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Should I change to Nikon?

stevostevo Member
edited February 2012 in wedding photography
Hi All,

I'm at a crossroads and have been turning this question over in my head for a while now. I'm still shooting with the 5D classic and 20D as backup and have the following lenses - pretty much in the order of most used to least used: 70-200 f2.8 IS (not mk2), 24-105 f4 L, 15mm f2.8 fisheye, 50mm f1.4, 300mm f4 L, Tamron 28-75 f2.8 (unused since 24-105 purchase), Speedlite transmitter ST-E2, 2 x 580 ex2, canon flash battery pack and pixel battery pack - both for the 580 ex2.

My question comes from the following points:

1) I'm not doing a whole lot of weddings - 4 booked till august 2012 so probably 6 this year, probably max 8 next year, maybe 12 the year after. its grown from photo books as wedding presents to a small sideline to my own business but I'm passionate about having the best gear to give me the chance to have the best shots. I don't want to do more than one per month for the next couple of years I don't want every weekend tied up, and I can make more in my training consultancy business monday to friday so for now wedding photography is a backup to not have all eggs in one basket, and I really enjoy the challenge as well as delivering the best work I can to the bride and groom.

2) I wouldn't mind if changing to Nikon cost me a bit, I can buy through my business vat free in Ireland and my main interest is getting the best photos I can. The reported sharpness of the Nikon 24-70 and 70-200 at wide/ telephoto ranges, generally better Nikon autofocus, high ISO, better off camera flash and reliability all seem to beat Canon hands down. In my very limited use I've had the 5D mirror fall out and the 15mm fisheye and 24-105 lens all in for repairs this year.

2) I get a fair % of shots out of focus with the 5D classic as my style is candid/ photo journalist with lots of subject movement and little time to compose shots - I didn't go for the 5d mk 2 because of further poor reviews on autofocus.

3) I will definitely buy the following gear if I stick with Canon - 2 x 5D mk3 as soon as they come out assuming they hit the rumoured specs, 70-200 mk2 selling my 300mm f4 L prime and my 70-200 f2.8 mk 1, probably will buy the new 24-70 2.8 mk2 and sell my 24-105 but not for about a year. The 20D has been sold to a friend but I borrow it for weddings as a backup. Will most likely buy the 100mm 2.8 L macro within a year and possible the 80mm f1.2 L the following year.

4) Would probably buy the following if moving to Nikon - 2 x D800's or used D700's or more likely 2 x used D3's, 24-70, 70-200, and some form of wide angle Nikon then later a 100mm macro and sell all my canon gear.

4) The good news is I'm in Rep of Ireland so used camera equipment holds its value pretty well as new prices are fairly high here. I'm also vat registered through my business so new purchases in Ireland/ UK will be about the same as USA prices so with all my Canon lenses it might not be such a sting to change to Nikon.

Finally my question: What would you do in my situation - wait for 5D mk3 or jump ship? I'm going to be spending significant money very soon either way and as I've very little invested in cameras and the lenses hold their value well I'm probably in an unusual situation compared to the others questioning to move from Canon to Nikon as it might cost me less than most jumping ship.

Thanks in advance for any opinions!



  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited February 2012

    Ultimately it's up to you to decide what's best for your business/personal style, value and most important the feel you have for your gear.

    I was a Diehard 4.0 Canon user for over 30 years, film, then 5D [yep, mirror also fell off], 1 x 5D MkII and 2 x 1D MkIIIs, speedlites, etc. with multiple lenses to suit.

    I too had issues with my Gear, soft focus, especially the 24-70mm f2.8 lens.

    In my final year of Canon use exclusively, I had both my brand new 1D MkIIIs within 6 weeks of each other to have the submirror assembly fixed; plus 1 flash [brand new, used once], 2 lenses, sent back to Canon.

    Frustrated, I ended up feeling very uncomfortable using for fear of something going wrong and during a wedding, not good.

    So I went to Nikon, 2 x D3s, 24-70 f2.8 [what a lens!] and the very sharp/fast 70-200 f2.8, plus 2 SB900s.

    Cons: None so far. [Apart from the SB900s damn early cut out, simply turned that off, no problem since regardless of how much I flog them].

    Pros: Fast, Sharp, Skintone beautiful, & most importantly, I feel very confident and that helps tremendously in shooting.

    I also loved the fact of 2 CF card slots, yes the 1D's had 2 slots, but CF/SD, very annoying.

