Enthusiast interchangeable lens camera 2013 roundup

The photography enthusiast has never had such a wide choice of great cameras to choose from - with the advent of mirrorless cameras swelling the ranks of highly capable cameras available for around $1,200. Although there's not always a difference in image quality, when compared to mid-level mirrorless cameras or mid-level DSLRs, the enthusiast models tend to gain more direct external controls, better viewfinders and more substantial build quality.

We'll look at seven of the most capable models here:

Exactly which model makes sense for you will depend on a number of factors - do you already have lenses that work with one of these cameras? Do you need fast focus tracking and continuous shooting rates? Are you looking to dust-off and make use of some old manual focus lenses?

All of these models are based around APS-C or Four Thirds sensors. If you're willing to spend more money, and carry some additional weight, Nikon, Canon and Sony have all introduced full-frame models that offer a similar degree of control and build to the models featured here. However, even without taking that step, these enthusiast models offer until-recently undreamt of image quality in a more compact package.

Comments

Total comments: 267
12
Mike99999
By Mike99999 (5 months ago)

I think it's a bad move to recommend the D7100 simply based on the fact that Nikon completely abandoned the development of DX lenses. And this is coming from a Nikon user.

I consider the D7100 and 70D as 'bait' cameras. Enthousiasts buy them because they are inexpensive, and in the case of Nikon the 35/1.8 lens is inexpensive as well. Soon thereafter most enthousiasts realize that there does not exist a nice set of APS-C primes. After this point it is a) upgrade to FX or b) switch to another system.

I think any photography website should strongly recommend micro four thirds cameras because it's an open standard and these Nikon-style shenanigans are impossible on an open standard.

I really wish there would be an open standard for full frame as well.

10 upvotes
SxeHunKA77
By SxeHunKA77 (5 months ago)

Uhm!
Correction Nikkor's latest lens is the 18-140mm which is a DX
The APS-C Primes are reasonable and are at focal lengths popular and suitable for the DX sixed sensor, you don't need twenty 35mms to choose from to appreciate what 35mm is for.
When I was buying my 1st DSLR I was tossing between the D7100 and D600,and I finally got the D600 because by review if you're going to upgrade later I upgraded from the start with FX.

0 upvotes
SxeHunKA77
By SxeHunKA77 (5 months ago)

...don't vex when you buy a bicycle and it doesn't have features like a motorcycle...
One love!!!

1 upvote
stevens37y
By stevens37y (5 months ago)

I simply wait a year.

0 upvotes
ThePhilips
By ThePhilips (5 months ago)

Judging by the mix of cameras on the list, the "enthusiast camera" moniker meaning less and less.

Inclusion of the Pentax on the list is rather unexpected. Sad to see system sliding into obsolescence. But IMO in 2013 and forward, with such limited lens catalog, having just lost 3rd party lens manuf support, and no video, the Pentax simply has no place on the list among the mainstream cameras today. Sad, but true.

NEX-7 and Fuji X-Pro1 are also oddballs on the list. IMO they are not proper "enthusiast cameras", but "enthusiast's second cameras". And that deserves its own category. Many own two systems this days, and choice of second system is important too. I think "Best enthusiast cam to go with your Canon/Nikon DSLR" might be two interesting topics (one for Canon, one for Nikon).

1 upvote
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (5 months ago)

So who is exactly "enthusiast"?
Someone interested in photography, happy making photos, and willing to invest in bettering the results, and not only gear?
I'd say anyone who isn't enthusiast is not a photographer.
That would include those who think the cameras make photos, and there is no need to expand their knowlege. For those, amateurs or pros, photography will always be the wrong activity.
As regards gear, the choice is (as it always was) dependent upon the kind of photos one wants to make, and within that, one's personal financial reach.
But enthusiasm will always be the "spiritus movens", or there will be no results worth seeing, whatever the camera.

2 upvotes
haziz
By haziz (5 months ago)

Research the Pentax system before posting. Pentax has the largest selection of APSc oriented prime lenses of any system and is a great camera to use. It also definitely has video.

11 upvotes
audiobomber
By audiobomber (5 months ago)

Pentax brand will be around for a long time. Ricoh bought Pentax to compete, not to fold up shop.

Ricoh Pentax camera division will make a profit this fiscal year (ending March 31, 2014). Most camera divisions are bleeding money, year after year.

7 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (5 months ago)

haziz - moreover: Pentax got largest selection of pancake lenses. Puts mirrorless systems in shame. Including the joke-winner OMD EM1.

3 upvotes
jamesm007
By jamesm007 (5 months ago)

Pentax without question belongs here. Pentax is really moving up the "enthusiasts" game! Its making what seems PRO level APS dSLRs. Pentax users have a large list of consumer level sealed lens, not just its PRO lens. Pentax consumer WR lens use the same method of sealing C/N uses for its zoom lens at the zoom joint. But C/N charge a lot for WR; why no consumer WR lens for the D7000 or 60D. I think C/N will offer one however (if not see my reply to this)? Its nice what competition will do for price to performance ratios. Not saying Pentax is better than any other choice, but it belongs on this list as it was a major starter of affordable high performing dSLRs with the award winning hi-spec Pentax K10D. Pentax has the largest collection of lens dedicated and designed for digital APS sensors than anyone. This capitalizes on APS lens benefits of smaller size, less weight and lower manufacturing costs. Why make a APS dSLR if your not going to take advantage of it? Again, no wrong choice ;)

4 upvotes
jamesm007
By jamesm007 (5 months ago)

As for Canon and Nikon not making really low cost weather sealed kit lens. You would think they would. If not? Well all Pentax weather resistant bodies that started with the K10D had top PRO level sealing. Simply put they were designed for very harsh weather. There are no short cuts. As sealed as any. Pentax offered PRO level sealed lens. Great! But when Pentax released the lower cost K200D many cried they wanted a low cost kit WR lens. The rest of that is history for others to look up. Why would Canon and Nikon not offer a lower cost sealed kit lens for the D7100, 60D. Because this makes it available to all users of bodies that are stated to have weather sealing. The problem is 'how much' sealing. This would open a can of worms and people would be putting the lens on bodies that don't have PRO level sealing and cause harm. If you can afford a PRO level C/N dSLR you can the sealed lens. C/N have to save features and benefits for its top cameras. Still great systems, All have cons/pros

2 upvotes
buzzinhornet
By buzzinhornet (5 months ago)

Read much before spouting incorrect information?
I guess not!
SAD BUT TRUE!!!!

