Why Nikon at all


I have been shooting for over 20 years now and have had a few camera systems to play with, nothing fancy, but my first camera was a FG. Boy was I in-love with that baby. I got it stolen from me and never quite could get over it. About 6 months ago I had the chance to go digital with a D2H but bought an F100 instead. After al this years I feel like I found my long-gone girlfriend, the one that broke my heart, but just a bit heavier and wiser. There's something to say about the equipment you where using when you discover you had passion for photography, I have not been able to feel the same about Leica, Contax, Yashica or Canon. they're all good but they just don't respond the same way you expect a Nikon to respond. I love my F100, and yes, I love my wife too...


Back in 1974 when I bought my first Nikon (FM), Nikon was the best. Then in 1999 I bought a N70, and many lens.

Now with the digital prices low enough for a good SLR, I once again choose Nikon. Now if I didn't have those 3 lens, I might of looked harder at Canon. But I'm happy with my D70s.


Active Member
It's the ergonomics. Even some Canon-owners complain about the ergonomics o f the cheaper Canon DSLRs. You won't hear that kind of complaints from many Nikon-owners.

Even a cheap camera like the F80/N80 has great ergonomics, which made it possible for Nikon and Fuji to build the semi-pro/pro-cameras D100 and S3 o n that body.

For me, it's also tradition. While Canon makes anything from calculators to copiers, Nikon makes cameras and optics only. It may not have any significant meaning, but for me, there's something special with a manufacturer that stays true to it's roots. They even make manual focus lenses still.

And since, for all practical purposes, it is really hard to find significan t differences in picture quality between the different brands, I go for the one that makes my work easier (even if it says Fuji on the body. It's and S3). With the D200, Nikon has proven that they are in this game to stay. That camera seems to have the qualities of a classic.


When I switched from Olympus to Nikon (MF) in 1996, my choice was related to the sturdiness and reliability of camera bodies and easy availability of pro-quality lenses at reasonable prices due to the long story of the Nikon system being used by professionals. One could, and can, purchase an used AI-s lens at a very reasonable price and with the certainty that it will last longer than a new lens from another brand.
I must say that today Nikon (AF and DSLR) has lost this kind of advantage over its competitors.


Well-Known Member
I hear variations on this a lot. People have selective memories, "Yup, Nikon's ain't like they usta-be. Time was when the Nikon name meant sumpthin'. They only built the highest quality camer's back then."

Well they built the Nikon F back then and they build the Nikon F6 now. Cameras built like tanks. However, back when they were building the F, F2, F3, F4, and F5 until now, There was the Nikkorex and the Nikkormat and the EL, and the FE, EM and a bunch of point and shoots, aimed at the snapshooter, amateur and enthusiast, covering the whole spectrum of prices, and with lenses that were "affordable" rather than excellent as well as those that were truly excellent.

Camera companies are not run by enthusiasts - at least not the ones that stay in business. Leitz runs on a good bit of arrogance, but they too have built P&S as well as having built the CL and CLE and a few digitals. A few years ago, they announced a digital back for their SLRs, and it is due to ship "real soon, now", if Leitz manages to stay in business. They also market a Panasonic digital under their own name that is identical mechanically and electronically, differing only in a slightly different contour here and there and the red dot that says Leica. When it hit the market it was hundreds of dollars more than its Panasonic twin - very expensive dot. They have maintained this arrogance until they are at the point of being the next camera company likely to cease business.

Ah, but the Leica QUALITY! That will bring them through.

No. Word has been going around among the few of us that actually shoot with the things rather than put them in dust-proof cases and brag about them, to buy only from dealers who will be patient while you return lens after lens, trying to find one that is acceptably sharp. Evidently, they have come to the conclusion that they are building for collectors who will never actually use them, so quality does not matter as long as the finish is nice. Nikon did have a lot to worry about from Leica decades back, but Nikon has the edge now.

A couple of decades back, Canon decided to challenge Nikon as the 800 pound gorilla, and has done a very good job of it. While Leica has ignored Contax, in spite of them making better cameras and lenses for less money - and beating Leica to go out of business as well - Nikon has responded by maintaining the high quality of their flagship cameras and lenses.

