Camera roundups 2013: What to buy and why

The holidays are a great time to take pictures — and they're a great time to get a camera for yourself or for a loved one. The latest cameras represent a big step forwards, compared with what was available just a couple of years ago - both in terms of features and image quality.

With more than 50 cameras going through the hands of the DPReview team over the year, we've seen it all (or so we think). Based on our collective knowledge we hope this guide will help you make an informed decision on which camera will fit your needs. 

For each of the categories above we've distilled our knowledge and experience about each camera, and stated what we liked and didn't like for many cameras released this year. You'll also find links to our test scenes to do image quality comparisons, and real-world galleries to give you a sense of how it performs outside the lab.

We'll publish one camera category at a time. Check in over the coming days to see our recommendations in each category. Don't forget to let us know what you ended up buying. 


Comments

Total comments: 269
12
inevitable crafts studio
By inevitable crafts studio (5 months ago)

whats the difference between "take control, small but serious and moving on up" ? its three times the same category ^^ 3rd and 5th too..

but i agree with them there is no other way of making 6-categories of kinda the same consumer field.
but its six weeks to christmas, and dpr is owned by you know who :)

and the only class of buyers that dont know what to buy are upgrading consumers ...

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

Still have one of the first EVF camera's in my gear, still buzzy upgrading to WiFi so I'm not so interesting in a new mirrorless camera.

0 upvotes
highwave
By highwave (5 months ago)

for all those criticizing Dpreview's way of categorizing cameras

Please blow off

They seem to be very very logical categories to me and this constant line of "comparing apples to oranges" claimed time and time again by so many monkeys on these forums is getting so tiring. I'm pretty sure if you were to compare the Canon 650D to the Canon 700D, one of these monkeys will quickly jump parroting "apples to oranges"

The Dpreview categorizations are fine and very informative and I sure can forward to those asking me about cameras.

Go get a life. Or at least go get some real "apples" and "oranges" and give me a break.

11 upvotes
onlooker
By onlooker (5 months ago)

DPR, please carry over "ignore" to the comments section.

5 upvotes
sixtiesphotographer
By sixtiesphotographer (5 months ago)

Below you said you "didn't mean to be rude", yet you were.

This is a discussion forum where people are entitled to express their opinions and sometimes you're going to read something you disagree with.

Sorry if that got you in a twist.

As I said earlier, I do appreciate DPR's hard work.

If the categories had been simply DSLR, ILC, and compact, with each of those categories having an Enthusiast, Amateur, and Entry-level camera selection, that would've made more sense to me.

7 upvotes
highwave
By highwave (5 months ago)

@ sixtiesphotographer

I sort of put that "rude" word hoping you would catch on to it and use it against my comment. Now in my comment I used the exact same words you used in your comment to Dpreview Staff "arbitrary, subjective, pointless" yet I used those words to reply to a post you spent probably about 5 minutes writing while you used those exact same words to comment on Dpreview Staff's work who I'm sure spent a considerable amount of time working on. So if you thought those words were rude to your quick post, how rude do you think they were to Dpreview Staff?

I'm not here to put anyone down, but I really do appreciate hard work and I think others should too.

1 upvote
Pix538
By Pix538 (5 months ago)

Please don't insult the monkeys LOL

6 upvotes
sixtiesphotographer
By sixtiesphotographer (5 months ago)

@ highwave

You make a good point and my criticism of DPR was harsher than I really intended.

Even though I think there was a better way of categorizing the choices, that's just my viewpoint. Besides, I'm sure there will be all sorts of other reviews on the web in the next month.

2 upvotes
Felice62
By Felice62 (4 months ago)

Remember that there is no objective review whatsoever.
Only Lab test are objective (yet to a certain level of detail)
These roundups are simply ads

0 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (5 months ago)

What about also listing by "this is how much money I have to spend."

2 upvotes
Nikon2011
By Nikon2011 (5 months ago)

better in gear than a life in alcohol, smoke, smartphones :p

2 upvotes
The Jacal
By The Jacal (5 months ago)

@Nikon2011. Completely agree, though I do one of those things, but cutting down considerably, so soon, new gear frenzy!!

Comment edited 14 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
PhotoPoet
By PhotoPoet (5 months ago)

1st the obvious. This site is "free" we love it. We use it. Perhaps we click on a link and buy something from time to time. The work that goes into this site is much appreciated. As for the Enthusiasts ILC, "who knows" one persons perfect Nikon is another Samsung... peace

3 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (5 months ago)

It's "free" in a huge quotes. It collects your user data as well as serves adverts on pretty much every page. That's how you pay for it.