0 upvotes
wildkat2
By wildkat2 (4 months ago)

Wow sounds like 90's FUD about Apple.

"sliding into obsolescence" - I didn't know that light was incompatible with Pentax cameras. Maybe you mean file format. oh wait, Pentax is the only DSLR that shots in DNG as a native format meaning no matter how new it is Lightroom can ALWAYS read a Pentax RAW file.

limited lens catalog - You are half right. Yes the catalog is limited - DA Limiteds are excellent lenses. The FA Limiteds are even better. No one has a better range of small primes and because stabilization is in body, they all benefit.

just lost 3rd party lens manuf support - So that Tamron 70-200/2.8 I use is not real? Or the Sigma 30mm/1.8?

See sometimes its better to be quiet and let people wonder than open your mouth and let them confirm.

Comment edited 27 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
pdelux
By pdelux (5 months ago)

Olympus on a roll. Love it or hate it, one must applaud the sheer audacity to put a sensor half the size of 35mm in a Pro body and compete against cameras twice the weight/size (some of them). They delivered the IQ, the body and the finally the promise of m4/3 is fulfilled. It took 5 years but they got there. Bravo.

5 upvotes
Chris Noble
By Chris Noble (5 months ago)

Which camera are you referring to? m43 is 1/4 the size of FF.

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (5 months ago)

"put a sensor half the size of 35mm in a Pro body and compete against cameras twice the weight/size" - and twice the capabilities for the same price.
It's ridiculous how poor value that body has.

0 upvotes
Dccps
By Dccps (5 months ago)

Plastek, you obviously don't like m4/3rds. But your biased opinion has nothing at all to do with real photography. Put any camera into the right hands and magic can be made. I shoot and have shot with many cameras. They have ALL produced some awesome images. And today, I mostly shoot with m4/3rds. Size, weight are unbeatable. IQ is excellent. And the Oly E-M1 is outstanding.

2 upvotes
wansai
By wansai (5 months ago)

plastek, you are trolling. the em1 outperforms any ff body at that price range, is weather sealed, has class leading stabilisation and is rugged, has fast/accurate focus and has very good controls.

at that price range, the ff cameras may win on IQ and maybe another metric but in literally everything else, the em1 is the better camera.

a camera is more than just sheer IQ. it's the sum of its parts and the em1 is one of the most competent cameras you can buy. you want a better ff camera than the em1 is a camera, you have to spend more.

but there's no convincing ppl like you because you're only here to hate.

0 upvotes
Ad B
By Ad B (5 months ago)

Hi,

a pity you didn't test the Sony A7 in this test.
His test scene samples are very inpressive

0 upvotes
udris
By udris (5 months ago)

my cat's smarter than your pigeon

6 upvotes
Gunston Gun
By Gunston Gun (5 months ago)

Fuji color is unbeatable

1 upvote
Clive Dickinson
By Clive Dickinson (5 months ago)

The Sony NEX 6 is much better than these for an all-round camera. Great picture quality, excellent high iso performance, faster AF and very light for travel.

3 upvotes
KariIceland
By KariIceland (5 months ago)

Eh, plainly false, but thanks for throwing your bias out there.

10 upvotes
BlueBomberTurbo
By BlueBomberTurbo (5 months ago)

Untrue. I have both the D7100 and NEX-6, and the D7100 pretty much beats the 6 on everything except size/weight. AF is way faster (not including Live View), images are much sharper, with more dynamic, less noise, and better color accuracy, and there's a massive selection of lenses where the NEX system has very few. I picked up the 6 as a daily-use camera, since it has the same sensor as the old D7000, which isn't bad by a long shot, but the D7100's output is still a step or two ahead.

On a positive note, the Sigma F/2.8 prime trio is incredible for the pricing, and incredible as far as primes go in general. I have the 30mm and it's super sharp even wide open. Stop it down, and you actually get a bit of moire on things like telephone lines because it's so insanely sharp. The 19mm is supposedly a bit softer, and the 60mm is amazingly sharper! These 3 lenses should work for almost any situation, except sports shooting in low light. A position that's currently vacant in the NEX system...

12 upvotes
Just a Photographer
By Just a Photographer (5 months ago)

You are throwing out a very much biased personal opinion.

0 upvotes
123Mike
By 123Mike (5 months ago)

The Sony A57 beats the lot of these.

1 upvote
KariIceland
By KariIceland (5 months ago)

Eh no it does not

5 upvotes
Just a Photographer
By Just a Photographer (5 months ago)

Not really though - Sony shooters always seem to have the need to say that their equipment is so much better then anything else on the market.

Is that because you feel you have bought wrongly, but do this to feel better about your purchase decision?

Comment edited 20 seconds after posting
7 upvotes
Eleson
By Eleson (5 months ago)

No, It is mostly because we've gotten used to
1. EVF with all its Pro's (And accepting the Con's.)
2. Having great AF in live view. Or as a Canon shooter wrote somewhere here "Well, you don't shoot sports with live view anyway" But, in fact, some of us do :)
In the same way, going from Canon to Sony is hard:
Users are bothered by the light loss & High ISO performance, but see little value in the upsides of the system.
And vice versa of course. I'd have a hard time using a camera where liveview is only for product shoots on a tripod.
Or video mode basically without AF (and accepting that with "Well most Pro's shoot using MF anyway".)
-Guess what, they shoot using EVF as well! :D

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
sknippen
By sknippen (5 months ago)

Sony is better, no canon is better, but think nikon is better... useless discussions... each has it pro's and con"s. Comparing a let's say a A57 with a D7100 is like comparing apple's with banana's. The d7100 costs almost twice as much. what do you expect. I have a A57 now. like it very much. i have choosen for the EVF and live view phase detection and i need to live with it that it is a 1/3 of a stop slower. But at the end a camera is only the tool. The one who is holding it is taking the pictures.

