Why I Won't Buy a Canon Camera

They make good cameras. But I won't buy a Canon.

That was the advice given to me by my photography mentor many years ago. My opinion is that it still holds true today.

Why Won't I Buy a Canon?

Are They Bad Cameras?

All the known brands make great cameras, Canon included. Held against a good eye, they are all capable of taking great pictures. That notwithstanding, just like any mass-produced item, they can have their faults.

Google search: the mirror falling out of the 5D Mark II, the 70D motherboard burning out, the EOS R5 overheating, the chemical reaction of the Rebel 4Ti (650D) rubber grips that changes the grips from black to white, resulting in a risk of skin irritation.

But that’s not my reasoning. I am sure you can find a long history of common faults with most other cameras too. Look online, and you’ll find issues with Nikon, Sony, and any other product too.

Canon 5D Mark III

Is It the Ergonomics?

Several years ago, I had my heart set on buying a 5D Mark III. It seemed a good choice. Several friends, all accomplished photographers, owned them. Indeed, it has since become regarded a classic digital camera and for good reason. With my big hands, I thought it would be perfect for me. However, in the camera shop, I found it heavy and unwieldy, and my fingers could not comfortably reach the buttons.

I’m always advising my clients to buy cameras based on ergonomics, because any model made by the known brands can produce great results once you learn to use them. So, making sure the camera is comfortable to carry and shoot with is one of the most important considerations when choosing your purchase.

But what doesn’t fit my hands might be quite comfortable in yours. So, that isn’t the reason why I suggest you should not buy a Canon. 

Is It Their Attitude?

Nor is my advice not to buy Canon based upon the bad-mouthing of other companies by its supporters. That seems to be the modus operandi of various Canon users in online forums and blogs. Of course, that behavior is not limited to their fans; other brand flag-wavers do it too. However, if there is one thing that will make me turn my back on a business, it is when they put down their competitors to make themselves look good.

In January, Canon’s CEO, Fujio Mitarai, reportedly took a snipe at JIP’s ability to turn the Olympus Cameras business around, despite JIP having successes at transforming other businesses in its portfolio. For me, that is dishonorable behavior and would turn me off any business.

How About the Environment?

Is it to do with the environmental impact of the business?

Company-wide, Canon claims their environmental impact is low, They do indeed have far-reaching environmental policies with targets. And they claim to have met their CO2 emissions reduction of each product of 3%, with a total reduction of 40% over eleven years. Nevertheless, this does not mean the company is carbon-neutral. In their last report of 2019, they declared they were still producing 7.1 million tons of CO2 per annum. To put that into perspective, over a hundred years, a tree would absorb one toe of CO2; it would therefore take over 700,000,000 trees to absorb Canon's emissions each year.

Canon makes a lot of noise for having met CDP’s A list for water and climate change, but if you look at the other big brands like Nikon, Olympus, and Sony, they achieved this last year too.

Lots of major companies have environmental policies where they pay lip service to conservation, climate change, modern slavery, and shunning extreme politics. According to the camera industry's last Ethical Consumer report, looking at the environment, people, animals, and politics, Canon is near the bottom of their table with a score of just 4.5 out of 20.

Saying that, the entire industry isn’t squeaky clean. Fujifilm also scores 4.5 out of 20. Sony, Nikon, and Olympus all score only slightly better at 5.5. Meanwhile, Leica, Pentax, and Hasselblad score 7.5, and Sigma scored 9 out of 20. Right at the bottom of the current manufacturers is Lumix, scoring an abysmal 4 out of 20. Nikon and Leica were singled out for both actively promoting trophy hunting.

Ethical Consumer says that no camera company was eligible for their Best Buy label and recommended purchasing a secondhand camera instead:

To avoid companies with links to either surveillance or trophy hunting, we would recommend buying from Sigma, Hasselblad, or Olympus (some cheaper options) for DSLR and mirrorless cameras.

Is the Canon Range Too Big?

