Why I Gave Up on a 30-Year Relationship with my Camera

Why I Gave Up on a 30-Year Relationship with my Camera

During a conversation about cameras and gear, a wise photographer said to me: “it’s not the arrow, it’s the Indian.” (Meaning the camera has nothing to do with it. It’s the photographer that matters.)

I believed him and stuck to that motto for years, slowly upgrading my gear only when necessary. The last new camera I bought was two years ago and I still shoot with a 10-year-old camera and even older lenses. Fast forward to a few days ago when I rented a Nikon D750 and found myself doing something I honestly never thought I would do.

After being a lifetime Canon shooter, I am now a Nikon shooter.

Hell has frozen over, pigs are flying, and the fat lady has indeed sung. However you want to say it, I’m amazed that I now have two Nikon D750’s sitting in my studio ready for action.

I have been an avid Canon shooter for about 30 years. The very first photo I ever took was on my Dad’s Canon FTB. I’ve shot Canon cameras since then with unwavering loyalty. So why the change?

It wasn’t easy to make this decision, but all it took was shooting one wedding with the new Nikon D750 and it was lights out for my long-standing relationship with Canon.

Nikon750_3 up

I had heard the Nikon D750 was pretty much the perfect wedding camera. Words like “game changer” were being thrown around and most of my friends were backing it. For years I heard how superior Nikon’s auto-focus was to Canon’s, but I wasn’t a true believer, nor did I have the financial resources to make the switch. So I stuck with my Canon gear, fighting frustration with not only autofocus but also ISO quality. There were (and still are) things about Nikon cameras that don’t appeal to me. I have never liked the ergonomics of Nikons; the placement of the dials never agreed with my hands compared to Canon. I can use my Canon cameras super fast and have nailed great photos because of the ability to spin the shutter speed and aperture dials at lighting speeds. That combined with the massive price tag to switch systems never allowed me to consider it.

Until now.

Enter the Nikon D750. Finally, a camera has arrived that makes it undeniably hard to ignore, but more importantly, makes it financially possible to jump ship.

But before I took the leap, I decided to rent a D750 and a 35mm/1.8 for a wedding last weekend. I knew I had to take it for a test drive. Within minutes, I loved this camera.

I walked into the wedding with a Nikon D750 with a 35mm/1.8 on one shoulder and a Canon 5DMKIII with an 85mm/1.8 on the other. I felt like the Canon was a brick hanging from my shoulder compared to the D750. After shooting weddings for 12 years, my body is showing signs of wear and tear. So the smaller size and lighter weight of the D750 help me physically and mentally. I was relatively pain free all day and able to concentrate on anticipating photos. Such a relief.

Combined with Nikon’s awesome line of light weight, fast lenses it is the perfect combo. I used the 35mm/1.8 and found it delightfully small and fast. I see no need to spend gobs of money on fancy 1.4 lenses anymore. Nikon’s 1.8 lenses stepped up to the plate perfectly.

nikon_couple

So I dove in head first and committed to shooting all day with the D750, which was in retrospect a bit risky since I shoot 80 percent of a wedding with a 35mm lens. The D750 immediately put my mind at ease. The autofocus was insanely fast. I have struggled with focus since the first image I shot as a kid on my Dad’s old-school Canon. Finally my troubles seemed to be over. The Nikon D750 locked focus fast and accurately…kinda like I have assumed autofocus should work! Astoundingly, the only time the camera hesitated to find focus was while driving in the limo with the couple in complete darkness. Plus, the D750 has a handy dandy built in focus assist beam, which had me saying,
“Where have you been all my life?”

Over the years my chronic problem with soft images was compounded by the arrival of digital. All of sudden, I was having motion blur issues. With film I could handhold as slow as a 30th of a second; sometimes a 15th of a second. But with digital, I get motion blur at 160th of a second and that aggravates me beyond belief. I bought the Canon 5DMKIII for the higher ISO ability so it would allow me to get my shutter speed as high as possible. That camera was a major improvement in ISO, but it
does not hold a candle to the D750. I confidently shot at ISO 6400 all day, and even up to 12800 with no issues. ISO 12800 on the Nikon D750 looks as good as ISO 3200 on the Canon 5DMKIII, which is a massive improvement. It actually makes the difference between getting a low light photo or missing it. The superior ISO and autofocus confidence was liberating.