2 upvotes
Impulses
By Impulses (5 months ago)

Is Sony seriously gonna support three different mounts moving forward though? I think that's a big concern for many.

NEX's biggest weakness was always lens selection, now they've got FE on top of F on top of the old Minolta mount... None of them should be worth deprecating since they all serve valid purposes/markets, but if one of them had to go...

0 upvotes
Ralf B
By Ralf B (5 months ago)

fanboy comment

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (5 months ago)

Impulses - four. A-full frame, A-APS-C, E-full frame and E-APS-C. Makes 4 different systems to develop (though ""only"" 2 mounts).

Obviously E-mount is for people who don't care about lens selection of having a system to shoot with (good luck with getting proper flash setup with that, lol).

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Eleson
By Eleson (5 months ago)

C'mon plastek.
Both you and I know that there is no mount that can use more lenses than the e-mount. Yes, I'm including all the lenses made available by adapters.
The mount is open and the flange distance is the shortest available, and I think all available lenses should be taken into consideration when looking at the offer.

0 upvotes
sknippen
By sknippen (5 months ago)

E mount can take canon lenses with Af (very slow but is is Af) with speedbooster adapter. Can take all M42/ Minolta MD mount / Leica lenses / A mount lenses with pdaf. The only reason for me to buy into the nex system is this lens vertatility. But often you will need to focus manually, which is a no brainer with the focus peaking.
The same with my A57 75% of the shots i use manual focus with m42 lenses...

0 upvotes
Brooks11
By Brooks11 (5 months ago)

I find the 70 very capable camera. I sold my 7D a year ago and now, with the 70d, i have a very capable camera. I got this camera because I use Canon and wanted a articulating lcd. the frame rate is also good. I like to shoot.... not post opinions on the "length of ones @#^%^&*". Afterall, it's not the wand that puts the rabbit in the hat..... it's the magic of the performer.

2 upvotes
Buena Vista
By Buena Vista (5 months ago)

Are you going to include the Samsung NX300 in one of your classes, and which one? After all it was announced and reviewed in 2013 and has had significant firmware upgrades.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (5 months ago)

Stay tuned!

3 upvotes
komondor
By komondor (5 months ago)

what else to add to the k3? a titling screen!

4 upvotes
grcolts
By grcolts (5 months ago)

Better yet, a true articulating screen such as the one on the Panasonic GH3.

3 upvotes
mario_lem73
By mario_lem73 (5 months ago)

+1

0 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (5 months ago)

I don't understand why not put the X-E2 in this line up. And as good as the IQ from the E-M1 is, it's not quite at the same level of the Fuji or K-3/K-5.

It's not by any means bad, but you can tell in DR and shadow range it's not quite quite the same.

1 upvote
komondor
By komondor (5 months ago)

looks like the x e2 will be in another category

0 upvotes
KariIceland
By KariIceland (5 months ago)

I own the e-m5 and.the e-m1 does deliver simular. Image quality to the e-m5 but after comparing them to the x series... Lets just say my gear has been up for sale for a month now.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (5 months ago)

D7100 is the one.

though 70D can do some interesting tricks it's inferior in some key areas like image quality and pro-grade PDAF, and the price is too high at the moment.

D7100 could be better with LPF filter, faster fps and larger buffer.

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
NDaniel
By NDaniel (5 months ago)

With larger buffer, definitely no other choice than D7100, as for now.. well still looking....

1 upvote
audiobomber
By audiobomber (5 months ago)

> D7100 could be better with LPF filter, faster fps and larger buffer.

Yes, those are some of the areas where the K-3 bests the D7100. Then of course there's IBIS, all metal build and -3EV AF sensitivity.

The article needs correcting. The D7100 review should say "Probably the second most capable APS-C DSLR on the market." The K-3 is a lock for "most capable".

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
wizofoz
By wizofoz (4 months ago)

I'm more than a little puzzled by some of the statements about the K-3.

'JPEG color response' 'The Pentax produces strong JPEGs, though the color response isn't to everybody's taste.'

Which JPEG mode were you using?

As I look in the menu listing on my K-3 I can see 7 Jpeg modes - such as bright, natural, portrait and muted etc, all of which are user adjustable. Surely you could have found or adjusted a setting to your individual taste. Perhaps you could have tried the 'natural' or 'muted' setting to emulate Nikon or the 'vibrant' or 'radiant' setting if the Canon output is more to your personal taste. Having said that I rarely use JPEGS for anything other than on camera indication.

'Relatively unrefined onscreen interface' - Relative to what? and in what way 'unrefined'? Please enlighten us.

'.......it's hard to know what else the company could add to it.'

Apparently a Nikon badge would make all the difference......

0 upvotes
wizofoz
By wizofoz (4 months ago)

I appreciate that the K-3 has not yet had a thorough review, and I also appreciate that DPR added this newly arrived entry to this list of compelling camera's, but really guys, half baked opinions and vague generalisations don't do the camera or the reviewer any service.

0 upvotes
wizofoz
By wizofoz (4 months ago)

oops, replied in the wrong place..

is there an emoticon for chagrin?

0 upvotes
hflavo
By hflavo (5 months ago)

A great little camera. Doesn't handle like my D300 but image quality is superb.

0 upvotes
StevenN
By StevenN (5 months ago)

I think it is a mistake leaving the Panasonic GH3 off of this list. It is just as, if not more, capable as any camera on this list.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (5 months ago)

for m4/3" users who want better video yes.

but for someone not locked in a specific mount, D7100 is the champion in this minor league.

0 upvotes
ThePhilips
By ThePhilips (5 months ago)

"someone not locked in a specific mount"

So you buy all the lenses every time you buy a new cam? A novel approach.

0 upvotes
Impulses
By Impulses (5 months ago)

He's probably alluding more to new buyers rather than someone eschewing an already bought system for another... I don't know how many people jump into ILCs right at this level but it's probably a sizeable market.

If you're already heavily invested in a system then that's obviously always gonna trump any number of factors, specially amongst a selection of cameras where there's not one bad choice, just better/best options.

