The five best stills cameras (in my view).

Started May 10, 2012 | Discussions
Louis_Dobson
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The five best stills cameras (in my view).
May 10, 2012

Nikon D4. If 16MP is enough this does everything as well as it can be done, except tilt the screen It is blisteringly fast, shoots in near darkness, has massive DR, and a quirk free interface. The only reasons not to buy (excluding screen as above) are huge weight and massive cost. I've been there, done that with the D3. For my sort of stuff, too heavy. And I'm not paying that again either! Times are hard...

Nikon D800. 36MP really does make a difference. The DPR samples don't do it justice because they are diffraction limited. No tilting screen again, 4fps is a bit slow (don't sneer, you try 9 and 12 fps and see what it suddenly makes possible), and although not as bad as the D4 we are still talking very big and very spendy. Especially the lenses. The 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200 f2.8 zooms will cost you arm plus leg and weigh a ton. However, unlike with the D4, you will get better quality prints. In fact, let's be clear, this is the only camera here with better low ISO IQ than the others.

OM-D. Excellent IQ from a sensor that is enough of technology jump to (for now) negate the small sensor disadvantage. To my mind this camera does exactly the job a D3 did four years ago, but in a package a quarter the size and cost. Get the OM-D and a few lenses and you have a really small, fast shooting, high IQ system let down only by limited C-AF ability, less DoF control and an annoying interface for landscapers. With these three cameras, if one takes the four year old D3 as a starting point, you can decide how you use the four years of technological improvement: faster (D4), sharper (D800), or smaller (OM-D).

Xpro1. Beset by annoying quirks, slow AF and no lenses, it has real photographer's controls, and that alone is worth almost anything else. Unique IQ, which I personally think is a look that is different rather than better, and can be re-created in post from any of the others.

GH2. The odd one out here - any of the others you can argue is the "best" stills camera in the world, depending on what "best" means for you. There's no way the GH2 is the best stills camera - but it is solid, sorted and available cheap now. Not too pricey, not too heavy, not too noisy, really not bad in any way. To my mind, much nicer than a poverty spec dSLR, and no more expensive.
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honorine
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Re: The five best stills cameras (in my view).
In reply to Louis_Dobson, May 10, 2012

Dear Louis, thank you for this analysis. Both informative and reassuring for those us with ambition, but limited funds.
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Aleo Veuliah
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Re: Soon it will be six
In reply to Louis_Dobson, May 10, 2012

Soon there will be 6, with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3

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Aleo Veuliah
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Re: Many in my view
In reply to Louis_Dobson, May 10, 2012
  • Nikon D4

  • Leica S2

  • Nikon D800

  • Canon 5D MKIII

  • Nikon D7000

  • Leica M9

  • Fuji X Pro 1

  • Pentax K5

  • Olympus OM-D EM-5

  • Panasonic Lumix GH2

  • Sony NEX 7

  • Those we have with us when the opportunity appears

  • And when the GH3 appear it will go above or side by side the OMD

  • But the important is who use them

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Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

God is the tangential point between zero and infinity.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

God always take the simplest way.

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Pixnat2
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Agree, except for the GH2
In reply to Louis_Dobson, May 10, 2012

Good photographer oriented analyse, thanks for sharing.

It's refreshing to read something different than the ultra technical DXO numbers oriented usual analyses that are everywhere nowadays.

Having used the GH2 for some time now, I would not put it in the list. IMO, it's clearly the best "video" camera among the current DSLRs, but I don't like it too much for stills. Not bad at all, but not that great.

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Aleo Veuliah
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Re: Many in my view, forgot these ...
In reply to Aleo Veuliah, May 10, 2012
  • I will add the EP3 and the GX1

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Timur Born
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Re: The five best stills cameras (in my view).
In reply to Louis_Dobson, May 10, 2012

If you can live with only 6 mp then the Fujifilm X10 seems to offers higher dynamic-range than the E-M5 at less weight and size with a fast zoom lens. This may be useful for your coastal light stuff, but obviously limits print size.

Once the sensor has been fixed by Fuji its main drawbacks are: no tilt screen, only x85 optical viewfinder and much too slow write times. Another disadvantage is its use of rattlesnaking exposure live-view, which causes an aperture open-close-open sequence before focusing when you aim at very bright targets. But apart from the latter its auto-focus speed is quite up on par with the E-M5 in may situations, which makes the X-Pro1's slow AF seem even more odd.

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Detail Man
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Re: The five best stills cameras (in my view).
In reply to Louis_Dobson, May 10, 2012

DM: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/studio-compare#baseDir=%2Freviews_data&cameraDataSubdir=boxshot&indexFileName=boxshotindex.xml&presetsFileName=boxshotpresets.xml&showDescriptions=false&headerTitle=Studio%20scene&headerSubTitle=Standard%20studio%20scene%20comparison&masterCamera=fujifilm_xpro1&masterSample=dscf9783.acr&slotsCount=4&slot0Camera=fujifilm_xpro1&slot0Sample=dscf9783.acr&slot0DisableCameraSelection=true&slot0DisableSampleSelection=true&slot0LinkWithMaster=true&slot1Camera=panasonic_dmcgh2&slot1Sample=p1010457-gh2-iso200.acr&slot2Camera=panasonic_dmcgx1&slot2Sample=p1030053.acr&slot3Camera=oly_em5&slot3Sample=p1010003.acr&x=0.6402711265011419&y=-0.35216111946642253

If you want that smooothhh open look...

