Tips on cameras
Michael Reichmann from The Luminous Landscape just reported about his 6 months of experience (and some 6,000 frames he took) with the Sony Nex-7 camera.
And Kirk Tuck, who changed his setup in the past from Nikon to Olympus to Canon is at the moment using a Sony Alpha 77 camera.
David Taylor-Hughes aka SoundImagePlus, who also tried and compared lots and lots of different cameras (the last one is/was the Fuji X-Pro 1) is also very satisfied with his use of the Sony Nex-7.
So what is it that makes these newer Sony cameras so interesting even for pros, and are these worth a second thought for us mere mortals and hobby photographers as well?
First, let’s consider their electronic viewfinders. These are identical in the Nex-7 compact camera, and in the two top-of-the-line “prosumer” SLTs, the Alpha 77 and 65, and they are huge, like you can see at this page on DPReview – as huge as the one on a full frame Canon 1DS3, and much bigger than Olympus’ really good VF-2 or even on Panasonic’s G3. I have finally understood the importance of and written about the experience with looking through a big and bright (non-electronic, but optical) viewfinder after buying my Olympus OM-2N camera – these had the best ones around at the time, and are still worth a look if you never have done that. An electronic viewfinder may not give you the exact same experience (like Michael also writes), but on the other hand it gives you lots of worthwhile additional info even before taking a photo, like Kirk is always writing, so these might be considered the best viewfinders you can get at the moment, in any camera – if you don’t really need an optical one. That one feature alone makes a Sony Alpha 65 for instance – a 1000€ (or $) camera – a strong contender to, say, a Nikon D7000 or a Canon 60D.
Then there’s that Sony sensor. These newest models have an APS-C sized sensor with 24 Megapixels, and these are – together with another 16 Megapixel sensor which is also used in other cameras like the Nikon D7000 or the Pentax K-5 – the best in their current class. So if you really want to print big, but do not want to spend almost 3,000€ (or $) on that new Nikon D800, one of these might be worth a look. Even that 16MP sensor in the Pentax K-5 is still a nice one, and that camera is at the moment offered for way less than 1000€ even with its kit zoom – a steal for that money I’d say, because it’s one of the smallest and sturdiest and at the moment cheapest fully weather-sealed cameras you could get. With Sony, you’d have to get the A77 and pay double for that feature alone.
Also weather-sealed is the next very interesting product, which is the upcoming micro Four Thirds champion from Olympus, the OM-D series E-M5 (ca. 1000€/$ for the body alone, some more with a 12-50mm kit zoom). No, this is not a digital OM-2N or OM-4Ti; first there’s not a full frame sensor in it, and second – like Kai from DigitalRev mentioned – it feels more like an eletronic “toy” than like one of these older and “real” cameras. But having said that, aren’t all of today’s modern cameras in fact more like computers with some more or less good lens attached? This one from Olympus has one big advantage, and that’s the available lenses from both Olympus and also from Panasonic, some of the latter even being branded as “Leica” (and worth every € or $ if you think about the f=1:1.4 25mm for instance). Also, being a mirrorless system like the Nex-7 makes this new Olympus a very small camera which could be the perfect companion for travel, street shooting, or for landscape photography.
So there you have it. No real “must buy” tips from me this time, and while I still regard a D7000 or a 60D as a highly desirable camera, I mostly wrote about newer systems here, either completely mirrorless or – like the Alphas – with a fixed and “translucent” mirror. A D800? Well yes, any time – as long as you can haul around those full frame lenses, and also live with the storage space you’ll need for these 36 Megapixel photos (if you don’t need that much you can select smaller formats as well – it’s only fair to mention this).
So if this leaves you even more confused than before, and you’re not sure what to buy: well, if “compact” and “light” is more important than anything else, have a strong look at the Sony Nex and the Olympus (or Panasonic) mirrorless cameras. If size and weight are not that important, take these Sony Alphas in consideration to anything from Canon, Nikon, or Pentax – they simply seem to deserve it.
And even if you should hate Sony, like some people do, the fact that I had to mention them here in both camps makes them a force to reckon with, indeed. Let’s see if they really will bring out a rumored new full frame camera later this year (maybe at Photokina?).
P.S.: if all of these mentioned cameras are way above what you’d like to spend (most of those start 1 grand), and you still want something “modern”, then have a look at Olympus’ Pens (starting at around or under 250€/$ for the last ones of those E-PL1 cameras), or the Panasonic G3. And if you wonder about those mentioned “real” (film) cameras – well I’ve got mine, including a very nice 1:1.4 50mm lens for way under 100€, and even a used medium format camera could be the real steal, so to say.
Thanks for reading.