Am I a Nikon user, or a Canon?

Fireworks at Darling Harbour, Sydney, for Australia Day

What irony, starting this post by having a photo of someone taking a video with their phone, which always seemed to record better images than I ever manage with a photo device, but I digress (already!).

Having started off using a Nikon camera, I haven’t had much of an opportunity to try a Canon camera properly unless I borrowed one off a friend but that was always just for short periods. Although it’s easy to just pull a camera, point it and take a photo while in a fairly well lit area, the true test of a camera is shooting at night where the light never seems to be in your favour.

I had my first actual taste of using a Canon camera last night when my dad, already occupied with his video camera, pushed his Canon EOS 1100D from work into my hands so I could take photos of the Australia Day fireworks. Having had some experience with my Nikon camera, I knew roughly what settings I wanted, but figuring out how to change the settings in a limited amount of time was a real test.

Just new or unfamiliar?

The Canon camera was quite different from my Nikon D3100 in that the model numbers are easier to remember in that there were buttons specifically for particular settings, which threw me off at first since I wanted to navigate around the display and it would keep selecting settings I didn’t want or had already. Without going into too much detail, it seemed there were almost too many buttons at the back, however I could see how this could benefit when changing settings in a hurry once you were familiar with them.

The grip of a Canon doesn’t feel quite as substantial as the grip of a Nikon as it’s smaller, and not as close to the lens itself. It’s also quite smooth compared to the more textured surface of mine. However a Canon feels a lot lighter in the hand than my Nikon does, and is also kinder to my back, provided that I’m not carrying multiple lenses, which wasn’t a problem in this case.

Even as generally a Nikon user though, I admit that I really liked the multishot feature of the Canon, as it seemed a lot smoother and quicker. However the way in which the camera continuously attempted to focus was aggravating — either as a result of a setting I changed or forgot to change though, most likely.

Fireworks at Darling Harbour, Sydney, for Australia Day

Is there a verdict?

I recall feeling greatly confused when I first set out to use my Nikon, but again, I hadn’t had much experience at that stage using DSLRs. In even a beginner’s hands, it was easy to take good photos, but not great ones, let alone something spectacular. With a Canon however, it seemed that I could take photos that seemed to look fairly good regardless, however the number of photos that were thrown out was also higher.

Interestingly, despite having experience using it on a bright sunny day, most of my brother’s shots with the camera turned out ‘shaky’ or blurry in the wrong places.

After experiencing use of both cameras, I got the impression that Canon cameras are better for beginners though having used my Nikon it’s possible this has given me the benefit of experience. It’s relative difficulty in figuring out how to change settings gives the impression it is meant to be used as-is rather than changed, although it was strange that my brother was also unable to locate the ‘Auto’ setting on the dial — maybe my brother wasn’t feeling well yesterday? This dial is also more detailed than my Nikon’s.

A Nikon seems easier to customise, and harder to master to take great photos. Nikon lenses, as far as I can see with the limited experience of Canon lenses, are easier to use on manual than autofocus though, but this would surely depend on the lens also.

Regardless of this 30-minute assessment of a Canon that I do not regularly use, I would not set aside using a Canon in the future. I do prefer the Nikon’s layout and settings more than the Canon’s, but largely because of familiarity. I’m already invested in the Nikon-verse, but I’d be happy to pick up a Canon to give it another good go in daylight another time. Hit me up!