Why Should You Change Your Camera Brand?

Why Should You Change Your Camera Brand?

Investing in a camera system is a costly business. Once you are tied to a particular brand, you seem stuck with it. Changing is a big decision, but there can be good reasons both to and to not swap systems.

Before I start, I should point out the elephant in the room. It's an undeniable fact that we consume much more than is sustainable. Earth has finite resources. Ten years ago, it was reported that if everyone worldwide consumed as many resources as the USA, we would need more than four Planet Earths to maintain that. Human consumption has grown since, and only the most foolish won't recognize this as disastrous.

Changing camera brands means buying new stuff made from plastics, metals, and rare elements. They are mined in ways that are far less than environmentally friendly. Carbon dioxide is released in the production process, exacerbating climate change. Meanwhile, pollutants are pumped into the air, rivers, and seas. Camera production uses a lot of valuable fresh water too, which people finally realize is a limited resource following the droughts and wildfires sweeping the world.

Moreover, transporting the products worldwide and distribution to wholesalers and shops burns a lot of fossil fuel.

Camera manufacturing is not an environmentally friendly business. Let's take Canon as a typical example. The risk to water supplies at its manufacturing sites is shown on page 71 of 148 of its new sustainability report, hidden within Canon's global corporate website; you must hunt for it from the camera page. In the USA, the risk to the water supply at Canon's manufacturing plants is high, as it is in many parts of the world. The risk is considered "Extremely High" at its manufacturing bases in Thailand and China. They also release nitrogen and sulfur oxides into the environment; 426 tons in 2021. Those chemicals dissolve in water, creating nitric and sulfuric acids. That is before considering their declared 990,000 tons of climate change gas emissions.

They make a lot of noise about improving their performance in these areas and are doing that steadily. But the amount of damage caused to the environment each year is still massive.

I should point out that Canon produces other equipment besides cameras. Furthermore, all manufacturers have similar problems happening in the background. I've used them to illustrate my point because they have the largest market share and as a general example of how the industry performs. Unlike Canon, not all manufacturers publish their data, and some of the other companies' data is hard to decipher, so one can only assume they perform poorly.

I hope they are all improving as Canon is, but these multimillion-dollar businesses could change more quickly and set an example for photographers and other industries. Photographers are environmentally aware and will invest in low-impact products, so they should be working to impress us.

Then, there are the ethical considerations. There are countries around the world that have appalling human rights records. A growing awareness of this means that consumers are boycotting manufacturers whose production is based in certain countries. With the invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war, many businesses have boycotted Russia and Belarus. But camera manufacturers are still selling there, although other arms of their companies have stopped.

So, unless we have a good reason — and surely, desire is not a good reason — then upgrading is something we should consider delaying until it becomes a necessity.

If you are contemplating changing systems, it is maybe because your camera is worn out. Sadly, many cameras have built-in obsolescence. Their limited shutter lives are indicative of the overall build quality. For example, the Nikon D750 was only supposed to last 150,000 shutter actuations, and the Canon 5D Mark IV likewise. Many entry-level cameras have far shorter lives, and manufacturers are starting not to publish their life expectancies to hide the deliberate restrictions they impose. When they can also design cameras with shutters to last more than 400,000 or 500,000 actuations, is there any doubt that they fitted inferior parts intended to fail, so the photographer will be forced to buy again? That approach is bad for the planet and the consumer.

The secondhand camera market is far more environmentally friendly and buoyant. If you decide to change, there are some excellent used models available. Other photographers will want to buy your used kit too. Even older cameras have value and, although not a perfect system, most countries have efficient electronic equipment recycling. Hopefully, your old camera is unlikely to end up in a landfill if you dispose of it responsibly.

Do you need to upgrade because you want a camera with functionality that yours lacks? Ten years ago, I would never have made asked that. Most cameras within any price bracket were much the same as the next. Indeed, even now, most top model cameras don't have features you can't find on similar models from other brands. Take the Canon EOS R series of cameras as an example. They are fine machines capable of taking great photos, but they don't do anything special that sets them a long way apart from cameras from Nikon or Sony.

The basic model of the Canon EOS R series. They are fine cameras, but do they boast unique, innovative features to set them apart from the competition.

To illustrate that, look at this blog post on the Canon website. Ignoring the dreadful white balance and the camera strap about to fall out of the buckle in the lead image, nothing stands out in the descriptions that makes me want to swap to Canon. Its functions are commonplace. The three market leaders of Canon, Nikon, and Sony have little to choose between them. They can make super machines, but a proficient photographer can become familiar with any of them and take equally good photos, whichever model they chose.

