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Canon vs Nikon war still waging at major sports events


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The “war” between Canon and Nikon wages on multiple battlegrounds, including major sporting events such as FIFA World Cups and the Olympics. All eyes are on these international competitions, while a lot of photographers will be present to capture the action and to report it to news outlets. We have decided to take a closer look to see which one is the more popular system at these international showdowns: Canon or Nikon?

The answer would have been simpler to provide one or two decades ago. Canon and its white telephoto lenses used to have the complete advantage over Nikon.

Scenes like the ones below were nothing uncommon as Canon was simply better than Nikon in terms of sporting gear. But why?

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Canon’s presence at past Olympics. Nikon was almost nonexistent. (Click to make the image larger)

Canon used to stroll past Nikon at international sporting events

Towards the end of the 1980s Canon introduced the EOS system and the EF lens mount. The new cameras and lenses were no longer compatible with previous shooters and the FD-mount lenses.

However, Nikon has decided to keep supporting the aging F-mount, just like it continues to do so today.

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Canon’s monopoly over Nikon was easily noticeable at major sporting events.

The decision to start from zero proved to be a good one because lenses were using electronic contacts to communicate with the camera.

This has allowed Canon to provide superior autofocus performance, which has been considered a very important thing by professionals using large aperture super-telephoto lenses.

It was harder for Nikon to implement new technologies into an old system, so Canon’s high-end DSLRs for professionals were simply better than Nikon’s offering at the time.

The 1D, 1Ds, 1D Mark II, and 1Ds Mark II had ruled the market until the Nikon D3 entered the fray in late 2007, just before the 2008 Olympics.

The 2008 Olympics in Beijing was the first time Nikon managed to be on par with Canon

Suddenly, the Canon monopoly turned into a somewhat even contest where the sea of white telephoto lenses have been joined by a multitude of Nikon black lenses.

You can easily see below how things changed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Now we can finally talk about a real Canon vs Nikon war waging at major sports events, where the discrepancy between the two giants is no longer as big as it used to be.

Canon vs Nikon battle continued at the 2010 World Cup and Olympics

Many people are claiming that white lenses look better than the black ones in the eyes of the beholders. This is why industry experts have affirmed that Canon is doing a fine job at marketing. The high-end lenses are all white and they will easily steal the attentions of the fans during short breaks.

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Just a small part of the photographers present at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Credits: Wolf Read.

Still, the distribution at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver was pretty even. However, at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Canon seemed to have an advantage over Nikon.

canon-vs-nikon-at-2010-world-cup-final Canon vs Nikon war still waging at major sports events Exposure

From this angle, Nikon seems to have the edge over Canon during the 2010 World Cup final. Credits: Ryu Voelkel.

Nevertheless, it depends on the vantage point as this photo captured during the Netherlands vs Spain final at the 2010 FIFA World Cup would have you believe that there were more Nikon users than Canon ones.

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This photo proves that it depends on where you’re looking. In the previous photo Nikon was dominating Canon at the 2010 World Cup, but in this photo there is only one black lens, with the white lenses clearly dominating. Credits: Mike Burnhill. (Click on image to make it larger)

Marketing showdown in 2011: Canon white lenses vs world-famous tennis player holding Nikon camera

On a side note, the 2011 Australian Open edition is a good example to show that Nikon has caught up with Canon at international sporting events.

The Canon vs Nikon marketing battle took an unexpected turn when beloved tennis player, Novak Djokovic, has joined the photographers’ booth and has begun capturing photos with a Nikon camera.

Djokovic’s actions may have not been premeditated, but Nikon has received a lot of free publicity thanks to his joke.

Once again, Nikon gear spotted in the hands of the star of the show

And then the 2012 London Olympics came. More and more black lenses have started showing up in the areas designated for photojournalists. In some photos, you can see more Nikon cameras than Canon ones, further silencing the doubters that the F-mount has finally caught up with the EF-mount.

As usual, Canon wins the marketing war. The EOS 1D X and 5D Mark III cameras were just released prior to the start of the 2012 Olympics. Even if consumer demand was quite high, the company’s gear room in London was filled with the recently-launched cameras.

Thankfully for Nikon, Usain Bolt has helped the company to recover some ground in the marketing department after borrowing a D4 DSLR from a photographer and taking pictures with it.

The whole world saw Bolt’s prank, so the company’s PR team members are probably still patting themselves on the back as the world’s fastest man was holding Nikon gear in his hands at the 2012 Olympics.

Canon receives media exposure with the photographers’ impressive camera and lens pool

Time has passed by rather quickly and the 2014 Olympics in Sochi arrived. A photo of Canon’s pool for the Olympics has been posted on the web and generated a lot of internet buzz. However, Nikon has had a huge presence in the stands.

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Photographer Robert Cianflone revealed what the Canon gear photographers could borrow at the 2014 Olympics. Credits: Robert Cianflone. (Click on image to make it larger)

It appears that the history repeated itself, as things were not so different at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi when compared to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Plenty of Nikon shooters have been spotted in the crowd, while Canon has shown just how much gear it has provided to the pros.

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Nikon photographers at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Credits: Jeff Cable. (Click on image to make it larger)

Canon’s big win came at the Super Bowl XLVIII, which also took place at the beginning of 2014. It appears that 75% of the photojournalists covering the event have used the company’s cameras and lenses, fact which can be easily seen in the photos below.

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Canon claimed that it had a 75% market share at the Super Bowl XLVIII.

Sony aiming to be noticed at 2014 World Cup, but all eyes are still on the Canon vs Nikon war

One of the largest sporting events of the current year is the 2014 World Cup, which is underway in Brazil. Once again, Sony is a major sponsor and all photographers have to wear orange vests that have big Sony logos on them.

However, it is very hard to spot someone using a Sony camera. Photojournalists appear to be using either a Canon or a Nikon shooter, further asserting Canikon’s dominance over its competitors.

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Canon vs Nikon at the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. In recent times, Nikon has caught up with Canon at major sporting events. Credits: Reuters.

Fanboys are probably looking to see whether or not there is a clear winner between the two. Thankfully, you can put down your pitchforks as is seems like the percentage is fairly even, so it may take a while until we will see a monopoly at the World Cup or Olympics.

Canon is claiming that it had a “market share” of 60% at the 2010 World Cup, while a 70% “market share” is targeted at the 2014 World Cup. Nevertheless, the photos are showing that the percentage is closer to 50-50 than 70-30.

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Canon and Nikon photographers are wearing Sony vests, although they are not using such cameras. Credits: (Click on image to make it larger)

As for the digital imaging world, we should all be happy that the high-end DSLR business is not dead, as the competition between the leaders dogs remains fierce.

Until the next major sports event, do you have or know about any Canon vs Nikon photos captured at such competitions? If so, then let us know in the comments section!

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