Thirty Three Years Shooting Nikon Cameras

Posted Apr. 26th, 2011 by Daniel J. Cox


Photograpihing harp seals with Nikon D3 film camera back in the mid 80's

Nikon recently sent me the new D5100 camera and 18-55mm kit lens. I’m fortunate that they often allow me to test new gear if I request it. One very big misconception many people I meet seem to have is the idea that I have some sort of special inside track with Nikon. Many assume that Nikon actually gives me and other professional photographers equipment in exchange for promoting their cameras in some fashion. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I’ve been using Nikon camera gear since 1978, with a short six month period in the mid nineties where I shot some Canon equipment right along side my Nikons. At that time Canon was killing Nikon in autofocus technology and I purchased a Canon EOS 1N, a 300mm 2.8, 70-200 as well as a 17-35mm lenses. I felt I needed to explore what I was possibly missing. At the time I found the AF capabilities of the Canon were superior to Nikon but the ergonomics, the way Canon cameras operated, was a nightmare. I held on to the Canon equipment for about six months before putting it up for sale. I reasoned that phenomenal AF was probably only really necessary for about 10% of the subjects I was shooting. The other 90% of the time I was capable of getting sharp images with manual focus. The Canon equipment quickly sold and I never looked back.

So over these many years of working with Nikon cameras I’ve developed a good working relationship with Nikon. I’ve had the honor of being selected as a Nikon Legend Behind the Lens, but I do not, nor ever have received any free equipment from Nikon. They’re basically a regular customer just as anyone else is that needs to use photos for their brochures, posters, catalogs etc. Furthermore, I don’t know of ANY photographer that receives any sort of special deal other than some discounts off the equipment they allow us to use if we decide to buy it.


N90 film camera and a group of curious Lemurs in Madagascar in the mid 90's

Canon on the other hand actually has a stable of photographers they call Explorers of Light. As Canon states on their web site, The Explorers of Light concept came out of Canon USA in the mid 1990s as a broad-ranging initiative for photographic education and inspiration.” It was also the start of a program that actually paid photographers for using their equipment. Several well know photographers were offered very lucrative contracts to sign on with Canon.  All Explorers of Light get a yearly credit or check of anywhere from $15,000-$50,000 depending on their stature in the photographic community. In other words if they are very well known or have had an extensive, long term career they’re the ones earning the larger sums of money. Nikon has no such program, pe.  There are some photographers that talk about being on a special contract, but I can assure you nobody is getting paid by Nikon for doing nothing more than using their equipment. For certain there are those that may be testing a new piece of equipment or shooting promotional materials for something newly developed. But getting paid for just the notoriety of using Nikon cameras doesn’t exist. Nikon doesn’t pay ANYONE to use their equipment and if someone tells you otherwise you’re getting what  might be called a very tall tale. The Nikon philosophy is simple; they want people to know that if a photographer is using their cameras it’s because they want to, not because Nikon paid them to.


Nikon200-400 and D7000 camera

This post was inspired by my desire to start producing more reviews on the equipment I use. In fact this entire explanation of my longterm relationship with Nikon came about due to a review I’m currently working on highlighting the new Nikon D5100. I want to make sure that those of you who read this information understand where I’m coming from. In other words you should know if Nikon or any other company is treating me differently than what they may treat the average Joe photographer. In all situations whether it is Nikon, Apple, Manfrotto, Nik Software, Lowepro or others I will tell you what it is I’m receiving, or not receiving, from any of these or other companies.

I’ll be posting a mini-review of the new Nikon D5100 in the next few days


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