Nevertheless, with the smaller brands, things have changed significantly. There are cameras with exceptional, unique features. Technology has leaped forward, and all cameras can do things they could not do before, and some can do things that other brands cannot. Additionally, many of the disadvantages of sensors smaller than 35mm have paled in insignificance as technology has advanced.

So, what factors might you be looking for when choosing a new system?

The type of photography you do may well dictate your choice. All cameras will do an excellent job of shooting standard, stationary or slow-moving subjects such as daytime landscapes and portraits. Similarly, with a fast lens, all modern flagship cameras will give excellent results in most genres.

But when you look at the more specialist areas, some cameras will help you achieve those shots more than others. For example, I do a lot of low-light, very long-exposure photography before dawn. So, having the ability to watch the image gradually develop on the rear screen and observe the histogram move to the right as the exposure progresses is a boon. Alternatively, I can set my camera so it only adds new light to the frame, which is excellent for shooting lightning or light painting. I also dabble in a bit of wildlife photography. Having images buffer while the shutter is half-pressed and the buffered images become recorded when I fully press the shutter release button means my reaction time is taken out of the equation. Consequently, I don't miss the shot.

It also has built-in ND filters and can shoot 120 raw frames a second. We find none of these functions on the big three branded cameras, which is why I chose the model I use.

My main camera is the OM-1.

I have a couple of clients who don't want to spend time processing photos. They both miss shooting with film, so they use Fujifilm cameras that emulate the look of film. They are both meticulous about composition and publish their JPEGs straight out of the camera.

Pentax cameras have a unique function called ASTROTRACER. That moves the image sensor to track the stars in the sky, negating the need for star-tracking tripod heads in many cases.

About 30 brands build cameras and lenses to the Micro Four Thirds standard. This includes Panasonic Lumix and the OM System (Olympus), as well as cinematic drones such as the Hasselblad camera and lens on the DJI Mavic 3, and the XDynamics Evolve 2. So, the cameras, while giving excellent image quality, are smaller, lighter, and thus more portable than their larger competition. That is an essential factor for some photographers.

To conclude, my message is that if you change the system or even buy for the first time, don't just jump for the prominent brands without thinking about what else is available. All of the major brands make great cameras that will help you take great shots, but think about what you require. Some of the less obvious choices might suit you better.

There are lots of reasons for sticking with what you've got. As I said, all the manufacturers make great cameras, so if you are pleased with what you have, you have every reason to be. But have you changed your camera system lately? Are you contemplating it? What were the reasons that attracted you to a different brand? It would be great to hear your thoughts about why you would change in the comments.

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81 Comments
Deleted Account's picture

I wish there were more content like this, Ivor.

I suspect you won't get a lot of comments. Possessions conflated with core identity, being hit by a clear and undeniable statement of the obvious.

I'm primarily shooting on a D300 and D700 (2008); I've simply had no need to upgrade. I have an A6000 I use for hiking, which has a 1.44MP EVF, which really isn't good enough, so I may upgrade to an A6600 for a better EVF, weather sealing, and bigger battery (weather sealing and battery wouldn't compel me on their own).

Ivor Rackham's picture

I still have a couple of old digital cameras that I use regularly, as well as a new one that I use professionally. The old ones still take perfectly good pictures. I glad you enjoyed the article.

Charles Mercier's picture
John Sully's picture

He's not wrong.

Ivor Rackham's picture

I hope my article (and the ambiguity of the title that a few people misread) gave a balanced view. There are arguments on both sides. Interesting video, thanks.

Stuart C's picture

I quite like a used camera myself, had a couple now, plus a brand new X-E2s that was being sold off for half price in a clearance, and they are enjoyable to use.

My little battered X-T20 I picked up for £300 is a fantastic camera.

I know companies don’t want to hear this but everybody should consider used gear at some point.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Very true, Stuart.Thanos for the great comment, as always.

Tom Reichner's picture

I very much agree about used gear, Stuart.

Many people have weird, irrational fears about buying a used camera or lens. Fears such as "what if something is wrong with it?" or, "I need a warranty so that I can feel safe and secure." Man up, people!

I guarantee you that any used camera I buy will be in better condition than a new camera after I own it for 3 or 4 months. I am far harder on cameras and lenses than anyone I have ever known. If I buy brand new, it is going to be beat up and have some malfunction or another after the first few months. And a warranty won't help at all because it will be totally my fault and hence I will have to pay full price for repairs, anyway. Buying new just doesn't make any sense when the much cheaper used camera will be in exactly the same condition as the new camera after a few months of use.