    My biggest gripe with Canon here in Australia was the service [or lack thereof], turnaround time frame and charged like a wounded scrub bull.

    I still own the 2 1D MkIII's and lenses, which are both working good now, especially the MkII 70-200 f2.8 IS Lens, fast and sharp, but I am still glad I switched.

    I cannot recommend you do the same, I can only pass on my personal experiences.

    Check this, Post #20:


  • stevostevo Member
    edited February 2012
    Thanks Trev,

    Was actually that very post # 20 by Neil, and his comments at a workshop he did in Dublin last year that has prompted me to seriously think of changing.

    If I'm going to sell some of my kit and invest in pretty much all the updated versions of 24-70. 70-200, 2 bodies, 100mm macro, 80mm f 1.2 over the next year or two I'm thinking it might as well be Nikon.

  • Hi Steve,
    I'm based in Ireland too and changed from Canon to Nikon in 2009 due to starting into wedding photography, so bit of an essay below for you :-)
    Up to 2009 I had Canon gear, mainly used for wildlife and landscape, I had the 1D MKIIN, 5D, and various lenses from 16mm up to 500mm.
    Being into photography I got asked to photograph a few weddings so went second shootings a few times.
    From the second shooting I learned that I wanted a decent 24-70 on full frame and the 5D sensor in the 1 series body and needed two of these cameras for a wedding. The D3 was perfect and the D700 was a great lower cost second body. So I sold all my Canon gear and got the D3, D700, 14-24, 24-70, 70-200 and two SB900s.
    After a few years with the Nikon gear and shooting a few weddings with them my view is for my first few weddings with the experience I had the Nikon gear was a big big help and I could not have gotten the same results with the Canon kit. However knowing what I know now from experience shooting weddings and attending courses like Neil's if I had the same Canon gear now and was going down the wedding road I'd keep the Canon gear (more on that later).
    Regarding the Nikon gear here is what I found comparing it to Canon.
    Camera bodies
    There is no contest between the D3/D700 and 1DMKII and 5D, the D3 has better ISO performance than the 5D and better ergonomics and focusing than the 1 series. I had a look at the 1D MKIII, but the reported focus problems put me off. Also there was the question of what body to act as second body/backup. The controls of a Canon 1 series and 5D are so different going from one to another in the rush of a wedding did not work for me. Also using two 5Ds was not a viable option for me as I feel your main camera should have dual card slots in case of card problems (in fact this led me to selling the D700 and renting a second D3 for weddings when needed).
    The 14-24 kicks the Canon 16-35, and same for the 24-70 lenses I would say the Nikon 24-70 has a similar sharpness to the 24-105. I had the Nikon 70-200 MK1 and don't think it was as good as the Canon 70-200mm MKI, I upgraded to the Nikon 70-200mm MKII and it was worth it. I used the Nikon 85mm f/1.4D, and 24mm f/1.4 and they were great too.
    Love the Nikon CLS system, the SB900 is a much nicer than the Canon 580, it comes with a diffuser cup, gels etc. I found the Nikon flash system to be more consistent but that could be just to getting better with flash and Neil writes that one is as good as the other.
    There is also great stuff from Joe McNally on using the CLS system.

    So overall the Nikon lenses are better and so are the bodies and the CLS is a great too, so why my comment above regarding sticking to Canon. To fund the cost of moving to Nikon I had to sell my 500mm lens and could not afford to buy an equivalent Nikon lens, this has basically stopped the wildlife photography that I love. Also the 14-24mm could not work with the Lee filter kit I had so the landscape photography kinda stalled as well.

    Knowing what I know now, if I was going down the wedding route a couple of years later than I did, I'd sell the 5D and 1D and get one 1D MKVI (good enough for Jeff Ascough, good enough for me), I'd also sell the 24-105 I had and pick up a couple of primes. So the wedding kit would be 16-35 on one body and the 70-200 on the other and have the 24mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.2 for low light and covering the other lenses in case they break.
    As for a second body, when a wedding comes up now I rent the second body. A second body like the D800 is going to cost over €2500 before VAT, which is a lot of cash for a body that spends most of the time sitting doing nothing. I can rent a D3s from Conns in Dublin or Calumet in Belfast, so for the couple of weddings a year I do it makes more sense to rent. Once the weddings numbers justify it I will go and buy a second body.

