My 2 Cents For New DSLR Buyers: The Brands

Canon vs Nikon vs Sony vs Pentax vs…. Dizzy yet?

There is a holy war between the equipment fashionistas and all sides are quick to point out differences which sometimes are not even that significant, at least not on amateur level. What I have seen:

a) You DO want to put some thought into what brand you buy, as this is the brand you are likely to stay with for the next few years. Advancing slowly by buying additional accessories such as lenses one-by-one within the brand is easier than replacing all the goodies in your camera bag because you realized you are interested in a different brand. This is not to say that it’s impossible – photo equipment (especially one without quickly depreciating in value electronics) tends to have good resale value.  My first camera was Canon, I stuck with the brand, and I don’t see myself switching.

Some of the brands to consider:

  • Canon – 65 lenses, 11 camera models
  • Nikon – about 70 lenses, 9 different camera models
  • Olympus – 26 lenses, 7 camera models
  • Pentax – about 23 lenses in current lineup, 2 main camera models, but some VERY colorful variations of bodies
  • Sigma – specialize in lenses and have lenses that will fit Canon or Nikon or other brands Canon-compatible lineup alone yields 50 items, 2 camera models
  • Sony – 33 lenses, 9 camera models

b) Canon and Nikon have the most lenses and bodies in their lineups. This is not a negative nor a positive – they simply have the finest gradation of tools. Imagine having 12-color crayon set vs having 133 colors. Sure, with the 133 set you can color the tree “Jungle Green”, but for most application just a green will do. Availability of variety of choice for upgrades will only cause you to spend more time stressing about and researching what the next purchase should be.

c) User interface differs, with majority opinion that Nikon has a more intuitive one, though after using Canon for quite a while, I did not find Nikon interface intuitive at all. I would recommend going to BestBuy or similar electronics store, as they have multiple brands, and trying them yourself to get the feel (I’d shoo the reps, in 90% of cases they are clueless).

d) Backward Compatibility – Nikon brand cameras are compatible with 20-30 year old lenses, which can save you  some money. Whether or not you do it, is a different question. I would not recommend getting into bargain-seeking until you know what to look for in lenses and how to tell a good used lense from bad one. I still can’t. Some info on the topic:

e) If you have friends who have already succumbed to the allure of “pro”-looking magnesium-cowered shutter-clicking, wallet-sucking  beasts, it may be worth getting a poll of who uses what brand and going with the majority, given that you agree to share the accessories within the group. I know 4 people who also use Canons, so we can swap and borrow lenses and flashes. This saves some money, given the prices of your new hobby.

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