Choosing your brand
I’m often asked if I’m ‘Nikon or Canon’. My answer to you: I’m just me… You see, I really don’t like being categorized. If there was a no-name pro-quality camera on the market, I’d probably choose that one.
My first SLR camera was a Canon AE-1 and I really liked it. I carried it around with me for many years. My second was a Nikon FM2 that I found in a used-camera store. It was a great deal and came with two lenses: a 50 mm and an 85mm. Both immediately became my favourite focal lengths. Obviously, the camera body gave out way before the lenses so I stayed with Nikon, given the price of new lenses.
Since that time, I’ve only used Nikon and my camera lens collection is now complete. If I ever got the crazy notion to change systems, it would cost me a pretty penny for sure. So yes, I’m ‘Nikon’ and it’s the result of that ‘camera + 2 lenses’ purchase made years ago. But you won’t hear any complaints coming from me: I enjoy working with my Nikon gear, it’s comfortable to use and I know it inside and out.
The purpose of this article is to convey to you the importance of making the right choice for you from the get-go. After you’ve invested money in a camera-lens system is not the time to determine you’re not really satisfied with your choice and would like to switch. Your first step should be extensive Internet research. This is what I always start with before making any purchase, whether it’s camera gear or computer equipment. And this is so easy now compared to say twenty or so years ago: it’s all there for us, we just need to take the time to do the research and to read user/buyer comments on any given product. Step two is going to a camera store. You need a specialist in this case and I suggest you choose a time when the store isn’t too busy. Consider taking the morning off work, to have lots of time to talk with the salesperson and hold each camera body in your hands.
If you’re considering investing major bucks, avoid superstores and big-box retail stores where the choices are limited and the salespeople, more or less knowledgeable when it comes to SLRs. Think about the gamut of products they carry in such stores… employees can’t be experts on everything they carry.
Here are a few other points to consider when making your purchase:
- Comfort. It may seem trivial, but I’ll emphatically tell you this is a very important point. I just couldn’t work using a camera that doesn’t have a comfortable grip to properly fit my hand. It also needs to have a comfortable viewer, even more important if you wear glasses. You also have to make sure you can easily reach and manipulate all the basic controls.
- Easy to operate. Do you have to dig into menus and sub-menus in order to make a simple adjustment? Make sure the main controls are easily accessible. You’ll be happy you did.
- Service. Does the brand offer good after-sales service? If you’re a pro, is there a pro-service option? After-sales service is another good reason to avoid big-box stores and to choose specialists such as Henry’s or Vistek. Even if you’re not a pro, you’re certain to get better after-sales service with the specialty stores.
- Resale value. I owned a Nikon F4 (film) and had it for over 8 years; when I decided to change cameras, I got almost the same amount selling my F4 that I paid for it originally. Nowadays that scenario is unlikely, the market having changed considerably in recent years. Still, pro equipment usually has a better resale value but take note: certain brands are almost impossible to resell given the lack of demand.
- Used Equipment. Over the years, many of the lenses I purchased where bought ‘used’ and I never had any trouble finding what I was looking for. So choosing a more popular system, such as Nikon or Canon, means better availability and selection of used lenses and other accessories. This is also a very important point to consider. And it also means you’ll be able to resell your own gear more easily when you decide to upgrade.
When you make your purchase, make sure to ask all your important questions. A good rep will be able to provide you with the answers and also, guide you in your choice considering your needs and your budget.
One last point: the most useful thing is the instruction booklet that comes with the gear. Read it. Read it again. And again. Learn how to use your camera inside and out. Get to know every detail by heart; it’s a great way to avoid problems down the road.
In the end, Nikon, Canon, Pentax are only brands. Your vision and your passion are what’s most important. You’ve all seen the current ads: the industry is trying really hard to sell folks on the idea that using their camera will make people into extraordinary photographers. But at the end of the day the photographer is the creator, and the camera, the tool used to do so. And this is true even if the camera is the fanciest, most sophisticated available.
Until next time!
Claude Brazeau MPA (Master of Photographic Arts) is an award-winning wedding and portrait photographer from Ottawa. He’s a member of the PPOC (Professional Photographers of Canada) where he’s accredited in 15 categories. Among his awards:
- Ontario Portrait Photographer of the Year – 2011
- Ontario Best in Class Fine Art
- Ontario Judge’s Choice
- Ontario People’s Choice
- Ontario Portrait Photographer of the Year – 2010
- Ontario Best in Class ‘Photojournalistic Wedding’
- Canada Best in Class ‘Photojournalistic Wedding’
For more information regarding the PPOC, MPA, accreditations and awards www.ppoc.ca