The only exception to that, I imagine, would be if you're unhappy with the options your system currently provides... Or if you just the time and limitless budget to buy into multiple systems, you probably don't need a roundup in that case since you can likely just buy & test whatever.

0 upvotes
Dccps
By Dccps (5 months ago)

Quite a few responses to this article seem to suggest that DPR doesn't like Panasonic, or unfairly favors Nikon over Pentax etc. I happen to shoot (or have shot) with several of these cameras. I currently use the Panasonic GH3 as well as Olympus OM-D E-M5 and E-M1, favoring portability and superb optics. I have found all of the cameras I have shot to be quite good at producing excellent images. (Those of you who don't think a mirrorless camera is a serious camera must not remember the film days of the Contax Zeiss and Leica rangefinders, which were remarkable and clearly serious cameras). The best camera is the one that captures the desired image. Period.

I thought this article was very well written and reasonably impartial. The author didn't say don't buy the others, he just said based on his criteria, the Olympus and Nkon were the best. Still using the Panasonic GH-3, by the way, I would completely agree with him. The E-M1 is spectacular when it comes to still photography!

2 upvotes
agachart
By agachart (5 months ago)

yes i gree,don't support to DPR panny

0 upvotes
ProfHankD
By ProfHankD (5 months ago)

A little funny that the NEX-7 is Sony's contender here after the A7 and A7R have been released and A7 pricing is similar to the other contenders -- it looks like you stuck to APS-C sensors ignoring the A7/A7R FF, but then you included one and only one micro4/3...? Otherwise, this seems a reasonable list of contenders.

Of course, the about-to-be-replaced NEX-7 is the cheapest of this set and is really tied for best IQ with the other cameras using essentially the same 24MP APS-C sensor. Saving hundreds of dollars is arguably pretty good compensation for lack of wifi.... ;-)

2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (5 months ago)

probably DPReview think A7's should be in another league challenging 6D and D600's (and fail).

2 upvotes
Jimmy jang Boo
By Jimmy jang Boo (5 months ago)

The K-3 hasn't been reviewed yet, but it already been promised the gold award!

14 upvotes
NCB
By NCB (5 months ago)

Overall a pretty fair review. Think maybe there should have been a few caveats about personal preferences and needs. You're not going to choose the E-M1 if you want an optical viewfinder. And colour is a personal thing and depends to some extent on what you shoot; I mainly use Nikon, think the colour is great, but I like what Pentax output I've seen as well.

Wonder if the "mushy greens" in the Fuji output should have been mentioned. I'm attracted by the X-E1, but in example output I've seen the greens (as in grass) don't look right, and there's something odd about other aspects of the output.

0 upvotes
Johnny B Goode
By Johnny B Goode (5 months ago)

I think Dpreview should test the K-3... I love and own Nikon, but the Pentax looks pretty good...

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
20 upvotes
daddyo
By daddyo (5 months ago)

Richard and company,
Thanks for a balanced and reasoned article. I'm sure you'll get a reasonable amount of flack from supporters of various brands, but on balance I think your assessment is very objective.

Anyone currently in the market has some good info here to help make an informed decision.

1 upvote
ZorSy
By ZorSy (5 months ago)

Good work, DPR and I think it's fair as well, considering being hard to pick among all listed cameras - they are excellent cameras.Of course, there will never be a consensus about "the best of the best" as each of us has own preferences. Image quality wise, one cannot go wrong with either. Looking forward to see the rest of the round-ups in the pipeline.

0 upvotes
Reinhard136
By Reinhard136 (5 months ago)

I am sure the author has the best of intentions to guide us toward wise choices, and did their best to balance the article. But if you see Nikon and Canon ads passing you on busses, and famous people at Nat Geo with CaNikons around their necks it has a weight in the finding. If a robot was doing the comparison, the K3 might be trumps. Apart from build, weatherproofing, aliasing, highest pq, small size, most importantly they took the moral rather than financial path with built in shake reduction (or on long lenses you can still use the one in the lens). The burden of being the small player, you have to be better than your competitors to stay in business.
But human rather than a robot is not all bad. Our sheep like mentality protects us, if everyone else is thinking CaNikon, they are not likely to go broke, and there more lenses ........ Pentax are pretty financial and have enough lenses, but the crowd is conservative. They would have to do a 72 MP sensor to crack that.

10 upvotes
Culinsky
By Culinsky (5 months ago)

And when they'll have this 72MP sensor, it's going to be so expensive, that people would buy a Leica for the same money and the same conservative reasons ...

1 upvote
Kim Letkeman
By Kim Letkeman (5 months ago)

I laughed when I saw that Panasonic was (inevitably and predictably) left out of the running. One has to wonder who Panasonic ticked off to get left out of a category in which it should be able to compete very well ... after all, enthusiasts do shoot a lot of video these days.

I've shot the D300, D7000, and D70s in the Nikon "enthusiast" lineup and I would take a Nikon over any of the others listed for the system, the ergonomics and the image quality.

But ... I would take the Panasonic G6 or the GH3 over the Nikons for the smaller size, the incredible video, the same ergonomics and basically the same image quality.

And so it goes ...

7 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (5 months ago)

Different product ranges don't line-up perfectly, so it's impossible to make a perfect selection, regardless of what logic you base your decision on.

We've put the GX7 (and G6) in the mid-level mirrorless class (along with the Olympus E-M5), so they will be covered.

6 upvotes
Kim Letkeman
By Kim Letkeman (5 months ago)

Richard, the GH3 competes directly with any of the listed cameras and I feel that it would stomp almost all of them, depending on one's personal tastes and criteria. To leave out a première camera from a major manufacturer, especially one that has features that none of the others can touch (e.g. high bit rate video) makes no sense to me, despite the comment that Panasonic will have their day in the "mid" level category :-)

4 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (5 months ago)

Kim - I thought long and hard about including the GH3, and you're right, it's a great camera. However, while its video trumps everything here, as a stills camera it fails to stomp. At which point I think we risk under-representing its strengths and essentially overlooking it in the roundup.

