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Why I Will Only Ever Buy a Canon

Canon is the only brand of camera I will ever buy.

My first digital camera I got as a birthday present in 2006 was a point-and-shoot Sony. Obviously, I wasn’t taking anything profound on this thing, even if I thought images of my friends at prom were great.

In 2010, I was gifted a Canon 60D as a Christmas present, and this was the camera that really broadened my understanding of photography. That camera lasted me until about 2019, almost a decade. When that camera died, I bought the 5D Mark IV and haven’t given it much thought since. I’ve always said a camera is just a tool. So, why then have I only ever shot on Canon?

The System

The first point is quite literally the system of a camera. I mean, I say camera, but it also means any sort of systems-based product. Anytime you buy an item that works as part of a whole, you are essentially buying into the whole. So, my Canon camera has Canon lenses. Once you add up the bodies and the lenses, the funds start to add up. I absolutely have no issues with my Elinchrom lights. But if I wanted to switch brands, I’d need to buy not just new lights, but also all the modifiers. Most of my editing hardware and software is Windows-based. If I want to switch to an Mac system, I’d need to buy the whole system.

Realistically, you never really buy just an item. You buy into all the things that go with that system. In this way, me being with Canon isn’t just about the camera, but rather all the other things that go with the camera. It’d take something mighty special for me to change systems, to sell what gear I could and recoup some of those funds to buy into a new system.

The Switch

Like most photographers, I pay my monthly Adobe fees. There really isn’t much of an alternative that would warrant me switching over. Or rather, what would I even switch to? I can’t really work without Photoshop. And I use enough InDesign to pay a little bit extra per month to be on a bigger plan.

But I dropped Lightroom recently. I still pay the fee (there’s no getting out of that). Instead, I use Capture One in my workflow. I bought it outright. It just offers me things that help me work more efficiently. In this case, it’s less about this system or that, but rather finding a solution where the initial outlay of funds can be recouped by working quicker.

However, I’d also argue that due to the way Capture One renders images, I’m not only working quicker, but better. That’s probably a discussion for a different article, though. The point stands that buying into a system is one thing, but if something is inarguably better, there is merit to making the switch.

The Value of Brand

In developmental psychology, there exists a distinction between sensation and perception. The sensation is the raw information of the physical world; for example, we can measure the wavelengths that reflect off an object or we can describe in decibels how loud a given sound is.

Our perception of these raw sensations is the learned knowledge we then ascribe to them: a square object with pigments of various organic and synthetic compounds may be perceived as a picture of flowers. It is not really flowers, but rather specific wavelengths of light sensed with our eyes and compared to a repository of lived experiences perceived in the brain.

In a similar manner, Yuval Harrari, in "The Legend of Peugeot," posits that there exists a collective social agreement for an imagined reality. That is to say, there is a reality that can be sensed, but also an imagined reality, which only exists as a collectively agreed-upon narrative of social customs and beliefs we perceive to be true.

This can be exemplified with economics: certain things have intrinsic value, but other things only have value because of this collective imagined reality. Food, shelter, clothing have intrinsic value: not how much it costs to purchase them, but rather the benefits they provide in way of nutrients, protection, and warmth. In this way, an apple is more nutrient-rich than celery. A cotton shirt provides protection from the sun but is breathable enough to allow temperature regulation, whereas a jacket might be too warm in summer but better protection from cold in the winter.

Money doesn’t have this intrinsic value. The value of money is based solely only on a collectively agreed imagined reality. A 10-dollar bill and a 20-dollar bill are printed on the same paper. In this example, the symbols nor the color on the bill are intrinsically worth more. It is what they are perceived to represent which differs.

What Does All This Have To Do With Photography?

Harrari also touched on this idea of group dynamics. You can reasonably work with a handful of people. You can probably know about 50-100 people by name, but not know them well enough to interact meaningfully with them. Anything beyond this is a bit too much.

To work with larger groups of people, you have to create an imagined reality. Not lies. Not falsehoods. But legends. Things that everyone can believe in and rally behind. Sports teams do this. As do nations. But also corporations and brands. Imagine what the typical Canon or Nikon camera is like. Or what values the typical Canon or Nikon shooter has. How is this different from a Sony/Sony shooter? Leica? Hasselblad?

For some folks, it isn’t just about having bought into a camera system. But also of having rallying behind their brand. There is the real-world tangible entrenchment in a system. You bought one part of a kit and all these other parts that go with it, but there is also an intangible ideology of brand: I use this brand, so this is how everyone else should do it too.

