...Or a few that I can think of right now, anyway. In reverse order of importance:
8. You have a relationship with the company or one of its representatives. I know too many stories to recount. Includes sponsorship by that company, or membership in that company's Professional Services. Or maybe you just know someone associated with that brand, like my now-retired friend Don "Mr. Pentax" Nelson.
7. The camera really does have a feature you really like that a competing model doesn't have. If you really, really want video, you won't be happy with a Sony A900. If you really want, oh, say, body-integral IS (ahem), you won't be happy with a 5D Mark II.
6. You're "standing in line behind yourself." Dan Ariely, in his book Predictable Irrationality, notes that people love to do what other people are doing, so all of us are more likely to "stand in line" behind others and do what they do. In other words, lots of people buy Canon because lots of other people buy Canon. But, Ariely points out, we also "stand in line with ourselves," meaning, we want to do again over time what we have done before. Marketers know that if you've bought six Nikons in a row over twenty-five years, you're much more likely to buy a seventh Nikon. If you think of yourself as someone who "always buys American cars," your next car is much more likely to be an American one. And so on. It's harder to market something new or different to someone with entrenched habits. (I still can't believe I bought a car without a stick shift.)
5. The system in question has certain accessories you really need—the best flash system or a certain underwater housing or whatever.
4. You are already invested in that system.
3. It's what all your friends use. A friend emailed me this morning privately about this, and he's right. If all the photographers around you use one brand and you use another, you lose all kinds of benefits—loaning lenses and accessories back and forth, sharing esoteric secrets of menus and settings, etc. I started out with Contax, and switched to Nikon because I joined a studio with three other shooters, all of whom shot Nikon. It was partly that I wanted to borrow their equipment, and partly that I wanted to do my part within the group and be able to loan my equipment to them.
2. The lenses you want or need fit that camera body.
1. You really want a particular camera. It amazes me that so many people will go to such great lengths working to objectively justify a particular buying choice when the real reason is simply that they really want it. To me, really wanting something is the best reason to buy something, not the worst. There's nothing dishonorable or indulgent about it; you'll be happier, shoot more often, and might even do better work if you have the camera and/or lens you want. They're only cameras—we're not talking beach houses or Italian exoticars or Gulfstream jets. If you really want something, lucky for you—how much better is that than indecision, or not having a basis to choose, or, worst of all, "purchase paralysis"? It's worse to not know. So if you really want something, save your money and get it.
Why not? It's a very good reason, if you ask me. We only live once.
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by hugh crawford: "When I was doing this stuff for money, the biggest reasons to pick a brand were that:
- It was easiest to rent if you needed some esoteric lens or accessory;
- It had enough people using it that it was easy to buy or sell used gear at not too much of a loss (pro gear didn't used to lose value very quickly);
- Assistants knew their way around it; and
- Clients were comfortable with it.
"So I ended up using Nikons, Hasselblads, and Normans, because they were effectively the cheapest, most practical gear I could be using, because it was popular, even though I would have much rather used Rolleis, Pentaxes, and Graflexes. Normans were fine either way.
"Now I'm using full-frame Canons and the Sony NEX because they work with all the Nikon, Pentax and other weird bits of gear that I have lying around or want to try. Don't much care for the lenses that match the cameras, although there are some lenses for the other Sony cameras that look pretty nice."