8 upvotes
Kim Letkeman
By Kim Letkeman (5 months ago)

Richard, I've compared raw images from all the 16mp sensors many times and the GH3 does just fine. So I give it "stomp" for ergonomics and video and "tie" for stills. Remember, when you say "enthusiast" you pretty much have to assume that they are capable of comparing more than a jpeg engine (which is actually pretty darned good on the GH3 too.) Again, I submit that it should have been included and to leave it out was an insult to Panasonic. After all, the largest site in the world says that they do not have a mirrorless camera that can compete in the "enthusiast" category and that is obviously baloney.

And by "stomp" I do not mean all the others ... I like the dSLRs for ergonomics and they have wonderful performance too.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
caver3d
By caver3d (5 months ago)

Also, Richard, do not forget that the sensor in the GH3 is essentially identical to the E-M5 (which is almost as good as the E-M1), and that sensor (in the GH3) may in fact be the same one as in the E-M5. In other words, the GH3 has comparable IQ for stills.

Kim is correct. (And, by the way, I own both the E-M5 and E-M1, but have great respect for the GH3.) Put the GH3 stills and video capability together, and you have a camera that you should have included. "SIGH" - DPReview can be so frustrating at times.

1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (5 months ago)

@caver3d - I understand your frustration and we do what we can to minimise it, but however we approach this, it won't ever be quite right for everyone (almost right for a majority is the best we can hope for).

3 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (5 months ago)

I can't deny I do not understand how come the GH3 was not included here. And what exactly is wrong with the GH3's still capabilities? I don't understand.

1 upvote
Impulses
By Impulses (5 months ago)

Guess they had a change of heart? The article I'm looking at features the GH3...

0 upvotes
Kim Letkeman
By Kim Letkeman (5 months ago)

Looks like Richard finally agreed that it should be added. All credit goes to a flexible editorial staff. Thanks Richard!

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (5 months ago)

Once written out, my reasons for not including it didn't seem as convincing as they had in my head. Kim politely made a strong case for its inclusion, so I went back and added it.

0 upvotes
Carlos Loff
By Carlos Loff (5 months ago)

How can the D7100 beat the Pentax K-3 ? Not even in price, lollll - Or did Nikon by any chance launched the long awaited D400 and you are calling it D7100 ??? Crazy Review

8 upvotes
Kim Letkeman
By Kim Letkeman (5 months ago)

There are many who would not buy a Pentax for lots of reasons ... I've owned a lot of Nikons, including two pro bodies ... and the D7100 feels simply amazing. I wouldn't even consider a Pentax while a Nikon exists in a similar category ...

And to clarify -- I am not calling Pentax a bad camera ... just saying that as a brand and system, Pentax does not equal Nikon for me, especially when a camera like the D7100 exists.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Carlos Loff
By Carlos Loff (5 months ago)

This post is about these particular cameras - Im a Nikon Lover myself since the D70 and D200. and crying now for a D400 - Have you seen the Pentax K-3 Specs ? Besides Focus can you tell me where in god´s specs world Nikon D7100 beats Pentax K-3 ? D300S beats the D7100 still in many ways. And how many lenses is an enthusiast going to buy ? 20? Pentax surely has 10 tops lenses to cover all main needs just as good as Nikon

9 upvotes
Kim Letkeman
By Kim Letkeman (5 months ago)

Carlos, I'm not one who likes to "collect" cameras in the sense that I do not chase specifications. I commit to brands (or at least mounts) for a long time, as I did with Nikon and now Panasonic (and m4/3.) Hence, the Pentax has to have a competing system (no) and a competing future (maybe) before I would even consider it. And even then, the D7100 is, as I have mentioned before, simply amazing in the hand.

Were I to go back to dSLRs there is no question that Nikon would get my money. I still have a couple of Nikon lenses and two flashes that I use with the Panasonics ... it's the system.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
fakuryu
By fakuryu (5 months ago)

Sorry to disagree but when it comes to price and performance, the Pentax K3 is leagues ahead of the D7100, when it comes to speed, build quality, AF and is as complete system as a whole.

The D7100 is not even better or as good as the 16mp K5II/s

8 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (5 months ago)

Kim- precisely for not chasing specifications on paper, the K-3 deserves to be put at the same level, imho. Pentax ergonomics are amazingly well done.

If you find the D7100 amazing, try out the K-5/K-3 line - they are indeed also amazing. You also get those pancake lenses with manual mechanical focus and DOF scale.

And I am not saying you shouldn't prefer Nikon, but the K-3 imho isn't any less for a paper spec but for the superb ergonomics and well thought out interface it has too.

4 upvotes
Kim Letkeman
By Kim Letkeman (5 months ago)

Fair enough ... the K3 is a great camera in a weak system. I still go for the system. The people who scream "leagues ahead" about two very equal cameras have no credibility with me. Leagues ahead implies no contest, but that's not the reality. And the idea that the system is equal is just silly ... when you break down in a foreign city, can you go anywhere and rent a new body or lens? You can with Canikon.

0 upvotes
alendrake
By alendrake (5 months ago)

Kim, am I right saying that this is a camera review not system review? Otherwise now matter how good Non-Canikons were and how bad Canikons were, we should have praised Canikons cameras, because they have better developed systems.

2 upvotes
Greg Lovern
By Greg Lovern (5 months ago)

> And the idea that the system is equal is just silly ... when you break down in a foreign city, can you go anywhere and rent a new body or lens? You can with Canikon. <

Exactly, Kim! Your argument is airtight. Let me make sure I've got it straight:
-- It's the system that's important, not the particular bodies, lenses, etc. you choose in that system. What determines whether one camera is better than another is which camera's system is better.
-- An important part of a camera's system is the ability to rent bodies and lenses in that system in any major city anywhere in the world.
-- Such rental flexibility is only available for Canon and Nikon.
-- Ergo, even the very worst Canon and Nikon bodies, whatever models they are or were, are better than even the very best bodies of any other brand.

Did I miss anything?

1 upvote
Kim Letkeman
By Kim Letkeman (5 months ago)

Yeah, I think you missed the boat :-)

0 upvotes
Heie2
By Heie2 (5 months ago)

>>just saying that as a brand and system, Pentax does not equal Nikon for me, especially when a camera like the D7100 exists.

