Very recently a client of mine asked me for a list of all the photographic equipment that I use, when I asked why she wanted to know, she said that she just wanted to make sure that my equipment was on par with what professional photographers were using. Basically she just wanted to make sure that I'm not going to pitch up with a disposable cardboard camera. Which is a very good thing to make sure of before you book your wedding photographer (be more street-smart guys).
The big question that everybody is trying to answer is, which camera manufacturer produces equipment that is VASTLY superior to their nearest competition, not which is marginally better, but which is the BEST BY FAR. The thing that keeps feeding that debate is the fact that there is no manufacturer that is producing anything that is not more than a few months to a year ahead of what their competition is producing.
If you chose as an example of any newish camera or lens made by any of the major companies such as Nikon or Canon or the like, and searched for reviews on the web or on youtube, you’d find dozens of videos and articles that list its features and specifications, and compare it to the equivalent product made by a rival manufacturer. And these reviews, sometimes by amateurs, are a good source of information about a particular piece of equipment that you might be thinking of buying. What these articles prove though, is how quickly a newer and “better” variant will be created and sold to replace the old one.
At the moment the newest and cheapest full frame Camera body by Canon, is the Canon 5D mk III(3) (I’m not counting the 6D), which was released March 2012. The previous camera in that line up was the Canon 5D mkII(2), released in September 2008. Below is a concise comparison of the differences between each camera body, and lists the most prominent features of a camera that are important to a stills photographer.
These are only a few of the specifications of these two cameras that I deem the only features that would entice a professional STILL photographer to sell his Mk II and buy a Mk III. For a full list of all features and comparisons, click here.
The biggest improvements in the 5D mk III is its high ISO noise capability which practically speaking is less than two stops, and the six frames per second frame rate. Now ask your self, have they improved the 5D mkIII so much that it warrants a price difference of at least US$1660 to upgrade from the 5D mkII? You might come to a different conclusion, but personally I don’t believe that spending that much extra to upgrade to the newest variant of the 5D line up is worth it. Again, I’m speaking from a still photographer’s point of view.
The example given above is not an isolated one. Every time a new and "better" product is release every year or every few years, the improvements made seldom warrants the inflated price. And this does not only occur in photography, it occurs in every corner of the business world.
That being said, there are occasions where certain pieces of equipment make history and can be referred to as better. For example, the Canon EOS 350D was released in 2005, it was the first digital SLR camera which out-sold film SLR cameras that year, and put the final nail in the coffin of photographic 35mm film (sadly). But these instances do not occur on a yearly basis or even every decade.
So when you think about it, the only people who benefit from the “is Nikon better than Canon or not” debate, is Canon and Nikon itself, because it persuades people to keep buying replacements for their equipment that is not broken or in need of replacement.
I personally use professional grade equipment, I buy high end equipment that is built to be hardy and durable because I need my equipment to last a long time. I certainly don’t believe that because somebody else has the newest gadget that he/she is going to necessarily take a better picture than me or anybody else.
If you still don’t agree with me, there is a test you can do to prove if I’m right or wrong. Choose any topic you can think of, and then do a Google image search on that topic. Once your pc screen has filled with all those little pictures, try to see with the naked eye which pictures were taken with a Nikon Camera, as opposed to the ones taken with a Canon or any other make. Try to see if you can ascertain which pictures were taken with a superior professional grade lens, and which with a cheaper lens. You can’t do it can you?