Nikon vs. Canon: Why One Photographer Made the Switch

When preparing to buy your first digital SLR, it can be difficult to choose between the two camera giants, Canon and Nikon. Perhaps you’re a seasoned photographer used to shooting one brand, and you wonder if you may be missing out. In this video, professional photographer and tech expert Scott Kelby discusses why he went from being a loyal Nikon user to a Canon devotee:

Though Kelby holds that both companies make great cameras, here are a few of the reasons why he now prefers Canon:

  • Super-fast autofocus. Though Kelby first noticed this feature on the 1DX, built for sports photography, other cameras (such as the 5D Mark III) have the same speedy and highly customizable autofocus.
  • User-friendly design. Visually streamlined, ergonomic, and with an intuitive user interface, Kelby likens the camera’s smart design to Apple computers.
  • Quick dial makes organization easy. When shooting hundreds or thousands of images of one event, the quick dial on Canon cameras enables you to instantly scroll through, lock, and select your favorites before you even upload the images to a computer.
  • Realistic skin tones. Every camera’s photos have a different look, and for sports and portrait photography, Kelby says Canon’s skin tones can’t be beat.
  • High ISO capability. When capturing subjects in motion, you will often need to use a higher ISO setting so that you can use a faster shutter speed. While some cameras produce a lot of noise with ISOs higher than 1600, high-end Canon cameras nearly eliminate this concern.

These are certainly compelling reasons to use a Canon camera, but every photographer is different. Try out different cameras and see which one is right for you. Kelby makes the apt comparison to buying a guitar–there isn’t necessarily one that’s better. “Go to the music store and play them both,” he says.

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15 Comments

  1. Gopal Gee says:

    I just joined this.very useful information for all stage photographers

  2. Sergey Sus says:

    I think Scott will shot with which ever advertiser contributes more and we will not see any significant difference in his photos. This is coming from an ex Nikon and current Canon shooter. You mileage may vary.

    Cheers,
    Sergey Sus

  3. No…this has nothing to do with the new, robust sponsorship package that Kelby One and Kelby Training just got.

    In all seriousness…both brands have a lot to offer, and they tend to be neck and neck in the competition, neither holding the best technology for very long. Photo brands of this caliper are like Stock…you will ultimately gain the upper hand if you just stick with it long enough.

    I’m a NIkon user…love the brand, never had the urge to switch. But I will recommend either brand to a new photographer. You really can’t go wrong with either.

  4. mike penney says:

    Cameras don’t make photographs.
    The only thing I want in a camera is for it to do what I am telling it to do…. with a sharp lens and accurate focus… (which seems to be a problem for many cameras).

    You only need a better camera when the one you have is holding you back.
    The new one will not make your photos better automatically.

  5. Ryan says:

    I’ve lost a lot of respect for Kelby, not because he switched, but because it’s obvious he switched to get a better deal (financially). If he were honest and upfront about that, it’d have been better. At this point, though, I can not trust anything he says, or has ever said, about equipment because now I know he can be bought.

    That said, I still thinks he takes great pictures and can offer a lot of good advice about the art of photography.

  6. George Fiad says:

    What a commercial pitch. Wow! I personally can’t care more what camera you feel like shooting which as I think Travis hits the nail on the head. But do we need a ten minute commercial? Really?
    Apple? There’s nothing on the bottom of an apple? I learned to shoot with a Canon, and I love their gear, I just fell in love with Nikon’s ergonomics and glass, not to mention shutter. Today I wish Nikon had a 58mmf/1.2 AF-SWM with the whole alphabet soup behind it, as well as an 85mm f/1.2, and some other nice lens Canon has; but I still wouldn’t spend a gazillion dollars to trade my gear for one or two items I’d like today that aren’t on the other side and might be there tomorrow along with a couple of other things I’ll find attractive or cool. Like Travis says, these two companies are like Blue Chip Stocks, they will fluctuate day to day, on day Canon the next day Nikon will have the upper hand, but you don’t REALLY go and change all your gear unless there is some incredible pattented quantum leap, or you get a really great sponsorship package from one or the other.