>>the K3 is a great camera in a weak system.

>>two very equal cameras

First, the K-3 obliterates the D7100 on every. single. area save for *maybe* AF tracking (still to be determined). But other than that? IQ, *selectable* AA filter (3 strengths!), as robust and durable as the D4 in build, best ergonomics in the DSLR world, 86,000 pixel metering, -3eV focusing, 8.3 fps, massive burst buffer, UHS-1 capability, and on, and on, and on.

That aside, for me, an adventure/travel photographer, the Pentax system is the very best system there is. And by many, many leagues.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Son Of Waldo
By Son Of Waldo (5 months ago)

"leagues ahead", "obliterates". Umm, yeah, that sounds reasonable...

To say that the levels of fanboyism (rampant, frothing at the mouth hysteria) seen on these forums is anything less than mind blowing, would be the understatement of the new century. Here's looking at you, kid...

0 upvotes
justmeMN
By justmeMN (5 months ago)

Why did you put mirrorless cameras alongside real cameras? They belong in separate categories. :-) JK

0 upvotes
electrophoto
By electrophoto (5 months ago)

Ah, so now finally - THANK YOU!
Thank you so much for enlightening me, as to what is a REAL camera after all...
I feel so silly, not having realised this before: that a REAL camera is defined by having a mirror.
What a revelation.

0 upvotes
bossa
By bossa (5 months ago)

The K-3 smokes the D7100 in any comparison apart from maybe focus tracking.
This comparison is a travesty for the following reasons:
A. The sensor shake reduction mechanism can do
(i) amazing star tracking when combined with the O-GPS,
(ii) horizon correction
(iii) sensor shift (shift lens anyone?)
(iv) sensor shake based AA filter

B. The new hi-res exposure system
C. the silky shutter
D. 25 cross point AF
E. f2.8 AF system that works way down low (in the dark almost)
F. Huge buffer for 23 RAW shots at 8 fps
G. superior ergonomics (ISO right where you need it and DOF Preview on the shutter button lever etc etc)
H. The Green Button and numerous exposure modes Nikon never heard of.

The K-3 is a no brainer when compared to the D7100.

PS: The new AF system also uses the new hi-res exposure system to differentiate and track.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 12 minutes after posting
24 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (5 months ago)

Problem is that you can't use a body without lenses. Pentax has a "limited" selection of very expensive lenses (pun intended) and dwindling third party support.

5 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (5 months ago)

The K-3 is a very impressive camera and it's not impossible that it would win the next roundup if it excels as we continue to shoot with it.

However, based on our shooting with it so far, it doesn't smoke the D7100 in any important respect, bar ergonomics. The better JPEGs and proved AF system give the D7100 an edge, but it's extremely close.

For what it's worth, Ricoh explicitly said the exposure system is used to help the AF system understand how challenging it will be to focus, not for tracking.

9 upvotes
chlamchowder
By chlamchowder (5 months ago)

I'm not picking a favorite here, but to be fair:
-Your points about the sensor shift system are valid.
-"hi-res exposure system" - metering sensor resolution has little to do with metering accuracy.
-silky shutter - Nikon's APS-C shuttersare quiet too
-25 cross point - Nikon off-center non-cross points are still extremely good, and will pick up even the tiniest bit of detail in the right direction. I often forget that they're not cross points.
-f/2.8 AF system - why does that matter? Nikon's AF is extremely accurate, even with f/1.4 lenses. I don't think it'd benefit much from having dedicated f/2.8 sensors.
-buffer: fair point
-superior ergonomics - that's debatable. I agree about ISO, but prefer Nikon's dedicated switch for turning on LCD backlight.
-exposure modes - "TAv"? Nikon has that too. Just set manual mode and auto ISO to get exactly the same thing.
Also, when you take lenses into account, Pentax is really lacking some high end telephoto lenses.

2 upvotes
dosdan
By dosdan (5 months ago)

R Butler: "For what it's worth, Ricoh explicitly said the exposure system is used to help the AF system understand how challenging it will be to focus, not for tracking."

Where was this stated, please? The Marketing Dept seems to be sending out a different message:

http://www.ricoh-imaging.co.jp/english/products/k-3/feature/

Read the "86,000-pixel RGB light-metering sensor" & "PENTAX Real-time Scene Analysis System" sections. Ricoh-Pentax says that the high-res AE feeds both colour & motion info to the Real-Time Scene Analysis System which:

"By analysing each scene thoroughly and comprehensively, it assures reliable, high-precision AE and AWB (auto white balance) control even with challenging scenes, and enables responsive, high-speed auto tracking of the subject."

Comment edited 5 times, last edit 8 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Gary Martin
By Gary Martin (5 months ago)

The K-3 has a much bigger buffer than the Nikon, that could be a big deal to some. In fact, it seems like Nikon gimped the D7100 in this regard unnecessarily.

7 upvotes
dosdan
By dosdan (5 months ago)

More on the realationship of AE, Real-Time Analysis System and tracking AF in the K-3

http://www.ricoh-imaging.co.jp/english/products/k-3/feature/02.html

In the section titled "Auto tracking" :

"The PENTAX Real-time Scene Analysis System accurately detects the color, shape and movement of a subject, and keeps monitoring it throughout the imaging process. With the help of this innovative system, the K-3 automatically shifts the AF point to trace the subject’s movement with great speed and precision."

2 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (5 months ago)

@dosdan - that's odd, since it flatly contradicts what the K-3 product manager told us when explicitly asked.

It seemed odd that it wouldn't, since Nikon has done this for several years (and Canon later added it on at least one of their models).

0 upvotes
dosdan
By dosdan (5 months ago)

Richard, either the product manager or the marketing department is wrong. I suspect it's the product manager, as you'd expect high-res AE to be used this way.

Unless it was planned to be used that way, but was disabled in the release firmware due to some problem?

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (5 months ago)

@dosdan - In the light of what you've posted, I have to assume it's what we were told that's wrong. As I say, it seemed odd at the time that they wouldn't use a relatively high-res metering sensor for some sort of scene or subject recognition.

