…when Canon and Nikon announce their new camera models. And boy, do the discussions on forums get heated or what. Checkout this and this out. Bottom line is that Nikon has not just caught up, but zoomed far ahead of Canon in the DSLR segment. The D300 has amazing specs compared to the 40D no doubt. And it does come at a price – $500 more to be precise. But Nikon’s still got the D200, which it intends to continue. So basically Nikon’s got a killer lineup – starting from the D40x – D40 – D80 – D200- D300- D3H. On the other hand, Canon’s line up has gaps, because I don’t think the 30D is worth purchasing after the 40D has come out. So you only have 400D – 40D – Mark 1D III – Mark 1Ds III. For someone like me whose two years into serious photography, the 400D, and the Mark 1D series are out of question, so I have only the 40D as choice. Whereas, if I were a Nikon shooter who has been shooting with a D70 for the past 2 years, I have the D200, D300 (after inheriting some rich uncle’s property of course) or even the D80 to consider. (For argument’s sake, we are assuming the 40D and D300 will deliver good IQ).
When the Rebel XTi came out and disappointed me, I was asking Canon for a camera with a clear bright viewfinder (like in the D80). The 30D was not an option then but with the new 40D, reasons to upgrade are very compelling. The Rebel XT had been a great way to get into serious photography but I have outgrown it. The dim viewfinder is the sole reason for that. But am I complaining? No, I appreciate Canon for their new cameras and I totally respect Nikon for doing their homework and getting their engineering and marketing bang-on. But the way many of us see it, the customer’s got nothing to lose.
All this aside, IMO, what is really going to hit Canon hard, are issues like the poor auto focus on the EOS-1D Mark III, roof hitting pricing of the EOS-1Ds Mark III, lack of a 5D upgrade (which, if they have done their homework, can be positioned as a strong competitor for the D300), and lack of new consumer grade lenses. And to be hard on Canon, let us look at the highlights of the 40D and see if there is anything ground breaking about them:
- 10.1 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor – Nope, they already had in the 400D.
- 6.5 fps continuous shooting, max. burst 75 JPEGs – Not an engineering marvel. With the marketing department’s permission, they could have put more.
- New AF system with 9 cross-type sensors – Hmm…somewhat good, but how did the Nikon engineers do better? So this is not the best yet.
- DIGIC III processor – Again, nothing new.
- 3.0” LCD with Live View mode – The logical next step. What made them think Nikon wouldn’t do the same? If you know your competition, then you will not just give the same feature, but make it better! Thats what Nikon did by offering 922,000 pixels on the LCD. I know it comes at a premium, but hey, you need to be competitive!
- EOS Integrated Cleaning System – Again, taken from the 400D and a very logical next step.
- Clear and bright viewfinder – Nothing great here.
- Customisable Picture Style processing parameters – This is a software upgrade and very so-so.
Don’t get me wrong. I think all these new features are great and was initially very euphoric about them. My only point is that Canon should have seen it coming – the D300 I mean. For their own good. Canon already had great high ISO IQ, but now Nikon has the same and they are even. And it works good for Nikon cos everyone’s now talking, “Nikon engineers have really worked hard on the drawback of high ISO noise and achieved something.” Likewise, if Canon had worked on their drawback, like poor ergonomics and come up with a totally revamped design for the 40D, it would have been something. Or for that matter putting a Flash commander mode into the body. Sure, they listened to their customers and gave many new features in the 40D, but did they watch the competition? No, they didn’t. And they are going to pay for that. (Of course, I am being very, very critical here).
But lets look at things little more realistically. Is there anything on the new D300, which is not on the 40D, that would suddenly make us all better photographers ? I don’t think so. As a working pro, I may have advantages of higher buffer capacity, faster auto focus etc. But I doubt if I would be complaining or comparing cameras if I were a working pro. The ones who complain and compare are the ones for whom the camera has become just another premium commodity – like an expensive car. These people get angry with companies when they don’t deliver as per their expectations or if the competition gets ahead, and they live under the false notion of ‘faster is better’. I know this is just an opinion and I have no concrete proof to substantiate it, but from my own experience, I can tell that all those bells and whistles in the new cameras will be used more to show off than to take better pictures in the hands of these people who whine on the forums. And it is no surprise that Canon has the majority of whiners. After all, if I were rich and wanted the best, I would go for a Canon cos they are the biggest name in the photography industry. Only a person who is more interested in photography as a creative experience would weigh the pros and cons and choose a camera based on his/her needs. And the Nikon hits a sweet spot here. It is strongly engineering oriented, focuses on the photographer (and photography) and makes slicker, classier promos. (See this).
So to Canon -
- Listen to your audience better. Get that Direct Print Button off your cameras!
- Listen to your competition.
- Work on your drawbacks. Focus on the photographer.
- Give us more lenses (like a 100mm IS Macro).
And now lets all get back to shooting photographs