Louis_Dobson wrote:

Just whack up the NR. It's really quite funny to see how everyone has been drooling over the XPro shots and now we actually have comparison samples you can see there is no detail.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1041&message=41462806

Louis_Dobson wrote:

Xpro1. Beset by annoying quirks, slow AF and no lenses, it has real photographer's controls, and that alone is worth almost anything else. Unique IQ, which I personally think is a look that is different rather than better, and can be re-created in post from any of the others.

My, Louis, how one day's time has rather mellowed you so ...

Have you (perchance) been getting excited PMs from X-Pro 1 enthusiasts lately, too ? ...

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Louis_Dobson
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Re: The five best stills cameras (in my view).
In reply to Timur Born, May 10, 2012

6MP is out of the question IMHO.

On the slow AF - the chap who wrote Raw Digger was saying (and may he please forgive me if I am mis-quoting) that the way to get quality out of ADCs is to give them time to work.

The XPro (and X100) are designed for max IQ, hence the ADCs may be being given time to work, hence a slow scan rate, hence slow AF.

Or else Fuji are idiots. I have no means of telling.

Timur Born wrote:

If you can live with only 6 mp then the Fujifilm X10 seems to offers higher dynamic-range than the E-M5 at less weight and size with a fast zoom lens. This may be useful for your coastal light stuff, but obviously limits print size.

Once the sensor has been fixed by Fuji its main drawbacks are: no tilt screen, only x85 optical viewfinder and much too slow write times. Another disadvantage is its use of rattlesnaking exposure live-view, which causes an aperture open-close-open sequence before focusing when you aim at very bright targets. But apart from the latter its auto-focus speed is quite up on par with the E-M5 in may situations, which makes the X-Pro1's slow AF seem even more odd.

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Louis_Dobson
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Re: The five best stills cameras (in my view).
In reply to Detail Man, May 10, 2012

No, my view is consistent

I like the Fuji because it has a proper controls. Aperture on the lens, shutter speed dial, button for each major function. That's how all cameras should be!

I think the acclaimed IQ is neither better nor worse, merely different, and I think you could cancel it on the Fuji or replicate it on anything else with LR presets or, at worst, a PS action.

It's a great camera, hence the inclusion, but it's not the IQ that makes it great.

Detail Man wrote:

DM: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/studio-compare#baseDir=%2Freviews_data&cameraDataSubdir=boxshot&indexFileName=boxshotindex.xml&presetsFileName=boxshotpresets.xml&showDescriptions=false&headerTitle=Studio%20scene&headerSubTitle=Standard%20studio%20scene%20comparison&masterCamera=fujifilm_xpro1&masterSample=dscf9783.acr&slotsCount=4&slot0Camera=fujifilm_xpro1&slot0Sample=dscf9783.acr&slot0DisableCameraSelection=true&slot0DisableSampleSelection=true&slot0LinkWithMaster=true&slot1Camera=panasonic_dmcgh2&slot1Sample=p1010457-gh2-iso200.acr&slot2Camera=panasonic_dmcgx1&slot2Sample=p1030053.acr&slot3Camera=oly_em5&slot3Sample=p1010003.acr&x=0.6402711265011419&y=-0.35216111946642253

If you want that smooothhh open look...

Louis_Dobson wrote:

Just whack up the NR. It's really quite funny to see how everyone has been drooling over the XPro shots and now we actually have comparison samples you can see there is no detail.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1041&message=41462806

Louis_Dobson wrote:

Xpro1. Beset by annoying quirks, slow AF and no lenses, it has real photographer's controls, and that alone is worth almost anything else. Unique IQ, which I personally think is a look that is different rather than better, and can be re-created in post from any of the others.

My, Louis, how one day's time has rather mellowed you so ...

Have you (perchance) been getting excited PMs from X-Pro 1 enthusiasts lately, too ? ...

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Louis_Dobson
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Re: Many in my view
In reply to Aleo Veuliah, May 10, 2012

Aleo Veuliah wrote:

  • Nikon D4

yup.

  • Leica S2

D800 replaces that in my view.

  • Nikon D800

Yup

  • Canon 5D MKIII

D4, thanks.

  • Nikon D7000

OM-D please.

  • Leica M9

I am not a fan.

  • Fuji X Pro 1

In my list.

  • Pentax K5

If I were adding one more, it would be that. I think the OM-D, again, does a very similar job better, but if DR is vital to you, yes, K5.

  • Olympus OM-D EM-5

In my list.

  • Panasonic Lumix GH2

In my list.

  • Sony NEX 7

Prefer the GH2, let alone the OM-D. I can't see the attraction of this one.

