Headline :: I Switched To Canon. World Still Turns.

August 14, 2011 | • Gear & Gadgets Shop Talk

I made a “what’s in my bag” post in 2009 about my mixed kit of Nikon and Canon gear. I’ve recently sold my Nikon gear and have gone 100% Canon to the surprise of many including myself. I’ve fielded lots of questions on Twitter about it, many I have not gotten to, so I’m making this blog post to cover your questions and to take the time to talk about why I am doing all of this. In this post I’ll talk about my past kits, my current kit, why I made the switch, the gear on my wish list, and why none of this matters all that much. Be warned, this is fairly wordy. :)

The last time I had a complete kit with matching camera bodies was sometime back in 2007 when I was shooting with Nikon D200’s. Here’s a “what’s in my bag” timeline of my bodies and lenses for the last eight years.

• 2003 – Nikon D100 :: Nikon 35mm f2

• 2004 – Nikon D100 :: 35, added Sigma 20mm 1.8

• 2005 – Nikon D70, D100 :: 20, 35, added Nikon 85mm 1.8

• 2006 – Nikon D200, D70 :: 20, 35, 85, added Nikon 80-200 2.8 (I bought a used first AF version of this lens for about $400)

• 2007 – Nikon D200, D200 :: 20, 35, 85, 80-200, added Nikon 105 f2.0, Nikon 50mm 1.8 (got rid of the Sigma 20mm. Never loved that lens.)

• 2008 – Nikon D3, D200 :: 35, 50, 85, 105, added Nikon 24mm 2.8 (80-200 broke in late 2008. It was going to cost $420 to fix. Never fixed it.)

• 2009 – Nikon D3, Canon 5d Mk II :: all the Nikon lenses from 2008, Canon 24-70 2.8, 70-200 2.9 (non IS), Canon 15mm fisheye.

• 2010 – Added Canon 35mm f2, 90mm 2.8 T/S.

• 2011 – Sold all the Nikon gear, the Canon 15 fish, and finished the kit you see above.

In 2008 I upgraded one of my D200’s to the D3. In 2009 I caught the DSLR video bug and added a 5d MkII to my bag along with a 24-70 2.8 and a 70-200 2.8 (non IS).

So… Why the switch? Take a look at my bag in 2009…


It’s a mixed bag of glass and bodies. When I was on a job I would have to choose one or the other. My Nikon D3 was my baby. I used that camera more than anything else but when I got the Canon I started using it quite a bit to get to know it. I was still shooting weddings with Marc then and wedding days were the worst. Marc shot Nikon and I shot mostly Nikon except when I needed that 200 reach then I would shoot Canon because I had that glass. My best Nikon lenses were my 35mm f2 and my 105 f2. The 24 2.8 was pretty good but not the best. I preferred my 105 over my Nikon 85 so much that I barely used the 85 so it stayed in the studio most of the time.

For workshops I ended up using the Canon a lot because it was the only camera I had a zoom lens for and I found I could teach with a 24-70 2.8 for just about everything I need to do during a workshop. Being that workshops have been 50% of my work I ended up using that lens a good bit but I hated that lens. At 2.8 the edges and corners are soft and distorted at the wide range of the lens. My studio manager, Dan, had a 24-70 as well and we found it did the same thing. It wasn’t just my copy of it. I’ve talked to many Canon shooters who have found similar poor results with their 24-70. I imagine we’ll see a version II of this lens at some point. My personal opinion is it isn’t worth the money.

The next problem with having such a mixed bag was found in shooting when I needed two camera bodies on me on one job. Consistency is key for me and picking up one camera that works one way and immediately switching to another camera body that is completely different caused issues when shooting. The only time I had matching bodies was somewhere in 2007 when I had matching D200’s. That was a good year of gear for me. I would have gone to two D3 bodies but they were darn near $4,000 each and I could never fully justify that cost. Remember I’m a cash and carry photographer. Having $4,000 straight up in cash is pretty rare.

Speaking of consistency, mixing Nikon photographs and Canon photographs in post production is like mixing Fuji and Kodak films on a job. It can be done but it takes work. My Nikon has a “look” and so does the Canon. Back in the days of film you could have any camera body you wanted and choose film stocks at will based on which one you preferred or which film gave you a certain look for a certain application. These days the sensor in our digital cameras is the film base. You can do this and that in post production of course but natively each digital sensor has a unique character. I could do things in post with my D70 files that I could never replicate with any other Nikon sensor. I could keep skin tone neutral but push the cyan’s and blues to an interesting look. It did this “thing” that my other Nikons didn’t do. That’s just one example. The easiest thing to do is start a job with one camera and stick with that through the job.

Full disclosure :: I got my first 5d and the 24-70 and 70-200 at an amazing price. Something I can’t really blog about kind of a price. Suffice it to say a company believed in me and gave me a deal. It’s not sponsorship per se but a relationship. So that relationship afforded me to dive into Canon to get into video. That was a one time thing though. Everything else has been full retail or used.

This also was going down around the time I started a commercial job that has turned into a long term relationship. This client required a pretty high resolution natively. This job also requires tethered table top shooting. Nikon’s capture program was a piece of crap and Lightroom didn’t have tethering built in yet. The 21 MP Canon gave my client the file size they wanted compared to the D3 and Canon’s EOS utility software for tethering is far superior to Nikon’s Capture.

That job started with my one 5d. It began to grow in scope that I started bringing on more crew to help me and my 5d was living in the studio more than in my bag. That left me with the D3 and D200 back in the bag for a back up. Once you start shooting full frame you probably would be like me – going back to a cropped DSLR is not an option. Changing different bodies from hand to hand on a job is hard enough, throwing full frame vs. cropped field of view changes makes that switch even more frustrating. I had my D3’s mirror box and shutter rebuilt last year because it was getting near the end of it’s life and the D200 had similar high mileage on it but it wasn’t worth putting any more money into. I had one solid body to travel and shoot jobs outside of the studio with and my backups were questionable.

With the 5d staying home it was time to get another camera body for the road and my other jobs to back up my D3. Video is still on my radar and Canon still rules the roost for DSLR video. Nikon has a 20+ MP body but it’s $8,000. That’s a big bag of Canon gear for $8k. With all of the shooting I have done with the 5d I have fallen in love with the sensor. I hate the ergonomics. It has never felt at home in my hands. The AF is horrible compared to the Nikons. The D3 is a pro body. The 5d is prosumer. What to do? What to do? I’ve got two half assed rigs.

This year I’m simplifying, updating, and stream lining everything I do. My camera bag has been a hacked together bag of stuff for long enough and it was time to commit to one system or the other. I thought long and hard about this for months and decided all the Nikon gear had to go aside from my original D100 and 35mm f2 lens. I was going full on Canon and I was going to build the exact kit that I wanted to have. No more hodge podge of used gear deals. No more 100K shutter click bodies as puny back-ups. I’ve got new work coming in and a lot travel on my plate. I need a solid system that I can count on, that will do what I need and will stick with me for some time to come.

So I went with Canon. The first thing I had to retire from my current Canon kit is that stupid 24-70 2.8 L lens. I hate that thing. It weighs 400 pounds and at 2.8 it falls apart very quickly. At f 8 and up it’s great but I live in the 2.8 – 4 range a lot and that lens just doesn’t cut it. We are now shooting two sets for our commercial client so those two sets have dedicated 5d’s and my 24-70 went to live on one product set full time and I bought Dan’s 24-70 2.8 to put on the other set. My 90mm 2.8 tilt shift also lives on those sets. It’s great for perspective control and shifting focus planes. I know some of you are going to ask me to blog specifically about all of that. To be honest I have so much on my plate and a dozen other blog posts in my draft folder plus a studio move coming up in the next month so…. That one will be awhile from now. I’d rather blog about that when we get into the new space and have those rigs finalized. Marc would be the best to blog about that really because he’s engineered an awesome system for us. More on that later.

So here is my current kit again and why I have what I have.

I’ll start from the top left and move across the three rows.

Canon 85mm 1.8 – I know the Canon 85mm 1.2 is the rockstar lens but that damn thing is currently $2,050. I’ve rented the lens and worked with it a few times. It’s a beautiful piece of glass but it is heavy, slow, and honestly, I can’t see any justification to pay that much for that lens when the 1.8 is such an amazing performer at $400. I’ve shot these two side by side and the only way I would get the 1.2 is if someone just gave it to me. A lot of people say they need it for low light event work. If I was doing low light event work I wouldn’t have a Canon kit. I’d be Nikon only because the AF is superior to the 5d. That isn’t just my opinion. Through all the workshops I’ve done I have watched countless Nikon shooters pick up their camera and shoot while Canon 5d shooters string curse words together and start asking for flash lights to help focus. Justifying the expense of the 1.2 for a camera that already sucks when it comes to focusing just isn’t something I need to consider. The build quality of the 1.8 is nice. It’s solid, fast, quiet, well made, and sharp as a tack. Even at 1.8. Sometimes lenses are a bit soft at their widest aperture. I really love this lens.

Canon 24mm 1.4 II L – This one was worth the expense for me. Wide angles inherently have a much larger depth of field at any given aperture. Telephotos have a narrower depth of field at any given aperture. I spent a lot of time talking about that on my last creativeLIVE class. I love the 24mm field of view on a full frame sensor. 20mm is just a tad too wide for my taste in most applications and 28mm isn’t quite enough. The 24 is perfect in my opinion and how I shoot. For Canon 24 choices you have the 24-70 2.8 and I’ve already covered that I don’t like that lens. Then there is the 24mm 2.8 at $360 or the 1.4 at $1,670. I did a lot of research on this lens and put my hands on both the 2.8 and the 1.4. The 1.4 is far superior in build quality, it’s fast, and sharp at the edges. The 2.8 is quite nice but it feels cheap. The 1.4 has a great feel and it’s beautiful to look through and can soften the background a bit more at 1.4 or 2.0 more than 2.8. It makes more of a difference on the wide for me. Well worth the high price tag over the 2.8 equivalent.

Canon 135mm f2 L – My go to portrait lens on my Nikon was the 105mm f2. I shot that lens on every job. You could have welded it to a camera body and I’d be fine with that. It was also my longest lens after my 80-200 broke and I decided it wasn’t worth fixing. So when I was researching the replacement I naturally looked at the Canon 100mm f2. I had already decided on the 85 and I wanted a little more diversity in focal length since I was going to be using primes. I rented the 135 f2 and used it on creativeLIVE and fell in love with this lens. It has a great reach and is sharp at 2.0. It’s a gorgeous portrait lens.

Next up are the lights. Those are three Nikon SB-80dx flashes and one Canon 580ex II. The Nikons are there because they are awesome off camera lights and affordable. They used to be more affordable but with used prices on the rise these days they are still a good value. Just not the value they used to be. I have the 580 because I had to put my D3 in the shop last year and had two weddings to shoot for Marc back to back and had to shoot Canon only. I needed the AF assit beam and no one had an st-e2 in stock. Yes, I bought a $450 AF assist beam for the stupid 5d. When you have two weddings and your main camera is in the shop you take care of it. Add to that I teach a lot of flash courses and a lot of people have Canon flashes so it’s good that I own one so I can speak about it in classes. I call it the 580 II ex though because it is “too EXpensive”. They’re $500 now. That’s a stupid, stupid price for that flash. I should probably sell it and get a few more SB80’s but every now and then it is useful to have a run-n-gun TTL flash. That’s when I use it the most but I don’t take a lot of run-n-gun events these days.

Next to the lights is an Arctic Butterfly sensor brush and a regular nasal aspirator for blowing dust and crap off the sensors. The Arctic Butterfly is awesome. I love that brush. Highly recommended.

Back to the top of the bag are two ThinkTank cable management 20 bags. They hold various sync cords. I love those little bags. Underneath those bags is a Canon 35mm f2. This is a great performing lens. It performs like my Nikon 35mm f2 but it’s not built as well. It’s kind of cheap feeling but, again, it’s a solid performer. I use this lens quite a bit. I love the 35mm viewpoint. This lens will be the first I replace though. I will eventually replace this with the Canon 35mm f1.4 L. That is a hot lens. From image quality to build quality I feel it is worth the price. It’s $1,500 so that one goes on the wish list for now.

Also under the ThinkTank bags is a Canon OC-E3 off camera TTL cord. It doesn’t see a lot of use but it is good to have when I need to run-n-gun something and I don’t want my flash on camera and would rather hand hold the flash. Also shoved in that compartment is a small Sekonic L-308s handheld meter. You don’t have to have a meter as a digital photographer but they sure are handy to have. It should always be on your wish list. I also have an older Sekonic L558 meter with a built in Pocket Wizard transmitter. It’s larger than the 308 and doesn’t fit in this kit that well. It lives in my smaller Think Tank Airport International bag that holds my film gear. The 308 is a fantastic small meter that is pocket sized and can handle reflective, incident, and flash readings.

