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Should You Be Using Nikon?

No, this is not going to be one of those “black hat” versus “white hat” discussions.  The discussions that still pop up from time to time on photo forums about why my Canon’s father can beat your Nikon’s father up are always amusing.  I wonder if all that wasted energy, angst and enthusiasm could be marshaled into a really great photograph somewhere?

But I do use Nikon equipment.  Why?  Does it really matter?

My first 35mm SLR was a Pentax precursor–an AsahiFlex (marketed in the United States by Sears under the Tower brand).  It didn’t have a pentaprism or an in-camera light meter!  I “upgraded” to a Canon TX in 1979, and then in 1981, I had the opportunity to purchase a Nikkormat body (and more importantly, 3 lenses).  My prior cameras had less “bells and whistles” and only a so-called “normal” (50mm) lens.  I was able to “horse trade” in a way that economically worked for a starving college student, and thus, became a Nikon-shooter.  Over the (too numerous) years following, I had opportunities to “trade up” equipment.  The catch was that each item of equipment was “married” to a particular branded system.  A new lens needed to be a Nikon-mount.  If you wanted a new body, you were already “invested” in Nikon lenses, and the body needed to fit the lenses.  There has never been a time in my years of equipment ownership that a lens or body I bought wasn’t worth substantially less than what I paid for it (like every car I have ever owned), soon after I parted with my hard-earned money.

Each brand has items I would love to see on its equipment, along with items I don’t care about.  It doesn’t make it any easier, of course, that there is no such thing as a “universal purchaser.”  What I think is important, you may not care about in the least.

On one of the forums I frequented years ago, a friend and I joked about creating a “Nicanontaxpus” branded camera that took all the features we liked from the several major brands with a universal lens-mount system that could take any lens.  At that time, I was looking at the auto-focusing and image stabilizing technology in the Canon systems, which was “ahead” of Nikon at the time.  At the same time, the Nikon system had a world-beater electronic flash system which was undisputedly the industry leader.  A good friend and noted professional photographer gave me very wise counsel.  He noted that each “brand” had its own pros and cons, and that each was a very high quality manufacturer.  Sooner or later, one would catch up with the other in those areas it was “behind” in technology.  In the meantime, I would take a serious economic “hit” by selling my lenses at reduced prices and purchasing new lenses at new prices.  I would also possibly take a practical “hit” in having to learn and get comfortable with a new system.  Good advice.  I am not always known for this, but in this case, I heeded it.  Eventually, Nikon came out with its own image stabilizing system and–ironically–its flash system lost some of its “luster” when both companies shifted to digital and DSLR systems.

Since then, another company came up with an even better (IMO) idea and created an image-stabilizing body.  And so it goes.  Innovation is a wonderful thing, both for us users and for the sellers of innovative technology.

The point of this ramble is that I do not believe there is any merit in arguing about which system is best.  You use the system that works best for you to do the things you want or need it to do.  If you have the luxury of having money to spend and are purchasing a new system, the decision is different — and not necessarily an easy one.  For the rest of us, it may well be that patience is our most important virtue.
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6 Responses

  1. Hey Andy — I use my old Nikon lenses on my digi Canon. How is that for playing both sides of the fence?

  2. Hi Donna: At one time recently we had a Dodge in the garage (poetry was not my major), a Ford in the Driveway and an Honda in the other bay of the garage. The served their purpose in each case.One of my other passions is golf (my handicap is much higher than my photography handicap). I remember watching one of the professional tournaments some years ago, and noting that one of the pros — a good player — had a bag full of beat up old clubs and it appeared that they weren’t even close to a matched set. Again, you use the tools that you have, or that work for the purpose you have in mind. And sometimes economics plays a big part.

  3. Don’t get me started on Dodges — ugh! I drove one in high school…

  4. …The point of this ramble is that I do not believe there is any merit in arguing about which system is best. … Amen, Andy. Cameras today are SO good (esp. when used with high grade lenses of any brand) that it’s really the photographer who may be the “weak link”. An experienced, serious shooter can make technically superb images with (high quality equipment) of any brand. Cheers! Peter http://www.peterkburian.com

  5. Hi Peter: Great to hear from you. It is truly an honor to have someone like you look in here and comment.Back “in the day” it seemed like Nikon and Canon were Ford and Chevy, with Minolta, Olympus and Pentax coming in like maybe Chrysler and American Motors.Now look at those care companies. Toyota and Honda are beating them up pretty badly and the Korean mfgrs are close at their heels.And this morning I read on David Cardinal’s site that the up and comer in the Photography Equipment industry is now SONY! Wow.Best to concentrate on our craft, I guess and let the technology help us along.

  6. […] for 30 years. But I am not a “my dad can beat up your dad kind of guy” (see my blog, “Should You be Shooting Nikon?”). I like to think of myself as a pragmatist. Over the years I have observed and admired some of the […]

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