And yes, if you want to focus and set your own, there are still fully mechanical lenses. The great lenses are no remainder counter-bargains - you pay for what you get. Price them. Sure there are many inexpensive manual Nikon lenses, but they were built for the EM, FE and the Nikkormats. A totally manual 28mm PC-Nikkor is about the same price now as it was in the early 1980s when I bought mine. It does not even have an automatic diaphragm that stops down when the shutter is tripped.

Nikon like Canon - but no other camera maker - builds the whole spectrum from cameras aimed at the folks who bring in a film with a Christmas tree on each end of the roll and vacation shots in the middle, to cameras for the working photographer who may go through several hundred frames every day. Buy a bottom of the line camera as a student and an excellent lens or two, and the lens will work on every subsequent camera as you move up the food chain of photography. However, if you want a fine camera body and a cheap, crappy lens, well you can get that too, should you be so stupid.

The advantage goes to the company that builds the right combination of features and offers the lenses and accessories YOU need for the photographic tasks you do. Nikon has only lost that advantage if you have needs that only Canon can meet. They don't offer absolutely parallel lines, specially with lenses. In some cases, neither company has been able to meet my needs on a specific, so I go wherever I must - superwide medium-format, panoramic, etc. However, both companies offer a wide range of special purpose optics, with Nikon having a bit of a lead there for the most part.

Again it is a matter of the buyer's need. Depending upon the need, either company may be in, or either company out, once I have defined the goals and the necessary route to achieve them. In fact, I do have both Canon and Nikon cameras and lenses. I mostly use a Canon lens on my Leica. Each was bought - not because of the maker's edge - but for the edge it gave me!!! That is the only thing that counts.

Yeah, everyone offers a range of low priced, slow and marginal zoom lenses at prices that beginners can afford, and third party suppliers offer them even cheaper. That is not where the edge is. The edge is with the super-fast, the superlong, the superwide, the macro lenses, the perspective control lenses, and there Nikon glass will stand up to anyone. However if you need tilt as well as shift, then you go to Canon, or better, get a view camera.

As per dSLRs, today in some cases, Canon has the edge unless you are into telephotography, in which case Nikon is way out ahead. All that can change in a month or two when everyone announces their new toys at PMA. R&D in digital cameras is extremely volatile. Furthermore, the camera-makes are all moving toward mirrorless cameras within the coming years.

The Sony R1 was the opening round to be fired. With no mirror and a large sensor, lenses can be optimized for use with sensors. In the R1, the rear element is nearly in contact with the sensor, something that the archaic mirror prohibits. Super-wide lenses no longer will need to be retrofocus inverted teles to clear the mirror and spectacular formulas like the SuperAngulon can be adapted to digital.

Five years from now, the whole face of the camera market will have changed beyond recognition today. Who has the edge, depends a lot on how the technology progresses during that time. Nikon traditionally takes a somewhat less flambouyant approach than Canon, and that may either serve them well or badly. There will certainly be a couple more old-line camera makers out of business and the consumer electronics firms may dominate. There is simply no way to predict.

Those still making the dSLR design, I expect will put most of their emphasis on digital and optical design. Mechanical robustness is becoming meaningless with any digital camera. Even the most poorly constructed camera is hopelessly outmoded before it is worn out. The edge will go the one which produces the smoothest gradients, with the least noise at the highest ISO settings, with the sharpest lenses that can be specifically designed for sensors. None of the technology we shoot with today, may still be in service five years hence. With the great boom in digital cameras, I expect that designers and fabs everywhere are working for new sensor technology, faster and smarter focus and exposure devices, faster processing and storage, bigger buffers, bigger and brighter monitors, and so on.

Between the current Nikon digital and the last one, RAW quality has taken a quantum leap, hot pixels in long exposures have disappeared, chromatic abberation has disappeared and live histograms, bright views of dim venues and projected grid lines have appeared. Lag is too short to be noticed. With ED glass, all in-camera sharpening has been turned off, and very little in comparison is used in processing. None to compensate for the glass, just enough to balance the inherent unsharpness of the Beyer mosic sensor.

