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choosing a digital camera Xmas 2019


  • nearly all modern digital mirrorless cameras are excellent and will take great images but they ALL have their pros and cons and NONE are optimised for every photographic scenario
  • I have concentrated on mirroless cameras as these are the future technology and the older dSLR systems will slowly be replaced with mirrorless over the next 5 to 10 years, and no Canon or Nikon dSLRs have IBIS, nevertheless, if you are budget challenged, you may wish to consider purchasing a dSLR system second hand at very good prices.
  • I have excluded cameras without in body sensor shift image stabilisation (IBIS) such as Canon, most of the Fuji cameras and the old Sony a7
  • I have categorised into sensor resolution:
    • ultra-high > 60mp - mainly for pros using it as for high resolution but wanting even greater resolution
    • high 40-50mp - for special purposes such as architecture, landscapes, and studio work
    • standard 20-24mp - the most versatile, and useful size which is easiest to process and store
    • low 10-12mp (this are generally optimised for low light high ISO video work)
  • the following are in $AU for camera bodies only as of Nov 2019 (NB. I do NOT SELL these!)
  • the Sony full frame cameras are the longest established full frame mirrorless cameras having been introduced in 2013 but these have issues:
    • cameras are generally too small to be ergonomic to use and are imbalanced with the large, heavy and expensive native lenses (with a few exceptions being some small primes such as the 35mm f/2.8)
    • the price is going up astronomically for each new model, leaving the budget minded stranded with old models and the update to the Sony a7R III full frame mirrorless camera has far too many pixels to be usable for most people and both the Sony a7R IV and Sony a9ii full frame mirrorless camera are far too expensive for most people
    • each generation has similar body ergonomics and with each generation much better functionality is added (2nd gen added IBIS, 3rd gen added much improved AF, EVF and battery life) and the a7 4th generation at last has nice ergonomics and weathersealing which has plagued the initial three generations, but still does not have an articulating rear screen for selfies or protection of the rear screen, and the menu system is still awful.
    • the a9, a9II and a7RIV (and to lesser extent, the a7III and a7RIII) have the best Eye AF tracking
    • the Sony a7 III full frame mirrorless camera is a great value option, but personally I would wait for the a7IV which should finally have nice ergonomics and better weathersealing
  • the new Nikon Z full frame mirrorless system cameras seem good but there are current issues:
    • only one card slot which could be a show stopper for pros who need a backup
    • Eye AF is still not working as well as needed
    • lack of native pro lens quality line up to match
  • the new Canon R full frame and APS-C mirrorless camera system cameras are entry level quality only and do not have IBIS, but Canon are making some nice, but expensive pro lenses which make it a great tool for tripod mounted selfie vlogging
  • the new Panasonic S full frame mirrorless system cameras are great but are larger and heavier which may suit many people
  • the Fujifilm X mirrorless system system is a cropped sensor system with some nice cameras and lenses, but they are quite expensive and only one camera to date has IBIS
  • the Micro Four Thirds system which includes Panasonic and Olympus cropped sensor cameras are awesome for most people for general use and travel given that their lens system is much small, lighter, and generally much less expensive than the Sony full frame equivalent, the main downside is that the image quality is not as good at high ISO which is needed for moving subjects in very low light, but there is a compromise one must pay for every system.

Ultra high resolution cameras

  • very few people need these and those that do will have to put up with the frustrations of slow post-processing times and need for higher powered computers and lots of storage.
  • these may be best suited to those who will actually PRINT large prints of their landscape, architectural, studio photography, or, for shooting hi res intervalometer movies
    • HOWEVER, high density sensors such as the Sony a7RIV show up diffraction earlier so landscape and architectural photographers will be forced to either lose sharpness or lose depth of field with having to use wider apertures such as f/4.0-f/5.6 with high quality, expensive prime lenses such as Zeiss Batis or some Sony GM lenses - see here, and even with the Fuji medium format sensor, landscape photographers run into this issue - see here having to stop down the lens further requires higher ISO to stop wind blur - there is no free lunch!
  • their high resolution does allow a usable crop mode which adds versatility, thus a 35mm f/1.4 becomes in effect a 50mm f/2 lens in APS-C mode on a 35mm FF camera
  • examples include:
    • Fujifilm GFX 100S medium format digital camera $AU16,485 105mp
    • Sony a7R IV $AU5,298 61mp with 26mp 1.5x APS-C crops (discounted $AU4500)
      • combined with the Sony 200-600mm GM lens, it makes a great wildlife kit used in APS-C crop mode, but then, why not just buy an Olympus E-M1X and save some money and weight on the lens?