Next up is a lightsphere that I’ve painted black to be a studio grid reflector for my hotshoe flashes. I talk about that in this post. There are also 2 Honl Photo speed grids. The 1/4 and the 1/8th. The Honl grids are awesome little grids that I just slap on hotshoe flashes with velcro. I don’t leave home without them.

A small army of Pocket Wizards are next. I carry six Plus II transceivers and I just recently broke down and bought a Mini TTL. The next face lift I’m going through is with my lighting kit. I’m going with lights that Pocket Wizard has a new system for that will allow me to control them from camera. I’ll go into my lighting kit when it is done in a few months. I’ve been researching that for years. I prefer the Plus II’s because they run on AA batteries instead of the button cell the Mini uses. AA’s can be found at any gas station on the planet. That button cell? Not as easy to locate in every situation. I also like the Plus II’s have four channels on them. The mini only has two. You can program them to any of 32 but out in the field if you start having interference issues and you need to cycle through channels you’ll have to have a Plus II and do the “learn” mode thing on the mini or plug it into a laptop and reprogram the channels. Kind of a pain in the ass. But I love how small the Mini is when it’s on camera.

Next to the Pocket Wizard farm is an Eagle Creek small Protech cube to hold AA batteries and accessories. I love these cubes. I have four of the small ones and two of the large ones. I use the large ones to carry all of my chargers and extra cables in my checked luggage when I travel. They are rugged semi hard sided cases. Inside the cube I have four Dot Line AA battery cases. Best AA battery cases I’ve ever used. Underneath the cube is a Canon 70-200 2.8 L non IS lens. I did not go with the IS lens because I rarely need that feature and it saved me a good chunk of change by just sticking with the classic L version. If I’m shooting at 200 at slow shutter speeds I’m going to use flash 9 out of 10 of those times. It’s a great lens. If I was a full time wedding shooter I might reconsider and go with a VR lens. Yes, I said that correctly. VR is Nikon’s name badge. Because if I was a full time wedding shooter I’d be Nikon. Have I said that enough? :)

Down below all of that are two 5d’s with BG-E6 grips. I just can’t use a camera any more without a grip. I was going to only grip one of these bodies but that sort of goes against the whole “two matching bodies” thing that I want again. I want each camera to have the exact same feel so they get outfitted alike. Same grip. Same straps. Etc. I’ll probably add a Black Rapid DR2 to the bag.

In the flaps of the bag are various small items. Nothing much different than in my 2009 post other than the fact that I have up to date business cards in my bag now.

So. That’s my bag. That’s why I went Canon. Why all the primes? Because they are better than zooms. Especially when we are talking about Canon. I almost bought the 16-35 2.8. I know that’s a good lens. Many say it outperforms the 24-70 quite a bit. But the 24 1.4 was far more attractive to me than the 16-35. The 16-35 would have been more versatile for day to day shooting but I don’t want to be a day to day photographer. I want to see what is in front of me and pick the best lens for that. Primes are also faster in the aperture department than zooms. They’re usually sharper. They’re usually less expensive than zooms. Usually. When you get into the 1.2 and 1.4 primes of course they are on the same price levels that fast zooms are.

If you are new to the craft one of the lessons I want you to take away from this is to see how disposable camera bodies are. Look at what stays with me through the years… the glass. Lenses are your best investment in your kit. They are the number one thing you have to really be clear about when purchasing. That’s why I only buy Canon or Nikon glass as well. I’ve owned Tamrons, Tokinas, and Sigmas. I’ve regretted each and every one of them. I bought Tokinas and Tamrons when I was in school and for the first few years after graduating. They fell apart, they would rattle, they weren’t all that sharp. Sure they are less money but a good lens can last your career. The last 3rd party lens I bought was the Sigma 20mm 1.8. That lens held me through until I could buy a Nikon but I got rid of that lens as soon as I could replace it with something in the Nikon line up. It sucked. I know many of you will provide links to glowing reviews of these 3rd party lenses and I’m just saying don’t bother. I’ll never own another again. I know they have some nice lenses but for the long haul, stick with original glass.

Another interesting thing to note here is that I bought each and every Nikon lens I owned in the last eight years on the used market. Being that used prices have seen a dramatic increase in prices these days I actually made money when I sold my Nikon glass. I brought in about $300 extra so far and I still have one more lens to sell. My beloved 105 f2. I kind of might want to keep it. I’m having a hard time letting go of that one even though my D3 is off to a new owner.

My wish list :: The 35mm 1.4 as discussed earlier. I really want the Canon 14mm 2.8. If I’m going to spend more than $2k on a lens it would be the 14mm. That is a gorgeous wide lens with great reviews. I’ve never touched it but I’ve seen plenty of images and video from it. I need to rent it at some point to see for myself but I’d love to have that wide of a lens that isn’t a fish eye.

Notice I sold my Canon fish. I bought it used at a good price but never used it. It’s too much of a cliché lens and I found myself avoiding it more than using it. If you aren’t using it and it isn’t a “CYA* in an emergency” kind of piece of gear, then sell it. Move it out of your bag and fill your bag with essentials that will always be used.

The next thing on my Canon wish list is a good ol’ 50mm. I thought I would live without one for awhile since my old Nikon 1.8 didn’t get a lot of use but on two jobs this week I was needing the 50mm. Of course right? As soon as you don’t have it you want it. I’ll most likely go with the Canon 1.4. The 1.8 is too cheap of a build for something I want with me for a long time and the 1.2 is not justifiable for me. The 1.4 is a nice lens. If you are starting out, the 1.8 is a must have lens. Must. Have. A kit lens and a nifty fifty will get you a long way.

The last thing I want to add to this kit are a few Canon extension tubes for shortening the focusing distance of my 85 and the 135. I’d like to get the 12 and the 25 if I can find them in stock.

Oh, rentals? I personally use Aperturent. They have an amazing selection, they are super easy to work with, they don’t require a blood sample and your first born as a deposit, and score for me… they are based in Atlanta so I can just go pick up and drop off with them. They ship nationally as well. Check ’em out.

Some folks on twitter have asked if I have GAS lately. The thing I preach against. Gear. Acquisition. Syndrome. Nope. I’m not doing all of this because I just want new “toys”. I need to do this for the work I currently have on the books and the new work that is starting to pick up from the recent promo pushes. My Nikon gear and my Canon gear were never complete. My Canon stuff was getting allocated to full time product work in the studio. My own bag was diminishing and I was blowing dust off old cameras to act as back ups. Most importantly, I’ve built my camera bag without the use of a single credit card. Piece by piece.

At the end of the day… it’s just gear. Plastic, metal, and glass. Basic tools of the trade. Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax, Whatever. I can name you a list of amazing Nikon shooters and amazing Canon shooters. We could pixel peep and shoot resolution charts until our eyes bleed. Stuff in my bag may not be right for you and stuff in your bag might not be right for me. What is in my bag is hand picked, highly researched, tried out first, and bought after bills have been paid and I still have the cash to do so.

I hope this has been useful in answering some of the questions that having been coming through the social media channels. I was such a Nikon fan boy a lot of you do seem so surprised that I switched. I am too honestly. I’ve had a few moments wondering if I made the right decision. I need this kit locked down and set and ready to last for awhile. I’m still pursuing digital medium format. That’s still in my future. I’m still researching that front. It is going to be some time until this starts to show up in a bag in my studio though and in the mean time, I have work to do.

Oh, that brings me to another point. A number of people on twitter pointed out to me that Nikon was about to release this or that. Canon was also getting ready to do this or that. Rumor site of the day said that maybe by X time we’d see the next whatev camera. I can’t wait for the next thing right now. There is always a next thing. The thing you are holding now used to be the next thing you were waiting on. The only thing I’m really excited to wait for is the Fuji x200. No idea if they are making it but I sure hope so. Can they make the world’s greatest digital camera even better? I sure hope so!

Can we end this blog post with a big round of applause to the fine folks at ThinkTank Photo? My Airport Security bag pictured above is five years old now. Look at it in 2009 and again in 2011. It’s on its third set of wheels but there’s not a single tear in the fabric or kink in the zippers. It’s the greatest camera bag I’ve ever owned. When I do a post on my new lighting kit I’ll be showing you their Logistics Manager bag. That thing is amazing.

Gear, gear, gear…. Go shoot!



*When Meg read through this she didn’t know what “CYA” meant. It means “Cover Your Ass” in case you didn’t know either.” :)


  • Chris Rowe said on August 14, 2011

    Fantastically informative and pragmatic post Zack (as per usual – wouldn’t have expected anything else!)

    Couldn’t agree more about the 24-70 2.8L – loved it on my 50D but it’s nowhere near as good on my 5DMkII – very distorted at the edges at 24mm which you don’t get on the crop body. It was my “welded to the body” lens before but now there needs to be a damn good reason for the 70-200 2.8L (non-IS) to come off. And the ThinkTank International Security 2.0 bag I bought recently is superb! Scared to put my Pocket Wizard Plus II in it like yours though in case the aerials (which seem to be made out of jelly) break – have you ever had an issue with them stored like you do?

    Chris Rowe, UK

  • Zack said on August 14, 2011

    @Chris – Never had an aerial break with them packed like this. I have one that is bent but that was not because how it was packed.


  • Scot Baston said on August 14, 2011

    Really well put Zack, I don’t care for the Nikon/Canon fan clubs.. and you’ve made the case well for the change.

    I shoot Canon, I love some of my gear, hate others… Guess that’s the way it will always be

    Keep Shooting!


  • Kai said on August 14, 2011

    Totally agree with you,Zack new gear always come in and out and it just a tool.Cheers and happy shooting……..

  • Thomas said on August 14, 2011

    Nice article Zack!
    Just a little thing.. I can understand that you prefer canon prime lenses, but If you want a very good (and affordable) 50mm.. go with the sigma 1.4!! Much much better than the canon version!

  • Chris said on August 14, 2011

    Interesting that you’ve kept your D100. Is that a sentimental thing??? I still love my D100 despite having more modern bodies.

  • Zack said on August 14, 2011

    @Chris – Yes, I’m keeping the D100 for sentimental reasons only.

  • David said on August 14, 2011

    Old joke: “If I ever die, please don’t let my wife sell all my gear for the money I told her it costs!”

  • Brian Hirschy said on August 14, 2011

    Great post Zack – I’ve been wanting to do an entire switch from Nikon to Canon for a while now, but I just can’t afford it and living overseas the price of switching out gear is inflated by import taxes. Oh well, glad the switch is going smoothly for you.

    One comment – Im not sure I’d ever have bought a new camera had I been waiting for the newest, latest, and greatest to be released. I bought a new Nikon body about a year ago right when all the rumor sites were saying there was an immenant release of it’s replacement… here I am a year later and the camera still doesn’t have a replacement.

    If you want for a the newest replacement body, it could be years – I think people forget that availablility can be low for over a year after the body is released. Add that all up and I could have been waiting 2.5 years for what something.

    Just a tool…


  • Zack said on August 14, 2011

    @Brian – Great point on the waiting. Just because it is released in say, March, doesn’t mean you can actually get your hands on one unless you pre-ordered months in advance. Then you have to deal with quirky v. 10 firmware etc, etc. It can be months until a new body is worth it. And sometimes the new bodies suck. Like EOS MkIII or whatever it was that everyone complained about.


  • Amanda Chapman said on August 14, 2011

    I am so happy you shared a review on the Canon 85mm 1.8 vs. the 1.2 lens! I was considering saving up for the 1.2 but I trust your judgment so I’m going for the 1.8 instead. Right now my go-to lens is the 50mm 1.4 I definitely recommend it. Thanks!

  • Zack said on August 14, 2011

    @Amanda – I suggest renting the two of them and doing a side by side before just listening to one person!


  • Ahmad from Abu Dhabi said on August 14, 2011

    Well, in my case, i cannot afford more canon lenses for my 60D. so i use my nikon lens on Canon body.
    Thanks Zack for the great post…

  • David said on August 14, 2011

    I totally agree with you the 85mm. No need to buy the 1.2 (unless you’re rich !) as the 1.8 is a great piece of glass for the value. I’m in love with my 35mm f1.4 and I’m pretty sure that you’ll be fully satisfied with that one. Next on my list will be the 24mm f1.4 (I’m a little bit jealous ahah). Keep the good work !

  • David said on August 14, 2011

    “I totally agree with you ABOUT the 85mm” of course :-)

  • René Weiss said on August 14, 2011

    have you taken a look at the samyang (bower/rokinon/…) 14mm 2.8?
    Yes, it has no autofocus and some other problems (ptlens or a similiar tool is highly recommend), but it’s a really nice lens for 1/5 of the price of the canon.

  • DOBM said on August 14, 2011

    Hi Zack,

    A very enjoyable and informative post. I love my Canon 16-35 L and have produced some astonishingly remarkable results from a recent trip to Brussels and it has already become one of my favourite lenses ever, along with the Canon 17mm L Tilt & Shift. Canon’s new 8-15mm L fisheye is excellent and is one of those lenses that I will push myself to use. I’m sure you’ve done the right thing by not keeping two DSLR systems going, I tried a Nikon D7000 which I loved, fabulously fast, wonderful white balance, great focussing compared with Canon 5D MkII, but simply couldn’t justify two different lens kits and have sold it.