Nikon has supplied the past three digital cameras, because they fit most closely with the photography I am currently doing. So I guess that gives them the edge - for now. However, the next one could well be a Canon, a Sony or a Panasonic - or any other brand that gives me the edge I want. Then I might be back to Nikon again in a couple of years. The camera makers are just learning the digital trade, but the variety is immense none the less. Nikon just happened to build the camera I wanted - that is the only thing that counts.

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> Giorgio, I will play devil's advocate here...

First, your choice should have been made for ergonomic reasons (Nikons felt more comfortable in your hands than Canon, say) than because "pros use them". I, too, switched form Olympus (albeit 10 yeas before you did) and had managed a camera store, where I had access to anything - but found the Nikon bodies most well adapted to my hand and vision.

Second, Nikon's high-end line of equipment is every bit as rugged and "professional level" as their legacy stuff - they just make more entry- and mid-level equipment (bodies and lenses) nowadays. And no doubt, they did this to make more sales and survive as a company.

Yes, they traded on their image gleaned from the storied tales of National Geographic shooters in the 70's and 80's, and Canon resorted to lots of marketing to make up for their lack of perceived quality (though the F-1 was another brick of a camera). So, while today the D50 or N55 are, basically, as crappy as the other guys' stuff at those price levels, the high end lenses (70-200 f2.8, etc.) are as rugged (and expensive) as ever.

Finally, how Nikon compares to the competition is of importance if you view the camera gear as a status symbol, to be worn alongside he Rolex watch. If it is viewed as a set of tools to actually take high level photographs, then, while there are certainly some less-than- ideal lenses in the lineup, Nikon can still do the job very well.



MF Nikon cameras and lenses were all sturdily built because they were aimed at pro users. Each AI lens shows a decent aberration correction that makes it suitable for professional use, and a sturdy barrel. Of course optics did evolve in the meantime and today many AI primes have been surpassed, but still there are many that show top notch optical quality (let me say the 20/2,8, 28/2,8, 35/1,4 at central apertures - and you still have 1,4 when needed -, 50/1,4 and 1,8, micro 55, 105/2,5, 180/2,8 ED...). The exception was the E - series.
Today Nikon produces 1 flagship AF camera, the F6; and a series of extremely bulky and expensive professional lenses. Mid range primes often show the same optics of their MF predecessors, but in a shaky case. Other products not specifically aimed at pros are crap. Canon, at least, offers nicer average quality at lesser prices in the middle class, and the same quality in the pro class. This is my point of view.
Of course, if you look only at the top notch lenses and cameras, price no matter, Nikon is OK. But I guess that for more usual amateurs the story is different.


"old time" Nikon quality is still on the market with the FM3a, the AI-s lenses and a huge lot of used equipment that is both affordable and reliable, thanks to its pro-quality construction. In this Nikon simply has no competitor, and this is the reason tha made me choose Nikon. But if you want to use AF or digital gear (not my case), it seems to me it is a different story. You find the same quality in other lineups, maybe even better; or you have to spend huge amounts of money to purchase huge bulky professional equipment, that anyhow also others can supply.
I liked the Olympus equipment very much, but I had to change to Nikon because of reliability after a long time of use.


Well-Known Member
As you said, the high-end lenses and cameras were aimed at pros. Working photographers bought them, because they were the cheapest cameras on the market. Much more economical to buy one $1,200 camera than a dozen $200 cameras. The other aspect was that when you are shooting for meat on the table and the camera ceases operation in the middle of a shoot, the cost can be enormous - a lost fee and probably a lost client. At the rate that a newspaper demands from its staff shooters, the $200 camera would be in the shop every couple of months, costing productivity and not earning its keep. In comparison a Nikon F3 was dirt cheap.

Over the years, Nikon has always served the whole market, from the snapshooter to the newbie amateur to the advanced enthusiast to the working photographer. At the moment, Adorama lists eight bodies each from Nikon and Canon spanning the price range from $135 to $1,900. At the low price end, you get what you pay for and the same is true at the high end. There are nine Nikon normal lenses running from $95 to $550 - with the most expensive being a manual focus lens. This does not include the MicroNikkor, which is a fabulous normal lens, nor the rather rare Nikon f-10 Noct. Canon shows four normals from $75 to $305.