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84 Comments

Andrew Eaton's picture

I dont see the point of flip flopping from brand to brand because i dont think you gain much and spend a shitload in the process. Lenses will last you years and year and easily out live bodies. But you may have to upgrade to a bigger format, can't do that with canon..

Ali Choudhry's picture

I agree with the first part. I don't understand needing to upgrade to bigger format though as each format would require it's own set of lenses so would sit within its own system?

Richard Tack's picture

"I got all these Canon/Nikon/Sony lenses so I can't switch because $$$." 1. Duh; 2. Tell me something I don't know.

Ali Choudhry's picture

Thank you for your insight.

Indy Thomas's picture

The notion of shared beliefs has been brought home in very stark terms by the rise of social media and its ability to rapidly create energized groups of "friends" rallying around brands, celebrities, experiences and most dangerously, lies. What once took years now takes a day.

As for Canon, I bought Canon in 2002 because of the value proposition of their digital cameras. I had been a happy Nikon, Leica and Pentax user for years and never really liked Canon. I still am lukewarm on the brand but I have to say it has made me a good living.

Ali Choudhry's picture

I am glad it is working out for you.

Mike Ditz's picture

Unless that Canon was out there hustling for work, any brand could make you a good living.

Robb Armstrong's picture

Strap in, boys. This thread is going to be lit.

Ali Choudhry's picture

I think you're one of the few people who actually understood my intention!

Michael Engshun's picture

The question in writing for fstoppers should be: does it help the audience? Or is it enganing in destructive arguments for profiting? Is the intention correct and ethical?

Alex Zenzaburro's picture

clickbaiting?

That's honest, congrats :)

Twum Hene's picture

What is the added value of this article? Some will only buy Sony, or Nikon or Fuji.

Greg Wilson's picture

I lost my sleep thinking "why some dude on the internet will only ever buy a Canon". Now I know the answer, thanks to this enlightening article.

Alex Zenzaburro's picture

yeah but those that buy other brands should fill the comment section and let google ads on the site go crazy

Edison Wrzosek's picture

ROTFLMAO!!! If EVER there was an article written by a pure Canon fanboy extraordinaire, THIS IS IT!

Ali Choudhry's picture

But you haven't read the article?

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Uh, yes I did, hence why I laughed my head off...

Chad L's picture

I'm pretty sure you didn't read it. Or if you did, didn't comprehend it. The author wasn't praising Canon or preaching the brand's virtues. The author was talking about how he was deep in the Canon "system" and how it would be cost prohibitive to switch. He also mentioned how some people become fanboys of a particular brand... Not once did he talk about the brand's superiority or touch on technical aspects. You call the author a fanboy but if anything, the author seemed upset and resigned to the fact that he couldn't switch if he wanted too. He's "stuck" with canon and he accepts that.

Ali Choudhry's picture

Chad, that's pretty much spot on. For clarification, I don't necessarily feel 'stuck' but the rest is completely correct.

Alan Edelman's picture

I sold all my Canon APS because even the 24mp sensors were obviously inferior to Sony/Nikon. That funded some nice Nikon Z glass.

Ali Choudhry's picture

I hope Nikon is going better for you.

Deleted Account's picture

You have sure managed to peeve Edison Wrzosek. I've never seen so many "thumbs down" by one person.

Deleted Account's picture

Ha ha, Mr Wrzosek. Thanks for the "thumbs down". Why are you wasting your valuable and learned time reading these comments again? An obsession of yours?

Eric Peterson's picture

I shot Canon Digital from 2002 to 2018. In 2018 Canon was woefully behind Sony. I switched to Sony in 2018 and just now 3 years later they have finally caught up. I needed silent shooting without banding or warping. So I got a Sony A9. If I would have stuck with Canon I would have missed literally 1000's of shots I nailed with the Sony Cameras over the past 3 years. I shoot a lot of indoor theater and dance performances. Sometimes it's worth it to switch. I find brand fanbois idiotic. All the major digital Cameras out today are more than sufficient for 95% of shooters out there. I have a Panasonic GX9 that I am sure no person could tell the difference in a poster sized landscape photo from my Sony A7R3. So shoot what you want, switch when you want.

Ali Choudhry's picture

This is very close to my opinion as well. Stick with a system for as long as it works for you; switch when it serves you to switch.

Richard Bradbury's picture

I have shot Canon for years and in the FF body market I am happy with the 5Dii and 5DsR bodies in the kit. Zero interest in other brands or mirror-less. Would be a waste of time and £ switching.

My next move will be to medium format but that is years away, until then I am good with what I have.

