Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Don't Believe The Slanderous Claptrap

I've recently been accused of "hating Canon" cameras. Funny, that: for most of my personal photography over the last two years, the camera I reach for when the photos need to be good is a ...C...c...c....CANON 5D ! I personally love the file quality from the Canon 5D, and the body is smallish, light, and does not draw attention like a huge Nikon or Canon 1-digit body does. I have been using 35mm style SLR Cameras since the mid-1970's,and am firmly convinced that a smaller, less-obtrusive, more "amateur-looking" camera makes people feel more at ease,and so the half-height Canon 5D makes an excellent full-frame platform for social photography situations.

Let's see, I own the following Canon equipment.

Canon 24-105 f/4 L-IS USM
Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM
Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM
Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM
Canon 135mm f/2.8 Soft Focus
Canon 135mm f/2 L USM
Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L-IS USM
Canon 18-55 EF-S
Sigma 18-125mm DC
Sigma 80-400mm OS zoom
Canon Digital Rebel 350
Canon EOS 20D + battery grip
Canon EOS 5 D + battery grip
Canon 580-EX II Flash
Canon 500D + Diopter lens 77mm

Canon A-1 underwater 35mm camera

14 Nikon F lens to Canon EF body adapters
Five M42 thread mount lens to Canon EF body adapters

So, for a guy who allegedly "hates anything Canon" it would seem odd that I own over $10,000 worth of Canon gear, wouldn't you agree? Canon has some very good things going for it, such as a good raw developer software, FREE, with each camera. Canon's DPP software does a good job of converting RAW files and is rock-solid, very much UNLIKE Nikon Capture, which despite its $179 price, is a crash-prone, slow, archaic piece of software that is exceedingly cranky to work with. Nikon Capture has a few truly unique advantages, like its Lightness Channel editor,and the ability to read the secret, encrypted white balance from Nikon D2x NEF files, but it's mostly a software app for hand-perfecting a few selects, or for simple en mass global adjustments, with the changes written back to the NEF files without sidecar files, or for the worker who wishes to make a fully perfected, fully adjusted, color-balanced and tweaked original NEF file, and have the entire change list written back to the "original" .NEF file.

Much of my fondness for the Canon 5D is that Canon has a good, single-lens zoom offering that can handle anything between 24 and 105mm, with stabilizer, and a constant f/4 aperture. Nikon has nothing for full frame users that can compare, except two atrocious versions of the 24-120 piece of shit lens. Man, what a piece of crap. Total, effin' crap. Flimsy build, awful ergonomics, and Coke-bottle bottom corners, and a reputation, well deserved, for wobbly barrel feel, second rate build and amateur-level optics. Canon's 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM on the other hand, has full-time manual override, USM focusing, Image Stabilizer, solid build, and a very ideal balance on the 5D body when used without the grip.

One of the Canon 5D's real hidden strengths for me though, its its ability to be used with both Canon AND Nikon lenses, as well as Pentax M42 lenses. That is why I own 14 Nikon lens to Canon EF-mount lens adapters, and five M42 lens adapters. I have been using Nikon 35mm SLR cameras and lenses since 1982, and I have a lot of lenses in F-mount. Lenses that are for the most part unlike any made by other makers. I have a number of very good Nikkor manual focus lenses which have NO EQUAL from any other maker. Nikon's trio of top mid-range telephoto lenses 85/1.4, 105/2 DC, and 135 f/2 DC are a single-decade design of lenses which operate as the perfect trio of high-speed telephoto lenses optimized for people photography, with excellent optics and surprisingly light weight, and all three have superb bokeh, with each lens being a fantastic optic in its own right. Having a Canon full-frame body with a 12.8 megapixel 24x36mm sensor leverages my 85/105/135 Nikon primes.

The Canon 5D "looks like" a consumer d-slr when the grip is off, and it carries like a consumer camera as well, which makes it almost ideal for carrying with you. With the handgrip and two batteries in it, the camera balances better with big glass on it, for "serious" work. It works in semi-automatic metering mode in Aperture Value automatic, which is my favorite automatic mode, with ANY NIKON LENS made in the 1959-1977 pre-AI era; it works with ALL the lenses made in the 1977-2010 Ai and Ai-S manual focus era; it works with ALL the AF and AF-D Nikkor lenses--in Aperture Value automatic mode, and in manual, match-diode metering modes. I've been amassing lenses in F-mount since 1982,so I have a huge investment in manual focusing Nikkor lenses that work better on a Canon 5D than on many mid-range Nikon bodies, which are INCOMPATIBLE or at best semi-incompatible with over 20 years' worth of manual focusing lenses I have accumulated. The Canon 5D will accept over 50 Nikkor lenses that I own and have been amassing since 1982...all except the very-newest G-series lenses I own.