The point being that there has always been a span of equipment to meet every market price and buyer's needs from both of these leaders. If you want to hang a $100 lens on your camera, that is the quality you can expect and it will not nearly equal that of the $550 lens - nor should it. Having a lens that is accessible to a student or beginner in no way demeans the quality of the top lenses. Nikon serves the whole market, and the buyer gets what he pays for.

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My first SLR was a Pentax P3n bought second hand. I never got the hang of it and was always fighting with the camera to get the results I wanted. I borrowed a friend's F90 for a backpacking trip, and when I saw the developed pictures, I was hooked. Controls were intuitive, and well thought out. I bought the body I could afford - F65 - to learn the Nikon system and invested in quality lenses. I love my F80, and just got a D70s for Christmas and am really impressed so far.

Lenses are the better IMHO than the competing Canon lenses. Controls are logical (most times) and Nikon's engineering is top shelf. AF is solid for what I shoot, metering is unbeatable. Yes, it costs more to use Nikon, but it's worth twice what you pay.


I came to Nikon because of the reputation the Nikon Cameras have. I have spent a lot of money on other cameras and equipment who wanted me to believe that they were committed to making the best camera for the money and I was so disappointed that I left them and came to Nikon because they have the track record of a history of only the best. I am still waiting on my D200 which I ordered in early November and from all I have seen I will not be upset with what I am getting.


Well-Known Member
It really is a matter of taking the time to know what you are buying. Doing you homework before passing the plastic will save you a bunch of disappointment. Clearly define what your goals are, and what it will take to reach them. Draw up a list of specifications that must be met in the equipment you will purchase. Check on the reputation - not of the maker - but on the individual camera. A good relationship with a camera store and trusted salesperson and a camera repairman is beyond value.

At a specific price point, a simple mechanical camera is likely to be more robust than one that is totally buzzword enabled, with loads of features. However, it is also unforgiving and will only give you what you are capable of getting out of it. The shutter on the feature laden camera may wear out in 20% of the time of that in the mechanical camera, but if you are inept, you may find yourself with a whole lot more keeper pictures during that time. However, what is the point of buying a robust camera, if you shoot half a dozen rolls a year at the most?

Realize as well, that every camera maker caters to a very broad market. Nikon is keeping two of its film bodies in the channel. They could not be more different. The F6 probably represents the highest state that a professional-level film SLR will ever attain. The FM10 is built by Cosina for Nikon, and is a cheap, entry-level camera that was also the Cosina CT-1 of a quarter century back, Canon T60, Olympus2000 and parts are also in the RicohKR-5 and it even served as the base for a couple of rangefinder cameras. A generic camera that for this time being is carrying the Nikon brand and lens mount.

Now with the Internet, there is simply no excuse for buying the wrong camera. The web has many web-sites with reviews, the forums give hands on anecdotal information. If you know what you want, you can find a camera that will match your needs.

Of the dozens of cameras owned or used, all acquisitions were carefully researched and matched to the problems that needed to be solved. Never was there a disappointment - even when there was no Internet. It took more leg-work, but it always paid off. There has been camera equipment purchased from Nikon, but probably a dozen other brands too. Each fully met its intended purpose.

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> Don,

My D200 came in last week. Nice, nice, nice. One or two quirks, but it might be me learning the camera. Image softness might be a problem, but then again I might be the problem.

I choose Nikon mainly for the metering. They have a great reputation and I was really concerned after the ND about overexposure w/ the flash.

One lense I bought was the 17-55 lens. Which is nice,but I already found a problem where if you are using the on board flash at the wide end of the lens, there is a shadow in the bottom part of the image.


I also bought the SB-800 flash, but have not used it yet.

Will keep me posted. Please keep me abreast of your experiences w/ the D200.




New Member
Here I am, new.

I have recently bought my first Nikon, an FM2n. OK, why then?

Simple: I had no choice.

When I was 13, I had a Zenit 12 XP. When I decided I wanted to upgrade, I was undecided between a Contax 139Q and a Nikon F301: I eventually decided for the Contax.