High resolution full frame cameras for landscapes, architecture and studio work

  • these are around 45mp and even these file sizes can be cumbersome to manage
  • examples include:
    • Leica SL2 - $AU9999?
      • “The Leica SL2 is an artist’s dream, the best for manual focus lenses (and even anamorphic thanks to the 5.5K 4:3 mode) and supremely specced at the same time as being blazingly fast, fun and IN DEPTH like no other camera I have ever known. The best mirrorless camera ergonomically and for build quality bar none. The colour science and codec is unbelievably good”1)
    • Panasonic S1R $AU4,400
    • Sony a7R III full frame mirrorless camera - $AU3499 (discounted $AU2900)
    • Nikon Z7 $AU3,459 but only 1 card slot and Eye AF not as good yet, and minimal lenses
    • Sony a7R II full frame mirrorless camera - old version $AU2,469 (discounted $AU2100)

Standard resolution general purpose full frame cameras

  • these are around 24mp and examples include:
  • should you wait for better cameras in 2020?
    • a Sony a7IV will presumably have the much nicer ergonomics and weathersealing, and the better AF of the a7RIV and perhaps may annoyingly be 30mp sensor and with the a7RIII's EVF
    • a Nikon Z6 mark II will hopefully have 2 SD card slots and improved AF - the EyeAF remains a weak area

Standard resolution APS-C cameras

Standard resolution sports cameras

Standard resolution video optimised cameras

  • full frame
    • Panasonic S1H 6K 24p, 10-bit 4K/60p, the only stills camera approved by Netflix for video production
      • “an image quality monster, the most full-featured of any mirrorless or DSLR camera on the market for full frame video, although driving it is like stepping out of the Leica SL2’s Porsche 911 into a Toyota utility vehicle, the sheer image quality is undeniable.”2)
    • Panasonic S1 4K 60p/50p but 1.5x crop; Oversampled 4K/30p no crop;
    • Sony a9 full frame mirrorless camera 4K 30p, 1080 120p; but no flip out selfie LCD screen
  • full frame tripod mounted selfie vlogging camera
  • compact, lighter, Micro Four Thirds system

Low resolution video optimised cameras for low light

Standard resolution travel, more compact systems

  • see also my blog post
  • compact, lighter, Micro Four Thirds system
    • Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark II $AU1,870 - easily the best in this bracket if pro features, sports/wildlife with larger telephoto lenses is your priority as it has a lovely built-in grip to make using such lenses far more ergonomic
    • Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III $AU1,899 - easily the best of this bracket if you want the most compact form factor and most versatility, has PDAF, styling, weathersealing, high end features, IBIS and is the best hand held selfie vlogging camera BUT like all the following cameras, requires an optional grip to make it comfortable to use larger lenses
      • without the optional grip, this is best used with the compact, light, small f/1.8 prime lenses and the 12mm f/2 lens, and if the best image quality is not your priority, perhaps the Olympus mZD 12-200mm f/3.5-6.3 16x zoom lens for awesome zoom range
    • Olympus OM-D E-M5 II $AU888 - no PDAF
    • Panasonic GX9 $AU934 - good EVF which tilts upwards but no PDAF, no HiRes mode
    • PanasonicG95 $AU1,129 - no PDAF, no HiRes mode - for the money, the G9 is a much better camera, albeit bigger and heavier
    • Olympus OM-D E-M10 mark III camera - $AU821 - built-in flash, but not weathersealed, no PDAF, no selfie mode, no HiRes mode
    • PanasonicG85 $AU644 - no PDAF, no HiRes mode
    • Panasonic Lumix G7 Micro Four Thirds camera $AU655 - no PDAF, no HiRes mode
    • Olympus OM-D E-M10 mark II camera $AU645 - built-in flash, but not weathersealed, no PDAF, no selfie mode, no HiRes mode
  • other entry level mirrorless cameras without IBIS
    • Sony a6100 - has PDAF and better AF for moving people than most of the above but EVF is not as good, slow flash sync of 1/160th sec and no IBIS
    • Fujifilm X-A7 - has PDAF and articulated, higher res. screen but no EVF, slow flash sync of 1/180th sec and no IBIS
photo/dig_buying_2019.txt · Last modified: 2020/01/11 10:26 by gary1

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