A large range of similar products is environmentally bad, using more resources, producing more carbon dioxide in the manufacturing process, and making recycling more difficult. Canon currently has 26 models of interchangeable lens cameras, second only to Sony’s bewildering range of 28. Having lots of models is clearly good for sales, but it’s bad for the planet. Additionally, having too much consumer choice is bad for our mental health.

Screenshot of Canon's DSLR range available at B&H

Three Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Canon

Despite all of those good and bad points about the brand that equally apply to its closest competitors, I have three reasons why you really shouldn’t buy a Canon: they are commonplace, boring, and ugly.

Commonplace

Last time you visited an event with lots of photographers, did any single Canon camera jump out as being unique? The only thing that makes them noticeable is their ubiquity. Everyone’s got one. They are to photography what Opel Vectras were to the automotive industry: a car that sold loads, won lots of awards, and was as exciting as a lunchtime conversation at the annual bus-spotters convention. You have a Canon around your neck, it says you are a sheep following the crowd.

Boring

If you place a Canon side by side with an equivalent Nikon or Sony, there’s not much to choose from in their designs. Just as many cars now look the same, their cameras are boringly similar. Visualize spray-painting their bodies beige, and that would make them less mundane. Please don’t try doing it for real; you’ll damage the camera!

Ugly

Let’s face it, most popular or top cameras are not things of beauty. I wonder whether Canon, Sony, and Nikon thwack their cameras with the ugly stick during manufacturing? Sorry, Panasonic Lumix, your cameras are not exactly beautiful either, although you are a long way from the pug-ugly old Sony NEX range. Pentax, you won’t win second prize in a beauty contest and collect $10 either.

Canon and Nikon side by side. Ugly lumps or works of art?

Compare the design of Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras with those of Fuji, Leica, or Olympus. The latter three manufacturers produce models that stand out from the crowd. They are works of art themselves.

Is that important? Absolutely! Artists should surround themselves with beautiful things that inspire. There is nothing inspiring about the generic shapelessness of most modern cameras. Compare the blobby lump of the 5D Mark IV with the beguiling shapes of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, a thing of beauty. Even Olympus' professional-end OM-D E-M1 Mark III, which although a bit more utilitarian in design, oozes sexiness when paired with the 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro. These are fabulous-looking cameras. When I use them, I get accosted in the street and asked about them as much as I much as I did when I carried my baby son. If you've ever carried a baby in public, you will understand that.

The stylish Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III

Likewise, the Fujifilm X-T cameras are splendid-looking machines. Leica’s SL2 just shouts out: “Look at me! I’m a photographer with passion.”

Leica and Fujifilm cameras

That's my opinion why you shouldn't buy a Canon. What's yours?

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386 Comments

Sam Edge's picture

Perhaps the dumbest article I have read in decades...

Joseph Balson's picture

Agree.
Even if I personally hold a stupid grudge for decades against canon because of the FD debacle

Joao Paulo Barros's picture

Exactly my thought.

Ed C's picture

To say this article is inane is being kind. I paid nothing for it and still feel ripped off. On the positive side I have learned another blogger wannabe to avoid from now on so maybe some time saved there.

Sergio Dabdoub's picture

You are correct, it's rubbish and pointless. Not even a decent point regardless of what camera names you switch out.

Helmut Schillinger's picture

So you sit on a plane with headphones on! Wow. What a photographer, what an ego. You opinion is just that of a troll, because you have no work to show!

Paul Werkmeister's picture

You have added nothing to this outside of your own grandstanding. Take your own advice and take a break from this and maybe use the bit of 'talent' you have to better your own photography. Seriously, you have replied to every negative comment here and that tells everybody here more about you than anything else.

Helmut Schillinger's picture

You have zero work to show! Zero! And yes I have talent, not only talent, but also mastery! Who are you anyway but a troll!