Ali Choudhry's picture

I am glad that your system is working for you. Out of curiosity, what would warrant a switch to medium format for you?

Richard Bradbury's picture

Hi Ali.

At the moment is more of a personal want than business need or justification.

I like the look, aspect ratio and overall aesthetic. Going to be renting a few systems in for testing once my broken hand has healed.

I have shot the PhaseOne DF+ and 100mp Tri back before and loved the files from it. Body was a pain in the ass though; so I am looking to try the XF body, 100mp Tri back next.

Must admit I am curious about the Fuji GFX line also but if I am to move up format wise might as well be a Phase body and back for the larger sensor. At least that is where my brain is at the moment.

That all said I have a good few years to go in business and my work before I make the jump to MF.

Ali Choudhry's picture

I made "want" jump recently as well to large format film. I figured if I was going to get another camera system, it would be something that I couldn't start monetizing from. It's very much a hobby right now and I'm loving it. So I completely can relate to what you're saying.

Timothy Linn's picture

This post went sideways fast. I am not sure what the takeaway is supposed to be. I will never leave Canon because I am a fan boy? It is too expensive to switch systems? It is fun to combine economics, psychology and photography?

Helmut Schillinger's picture

We are supposed to know how super smart...

barry cash's picture

Ali,

You're a clever devil for thinking up the title of this article, it should draw a lot of views and comments.

Are you saying for reals you will only shoot with Canon? I like to reinvent myself every morning when I wake up.

Seriously are you familiar with one of your fellow countryman's work his name is Peter Coulson he lives and works shooting portraits in your city. I really love his work and style which he attributes to using certain tools to achieve the work he produces. So far he has not been able to replicate it using C1. http://www.peter-coulson.com.au/

My question would you ever use another tool for one of your projects to see if you can improve your workflow or results.

PS I still use LR,C1,PS, Raw D, Photomatix, PTGui, and many others to my best ability to make my images outstanding.

Ali Choudhry's picture

Hi barry,

I do have other cameras which sit outside my canon system. But Canon is definitely my work horse, so to speak.

I am indeed familiar with Coulson's work.

I did mention that I have made switches from one brand to another in the article. It's in the section "The Switch." To summarize, any switch would need to bring value which would outweigh the monetary investment of making the switch.

I don't think I could list all the gear I have, to be honest. It's a lot.

I hope this answers your questions. :)

Helmut Schillinger's picture

Manufacturers have only one goal in mind, to sell you “gear”. A good photographer should have only one goal in mind, to make good images. It is hard to ignore the constant temptation to buy more “stuff”. Particularly when so many photographers and wannabes engage in those who owns what and who got better or more stuff discussions. Free yourselves from that nonsense, don’t be a slave to the above, only then can you really focus on “your art”. Because that is what photography is supposed to be.

David Bateman's picture

I registered just to tell you how stupid this post was. If you seriously have Canon EF lenses than you can basically use them will full AF on any mirrorless camera with an adapter. You can even make them better with speed booster on a m43rds system camera.
The flash pins are also similar to other cameras, like Panasonic. So even there your not limited.
Saying your stuck, trapped in Canon just tells us you don't read or follow recent advances.

Ali Choudhry's picture

Thank you for your input.

Dan Jefferies's picture

lol ... try "bless your heart" next time, a nice Southern putdown... mix it up... )

Ali Choudhry's picture

Thanks Dan! I think I actually will try that!

Helmut Schillinger's picture

I will never swear on a particular brand. It’s hogwash. I will never put one brand down.
It’s not your gear, it’s your skill, imagination and experience that produce a good image.
“I got may first camera in 2006”, says a lot. Spare us the economical diatribes about gear and brands. Everything changes all the time. Youth and arrogance go often together. Don’t be pretentious. Just show your work. Don’t be a smartass.

Richard Tack's picture

Go to his web page, mediocre at best.

Andrew Eaton's picture

If you're going to throw stones, at least put your own site up for the same critique...

Helmut Schillinger's picture

TrekEarth, there you can critique me to your hearts delight. I am always ready to learn from big shots. I like Oxford.
I have no commercially valid opinions on photography. Just a bloody beginner.

Helmut Schillinger's picture

It was mud not stones btw. I did not throw it either, I tried to plug up that mouth. Your profile image. New category, bokeh without foreground? Love it. Shot with Canon?

Richard Tack's picture

What does my work have to do with it? Work is what it is.

