Why Should I Stay With Canon Gear??? – Peter Gregg

Canon has very much “owned” the digital SLR market when they exploded on the scene with the original Canon EOS D30. Lots of folks were waiting for Canon’s answer to Nikon’s DSLR cameras and for a while there I have to admit it seemed quite slow in coming. When the D30 hit the market it was the turn of a new day in digital single lens reflex cameras and the big news was it’s new CMOS sensor.

Read whole story after the jump.

Up until the D30 DSLR, CCD sensors ruled the kingdom and CMOS were considered too hard to get under control and the noise in them inherently was significant more than CCD sensors could produce. The CMOS sensors had some advantages though over their CCD brothers as they ran cooler and took less juice to run them.

Somehow Canon managed to tame the CMOS sensor and as they say, the rest is history. For the next 6 to 7 years Canon owned the high quality high ISO marketplace. Nikon and their fellow brother camera makers could only fight back by adding tons of features and obtaining better build quality levels but never could (and some still have problems with higher ISO levels) reach Canon’s excellent performance in the quality of the output. If you wanted high quality results, especially at ISO settings higher than the lowest settings, Canon was your game.

In the process, Canon became more like the Corvettes of old – in a straight line the Corvette could not be beat, but turn the thing and it was a whole new ball game. Plus, dentists loved Corvettes because they shook your fillings out of your teeth with their “luxury” ride :)

Blessings in disguise.

Suddenly in 2007 Nikon exploded on the scene with the D3 camera and the “glass ceiling” was shattered – not just cracked. Looking like the fight was down to the final blows, suddenly the Nikon underdog managed to stand back up to it’s feet again and started to throw blows to the champ, not once, but over and over again. People started to jump ship or added Nikon gear to their bags again and Canon was feeling the marketplace in a whole new way.

In one of my previous articles “Slipping Into Nikon With Less Money” I found a need to show folks how they could slip into the Nikon gear on a budget without breaking the bank. And lots of folks have been doing just that.

Canon’s Power

To be fair though, let’s take a closer look at Canon as there are lots of great reasons to stick with Canon even for the folks that are feeling a little enticed right now to take a look at the Nikon stuff. I personally am one of those that have added Nikon to my gear bag and am loving the Nikon D3X. I also use a 1Ds Mark III body so I have a pretty good handle on what is happening on both sides of the fence.

The recent focus issue the 1D Mark III and now with the 1Ds Mark III being sent in for fine tuning the outer AF points it may give a  bad feeling to the Canon owners, but it may be one of the bigger blessings in disguise. A little embarrassment and a hotter competitive atmosphere just may be what the doctor ordered to get Canon to squeeze out the best stuff they ever have.

Imagine taking the 1Ds Mark III and 1D Mark III and mixing them with a little of the revolutionary thinking that happened when they first came out. That will have to be some awesome camera gear coming down the pike from the brains at Canon.

In talking with Chuck Westfall he made the statement to me that “Canon is in this for the long haul”. I got the feeling Canon is very much aware of the marketplace and has a plan on how to tackle their positioning in it. Chuck also said that the new Canon 5D Mark II camera is having the pleasure of being in the #1 sales position in terms of dollars spent for the last 2 months, and this includes the dumping of a lot of camera bodies of other brands by Circuit City’s recent closing of it’s stores. It seems they (Circuit City) have dumped an awful lot of Sony bodies through their stores in a very short period of time and the 5D Mark II sales figures was tops even with that going on in the marketplace.

Chuck also said the DSLR segment of the market is where the largest growth is happening right now. With that being the case, you can bet Canon is not asleep at the wheel – I hope :)   When I pressed Chuck on what is actually coming own the pike, he said Canon doesn’t give an advance account of future products, but he did say that this “will be an interesting year for us”. Sounds promising.

Now for some specifics.

Canon has a much larger menu of high quality lenses than Nikon. Is that a reason to stick it out with Canon? Looking at what may be coming down the pike, plus the choice o lenses available for some types of photography I would say the lenses are one of the biggest reasons to stay with Canon.