Stuart C's picture

Often people buy stuff then don’t actually use it too, so you can find items that are essentially new, it seems to be a big trend in photography. I guess people like to try the latest stuff then decide it’s not for them.

James Bruton's picture

I lost complete interest this article after reading the first few paragraphs and stopped. The article title is nothing more than clickbait so you can get more readers to see your messaging.

winzehnt gates's picture

Try again and start reading below the image of the Nikon D750, if you don't like to read about the environmental impact.
You'll see that the article is titled correctly.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Hi James, it's a hard job writing a title and an article that pleases everyone, especially when it is a contentious topic. Gladly, others read it who had the opposite opinion of yours. If you read the entire essay, I hope you would see that I offered a balanced argument with the pros and cons of changing systems. Thanks for commenting.

Tom Reichner's picture

James,

Like you, I have no interest in the environmental concerns that Ivor started the article with, but I am glad I stuck around and read the entire article, because he makes some very insightful points later on.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

--- "Camera manufacturing is not an environmentally friendly business."

Neither is the device you typed this article on. And, unless you walk barefoot or levitate everywhere, your transportation falls in the category. No need to inject and school us with your activist agenda. We are not your children or students. And, stop pretending like you care, then turn around and use the very devices you disparage about.

Now, back on topic since the first section of the article is a derailment for some preachy self-righteous nonsense. I've been shooting Sony since 2012 and don't see any reason to switch anytime soon. Bodies and lenses for pretty much anything.

Deleted Account's picture

Unless there's serious rain (technically, snow) in the SW of the US real soon, you're going to find out IRL it actually matters.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

LOL! Fear mongers have been exclaiming similar things in the last 10, 20, 30 years. What's happened to fruition based of their delusional narcissistic paranoia? N.o.t.h.i.n.g.

Earth is ever changing. Well before man. It's going to do what it's going to do.

Hans J. Nielsen's picture

Rather be a fear Mongol than an ignorant Mongol.

Yes things has always been
changing but not as rapidly, in the time frame of humanity, as it does now.

Just in my lifetime things has been changing far faster than what you would expect if earth is supposed to support life in the long run.

Some are just able to see that and some are not.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Earth is going to outlast you, trust me. It can take care of itself.

Hans J. Nielsen's picture

Of course, it will. That is just not the question. The question is, will earth be a nice place to live for your grandchildren and their grandchildren and for people in a 1000 years' time.

A second question is, do you even care?

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Yes

Yes

Stuart C's picture

Let me guess, you like Donald Trump?

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Uh, yes! What does that have to do with anything. It's been happening before him. Maybe you've forgotten how old the Earth is?

Stuart C's picture

Your comments have a certain obviousness about them. Mainly referring to anybody who holds a different viewpoint to you and the orange man a ‘narcissist’, or claim they have an agenda, usually tinged with some sort of arrogance/nastiness. You’re playing the part perfectly.

Climate change denying is incredibly naive. I live in the North East region of England, in winter the temp can go down as low as -20c.. yet 6 weeks ago it peaked at +43c, breaking all known records.

There are countless examples of extreme weather conditions occurring across the planet and also countless examples of evidence that humans are negatively impacting the planet with pollution and destroying natural resources, yet you’re sat there with your ‘I’m alright Jack’ attitude, choosing instead to make nasty comments towards the people who actually care about it.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Well, fear mongers want so badly to feel relevant, hence, the 'narcissist' comment.

Author has posted at least 1 other article that has some mightier-than-thou message. Something about rallying members to shame companies, hence, the 'activist agenda' comment.

Oh please, don't be such hypocrite about arrogance/nastiness. When you had your other account, "Stuart Carver", you went postal on members that spoke ill about m43, Fuji, and medium format. I'm guessing you had a nervous breakdown and deactivated your account thereafter. Then, sometime later, you re-emerged as "Stuart C". I see some traits of your former account.

--- "yet 6 weeks ago it peaked at +43c, breaking all known records."

So, it got hotter than normal during the summer? Lol, this guy. You know what else gets record breaking, the cold: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tyne-56022402 . Par for the course, the climate change chumps ain't gonna be ringing the doomsday alarm for this. It negates their narrative…and their fear mongering.

Listen, it's going to get cold, then it's going to get hot. Then, it's going to get cold then hot. Sometimes, colder than usual, sometimes, hotter than usual. Then, it's going to get cold then hot. Us normal folk call that, "seasons".