Craig Bobchin's picture

My first DSLR was a Canon 20D in 2005 or thereabouts. That lasted me until about 2014 when I upgraded to a Canon 70D (I still had only EF-S (crop sensor lenses). In 2016 when I realized i was outgrowing my cropped sensor bodies/lenses and decided to go FF, I looked at what I shot, how I shot, and what I needed in a new camera system. My budget also played a big part in what i was going to get. Especially since I know that I'd have to get all new lenses; since Canon has a different mount for crop vs FF. You can use FF glass on crop bodies, but not the reverse.

Canon/Sony was out of the picture almost immediately due to cost of switching over both body and lenses, I was leaning towards Nikon as they had a larger stable of lenses I could get on the used market stretching back to the earliest days of the F mount.

Then I heard about the Pentax K-1. Same awesome sensor as the D810, great selection of lenses on the used market dating back over 50 years. Weather proofing, Movable rear LCD (a must for me) Pixel Shift, Astrotracer, the list went on.

All of this at a price half that of the Nikon body, and I was able to get a 28-105 lens with it.I was sold. Pentax K-1 for me. This is a decision I've not regretted for a single day. Bottom Line, I think this article is so much click bait.

Ali Choudhry's picture

I'm glad you have found something that works for you. I agree with everything you have said. :)

Helmut Schillinger's picture

Well what’s a crop body? The old 35mm was a crop of 60mm, the 60mm is a crop of 4x5, which is a crop of 8x10 etc.
35mm was originally never intended to be a camera, but was only fabricated on the fly as a cinema film test tool, so as to test new film batches, which varied greatly.
If you absolutely need a full frame (fool frame) camera in terms of the old 35 mm format, you must be a night photographer, otherwise there is no improvement of image quality. Unless you are a commercial photographer and are required to shoot full frame for an ad, and for later cropping purposes. Beyond 20 MP, there is very rarely a need for more pixels, except for bragging rights. How many images have you put on a gallery wall larger than 24x30”? I have, but sold less of those than smaller sizes. The whole thing is just a commercial push for sales.

Rhys George's picture

Click bait and nothing more I shot canon for 6 ish years (several other brands before then) owned 5 bodies and 13 L lenses they sold for a minuscule loss and they are about to plummet in value as they’re gradually superseded by RF equivalent lenses. I’ve switched to Fuji GFX completely and for my work, (advertising, fashion & commercial) I wouldn’t go back. Canons lacklustre feature sets, old, soft edged lens designs and lacking innovation compared to the competition drove me away. I now get; sharp lenses corner to corner, greater colour accuracy, wider dynamic range, a tilting screen and viewfinder, huge feature set updates with firmware revisions, when using autofocus lenses with the GFX they don’t ever back focus and don’t ever require calibration with every camera body they’re attached to. Lenses come calibrated out of the box with data parsed straight into capture one automatically correcting any distortions (not that there is anywhere near the requirement as their was in the case of canon glass) all of this without any manual management from the user or updates from capture one. This was a nightmare with canon glass, years down the line they still haven’t released a profile for the 70-200 F2.8L IS III and so lens profiles have to be applied and adjusted for every shot at every focal length. I ended up using an old ISII to save the headaches on location. God forbid you have capture one set to copy from last as the manual profile adjustment then counts as a manual change and applies to every file from that point on until you remember to go back and change other lens profiles back to default 🤦🏻‍♂️. I’ve done side by side comparisons of canon primes vs gf zooms on a 5Ds vs a gfx 50s and the results were staggering a shelving unit full of props and the odd bank note/ piece of text had nowhere near the distortion and was sharp corner to corner. With colours that looked far closer to reality and that alone when needing colour accurate fabric references is a life changer for my retouchers. The canon has colour fringing on hard edges and colour noise at higher ISO’s (fuji files have what appears at first glance to be film like grain with no colour noise and minimal loss of saturation). It’s superior in every possible way. If I were in a field of photography that needed faster AF I might be using a Sony instead but for studio and location work the GFX is a perfect tool. And that’s what annoys me the most about article like this if you asked a carpenter why he uses a certain tool (unless he’s a Festool snob carrying set builder with a Leica laser level) he’ll tell you it’s the best tool for the job - not that he’s passionate about the brand or that’s it’s just what he always used, all this article does is serve as an example of someone being a fanboy above all else not a professional relying on equipment day in day out.

Helmut Schillinger's picture

That was long... I tried but couldn’t get through it, My eyes lost their autofocus, and my iris completely closed up. I think my shutter locked up too.
Congrats to anyone who actually read this and understood and benefited from that article. Some photographers should be politicians.

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