So, I’m coming up on the six-month mark of jumping ship from Nikon to Canon. I’ve had a few people ask me whether the honeymoon was over, if I’m happy with the decision I made & what gear I’ve invested in at this point. So I thought I’d answer those questions here with a little six month Canon review.
Is the honeymoon over? Meaning, has the glow of Canon worn off, do I see the flaws, how do they impact my overall feeling about this choice to switch?
Yes I would say the ‘honeymoon’ is over – in that the strengths & weaknesses of Canon are more readily known to me & I am over the ‘new gear-itis’ stage. However, I don’t consider this to be negative, really, just the natural pattern of moving from a ‘new’ experience to a ‘regular’ one, if that makes sense. I’m still thrilled with the SOOC color, especially those in the skin tone range and I’ve been equally happy with how the gear has functioned. Yes, Canon sometimes struggles to lock focus, whereas, in the past Nikon nailed it quicker and yes, my 5DMkiii battery does seem to drain a bit faster than my D700 or D600, however those were issues I knew going in & still felt the color rendition to be worth the exchange.
Am I happy with the decision I made?
In a word, absolutely. Making the decision to move away from Nikon was done carefully, over months of research, experimentation & introspection. I had no interest in making the move if the issue was, in fact, something other than the gear. And so I ruled everything else out, I tried every ‘fix’ I could to deal with the Nikon color issue, I took the time to ask myself if it was me – was I just ‘over’ my photography craze? Afterall, Nikon had been good to me. Other than the skin color rendition I had no complaints. Furthermore, I understood the systems, the acronyms and lens-naming schematic – I was intimately familiar with the camera’s software, menus etc & could adjust exposure in my sleep. Changing to Canon meant doing away with all of that – sure my understanding of exposure & how shutterspeed, aperture & ISO relate to one another would remain intact, but the how’s of adjusting those variables would be completely different. Given that I shoot primarily portraits & weddings, this meant investing my personal time into learning a new system, because there wasn’t going to be time to get it wrong. A new software, new menus, new ergonomics (you’d be amazed how difficult it is to re-write the muscle memory for something you’ve done tens of thousands of times), new schematics, new acronyms, new everything. Additionally, ‘practicing on the job’ as I had done with Nikon, wasn’t an option. This time around I wasn’t a brand-new photographer charging $50 per session & telling all my clients not to expect much (yep, really started there). My clients now expect high quality images & I endeavor to meet (& hopefully exceed) those expectations and that meant going back to the ‘beginner’ days & practicing, practicing, practicing. Trees, flowers, grass, dog, husband, house – it all got photographed, everyday I was shooting something. Changing camera & lens meant rounding up & re-selling not only all my bodies & lenses, but also lots of ‘other’ necessary equipment that is brand-specific. Add that to the fact that I decided to make this change mid-season (yeah, not my brightest moment) & you have a recipe for disaster. Thankfully, however, my transition went fairly smoothly. I was able to sell my 3 Nikon bodies & 10+ lenses & purchases fewer, but higher quality pieces that I’m thrilled with. This leads me to the final question…
What Canon gear have I invested in at this point?
I would guess that nearly every photographer could tell you their own personal story with gear. Some are initially drawn into photography by the gear, some are gear-heads, others are minimalists. I tend to fall more towards the gear-head end & love new, shiny ‘tools’. Pair that with my complete inexperience & ignorance when I started with Nikon & you understand why I had so many pieces. The neat thing about switching brands is that you essentially get a ‘do-over’ with gear purchases. Because I was nearly 5 years into my photography journey when I made this switch I had a much better grasp of what was worth the money & my own personal shooting style which translated to needing far fewer pieces & knowing just how important certain aspects of those pieces were. Below I’m going to list my gear bag as it currently is, followed by a couple pieces I hope to add this year to round out my gear.
Canon 5DMarkIII – my primary camera body. As with most photographers, I love my camera, almost inordinantly I love this piece of machinery. It is a beast – ruggedly built, amazing in low light situations, and produces the most beautiful SOOC color I’ve ever seen. Now that I’ve grown accustomed to it, I also love the way it feels in my hand.
Canon 35mm 1.4 L – This lens produces beautiful images & is a great focal length for tight spaces & shots that need to be a bit wider. Interestingly, this was my favorite focal length with Nikon but isn’t with Canon. I think that has everything to do with my shooting style, which I have a much better grasp of now, than anything to do with the lens, because as I mentioned, its a fantastic lens.
Canon 50mm 1.4 – This is probably my least used lens, not because I have any complaints, simply because its not my favorite focal length. For the cost (~$250) you really can’t go wrong. The Nikon 50mm 1.8 was my first prime lens & it taught me so much. This focal length is a must-have, in my opinion as its the most true-to-life length, but when given the option I shoot with either the 35 or the 85 (both below).
Canon 85mm 1.2 L – Ah, my baby & my splurge. This is one of those areas where my experience & knowledge of my style lead to a willingness to hold off on other things in order to make this bigger purchase (that plus the fact that I’d gotten the chance to shoot with this baby before ever going Canon & knew this was an essential asset for me). This is my favorite focal length for portraits & that plus its amazing low-light capabilities when paired with the 5dmkiii make it my most used lens.
Canon 100mm 2.8 L Macro – A macro lens is a must (in my opinion) for wedding photographers – the rings, flowers, jewelry & all the amazing details demand documenting & there is no better way than with this lens. It also happens to be great for portraits & has did double duty as my telephoto lens until I purchased the lens below.
Canon 70-200 2.8L IS II – For remaining unobtrusive but still documenting every moment, this lens is a must-have. I love it, though it is so heavy. The lug is worth it when I can stand at the back of a ceremony & document that first kiss or ring exchange as if I’m sitting in the first row. I love for that reason alone though it can also function well as a portrait lens when need-be.
In addition to these I also use Pocket Wizards, Alien Bees for strobes, SanDisc CF Cards (which for whatever reason I greatly prefer over SD cards – weird preference to have, I know, but something about the SD cards feeling so fragile that I never liked), Think Tank Pocket Pixel Rocket, Think Tank’s 8 AA Battery Holder & Think Tank Airport International V2 – which I plan to do a complete review on soon because I love it so much.
This coming year I hope to add a secondary camera body (I rent a back-up for each wedding currently) probably the Canon 6D since its full frame but considerably more economical than purchasing a second 5DMkIII, as well as the 24-70 2.8L lens – simply because I’d like to have the ability to get a little bit wider in prepping locations & for dancing shots.
So, there you have it. In short I am thrilled with my switch to Canon. I know many people who would call me crazy, as they jumped the other way & I say ‘Kudos’ to them – we all have to do what works for us. Canon was the right move for me & MFI.