1 upvote
sm176811
By sm176811 (5 months ago)

Agree with 60sphotographer... These categories are not MECE at all!

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

If you can work out a more logical way of segmenting the products, send us a feedback email and we'll consider it for next time.

Any attempt at categorisation will have flaws but we've tried to separate into groups that we think potential users might be looking at, then further consider sub-groups within those and make recommendations accordingly.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
8 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (5 months ago)

many logical ways in the eyes of people who have an open (or blank) mind. like weight, volume, image quality (still or motion), ...

often people are biased with some knowledge that doesn't work for them well, like some who confuse sensor size or f-number for image quality (sensor size does mean image quality at base ISO but this is not what those people are talking about).

half-way knowledge means weakness/lacking of power.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
sixtiesphotographer
By sixtiesphotographer (5 months ago)

These categories are so overlapping, arbitrary, and subjective as to be pointless.

I appreciate DPR's hard work, but I think this comparison/review is meaningless.

How many would prefer for DPR to spend their efforts elsewhere, such as for cameras long-overdue for review?

19 upvotes
itsastickup
By itsastickup (5 months ago)

I think the categories aren't so bad, from an ordinary consumers' perspective.

I reckon a lot of folks will be interested in this.

Perhaps not so much the enthusiasts who might be commenting down here in the murky depths, however.

11 upvotes
highwave
By highwave (5 months ago)

Don't mean to be rude, but the only thing I read so far on this link that's "arbitrary, subjective, and pointless" is your post.

Dpreview's work is fine and much appreciated at least by me and for the people I will forward the link to when they ask me "what camera should I buy". Saves me a lot of time explaining things to them.

7 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (5 months ago)

Wow, this a great start, but please -- we would need someone to cook up another 15-20 arbitrary camera categories to make the camera landscape even ore muddy than what it is already.

6 upvotes
Forever Young
By Forever Young (5 months ago)

Comparing apples and oranges,,,

3 upvotes
Infared
By Infared (5 months ago)

So this is the space where all the people get angry because their camera is not at the top of the list. LOL!
If you like your camera...who cares?

16 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (5 months ago)

Mainly just the Pentax guys.

3 upvotes
white shadow
By white shadow (5 months ago)

What happen to the Canon 1DX, 1DC, 5D Mk3, Nikon D800E, D610, Phase One, Hasselblad and Leica S2 category?

I am sure there are potential photographers out there who are interested to consider them.

Shouldn't they be included in Camera Roundup 2013?

On the lower end, what about the best point and shoot camera for 2013? Can we say the Canon IXUS 255 HS gives the best image quality for the price? There are still quite a lot of people who want to buy just that, something which will cost about $200.

2 upvotes
Impulses
By Impulses (5 months ago)

The way the market's turning seems to contradict your statement (that a lot of people still want to buy $200 P&S)... And DPR hasn't reviewed very many of those lately, outside of the one roundup they did on water/shock proof models. There's probably no such category due to a combination of those two factors.

1 upvote
D1N0
By D1N0 (5 months ago)

Just get the camera in the first picture. It's perfect.

1 upvote
RStyga
By RStyga (5 months ago)

Let's us dispense with the myth that all "professional" photographers know exactly what they want or what it is required. I have seen a fair share of them not having a clue about what gear to buy, not only because they fail to follow the industry's rapid changes (understandable to a certain a extent) but also because they don't even know basic technological terminology (e.g. what is VC/IS/OIS/IS).

There is a significant difference between a person who makes money out of taking photographs, a photographer (in the artistic sense), and one who knows about photographic technology and application. Neither category implies any of the other.

13 upvotes
Joel Benford
By Joel Benford (5 months ago)

Yep. "Professional" comes from the Greek "pro fesso" which means "for money". It means you get paid. Skill, knowledge, artistry and dedication are not required (though they may all help).

5 upvotes
TheEye
By TheEye (5 months ago)

Actually, it comes from Latin and the word "money" has nothing to do with it.