Helmut Schillinger's picture

So where is your talent? As far as I can tell, you have none! You haven’t even looked at my work, because if you had you would maybe check up and find that I have awards for mine! Plus some 50 years of experience, education and actual productivity. Sofar you are nothing but a useless, self important troll, with no substance, no skills, no body of work and obviously no brain! Using cliche statements…hiding behind a supposed opinion of everyone here about my character! What do you know? Nothing! You are a mobster as far as I am concerned, mouthing off like every other idiot here who has no talent and no work to show. Become first a master of photography like me, first before you even talk to me! Your IQ level must be on the Trump Follower Standard. What an idiot.

Helmut Schillinger's picture

I am tired of reading the incredibly dumb and mindless comments here about someone who with good reasons pointed out something about the consumer attitude amongst so many photographers. I am a little bit more blunt now. Most here who commented so critical and self important about that, are at best very mediocre photographers, as is clearly visible from either substandard work here exposed or most of the time no work at all. Nothing but smart ass comments from totally inadequate and lacking in knowledge and skill so-called photographers. They are trolls, mouthing off, because they are unhappy for whatever reasons with their lives.

Helmut Schillinger's picture

You are an a zero when it comes to photography. One in a million of wannabes with zero eye and talent. Just garbage work. We used to say paper is patient, now it’s the internet is patient. Too many morons with fancy tools doing nothing.
You deserve the harsh words, because you opened your mouth in a nasty way on a fellow photographer who puts himself out with honest intent and some valuable insight.

Helmut Schillinger's picture

You fit in the same mediocre meaningless photography category as Ryan Handt.
I looked at you stuff on Pinterest. Hopeless. You lack the eye, you have not learned anything.

Amrit Pal's picture

Wow, that sums up exactly how I feel..

Helmut Schillinger's picture

Do you actually have any work to show, or you are just all mouth without no brain? Another troll, useless, spineless, skill less!

Matt Williams's picture

I don't like to say purely and totally negative things like that, but this time, I will 100% support that statement.

Why did Fstoppers even allow this?? It... is just stupid. Not only are his reasons entirely subjective, which is fine, but what's the point of an article titled "Why I won't buy a Canon Camera"? There's zero (I mean ZERO) substance or benefit for readers of the site. I mean NONE.

Write an article about the carbon emissions thing and compare different companies. That'd be informative.

Good. Lord.

Helmut Schillinger's picture

However... there was a very recent article about of someone “Why I only use canon cameras”. There was not half, no not a tenth of the amount of hostile reaction, which actually proves the veracity of the above article. Not only are Canon users the sheep of the photographers family, but they are also the raw meat eating, wildlife hunt’n crop of the crowd when it comes to hostile aggressive attitude.
Come on folks, don’t be so brand conscious. Dumb blonds are that!
Instead focus more on your art than on your substitute for a gun!
Personally, but that’s just my own humble opinion I find the classic jewel like construction of the Olympus cameras very impressive, or better attractive.
Canons and Nikons do look a bit like blobs.
But hey, my first camera at age seven was a Brownie box, talk about non defined shape (besides being a cube).

Ivor Rackham's picture

Thanks for all your replies guys. I'm glad you didn't like what I wrote and it stirred up yours and other comments! I picked on Canon because they are the biggest seller, but could have equally written it about any of the big brands, which is what I hinted at in the article. It was a criticism of the industry as a whole and not just Canon. Perhaps I should have made that even more clear if you didn't pick it up. I also deliberately chose an entirely subjective reason to pick Olympus, Leica or Fuji, each of which, like Canon, Nikon and Sony, have USPs.

Matt Williams's picture

Dude. Dude.

Your article is titled "Why I Won't Buy a Canon Camera"

And the ultimate answer is (literally directly under the heading "Three Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Canon")

1) They're commonplace (popular) and that makes you a sheep
2) They're boring
3) They're ugly

WHAT IS THE POINT IN WRITING AND POSTING SOMETHING LIKE THAT?

