What's in a name? Is your brand of camera holding YOU back?

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by entropic remnants, Jun 1, 2013.

  1. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Hall of Famer

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    I mention this after an amusing interaction with an acquaintance who is not a photographer the other day who asked, "What are you shooting now, John?" To which I replied, "Panasonic G Series stuff".

    Their brow furrowed and they said, "Panasonic is not a real camera company are they?" I laughed and told them, "It takes pictures like a real camera so I guess they are!"

    So here's my question to all of you: How brand conscious are you?

    Before you answer let me tell you what was holding me back from G series cameras somewhat even after my daughter had a G1 that I secretly admired when I was shooting Nikon at the time. I wasn't so much brand-conscious as just some kind of photographic snob, or maybe just ignorant and not thinking straight about what makes a "real camera".

    For instance, looking back, I would chiefly buy Nikon, or Olympus because THEY are real camera companies. I tried Sony NEX but those early interfaces confirmed my prejudice: these guys have no idea what they're doing. The Olympus cameras I bought were clearly designed for photographers, no question. Quirky maybe. But definitely photographers cameras. And so I ignored the Panasonics and Sony's and so forth. I used to shoot Ricoh film cameras and took some scorn back in the day for that... "What, Ricoh? Get a real camera instead of that plastic crap." But I loved my Ricoh KR-10. Pentax I always took seriously but I never ended up buying one as my main camera.

    I just have to wonder how this plays out in the market today? The fact seems to be though, judging from recent offerings, that the "new guys" actually have some creativity and good ideas about how cameras should be. Olympus is the exception as they are not a new guy, but have an amazing, forward looking photo division -- if only the marketing folks would get out of the way. They too often go for "a bit better" when they could be waiting a little longer and making "the new generation". My 0.02 anyway.

    But what about you? Do you have some unconscious prejudices about camera companies? Do they influence your buying decisions? On the flip side: are you a rebel who refuses to buy "conventional"?

    Chime in!
  2. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Hall of Famer

    Nov 8, 2012
    New Mexico
    I guess I'm brand conscious, since I've shot Olympus cameras as my small format choice for years. (Back then 35mm was considered small format, and it was not an insult.) My first digital camera was a 1 MP Panasonic way back in digital prehistory. They jumped into the new technology right away. After that, though, I went with Olympus. I'd shot the brand for years and liked what I had used. Their abandonment of their OM film system rankled a bit, but by the time they did so, I was shooting mostly large format.

    Frankly, I got into 4/3 because of Olympus. I had a bunch of old lenses, a positive history with the brand, and -- yes -- the "built from the ground up digital system" idea appealed to me. I've tried a few Panasonic compacts and never much liked their jpeg output. Now that I shoot raw, it wouldn't matter, but in m4/3 I like the Olympus bodies well enough, and since I use a lot of legacy glass, I find the IBIS useful. The E-M5 is, to my thinking, a dream machine.

    A long-winded way of saying, yes, I'm brand conscious, but not brand stupid. My main rangefinder film shooter is a modern Bessa R, not my 1938 Leica IIIb (though I do use and have fun with the latter.) I was frankly skeptical of Sony's entry into photography, despite having had a Sony hi8 video camera that I enjoyed. But I confess that Sony, as a company irritates me (they've used some strong-arm tactics to "protect" their name, including forcing a diner-- named Sony's after its proprietor Sonia --that predated their entry into the U.S. market to change its name. )That said I'd buy an RX1 in a heartbeat if I could, though I think that, lacking a viewfinder, its price is high. I have preferences and prejudices, but do try to get the facts. I try to let the facts and shooting preferences determine my purchase behavior, and I like to think that I'm at least partially successful.
  3. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Hall of Famer

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    You have a preference as opposed to a prejudice. It sounds like your choices are well-reasoned and based on your experience. Every photographer has different needs and the Panasonic micro four thirds fit my "overall" needs better but I hear you on the E-M5 IBIS in particular. Even though I've now sold it, the E-M5 was the camera that convinced me I COULD ditch my Nikon DSLR stuff. Both those companies are showing real guts and pushing limits in ways I love. My lenses will continue to be a mix for now as Panasonic can't touch that lovely Olympus 75mm f/1.8 and I really like my 17mm f/1.8 also and kept that.

