The first blog of 2014. Let me start by saying "Happy New Year!"
This blog entry actually came about because I happened to catch a YouTube video posted by one of my favorite photography mentors, Mr. Scott Kelby (the video can be seen here). This video was a response to many of his students, professional colleagues, and followers who were surprised to see him shooting several NFL football games this year on a Canon EOS 1D-X, rather than his usual Nikon D4. Admittedly, part of me is giggling inside that one of my mentors in photography has switched camps and started shooting redstripe (a slang term for the Canon L-Series lenses). However, after pondering this whole thing further, I started asking myself, "why does that really matter?"
There's a friendly rivalry between the Nikon and Canon camps, which I had discovered during a shoot last April with my buddy Brian Moore. We were in downtown Albuquerque taking shots of the plaza and various alleyways, taking advantage of the warm weather and an opportunity to grab a burger and beers afterward. While were downtown, a gentleman setting up one of the outdoor patios started a short conversation with us about photography, while busting our chops about Canon (in a friendly way, of course). This gentleman was a self-proclaimed Nikon shooter and was proud of it. I had encountered the same issue in Santa Fe when approached by a complete stranger who saw me photographing a building and smugly commented, after seeing the camera body I was using, "well I thought the Mark III is supposed to be the best."
If you want to overly-simplify it, read this. However, I have different thoughts on the matter.
For me, choosing a camera body or lens is a very personal decision, of which I want to be ABSOLUTELY sure about it since it can be expensive (there's no shame in buying affordable top-quality used lenses). Because I'm capturing the world around me with this body+lens combination, being comfortable with the strap, the grip, the feel of the lens, and the ability of the equipment is crucial, especially if it's for more than taking pictures of birthdays and family vacations. When making the switch to my current camera body, I discovered how important certain things are, such how the camera feels in your hands, and how those things can affect a photographer who uses this gear damn near every day. It's a similar feeling for a car enthusiast who notices little things for most people, like the exact feel of the clutch and how it shifts, and also similar for a drummer, who can be a little nuts when it comes to the specificity of the kit setup, the feel of the petals, and the weight of the sticks.
The specs are equally as important. If shooting for a client that is paying you, it's probably best to have a camera body that can produce images that can be blown up to the size of a billboard, just in case. Having awesome glass with far reach is crucial when shooting people in motion, such as sports, and having a lens with an angle that goes super-wide is very important when shooting landscapes. Having a prime lens with a super-wide aperture, such as an f/1.4 fast-50, is great for portraits, and having that all around lens for general use, like a 24-105mm, is great for vacations and events. Pretty much all major brands out there, both name-brand and generic, offer these options, and ultimately it comes down to trusting the reliability, performance, and durability of the lens, no matter the brand. (Regarding durability, I own a 5-pound lens that was pre-owned and dropped, and it's amazing the damage wasn't worse and no glass was broken. Durability is key.)
Ultimately, choosing one's camp is a matter of personal preference. Not to say I would never change, but who wants to buy that gear all over again?