The "Three Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Canon" (which isn't "Why I Won't Buy a Canon" FYI) are literally that it'll make you a sheep (wtf?) and you think their appearance is boring and ugly.

What is the VALUE in an article like that? Please, tell me. I really want to know. Sincerely, I would like to hear the understanding.

This was a "criticism of the industry as a whole"

WHERE?? It's literally ABOUT CANON, with a few side mentions of other companies. Its ultimate conclusion is three reasons why a person shouldn't buy a CANON.

How the hell is that a "criticism of the industry"?

"Perhaps I should have made that even more clear if you didn't pick it up"

That's some passive aggressive bullshit. I mean straight up, your entire reply is passive aggressively dismissive and basically says "you all are too stupid to understand what I meant."

I am ashamed at fstoppers for publishing this. And your reaction doesn't reflect well on you.

Would be easy to ask questions about what and why people didn't like it and engage with constructive feedback and learn.

Nope. You chose to twist into a pretzel in order to defend your article's intent even though it clearly is nothing remotely what you claim.

P.S. As I said above, a more valuable and interesting article would have been about carbon emissions between various companies and across the photographic business in general.

Frank Miars's picture

Great reply. I think you're completely misunderstanding his excellence.

Go to his profile and look at his website, specifically the real estate page, you'll see a sublime picture of a room with a dog in it. He has spoken about first impressions and the importance of them.

He's carefully chosen to obstruct the fireplace with an empty table. The mantle piece contrasts this nicely with too many items on it.

The dining room in the background hasn't been illuminated, so it looks like you go through an average brightness room, into a gloomy hell hole. Again, he's chosen this juxtaposition on purpose to make the viewer feel uneasy, sick, upset.

The sofa isn't far enough from the wall, so this makes your eye uneasy. The table, much like my wife, competes with the dog for attention. The dog has been deliberately posed, and he's spent the energy getting the dog to pose perfectly so it can say to the world "hey guys, don't buy this house because it has hair everywhere". I love dogs, don't get me wrong, but any real estate photographer knows you don't want to advertise pets (unless you're running a pet friendly hotel), so he's deliberately chosen to shun his audience. The shot hasn't been centred properly, as if to say, hey viewer, screw you, I hate you. So if you look at the table where the television is (incidentally, he's left it blank with no picture on there, also as if to make a statement about television), you can clearly see the verticals aren't straight / parallel. Conventionally, the rug should have been pulled closer towards the camera, away from the wall, so that the rug looks smaller thereby making it look like a less wide angle lens was used (this would fool you into thinking the room is bigger without it looking fake). Again, he's attacked photographers... I feel personally attacked.

The cushions on the sofa don't match, as if to say, hey man, you like symmetry? Well EFF YOU. The picture on the top left should have been photoshopped out and left a blank wall, but instead he's left you wondering. What is there? So despite the fact he's made every attempt to push you away from wanting to visit the house, he's also left you curious. And that's what he did with this article. It's a real genius move. Is it satire? Is he just incompetent? No one really knows, until they read the bottom of this page, where we learn he is a professional.

"Ivor Rackham is a pro photographer, website developer and copywriter based in the North East of England. Much of his photography work is training others; helping people become better photographers. He has a special interest in supporting people with their mental wellbeing through photography."

This guy knows what's up. Brilliant article written in a satirical way to shake the very fibres that hold the photography community together. I feel so enlightened, entrenched in his awesomeness and intelligence. Oh, how I do wish I could photograph houses as well as him. How I wish I could choose fonts like him.

His excellence ruffled our feathers and we should bow to him.

I like the look of canon cameras though.

Matt Williams's picture

I'm not a fan of dogging on people's work in a situation like this. It isn't super important, or really germane at all, to the issues with this article. Though I guess you could argue it would show it's an article written by an amateur.

However, by all accounts, he is a professional photographer. It's hard to tell because his site isn't very good - no gallery of photos in any of the "real estate" "pet" "portrait" etc categories. That wouldn't make me want to hire someone. And there are many other tangential or unrelated services advertised as well. The site just isn't very comprehensive and doesn't do anything to show off his skills or talent.