1 upvote
Apewithacamera
By Apewithacamera (5 months ago)

Actually it comes from the Twilight Zone. ;-)

4 upvotes
Wayne B.
By Wayne B. (5 months ago)

From www.etymonline.com:
c.1200, "vows taken upon entering a religious order," from Old French profession (12c.), from Latin professionem (nominative professio) "public declaration," from past participle stem of profiteri "declare openly" (see profess). Meaning "any solemn declaration" is from mid-14c. Meaning "occupation one professes to be skilled in" is from early 15c.; meaning "body of persons engaged in some occupation" is from 1610; as a euphemism for "prostitution" (e.g. oldest profession) it is recorded from 1888.

0 upvotes
RStyga
By RStyga (5 months ago)

I second that; I'm Greek and never heard anything in my language that could be a root to profess(ion)/al. It sure looks of Latin origin.

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (5 months ago)

In most fields, a professional is someone who, among other things, knows a bit more than everybody else. My dentist wouldn't qualify but my doctor would.

With cameras, all that is required to be a professional is to call yourself one. That's it. And that's why the president's personal photographer and Ken Rockwell are both seasoned pros.

0 upvotes
white shadow
By white shadow (5 months ago)

A good attempt to provide some information to the newbie. Unless DPR has tested every single camera available it is not comprehensive.

Experience photographers know exactly what they want or what is required.

However, in this imperfect world, not everybody is well informed. Knowledge is always exclusive to those who spend time learning. There are also those who refuse to learn eventhough it is given to them on a plate.

1 upvote
onlooker
By onlooker (5 months ago)

I am not following the logic of the categories. On the one hand we have "enthusiast" category, on the other "mirrorless". Are these mutually exclusive? Since EM1 did well, apparently not.

Also, will GH3 make it into any of them? It's not really small, so presumably not into the "Small, but serious". It did not make it into the current one, must not be for enthusiasts. Where will G6 be? Or will it be shunned like it has so far?

3 upvotes
Impulses
By Impulses (5 months ago)

Yeah, it looks like there's some overlap between this category and DSLR/mid level mirrorless, as well as between the two compact categories... We'll see I guess. Are cameras that haven't been reviewed up for mention? Otherwise there's gonna be lots of holes here, though I can't really fault DPR for going either way in that scenario.

0 upvotes
Impulses
By Impulses (5 months ago)

Meh, after reading a bit more carefully I take that back... The models picked for this high end roundup clearly left enough room for mid/entry level categories etc... And the two compact categories will probably draw a line between the RX100 and anything below it (S120, LF1, etc) vs the higher end fixed focal length compacts (GR, RX1, etc).

0 upvotes
Impulses
By Impulses (5 months ago)

Or between truly pocketable compacts and not so pocketable compacts? (RX100/S120 vs LX7/G16?) The categories could be a bit more explicit... :P Guess it'll be clear enough in a few days.

0 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (5 months ago)

Enthusiast interchangeable lens cameras include both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Entry- and mid-level mirrorless are treated in their own categories, while DSLRs at those levels are treated together as "consumer" DSLRs. The enthusiast compacts are presumably divided between the pocketable ones (S120, P330, XZ-10, LF1, RX100, XQ1) and the larger ones (G1 X, G16, P7800, Coolpix A, XZ-2, Stylus 1, LX7, RX1, X20, X100s, GR, MX-1, EX2F, X2, X Vario, DP1/2/3). But I doubt all current models will be included, because the GH3 wasn't mentioned in the first roundup.

0 upvotes
PowerG9atBlackForest
By PowerG9atBlackForest (5 months ago)

Come on, let the dpr finally do what they want!

0 upvotes
Impulses
By Impulses (5 months ago)

You're probably right Revenant, took me a minute (and several posts!) to arrive at the same conclusion but I got there, heh. Looks like the GH3 was retroactively included as well. To answer the other question I posed, I'm glad they're adding some models that haven't been fully reviewed.

Mid range mirrorless and DSLR categories are probably gonna be heavily contested/critiqued but that's par for the course... I'msurprised they broke off an entry level mirrorless category though, since they haven't had nearly as many reviews in that realm lately.

It does present a good question though, is the GM1 entry level cause of size/controls or mid range cause of price? I'm sure there's other equally nebulous examples.

0 upvotes
itsastickup
By itsastickup (5 months ago)

Mirrorless is a hot item at the moment. Enthusiast is another money spinner.

From a business perspective, the categories work quite well.

Let's remember that dpreview isn't trying to be a work of academia.

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (5 months ago)

@ itsastickup - we don't round up products by which are 'moneyspinners'. It makes literally no difference to the editorial staff of dpreview what sells most, who buys what, or where.

