Canon or Nikon? Lynn Owsley Guest Post

Posted May. 16th, 2014 by Daniel J. Cox

Canon or Nikon? The following is a guest post by Natural Exposure’s Explorer Lynn Owsley. Lynn has been traveling with us for several years and when she first started she was struggling with her photography. When I met Lynn she was shooting Canon. By the time she joined us for her second trip to photograph jaguars, she had inherited a Nikon D90. There in the middle of the Brazilian jungle she had both systems by her side as we made our way up and down the rivers searching for these elusive cats. This past February, on our Invitational Photo Tour to Japan, I noticed she had completely switched over to the Nikon system. I asked her why, since I’m always curious about what makes people like one camera system over another. I also shot Canon for about six months in the mid 90’s. I gave up on it for several reasons, but I was interested in hearing from a relatively inexperienced photographer her reasons for not choosing Canon. I asked Lynn if she would write her thoughts down for this Guest Post which she enthusiastically agreed to. So here in Lynn’s words are her reasons for picking one camera system over another. I have to say that her reasons were similar to mine. The Nikon’s are just easier to use and have what I feel are much better ergonomics. I think it’s best to let her explain. 

Daniel J. Cox

When I decided to get back into photography and switch from film to digital, I purchased a Canon Rebel T2i with an EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens and a EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS lens. Later, I added a Sigma 150-500 f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO autofocus to my collection of camera gear.


Polar bear in Manitoba, Canada.

A photo of a polar bear on my first trip with Dan in Manitoba, Canada.

My first serious trip for photography was to Cape Churchill to see the polar bears.  This gave me the opportunity to try and become familiar with all my cameras features including the most important ones which were white balance, ISO, shutter speed and switching between focus points. I was happy with my photographs using a relative inexpensive camera.

In April 2013, the husband of my dear friend Michelle passed away. Michelle gave me her hudband’s Nikon D90 camera with a Tamron 18-200 lens. My next photo trip was to Brazil and I took both the Canon and Nikon with me. It really wasn’t too hard switching between the two systems, but I did get a really good feel for the different ways the two systems worked in the same environment while making the same changes on both cameras.

A large brown bear on our Invitational Photo Tour to Alaska for these magnificent animals.

A large brown bear on our Invitational Photo Tour to Alaska for these magnificent animals.

I found that the Nikon was so much easier to change settings on the fly when the Jaguars were moving between the shadows of the forest and the intense light at rivers edge. I also really liked the ability to change the focus point, use the AF back back button as opposed to the front shutter button, then recompose and shoot.

When using the Canon, I would find myself having to look at the back screen to change settings. I would be in such a rush trying to change the settings that it would frustrate me because I felt like I was missing a shot while trying to make the changes. Moving between the different options on the screen was not something I could do quickly. Likewise, checking my histogram then returning to the full screen display was slow.

A beautiful portray of a Japanese Macaque AKA Snow Monkey on the island of Hokiado, Japan

A beautiful portrait of a Japanese Macaque also known as a  Snow Monkey. From the Invitational Photo Tour Japan’s Winter Wildlife

When I switched to the Nikon, I found the process of checking my histogram then switching back to full screen was a smooth and easy process. I was also delighted at the ease of enlarging the photo to check for sharpness compared to the difficulties I found with the Canon.

Lynn on river in jaguar country. Brazil

Lynn in jaguar country. Brazil

So even though I started with the Canon, when I decided to buy a professional camera, I went with the Nikon D610 and sold the Canon. In the end, both Nikon and Canon systems produced great images for me. However, having had the opportunity to work with both systems it became obvious the Nikon just seemed easier to use and much quicker to make necessary technical changes. Obviously this is just one person’s opinion but I thought this might be interesting to new photographers  who are trying to make a decision between the two most popular camera companies. I don’t shoot as much as I would like, so being able to easily recall how the camera works, when I’m lucky enough to be back in some beautiful location, is a huge benifit.


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There are 2 comments on this post…
  1. Danny SullivanOn May. 17th, 2014

    First off, the Canon Rebel is a low end Canon which you use its kit lens. Then you got a Nikon D90 which is a higher end camera…It’s like comparing a VW Bug against a Porsch. If you had tried the Canon Mark D2 you might have found that the Canon is superior and easier to use then the Nikon. I too started with a Rebel as a beginner but soon learned that the higher end Canons where easier to use then friends of mine that shot with a Nikon. Then again it’s not the camera that takes the images it’s the photographer.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 18th, 2014

      Danny, the point of Lynn’s review was to offer the insight of a new, aspiring photographer. I requested she offer this insight since her experience was not new to my ears. I travel with hundreds of people a year, helping them learn their cameras and photography in general and figuring out how to use modern cameras can be a big deal. Thanks for adding your voice.

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