Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

Serious Camera Advice Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

21 November 2013

As someone who used to compile a camera gift guide this time every year, it's a pleasure to point out two real-world lists of recommended gear. And we're doing it in plenty of time for those Black Friday specials next week, too.


By real-world, we mean the advice of photographers who have actually used the cameras to do professional work. That's distinctly different from shooting charts in a lab environment or taking a walk around town for gallery shots. Real-world use is less forgiving, more demanding. A camera that can't stand up to those demands doesn't last long in the bag.

Not that there isn't value to the lab approach. The best of these is DxOMark by DxO Labs. If you're torn between two cameras or lenses, that's the place to break the tie.


While Thom Hogan may be best know for his Nikon coverage, his Mirrorless for the Holidays roundup reflects his much broader coverage of the mirrorless market on his Sans Mirror site.

It begins with a discussion of sensor sizes, which in mirrorless cameras ranges from the compact 5.7x7.6mm to the full frame 24x36mm. He next looks at the lens collections for each system, with m4/3 leading the pack and Sony far behind.

Then he recommends a few specific cameras from Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Samsung and Sony. But you can shove him into a corner to narrow even that list down:

If you really shoved me into a corner and asked me to pick just a single lower-end option and one higher-end option, it would be the Fujifilm X-A1 at the lower end and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 at the high end (though I suspect the price sensitive would be happy with the X-E2, OM-D E-M5 or GX7, I think).


If there's a company-agnostic shooter out there, it's Kirk Tuck. As he puts it:

I love to try out new cameras but I have strong prejudices about what constitutes a "good" camera and the metrics I use to determine what "good" means don't always have direct connections to a camera's technical specs or DxO-type ratings.

In his Kirk's Krazy Kameras of the Year, he spills the beans.

Like Hogan, he admires the Samsung Galaxy NX, summing up his experience:

The sensor is very nice, generates very good files and it's pretty much like the one in the NX 300, which is a camera I like. The lenses are very competitive and some, like the 60mm macro (which I have also returned), are exemplary. But I actually don't enjoy being connected all the time and I'll confess that I used the camera as a camera a lot in the "airplane" mode.

He also finds the Panasonic G6 "perfectly priced and insanely full-featured" but hasn't bought one yet. He does have the Pentax K-01 (two, in fact), which he forgives all its physical shortcomings because he finds the images "have colors which seem to go on forever and ever."

If video is your game, he recommends the Panasonic GH3 as the best option under $1,000. "I'm using it as a primary system and using the Sonys [a99] when I need narrow DOF or very high ISO work."

For full-frame, he loves the Canon 6D. "Don't know why I like this body so much but it's cheap and one of the better feeling cameras in the full frame pantheon. And the shutter sounds so much better than the Sony A7r's...."

There's a few cameras he's tired of hearing about, too, but you'll have to go to the Visual Science Lab story for that.


There's nothing scientific about those round-ups, perhaps, but there's a lot of enthusiasm behind them. And that should jingle some bells.

BackBack to Photo Corners