But, that's irrelevant to this whole thing. Ivor, if you read this, I hope you take what I just said in good faith as constructive criticism re: your website. I have absolutely zero negative impressions of you as a photographer - there are some nice photos in the "Prints" section... unfortunately those are the only real photos on your site.

Anyway, Frank, I understand your comment, I'm just not personally a fan of personal attacks unrelated to the conversation, particularly because he hasn't instigated anything with anyone. His replies have all been kind, though not exactly showing any reflection on what people are saying about this article. But that's his problem.

Alex Zenzaburro's picture

Hehe i like how the picture is tilted in every possible axis. I bet this is his living room and he tried to get the dog out for 20 min and was just like "ahh wtf i just snap the picture who cares"

And everything you said.

Helmut Schillinger's picture

Alex, really? What would you know? You are not even a photographer! Where is your work? Where is your photography? You are just a troll on this site trying to hurt someone! You are nothing! You have nothing to show for to earn a minimum of respect!

Helmut Schillinger's picture

Matt, there is a glimmer of hope for you. Maybe you see the light after all! But you must work on you photography skills, no doubt. There is always room for betterment! And please, don’t so quickly jump on the public opinion bandwagon, I know it’s gratifying, but immature. It’s bully behavior in a public forum. I hope Ivor has thick skin. Let’s just be more gentle with each other! But I must say this again, photography is NOT about diatribes and words! So show some good work! That’s really all that counts. Earn the respect of other photographers! Otherwise, what are you doing here?

Helmut Schillinger's picture

Hey it’s his opinion! Period! That’s all. We are all subjective when it comes to our tools. However my own observation since at least the last thirty years is that people act brand and label conscious. Cars, cameras, shoes whatever. The average person does not want to be caught with an lesser known label, it might mean they don’t have the financial means to buy the more popular and more expensive Brand. I myself veered the opposite way. But that takes a little courage sometimes, doesn’t it?

Helmut Schillinger's picture

Matt, there is not a single photograph in your portfolio that has merit, not one. Even the one potential with the stag you botched! What kind of a photographer are you. A five year old taking pictures of his toys? Because that is the level of your skill. You have absolutely no standing to criticize another photographer, none! So shut up until you show some decent work! You have a long way to go buddy. You arrogance here is startling!
“You shall know them by their works”

Ryan Stone's picture

Your cyanotope black and white photos are kinda shit too.

Helmut Schillinger's picture

You meant Cyanotype not tope! But that shows how dumb you are. They are black and white from black and white film, nothing to do with cyano type. And yes they have been published and gotten international awards. But what would you know about photography. You sound like a kindergarderner.

Helmut Schillinger's picture

People like you happen because lack of education turned you into a moron. Feel sorry for you. The curse of a bad American education system, junk food and gluttony made you what you are, an example of a rapidly down spiraling IQ level in your generation.

Julz Inman's picture

Hear hear!

Helmut Schillinger's picture

Ivor Rackham, I must admire your guts, you ventured into a lions den (or maybe a hyenas den) when you dared to criticize the tool of the masses. After all, amateurs think the label Canon spells pro on the street, and they proudly wear it around their necks. Of course, I bow my head to the myriads of commercial photographers who have no choice but to deliver a full frame image file to their client because it is requested. But every time I see an amateur with a huge DSLR and the equally huge lenses trekking on their tourist sight seeing path, I feel sorry for them. They are even bigger and heavier than a Hasselblad in my time. But like all repetitive and constant advertising and nibbling on the brand conscious ego, most people cave to that drumbeat of profit driven commercialism.

John Kelsey's picture

Did the sheep reference hit a nerve??... I couldn't describe canon users any better...

T F's picture

Uh... Nikon Shooter here.
It was a stupid blog no matter what you shoot.

Helmut Schillinger's picture

Yeah? Where is your work? troll!