    The real surprise has been Canon’s WFT E4 II wireless file transmitter, when partnered with the Shutter Snitch App on an iPad. It’s a cracking way of seeing what you’ve got full screen, portable and untethered, rather than squinting at the camera’s rear LCD. Fabulous in workshops too !!

    The one BIG surprise is Canon’s WFT E4 II used alongside an Apple iPad. It’s a brilliantly easy way of seeing what you’ve got full screen than peering at the LCD on the back of the camera.

  • Kevin Stace said on August 14, 2011

    Well written!! Thank you for taking the time to not only post!!!

  • Lou Wheeler said on August 14, 2011

    This is one awesome article, Zack, thanks for the insight into your choices!

    I hear you on the Canon 24-70. For what I do a lot of the time (live concert photography) it’s a great lens, AF isn’t too bad, and it’s fast enough. But you’re completely right on the sharpness. At the center above f/2.8 was passable, but the rest. ..

    That said, have you looked at the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8? It’s WAAAAY cheap compared to the Canon… My copy, I ordered from a dude on CL. 40 minutes later, I went and picked it up. So far, it outperforms the canon 24-70. But try this lens out at least. It’s worth a shot!

  • Borna said on August 14, 2011

    One instance in which I’d recommend using third-party lenses are crop wides. Let’s say you’re shooting canon crop. Your wide-normal zoom choices are 16-35 2.8 which is just plain stupid on a crop, 17-40 which is 4.0 and big, ef-s 17-55 2.8 which costs way more than tamron/sigma and is still plastic and still ef-s and 24-70/105 which is not that wide.

    I got myself a tamron 17-50 which is crazy sharp, 2.8, 28-80 equivalent and it set me back $500 retail. will it fall apart in a couple years? probably, but I won’t be using it by then anyway…

  • Martin said on August 14, 2011

    Thanks for the detailed overview of your current bag-of-tricks.

    I have to agree with your comments on the Canon 24-70 – I have one, and although I use it a lot, it’s not because I love it – it’s because it covers the focal range I need, and because it’s a reliable lens, but not a fantastic performer.

  • Charles Silverman said on August 14, 2011

    Zack… great post. Love that you continually share your internal dialogue. It truly sets you apart.

    Two things to add…

    I have also noticed that that primes are sharper… however… I had my 24-70mm serviced by Canon… and I have to say that it I was impressed with how it kept up. Shortly after, I had a job that I (felt I) had to rent a 35mm L, 50mm L, and an 85mm L… but ended up shooting my 24-70mm due to serious time constraints… and I have to say in the end… I think it held up.

    So that brings me to my second point…

    CPS (Canon Professional Service)
    Can’t say enough good things about those folks. I’ve had to send in my 5DMKII a few times due to jerking the tether and messing up the USB jack… as well as having a few lenses serviced. I’m always astounded by how quickly the gear returns.. about 36 hours in some cases.

    Thanks again Zack… and BTW – LOVE the new branding.. it suits you to a T. Bold and Authentic.

  • Omar said on August 14, 2011

    Great post Zack! I am guiltily a gear head and can’t get enough. I too shoot only primes and Canon and love it. I just bought my full frame last week, the 5DII. I debated waiting for the next version since the autofocus is bootie. Great that you confirmed 3 points:
    1. Live in the now. Rumors are false teases.
    2. Gear has great resale for upgrades.
    3. Once you go full frame brother, dare ain’t no goin back.

    85mm 1.8 is my “weld it” lens. :)

  • Fazal Majid said on August 14, 2011

    I think what you are seeing with in the corners with the 24-70mm at 24mm is the result of curvature of field, not unsharpness in the lens per se. I had the 50mm f/1.4 and upgraded to the f/1.2L, frankly the minimal improvement does not justify the price difference (unlike the 35mm f/2 vs f/1.4L).

  • Daniel Dragon Films said on August 14, 2011

    Very informative post, thanks!

    One note: I have a Canon 5DmkII and I’ve been, on the whole, impressed greatly with the 5D, but unimpressed with Canon’s glass.

    I have recently purchased a Fotodiox EOS / Nikon adapter and a 20mm prime Nikon.

    I’m hoping this gives me the edge-to-edge sharpness that the Canon lenses Don’t.

    I own the Canon 16-35mm II-L. It may be Canon’s best zoom lens (24-105 isn’t bad, also), but I felt it was a bit overpriced at $1200+. Plus, it takes the most expensive size filters, 85mm, which effectively adds hundreds to the cost of using it.

    The Nikon 20mm AF lens, while not zoom, already appears to be sharper.

    Something I can’t find, at any price? I’m looking for a lens for astrophotography.

    Ideally, I’d like something in a Nikon or Canon mount, that will cover a full-frame sensor, around 18-20mm, that will shoot wide open f/1.8.

    I’m actually looking into Leica Summilux-M lenses, now, for this purpose.

    If anybody has any advice on how to find a better / cheaper lens, or information on mounting Leica M-series onto a Canon EOS.. please respond, or visit my website and contact me directly.



  • Zack said on August 14, 2011

    @Daniel – The Nikon 14 – 24 2.8 is probably the finest wide angle zoom on the planet. You might want to try that.


  • Kategraphy said on August 14, 2011

    Hey Zack!

    I’ve been a Canon girl from the beginning and have both the 50 1.8 and the 50 1.4. The 50 1.8 is cheap in built but worth a million when it comed to image quality!
    The 50 1.4 is a really nice lens and I love it, but I loved my 50 1.8 (until i was broken after 3 years of using it really much!).
    Actually, I am not sure if the 50 1.4 is better in image quality than the 1.8! But as the 1.4 is definitely higher in quality!

    If you can afford easily, go for the 1.4, if not buy a 1.8 and you wont be unhappy neither 😀 But it looks really funny when put onto the 5DmkII 😀 It’s just too small 😀

    Love, Kate

  • Stephan Bollinger said on August 14, 2011

    But Zack, you should have waited, the new upcoming Nikon has 200 gazillion pixels and makes coffee on set!

  • Bob K said on August 14, 2011

    Awesome post. Love your approach.

    BTW, you’ll find the 5D-II focuses much better with primes. I switched recently for shooting bands in dark clubs… ISO3200-f2.2-1/80 is my ambient exposure. Use center point focusing, compose and shoot, I really don’t have many problems; I use the 28-1.8/50-1.4/85-1.8. Less than the cost of one “L” zoom, BTW. I’ve cursed the 5D focusing many times, but fast glass really makes a difference.

  • Jeff Flindt said on August 14, 2011

    I look forward to reading your blogs!! I like how your personality comes out in your writing. I think Canon should send you what you want. Canon, can you do that already. Sponsor Zack.

  • Zack said on August 14, 2011

    @Jeff – If Canon was going to sponsor me I’d have to stop saying how stupid the costs of their flashes are and how bad the 5d AF sucks. :) I like to think that instead of Canon sponsoring me… I sponsor them. They need to put a banner on their site! :)


  • Harold said on August 14, 2011

    Regarding the camera gear; I get it. In the music world you would be called a musician’s musician. Perhaps in this space a photographer’s photographer. Really enjoy the long detailed posts that actually inform; which is refreshing. The first tip I ever got from a pro photographer back in 1980 was have the right tool for the job. Which may have nothing to do with the latest whizz bang review or specs. If you need a 50 and don’t have a 50… Always look forward to your posts wherever they show up. Thanks!

  • Gerald McGrath said on August 14, 2011

    Watch out for that 50 1.4. On a full frame, it’s really soft around the edges up to about 4-5.6, at least in the one that I have. Thanks for the great and very informative post!

  • Rick said on August 14, 2011

    Wow Zack, you’ve got some really nice cameras. You must take some nice pictures! /snark

    More than anything, I love seeing the progression in your kit. Its easy to have gear lust and to think “ooh, if only I had that f/0.9 I would be a true ArTiste!” What you’ve demonstrated is that sucksessful shooters can (and frequently do) start humbly.

  • Danny Bailey said on August 14, 2011

    Hey Z

    How about mentioning some of the accessories you might have that are not necessarily found in a camera shop ? You must have some stuff packed in that bag that was bought at a dollar store ?

  • Jennifer said on August 14, 2011

    I am a photojournalist who shoots Canon (always have). My favorite lens is the 70-200mm f/2.8L and I also use the 24-70mm f/2.8. I recently bought the 50mm f/1.4. The biggest issue I have with my Canon is the focusing. So darn frustrating. I am shooting my second concert this week and am very nervous. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on gear.

  • Michael Montalto said on August 14, 2011

    Very informative post Zack. I’m curious about your use of the 85mm & the 135mm. Both are considered portrait lenses and while I understand that the compression of the 135mm is going to be larger than the 85mm, what is the advantage to using both of them? I have the 85mm 1.4 and think it’s the best overall “value” lens available in the Canon lineup. That being said however, I’ve never shot the 135mm and was curious as to WHY you prefer it so much over the 85mm (yet you still use both). -mM

  • Zack said on August 14, 2011

    @Michael – I switch between the 85 and 135 for compression, shallower DOF on the 135, and extra reach when I need it. Both are great “portrait lenses”. If I had to choose one it would be somewhere between the 85 and 100mm range.


  • Nasir Hamid said on August 14, 2011

    I have a strong case of GAS :-) I know it, I own up to it, and I love it. My GAS is for film cameras. So many different formats, each one has it’s own flavour. I don’t make a living from my photography but I think you’d be hard pressed to find another photographer that is more addicted to making images just for the pure enjoyment of photography.

    Is it still GAS if you use all of your gear, or is it just GAS if you’re collecting it for the shear fact of bragging? Is there good GAS and bad GAS? Whatever, my GAS isn’t smelly :-)

    I’ll get back to scanning my Polaroids…

  • Mike said on August 14, 2011

    Used primes are the best gear investment you can make. If you take care of them, you’ll never take a hit when it’s time to sell.

    Hell, my 28mm f/1.8 and 100mm macro have both gone up at least 20% in value since I bought them – that’s a much better return than most investments, and they’re making me money in the meantime!

  • Mikkel Bo Rasmussen said on August 14, 2011

    Good luck with the move to Canon. It always amazed me how you were able to use both Nikon and Canon without loosing your mind :-) I did notice in your creativeLIVE appearances you used mostly Canon, so the switch came as no surprise.

    People are moving from Canon to Nikon and from Nikon to Canon, but in the end as you say, it is a matter of which tools one prefers to use. You have proven to us many times that with either Canon or Nikon you can make some fantastic pictures.

    Thanks for the nice writeup.

    P.S. Love my ThinkTank bags as well. Simply amazing stuff!

  • Adrian said on August 14, 2011

    Hey Zack!

    I’m interested if you ever considered going back to medium format film for certain work? A lot of people are doing hybrid work, using the medium which fits the best for the job. Would love to hear from you.

    Cheers, Adrian

  • Zack said on August 14, 2011

    @Adrian – I have started shooting MF film again. I have a Hasselblad kit. Right now I am using it mostly for personal work. Most of my jobs have tight deadlines and waiting a week or more for development and scans along with the added costs keeps me from shooting a lot of film on jobs right now.


  • Ivan Boden said on August 14, 2011

    This is an excellent post on how to make great, practical decisions on gear. I completely agree with everything you said. I’ve been a Canon shooter, and built my kit one piece at time as well!

    Good luck with the gear and your new studio! Great decisions were made here.

    Cheers, Ivan

  • Bob K said on August 14, 2011

    What I learned is that once you get a lot of stuff… it’s a lot of work to set it up, keep it working, decide which to use, keep all the batteries charged, etc. If you don’t have an assistant, there’s a point where having too much stuff becomes counterproductive. Do I want to spend my time playing with cameras (which I do enjoy), or do I want to spend my time taking photographs?

    Nothing gets me more frazzled during a studio shoot than to have a subject sit there watching me wrestle with gear.

  • Zack said on August 14, 2011

    @Bob – I agree. That’s one reason I wanted a streamlined one camera system. Another thing that bugs me to no end is having too many things in too many bags. That’s the next thing I’m tackling.


  • André Weigel said on August 14, 2011

    Pretty nice article !
    The brand of the photo equipment doesn’t matter… the right equipment for the job, is the slogan !

  • Peter Tsai said on August 14, 2011

    Interesting read Zack, I agree with most things you’ve discussed and I’m mixed mode shooter too, D700 + 5D2 and 7 crop body Nikons. I love the 5D2 sensor like you, but its a Ferrari engine in a Ford Fiesta. So many simple things drive me bonkers with Canon. Keep an optical peanut that is PW compatible handy in case you ever want to do OCF rear sync. 580 on-camera to optical trigger to pocketwizard….

