Like PC or Mac, when there are two leading brands, one gets trendy and the other gets labelled the ‘establishment.’ One global corporation is youthful and innovative. The other is boring and stagnant. One is sexy, one is your dad. This is despite both brands having advertising executives, sales targets and profit margins. The media likes to pretend that Windows is money grabbing and Apple is some sort of non-profit making collective. Last time I went into the Apple store to have a quick look, I was accosted by a legion of blue jumpered androids – young, energetic and probably powered by commission. They had the religious fervour of a Jesus Youth Club – the last people I would want to buy a computer off.
In the world of cameras, this battle is fought out between Canon and Nikon. Two Japanese corporations who sell products in every high street in the world and are much more similar than we would admit to. Canon is the old codger who dresses like your dad and Nikon is the trendy weapon of the artist.
In truth, your choice of camera system really depends which one you bought first. And this is probably some sort of educated accident, since we all signed up at a time when we knew very little about SLR’s. In my case I bought a Canon because it came in a nice two lens set and hard case at a decent price in my local camera shop. The companies’ two systems are not compatible, so after your first purchase you take a step down one path and every time you buy a zoom lens or a flash gun you go further down the path. In my case it would need a significant investment to change to Nikon and I doubt I would see any significant improvement in the final result, my photos.
The Nikon is regarded as the better camera but I doubt that you could tell who took a photo with what by looking at the pictures. I suspect it’s down to Vietnam war photographers who used Nikons in the field and left lots of stories about changing film under fire and rebuilding damaged cameras in their hotel rooms. One story about putting nail varnish over exposed screws on the cameras to stop rust comes to mind. They developed their films in the bath tubs probably while listening to The Doors.
Like I said, there’s not as much difference between them as we pretend, but Canon is definitely the better make. Did you know it was named after a buddhist monk?