I bought my very first “proper” dslr camera back in 2008 after I had spent my very first adventure to the African continent trying to take photos with my little compact camera. That trip, of which I had dreamed since childhood, was life changing in many more ways than me ending up with a Canon dslr camera body.
It wasn’t untill I lived in Mauritius 2009-2010, that I actually began learning how to use the Canon and the lenses they had sold me at the camera store ( after I marched in announching ” I need equipment to make photos of wild lions…but not expensive please.”) Since then, I’ve been on a learning journey into photography, gear and what is it I actually want to do with it all.
I’ve changed camera gear just as enthusiastically and filled with hope and expectation as I’ve changed continents and countries to live in 🙂 Not all of those have always turned out to be the best choises, but you live and learn.
Mainly I’ve learnt to accept that a certain amount of ‘gear mania’ is part of the photography journey, for me at least. As my photography goals get more clear, change direction or life situations take a turn; I’ll continue to adjust my gear to best match my personal needs and expect new gear to fix all my problems, naturally! 😉
The reality is, that one can reasearch gear as much as one wants…but before it’s in your hands and in active use; you won’t know if it was the perfect choise for you. If such thing exists.
But below is my reasoning and thoughts behind my latest swap…I’m already feeling a little terrified of what I’ve done, but I’ve chosen to embrace the gear mania once again.
Nature and wildlife in partiqular have always been my passions. The same reasons got me on my photography journey. But the need to help all animals, soon landed me my first rescue dog, and then a second one and then I had a pack of three! I found that most of my free time and time in nature was being spent with a furry entourage…an entourage which wasn’t very helpful in getting close to wildlife for photography. So then, living in the States, my photography became more about landscapes and other nature related stuffs we could all do together. Eventually I wanted smaller and lighter gear to carry with me on our doggy nature adventures…which resulted in my first brand swap in my photography career.
I had been a Canon shooter, and accumulated and upgraded my gear for years when the small and light and progressive Sony mirrorless cameras began their march to the scene. I gradually swapped my Canon dslr’s to Sony mirrorless systems, and also swapped continents during the process.
Back in Finland I shot with Sony happily for several years. Upgraded my gear, as I went, to match my then needs as an entrepreneur. But then northern lights and Lapland happened…and quite honestly I needed a change in my photography journey and was convinced that I used to make much better photos with my Canon gear! Canon had caught up in the mirrorless game, and I always liked my Canons…especially their more round body design that feels nicer to operate than the more edgy Sony.
It felt like coming home! Yes I’m a Canon girl and the R5 is fabulous. until…
Withing the period of less that two years, one furchild after another crossed the rainbow bridge and by early 2023 my life had trastically changed again. I no longer had an entourage to consider while doing photography… it was heartbreaking but it was also a new opportunity. Now I was completely free to travel and pursue wildlife photography.
I was planning on sticking with Canon, it after all has the best auto-focus tracking system for wildlife currently. The only thing I was in need of was a longer and faster lens. A lens I could easily handhold, and that wouldn’t take too much room while travelling. A lens that was light and at a reasonable price point. There was a rumor about such Canon RF lens hitting the market soon. The rumoured lens was a mirrorless version of the old Canon EF 300mm 2.8 lens. The rumour had it that the RF version was going to be 40% lighter, which would make it perfect for my handholding needs, and that it was going to have a built in 1.4x extender, which would give it enough reach and versatility for my needs. The rumoured new 300mm was also going to be at the same mid level reasonable price range as it’s predessessor was. That sounded perfect, I was so looking forward to that lens.
Then I fell off my seat! The new RF lens was nothing like rumoured. It wasn’t a prime, but a zoom 100-300mm 2.8. It didn’t have a built in extender. It wasn’t lighter. And it was at the same price range as the other RF long prime lenses: not reasonably priced at all.
It was clear that that 100-300mm lens wasn’t the versatile light weight prime lens I was waiting for to make my kit complete.
So I considered going an other route and getting the RF 400mm 2.8 lens plus an additional 1.4x extender. And getting the RF 70-200mm 2.8 lens to use as is or with the 1.4x extender for versatility and getting more bank out of my gear.
But, turned out the 70-200 wasn’t compatible with extenders, what!? And the 400mm would still be a very expensive lens and at such a weight that wouldn’t make hand holding sustainable.
It was back to the drawing board for finding a set of gear best suited for my needs that would be as mimimalistic and versatile as possible with the least amount of gear.
Here’s why I chose Nikon
I’m not “new” to Nikon, though I’ve personally never owned Nikon gear before. I had the opportunity to use Nikon gear, specifically the D850, at a job post for a while to create content with…and I’ve missed that gear ever since.
While the Z9 is just as great of a camera as the R5, I was looking at the big picture. The ecosystem of versatile, lighter and more afordable lens options was the reason that broke the Canon’s back ( see what I did there) :).
– With Nikon I could get away with less gear and yet have better versatility than with more Canon. Basically I could reduse my consumption and the weight of the gear I carry.
– They say the Z9 works flawlessly with the AF-S dslr lenses via the adapter. My experience with Canon EF to RF adapter wasn’t such. This means that I can save money and the environment by using old system lenses, which also gives me a wider selection to choose from.
– The Nikkor AF-S 500mm f/5.6 PF ED VR lens is super light and small for a tele prime! Though I was hoping for a faster prime lens than 5.6, this lens is said to be tack sharp at f 5.6 , compared to the Nikkor 500mm f4 version, which is way heavier and is best used at 5.6 anyways. I could get this 500mm 5.6 lens used and at a very reasonable price (compared to Canon prime lenses). A light and small tele prime lens that I can handhold and carry in my back bag on adventures, was what I was hoping the rumoured 300mm would be; with the Nikon 500mm I got a lighter lens, with more reach and at a fraction of the cost of the Canon 100-300 RF lens.
– So the 500mm prime doen’t come with the built in extender and its versatility, I was originally after. BUT the Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 Z lens works with an extender! ( unlike it’s Canon counterpart). Hello versatility!
– The 24-70mm 2.8 Z lens doesn’t differ much from the comparable Canon RF lens. It’s just my workhorse lens for my dayjob and other content creation jobs for the travel industry etc.
To conclude; with the Nikon ecosystem, my bag is lighter and more versatile with fewer lenses. And I have more lens options, also used ones, to choose from when needed. The Nikon 400mm and 600mm z prime lenses also come with the built in extender, which is a set up that seems super versatile and user friendly…and of which I’m still drooling after.
The only thing I’m not sure about is the size and bulkiness of the Z9… the just announced Z8 does sound pretty good, and I could use a second body…hmmm, I wonder if… :D.
Thank you for reading and being with me on this journey <3