Would Canon L Primes make you switch from Nikon? A wedding photographer wonders...

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by fred_asaad, Jul 6, 2009.

  1. Hey Gang,
    I've been shooting weddings with zoom lenses for years and I'm really itching to get the sharpest lenses with the widest aperatures. I don't think it's a secret that Canon makes the best prime lenses and all of my favorite wedding photographers shoot prime. The 35mm 1.4, 50mm 1.2 and the 85 1.2 make me drool when I see what they'r capable of!
    Currently I shoot with a D300 and have used the D700 for a few weddings. The low noise is great but the last wedding I shot with I used a Nikon 85 1.4 on the D700 and it had some problems focusing in low light and locking in at 1.4 to 2.0 aperature on my chosen subject. It was really on and off the whole night. I must say I am glad Nikon has closed the gap in terms of bodies and zoom lenses but that's where it stops. I wish they as focused on primes as Canon but it's clear they're not. The new Nikon 50mm 1.4 is nice but I don't think it's as sharp as the 50mm 1.2 and the bokeh is not as good as Canon's.
    I hate switching out all my gear for Canon but they have everything covered no matter what kind of shooter you are and I love shooting primes now. Before I make a decision, I wanted to hear from Canon and Nikon users to hear your thoughts and why you would go with one or the other. Any opinions or personal experiences with Canon primes lenses would be great!
  2. Canon makes some of the fastest primes available today, but whether they are optically the best is debatable. One thing is certain, they know how to market and make people believe in the L hype. BTW, I have owned the EF70-200/4L IS too.
  3. This is interesting; I actually switched from Canon to Nikon because of my dissatisfaction with Canon's lenses, specifically the inflated (justified or not) price they get for their premium "L" series. At that time, there didn't seem to be a lot of middle ground between their entry-level lenses and their "L" series.
    Price was the deciding factor for me. Their 85mm f/1.2 is $1,900.00. My Nikon 85mm f/1.4 was around $1,200. Is it worth it to me to spend the extra 700 bucks for that small jump to f/1.2 from f/1.4? Not for me. I rarely use it wide open, anyway. Only in very specific, and rare, situations. The DoF is tremendously shallow.
    Likewise, the new Nikon 50mm f/1.4G is a phenomenal lens. Canon's 50mm f/1.2 is around $1,200.00. My Nikon was $500.00. Again, is the small jump in lens speed worth $700? Again, not for me and my purposes.
    I also shoot with a D700 and have learned that 1.4 to 2.0 is territory I rarely venture into because of the potential DoF issues. I find 3.2 or 3.5 gives me the effect I'm looking for with broad enough DoF to have good subject focus but enough bokeh to give me the subject isolation I'm looking for. But to shoot at a wedding, where you don't always have time to fuss over focus, yeah...shooting at 1.4 to 2.0 with that lens? It would be a toss-up as to what you'd get in focus. I reserve those apertures for special situations...portrait sessions when I have more time and more control.
    Man, crank the ISO up on that D700 and stop down a stop or two. You'll be amazed. In my opinion, the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 is one of the best lenses I've ever worked with. And I'm lovin' the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G, too!
    But, this is what works for me. Everyone is different.
  4. Fred - you should check out Sigma's 50/1.4 HSM, if you're all about the bokeh and wide-open sharpness. Nikon's 50/1.4 AF-S has a slight, marginal edge on full-frame sharpness when stopped well down, but shooting in low light, the Sigma's better - and the bokeh's delicious. Of course, the lens is a tank, by comparison.
  5. Nikon's 51- cross point AF system is the best out there at the moment. If you couldn't get AF to lock on the the D700 in low light then there's no amount of equal aperture primes from Canon that would do the job any better. A faster prime on the same AF system would be better, but a faster prime on a slower or less accurate AF system? I wouldn't like to guess if that's an improvement.
    To answer your question though - no, there's nothing that would make me switch. For me a camera system is more than the sum of its lenses, and I strongly prefer the ergonomics and handling of the Nikon design. A half-stop here or there, or a couple of percent in the MTF charts isn't substantial in real use.
    I also question the assumed superiority of the L line-up. My reference point is my Leica system, for which I have some of the best primes ever made. And for any given lens, the gap between the Leica and Nikon version is pretty narrow. I think the gap between Canon and Nikon would be wafer thin. That's not enough to encourage me to change systems.
    Nikon has some old designs that are poor performers but they're being phased out. I don't own any Nikkor lenses that are anything less than excellent, and some of them (especially recent G zooms) are absolutely stellar.
  6. I made the switch about a year or 2 ago. I'm happy! I was a Nikon man for over 25 years. Also used Hasselblads for about 20 years. The coating on Hasselblads is unmatched. I'd say the coatings on the Nikon and Canon lenses are about equal. I switched because the actual Canon cameras were better 2 years ago, but thats not the case right now. Everything is about equal.
  7. Good feedback guys. I have to agree that the design and ergonomics for Nikon bodies is great although I hear the 5D2 is leaps ahead of their previous Canon bodies and the screen is as good as Nikons.
    I'm not sure if I would agree that Nikon's or Sigma's primes are better than Canons from what I've seen and they don't cover all the important focal ranges that Canon's does. I do know Nikon had a sweet 24mm 1.4 but that is a hard lens to come by and they don't manufacture it anymore.
    Also, is it a coincidence that all the high end wedding shooters that shoot prime use Canon?
  8. Also, is it a coincidence that all the high end wedding shooters that shoot prime use Canon?​
    That's assuming a lot. I'm a "high end" wedding shooter, shoot primes, and I shoot Nikon. Coincidence?
    Um, no.
  9. Whats your defination of high end? You may get some adverse comments about this, because there are some very gifted high end wedding photographers on this site, that donate endless hours helping photographers of all levels. Some shoot with Nikons some shoot with Canons.