Helmut Schillinger's picture

Of course it did hit a nerve, don’t you hear the masses of sheep bleating?

Helmut Schillinger's picture

John, not only are they sheep, but they are to 99% Trolls with no work exhibited here, no portfolio. I checked out every single one of those heavy, sometimes very nasty critisizers. Not a single one has work to show! So my hunch is, they are just here to troll the site and let off personal steam. The motto is, if you see serval people jumping on one in collusion, join in for the fun! They are not photographers or artist, just looking to cause trouble and hurt! That is not the way! We as artists, photographers should lift each other up. My professional life is behind me, I don’t compete anymore, but I watch, and I still learn!

Greg Matula's picture

Clickbait worked on me. I signed up to say dumbest ever. I will never buy a Toyota either because too reliable and other people have one.

Helmut Schillinger's picture

I bought exactly a Toyota for that reason. But nothing says that Canon is more reliable than others, proof it! I am a veteran photographer of 50+ years, it’s bogus. Don’t make up a cliche to proof your point.

Helmut Schillinger's picture

You are just another troll with no work to show! You don’t have my respect therefore! You mouth an opinion, just so you can join the virtual lynch mob. Must be a great feeling! Don’t you have anything better to do, like learning the art of photography?

Helmut Schillinger's picture

Sam, Sam Sam! Show you portfolio before joining the troll crowd! So far you are only clouds and smoke. Is that who you are? Where is your work, so you could earn my respect! Show it, I dare you! Otherwise you are nothing but a nasty mouth without merit! You are not a photographer, a wannabe possibly! A little entitled possibly! Bit hollow!

John Kelsey's picture

Can't handle the reality?? so who is dumb??

Eric Robinson's picture

I did at one time use a Canon 5D Mk2 and yes the mirror did fall out! and I have used Sony for the last 4 years, but that aside what a lot of tosh. Buy what you like, buy what you think works for you and ignore nonsense pieces such as this.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Hi Eric, thanks for replying.

I could have picked on any brand of camera. I had a Sony A7ii for a while and, although a good camera, I found it really uncomfortable to use and it got dust stuck between the sensor and the anti-aliasing filter, a common fault with those. It also demanded that I paid extra for basic software upgrades through the Sony play store.

It is a criticism not just of Canon but of every brand, all of whom fail in one way or another. Plus, the similarities between most cameras make the choice of brand unimportant and we have to settle on ergonomics and then purely subjective choices like how they look.

Helmut Schillinger's picture

One thing your forgot to mention. OLYMPUS has currently the edge on AI (or at least closer to) technology above all others! I use a EM1 Mark 2, but mainly for the reason of portability in combination with their excellent lenses. I am not predominantly a low light / night photographer, so resolution and low light sensitivity and artifacts are not important to me. I still can whack out a 60 MP landscape image if I want to really create a billboard. But having two bodies and five lenses in one small very portable Lowe back pack is essential for my 74 year old body. I use also a Panasonic GX8 for the reason of it rangefinder like abilities and its tiltable ocular viewer.

Mike Dee's picture

Late April fools post?

Tammie Lam's picture

Seems like a continuation of this fstoppers video from 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=en5z-Q4po4M

:)

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

I miss these type of videos.

Reagan Jobe's picture

I have to know what it would take to get the OLD Lee Morris back?!? If not the clothes, at least the haircut and mustache!

Ivor Rackham's picture

Mike, I actually set out to write this as an April Fool's joke, but then I realized there were points to be made about the entire industry, not just Canon. I could have equally picked on any of the brands.

Michael Dougherty's picture

Ivor, you really do have a point on aesthetics of modern day cameras. Where are the gorgeous looking, gold plated Leicas from Russia (joking but true). Where are the highly polished, cherry wood 4X5s (now these are pet-able). Even my Contax IIIA was a pretty good looking camera.

Ben Harold's picture

I hope so, otherwise this is inexcusable.

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