Nikon vs Canon: Reaching for the Camera


I previously mentioned that something I love about Nikon cameras is that the power switch is placed around the shutter release. Over the weekend I was able to shoot with the camera quite a bit and realized just how important I found this to be.

All of the Nikons I have used place the power switch on the top panel, near the shutter release. The D300, Coolpix 5700, and F100 all placed it around the shutter release, and the N70 had a slide switch next to it--all within easy reach.

Over the weekend I came to remember how much I like the fluidity that this allows: I can keep my eye on the subject, reach into the camera bag and grab the camera by the grip. As I pull it out my index finger twists the switch, my left hand pops the lens cap, and I bring the camera to my eye to take the photo.

Compare the process to how I used the Canon EOS 20D: with my eye on the subject I reach into the camera bag and grab the camera by the grip. As I pull the camera out my left hand reaches for the power switch--my left hand knows where it is, but there is a moment of fumbling as I slide my finger to the switch and turn the camera on (alternatively, I look away from the subject to more quickly hit the power switch. Now my left hand can take the lens cap off, and I bring the camera to my eye to shoot.

It sounds like a simple enough motion that everyone probably goes through, but the speed with which I can do it with a Nikon is what I like. Canon requires me to use my left hand for two motions (power switch and lens cap) while the Nikon requires only one motion of my left hand (lens cap).

The thing I really noticed this weekend is that I was able to keep my eye on the subject--Scouts at the climbing tower or making lunch, for example--and how much more confident I felt that I could get the shot. With the Canon, I regularly looked at the camera for the switch, and looking back at the subject was also a moment or two of disorientation while I try to relocate exactly what I saw. With the D300 I remembered how much I used that focus when bringing the camera to my eye to get the correct framing.

Just to argue with myself, why don't I leave the camera on? That eliminates the motion for both Nikon and Canon cameras. I often do leave the camera on and keep it over my shoulder or around my neck, but if I'm putting it back in the bag I turn it off. I suppose I don't need to, but I do. Why don't I leave the lens cap off, particularly for the lenses I use with a hood? Again, that's just how I work. Too much fear of scratching the lens, I guess!

Little details like this are the things that will let you become really comfortable with a camera, not how many megapixels it has or the drive frame rate. Unfortunately, it takes quite a bit of time and experience to recognize these details and how they can best fit how you shoot. What other details draw you to the camera you use?

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