Why was Canon crowned “King of HDSLRs” by most people?

Canon can’t compete on price or performance. Not even close! Yet they’re favoured by so many people for filming with, why is that?

They reason they’re so common is simple:


Canon and Nikon are behemoths that have for years dominated the DSLR market.

Thus when the HDSLR first came along they (Canikon) were in position to also utterly dominate the HDSLR market as well. Simply due to their sheer size, presence, and marketing budget.

Performance and value for money be damned!

Because in *every* camera store (and especially non-specialist camera stores) you’d walk into they’d have Canon and Nikon cameras for sale. You can’t say that about all of their competitors.

And on every online forum you’d go to, or blog, or YouTube channel, you’d have millions of fanboys for one of Canikon (even if they’re photographers, with zero experience with filming with a DSLR, they’ll be recommending a Canikon DSLR to any newbie filmmaker who comes along). The voices of the alternatives are so tiny and quiet in comparison you can barely hear them.

You can quickly see how unfortunately performance/price ends up only being a minor factor, and Canikon has from the start a huge huge head start over their competition in the HDSLR race because they already dominated the DSLR marketing with their Canikon monopoly.

So you can understand why it was unfairly largely just a two horse race: Nikon vs Canon. Now why did Canon win over Nikon out of Canikon in the brand battle for HDSLR? Initially Nikon had the lead, as they released the first ever HDSLR: Nikon D90.

But then not too long after Canon released the 5Dmk2, and as bad as that early version was (very bad!), it still is a leap ahead from the D90. And Nikon was very slow to react in responding, because both Canon (their DSLR department) and Nikon are stills companies. They stumbled totally by accident into the HDSLR Revolution.

But Nikon did finally catch up, with cameras such as the Nikon D5200:



And now with the Nikon D750, Nikon is quite clearly ahead of Canon in video and not just ahead in stills performance.

But it is all too little, too late, in the Nikon vs Canon battle the battle had long ago been won and Canon crowned “King of HDSLRs” over Nikon (and once that happens, it is hard to shake off even long after the initial shine has gone).

Even though this is totally not true if you look beyond the blinkered Canikon false choice and see the alternatives. For instance the Panasonic GH1 came out at the same time as the Canon 5Dmk2, and the GH1 is a *much* cheaper camera and is all round superior (well… debatably the 5Dmk2 is just as good, but I’ve used both on the same shoot and I don’t think so at all).

So right from the start Canon has been behind, but I think it is only now with the Panasonic GH4 + Sony A7s + Samsung NX1 that people are starting to wake up and realise just how huge that gap has become between Canon vs everybody else while Canon was sleeping on its laurels.

It has been suggested on Facebook that I should have mentioned Magic Lantern as a major factor. But I was doing a rather big picture meta view with this blog post.

As really, ML not existing would have made less impact than you think. It is true ML was a big factor for Canon, but only in that ML helped Canon keep its place in the sun for longer (as it gave Canon some features which its competitors already had natively), but it isn’t what enabled Canon to be there “in the lead” in the first place.

Also just look at how often people would recommend and leap onto the latest Canon camera, long before ML supported that camera. The Canon 7D is a common example (wasn’t until over 3yrs after its announcement that ML supported the 7D, due to its dual processor design). Yet the image quality of the Canon 7D is awful, see here for yourself how very badly it compares against the much cheaper Panasonic GH1 (a camera you can now pick up on eBay for under US$200):

Canon 7d vs. Panasonic GH1 test from Bradley Steenkamp on Vimeo.

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