I'm used to the 24x36mm, 3:2 ratio camera. I have spent almost three decades using 24x36 cameras and full-frame lenses, and only nine years with 1.5x and 1.6x crop-body D-slr cameras. I bought my first digital camera in 2001, a Nikon D1. I have *never* liked the 1.5x or 1.6x crop body cameras and the way they affect lens performance. All the wide-angles and wide zooms are crippled on APS-C bodies. Prime telephotos, which I own a lot of, are rendered too narrow-angle for use in the situations they were designed for, and are seriously restricted when used indoors. A 1.5x or 1.6x field of view reduction forces very long working distances in portraiture, and forces one to work with a total image area that is roughly 2.3 times smaller in area than a 24x36 camera. A 24x36 digital sensor offers superb High ISO capabilities, and returns the "35mm" style camera to what it was from 1928 to until early 1999, when the Nikon D1 hit the market with its odd, 1.5x sensor size.

For somebody like me, who has been using Nikon 35mm SLR bodies and lenses since 1982, and who still owns the SAME, exact F-mount lenses from the 1980's and 1990's, the value and utility of a Canon FF body as a triple-brand light-tight digital camera with a supply of superb digital film inside the box is almost inestimable. The Canon 5D performs AV and manual light metering with 90% of the Nikon lenses I own; it is more-adaptable than any Nikon, even the pro Nikons, because the 5D can use older, unmodified pre-AI lenses and macro accessories, which I have a few of: the D1,D2,and D3 Nikons cannot use those older pre-Ai lenses and accesories without damaging the camera. A D1 or D2 is a huge, obvious, threatening camera. The 5D looks like a consumer camera, and draws very little attention and does not put people "off". The Canon 5D hearkens back to the era of the Nikon FE-2 and Nikon FM. In many respects, the Canon 5D is almost the perfect replacement for the Nikon FE-2 or the Nikon FM or the Nikon F3--it can use all the same,exact lenses and accessories, and it offers the same minimalist design ethos as those three Nikons, which I used from 1982 to 2001. I spent basically 19 consecutive years using either an FM, or an FE-2 or a Nikon F3 HP and manual focusing lenses. To me, manual focusing is still a viable option in many situations. Even with an AF camera in use.

It's really quite simple. The Canon 5D is an almost essential camera to buy and own for anybody who has a large collection of older Nikon lenses and macro accessories. The Canon 5D and 5D-Mark II are without a doubt among **the MOST-ADAPTABLE*** camera bodies a long-time Nikon shooter can own. Full, uncropped lens angle of view, superior image quality,dependable and free RAW converter software, small size, a light weight body, and Av automatic and manual match-diode metering modes with basically all the 1959-2007 manual focus Nikon or Pentax lenses, PLUS full and totally dedicated operation with all Canon EF autofocusing lenses made since 1987.

There's a specific individual on the web spreading lies about me, saying that I hate anything Canon. That is pure, unadulterated bullshit. An outright lie. While I prefer Nikon's body control systems,and have 28 years worth of experience with lenses that mount the opposite way and focus the opposite direction as Canon lenses do, I have invested pretty heavily in Canon lenses, and find that for me, the Canon 5D offers excellent image quality and it works with each and every lens I own except for just a handful of G-series Nikkors. I still use manual focus macro lenses and manual focus tele-primes, and still rely on my Nikon lens collection on many occasions. I cannot justify owning two complete camera systems unless one of the systems features lens cross-compatibility--which is where the CANON system is the absolute, unsurpassed champion of the 35mm style SLR cameras. I have Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED-IF, 300 f/4.5 internal focus, 300 f/4 AF-S, 300 f/2.8 AFS-Mark II, and 400mm f/3.5 internal focus lenses...I simply can NOT afford to duplicate those lenses in both Canon and Nikon lens offerings. My Nikon,Tamron, and Sigma macro lenses, five lenses in all, serve double-duty by owning Canon and Nikon bodies. Owning a Canon or two to go with a Nikon lens collection makes absolute, total sense. It is a **HUGE** advantage to own a Canon body or two if you own more than a few Nikon lenses made between 1959 and 2007.

Again,the idea that I "hate Canon" is a load of total bullshit. Any Nikon shooter who wants to leverage his pre-G Nikkor lenses definitely needs to own at least one Canon body. And now, there are new G-series Nikon lens to Canon body adapters, with a new one scheduled to appear from Novoflex, that will also leverage the fantastic new G-series VR-equipped Nikkor super-telephotos and the new Nikon VR-GV series zooms and Nikon's newest, shorter macro primes in 60-85-105mm lengths.