    Also as a 5D2 owner I’d highly recommend do a little DIY sealing of the coin battery area on your bodies. either put a tape seal around it or a little silicone. I say this having bought and repaired two 5D2’s from water damage. The camera is sooo not water sealed (my D300 was way better) and to make matters worse they put a coin battery slot into a bottom corner where your battery grip will pool the water if it raining. water drips down body and around the corner to pool up between the grip and body. If you ever do run into the body acting wonky feel free to hit me up with questions.

  • Zack said on August 14, 2011

    @Peter – Thanks for that tip!

  • Jörgen Floor said on August 14, 2011

    It may be a “fairly wordy” post, but it’s a great read! Great information and stuff to think about.

  • Frank Grygier said on August 14, 2011

    Thanks Zack for the informative post. I am planning for a trip to Missoula in a couple of weeks and just seeing how you pack your bags was a big help. I have been looking for the best travel bag and the Think Tank looks like the winner. Looking forward to your next post.

  • Zack said on August 14, 2011

    @Frank – Heading to the Rocky Mountain School of Photography? I’ll be up there in a few weeks myself!


  • Carl Spring said on August 14, 2011

    Good stuff as always sir. I always love the idea of primes but my live music shooting really demands zooms. I do keep toying between the 85 and 135 for portraits though.

  • Philippe Wiget said on August 14, 2011

    A great gearhead post, thanks! And interestingly it very clearly states all the arguments why I’m actually considering to trade my 5DII cameras in and go for a Nikon kit. I’m a wedding photographer. But then again, we’re just right before a product cycle and announcements and that switch would be so dam expensive. On the hold…

  • jrdrake said on August 14, 2011

    One more to the Canon side… Next: Joe McNally… jajaja

    Use anything you want Zack… you’re always great.

  • Frank Grygier said on August 14, 2011

    I guess I’ll be seeing you there! I am coming up from Austin. It will be Awesome!

  • Junmo Lee said on August 14, 2011

    Good stuff, Zack. Should have saw this blog coming after all the tweets. As I tweeted, I did get the 85 1.2, but under 2K. Refurb from Canon. I rented it earlier this year and was really happy with the results. Rented the 1.8 and for me it just wasn’t the same. If I was going to use a 85mm for sports I would definitely go for the 1.8, though. Different strokes for different folks.

    Finally came across Canon’s focusing issue on my 5dmkII yesterday. Trying to shoot a model with the setting sun in the background and didn’t have enough contrast on the face to focus. Using my 70-200 2.8L IS and it kept hunting. Should have thought of putting my 580EXII for AF assist. Doh! Good tip.

  • Sara K Byrne said on August 14, 2011

    I totally agree with every point you made on kit, except for one. The 50mm 1.4 from Sigma is SIGNIFICANTLY better than the Canon, IQ, build, and most important.. AF. Please give off brand lenses one more shot :)

  • Universal Creations said on August 14, 2011

    I totally agree about the 24-70L. I had it for 1 year and I liked the versatility and the build quality, but it weighted too much and I didn’t like the performance. My Sigma 20/1.8 (the one you didn’t like) outperformed and, and so did my other primes (and were faster and lighter). In the end I could sell it at a nice price (thank you Canon for raising those prices) and bought my dream lens: Zeiss Makro Planar 100mm f/2. I had to have a nice portret lens and wanted to do some close-up work.

    Back to you, I admire your courage to totally switch your gear, even if it was from Canon to Nikon.

  • Boundless Photos said on August 14, 2011

    Great post Zack, really informative and insightful.

    Completely agree with your philosophy of buying what’s available now and not waiting for stuff that’s “coming soon” I waited for UK radio poppers to be available for 6 months and finally gave up to buy PW TT1 and TT5’s, 12 months later I had used my PW’s tons and the RP’s still weren’t available!

  • oli said on August 14, 2011

    LOL! I just moved from Pentax to Nikon! I sold my Pentax as I got upset about the non existing roadmap & strategy at Pentax. Now I’m a owner of a Nikon D7000. It was a horror to sell the old stuff and to get all my loved lenses by Nikon/Tamron…
    But at the end – I’m very happy!
    cheers, oli

  • Anders said on August 14, 2011

    I really like the way you think about gear! I couldn’t agree more. They are tools – like a hammer to a carpenter. If you need a camera – research/try it and get it now. With the money you have put aside for it. There will always be a better model soon to be released.


  • Rob said on August 14, 2011

    Great pragmatic post…

    Yeah the Canon focus thing (a real shame)…. I did find another work around in a pinch that MIGHT help someone as it’s the cheapest short of flashlights…… I had an old 430EZ (zed not ex) from film days… The thing is a PITA for off camera work as you cannot stop the auto shutoff, so it’s off the David “I made ebay flashes like buying cars” Strobist list so they are still dirt cheap (I had one and just tried it out of desperation one shoot)…. You stuff it in Attl mode which so cannot work in digital (it needs film to reflect) so the flash never fires BUT the focus assist light still works great (and it’s wide cause all film was full frame).

  • Christian Bjoraa said on August 14, 2011

    Nice piece of kit. My kit is almost like yours… I have a Canon EOS 5D mark II, Canon 50mm 1.4, Canon 85mm 1.8, Canon 135mm 2.0. Had a Canon 35mm 2.0 but wasn’t using it much after i got my Fuji X100. But are saving for a Canon 24mm 1.4 and a Canon 200mm 2.8 :)

  • Chris Belyea said on August 14, 2011

    An honest, informative and non emotional evaluation of two great camera sysytems … man, what were you thinking 😉

    Guess it just proves once again that it’s the image at the other end that counts :-)

  • David O'Shea said on August 14, 2011

    Zack… Great post, Can’t wait for the next one. Headline :: I Switched To Windows. World Still Turns. 😉 …… Ctrl+Alt+Del

    I have the 50 1.4 and the 85 1.8. Maybe it’s just my copy but the 50mm is soft @ 1.4, nothing like the 85mm which is incredibly sharp @ 1.8. Defeats the purpose of being so wide if it can’t cut it..


  • Zack said on August 15, 2011

    @David – If I ever switch to Windows please shoot me. :)


  • Knoor said on August 14, 2011

    Actually i disagree with you in some points not all, canon is a colorful machine, but i think this is normal from a photographer was using Nikon, especially if he was using D3.
    D3 is a special well designed camera and gives the feeling of power in the hand, I think you will like Canon 5DM3 when it release, and i think you will like canon colors and sensors.
    I recommend you to try 7D (just borrow it.), it is a crop frame APS-C but the AF part is powerful, i think next 5DM3 will move on the same road map at that time you will feel that you made the right decision.

    Regarding the lens 24-70 i agree that it is distorted at the edges

  • Kenneth Rodriguez said on August 14, 2011

    I know what you mean about the “not feeling right” in your hands. That is why I only use Canon bodies, Nikon doesn’t feel right in my hands. I am glad that you explained that it is not something out of “corporate sponsorship” but more of a “I have lots of different stuff so I went with what works best for me right now”. I have always used Canon and can’t even think about changing brands, not for the “I am a Canon shooter” but of the money involved in the change. I also agree on the flash heads, that you decided to keep the Nikon ones. If you do OCF why use nothing but the best you have, and changing those for 580’s would have been a downgrade. Great post, as always.

  • James said on August 14, 2011

    Zack thanks for the switch I was looking for a used Nikon 85mm 1.8 and picked up yours on ebay for $305….Couldn’t beat the price. My next will be either the 105 or 135mm f2. If you decide to sell yours let me know 😉

  • J. said on August 14, 2011

    Zack – Thanks for the article and always being pragmatic about gear!

    I upgraded to the pocket wizard mini late last year and also had to look around for the stupid batteries! I found that Walgreens carries them. They’re pretty much everywhere so it takes some of the frustrations out of using the mini.

  • Daniel Dunn said on August 15, 2011

    Zack, thanks for the great post. Super informative and insightful. I love how much you stress that you paid for stuff with cash, after you paid your bills. I know you have a family, and certain things come before gear gluttony. I respect you a lot for that.
    Killer info, keep it coming man, I think I have a Zack Arias bro crush. Probably because you’re doing killer work, in your way. Thanks!

  • Todd davidson said on August 15, 2011

    Thanks for taking so much time to write an intelligent blog. Great to hear your thought process, and to confirm many of my own frustrations after my Nikon to Canon switch.

  • Thomas Tomchak said on August 15, 2011

    I just spent the last half hour emptying my bank account to purchase some of the nice things you pointed out (mostly the inexpensive stuff, but one of the lenses too).



    Getting recommendations like yours is worth it’s weight in gold. Your wealth of experience far exceeds mine since I just do it as a hobby.

    Thanks for all the details!

  • Arthur Argote said on August 15, 2011

    Hey Zach,

    I was introduced to you via your TWIT tv interview a few weeks back. Great Gear walk thru… I appreciate you sharing your decisions. I think you will like the f1.4 50mm canon over the f1.2. Its MUCH lighter and more discrete. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t throw an f1.2 50mm or 85mm out of my bag anytime! But for the expense, their respective F1.4 and F1.8 non L equivalents are very good lenses. Especially if you shoot them wide where sharpness becomes a bit subjective.

    I agree with what you said about the canon 24mm f1.4 L. I got it as a replacement for my 28mm f1.8 non L. I shoot at night in bars wide open, and the flaring, especially from point light sources, was terrible. The f1.4 L handles those conditions so well i feel guilty not having to work much at all on the images in post.

    I’m curious of what you felt of the canon 100mm f2.8L macro? Admittedly one could say that its a bit redundant with an f135 L in the bag. However I found its ability to do macro, IS and do portraiture to make it a versatile lens.

    THanks again for sharing!

  • clyde said on August 15, 2011

    curious about your comment that you’re working on tabletop, studio, product photography, but don’t have any macro lens in your lineup… are you considering the 100 f2.8L IS or 180 macro or 60 macro at any point? or did I misunderstand your comment?

  • Zack said on August 15, 2011

    @Clyde – The table top stuff we are shooting isn’t small. It’s all fairly normal sized stuff so I have no need for a macro. If I did, the 24-70 has a decent macro capability.


  • David Burke said on August 15, 2011

    I am very certain that you could grab a Fisher Price camera, smear Vaseline on the lens, dip it in sand and still make kick ass images. It’s you, not the camera – you’ve taught us all that over the years. You will be in good hands with whatever is your bag. Keep inspiring Zack, it’s a joy to see.

    David Burke

  • Bre said on August 15, 2011

    Great post. Im also canon and get everything done with a 5d, 15mm, 35mm, and 50mm. Now that I’ve got the 35, I never use the 50. Also got a used t2i and loaded magic lantern on the sd for video. Love it for that. Probably sell the mk1 and t2i at some point and get a mkII sometime to just make things easier. Anyhow, enjoyed the post and hearing about your obsessiveness!

  • Gabe Sturdevant said on August 15, 2011


    As always a great blog post. Your input and dead honest analysis is perfect. In you recent Creative Live class you said not to buy any gear for 6 months. Two days later my 18-105 kit lens took a dive on auto focus. That would have left me with just a nifty fifty to shoot with. I broke down and got a 70-200. Sorry for breaking the rules.

  • Alistair Kerr said on August 15, 2011

    I recently swapped Continentals for Michelins, car still sticks to the road. It’s not about the kit, it’s about what you do with it.

    My old film 35mm cameras are Nikon, all the digital kit is Canon, go figure.

  • Anouk Timmerman said on August 15, 2011

    Nice blog post. For the 50mm, you should really check out the 50mm F1.4 Sigma. It’s really nice. If you ask me both the sharpness and the unsharpness/bokeh are much prettier than the Canon one. You should really check it out :)

  • Zack said on August 15, 2011

    A lot of people are suggesting the Sigma 50 1.4. I’ve never found 3rd party lenses to last a long time.

  • Tareq Alhamrani said on August 15, 2011

    Good luck!!!

  • DLuker said on August 15, 2011

    Yoda, you are.

  • CZed said on August 15, 2011

    zack, remind yourself of this post when you start missing the nikon gear .-) good reasoning though, but that lowlight AF and the nikon ergonomics go a long way for me … but as you said it’s just gear – glad you’re posting again. Cheers

  • Anouk Timmerman said on August 15, 2011

    What do you mean with that, Zack? A bit like the 50mm F1.8 Plastic Fantastic; literally falling apart in two pieces? My experience is that Sigma makes both budget and really solid lenses and the 50 F1.4 definitely falls in the last category.

  • MrTugs said on August 15, 2011

    Very interesting post, Zack. Right now, my feeling is that Nikon has better high-ISO performance and better low-light focusing. And Nikon cameras don’t have the same love for red tones that the Canons do. That said, I’m a Canon shooter (7D) and since I can barely afford to maintain my single vendor setup with good glass I think I’ll be sticking to what I’ve got! It has been good to see Canon fighting back over the last 12-18 months with some great bodies after some definite stumbles.

    You’ve also just helped me find a location for my next lens rental (Aperturent). I live just north of Atlanta and was looking for somewhere decent for a rental (and this way I can save the shipping charges too)! Just placed my order, so thank you for the timely comment!