Additionally, there are amazing features that I found to be wonderfully helpful and I am sure there are more I don’t even know about yet. As if the weight, AF, and ISO were not enough, the D750 kept throwing more goodies at me. One of my favorite features is the ability to program the function buttons on the front of the camera to disable the flash. It was awesome to disable the flash at the reception without having to turn it off and back on. On top of that, when I disabled the flash, the huge focus assist beam on the flash surprisingly was still emitting even though the flash was not firing. Genius.

I found myself using that feature constantly during the reception. I could shoot a photo using the flash to cover my hind end and then I was able, within a millisecond, to turn it off and utilize natural light to achieve a different look.

nikon_cowboys

Now it might have been the guitar wielding cowboy duo singing John Mellencamp, but I found myself mentally at ease singing my way around the dance floor and letting the D750 do all the hard work. Liberating I say. Liberating.

Before I knew it, the reception was almost over. I was having so much fun I had lost track of time and honestly did not want it to end. I secretly wanted those cowboys to play “Freebird” or “Stairway to Heaven.” But the final song played and I went to work trying to make a great photo of the couple’s last dance.

The bride and groom made their way into the center of the dance floor and held each other as their family and friends cheered and swayed to the music surrounding them in love. I looked around for a chair to get a higher angle on the dance, but then I realized there was one more secret weapon of the D750. The tilting LCD screen saved the night. I was able to hold the camera over my head with my arms stretched out as high as I could, while still being able to see the screen, compose and focus. Suddenly a “Hail Mary” shot is not so adventurous anymore. The LCD screen swivels out in two directions, allowing the photographer to see the screen in live-view mode and easily compose photos with super high or super low angles. Oh and the autofocus locks in just about as fast in live view as regular shooting. Bonus.

nikon_dance_floor

Oh wait. I almost forgot the cherry on top of this sundae. The ability to change the crop factor was fantastic. It is a life saver for me. I have been dragging my feet for years when it came to upgrading my Canon cameras. I was still shooting on a ten year old Canon 1DMKII because I prefer to have one full-frame camera and one camera with a 1.3x crop. Nikon to the rescue! On the D750 you can choose between full-frame, 1.2x crop, or 1.5x crop sensor settings. Wow! What a great idea. I can see many uses for this including a ceremony where you can’t get close enough and need a little extra help, or in my case, a portrait where I needed to crop out some distracting elements but did not want to reposition the couple or my light. Two button pushes and viola, done!

I have barely scratched the surface of what’s possible with this camera, but I know there’s no going back. I still don’t like the ergonomics as much as my Canon’s, but I can live with that and have faith that in no time I will be spinning these Nikon dials as fast as RUNDMC spinning records on a turntable.

In my opinion, Nikon has produced the ultimate wedding camera and frankly has priced it where I foresee many folks like me finally leaping, not jumping, on the bandwagon.

As that wise man said to me years ago, the arrow does not matter, but I gotta say it sure is nice to know that my arrows will now be hitting more targets thanks to the Nikon D750.

Game changed.

So in case you are wondering what my NEW kit will be, here it is:

  • Two Nikon D750’s with the optional battery grip. (I love the size
    of the cameras but due to my hand size, I need the grips to be totally
    comfortable.)
  • Nikon 35mm f1.8
  • Nikon 85mm f1.8
  • Nikon 24-85mm f3.5-4.5- for formals as the zoom allows me to shoot
    from one position and get different tight and wide photos of each group
    of people
  • Nikon 20mm f1.8- just in case I need a wider lens
  • Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro, per a recommendation from Daniel Kudish.
  • Or, a Sigma 70-200/2.8
  • Two Nikon SB910 flashes

5 Comments

  1. What type of memory card are you using. How have you fond the level of noise

    Reply
    • Hi Winston! First off so sorry for the delay on this. For some reason I did not get a notice of your comment. I am using Sandisk Extreme Pro 32gb cards. They work perfect. The noise level is very good. Due to RAW I still need to run some noise reducing software but the noise on this camera is the best I have used. THanks!

      Reply
  2. Thanks for any other wonderful post. Where else could anybody get that kind of information in such an ideal method of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m at the look for such info.

    Reply
  3. whats the difference between shooting in crop mode and shooting in FF mode and cropping in post?

    Reply
  4. Hi Jason. Thanks for your comment. Technically there is no difference. I just like to use that feature occasionally as it not only saves me from having to do it in post as I hate post production,:), but it also allows me to compose the frame better knowing what to leave out etc… Often if you try and crop to much later it does not always go like you want. This kinda allows me to know what it will be in camera. Thanks again for your question.

    Reply

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