0 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (5 months ago)

The limited amount of lenses argument is self defeating. When you are going to accept worse marketing limited bodies because of lens choice, Pentax will remain small and not interesting enough for Tamron/Sigma/Tokina except for high volume lenses, that are easy to adapt. It also gives Nikon and Canon no incentive to uncripple their consumer bodies. Their are Plenty excellent lenses for Pentax, though not for Pro sports en very enthusiastic birders. But for almost everything else there is no lack. Also the ability to use old glass (even m42 mount with a very simple adapter) is extremely satisfying. (Ok Canon can to but you don't have to demolish lenses or chafe the mirror).

0 upvotes
andy amos
By andy amos (5 months ago)

Interesting to see 2 mirrorless models made it to the the round-up. A few years ago they would have been scoffed at. Looks like EVF is becoming viable at last. I wonder how the Sony Alpha range will do in the full frame catagory?

0 upvotes
caver3d
By caver3d (5 months ago)

The Olympus- Panasonic-Fujifilm-Sony juggernaut continues. Watch out Canikon, they are sneaking up on you. I guess you can't hear them without the mirror-slap?

2 upvotes
BlueBomberTurbo
By BlueBomberTurbo (5 months ago)

...juggernaut? They're barely putting a dent in the DSLR market:
http://www.43rumors.com/camera-slaes-history-from-2011-till-today-mirrorless-hype-is-over-dslr-rules/

Just because you see so much coverage on sites like these doesn't mean people are rushing out to buy mirrorless cameras over DSLRs. We're enthusiasts here, and mirrorless is still a pretty niche area. Big names like Canon and Nikon will win the day until mirrorless can match/beat DSLRs at a significantly lower price, triple their lens collections, and come out with something revolutionary/catchy along the lines of the old Apple.

1 upvote
Plastek
By Plastek (5 months ago)

So true BlueBomber. dPreview is most biased towards mirrorless of all the websites I visit. To give mirrorless proportional coverage for what it is - they'd have to cut the number of mirrorless articles by good 80%.

1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (5 months ago)

@Plastek - if our coverage reflected only what people bought, we'd spend over 70% of our time writing about Nikon or Canon DSLRs. The point is that most other manufacturers have switched away from DSLR now, so that's what there is for us to write about.

We're not biased towards mirrorless - we're trying to cover as many new cameras as we can. A few years ago that meant writing about Sony, Olympus, Samsung and Panasonic DSLRs, even though they were fighting it out for around 30% of the market, now it means Sony, Olympus, Fujifilm, Panasonic and Samsung mirrorless models, even though also not reaching a big market. Yet.

The difference is that, by doing something different, these manufacturers have created more interesting products (and in many cases, better products), so there's more that we're finding that's positive.

On top of that, spend some time shooting with some of the latest mirrorless models and it's hard to believe DSLR dominance will last forever.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
BNapa
By BNapa (5 months ago)

I am not sure if it is fair to compare a Pentax K3 that has not been thoroughly reviewed and tested against a bunch of cameras that have been tested and rated by DPreview. K3 and other Pentax cameras (all APS-c sized sensors) are being favorably compared to full frame cameras from Canon, Nikon and Sony.

I can attest to that fact as I have the Canon 6D and the Pentax k5IIs. I used them in a shoot and the Pentax holds its own up to ISO 6400 against a very capable Canon 6D. In practical usage and without tons of adjustments, the Pentax K5IIs colors are more true and vibrant than Canon 6D.

So again, giving the nod to Nikon D7100 without proper evaluation of the Pentax K3 in my opinion is not a fair assessment and recommendation.

12 upvotes
Allen Yang
By Allen Yang (5 months ago)

I think most readers will go for Canon 70D or Nikon D7100. It's still an era of Canikon. Sony needs time to release more lens. Other brands are just for a few people who have "special needs".

1 upvote
tkbslc
By tkbslc (5 months ago)

Considering you are buying a system and not just a camera, I tend to agree. 3 decades of Canon and Nikon domination have lead to their systems being far more complete with much more latitude to move up or down as needs change.

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (5 months ago)

However, if you look at which lenses you intend to use, and whether ones have been specifically designed for the format, it's not quite as clear-cut as you make it sound.

Clearly there are more lenses for Nikon and Canon, but whether they're the focal lengths you want or just ones that make sense on full-frame, becomes a pertinent question.

6 upvotes
Allen Yang
By Allen Yang (5 months ago)

I know what you are talking about. But still Canon and Nikon have more lens to choose from even when it comes to those are commonly chosen from. Like 35mm and 50mm and 80mm prime lens or the "standard zoom" lens. Canon and Nikon just offer consumers more options,which is undeniable truth.

0 upvotes
rhlpetrus
By rhlpetrus (5 months ago)

@richard: there is more to a system than dedicated lenses. I opted for Nikon when moving to digital exactly because of their philosophy of keeping system compatible along decades. That also relates to 3rd party lens support, and the recent f/1.8 midrange zoom from Sigma, which is proving to be phenomenal, is the most recent example. You can move up and down inthe lineup and use all your lenses, including the APS-C ones inthe FF bodies, with proper VF acknowledgement, something not even Canon can provide. Throw in typical outstanding IQ, and one can see why Nikon remains such a great system to use. Oly has been doing some excellent job, but my guess is that they'll remain a reatively smaller player, hope the medical business will support the imaging one.

Comment edited 60 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Conjure
By Conjure (5 months ago)

Nikon RAW vs JPEG
Pentax RAW vs JPEG

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/image-comparison?attr18=daylight&attr13_0=nikon_d7100&attr13_1=nikon_d7100&attr13_2=pentax_k3&attr13_3=pentax_k3&attr15_0=raw&attr15_1=jpeg&attr15_2=raw&attr15_3=jpeg&attr16_0=800&attr16_1=800&attr16_2=800&attr16_3=800&normalization=full&widget=1&x=0.3335897384179576&y=-0.05121704496477543

IMO, a matter of taste. You can fine tune both to do more natural.