  • John Herbert said on August 15, 2011

    I meant to add to my last comment – it might be worth updating your Aperturent hyperlink in the article to use your “referral” URL :)

  • Zack said on August 15, 2011

    @John – I don’t have a referral link with them. Maybe I should get one. :)

  • Megan said on August 15, 2011

    Zack, I have add a comment about original glass. Due to budget, and need for a zoom, I bought the Tamron 28-70 2.8, and just longed for the day when I could get the Canon L equivalent… I like it, it does a good job, and when I upgraded my camera to the 7D from the xti, it was even better. BUT, before I purchased the 7D, I rented it to make sure I really like it, and I got the canon 28-70 just to play. The weight was UNREAL, making the camera hard to steady, which is why I thought the crispness was off. So I did my own little un-scientific test. Set it up on a tripod, and took the same picture with both the tamron and canon and compared.


    So, I’m not saying the Tamron is better, but I could not find a single reason to justify the cost of this lens (and I was looking because I had GAS at the moment)! And with the weight of the lens being an issue, I just stayed with my Tam, and I’ve been happy. I mostly use my 50 1.4 anyway, and recently had a friend loan me her 70 -200 2.8, so now I’m drooling for it. :)

    All that being said, the other two non-canon lens’ I have purchased are CRAP!! Sigma 70-200 almost became a doorstop (thank goodness it was a CL purchase) but I had a friend that wanted to try it, so I gave it to him… now I think it’s his doorstop! :)

  • Zack said on August 15, 2011

    Megan – You did your research, tried them both, weighed the pros and cons and made a decision that works for you. I can’t ever argue with that!


    PS – I gave my last Sigma to a friend as well. I could not take money for it in good conscience. :)

  • Sheri J said on August 15, 2011

    I read with great interest as you always tell it like it is. I do the same thing you do with the cash only purchases, it’s the only way to go for me, my credit card would get me into too much trouble if I went crazy with it, no more consumer debt, period. Thanks for sharing so much of “what you think” as it really helps. I put a lot of thought into what I use myself, so it is interesting to see the similarities and differences in how other people approach things.

  • Bill Raab said on August 15, 2011

    The 85mm 1.8 is a gem. I see you mention the 50mm 1.4… I have a love/hate relationship with mine. There are times it locks focus just like I want but I have ad many times (weddings in particular… and I know your thoughts on Canon and weddings BTW) where that lens is my adversary. If it locks on what I want great… if not I silently weep. I have never used pocket wizards, using cybersyncs… but I would like to try out the ettl on the new pw’s.

    I too use ThinkTank… street walker hard drive, great bag.

    Thanks for the comments on the Arctic Butterfly. Shooting 5Ds I am sick and tired of pouring money into swabs. I will have to get one of those. Good to hear a comment from someone I trust.

  • John Herbert said on August 15, 2011

    @Zack – If you go to “Your Account” on the Aperturent website, the link is in there on the right hand side underneath Order History. More info here — http://aperturent.com/referral (and no, I don’t work for them ;-).

  • Matt said on August 15, 2011

    Great read, thanks. Great to see someone agree with my view on the 85mm f1.8 :)

    I wouldn’t suggest the 50mm f1.4 unless they bring out a mkII that doesn’t use micro-USM. I had one which I loved but had the AF replaced 3 times in 2 years. Luckily Canon covered the first under STD warranty and the others as warranty on the warranty work. Can’t fault Canon, just the design and build of an old lens under professional conditions.

  • Sean said on August 15, 2011

    Great post Zack. Love the information and help you are always giving. Was pretty shocked to see you have switched I just picked up a 24-70mm 2.8 and have used it only on two weddings. I shoot completely open most of the time with my lenses. I was less than please with many of the shots at 24mm 2.8, but much more pleased at anything around 30-35 and up at 2.8. The AF issues with Canon (and your constant comments about Nikon and weddings) have always intrigued me in possibly switching to Nikon. Waiting to see what Canon does with the 5D Mark III and it’s AF capabilities. If they aren’t much better than the MkII, I’ll probably make my switch to Nikon.

  • Ed Endicott said on August 15, 2011

    Great post.

    If you ever get a chance, take a look at the first generation Canon 50mm f/1.8. It sells for more used than the second generation lens sells for new. It’s got a metal mount as opposed to the plastic mount and it actually looks like a lens instead of a piece of PVC pipe. It’s one of my favorite lenses (I have an 85 f/1.8 on the wish list though).

  • Charlie said on August 15, 2011

    Thanks Zack! Its can be hard not to crave the most expensive stuff when you see so many ads, blogs and articles…… saying you’ll be a fool not to get it. So many people telling you what you should buy and not explaining why you need it. You always have more sense than most when it comes to equipment.

  • Paol said on August 15, 2011

    I have tryed two Canon 50mm F1.4 lenses.. They both was soft @F1.4 until up to about F1.8- F2.
    The build quality also is not as good as the 85mm F1.8 has.
    I actualy liked the 50mm F1.8 lense better. It was louder, but sharp straight from the F1.8…
    And that was the most point of having it. To use it wide open.
    Too bad it broke down ’cause I didn’t took good care of it.
    Still I considered it much higher overall value because it broke down only after 2 years of usage :)
    I am considering of getting another one F1.8 version. If Canon don’t comes out soon with something like Canon 50mm F1.8 II or 50mm F1.4 II USM

    if anyone gets the 50mm F1.4 Canon lense, please get the lense hood with it and never take it of. The front part is too easy to damage and all the sharpness will be gone even at F2…

  • Otto Rascon said on August 15, 2011

    Great read indeed Zack. Both Nikon/Canon make amazing tools that help bring our ideas/visions to life. I enjoyed reading your reasoning behind switching, and it made a ton of sense. Consistency is huge, that’s why I didn’t buy a MKII. Plus, I don’t need the 21MP sensor – my Nikon D700 is perfect for weddings. Thanks and much love from Chicago.

  • Jared Phillips said on August 15, 2011

    I love your posts. They always put me back in “check” when I start to eagerly lust after gear I “want” rather than just having the essentials. Also, how heavy is that bag and does it go through airport security okay?

  • Zack said on August 15, 2011

    @Jared It’s a heavy bag. I’ve only been stopped once by an airline for the weight of it. That was on Quantas. I had to carry half my gear around my neck to get past security. Otherwise, I have no issues moving it in and out of security at airports.


  • Kjartan said on August 15, 2011

    I bet you’ll regret that decision in a few days when Nikon announces its new DLSR. 😉

  • Zack said on August 15, 2011

    @Kjartan – Nope! I don’t chase the newest and greatest.

  • Gerhard said on August 15, 2011

    Hi Zack,
    before you buy a pocket Wizard to trigger your speed lights, have a look at http://radiopopper.com/.
    Works every time, all the time in Ettl and long distance..


  • Debbi said on August 15, 2011

    I love your blog, thanks for the honesty! I have so much trouble focusing my Canon 100mm in low light (non contrasty) food shots! I had never heard of using the AF beam from my 580EXpensive. How would I use that when I trigger with a Pocket Wizard Mini on camera? Is it possible? (using White Lightnings strobes)

  • Zack said on August 15, 2011

    @Debbi – You can put the 580 EXpensive (love that term BTW!) on your hotshoe and I think you can set it to not fire then put a PW on your sync port.


  • Roger said on August 16, 2011

    Like the no debt for gear strategy. Mine also…put my name on the list for the x100 and one came in sooner than I thought (about a month ago). Told myself I would not open the box til I sold a couple lenses to offset…sold one lens but the Tokina/Fisheye comments here may make me wait a little longer :)
    Good things come in small packages and worth the wait!

  • Dave said on August 16, 2011

    Hey Zack, I totally get that! I have brands spread all over as well. Each has their own merit, but sometimes you just want to simplify. I find myself just walking around with a single body and a 50mm as a breather from all the gear overload. Great post – love the honesty!

  • Stephen Probert said on August 16, 2011

    Great post. Been moving from zooms to primes as well. On extension tubes, I would recommend getting the kenkos. You get a set of three for the prices of one canon tube and I have had no problems with them. They are just tubes with electrical connections, why pay for having the word “canon” printed on them; kenko air is just as sharp as canon air.

  • Aubrey said on August 16, 2011

    I am a 5DII owner and absolutely consider it the best Canon body I have ever owned. Zack has stuffed this article chock-full-o good advice with something for everyone.

    While I don’t think the 24-70 2.8L is garbage, it’s definitely the best zoom in this focal length that I can find, which is why I still own it. This is congruent with your point of using the right tools for the job. The only prime I own is the EF 100mm 2.8L IS and it is amazing. My favorite lens is the EF 70-200 2.8L, but I rarely use it, so I just sold it. I decided it would be better to simply rent it when a gig calls for it.

    Zack, I really appreciate you taking the time to post such an informative (and somewhat entertaining) article.

  • Jacques Cornell said on August 16, 2011

    I had a Tamron 28-75 f2.8 and ditched it. Yes, it was bright, and yes, it was sharp from about f4 on. Makes a good landscape or still-life lens. But, I’m an event shooter, and AF was sluggish and prone to hunt.

    Shooting a pair of 40Ds, I was tempted by the 5DII, but Canon’s prosumer AF drove me absolutely nuts on a regular basis. Also, real-world comparisons I found online, as well as my experience with a rented 1DsIII, convinced me that a 1DsII could resolve just as much detail with only about a 1-stop noise disadvantage. So, for the price of one 5DII I got a used 1DII and a used 1DsII. Menus, buttons and batteries are the same, so switching between them is seamless. And, the 1.3x crop factor on the 1DII gives a little extra reach. When shooting speakers, I put a 100mm f2 on the 1DII for an effective 130mm for closeups, and a 35mm f2 on the 1DsII for wider stage and audience reaction shots. The 1DII’s 8fps also helps me get speakers with their eyes open and mouths closed.

    As for flash units, I’ve collected a bunch of used Metz 54MZ-3s and 50MZ-5s over the years. Don’t miss TTL a bit, as auto mode works just as well, if not better. And, the big handle-mounts blast out enough juice to bounce off a ballroom ceiling and recycle in an instant. Three sets of Phottix Strato radio slaves ($83/set) have replaced my PocketWizards and proven totally reliable.

  • Jessica Sweeney said on August 16, 2011

    This post totally satisfied the gear head in me, and made me feel vindicated since I also shoot Canon. And you make some good points, Zach.

    But I hope your next few posts are image heavy, because what I really want to see is what you’ve been shooting, not what you’re shooting it with! I especially loved the GOYA shootout posts. (Remember those?) Feel free to do a few more.

    You know, when you have a free moment or whatevs. I always love your blog.

  • Jimmy said on August 17, 2011

    Funny that you mentioned the 5D feels prosumer – it has a lot of plastic but is my current favorite portrait camera. The 7D actually feels more durable/pro in the hand and is my favorite camera for video that doesn’t cost a fortune to shoot. Thanks for the peek.

  • SBP said on August 17, 2011

    “A lot of people are suggesting the Sigma 50 1.4. I’ve never found 3rd party lenses to last a long time.”

    hmmm as opposed to the cheapo Canon 50mm 1.4 where the AF breaks every other month? Seriosuly, my first cooy broke ten seconds out of the box. It’s the only AF system I have ever had break on me and the same can be said for everyone I know personally.

    And the Tamron 17-50 2.8 is one amazing lens on a crop body. Sold my 17-40L after trying and never looked back.

    While I do mostly stick with Canon lenses, you do have to give third party their due at times. In a few rare cases they are actually better (and less expensive and sometimes even more sturdy). The Sigma 17-50 OS has gotten some good talk for APS-C as well.

    I have to say I was not crazy about the 24-whatever zooms from Canon on a 5D2 and ended up going 24 1.4 II myself, far better edges (even at f/8-f/10 it’s still very evident and a ton less distortion). I also kept a cheap old Tamron 28-75 2.8 when I do want a zoom, but usually to stick primes on the wide side for FF. Mad sharp on APS-C, although similar issues on FF as the others and super slow AF.

  • drew said on August 17, 2011

    First, I see on your kickass portfolio page that you got to shoot my current man-crush, Zack Brown.

    And *then* I read you made the switch to Canon.

    Whoa. Double cool.

    Make it a trifecta of warm fuzzies for me, Zack – bring OneLight to Cleveland in 2012.

    I dare ya.

  • Rob said on August 17, 2011

    The canon 50/1.4 isnt reliable at all, the focus fails all the time. You could wait for the replacement 😉 or get the 50L, or the sigma 50 (which I bought), beutiful lens well built, slighlty inconsistent focus.
    I get the no 3rd party lenses, I’ve been there too. But the sigma 50 is about the best 50 for canon EF unless you buy the L.

  • neopavlik said on August 18, 2011

    What Canon Lenses do you recommend to shoot into a White Seamless Backround with (maybe you could add the answers into your seamless tutorial as well) ?