    I have an E-P1 and a Panasonic G1 in my camera collection that is predominantly film cameras because to me they were the "game changers". I will likely "self assign" with them at some point just to show that the originals still hold up well, despite all the newer bodies out there.
  4. Isoterica

    Isoterica Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    Simplified: A well known name matters as far as reputation in products and service goes but I am not brand loyal. It kinda follows what do I need, what brands will offer what I need, at what price range can they fill my needs and then who has the best specs, ergonomics, happiness quotient..
  5. ReD

    ReD Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    I had the same snobby attitude (from other photographers) when I bought the Fuji STX1 in the early 80's

    I'll cast my eye around any brand if the camera interests me & gives me what I need
  6. ajramirez

    ajramirez Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 9, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    I am not in the least brand conscious; that's why I shoot Leica. :smile:

    Seriously speaking, I have always bought gear on IQ, features and feel. When I was shooting m4/3 I started out with an Oly E-P1, but moved to a Lumix G2 based on feel and handling. As to my SLR and DSLR gear, it has been Canon for the last 32 years, because once you buy into a system and build a lens set, it's hard to switch.

    I really could not care less what people think about the camera I shoot with.
  7. Gary

    Gary All-Pro

    Aug 19, 2012
    Southern California
    Gary Ayala
    I buy based on a number of things. In the film only days I only purchased Nikon and Hasselblad, entirely because that was the equipment the companies I worked for supplied. Sort of a no brainer. For fun I grabbed a Leica M3. I tried a pair of motorized Leica M4 (yes, motorized!) for work. Meh ... Nikon was better and never required servicing. If the companies had stock piled Canon or Lomo, then I would had purchased Canon or Lomo. My dSLR is Canon, so now legacy, my lens legacy dictates Canon.

    Now, when I purchase a new camera I look at the camera specs, in particular FPS and AF more than anything else. Then I look at the system behind the camera. Does the camera support my photographic style and my preferred genre(s). Then a closer look at the individual lenses I would want, how fast are they, build quality, resolution, et al. Typically, the better known camera manufacturers have better systems then the lesser knowns, as the dedicated camera makers to the very diversified manufacturers. I may factor in growth, as in µ4/3, the lens lineup was far from stellar when I jumped in, but µ4/3 was quickly moving into the faster, high resolution, quality build lenses I prefer. Had the GH3 come out prior to the OM-D, I probably be shooting Panasonic now. But in a way, I'm happier with my Oly's because they represent a real camera maker (My Blue Ray and electric shaver are Panasonic my camera is Olympus. lol).


    PS- Like ajrameriz, all I really care about is the final image ... equipment be damned ... but I do appreciate people oohh-ing and awwa-ing my Fuji's or asking about the OM-D.
  8. hannahntilly

    hannahntilly Regular

    Apr 13, 2012
    Surrey, UK
    My elder brother got me a Fuji 35mm rangefinder when I was about 13 in 1976.

    In 1980, I got a Canon A1/50mm because he had an AE1 and I thought that he'd be jealous (I still have the receipt for £199). Did my own b&w processing for a few years.

    On impulse in about 1995, I got a Nikon F801s (N8008 in the US) with 28/70mm for an enormous sum (£850) and my girlfriend/wife still talks about my extravagance. Also got a much more affordable (£16) Lubitel TLR but never used it.

    In 2003, I bought my first digital - a Canon EOS300d (Rebel). (Another £850 ish). Never used it because it was too big - it was also too "plasticky" to my aesthetic taste. I started to use a series of compact Canon - A560 and 860IS and found that I was more likely to carry them.

    A couple of years later, I was laid off and haven't been tempted back to paid employment since. I'm now time-rich but cash-poor so am much more driven by value.

    I then bought a Lumix G1 in 2010. It was just the right size and felt "just right". It was also a great price (About £300). A Lumix LX5 followed (because it too was a great price) and a better size. A GF3 followed about a year ago because it was cheap and came with a 14mm pancake thrown in. Currently tempted by a Fuji X but will probably upgrade to something else m4/3 when I see a good deal. I don't think I'd buy another Canon - not sure why. Nikon maybe. Pentax more likely.
  9. bartjeej