0 upvotes
YuriS
By YuriS (5 months ago)

Where is Sony A7????

1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (5 months ago)

In a different class.

5 upvotes
mister_roboto
By mister_roboto (5 months ago)

Not only different class- still unreleased technically.

1 upvote
tkbslc
By tkbslc (5 months ago)

Japan?

1 upvote
MayaTlab0
By MayaTlab0 (5 months ago)

Nope, Thailand.

0 upvotes
sunhorse
By sunhorse (5 months ago)

@ MayaTlab0

Yes. It is available for pre-order at some Sony stores in Bangkok. They have both the A7 and A7R for hands-on experience.

0 upvotes
Greg Lovern
By Greg Lovern (5 months ago)

I'm confused. Why do they like the "Cutting-edge 24MP sensor" and the "100% viewfinder" on the D7100 but not the same things on the K-3? Personally I like those features on both.

4 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (5 months ago)

We've tried to highlight the three stand-out features on each camera - the K-3's smaller, more solid build is worth calling-out over its viewfinder. A specs comparison is provided so that you can check whether one camera does or doesn't offer a particular spec.

3 upvotes
Heie2
By Heie2 (5 months ago)

Then it's not standout on the D7100...

4 upvotes
timo
By timo (5 months ago)

I think this kind of comparative roundup is very dodgy for just this kind of reason. I'm sure it generates visitor traffic, but I preferred DPR when it reviewed each camera individually and that was that, Arbitrarily picking out features like this is not very enlightening. Richard's answer on this point is unconvincing.

1 upvote
WT21
By WT21 (5 months ago)

The problem with roundups is that at any given moment, some camera is new, and some is old. The XPro 1 is getting long in the tooth. The 70D and EM1 are the lastest and greatest from their respected makers, as some examples. Not that there's any choice, of course. You have to roll with what you got. But I would argue the XE2 would be a better choice here than the XP1. I'm not a Fuji user, but I think the XE2 is competitive with the rest of this lot. The XP1 is kind of it's own thing.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (5 months ago)

This is a point in time - winter 2013 and, at this point, the cameras that are new are the cameras that are new.

Our plan is to either update or totally re-write these roundups several times a year.

4 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (5 months ago)

But wouldn't an X-E2 fit here? Why not?

1 upvote
WT21
By WT21 (5 months ago)

RButler -- "This is a point in time - winter 2013 and, at this point, the cameras that are new are the cameras that are new."

is so different from what I said
"Not that there's any choice, of course. You have to roll with what you got."

@@

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (5 months ago)

@WT21 - I wasn't trying to disagree - I was trying to explain that we hope to keep these up to date, in future.

1 upvote
Impulses
By Impulses (5 months ago)

Even if they were just updated twice a year that'd be lovely!

1 upvote
dyoon153
By dyoon153 (5 months ago)

I suppose 'what we like' section written twice instead of 'what we don't like' for Pentax K-3 is that you guys like double the amount? ;)

Comment edited 46 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (5 months ago)

It's not an error - I like 'relatively unrefined onscreen interfaces.'

I've corrected it. Sorry about that.

3 upvotes
dyoon153
By dyoon153 (5 months ago)

No, thank you as I am considering a camera for myself now, and there couldn't have been any better timing for the round-ups. Looking forward read the rest of the round-ups, too!

1 upvote
Kinc
By Kinc (5 months ago)

You've mentioned the lens advantage of the m4/3 Olympus camera, but other than size advantage which is very important, you did not emphasize the quality and wide range of new lenses available from Olympus, Panasonic, and others, and more on the way. Anyone thinking about buying any of these cameras should examine the reviews of the lenses that are available, on this site and others. Perhaps the most amazing part of the development of the micro 4/3 sensor cameras. How can they have done this so much faster that the other manufacturers?

2 upvotes
LXNights
By LXNights (5 months ago)

Just a response to Kim L. above:
I bought into Pentax because of its system. The interchangability between formats, from 35mm to 645 to 67 to the current digital, is unparralled in my view. I've been able to gradually transition from the film days to AF to digital while keeping and using most of my older lenses and buying new ones, and that has kept my devotion to Pentax, despite tough times. That I can use my 67 lenses on my K-5 and K-7 (as well as my classic 35mm LX and other film SLRs), using just the sweet spot of the lens (quality is unreal), makes the purchase of a K-3 a slam dunk for me. It is because of this system interchangability that I have never lacked for lens variety, in any of the formats, though I would agree that the current lens lineup for the DSLRs needs just a bit more development; but now with Ricoh on board and their vow to make Pentax a player again, I have no doubt this will happen (along with full frame).

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
LXNights
By LXNights (5 months ago)

I agree with BNapa that DP needs to do a comprehensive test on the K-3 in order to more properly compare it with the Nikon D7100 and the rest listed here. I would look forward to that with zeal. But everything in this group is very competitive; I can't imagine anyone not being happy with each's operation and results.

5 upvotes
Old Baldy
By Old Baldy (5 months ago)

I smile at all the comparisons and performance rankings based on JPEG engines when I suspect that the vast majority of enthusiast photographers shoot in RAW and use Lightroom to export their imagery. In RAW terms, none of these cameras match the Sony NEX-7. In terms of pure IQ, there are now so many choices of decent lenses for the NEX, including Alpha mount lenses offering proper Phase focus via the cost effective EA2, if desired, makes me wonder why many of these newer cameras with less impressive sensors and IQ are rated so high in comparison to the 2-year old little giant-killer. Now, would you guess I own a NEX-7? I mean, I'm not biased, am I? :)

0 upvotes
Kim Letkeman
By Kim Letkeman (5 months ago)

@LXNights, while your response to me is miles away from my comments and it was a fluke that I even noticed it, you makes some good points. Your perception of the scope of the system is as important as the system itself.

@Old Baldy, you are wrong if you think the Sony stomps the others in RAW. My own raw processing examples say exactly the opposite, that the m4/3 and the Nikon all come out ahead of the Sony NEX7.

http://kimletkeman.blogspot.ca/2013/09/battle-of-aps-c-and-m43-latest.html

2 upvotes
Total comments: 267
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