  • Rico Gutierrez said on August 18, 2011

    I dunno Zack. It seems to me that you already had a complete Nikon system (body and lenses). Such a waste to sell all of them and then start new. But we want what we want and sometimes it is the job or the next level that you want to achieve that dictates what we do. My prediction, you will go back to Nikon in the near future. Why? From the tone of your writing I sense regret when you talk about the Canon system and pride (and sense of history) when you talk about your Nikon experience. Just my two cents… ( :

  • Kyle said on August 18, 2011

    Damn, You have joined the dark side. Thanks for the fun read. Its hard to come up a kit you like. I keep on going back and forth on zooms vs primes since I am moving up to full frame in the next few months. Fast glass is nice but I dont feel its that necessary especially if you are using off camera lighting. I bought your One Light Manual a while ago and its still shrink wrapped. I am hoping to do a mini review of it on my blog in the next few weeks.

  • Goran Novi Sad said on August 19, 2011

    You are right, Canon 24-70L sucks big time (as well as 70-200IS Mark 1). Between 2007 and 2008 I bought (and sold) seven copies of that lens, and all were bad wide open. I thought before that futile exercise that all those good online reviews were accurate, but now I know that their standard of sharpness is not the same as mine (or yours). Since I have a good 16-35L Mk2, and 70-200L the middle range is covered by a (very sharp) Canon 50 1.4. A word of advice: if you buy the Canon 50 1.4 buy its optional lens hood and don’t ever remove it from the lens. Even a slightest blow to the front focusing element (the part that moves) will break its focusing gears. Replace the Canon lens caps with Tamron or Nikon (centre pinch).

  • Christine said on August 19, 2011

    I’d like to ask a question, which I scanned the above and didn’t see it mentioned… I have much of the same gear as you now have…with the exception of Pocket Wizard II. I used the ST-E2 for years before giving up my first born to buy several Pocket Wizard TT5s. I did a ton of research before doing so, and was confident about it (buying it, not really giving up my son…he’s a keeper)…but I have spent a year ready to pull a “Office SPace”-Fax machine moment on them. I have since learned of 1-2 other photogs with 5dMkII bodies having similar problems. You name it, I’ve researched it, I’ve tried it, as far as experimenting on how to resolve the issues. No luck. Curious about your experience thus far.

  • jtra said on August 19, 2011

    Hi Zack. The Sigma 50/1.4 is only third party lens (of Sigmas 30/1.4, 50/1.4, 85/1.4 I have) I would regret exchanging for the Nikon (or Canons) equivalent despite all its shortcomings. The reason is background bokeh and have explanation for that in this article: http://jtra.cz/stuff/essays/bokeh/

    There are still things to know: Sigma (and other third party) lenses lack future compatibility (see “Camera-Lens protocol is not openly documented” in http://jtra.cz/stuff/essays/worst-of-nikon/ – the same thing applies to Canon system as well). Their AF is less reliable (on my D90). Build quality on 50/1.4 is ok. Image quality in corners on FX is not great compared to Nikon 50/1.4 AF-S. Image quality in center is equal or better in Sigma.

  • Ellis Vener said on August 20, 2011

    I have two “go to” lenses for my Canons: the EF85mm f/1.8 and the EF 50mm f/1.4. For architecture work I add the 24mm TS-E II and the 17mm TS-E. Why aren’t the 2.8L zooms on the list? : Simple: they are big and heavy. I like the bigger form factor for bodies but not lenses. I’ll use them if I have to but would rather not carry them around. I’ll likely add the EF 70-200 f/4L II sometime in the coming year.

    For small very portable lighting I have moved away from the Canon 580 EX II and to the 430 EX II Speedlites – I have a pair of both – and along with my PocketWizard MultiMAX transceivers I also now regularly use the PocketWizard ControlTL system which actually works great.

  • Robert said on August 20, 2011

    I’ve just bought the Canon 50mm F/1.8 MkII, yes the it’s cheap plastic on the outside but fantastic optics for $120USD.

    A very high percentage of the Canon 50mm F/1.4 owners complain that it isn’t as sharp as the 50mm F/1.8.

    It is dilemma especially when the only other route is the 50mm F/1.2 which is very $$$.

  • CyberGus said on August 21, 2011

    Great choices Zack!

    Again I want a Fuji X100 or X200 if they happen to release that beauty when I buy it.

  • Sheila Smart said on August 22, 2011

    An interesting and comprehensive read on the switch but…Am I the only one to disagree with your comments (and others) on the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L? I have no problems with this lens and it’s always in my Lowepro. It’s sharp from corner to corner and there is no falling off at 24. That said, I rarely shoot at 2.8 because I don’t think it’s the nature of the beast.

  • Zack said on August 25, 2011

    @Sheila – Plenty of people disagree with me about the 24-70. Most agree it kind of sucks at 2.8 but I shoot a lot at 2.8. I’d like for it to be a good performer at 2.8 and it just isn’t. At least for the two I have. They are now welded on to camera shooting products at f11 and above and they are great for that. I just don’t like it at all for my portrait work.


  • Dave Oddy said on August 22, 2011

    I love this update. Im an absolute beginner and have been looking at the latest F2.8 Nikon zooms and have often thought I will never be able to afford these. And then I read this update, looked at your images and its suddenly clicked that gear means very little at all. I have a Nikon d7000 with a 35mm f1.8 DX lens and that’s it. I managed to buy myself a flash and some off camera triggers and now Im inspired to just take photos and stop listening to those guys that say ‘its not even an FX camera dude.’
    Im lashing out for your One Light DVD though ; )

  • miguel said on August 22, 2011

    Hello Zack!

    Nice article, but you can’t compare the canon 5D with the nikon D3, they are in different league, nikon D3 is in the canon 1D league not in the 5D…

  • Zack said on August 25, 2011

    @Miguel – Yeah, I kind of mentioned that when I said the 5d is prosumer and the D3 is a pro camera.

  • Harry Schaefer said on August 23, 2011

    Your write up was wonderful. As a novice I got a lot out of it and a much better understanding of some of the lenses and reasons for selection. A most wonderful resource

  • Pamela said on August 24, 2011

    I laughed when I read you comment that you gave your Sigma lens to a friend because in good conscious you could not take money for it! I just gave away (2) Sigma’s to a friend who is just getting started in photography – his first class was yesterday. I tried to explain the difference in glass; but I thought it would be better for him to learn & test himself (He purchased a Canon T3i w/the kit 18-55mm; and I suggested the 50mm 1.8 as an add.)

    I am getting my own 5DMKII in the next couple of weeks (was borrowing a friend’s spare 5DMKII to test). You are correct in that once you shoot with the full sensor, going back to my 50D is.. well, not fun.

    One thing my friend, and also a couple of other photographers I read on different forums, mentioned was that if you were shooting the 5DMKII, that you should just get mostly L’s, the regular Canon lenses just weren’t cutting it for them on it. Was wondering if you noticed that?

    Thanks for sharing your ‘new’ kit!

  • Seth McBean said on August 24, 2011

    This is the greatest Nikon x Canon switch blog I have ever read. The wonderful thing about it is that it really illustrates your philosophy of “screw the gear, it’s about the photographer”. I really appreciate you sharing the thought process behind your decisions. It’s no use getting all uptight with all the brand loyalty because at the day neither Canon or Nikon are paying you to keep their stuff in your bag. Your clients are what’s supporting your business and it seems you chose the best gear to please your current clients and also give you a firm foundation to go for and satisfy future clients. I definitely agree about the ergonomics of the Canon, they’re horrible. Thanks again!

  • Andrew fishburn said on August 24, 2011

    Great post,Zak. As always.

    I took you on holiday (vacation) this month – how would Zak shoot this or that?- but I guess you are asking: how can i express myself? I suspect the photography is in your head before pressing the shutter -the gear is merely a means to an end. It will always be a copromise, but i suspect your photography will be great even if i give you an iPhone!


  • Chad said on August 25, 2011

    No IS on the 70-200. Right now I’m battling the thought that IS is a waste of cash as I shoot sports and strobe it when I do. Can I get your 2 cents?

  • Zack said on August 25, 2011

    @Chad – If I’m shooting low shutter speeds I’m usually using flash so I really don’t have a need for IS and the added expense of that. Plus, every time I’ve used an IS or VR lens the feeling of it moving in my hand freaks me out. I don’t like that for some reason. I’m sure I’d get used to it if I used it a lot but for what I do I don’t need it.


  • Olivier Moeckli said on August 25, 2011

    Great post – although as some have said, the ones about shooting and photos are the best ones… Just have one comment. You mention you want to add a Black Rapid DR2 to your kit. Looks like a nice and convenient strap! But it just always appeared way too dangerous to me. If someone decides to steal your camera(s) and realizes he would not be able to without cutting your straps first, he might well decide that it would be easier to bring you down first so you’re not moving! I really prefer to make thieves’ life easier with classic straps! Just hope you stay safe for many years to come! 😉

  • Zack said on August 25, 2011

    @Olivier – If someone is going to be going after my gear while it’s on my person then I’m sure they have no issue doing what it takes to do that. They won’t take it without a fight though. :)

  • Jeffery Noble said on August 30, 2011

    Zack – I was a Canon shooter for a long time and switched to Nikon when the D3 came out. The new 2.8 zooms are amazing but the new primes are insane. The 5D mark II has so much banding in the shadows & other strange colors that it is unacceptable. How can so many Canon customers allow such terrible performance is beyond me. My Nikons cost more but to be able to open up the shadows when I need to is worth it. Also as you said before, the focus on the Nikons are so much better in low light. But to be fair Canons acquire focus faster. It may be off a bit but you get the expression or moment you wanted. That may be the most important thing after all.


  • That is a big step i guess.

  • Jeff Reagan said on September 1, 2011

    I just read your initial posts and the follow-ups. Very nice!

    If you bought the Canon 24-70L for edge-to-edge sharpness at f/2.8 (shooting concerts, weddings, et al) and expected it to perform well across the entire field, you simply may have bought the wrong tool for the job?

    IMHO, a major premise of wide apertures is SUBJECT ISOLATION and sharpness in the center field of focus–not across the entire field (that’s what f/8 and beyond are usually used for). You’re not supposed to be looking at the corners when subject isolation is what you’re intending to do! Bokeh at f/2.8 would seem to be more important a characteristic to monitor.

    While it would be nice to have f/2.8 perform just as well as f/8 across the entire field, well, it’s not going to happen with most lenses (notwithstanding the Nikon 14-24 zoom). And again, to me, subject isolation is a primary tenant of shooting wide-open, IMHO.

    While it is true that some low-light landscapes (and perhaps other applications) would benefit by sharpness across the entire field of focus at f/2.8, there is always the tripod, f/8, and longer exposures. Of course, that isn’t really possible when shooting live concerts in dark venues.

    This is neither a plug nor an indictment of the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L, but simply a different way of looking at performance as it relates to this lens. Have you considered the Nikon 14-24 zoom and a Canon adapter?

  • Zack said on September 1, 2011

    @Jeff – I agree but when other lenses perform better on the edges than the one in question does, it makes you question the one in question. :)


  • Jeff Reagan said on September 1, 2011

    @ Zach — What other lens/body combinations are you looking at in this focal range? Have you considered the Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 zoom along with a Canon adapter to address your shooting needs?

    Again, I believe that Canon engineers focused more on center lens performance with this lens for the afformentioned reason (e.g. subject isolation).

    A new release of the lens may address additional photographic needs, based on feedback from Canon owners.

  • Ellie Graham said on September 2, 2011

    Where have you been all my life? LOVE LOVE your blog! Thanks for sharing!

  • Boone said on September 2, 2011

    Hey Zack – curious what bag you’re using for your bigger lighting kit? I’m scoping out the kata palms 3, but it must be made of japanese denim cause it’s $500+. But it holds 3-4 lights + stands.

  • Zack said on September 3, 2011

    @Boone – I want the Lightware 308 roller for stands. Haven’t found one yet.

  • webster parinas said on September 4, 2011

    great read, all the best man!

  • Mark said on September 5, 2011

    Nice to read about gear decisions from a working photographer rather than the usual discussions on gear that occur on forums…

  • Tom K. said on September 10, 2011

    The 24-70 f/2.8 is a superb lens shot wide open. I have irrefutable proof of a visual nature. Head Shot photographer Vanie Poyey (who I consider to be the finest in the world) shoots the 24-70 on her head shot work wide open nearly 100% of the time. Her results speak for themselves.


    She shoots in natural light on her head shot work folks.

    If anyone here can look at those photos and tell me the 24-70 is a lousy lens at f/2.8 I’ll eat my computer.

  • Zack said on October 6, 2011

    @Tom – Many, many, many photographers have testified to the fact that they have bought and returned the 24-70 several times in order to find a “good one”. I don’t have the patience for that. It looks like she’s shooting more on the 50mm to 70mm range where it does perform much better than at the 24mm range at 2.8. I’ve had two of them and I’m not happy with either. At the end of the day though… to each their own.