Visual aid below:

Stuart C's picture

Firstly, I took a break from all forms of social media which involved removing my account from here, not that this has anything to do with you, nice that I’ve got a fan though Eddie.

No nervous breakdown, just got sick of reading bullshit from the likes of you and decided to take a break.

On your point about climate change, well done for completely misunderstanding what climate change. You do understand that ‘extreme weather conditions’ don’t just relate to things being hot don’t you?

I know you Americans love living in denial with your fuel hungry vehicles and 20% of the worlds pollution (even though you only have 5% of the worlds population) but you really should start reading up on some scientific facts and stop hanging on every word that your moronic ex president spews from his cakehole.

Donald Trump doesn’t say anything unless it benefits him, and you people lap it up like he is some kind of messiah, I’d pity you if it wasn’t so hilarious.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

--- "No nervous breakdown, just got sick of reading bullshit from the likes of you and decided to take a break."

Sigh, you were the one attacking people for their opinion and you drove your own self mad because you took things too seriously. You couldn't handle it. The sad and plain truth is, you were the aggressor. Cough*hypocrite*cough. There's no one blame but you.

--- "On your point about climate change, well done for completely misunderstanding what climate change. You do understand that ‘extreme weather conditions’ don’t just relate to things being hot don’t you? "

LOL! C'mon, man. You're the one that brought up 'extreme weather conditions'. Here, let me help you recall:

Deleted Account's picture

Yes, genius.

The environment is a coupled multivariate nonlinear dynamic system.

You would absolutely expect increased system instability.

Stuart C's picture

Is that your profile picture? Am I actually talking to a grown adult or has your grandson stolen your login details Eddie?

Surely no grown adult who is clearly pushing 50 behaves like this?

I know you like to think you’re somehow famous on this website, but I can assure you that you or anything you said had zero bearing on my decision to delete my profile. You’re a nobody to me or anybody else on here Eddie, to think otherwise just points to your inflated opinion of yourself.

The very fact you seem to have some intricate knowledge of comments I made on this website nearly 3 years ago (that I can’t even recall making myself) tells us all that it’s you who got overly emotional about it and couldn’t handle it, otherwise you wouldn’t be having a baby tantrum about it now, all to deflect away from the fact you made an idiotic statement about something you have zero Knowledge of.

People like you are the reason fstoppers need to introduce a block option, then we can be free of having to read your utter waffle.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

--- "The very fact you seem to have some intricate knowledge of comments I made on this website nearly 3 years ago (that I can’t even recall making myself)"

I mean, you did make a spectacle of yourself. it's no wonder you want to forget. Sadly, creating a new account did nothing for you since you're back to your old bad habits. You need to learn to pick your battles, son.

--- "tells us all that it’s you who got overly emotional about it and couldn’t handle it"

Lol, that unfaithful day for you, I didn't even comment. You were attacking everyone else.

--- "People like you are the reason fstoppers need to introduce a block option, then we can be free of having to read your utter waffle."

Awwww....how grown up of you. So you want this site to be an echo chamber, a safe place, for liberal gullible simpletons? Listen, people will often disagree and sometimes things gets heated. If you can't handle it, don't engage. That's just the way life is.

Stuart C's picture

Don’t worry Eddie, I’ll definitely not be engaging with you again, you’re a pathetic excuse for a human being. As easily evidenced in this exchange.

Another internet big man, a warrior behind a keyboard.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Projection at its finest.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Eddie, I think you have hit the nail on the head when you recognize that yours is an opinion, as opposed to a verifiable fact. Issues like the increase of microplastics in the ocean, the accelerating melting of the glaciers, the 45-70% loss of invertebrates over the last forty years, the ongoing mass-extinction event, the increasing planetary temperatures, the rising sea levels, and the over-consumption of the world's resources are all provable facts, as is them being anthropogenic. Your denial of those facts is an incorrect opinion. You probably don't want to accept that because humans find changing opinions very difficult.

If you are going to offer a counter-argument, do it with verifiable, independent, peer-reviewed, scientific evidence from a respected scientific establishment. I think you would be hard pushed to find much compared to the overwhelming evidence that shows these issues are real.

Lets take the melting of the glaciers in Greenland as an example. If we were to stop climate change now, that will result in a minimum of a 26 cm global sea-level rise, possibly in your lifetime. There's no reversing that. That might sound like much, but even 2 cm has devastating results. Plus, that is just the effect of one country's ice loss. People alive today are likely to live to see cities lost to the seas.

