Technology runs most if not all aspects of our lives today, and thanks to photo sharing platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Panoramio e.t.c, it is now easy to predict social trends within a population. In Kenya, photography is one such new social trend almost bursting the roofs thanks to photo sharing platforms. But whether you’re a beginner photographer looking for the first camera, a keen enthusiast exploring a range of options or an established photographer looking for a full-frame power-house, it will take more than just having your money to get the first camera. This article aims to give insights to entry level photographers on what and what not to consider when buying their first kit.
Kenya and Africa for that matter, is fast changing and many young people are showing the continent in pictures through skills and talents in photography with every coming opportunity. The continent has been immersed in digital technology and can now be seen through photography. But as new people join the world of photography, the debate on which brands of camera/company is best begins to take shape with already many prominent photographers in the continent like Mutua Matheka, Kenya, Lakin Ogunbanwo, Nigeria, Zanele Muholi, South Africa, Hélène Amouzou, Togo, Nii Obodai, Ghana, and Michael Tsegaye, Ethiopia, among others setting the stage. Throughout, the outstanding question everyone and especially newbies ask when deciding to buy their first digital single-lens reflex (D-SLR) is whether to go for Canon or Nikon, and not to mean other brands like Fuji, Sony, Olympus, Samsung, Pentax etc. are no good – Canon and Nikon in contrast offers a lot more choices to users. Indeed, even established photographers tied to one system often ask what they would gain or lose by switching sides.
While users remain strongly divided on the Canon vs Nikon debate, I’m going to stand on a more tolerant point to state that there’s just no winning or losing with either sides. In my personal view the main differences between the two come down to SPECS other than image quality all which varies with camera of choice. For example, the quality of the kit lens that comes with the camera, need for upgrade and time, if the kit comes with editing software or bought separately and most important the brand with best price(s). Both Canon and Nikon companies have selected entry-level D-SLR models that sell with a starter kit lenses of 18-55mm and a maximum aperture of around f/3.6. Currently, the cheapest entry-level options are the new Nikon D3400 and EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D, which replaces the ageing SL1/100D, Canon EOS 1300D and Canon EOS 100D, as well as the Nikon D3300.
Unlike Nikon which doesn’t have naming labels or a lens tier system, many users find Canon to offer large choice of lenses that suit their budget needs from general purpose, EF-S lenses, DO lenses and professional L models, however all Nikon lenses are built to a high standard which never require immediate replacement. Professional Canon ‘top-of-the-line’ lenses referred to as L models are marked with a red ring. Nikon on the other hand lacks naming label or a lens tier system however some Nikon lenses have a gold ring which simply indicate the lenses are built with ‘Extra-low Dispersion’ glass.
Performance is NEVER the key influential factor to consider as there is a really fine line to it when comparing Nikon and Canon. Where camera performance is the main interest, the user ought to compare key factors such as; megapixels, focus properties (auto/manual), noise, photos per second and perhaps size or weight. There are areas where both brands stands out or fail. For example, some users don’t like Canon’s auto white balance while others think that Nikon Menu is poorly set out and hard to navigate despite their ability to handle noise very well. Similarly, Canon generally offer better screen quality for photo viewing. But in the end it eventually comes down to experience and what one is used to.
Usability should be another key consideration, how it feels to handle the kit, what’s like to shoot with it or how easy to navigate the menu. Photographic novices can also make purchase decision by reading helpful online reviews from hundreds of experienced users. However your first camera purchase is something that you really want to do in a dealer’s shop, not online.
The Writer is a Photographer and a PhD Student in Molecular Biotechnology at The University of Chinese Academy of Science – Wuhan CN.
Ogutu Collins, PhD.
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