  • Abdul said on September 11, 2011

    thanks a lot Zack, that was really helpful
    I just bought 85mm 1.8 instead of 85mm 1.2 :)

  • Arlan said on September 13, 2011

    I’m confused……read through your post a couple times. I’m a Canon shooter with a 5dM2 and variety of Canon lens, and so the Canon change makes sense to me. What I don’t understand is that you say about the 5D “I hate the ergonomics. It has never felt at home in my hands. The AF is horrible compared to the Nikons. The D3 is a pro body. The 5d is prosumer”. With that perspective, it’s hard to understand that you’ve switched to Canon, and now shoot with 2 5D’s. Seems contradictory, but hey, life’s that way sometimes. Looking forward to more great posts.

  • Jan L. said on September 14, 2011

    I just wanted to point out that the perception of a lenses’ quality can be a very subjective thing. I photograph weddings every now and then with the 24-70 /2,8 and the 85 /1,2.

    I love the 24-70 for it´s image quality. I think the sharpness is great at 2,8 and I automatically correct the distortion in lightroom. I love the 85 /1,2 even more for it´s quality at 1,2 and the unique style the shallow dof produces. I am not rich but I don´t regret the investment for a moment.

    Thus I recommend everyone to rent / test the lenses on your own before making a decision based on a blog.

  • Larry said on September 14, 2011

    You rock as always. I hope I get to see you at Photo Plus again this year. I took your white seamless class year and really enjoyed it. Anyhow, rent the sigma 50 1.4 it rocks..

  • Marian Majik said on September 16, 2011

    Very good reading. I agree with 35mm/1.4 and 24-70/2.8 but 50/1.2? It’s amazing lens and it worth that price. I shoot with it maybe 80% of my work and the rest 20% covers 35/1.4 Also I agree with 24-70/2.8 (mine is version II) – it’s great travel lens, sharp, fast, heavy but for portraits it isn’t the best tool…

  • Chris said on September 20, 2011

    I was going to recommend an off brand lens and then I thought, no I read the whole post.

  • Roger said on September 20, 2011

    What a great post Zack, you really put to rest the whole Canon vs. Nikon debate. Thank you for your candid account, I really appreciate the honesty you bring to photography. I’m still working on that whole work/life/photography balance thing.

  • Joe Osborne said on September 24, 2011

    Zack, I work with a group of 20 photographers at work who are all trying to get better at their craft. The #1 question I get is about gear “Which _____ should I buy?” Your article is the most realistic, thoughtful approach to gear I have seen on the planet, and I’m sending all these folks over hear to read this piece. Kudos. Great job.

  • Igor said on September 26, 2011

    sorry for U =)

  • Vinny said on September 26, 2011

    Would you prefer the Nikon SB-80dx to the Canon 430 EXII? I was thinking of picking up two of the Canon 430exII’s… Is the SB-80dx a better flash? They are about the same price from KEH. If anyone has any input i’d love to hear it. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

  • Alisa Greig said on September 30, 2011

    excellent post! thanks for sharing–i’m a canon user and couldn’t agree with you more on the 85 1.8 over the 1.2–easily one of my faves. tried out the 50 1.4 and didn’t love it, tried out the 1.2 and it’s the go to lens for me for sure. i’ll dream about the wide L primes, 24 and 14, but another great favorite and a gem of a lens is the 200 2.8L, such a great lens and so reasonably priced! aloha!

  • Mario Giancini said on October 3, 2011

    Zack, I love reading your gear posts. You are so logical and purposeful about the gear you carefully choose. You don’t get caught up in unnecessarily pricy glass or bells and whistles. And you buy in cash. (Dave Ramsey would be proud!). I admire all of that. Thank you for sharing.

    @Alisa Greig:

    I prefer the 50 1.2 over the 1.4 as well. I bought that because I rented it too much, and spent countless hours comparing. The bokeh and the feeling is just not the same. Had to go with the 1.2 :)

  • Andy Holdsworth said on October 5, 2011

    Great post..It is always an interest to hear what other people use…
    I have known people try 4 or 5 24-70mm lenses out before they were happy. Unfortunately I didn’t, and mine isn’t great either…Or my 5dmk11..I find the inconstant focusing a real pain. You can place it on a tripod and shoot a static object 5 times and 2 will be pin sharp and the rest are soft. If the object is on the floor you can see the different points of focus.
    When I win the lottery I will be looking to change to Nikon.
    Sorry for the moan…

  • Tony Sale said on October 7, 2011

    Hey great post, very interesting. I have the Nikon 24 – 70 2.8 lens and I think it’s fantastic. I also have the 85mm 1.8 which is an absolutely beautiful portrait lens on my full frame D700.

  • Jacob said on October 7, 2011

    What about color, especially skin tones? Many people think this is irrelevant b/c you can change everything in post. Probably true but a lot of work. Anyway, as a Nikon D700 shooter I am always amazed how much more natural (or at least more attractive) skin tones look in Canon pics.

    Do other people see this as a significant difference between the two systems or is this just my lack of pp skills?

  • Jacob said on October 7, 2011

    I made a comment and asked a question about color/skin tones in the Canon and Nikon systems. It diappeared.

  • Zack said on October 8, 2011

    @Jacob – It didn’t disappear. It just had not been approved yet.

    Back in the film days you chose a film based on the characteristics of how that film behaved in regards to color, contrast, dynamic range, etc. Each digital camera system and model have unique characteristics themselves. Canon’s do perform differently than Nikons like Kodak performed differently from Fuji. What was great in the film days is you committed to one camera system and could change films any time. You can’t change the “film” now. The 5d SINGS in available light. It really does. It’s a far better performer, IMHO, than Nikon. In the studio it is more difficult to tell the difference between them.


  • Andrew Mills said on October 10, 2011

    When I first got my 70-200mm f/2.8 IS (MK1) a few years ago, I at first thought it was faulty. Turns out it’s not and that my expectations in it was too high. It is a good lens, but just not that good.

    I have a Sigma 17-70mm 2.8-4.5 – this lens can out-perform the 70-200mm in sharpness, which is partially why I thought the Canon was faulty. How could a £240 lens out perform a ~£1000 lens? Now the gear head in me wants to “upgrade” to the MK2 version…

    I’ve been wanting a Canon 24-70mm 2.8 for a long time now – mainly for the constant f/2.8 aperture, and the “quality” (build as well as optical). But after reading what you’ve said, and a couple of other people recently, I’m not so sure any more. I think I would now rent or borrow before buying (rather than just assuming quality and buying blind) to make sure that I would be happy with it.

  • Julien said on October 16, 2011

    Hi Zack,
    It’s the first time I read your blog and well I kind of like your point of view.
    Your objectiveness is more than welcome !
    I must confess that 85mm 1.8, 24mm 1.4 L II and 35mm 2 are in my bag too… but this is a performance -not money related- choice.
    Both of us could consider the 35 mm L and get a slightly better sharpness than with the 35 f2, at least at some seetings. But the main difference would be in the center and somehow a sharp center tends to be useless in a good composition, doesn’t it ?
    I definitely love my 35mm, I can’t explain. Don’t you have the feeling the f2 size and weight just feel right ?

  • Zack said on October 16, 2011

    @julien – I agree!


  • Dave said on October 23, 2011

    The Canon flashes are expensive, but if you don’t need to control other flashes, using Canon’s system, the 430EX II is a great option. The guide number is just a little lower than the 580EX II, but the cycle times are very fast and they don’t interfere with the radio signals used by the pocket wizard ControlTTL system. I have found that a 430EX II on a FlexTT5 to be a bullet proof combination and with the new AC3 ZoneController it can easily be controller from the camera.

    Thanks for the great post.

  • Marcus said on October 30, 2011

    I recently looked at switching.

    Here in NZ, there is no ‘Nikon NZ” just a distributor. There is however Canon NZ.

    Also no Nikon Professional Services coverage here at all, but there is Canon Professional Services.

    I got really good keen pricing direct from Canon NZ, but even with that the cost of doing the swap exceeded NZ$11,000 even without replacing all my Nikon glass like for like and I just could not justify the expenditure to myself.

    At the end of the day I could not, hand on heart, say that the advantage of CPS etc was enough to justify the cost and I would not get better images or sell more just because of the brand in my hand.

    I did borrow an EOS 1D MkIV for a while and found it an ergonomic nightmare compared to my D3s bodies – although the grip fitted my hand better.

  • Aaron Draper said on November 3, 2011

    Zack! I too was BORN to shoot the Nikon 105mm f2.0. I assume it’s the same DC model that you’re referring to. My two faves from Nikon were the 105 and the 135 both f2.0’s. I actually still have my 105mm attached to an old F100 filmy just because I can’t bring myself to sell it. Great to see another photographer likes that lens.

  • Jake Hill said on November 3, 2011

    I would give a LEG for one this set up! Love your work! Amazing stuff.

  • blackshadow said on November 6, 2011

    Some excellent insight there Zack.

    When I went digital in 2005 I looked at both Canon and Nikon (I shot with Olympus 35mm SLRs) and as I was shooting concerts I chose Canon at the time because their low-light performance smoked Nikon, if I’d been starting from scratch in the last few years I would have chosen Nikon as they really lifted their performance.

    It was interesting to read your thoughts on the Canon 24-70, I have one and have been reasonably happy with it but I find myself using it rarely these days. The three favourite lenses in my kit are my 35mm f1.4L, 16-35mm f2.8L II and 70-200 f2.8L IS, I also have a 50mm f1.4 but it doesn’t see a lot of use and a 400mm f5.6L which is a stunningly sharp light weight long lens.

    The bodies I use are a 1D Mark III and a 5D classic (bought second hand for a steal). I’m really looking forward to seeing how the recently announced 1Dx performs as on paper it is pretty close to my dream camera (full frame with excellent high ISO performance and professional AF and build at fairly high resolution), it won’t be my next camera thoughthat will be the X100.

    But as you stated it’s just plastic, glass and metal, what’s really important is getting the right gear for your use and knowing how to use it.

  • Pixtiva said on November 6, 2011

    I may be moving in a different direction – transforming again (backward?) – moving back into an area where I used to do a fair amount of corporate event-oriented shooting, and I’m going to be trying to tap back into that market while going back to school for some computer networking mojo… Getting some new glass, and a new body or two.
    And I’ll probably be going with a DX-frame Nikon 7000 body for starters – Reasoning being that I tend to shoot a lot of available light while on the move, and it has decent fast focusing in iffy lighting situations, combined with “if I drop it in a swamp, like I did with one of my old Canon A-1s back in the day, I won’t cry. As long…” qualities… About 2x of that quality over the 5D…

    DX? Well, I’d -like- full frame, but it costs… I would like a full frame for ultrawide lenses, but I’ll make do…

    Now, I’d -like- 20+mp, but from my past experience, usually it’s a lot better to get the shot in the available light, because you won’t get your second chance – and I’m concerned about fast-focus capabilities with the Canon… If I was going to be doing stuff primarily in a studio and/or with directed subjects, I’d be on the 5D bandwagon… Or suck it up, and save pennies for a Mamiya or ‘blad.
    Probably going to be going mostly primes for the new glass, but learning toward getting an ultrawide zoom/fisheye… I used to shoot a lot of stuff with a fish, and I like playing with the look. Of the budget, it’s mostly going toward glass and a little studio gear to add to what I’ve already got… Flash meter, maybe a ring light, probably adding several “mobile” flashes, since I’ve mostly shot available light, but it’s nice to have the capability.

    Of course, if “statics” studio stuff starts happening, I may be messing around with two different systems…

  • Tom Young said on November 30, 2011

    Wow, what a great blog, Zack. Thanks for posting because I’m sure it took quite a while to write. I’m a fulltime video shooter w/ a 7D (and Varicam) and loved your discussion on your lenses and your reasoning. I do find IS a requirement with the longer lenses while shooting video, however.

  • TonyJ said on December 5, 2011

    My eyes glazed over partway into this post as I could care less about another photographer’s opinion about this thing-a-ma-bob or that ( well, unless I’m in the market for a particular bob on a thing) …but I was riveted by the photos of the packed bag! Always nice to see how other people pack their packs as I am always looking for a better way….


  • Zack said on December 5, 2011

    @TonyJ – My eyes glazed over writing this post. :)


  • Devorah said on December 6, 2011

    Hey Zack, terrific post! Two questions re glass. I’m a Sony shooter, partially because that old school Minolta body just feels right in my hands, partially to access the Minolta glass. I have lenses nearly as old as I am, like the 58 1.2 which is gorgeous — and the best ones in mint condition are as much $ as quality modern glass. However, the modern lenses have digital-specific coatings and I do see issues with CA or flare with my older lenses sometimes. As much as it’s true that great glass can stay with you for decades, do you find the coatings issue a real cause for concern or to pause before choosing between, say, a legacy 85 1.4 and a modern one?

    Second, you mentioned your beloved 100 f/2 — I know that there are adapters between mounts; why not do that? Is there a specific reason not to? I have Rokkor lenses adapted for my Sony alpha mounts, without incident. It just seems a shame to lose a lens you love if there’s a way to keep it.