    bartjeej Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 12, 2010
    I make a pretty big effort to choose a camera based on its own merits, with no regard to the brand. Having said that, if there're 2 equally capable cameras, I'd probably choose the one that isn't a Canon or a Nikon - just to support diversity in the camera market place.
  10. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    One day someone smashed my little world
    - Leica cameras (even with that hoighty-toighty "Lux" somewhere in their name) were but a shell wrapped around a Panasonic camera
    - Most sensors are made by Sony
    - Some pros hide their brands...like black tape over the 'paid a premium' red dot
    - Samsung make cameras :eek:....but I love my TV and phone!
    Yeah this brand snobbery thing has me beat, like a cotton T with "Armani" painted on it somehow elevates it's value as a ....well t-shirt.
  11. I buy whatever suits me at the time. When I bought my first (and only) SLR I had absolutely no idea of brands or what was out there. I ended up with a Minolta SRT303b. It happened to be a very good camera with an excellent 50mm lens. When I eventually went digital I wetn looking for Minolta, only to discover it had been swallowed by Konica, and then both by Sony. I didnt end up buying Sony and cant remember why. I paused at Kodak, Olympus, and Fuji compacts and bridge cameras before going with Pentax for my DSLR. For that, it was about economics, and has been, ever since. I looked at a Canon 6D a couple of weeks ago... was with a friend who is stuck on Canon (compacts, DSLR etc, doesnt own another brand) and played with it for a minute, but the only thing I found attractive was the viewfinder. I guess I tend to resist buying Canikon, because everyone in this town seems to have one or the other. I now quite enjoy feeling quietly superior to those who feel superior because I only shoot Pentax :) Not because of the camera, but because I am not locked in to any particular brand. I have Olympus, Ricoh, Fuji and Panasonic and if something suits me better than Pentax at some point in the future, I will sell my current gear, and move on.
  12. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Hall of Famer

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    I think Konica sold the Minolta assets, but Konica still exists as a separate company doesn't it? I might be wrong.
  13. Yes, I think so. Its like the Pentax camera stuff being sold on but Hoya still owns the medical stuff... I think...
  14. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    I can currently count (in no particular order!) a Canon, an Olympus, a Panasonic, a Samsung, and a Ricoh in my possession, which range from very little to a whole lot of photographic notoriety. If I have a prejudice it comes from knowing what I like. I also don't so much like the brands as I do the individual cameras and systems.
  15. Biro

    Biro Super Moderator

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    That's right in both cases. Konica still exists as a separate company and even dabbles in lenses. But Sony purchased the Minolta camera business as a going concern (as opposed to just the brand or intellectual rights) and put their name on Minolta's cameras and lenses. So Minolta kind of lives on. Hoya sold Pentax's camera business to Ricoh and continues to operate Pentax's medical technology business.

    Now... to the subject of the original post. I must confess that I am brand aware - but in kind of a reverse way. I deliberately steer away from both Canon and Nikon - even though both make great products - simply because they are the brands of the masses and the wanna-bes. Please understand that I don't mean to flame anyone. If either Canon or Nikon works for you, fantastic. But, somewhere about four or five years ago (and for a number of different reasons) I just decided to take another route.

    I was already a Pentaxian by then and jumped on micro four thirds early. Olympus was a brand that carried a lot of cachet for me and Panasonic's designs were impressive. Other than avoiding Canon and Nikon, I tend to simply buy what appeals or is useful to me. And I tend to be very clear about both.

    By the way, I'm kind of like this with cars and motorcycles as well. I own a Subaru and tend to steer clear of the entry luxury brands that appeal to a lot of wanna-bes. I also avoid Honda and Toyota - both excellent brands - simply because I hate to see myself coming and going at every corner. I had a Harley-Davidson once about 30 years ago. Never again.
  16. flash

    flash Veteran

    May 6, 2011
    if anything I'm biased against the bigger players. The big two don't really seem interested in innovation and their service in Oz leaves a lot to be desired. Incremental upgrade after incremental upgrade. My two current brands (Olympus and Leica) are both historically significant brands that have been forced to forge a new path in order to survive against the two 800lb gorilla in the room. If I were to buy another DSLR itwould be a Sony. I reckon the a99 is the most incredible SLR available today. And they have af Zeiss lenses. Yum.

  17. Gary

    Gary All-Pro

    Aug 19, 2012
    Southern California
    Gary Ayala
    When you have most of the pie, you get more concerned about keeping what you got as opposed to getting more pie from someone else.
  18. I would have to agree with most of that, Gordon, esp re innovation... local service of Canon is pretty good, its what they push like crazy in the one and only remaining dedicated B&M camera store here. Agreed about the Sony. If it wasnt so damned heavy I would be tempted to jump ship. Talk about blazing fast AF and burst shooting. yikes.
  19. flash

    flash Veteran

    May 6, 2011
    Not for me. 20 years as a Canon CPS member and not once was a loan available when I had a repair in. And I know people in CPS well. I've worked with some of them. On the other hand the grip I dropped into Olympus for repair, this week, was ready the next day.

  20. LOL.. I meant jump ship to the a99. But anyway... Olympus is having a much greater appeal to me, too, of late, especially since my wrist aches like mad every time I go out with the pentax. Even the 20 minutes this morning set it off. I need lightweight. And that isnt Canon *or* Nikon (or even Pentax unless I can find an old Kr)... EM-5 or E-P5 both appeal at the moment... some time after the GR.