0 upvotes
sunkenbranch
By sunkenbranch (5 months ago)

It was pleasing to see the conclusion. I have the D7100 and am getting the Olympus next week! Wishiing good food and good images to everyone. It all started in a Nikon forum discussing the Df camera. Someone said you ought to check out the Olympus. May I offer the following links
http://blog.mingthein.com/2013/09/10/olympus-om-d-e-m1-review-1/
http://blog.mingthein.com/2013/09/11/the-2013-olympus-om-d-e-m1-review-2/
http://robinwong.blogspot.com.br/2013/09/olympus-om-d-e-m1-review-introduction.html

1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (5 months ago)

a D7100 with Nikkor lenses is far superior.

the best thing with m4/3" is Pana's fast readout contrast detection AF which can perform almost as well as SLRs.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
kimchiflower
By kimchiflower (5 months ago)

spoken like another fotog who has never used m4/3

5 upvotes
Rbrt
By Rbrt (5 months ago)

DXO doesn't seem to be too impressed with the Olympus lens lineup.

0 upvotes
bcalkins
By bcalkins (5 months ago)

Does DXO take any photographs?

3 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (5 months ago)

Yea, for their sensor and lens testing.

0 upvotes
TacticDesigns
By TacticDesigns (5 months ago)

+1

Love it! Great format!

I'd like to suggest it be on the "Buying Guide" drop-down menu at top. :)

3 upvotes
Richard Shih
By Richard Shih (5 months ago)

We're working on a more permanent home for all our buying guide / roundup content. Thanks for the suggestion.

5 upvotes
vapentaxuser
By vapentaxuser (5 months ago)

You could of course split hairs between models but the overarching theme here is that everybody makes good stuff in this class of camera these days.

8 upvotes
Duckie
By Duckie (5 months ago)

However well rehashed, there is only so little existing info. Because there are only so many cameras that did come out in the year.

This is like inserting new index cards into an old archive.

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

We were hoping that having all those index cards together in one place, and referencing new information (test scene images and real-world galleries), might be convenient for some people.

6 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (5 months ago)

I hope all are GaerShop eligible, because of the discount and 2-Day Free Shipping.

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (5 months ago)

First, I look for a camera with a gold award. That doesn't narrow things down much so then I see what Ken Rockwell recommends and buy something else.

47 upvotes
Gregm61
By Gregm61 (5 months ago)

LMAO!

0 upvotes
dual12
By dual12 (5 months ago)

A gold award means nothing.

13 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (5 months ago)

@ dual12 - really?

9 upvotes
babalu
By babalu (5 months ago)

A gold award does mean something,but not the same as before DPR's review of the Panasonic GX7.

8 upvotes
dual12
By dual12 (5 months ago)

Yes, really. Anyone who buys a camera because it won a gold award is a fool.

8 upvotes
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (5 months ago)

There really has been no change at all.

The Dpreview Gold and Silver awards have simply replaced their old "Highly Recommended" ratings. Both of which were, and continue to be grossly overused.

Think about it. "Gold and Silver" medals are reminiscent of Olympic competitions, where 20 contestants compete and only three win a medal. One bronze, one silver, and one gold.

Of the last 59 cameras Dpreview completed reviews for, exactly 20, or around 35% won Gold Medals. Another 24, or around 40% won Silver Medals. The remaining 15 got no Medal.

This means.... just like before.... 75% of everything Dpreview touches gets "Highly Recommended." It is just like living in Lake Wobegon, where every child is exceptional.

10 upvotes
Naveed Akhtar
By Naveed Akhtar (5 months ago)

@Marty4650 Yes Sir, and that's true too!! cameras are getting improved now a days, it is hard not to recommend a camera to its target users.

@babalu your personal likings can't be taken in account all the time by the team DPR. GX7 is an exceptional camera by most standards, full featured with great handling and IQ.

0 upvotes
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (5 months ago)

@ Naveed...

Dpreview can always say "we only review good cameras, then we tell you what the best ones among them are." And there is a lot of truth and sense in that position.

So that would explain the inordinate amount of winners and so few losers in their reviews. Like you said... it really is hard to find a real lemon today.

But you could also make a case that Dpreview should be responsible to tell us both things. The cameras that are the best... plus the cameras that are the worst. The ones we should avoid completely. And they actually did this in the very early days of the website.

When every camera is the best camera, then a review website loses it's relevance.

