Canon or Nikon? Part II

Sunset over the Cascades from Mount Baker Ski Area by Jay Goodrich
Sunset over the Cascades from Mount Baker Ski Area, © Jay Goodrich

In a recent post I asked all of you to give me some input on whether you were shooting with Canon, Nikon or “the rest” and if so why. The response was extremely helpful in my decision making process. I bet all of you are wondering what I did? Well, I did some more research, and then I made a judgement call for now. I have to say that I am stunned with what Nikon’s in-camera high ISO noise reduction is capable of, I have never seen anything like it. And that feature alone has me drooling for the yellow and black. I, however, needed to take into account that the switch may not have made the most economic sense, even with the rebates that were available at the time. The other thing is that I firmly believe it is not the camera, it is the photographer that produces the image and if you are good photographer you can create a best selling coffee table book using just your iPhone.

To further confuse my indecisiveness, in a recent workshop that I taught, I did a little poll to see where the numbers were at with the two major manufactures. There were 60 people in the workshop, which had me feeling like this was a pretty good sized class to get a good cross section from. With that in mind, 56% of the people were using Canon equipment, 31% of the people were using Nikon, and the remaining 13% were using Pentax, Olympus, or Sony. I know I didn’t break out the remaining manufacturers and that is because this was a selfish exercise just for me. If you recall, due to the systems that Canon and Nikon have available for the pro, I feel they are the only companies for me to go with due to the fact that I focus on adventure, nature, and architecture photography–three very different disciplines with very different equipment needs.

The end still wasn’t in sight for me though. I made a call to my local Canon Rep. I wanted to discuss my concerns, likes and dislikes, needs, and options with him. This is when the decision finally came. The local Rep for Canon is one of the nicest, down to earth, and reasonable people I have ever known, and it is with the hour plus long conversation that we had, where I came to terms with what I needed to do. I needed to stay with Canon, for now. When building a business, it is the relationships that you make along the way that will help guide you through even some of the toughest times. The key is to speak up and see what they have to say. One of my main concerns with Canon was the autofocus issues that have been prevalent since the release of the 1D Mark III. My Rep addressed these issues and explained to me what Canon was doing to rectify the situation. And knowing my Rep, made me believe that was truly the case.

Now, with a strong knowledge base, I created a game plan. I sold my 600mm f/4 lens. Took that money and purchased a new 1D Mark IV and the new 70-200 f/2.8 IS II zoom. Then, I sold my 1D Mark III and now I am purchasing the new 1.4x and 2x extenders. Then I am going to purchase the new 200-400 f/4 IS lens when it becomes available and either a new 500mm or 600mm. The mission was to get out of the older gear before the new gear hits the streets and everyone wants out of their old stuff. For once I feel ahead of the crowd on this. I have been working that new 1D to death. I haven’t even owned it a month and have already shot close to 10,000 images with it. I have to say that this camera coupled with the new 70-200 is one of my favorite camera/lens combinations of all time. The autofocus is ridiculously fast and the images just look spectacular. Yes, I know this camera isn’t competing with Nikon’s noise reduction ability, and at some point my gear may all start with the letter N, but for now, I am very happy with Canon yet again.

The included image was taken hand-held with my 1D Mark IV, 70-200mm f/2.8 II lens and a 1.4x converter at ISO 400, shutter 1/40, aperture f/10, and lens zoomed to 280mm. Processed minimally with only an Auto Curves adjustment in Photoshop and two pieces of dust cloned out. Yes hand-held! Did I mention how happy I am with the new camera/lens combination.


    I was wondering what your decision was going to be and why. I to am in the decision process of switching from Nikon to Canon. You are definitely correct in saying that it’s the person behind the camera that makes the difference. What I find amazing but yet what keeps people buying the same product year after year is the person that either sells or reps the product in question. If you get poor service from someone who might be selling you the best widget in the world, it won’t matter. That widget looks much better when the rep/salesperson is someone you can trust, is likable, and maybe someone you would bring home to Mom for some apple pie. You made some good decisions! I’m sure your Canon rep is thrilled to keep you as a customer!

    Thanks for the thoughtful post and gorgous image Jay. I’m a Nikon shooter, but you’re right, in the end it’s just equipment and the vision is all that really matters. For me, sticking with Nikon is more of an economic choice with my investment in their glass. Canon has definitely taken the lead early on with higher pixel counts, but I understand Nikon will be releasing all new top end cameras this year that should level the playing field.

    You are welcome Russ. And thank you for the comment and compliment. I truly believe if you are using a Nikon or Canon system, you will have all of the tools necessary to grow your work and capture whatever your creative vision finds at that given moment. Each have their pluses and minuses and unfortunately due to patents and innovation, there is no one system that fixes it all. As long as I have some equipment to show the world the way my brains sees, it doesn’t really matter.