    The same can be found in nature photography. George Lepp uses Canon and an under rated nature photographer, who's been published in about 400 magazines, written 5 books and featured on National Geographic, is Dave Welling. He's been a Nikon shooter for 30 years.
  10. The photgaphers I believe are at the forefront in today's wedding photography in my opinion are Becker, Jessica Claire, Jasmine Star, to name a few. And you do make a valid point about some great Nikon photographers that are legends in their field. I'm a Nikon shooter myself, I only wish Nikon could compete with Canon regarding prime lenses and I don't think they are there yet!
  11. The best thing to do in your case is try to go rent the 1Ds Mark3 and the D3x. Pick out a few primes, like the 85mm, the 35mm, perhaps a very long lens like the 500mm, and go play with them for a few hours. My findings from owning both systems is the Nikon lenses are a tad warmer. As far as sharpness they are equal. I've made enlargements with both systems up to 40X60.
  12. How low did you go? Sometimes I think people push the low light envelope trying to get great images when it's simply not possible regardless of the equipment choice (Nikon vs Canon). You could argue this all day, but my question is what are you trying to achieve? Is that 50mm 1.2 result really worth selling all of your equipment and starting fresh? Is there that kind of outstanding difference in the images? Have you seen a side by side test? Do your customers know the difference?

    I have a Nikkor 50mm 1.8 and love it, but I don't have your body so a comparison isn't fair.
    I've done some work that felt like I was working in the dark and got the shots.

    The real question to ask yourself: Is it going to make me more money?
  13. ...the forefront in today's wedding photography in my opinion are Becker, Jessica Claire, Jasmine Star, to name a few​
    Personally I've never even heard of Jasmine Star. I had to go and google her to see who she was :)
    The remark about 'high end wedding shooters use Canon' could be misleading. It might be more accurate to say the high-end shooters you've heard of use Canon. That may be due in part to the substantial marketing budget Canon has sunk into the industry, especially with their sponsored shooter programs. Other manufacturers do very little in comparison.
  14. Fred, I see your point about Canon outselling Nikon and a lot of pro's use Canon. The reason I switched was Canon had full framed bodies and Nikon did not. When I campared my images to my photo partners 1Ds mk2 the Nikon D2x wasn't as good at ISO 400 and above. Now it's a different story. Both Sony and Nikon offer more megapixels compared to the 1DsMk3. During the last 10 years, the new digital age, Nikon took their time designing full framed camera bodies. For the first time ever, Canon bodies were better.

    The question now will Nikon regain their reputation and keep up with Canon, or even pass Canon. I strongly believe Nikon won't take a back seat to Canon. So if you decide to sell all of your gear just to go with Canon because most of the high end pros shoot with Canon seems like more thought, research, and evaluation on your part, which you are doing! The Nikon D3x is an incredable camera. By the way, it has been reported many times that Nikon makes much better weather sealed cameras and lenses. For the record, I didn't make this up.