  7. James says:

    Ford or Chevy? Toyota or Honda? Yankees or Red Sox ?
    I’m a canon guy, because my first camera was an AE-1. Always used canons. And I believe the skin tones are nicer with canon. But a hard core Nikon guy will swear on his mothers eyeballs that nikons are better.
    I think that after all is said and done, the competition between the two gives us better cameras , at better prices. Just like ford and Chevy, etc.

    Go Sox

  8. Paulie D says:

    You know, as I grow older I start putting emphasis on the experience moreso than the impact. The whole picture, pardon the pun, is so much more important. Cameras and lenses are pretty stinking amazing today (cameras, ha, more like a computer with a lens attached), so to me that part doesn’t really come into play. I shoot high end gear and what’s important is to know my back is covered. The Canon customer service, availability of resources and the CPS program is so far and above anything I’ve seen from other camera companies, I wouldn’t trade it for free gear from anyone else. And, as a landscape photographer, the Canon pro printers with the 16 bit drivers are the finest available. I couldn’t imagine ever leaving the environment of great gear, great output and superb customer service (the factory repair centers have yet to charge me for any repair, even out of warranty). I don’t know a SOUL at Canon and I have no affiliation other than my CPS Gold membership that I pay for, I just stay with the entities that care about their customer base.

    Oh, and running around with a 5D3 with the 50/1.2 shooting street scenes wide open isn’t too shabby either. ;-)

  9. Alfredo Tisi says:

    I’m a Canon user but any brand will do a great job. Scott Kelby, otherwise, has shown in the past that his only goal is his own profit, like the recent change in NAPP and his positioning aside Adobe during the CC transition. I don’t swallow his statement. He isn’t a great photographer neither a great photoshoper anyway…

  10. ernaldo says:

    Scott simply quit Nikon because Canon bought him. They are advertising big on his site, and they of course comped him the gear. Try not to be so silly as to believe it was “skin tones”, and the like. Scott’s next step?….Politics.

  11. Terry Brown says:

    I don’t think Canon is any better than Nikon, Pentax, or Sony or what ever brand you like. But I know for a fact that a better quality camera can and does make better quality photos or snapshots. So why does it bother so many people that when someone buys a high quality camera to take snapshots if that’s what they want and can afford it.
    I’ve been enjoying photography for 40+ years as a hobby and every camera upgrade has improved my photos and enjoyment. So why keep saying it’s the photographer not the camera? So what, if they enjoy it, don’t worry about it and let them/us just enjoy taking pictures with whatever they/we have and enjoy.

  12. Gary Aragon says:

    All I can say is that, I wish I had his clout… there is no doubt in my mind that Scott has the talent and know-how to command the best there is, no matter who donates it. I’m just say’in, keep up the good work, Scott.

  13. Howard says:

    Good observations, Scott. Something else….. When you point out a problem with a Canon, you’ll get the attention of their Product Improvement department. When you point out a problem with a Nikon, Nikon may ignore you. But their user community will go rabid. For many Nikon users, brand loyalty is a religious issue. They’ll ignore shortcomings and exaggerate specifications. And they’ll expect you to do the same.

  14. Roger says:

    What we really need is an honest review of equipment or if the reviewer is sponsored by a manufacturer (cash, equipment or free advertising etc, please make this clear in the write up.

  15. I’ve played around with someone else’s top of the line Nikon. I would have to say that I was impressed with its speed and ability to keep a bird in flight in focus. The point is I can’t see how a camera needs to be faster for sports when you have a D4 and a great lens. The other point is dxomark.com seems to produce a scientific case that Canon cameras don’t have better low light capability than nearly equivalent cameras from Nikon for the most part if not all of them.

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