The 50mm 1.2L Canon lens is tops in it’s class.

The 50L is a fantastic lens. Trouble is you need to make sure you get a good one. If you do though, and you are into the 50mm outlook on life (I love this size) then this is a terrific lens and Nikon has no equal to it. Yes, the new 50G lens from Nikon is great, but it would be nice to have THIS lens on any DSLR body.

The lens has had it’s share of troubles though, so don’t be a sleeping consumer. Buy the lens through a reputable dealer like B&H so you have someone to talk to that will listen if you experience troubles.

Something Canon has been dogged with on and off lately is quality control. The 50L has had some issues you need to know about. They should not cause you to walk away from the lens, but you need to be an educated consumer and stay in communications with Canon service.

Here is a picture I received from a friend of mine, Michael Caswell, of the front of his 50L just falling off as the glue holding the front together had seperated.

Canon will be fixing it, but the point is this should not be happening to pro level lenses. I will point out I had a 50L and it was one of my favorite lenses. After I sent it in to Canon to calibrate it, it was trouble free and worked well for me.

Canon’s 35mm f/1.4L lens is a stunning lens.

Wide angle lenses are not just “for getting in the whole scene”. This lens is a dream to work with and one of Canon’s sharpest. I have been waiting for something on the wide side from Nikon for a while now, but they seems to be releasing lenses with a different agenda. Meanwhile, here sits on of the neatest lenses on the market. On a full frame camera, this lens along with an 85mm f/1.2 lens may be all a top level pro may need to cover a whole wedding. The point of this lens and what you are paying for is it’s performance wide open. And here it delivers in bucketfuls. It is considered by many as the darling of the Canon line. On a cropped body sensor camera (the DX in Nikon talk) this lens easily becomes your “50″ as it comes in at about 56mm on those cameras. On a 50D this is awesome,on a 5D Mark II it is amazing. But there is more!

The new 24mm f/1.4L lens.

Wow, what a lens. Using this lens for perspective picture at f/1.4 will leave you jaw laying on the floor. If you want to get as far away from the “point and shoot” look to have a signature or professional look, this is your puppy. Be prepared to spend a little dough on it though as it is not a cheap lens. Nikon has no equivalent. If you want what this lens does, you have to shoot Canon – period.

85mm f/1.2 II

If ever a lens elicited the words “wow” from the lips of people, this one is it. Every time I use this lens I still am impressed – and that is saying a lot. The Nikon 85mm 1.4 is close, but this one is the real cigar. it is a jewel just to look at with regard to the pictures it delivers to your hands. But when you look at hat you can do with this lens, it doesn’t matter what the lens looks like anymore, it’s just wonderful. it is amazing how Canon 85mm 1.8 can come as close as it does to this lens in quality and it gives folks a double header in making their choices – but this puppy is the real McCoy.

Why choose Canon?

It seems like the lenses are being presented as a major reason to stick it out with Canon. Well, they are a great reason to stay. Coupled with the potential that Canon has in the near future of a year or less, I think the Canon user will be well rewarded for his/her loyalty. I can imagine the upgrades to the 1D Mark III and the 1Ds Mark III cameras as being an opportunity for Canon to shine really big. I hope they take it.

Canon has become very predictable and it doesn’t even take a gearhead personality to predict where Canon may go in the future. Hopefully Canon knows this and has some surprises up there sleeve. There is a difference between making gear to be marketing showpieces and making gear that is solid “wow” stuff when you are working with it in your hands. I go for the feeling of quality stuff I my hands every time. Canon has a few places to clean up in it’s dealing with some of the web sites that do so much to educate people on their products, and also to get their high end product line up to speed and maybe into some new territory, and gee – one more – to get the quality level up a few notches. That stuff is not beyond the number one camera maker on the world though, so I have hopes that are pretty well founded that they will come through for all of today’s Canon users, and those Canon users that have left the fold,there may be stuff to bring them on back.

See you online!

Peter Gregg

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