Apr 30, 2005
    Algonquin, IL
    I have to say it. Why go to a site dedicated to Nikon equipment, and users with news of your switch to Canon? There is no logical reason!

    This just seems crazy, I can not be the only one who is thinking this. I would understand if this were a Canon site. You may find some Nikon users strolling, who have switching on their mind.

    I don't know this person, so maybe I am wrong. In my opionion; deep down this person has ulterior motives. This is the same stuff I read on other forums everyday.

    Ron Strobel
  14. NeilCam


    Feb 21, 2005
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Sorry Ron, but you're very wrong. Joe has been one of the long-time inmates here and is very much entitled to post his thoughts, reasons and explanations. I suggest you research Joe's posting history.

    Joe, I've been tempted to switch at times, but the $ don't make it feasible and now that the D2X has come along, I'm not so interested. Not that I've got a D2X yet and it's probably a long LONGGGGGG time before I can, but at least it's there - tempting me, teasing me, worming its insidious way into my lust centers. :) 

    I'm one who gets really fed up that we get so sucked into brand loyalty. If anything I'm the one forking over my money and so the brand should be loyal to me not vice versa.* I really couldn't care a flying eviscerated fruit bat what someone shoots. I'm far more interested in seeing their pictures and knowing how they got them.


    * I think that statement is called "philosophy" 'cause it doesn't make much sense. Or maybe it's "fullosophy".
  15. There's good reason, Ron, and if there weren't, I'd be the first to kill this thread. Well, maybe not the first,
    since there are 4 other moderators, but you can be sure it would be handled promptly.

    I can assure you that you are. Joe's only motive to share his experiences with his long time
    forum-mates, just in case some of them might be helpful.
  16. This was very interesting to read to me. Of course I do not have money around to make the switch and I am more than grateful with what I have now. It is always good to see a comparison and open mind between some of the best brands around since many people seem to be set in a narrow line and does not look left or right. Quite refreshing. Thanks for that! Hope you continue to be happy with your new gear.
  17. This place is just great - the proof is in the responses in this thread. Thank you all for taking this post the "right way" and for being good friends. I don't have time to post individual replies right now but I will shortly.

  18. gho


    Feb 7, 2005
    Wow, and I thought it was just me.
  19. Hi Joe,

    Thank you so much for posting this well thought out explanation of your reasons for the "switch". It's refreshing to see a rational explanation and level-headed thinking, as well as civility in the reactions to it. I have to say that your reasons are, ...., hmmm,... well, ... convincing! :shock: :roll: ;-) I just won't be doing anything "foolish" like that though, having just acquired even more Nikon gear, including a D2H and a Tokina 12-24 lens! :lol:

    I too am convinced that no matter what camera you had, you'd find a way to make it sing. 8) I am very much looking forward to seeing more pics with the new rig, and watching your business take off and grow.
  20. That comment calls for some introspection, fellows. Who exactly is sucking you in? Imho it's more of a commentary on your susceptibility to group think than a valid complaint about Nikon. It's all to easy to fall victim to a herd mentality in common interest chatrooms, whether they be related to camera brands, stock selection, or haute cuisine. It's comfortable to graze peacefully while the leaders set the direction. If Yves presented some beautiful pictures from a new Sigma 10-20mm today, you'd be amazed to see how many would come to the sudden realization that it's the missing element to their kit, and dash out to buy one.

    The system works to a fair degree, because Yves is capable of showing the true potential of a piece of glass, but often results in unfulfilled expectations for the followers. Here's another example. Herd mentality has led many of us to buy a 50/1.8 because it's "common knowledge" that it's an exceptional lens, but I'd venture to say most of those 50/1.8 lenses gather dust while their owners use zooms that are more convenient and better suited to their focal length preferences.

    What's happened here is that Joe has broken off from the herd and headed in a new direction. He's done so, at significant effort and cost, for specific reasons related to his own preferences in photography. And now that he's become a leader, some will follow, and a small percentage of those that don't will resent him for disturbing the harmony of the herd. Just make sure that if you follow, you share his underlying reasoning. And just as an alcoholic should avoid hanging out in bars, if you find you're unduly influenced by other photographers choices, you should spend less time in photo-forums.
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