Recently, as you may know, Contax died: Kyocera doesn't produce them anymore. I found very frustrating to own a dead camera. When I needed to repair my beautiful Carl Zeiss Planar, I found out that I'd better not.

So, I had to upgrade again. I don't like autofocus, and I wanted to be able to use a couple of Tamron Adaptall lenses I had, AND I didn't want a dead camera again. Now, how many brands still produce new manual focus cameras? If I am not wrong, only Nikon and Leica. Well, apart from the fact that I wouldn't be so sure I'd find an Adaptall ring for Leica... I'm not rich! So, Nikon was the only choice, wasn't it?


Well-Known Member
Hi Marco,
You'll be able to use Carl Zeiss lenses on it too now that they are producing them in F mount. And it seems that the lenses will be cheaper than they were when they were Contax.


New Member
Quess I'm an real oldie. Being so lucky to inherit a real 1938 Rolleiflex from my granddad, when I was only 11 years old, I was spoiled by getting used to perfect quality images on a very young age already. During my college study got known to the Nikkormat in a factory laboratory and was surprised by the easy handling and superb quality of pictures. Bought myself a Nikkormat FTN in 1975 and later on some lenses, that I still use on my heavily used F4, which stems from 1996. That is one of the good reasons that I stick to Nikon. Using an array of lenses now from 20 mm to 180 mm and won't change it for the world. Best proof of this came already from a long time ago comment from some experienced guy, who asked me how I got those razor sharp pictures with all the contrast and detail you can wish. And I'm not a pro.
Three reasons to go for Nikon : standardization of lens mounts, very good quality and a reliability, that's unsurpassed. If they would have entered the MF market, they might have been a very serious competitor for Hasselblad, but that's only a theory !!!
By the way, I'm not working for Nikon or related in anyway to them. Might have done so, if it would have yielded me some free equipment.


Active Member
I have a friend that is having a problem with the auto focus on her new D200 - She seems to think it may be the diopter setting - with auto focus is this a problem? I shoot the D1X and D2X and I checked my setting and found that after a couple of clicks on the setting my view cleared up as well... Anyone have any ideas or experience in this situation? Keith


[I can't think of any way the diopter would have any effect except on manual focusing because it you changes your view. The diopter doesn't have any effect on the auto focus system. Tom]


As a Complete beginner to Photography, I know nothing of how the Digital Camera works at Present other than what i have read. After looking at different Cameras from Expert advice on the Websites and then i decided on the Nikon D80. In the Shop i handled the Canon 400D One from Panasonic, and the Nikon. So i liked the read ups of the Nikon and how it felt in my hands that is why i chose it. My other Hobby is Racing Pigeons Long Distance and with those Fanciers can have very similar Bloodlines or Quality But in that Sport it is the Man behind the Pigeons which gets the most out from them Very much like The Photo Hobby the Man is behind the Camera . I hope i have made the right Choice and I will not pick up the Camera until next wednsday The Lens comes with the Camera a 18-135mm 1f-EI hope it will take a wide angle shots of the Pigeon Loft and Inside it, Plus Photos of my Dogs and i would like to take photos of Old Buildings and Churches. Any advice on what Good reasonable Priced Lens will do those things i would be pleased to here from you as up to this time i know very little indeed. I have sent away for a couple of Books on Digital Cameras
Thanks Steve


Well-Known Member
I think the D80 will be a good choice for you. I have the D200 and am pretty pleased.

I purchased the Nikon 80-400 mm f/4.5-5.6D ED Vibration Reduction Nikkor Lens. Great lens, but expensive (about 1,700.) You might want to look at Sigma to save some money. They really do make alot of nice lenses. Also, fixed length is cheaper than a zoom. Even when I shoot at 400 mm, this is still not really adequate for wild birds, unless you are close. You are lucky shooting pigeons, since they are not so wild. You could probably get away w/ a 200 or 300 mm lens since the D80 has the 1.5 multiplier. A 200 mm lense gives you an effective 300mm focal length. I also bought the Sigma Macro 150 mm lens for about 600 bucks. This is a superb lens and would maybe do alright for you ... but I would still think you might want a longer focal length.

good luck,