Why I Won't Buy a Canon Camera

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
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
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
Leica and Fujifilm cameras

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

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264 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.

Amrit Pal's picture

Wow, that sums up exactly how I feel..

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Scott Weaver's picture

Fun article! You are clearly not afraid to ruffle feathers (!) When I was deciding on my first SLR decades ago I was very attracted to the Olympus cameras and their highly rated Zuiko lenses. They had a unique camera system and they looked like beautiful silver jewels. I decided against the cameras because they were smaller than other SLRs at that time and I thought they would be difficult to operate for me. Now I'm using Nikon Z cameras which may actually be about the same size! I also do not like the visual style of most Canon models but that is the look they've decided on.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Thank you, Scott. Ruffling feathers doesn't bother me at all, and I have clearly done that.

The Nikon Zs are super cameras. Love that shot of the OM1, what a fabulous camera they were. I had the OM2n and, despite my big hands, found it comfortable to use. (I still have an OM2 Spot Program).

Ben Harold's picture

If ruffling feathers was your goal then BOY was that a weak attempt. Spending hundreds of words explaining that your entire opinion about this brand is based on esthetics and trends? Who cares? Are we talking about cameras here or the latest fashion show?

Michelle Maani's picture

Ruffling feathers just to ruffle feathers is pointless and childish.

Matt Williams's picture

I hate people who make being a contrarian or stirring shit up their entire personality.

It isn't funny, it doesn't help ANYONE, it serves no point.

Sergi Yavorski's picture

What is fun about this dreck? Unprofessional opinion of a casual user? I never heard such nonsense out of a professional photographer?

Brian Landis's picture

This article is utter garbage. You wouldn't buy a Canon camera because it looks normal and an Olympus is a work of art? Here I was thinking that Canon did some really bad thing behind the scenes or you had 3 of them in a row die on you or something even somewhat reasonable. You could substitute any brand into this article in place of Canon and it would still be garbage. Fstoppers should be ashamed of themselves for even publishing it.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Hi Brian, thanks for replying. You are right, I could have equally of chosen any of the major brands and found equally damning points about them - I hint at those throughout the article. As I said in previous comments, it is a criticism of the industry as a whole and my ending, a purely subjective choice, is pretty much all we are left with after ergonomics.

Matt Williams's picture

DUDE.

You could have chosen any brand and find "equally damning points about them"?

WHAT DAMNING POINTS

Saying something is popular and ergo you are a sheep if you use it is not a damning point. Saying something is "boring" (whatever the hell that even means regarding cameras - they don't exist to entertain you) is not a damning point. And then saying something is ugly is also not a damning point.

And actually, your explanation for the boring and ugly points are basically the same thing.

"Canon.... there’s not much to choose from in their designs. Just as many cars now look the same, their cameras are boringly similar."

Next paragraph: "most popular or top cameras are not things of beauty."

So you didn't even come up with three points. You did like two points with just a bit extra.

jim blair's picture

You chose the wrong profession, the circus awaits you CLOWN.

Matt Williams's picture

"Fstoppers should be ashamed of themselves for even publishing it."

Exactly what I said.

Easily the absolute worst article they have ever published. And that is NOT hyperbole. I have never seen anything like this on here.

The concept of "why I won't buy a canon" is fine. But the article that ended up following in this case... is totally worthless. Actually it's worse than that. It's damaging to the integrity of the site.

Mike Dee's picture

Why I would not recommended reading this post by Ivor Rackham. Reason 1, bla bla Reason 2 bla bla Reason 3 bla bla

Ed C's picture

I look at it this way. I made a time investment to read this absolute tripe article but I did learn that going forward when I see Ivor Rackham I won't ever waste another minute on his tripe.

Michael Dougherty's picture

Yet everyone here is reading all the comments. Well done Ivor.

jacob hanning's picture

Is bad attention still good?

Brian Knight's picture

I wish I could say that I do not fall for click bait. But I clicked, and I read. And at my age, I should know better.

Dan Ostergren's picture

I fell for it too. The comments have been really amusing though; much better than the article itself.

Drew Altizer's picture

Has there ever been a less important piece of writing than this? Those are reasons, but really amateurish ones in my opinion.

Cliff Sullivan's picture

I agree the dumbest article I have read. I should have known because this is what you can expect from F-stoppers now days. Used to love this web site but now it seems all they are is click bait. It’s not to late please get back to real photography instead of this cancel culture mind set.

Jan Holler's picture

Fun to read. And of course, that could be said about Nikon or other brands cameras as well. The big flagships are working horses and do never perform in a beauty contest. And if it is either good design or a good grip, I choose the latter.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Thank you, Jan, you clearly understood the point of the article. As I said near the start, ergonomics is the most important aspect of buying a camera, and then after that, all there is left to choose between them is the looks.

Jan Holler's picture

As bad as most here say the article is supposed to be (it's not), it's drawing a surprising amount of attention. Quite a contradiction, actually.

Ryan Handt's picture

You just wasted 5 minutes of my life. That was the most useless article I’ve ever read. Choosing a camera based on its looks is quite literally the dumbest thing I’ve heard. It’s like choosing a surgeon because you their hair. “Who cares if they have 3% success rate, look at that pompadour!” Capital T trash.

Never Mind's picture

It wasn't useless. He managed getting people's clicks. Avoid clicking him anymore if you want to prevent crap like this.

Ryan Handt's picture

Agreed.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Hi Ryan, thanks for commenting. If you read again, I actually say that the most important aspect of the camera is the ergonomics. I picked on Canon, but could have equally chosen any brand as they all have failings and their own USPs, but most cameras are disappointingly too similar.

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