    Something else to consider before making a switch is the amazing Zeiss lenses with the T* coating, now available with Sony cameras. If Sony made a dual memory card slot I'd probably be shooting Sony's because of the great Zeiss lenses. This is a company to keep an eye on. Sony has done some creative designing such as their built in image stabilizer in the bodies, instead of the lenses. Wish Canon and Nikon would offer this. So since you are starting your research and you are looking for top quality lenses, I have a feeling you will be pleasently surprised with Zeiss optics.

    Keep us posted with what you decide to do.

    If Marc Williams reads this maybe he can offer some input since he shoots with sony's.
  15. Firstly, I went back to Nikon after about 5+ years with Canon and all their primes. It is true that their prime L glass is better from an image standpoint, but if you are thinking it will be better with say a 5D2 and 85/1.2, better think again. I tried that and it is hands down better using the D700 and 85/1.4 as I now do on one body/lens setup I carry.
    I tried to coax the 5D and 5D2 to give me the same, but always found myself working around things to shoot it.
    I get about 70% keepers with low light and the D700/85 setup. With the 5D2 and 85/1.2 II, I was geting around 30% keepers. That is purely based on those shot which were acceptably sharp in the right place during say the first dance. I got more than 50% using the 24/1.4 but its hardly what I want to use for intimate dance images.
    Sony is not up to par with their body/AF imo (yet), but the Zeisss glass holds some real charm.
  16. Fred,
    There will be plenty of arguments for and against, as there always are with such Canon vs Nikon -esque posts. The bottom line is, all you'll get here are opinions, some objective, many subjective. The decision will boil down to what your preference is. Making such a move is quite an investment, so it may be well worth your time to try out both systems with similar glass mounted, shooting at similar settings, etc. Truth be told, the two are very very close now.
  17. I made a response and then realized the question is in wedding forum. I am not a wedding photographer and thus my answers are irrelevant. Oh well, FWIW.
    I switched from Nikon to Canon because 5D was king of high ISO IQ. When D700 came out, I contemplated returning to Nikon but I stayed. I use 24mm 1.4, 35mm 1.4, 70-200mm f4 a lot and Nikon has no equivalence. Nikon 28mm 1.4 is too soft for me and I sold it, making great profit. BTW, I also LOVE Nikon 14-24mm on my 5D, using 16-9.net adapter.
    I just returned from vacation. 45% of photos were with 35mm 1.4, 30% with Nikon 14-24mm and 25% with 70-200mm f4.
    I have been keeping Nikon body and lenses just in case I do return to Nikon but that changes now. Canon comes out with 17mm TS-E and 24mm TS-E which seals the deal. Time to sell my Nikon gears.
    I do dislike Canon flash system and will have to live with it. Fortunately I rarely use flash. And I still miss Nikon handling. So in this case, Canon fast WA lenses with TS-E capability made my decision.
  18. Fred, Canon's 50mm 1.2 may look appealing to you but side by side- the Canon's 50mm 1.4 it's nearly impossible to find much of a difference in IQ and the price difference for the faster lens does not justify the purchase.
    Also, have you ever shot with Nikon's 85mm f/1.4D lens? It's better than Canon's 85mm 1.2 and I used to shoot with Nikon so I can tell you Nikon DOES make lenses as sharp-if not sharper than some of Canon's. As far as Canon having "everything covered" I would say Nikon does, as well. They make nearly as many lenses as Canon does- in most focal lengths(including zooms).
  19. No, I would not switch. Assuming the L glass is superior, what good is that if the AF system has issues? Canon's high-end bodies have known AF deficiencies.
  20. Even if L glass is superior- it takes much more than glass to make great photos. I've seen excellent photos on photos taken(by photographers)using non L lenses. I've also seen ordinary-to-crappy photos taken by photographers using Canon L lenses.
  21. Matt Said > Fred - you should check out Sigma's 50/1.4 HSM, if you're all about the bokeh and wide-open sharpness. Nikon's 50/1.4 AF-S has a slight, marginal edge on full-frame sharpness when stopped well down, but shooting in low light, the Sigma's better - and the bokeh's delicious. Of course, the lens is a tank, by comparison.
    The newly designed Nikon 50 1.4 appears to be much improved in the wide apertures (less than 2.8). See this: http://www.dpreview.com/lensreviews/nikon_50_1p4g_n15/page4.asp.

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