    Keep inspiring us, Zack!!

  • Zack said on December 8, 2011

    @Devorah – One issue why I don’t use adapters is I find the focusing screens on DSLRs theses days to be terrible for manual focusing. Back in the day of matte screens, micro prisms, and split prisms it was much easier. I hear the replacement screens can be better but these things today are just built for AF and anything else is a bit of a stab in the dark at times so I don’t bother much with it. I do however have a brilliant Hasselblad adapter that allows me to put Hassy lenses on my Canon. I picked it up for next to nothing on ebay and I love my old Hassy lenses on the 5d but, again, focusing can be hit or miss when shooting wide open.


  • Karim Geddes said on December 28, 2011

    Hey! thank you so mush! bought the Canon 85mm 1.8 on your advice, really good lens! i really would like to attend one of your Onelight Workshop, will you consider doing a workshop in London or Paris for European for your new show ?

    Also what do you think of the Canon 24-105mm 1.4 L? because i am really struggling with it.

  • Zack said on December 29, 2011

    @Karim – I hear the 24-105 is a really nice lens. f4 is a bit slow for me but all the same, I’ve looked at that lens as well.


  • Mark Clark said on January 1, 2012

    Just wanted to let you know that your review of Fuji’s X100 just cost me $1200. My X100 is proof positive that chasing mega-pixels is a fools errand. Thanks for helping me find the camera, as Chase Jarvis puts it, that will always be with me. Thanks again…

  • CharlieJ said on January 3, 2012

    We are kindred spirits. You write like I think. You don’t fluff it up and you don’t bottom line it until people can’t understand you are glean personal insight from your experience. I appreciate your style. As much as I’ve heard your name, I have to admit that I never looked at your work, your blog or your videos until TODAY.
    I’ve spent the last 3-4 hours watching a video from CreativeLIVE, reading your blog and checking out other tidbits on your site and related links. Like this could ever happen, but… Dude, we should hang out some time. I’m only 6 hours from Hotlanta. Haha!
    Anyway, thanks for your style, talent, expertise, but mostly for being a down-to-Earth guy who isn’t afraid of being human, real and easy to understand. On the flip side, thanks for not being arrogant or acting like revealing something about your photgraphy will bring down an empire.
    Just, thanks!

  • Zack said on January 4, 2012

    @CharlieJ – Thanks for the kind words. Glad to be of service.


  • james said on January 6, 2012


    since you’re doing video with the 5D2 might i suggest keeping some nikon glass or even acquiring vintage Nikon glass – it works great with video since autofocus isn’t really a viable option anyway. You’ll need an adapter but those can be had no problem. Ironically old canon non-EF lenses cant viably be parsed over even with an adapter – go figure!

    In terms of the 50mm 1.4, I found it a bit soft (as stated by some other posters) in the low apertures and build quality is a on the lack lustre side – as such not worth paying $400 for it. But what I really recommend if u can find it is the older 50mm 1.8 – not the new plastic one but the one with the metal mount. I got one for about $150 – the image quality on this thing is spectacular! I use it on a canon 7D for some portraits (ends up being an 85mm with the crop conversion. Although if u can swing it, the Zeiss 50. 1.4 is great – i’ve used it for video work on the 5d2 and it’s a dream. A gift from the camera gods!

  • Hello Zack,
    As a reluctant mover from Nikon to Canon, I really enjoyed this post, and I have found the lens comments really interesting. For myself, after buying an old 20-35 2.8L which stopped focussing after a few months, I was so taken with the lens that I bought (leased) a new 16-35 2.8L.
    This is the lens which hardly comes off my camera during a wedding, and seems waaay sharper than anything else I have used (including the 50mm 1.8).
    All the best

  • Sree said on January 25, 2012

    Hey Zack! Question – if you’re still second shooting weddings, are those 3 Canon primes the ones that you use?

  • Zack said on January 28, 2012

    @Sree – I no longer shoot weddings thus my switch to Canon. If I was I would have stayed Nikon. And at weddings my main lenses were the 35mm f2 and 105 f2.

  • Jen said on February 10, 2012

    Would love to know what the camera bag is. Didn’t see it anywhere in the post or comments. Thanks!

  • Zack said on February 10, 2012

    Jen – It’s the ThinkTank Airport Security bag. Love it. Best bag I’ve ever owned.


  • Dai said on February 17, 2012

    Interesting article – Another prime that I like and is very sharp is the Canon 100mm f2 (non macro) it is virtually the same size as the 85mm f1.8 but i prefer the 100mm focal length and the filter ring is made of metal instead of plastic. It is a good value and one to consider.

  • Jason said on February 22, 2012

    This may all be moot since you’re “Post-Phase”, but for those not yet stepping up to MF:

    I love my 135/2 and really liked the 24/1.4 I rented.

    My 85/1.8 is terrible. Maybe I got a bad copy and didn’t notice initially, but although it is capable of being sharp sometimes I’m nonetheless usually underwhelmed with the results. I haven’t tried the 85/1.2 yet. But by comparison the 135/2 is just magical.

    Also, for those shopping for zooms I find the 24-105/4 IS preferable in lots of ways to the 24-70/2.8. The IS is really worth 3-4 stops, focus is much faster (especially in low light), and it performs reasonably well wide open.

    I rented the 14/2.8 and already owned the 15mm fish and was somewhat disappointed with the 14. You lose a lot of field of view from being rectilinear and yet the images still look pretty distorted. There’s just nothing natural about fields of view that wide.

  • Andy Holdsworth said on February 22, 2012

    Hi Zack,
    I was wondering if you were still a Canon user as I am but I find the focusing on the Mk11 so inconstant. How do you find it to be. I have spoken to other 5d users who have switched camps just for that reason. Was the D3 any better than the Mk11.
    All the best,

  • Zack said on February 22, 2012

    @Andy – The 5dMkII sucks in the focusing department in low light. If I was an event shooter I’d only shoot Nikon for that reason. Being I no longer shoot events it doesn’t matter much to me any longer.


  • johann said on March 17, 2012

    I’m a regular consumer, so forgive me, but I may have missed it. Do I understand that you switched to Canon because you work in a studio now more than events? But that if you were doing more events you would have stayed with Nikon? Is the D700 bad for studio work, and do you think if you had the D700 given to you at the same great price as your 5D, would you still be shooting Nikon? Does the D700 such for AF like the 5DMkII?

    I don’t even own a camera, so it matters a lot to me about decision making between systems. I”m not as mature as a pro that recognizes they can do good with a tool no matter what, so thank you for your thoughts.


  • Zack said on March 18, 2012

    @Johann – Canons and Nikons both work well in studio and area where there is an ample amount of light. The Nikons tend to focus much better in low light situations like wedding receptions. I know a lot of wedding photographers who shoot Canon’s at weddings and make it happen. I’ve shot events with the 5dMkII as well but Nikons just perform better. Supposedly the new MkIII is going to be much much better.


  • Johann said on March 30, 2012

    I was wondering how you feel about your switch to Canon now that the D800/D800E has been announced.

  • Terry Falduto said on April 1, 2012

    Way, waaaayyy late to the party here, but as several other pointed out much earlier, the 50mm 1.4 is not a very good performer at its widest stops. By 2.8 things start getting better.

    The huge price difference between the 1.2 and 1.4 is not just for a fraction of a stop in speed in bragging rights. The 1.2 is an “L” lens which really is in a different league from its non-L bretheren. The 1.2 wide open noticeably outperforms the 1.4 wide open, and the 1.2 at 2.0 noticeably outperfoms the 1.4 at 2.0, maybe even at 2.8, too.

    Not saying the 1.4 is a dog, but the 1.2 is definitely a major cut above. Understandably, however, it’s always a balancing game between cost vs. performance. No argument there.

  • Arun said on June 30, 2012

    Hi Zack ,wonderful post it was. i have a query ,if u cud pls help me out. I am a dentist ,so i need to get close up shots of the teeth. i have canon rebel xs with sigma 105mm f=2.8 lens. now i have attende a lecture on photography at italy. There we learned about indirect or lateral flash lights instead of direct light and it seems that its more vital and comes out natural. Now the problem is that i am not able to find a flash bracket compatible with canon eos rebel xs to put 2 canon flash lights on it .
    and do i need to but light transmitter i.e ST-E2 transmitter too.
    i have chosen canon 270 EX II is it a right stuff
    thanks and regards

  • Zack said on June 30, 2012

    @Arun – That’s an area of speciality that I’m not that familiar with and don’t know which direction to point you to. Sorry.


  • Adam J McKay said on July 31, 2012

    Being a Nikon shooter for the past 5 years, I have recently made the switch to Canon. I just shot my first wedding using the 5D2 and I have to say. The skin tones with natural light are indeed amazing. I was very surprised. I was also surprised with how bad the AF really is on that thing. It is seriously worse than my D80. What’s that? Backlight? No AF for you. Need to shoot at 1600? No AF for you. I have heard amazing things about the 5D3 however so I cannot wait to get my hands on one of those. But the biggest disappointment of the day was the performance of the 24-70, especially at 70mm. To be fair I noticed the left side of my images were consistently softer and had more fringing than the right, so my lens could have been out, but overall, what a piece of crap. The edges were always soft, even when focus was spot on, it still looked out. Center was shap, but man. The 24-105 performs significantly better IMO. Also a pleasant surprise, the 70-200, what a treat that was. I actually prefer it to the Nikon version. The IS is absolutely amazing. Anyway. My 2 cents.

  • J cole - arreglar persiana said on October 11, 2012

    Mk11 is so lame because they dont know whats missing yet :)

  • Marc said on November 3, 2012

    I’ve read this post about 6months ago when i wasn’t thinking of switching brands, but now i am seriously thinking of moving from nikon to canon. I currently own, a d300s and a couple consumer primes and 18-200vr and tokina 12-24 f4, and im never been satisfied with the IQ it produces especially the skin tones. I love the skin tones that canon produces on people especially dark skin people, and i love the variety of lenses. I do hate the button layout of canon bodies, but say what, im becoming very brand curious, and i’ll go over to the dark side and see if i’m happier.
    Thanks for your insight Zack!

  • Gretchen Willis said on November 25, 2012

    thanks for the great info and honest opinions, as always Zack. I’m just a newbie in the giant sea of photography people and knowledge. But it’s nice to have a person like yourself who I feel I can rely on for non-biased information. Really, thanks so much.

  • Jacqui said on December 10, 2012

    Zack, I have read your post numerous times over the last three months. I felt that Nikon had let me down. I needed to upgrade my d7000 to full frame. The d600 felt like a full frame amateur camera. The d800 produces 70mg RAW files…where was the middle ground? Canon. I was scared.
    Today I took the plunge. I traded in all my Nikon gear ( body and three lenses) and came out with a 5d Mk iii, 24 1.4 and a 50 1.4. Yes the world still turns, it’s now looking brighter and clearer then ever. It’s even simpler to operate!

  • MOPSTERuk said on December 18, 2012

    Like Jacqui I’m interested in making the jump from D7000 to full frame. But I feel that the options are a bit limited in the Nikon range. The d600 doesn’t seem worthwhile compared to the d800. But the D800 requires nicer glass to get the best from it. Over the past few days I’ve been considering a Cannon jump, but this is just because I feel Nikon might screw me over on a warranty repair of the D7000. A lot of places are saying that the AF focusing of the newly manufactured Nikon bodies haven’t had the same level of quality and care as they had in the past. This is something that is making me think of jumping ship. Ultimately I don’t want to just because I love the ergonomics of the Nikons. :(

    Thank you for sharing your blog it was informative and nice to see the rationality process you made.

  • Alexander Chiu said on December 20, 2012

    Great post on your bag pack Zack! I totally agree with you that Aperturent.com is awesome. I’m replacing my bags as well and I started as Canon but now wondering if there is a better photo system for me (maybe Nikon but maybe something different altogether). The main thing going through my head now is the saying: “Amateurs worry about equipment, professionals worry about time, masters worry about light.” I’ve come to the realization that there is probably one optimal set of lenses and camera body to carry with me in my travels. This set however is highly personal depending on shooting style, physical capability to carry gear, and subject matter. My bag looks a lot like yours but I’m constantly second guessing if I need certain lenses at all or even parts of my lighting kit which is currently all strobist style. I’m looking forward to seeing how your bag pack evolves over time and hopefully I get a chance to shoot with you sometime.

  • Modest Honest said on March 10, 2013

    Can you make a simple list of what your new light set up will be, i loved the video you did with Polin (raw photo blogger very impressive, exactly what i want as a light set up, no silly screens in the background,

    please do share what you discovered works best, the pocket wizards def seem cool with a canon 5d3, and thanks

  • Austin said on December 26, 2014

    I wonder if you still feel the same way about the 24-70mm f2.8L II

  • Zack said on January 15, 2015

    Never tried version II. Nor care to. Done with Canon.


  • Bo said on April 25, 2016

    Although being a Nikon shooter I do like the down to earth style and just keep reading. Lovely and I do recognize the conclusions and I am just nodding

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