Some years ago, I was in Sedona on a photowalk with my amazing daughter. After the shoot, as we were waiting for the restaurant to open for lunch service, I was accosted by another photographer who demanded (yes, actually demanded) to know why I shoot with Canons and not Nikons. More than a little puzzled by the vitriol he showed towards a particular camera manufacturer’s product, I found myself explaining myself and defending my choice of equipment. Since then, I have discovered that there are photographers out there who are so wrapped up in their choice of equipment that they will actually refuse to photograph with a photographer who does not use the same gear they do.
I don’t know. I think it’s pretty stupid, and it always annoys me when someone says “well, MY camera is technically superior to YOUR camera.” Maybe this is one reason I love old cameras so much — the competitive photographer doesn’t have any reference to brag towards when he mentally compares his rootin’-tootin’ 1DX or D900 with my Speed Graphic or RB67. I guess sensor size really DOESN’T matter.
I bought my first “real” in 1987, a Cosina CT-1 Super. Cosina is a Japanese manufacturer that makes cameras which have been sold under the Ricoh, Pentax, Canon, Olympus, and Nikon brands as well as its own. This particular Cosina is a Pentax K-mount body, very basic, and nearly indestructible, considering the many hundreds or even thousands of frames I have shot with this camera. From the Cosina I progressed through a series of K1000s, ME Supers, P3Ns, and PZ70s, loving every Pentaxian minute of it. But there were storm clouds on the horizon, and I was to discover that every one of those clouds had a silver halide lining.
When I started shooting weddings, I had been shooting with Pentax-mount 35mm cameras since that first Cosina, and was at the time shooting with the most current Pentax cameras. I shot my first few weddings with these cameras on Kodak Portra films and absolutely loved the results. One night, however, I was hired to photograph a wedding reception in a church hall, and the lights were so low that my Pentax camera could not pick up a solid focus in the darkness. Frustrated, I started doing research and discovered that Nikon cameras have a focus-assist beam the body sends out to illuminate enough of the subject to allow the camera to lock focus, and Canon cameras use a beam built into the external flash unit to send out a matrix that interacts with the focusing system in the camera body to obtain a solid focus lock. Not having a lot of money invested in my system, I decided to switch to Canon and purchased a brace of Canon Elan film bodies. When I went digital a few years later, I already had enough Canon equipment that I continued to acquire Canon-compatible gear, until now I am completely outfitted with Canon.
So the short answer is that I shoot Canon professionally because my Pentax 35mm cameras would not focus in the dark. The funny thing is that almost immediately after I replaced my Pentax with Canon, that Pentax’s shutter blew up and I never replaced it, for obvious reasons. I still have that Cosina, though, and it works perfectly, even with cracks in its plastic body and the scratches and wear of 30 years