0 upvotes
Olymore
By Olymore (5 months ago)

But the difference between 'best' and 'worst' is very subjective and depends very much on how you use a camera.
DPReview can only really review the technical aspects as they don't know the intended usage.
If you were climbing in the Himalaya for example the E-M1 would probably rate much higher than the x100s. If you are doing social or street photography you may rate the X100s much higher. They both got awards because technically they are both very good.

Comment edited 38 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (5 months ago)

@Marty4650 - You're missing something major here. The early days of digital when there were genuinely 'bad' cameras that we'd never recommend to anyone are in the past.

The very few cameras that we consider seriously deficient in some or other way are loudly and clearly called out, but in a mature marketplace, that's a tiny number of products.

0 upvotes
dual12
By dual12 (5 months ago)

"The very few cameras that we consider seriously deficient in some or other way are loudly and clearly called out"

Hmmm...strange how that Canon EOS M review never appeared...

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (5 months ago)

@dual12 - Canon barely launched the EOS M in the USA, where the majority of our audience is. A full review was never going to be a priority for us during a busy period on the site, especially given the relatively low level of interest in the camera compared to other releases around that time.

2 upvotes
dual12
By dual12 (5 months ago)

"Canon barely launched the EOS M in the USA" I beg to differ. The US is the largest camera market in the world, and Canon sure as heck tried to launch it here. Sorry, I'm not buying your excuse.

0 upvotes
mcshan
By mcshan (5 months ago)

I thought a Gold meant it was a Canon.

2 upvotes
rpm40
By rpm40 (5 months ago)

dual12, if you're not getting enough of the coverage you want at dpreview, just stop paying for it...oh wait..

I agree that the EOS M launch was halfhearted here, and it played a role in the camera generally flopping. Regardless, the site doesn't owe it to you to review certain cameras over others.

0 upvotes
agentul
By agentul (5 months ago)

this is a very good initiative. i just hope you can complete the rest of the articles soon, with some time left for actual shopping.

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

The plan is that they'll all be published within the next week. There's an awful lot of work to be done before then, but we're determined to have these ready as soon as possible.

4 upvotes
MGJA
By MGJA (5 months ago)

*grabs popcorn bag*

Fangurls of the DPR! To battle! Once more into the breach!

13 upvotes
Jogger
By Jogger (5 months ago)

Not sure i would agree with the EM1.. for $300 more you can get a Sony A7 with same build quality and 4x the sensor. Lenses that you adapt to it retain their original focal length rather than suffer the 2x crop penalty. Good lenses for the m43 are expensive and have slow apertures compared to FF. And EM1 video quality is atrocious and lacks common formats (where is 1080p60, AVCHD), something not factored into in the analysis.

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

It would be a pretty odd roundup if we talked through the enthusiast class, then recommended something in the class above. We'll add a class with the 6D, D610 and A7 if we get time.

The disappointing video of the E-M1 is listed.

Comment edited 39 seconds after posting
16 upvotes
WT21
By WT21 (5 months ago)

It's only a penalty if you are trying to go wide. I rather have enjoyed 50mm on m43. It's a nice FL on 2X crop for a lot of uses. Also, the 100-300 is the smallest super-duper zoom you'll find for that FOV. Crop is a feature that is good or bad relative to your needs. Not some universal absolute.

3 upvotes
Naveed Akhtar
By Naveed Akhtar (5 months ago)

that 2x crop is twice as useful for me!
and omd are making it even more useful..
i am missing here pany gx7 though

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (5 months ago)

R Butler - It's pretty odd round up if it nominates camera in a price of (barely used) Full Frame as a winner.

Either you take cameras priced for enthusiasts or not. If you do - get rid of ridiculous OMD in there. If you don't - Include A7, 6D and D610.

Some over thought "class" is meaningless - what client pays for a camera is what really matters. And in case of EM1 it's a price for fully pro camera with a P&S-sized sensor.

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

I'm an enthusiastic X-Pro 1 owner, but at this point I can't see recommending it over the X-E2. Especially since the "buzz" about the X-E2 has been that it now has quite fast AF (I have no idea personally).

I suppose the issue is that DP has reviewed the X-Pro, but not the X-E2.

2 upvotes
Naveed Akhtar
By Naveed Akhtar (5 months ago)

well dp hasn't reviewed k3 yet!!
i guess they are considering flagship models, still in production .. and with highest possible controls

0 upvotes
Total comments: 269
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