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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Canon vs. Nikon, a continuing saga... (part 2 in a series)

As president of Alkit Pro Lab. I am frequently asked by our clients to recommend the best choice for image capture.  As most of you know, I was raised on photography, and come from a traditional film background using my Nikkormat FT2 and Canon AE-1.  My 25+ years at Alkit have afforded me the opportunity to sample many cameras.  As a Nikon Pro Products wholesaler for decades, Alkit stocked the breadth of Nikon equipment and many others, including Hasselblad, Leica, Olympus, and many others..  Back then, there was only one 35mm choice for working pro’s, and that was Nikon.  And for all those years, Nikon did us all a favor, and let us use their equipment, which was agreed to be the best.  I say that they did us a favor, because if you ever needed to call upon Nikon to assist with your needs as a working professional, you met with a fair amount of frustration.  Thanks to visionary equipment dealers such as Alkit, and revolutionaries like Marty Forscher of Professional Photo Repair, the pro’s using Nikon were content.

In 1988, Alkit supported Kodak Still Video products, the precursor to digital photography.  Fast forward to 1994 with the introduction of the first consumer-digital cameras, the Apple QuickTake 100 camera and the Kodak DC40. (Stay tuned for my input regarding those companies!)  In 1999, Nikon released the D1, known as the first camera to take market share from film cameras.  In 2001, Canon introduced the 1D Digital Camera.  Within two years, Canon was manufacturing cameras with 6.3MP sensors.  As time progressed, our consumer and professional clients gravitated toward Canon.  The product innovations in Canon’s entire product line from consumer through high-end professional were simply what the photographer wanted.  ELPH became a term known by consumers, synonymous with style, quality and value.  Here come the DSLR’s!

For the next decade, Nikon is playing catch-up to Canon.  First the megapixel race.  We need three megapixels for a quality 8x10 print; more if you intend to crop-in. Six megapixels, ten, twelve, eighteen, (okay, now it becomes overkill for most of us.)

Now the dilemma.  Many pros have a tremendous investment in Nikon glass.  By any measure the lens is THE most critical component of photography that contributes to high image quality.  Do I trade my Nikon equipment for Canon?  As a dealer in used equipment, Alkit saw the exodus.  Rarely a day goes by without a photographer sending in his Nikon gear, for trade to Canon.  The fact is, both Nikon and Canon manufacturer extremely high quality lenses.  They are both durable and sharp.  Spec for spec, apples to apples, Nikon and Canon lenses both perform exceedingly well.  However, check the price tag, and Nikon is more expensive.

The next problem goes back to the DSLR sensor, and “noise”.  Noise is the digital equivalent of grain.  The higher the ISO, the more noise is introduced.  It has taken both manufacturers years to effectively deal with this issue.  And the winner is, CANON.  Year after year, model after model, Canon has innovated higher effective ISO ratings with minimal noise effect.  The result is faster shooting at wider apertures in more difficult lighting situations. The proof is in the image.  

To compete, Nikon has taken the route of vast megapixels.  Its D800 boasts 32 of them!  This is awesome for all of you shooting images for billboards on the Long Island Expressway.  If this is your gig, you should be using Hasselblad, or Phase One, (another horror-story!)  For the rest of us, image quality is key.  Cost effectiveness, flexibility, lens options, and picture quality need to be considered as variables when selecting a camera system.

In the Alkt Lab, we invariably see the finest quality images shot with Canon.  These images require less color-correction and post-production manipulation by our technicians, resulting in higher quality prints, and more satisfied clients.  Canon supports its equipment through CPS, Canon Professional Services, in addition to its dealer network which includes Alkit.  

Steven Buchbinder is a member of Professional Photographers of America. Certified Photographic Consultant. Member and panel speaker for PMA, (Photo Marketing Association,) PMDA, (Photographic Manufacturers and Distributors Association.) and was awarded Photographic Retailer of the Year, 2001.

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