Global wildfires are on the increase each year. Extreme weather events, floods, droughts, and high winds are also increasing yearly.

All these directly correlate with increases in various human activities, not least releasing methane and CO2 into the atmosphere, losing habitat to intensive agriculture, dumping plastics in our waterways, and using neonicotinoids.

Each of us is responsible for trying to do what we can to reduce our impact on the planet.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Do you use things and/or do things that contribute to this so called climate change? Rhetorical question, btw.

Can you imagine if car magazines, fashion magazines, movies/tv, restaurant menus, etc, etc had similar virtue signalling PSAs prefaced. I'll bet you a thousand bucks it's going to piss a whole lot of people. Kind of like how members on here get irate when politics is injected in the articles. There's a time and place for it. Let photography be just about photography.

Deleted Account's picture

So you missed what's happening in Europe, Middle East, and the sub-continent. You missed things like tree die back due to insects not being killed by cold. You missed things like the massive hole in the Arctic. You missed things like year on year mega fires and 1,000 year floods. The list of empirical proxies goes on and on.

Just completely missed it all.

Apparently you also missed the drought in the US.

Edit: I forgot to mention China, which has been nothing short of epic. Massive crop failures, and the Yangtze has dried up.

Seriously, you people... Wilful blindness.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Ooohhhkay. This is man's fault? The weak and the feeble minded love to find comfort in finding someone to blame for bad things happening. It's been happening before man existed.

Drought in the US? Doh, it's been that way for last 20+ years. 20 years from now, it's gonna be that way for 40 years. And so and and so on.

Deleted Account's picture

No doubt a bunch of other people have pointed out it's the rate of change, not change itself, every time you try on these decades old bullshit assertions.

The concepts aren't even complex. Maybe go finish high school.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

--- "Maybe go finish high school."

Oh, dang, just a notch above 'yo mama' jokes. You must be proud.

Deleted Account's picture

I wasn't joking. I learned the chemistry in year 11.

Deleted Account's picture

That's the thing, Stuart. Their comments are the same old crap that's been wheeled out for decades. These people aren't good faith interlocutors, and really should be ignored.

Stuart C's picture

Very true. I’m enjoying the fact he is accusing me of the very thing he is doing himself. Weird.

Deleted Account's picture

Moral blindness, the tendency of people to be blind to motivation outside their moral solution set, has a converse; people are more likely to attribute (and therefore accuse) motivations that lie within their moral solution set.

Stuart C's picture

What’s most astounding is the fact he thinks he is important enough to cause me to delete an account I had on here, typical sociopath.

All whilst having intricate knowledge of some long forgotten comments I made about a camera brand.

The reality is during the Covid lockdown I removed myself from all forms of social media to reduce the time wasted endlessly scrolling, in order to spend my life doing something more worthwhile.

Anyway if he wants to play internet psychologist and tell himself that he ‘drove me mad’ then carry on lol.

Deleted Account's picture

You're not paying attention to the state of water supplies, or the impact upon US agriculture.

It's quite extraordinary, a huge part of the planet is melting down, and you're still doubling down.

I'm mitigating my personal risk, so I'll be just fine. Honestly, I couldn't care less about you.

*Insert meme of Kermit drinking tea*

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Or, maybe you're reading too much into it. Live your life. Don't be wasteful. And, most importantly, don't be paranoid.

--- "Honestly, I couldn't care less about you."

What? What are you, twelve?

David Pavlich's picture

One does his/her part. Recycle, be prudent with heating/cooling, don't waste, etc. Where things go off the rail for me is the fact that there are people that actually believe that we puny humans can place a working thermostat on Mother Earth.

Further, if by some miracle, some entity found a way to control the climate, how long would it be before the evil among us weaponize this new technology? You think the cloud of nuclear weapons was scary? Consider some nasty regime telling your continent's population that if you don't capitulate, you'll starve to death.

Besides, before we all assume room temperature due to climate change, we'll have been hit by that 10 mile wide asteroid with Earth's name on it. It'll happen and not maybe.

Deleted Account's picture

You guys legitimately are paying zero attention.

Nothing can be done about wilful blindness.

Deleted Account's picture

No, genuinely, I don't care about you. You are of zero importance to me, or to the species, and I couldn't care less if you end up starving to death, or dying of heat stroke after power failure.

Legitimately, not my problem or concern.

Hans J. Nielsen's picture

And next week we will get an article about; why you shouldn't change camera brand.

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