    So true. The gray matter between our ears is what makes us good photographers. The tools are simply tools and under any given circumstance there may be a better tool than another. I choose Canon because I believe the L Series glass is the best there is for the masses.

    Mike G.

    Hi Jay thanks for your insight into this quandry. I am so undecided that I have decided to do both. I have the Canon 5D MK II with the 24-105 that I love for most landscape and people shots. The 7D for tele shots (works great with the 300-800 Sigma) and my Nikon D-7000 and D-700 with a lot of lenses to inlcude the 200-400 f 4 (nice but heavy) and the 600 f 4 (nicer but even heaver) that I really like a lot. I really want the new Canon 70-200 II and the new 2x III that I have been hearing real good things about (have you used it…and what do you think?). I have used adapters to shoot my Nikon lenses on the Canon bodies and they work ok…but its not a perfect solution. I do prefer the color richness from the Canon bodies and the high ISO performance from the Nikon…you can really have both…all it takes is $$$$$ and being crazy. I can hardly wait for the Canon 200-400 I only with they would incorperate the 2x III into the lens instead of the 1.4.

    I must admit is slows things down a bit when thinking how to change the ISO or focus tracking but that happens between the 5D and the 7D too. Thanks for they info.

    Hi Ray,

    The 70-200 II and the 2x III are an amazing duo. This is why I decided to stay with Canon. They are really working on producing some amazing new glass and that combination is as close to perfect for it’s light weight and magnification. If you couple it with a 1D Mark IV then you actually have a powerful autofocus system. I can’t wait for the 200-400. I suspect that they only went with a 1.4 because that will maintain autofocus with the f/4 aperture. Imagine the ease of adding a converter by flicking a switch though? Just pure genius.

    Jay, I didn’t comment on Canon or Nikon Part I but felt that Canon has a better range of lenses for what you shoot. I know that you shoot a lot of Architecture and I recently returned from Dubai and took along the 17mm tilt/shift. What an amazing piece of glass to shoot those buildings with. You didn’t mention the 17mm or new 24mm t/s in your post but these two lenses are phenomenal for architecture. I’ll be anxious to hear your thoughts after you have worked with these lenses (if not already).

    Hi Nate,

    I actually use both the 17mm and the 24mm for architecture photography. And sometimes take them out in the field to create interesting miniature shots as well. The 17mm is one of the sharpest lenses I have ever owned.

    Jay G.

    Jay, great shots. Several years ago, I had a book contract pending and needing a camera I could take into water (you know what I’m talking about). I contacted the camera company’s pro section to borrow one of their models. The company reps blew me off in a rude way. I didn’t get the contract. When I had enough, I sold the N_ _ _N and went to Canon. Been here ever since. I don’t expect a camera company to hold my hand. I expect a camera company to do as they say they will do for amateur or pro. I’m writing more than shooting these days but I’m working on a book project to use both computer and camera. I illustrate stories i write. I’m no youngster but I still get a kick out of holding the 5D Mark II. It’s heavy but willing. Any time I’ve asked a rep for information, whoever answers is williing to spend the time needed. I must admit that my dealer backs me up over the past 25 years, too. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Canon ain’t broke.

    David Wolfe

    Thanks for the good read Jay. I just have this to say and perhaps you’d agree. Set aside all the cameras and the lenses and the gear that the two companies make and a person could make an easy decision based solely on Customer and technical service and support. Canon spends millions of dollars to “be there” for their customers and has a service and support team that is second to none and is actually ramping up that service in the coming months and years. You cant say this for the other company and I do have first hand knowledge.



    I’m at the point where I am considering upgrading to a new camera body, the Canon 5D Mk III, and am now facing the dilemma you discus here.

    I’m wondering if you have current thoughts re your decision to stay with Canon…in light of the Mk III and the Nikon D-800?



    Hey Dave,

    I decided to stick with Canon due to a few reasons. I have heard that Nikon’s customer service is horrible and I have a wonderful working relationship with my current Canon rep. Nikon received an “F” with the BBB. Also, with the release of the 1DX and 5D Mark III, the noise concerns between the companies’ cameras isn’t a factor anymore. The other plus for Canon was the fact that they offer a wider range of lenses. Nikon doesn’t produce a 17mm T/S, 70-200 f4, or an 8-15mm fisheye…all lenses that I use on a regular basis. Honestly though, from a flat out equipment perspective, either company offers a viable pro system that any photographer can work with for their entire career.

    Hope this helps. Jay


    Many thanks for your thoughts. I’ve ended up the same as you…with the lenses making the difference.

    Really enjoy your work, your thoughts and your outlook on photography.


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