    Looking at what you are thinking of buying if sticking with Canon, I'd be tempted to go with Nikon, at the moment the 5D MKIII or 1DX are not released, and at least you know the specs of the D4 and D800 and user reports should be out pretty soon. The new Canon 24-70 is going to cost more than the Nikon 24-70 as it has just be announced. So on the lens front it will work out near even.

    Phew...hope this helps!!

  • i'd sit tight and see what the newest Canon brings. if you have nothing pressing for a month, what's to loose? remember, all of this in-depth discussion about IQ and lens curves doesn't make the phone ring.
    give my regards to Ronnie Norton, we judged together for the PPA a few years back.
  • Really useful reply John thanks, seriously lots of food for thought.

    Good points on having primes in case of zoom failures, and of course dual card slots are pretty much vital. Also having one body and renting an identical one makes great sense as they lose value so fast compared to lenses.
    Interesting that you would look at selling the 24-105 and buy primes though.

    I'd like to get to a situation where I'm able to use zooms (even if a bit expensive) that are sharp both wide and zoomed and a body that has all autofocus points that work. Basically being able to focus on composition and creativity, not settings. Face recognition and canon digic 4 processors for exposure/ autofocus or the nikon equivalent sound likely to make the difference between printable shots and misses.

    I could add the following points on my position:

    I seriously lost about 2 nights sleep after my second last wedding as it was quite a small wedding so fewer than normal candid opportunities, it was a bit alternative - no white dress for example to meter from, very short ceremony (20 min), almost no speeches (short best man's speech only), and the speeches were before the meal (ie before the drinks had their effects so very few reaction shots), no top table at the reception, it rained solid all day, reception was fairly dark so I really needed better high ISO quality, dancefloor was tiny and the music was fantastic so the floor was either full to the brim when the band played leaving zero space, or totally empty. So most the normal shots I go for weren't possible/ easy. Plus the bride and groom closed their eyes in strict rotation (LOL) during the couple shoot. Basically a nightmare from a photography point of view but I still really enjoyed the day, the couple were really chilled out and good fun and I had enough weddings under my belt to relax and make the most of it but I lost enough shots from poor autofocus and poor high ISO to really question the kit I'm using and only after a full post process was I happy with the shots from the day. Ended up with 440 photos as proofs, 140 chosen as favourites for consideration for the album but I know I could have done better and this was the only wedding that I didn't find easy and I don't want to go there again. Its a huge responsibility to photograph someone's wedding that I don't take lightly, and I'd much prefer to lose money changing gear than risk a poor wedding album. To date the weddings I've done have had really good reactions and I get really get a kick out of it.

    I need to keep weekends free for a bit, still playing hurling (I'm full back and my goalie needs protection so I cant be off doing weddings on Saturdays!) but in a year or so I'll be retired and my wife is a teacher with great holidays so summer weekends wont be a problem for photography, I'll get a website set up in advance and have hopefully enough referrals/ bookings to more than pay back the cost of new kit. My main business has me working 3 to 4 days a week so leaves a reasonable time for about 10 to 15 weddings per year including editing which would be my target in a few years.

    Great feedback anyway, thanks again.

  • Kennykodak

    I haven't met Ronnie Norton yet I'm afraid.

    I'd definitely agree with you its not all about the equipment and if I had time to wait to see how the 4 new pro bodies from Canon and Nikon get reviewed I would, but my next wedding is in mid April and three more to August I'd need to have a system I'm used to well beforehand as these will be the work that generates more bookings.

    And of course you are right, any of the current gear is more than good enough if you really know how to use it. Problem is, I'm not ashamed to say I don't yet REALLY know how to get around all of the various curve balls the day throws at me when there are only seconds to set up, and I'm prepared to take a hit on the gear cost if it prevents me missing an important shot. My kit has served well during second shooter times but when you are the main guy and the bride and groom are walking around during the day and suddenly appear through the main hotel entrance with huge smiles and crazy blown out background lighting as happened recently, I want to give myself the best chance at capturing the moment and any advantage trusted kit can bring is an advantage I'd like to have.

    I'm still blown away by just how good Neil's website and forum is by the way, if anyone reading this is thinking of attending one of his workshops I'd seriously recommend it, it really ties all the stuff on the blog together in a package and answers loads of those niggling questions. Unbelievable how Neil can be so forthcoming with advice for free in today's world of bronze, silver and gold membership levels!
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