I’ve been shooting with Nikon gear since 2007 or so, when I bought my first DSLR used from a guy off Craigslist. Before that, I had a Canon G3, which was (at the time) a very powerful prosumer fixed-lens camera, and I loved it. Why I jumped to Nikon I don’t remember, but I’ve been loyal to the brand ever since. In that time I’ve used several prosumer DSLRs with a variety of lenses, and as time has gone on the quality has gotten better. When I bought a used 18-70mm/f3.5-4.5 to work with my D7000, I was in heaven. The shots I was getting started to align with what was in my head.
Meanwhile, at work, I’ve got two professional Canon bodies and a host of lenses to work with–fast full-frame glass that I’ve only ever dreamed about. I’ve started bringing different camera/lens combinations home to practice with so that I can get a feel for everything, and I have to say I’m very impressed with the Canon gear.
This weekend I had a 7D with a 35mm/1.4 EF lens to shoot the car show, a backyard party, and various events around the house. What I got were about 300 shots in varying light and subject conditions, with mixed results mainly due to the equipment being smarter than I was. The 7D is a wonderful camera with a confounding control setup (the on/off switch needs to go on the right side, guys) and a noisy shutter, but god, it takes beautiful pictures. I’ve been using it mainly because the 5D MKII has such a lousy focus system–I got burned last Halloween–but even in optimal conditions I found I was behind the lens and scrambling to keep up. It’s laser-sharp at f1.4 but you have to be on the ball with focus; I was doing a lot of run-and-gun and I found that it struggled to find the right focus point at that speed. Once I opened it up to 2.5 or so things evened out nicely and it settled down.
When I had the time to compose and concentrate on focus, the lens sang for me. Still, A lot of the stuff I got was like the shot above; I’m getting better at getting on the focus lock button, but if I’d been a half-second faster I would have had her eyes in focus and nice falloff in her hair and on her shirt. With kids it’s hard to get them to stand still for more than two seconds, especially when you’ve been shooting them nonstop all weekend, but I’m going to keep working on my skills both with live subjects and with the technology to improve.
As for Nikon vs. Canon? I’m considering an eventual switch to a full-frame Canon body to take advantage of the quality glass I can borrow. It’s just that good.