The idea that I hate Canon is idiotic. It's a camera system that can adapt to lenses made from 1959 to 2009, from many manufacturers. A Canon body breathes new life into Leica-R lenses, M42 thread mount lenses, Olympus OM-series lenses, and Nikon F mount lenses and accessories. I own three Canon d-slrs, eight Canon brand lenses, and two Sigma lenses in EF mount. I would not have spent well over $10,00 on something I "hate". Don't listen to the slanderous claptrap being spewed by a guy who has been in the photo game for only a short while, and who does not seem to understand that no one, single brand of equipment reigns supreme, and who fails to understand that cameras,lenses, and flash gear are not religions, but merely object to be used. Don't listen to this guy that doesn't own accessories that might have been made in the 1970's or 1980's, or the 1990's, and which although now apparently "old", might actually the best of their kind, and which might simply not be made any longer, at any price.

I believe that Nikon has a better body control system than any other camera maker, and I prefer Nikkor lenses that have aperture control rings on each, individual lens, but to use an analogy, Nikon is the Seagrams, and Canon is the 7-Up, and the lenses are the glass that holds it all,and makes it possible to enjoy the totality of the experience.

Put another way, Nikon is the pepper. Canon is the salt. The lenses are the steak.

If you do not have any steak, there's no need for either pepper or for salt. The guy that continually trumpets how good the white, Canon salt is, but has no steak to go with it doesn't really have much of a meal to eat now, does he? I understand that no one, single company has a "lock" on quality or on dominance. Right now, Canon has some GLARING, and HUGE holes in its product matrix. Right now Nikon has some HUGE, and GLARING holes in its product matrix. I've been around the photo game since I bought my first 35mm camera 37 years ago, and taught myself to shoot when I was 10 years old. There's plenty that I have lived through, and my point of view is not that of a one-brand zealot. I have lived through the dominance of Nikon, and seen the rise of Canon, the dominance of Canon, and now the pendulum seems like it's STUCK--right in the middle.

To the person who thinks that Nikon reigns supreme, or that Canon reigns supreme, or who sees a Canon hater in me, I'd urge you to look deep within yourself, and start looking at the points of view of other shooters, and not just me, who know more about other camera and lens systems that you happen to know absolutely zero about from personal experience, ownership, or even rental. I do not "hate Canon"--I have a PREFERENCE FOR Nikon optics over certain Canon optics, but I use both,and I own both.

I'm tired of reading that I have a "bias towards Nikon" from my internet stalker, Tim Harmsen of Valparaiso, Indiana AKA "InTempus", and the founder of the Canon fanboy website I have bought well over $10,000 of Canon gear, and have not sold any of it! I still keep it and use it! What I do have in some instances, is not a bias, but rather a preference for Nikon. A preference that has been built over almost three consecutive decades, since 1982 to the present--not from experience that began in 2007 or 2008 or 2009. I have a preference for Nikon in the areas where Nikon works better for me, feels better to me, or whenever a Nikon product actually *IS* better than a comparable Canon product that I happen to own. I cannot buy and own everything, so I buy the products that I feel are the best value, or which will bring the most utility. And newsflash --at times, either a Canon or a Nikon product will be notably, almost unequivocally better, OR horror of horrors, the "other" brand will have absolutely NO competing product(s) in an entire category. None. Nothing, Zip. Zero. Nikon Full-Frame d-slr prior to 2007? NOTHING to buy, so I bought a Canon FF 5D. Professional grade ultrasonic motor zoom lens like the 200-400mm f/4 Zoom-Nikkor with VR? From 2003 to 2010 Nikon has owned that category, with zero competition from any maker. Professionally capable bodies with built-in multiple flash commanders and advanced grouped flash TTL control? A Nikon exclusive for many years, with Canon's 7D being the first Canon to even begin to approach Nikon's features. Affordable, high-MP d-slr with half height body and full-frame video--the Canon 5D Mark II blows everything right out of the water--at only $2,499! And there are several other factual instances of dominance and or exclusivity among various Canon and Nikon gear. Where is Nikon's autofocusing 50mm f/1.2 lens? Where is Nikon's USM 80-400mm? Where is Nikon's MPE-65 1x-5x ultra-macro lens? Where is NIkon's 35mm/1.4 USM lens? Where is Nikon's 400mm f/4 DO lens? Where is Nikon's 180mm/3.5 macro? Where is Canon's 14-24mm f/2.8 with WORLD-class optical performance that betters **almost any** prime lens made in the last 30 years?

These last few comparisons are not opinions--they are cold,hard facts. No fanboy arguments can change the facts.

For those who wish to expand your capabilities and buy "exotic" lenses, or want to amass an entire wide-spectrum lens kit on a starving college-student type budget, you seriously should look at the various Canon d-slr bodies as a key part of your camera strategy. A Canon d-slr can be fitted with doggone near any lens you'd ever want to use,and with a bit of practice, can be useful in many shooting situations that do not demand rapid focusing or sure-fire AF performance. With a Canon body, the world of 35mm style lenses is your oyster. And I do love oysters!

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