Canon vs. Nikon
It's easier than ever to take pictures...
Photography at a professional level remains an achievement which requires years of experience and thousands of dollars.
If you are extremely fortunate, someone might gift you a fancy camera, an uber capable computer or offer professional level guidance on your journey into photography. These things could benefit you greatly and possibly expedite your learning process considerably.
On the other hand, experience is the thing that truly drives a photographer toward excellence. All the expensive equipment in the world won't stop you from badly composing a photo, under-exposing your subject, placing a light source in the wrong place or focusing your lens on the wrong part of a scene.
Additionally, while I am an advocate for education, the photography world is largely over saturated with information, in the form of badly produced YouTube videos, unnecessarily expensive online and offline correspondence courses and thousands of forums, groups and communities filled with various opinions and perspectives about which equipment and software is the best and why.
Don't Give Up!
I say all this, not to discourage aspiring photographers, but from a perspective of hopeful progress. I have spent at least hundreds of dollars, more likely a few thousand or more, on educational material and have only recently begun to feel that I've reached the entry level of the professional photography realm.
The advent of "smart phones" (a term I've never fully been in agreement with) equipped phones with increasingly impressive camera sensors and functionality and led me and many others into an area of photography I like to refer to as "Pre-Pro," meaning that if one of these people continues their foray into photography far enough and develops their skills and eye for composition, they can certainly be successful in professional photography.
We Need Progress
During this time in my development, someone once asked me if I thought my photos were good due to skill or the camera phones' capability, to which I responded "I'd like to think it's a bit of both." However, since my first DSLR purchase I've begun to realize that, while I was technically correct in my previous assumption, my photos at the time were no where near the quality they could be.
Since that purchase, the quality of my imagery has increased greatly, but through continued research, education, experience, networking and discussion, I now see how investing 2-5 thousand dollars on an even higher quality camera can allow an even greater range of potential and professional possibility.
After all, the DSLR camera I've purchased thus far is an "entry level" Nikon D3300 - commonly referred to as a "Pro-Sumer" (professional-consumer) camera. This model has a great sensor, in regards to Megapixel count (24MP) but the "kit" lenses that generally come as a part of camera bundles with this and similar entry-level cameras "dumb down" the camera sensor, in this case to a measly 9MP.
This setup is capable of some fairly impressive images, in comparison to my smart phone, and able to shoot in RAW image format, which allows for greater editing potential. Still, knowing some of the amazing options out there, I feel an urge to invest in better lenses or "glass" which are capable of utilizing more of the sensors base capability.
A Long Way To Go
As I began to investigate the possibilities I involved myself in several conversations with locally respected photographers who prefer to use Canon cameras and quickly learned about the good lenses, referred to as "L" lenses, which bear a red ring around the lens, near the front opening.
Since the camera I have is a Nikon, as opposed to Canon, I began to research what comparable pro lenses might be available for people in my situation. Soon I discovered lenses bearing a similar ring, in a gold color on several Nikon lenses and through continued digging, unearthed the ambiguous "ED" designation, which means "Extra-low Dispersion glass - an optical glass developed for the correction of chromatic aberrations." (nikonusa.com)
Both of these indicate the high quality of the lens, though many Nikon users claim that Nikon lenses are SO good, from the bottom up, that the gold ring may not indicate anything. I tend to disagree.
I had a recent epiphany upon watching a comparative video on YouTube, by Tony Northrup, titled "Canon vs. Nikon: Why I want to switch to Nikon, but can't fully." This video outlines the differences between similar Nikon and Canon models, from MP to lenses to flash options - just the information I was looking for!
Tony is a professional photographer I respect who authored a digital book, which I purchased around the same time as the D3300, called "Stunning Digital Photography."
Decide For Yourself
What I discerned primarily from this video was that Nikon may not offer lenses in some specific ranges, quality levels and prices I might want, to produce photos comparable to those produced by Canon cameras and lenses (though I'll let you be the judge of that).
So, I've decided it may be in my best interest, as a budding professional photographer, to spend the multiple thousands required to purchase a Canon 5d Mark III (or other similarly leveled professional Canon camera). I suggest you do some additional research and determine what works best for your own photography needs.
To fully flesh out a professional photography setup, It's often recommended to invest in several other items, including a MacBook Pro (or similarly capable computer), a Wacom drawing tablet, for highly efficient editing and editing software, the most popular for photographers being Adobe Lightroom.
In the mean time, using my introductory equipment, software and experience, I've begun developing an entry-level portfolio (another important factor for beginning professional photographers), reaching out to friends, associates and other creative individuals to involve myself in photographing people, places, things, animals and events as much as feasible.
What's the Next Step?
Contact with me questions or comments about this article, or about getting involved in a photography session, podcast or other creative project - at the drawing board, in the writers room, behind the lens or in front of the microphone!