  • Those we have with us when the opportunity appears

  • And when the GH3 appear it will go above or side by side the OMD

  • But the important is who use them

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Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

God is the tangential point between zero and infinity.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

God always take the simplest way.

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Detail Man
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Re: The five best stills cameras (in my view).
In reply to Louis_Dobson, May 10, 2012

Louis_Dobson wrote:

No, my view is consistent

I like the Fuji because it has a proper controls. Aperture on the lens, shutter speed dial, button for each major function. That's how all cameras should be!

My DMC-FZ50 is just such an ergonomic dream-machine ... but suffers from other obsolescences ...

I think the acclaimed IQ is neither better nor worse, merely different, and I think you could cancel it on the Fuji or replicate it on anything else with LR presets or, at worst, a PS action.

You mean you can simply adjust the Fujis so that they suddenly have tack-sharp image-detail ???

It's a great camera, hence the inclusion, but it's not the IQ that makes it great.

I could say the same of my DMC-FZ50. But few would want to buy it (though in mint condition) ...

It does have a rather nice fixed, in-camera 35mm - 420mm (35mm equivalent) Leica lens-system !
.

Detail Man wrote:

DM: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/studio-compare#baseDir=%2Freviews_data&cameraDataSubdir=boxshot&indexFileName=boxshotindex.xml&presetsFileName=boxshotpresets.xml&showDescriptions=false&headerTitle=Studio%20scene&headerSubTitle=Standard%20studio%20scene%20comparison&masterCamera=fujifilm_xpro1&masterSample=dscf9783.acr&slotsCount=4&slot0Camera=fujifilm_xpro1&slot0Sample=dscf9783.acr&slot0DisableCameraSelection=true&slot0DisableSampleSelection=true&slot0LinkWithMaster=true&slot1Camera=panasonic_dmcgh2&slot1Sample=p1010457-gh2-iso200.acr&slot2Camera=panasonic_dmcgx1&slot2Sample=p1030053.acr&slot3Camera=oly_em5&slot3Sample=p1010003.acr&x=0.6402711265011419&y=-0.35216111946642253

If you want that smooothhh open look...

Louis_Dobson wrote:

Just whack up the NR. It's really quite funny to see how everyone has been drooling over the XPro shots and now we actually have comparison samples you can see there is no detail.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1041&message=41462806

Louis_Dobson wrote:

Xpro1. Beset by annoying quirks, slow AF and no lenses, it has real photographer's controls, and that alone is worth almost anything else. Unique IQ, which I personally think is a look that is different rather than better, and can be re-created in post from any of the others.

My, Louis, how one day's time has rather mellowed you so ...

Have you (perchance) been getting excited PMs from X-Pro 1 enthusiasts lately, too ? ...

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Aleo Veuliah
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Re: Nikon D800 is the best balance
In reply to Louis_Dobson, May 10, 2012
  • Nikon D800, is the best balance , in my view, not expensive compared to the D4 or a Leica M9, best image quality, 4 fps are good for the most of the situations, it is a perfect camera for landscapes portraits and studio, even for some sports, I remember take many sport images with only 3/5 fps, it is a matter of using it well

-- hide signature --

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

God is the tangential point between zero and infinity.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

God always take the simplest way.

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Louis_Dobson
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Re: The five best stills cameras (in my view).
In reply to Detail Man, May 10, 2012

There's a procedure I use in PS that produces a similar look, I forget the name, and every time I use it I have to look up the process (don't do it often enough to store it as an action). I don't see why one could not write the reverse.

One doesn't need to sharpen the whole image, it is the lighter tones, I feel, that are soft. Hence the warm, ethereal, glowing look. Bung a bit of USM on those and you can kiss goodbye to the Fuji look and get a normal sort of shot (which may or may not be a good thing).

Detail Man wrote:

Louis_Dobson wrote:

No, my view is consistent

I like the Fuji because it has a proper controls. Aperture on the lens, shutter speed dial, button for each major function. That's how all cameras should be!

My DMC-FZ50 is just such an ergonomic dream-machine ... but suffers from other obsolescences ...

I think the acclaimed IQ is neither better nor worse, merely different, and I think you could cancel it on the Fuji or replicate it on anything else with LR presets or, at worst, a PS action.

You mean you can simply adjust the Fujis so that they suddenly have tack-sharp image-detail ???

It's a great camera, hence the inclusion, but it's not the IQ that makes it great.

I could say the same of my DMC-FZ50. But few would want to buy it (though in mint condition) ...

It does have a rather nice fixed, in-camera 35mm - 420mm (35mm equivalent) Leica lens-system !
.

Detail Man wrote:

DM: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/studio-compare#baseDir=%2Freviews_data&cameraDataSubdir=boxshot&indexFileName=boxshotindex.xml&presetsFileName=boxshotpresets.xml&showDescriptions=false&headerTitle=Studio%20scene&headerSubTitle=Standard%20studio%20scene%20comparison&masterCamera=fujifilm_xpro1&masterSample=dscf9783.acr&slotsCount=4&slot0Camera=fujifilm_xpro1&slot0Sample=dscf9783.acr&slot0DisableCameraSelection=true&slot0DisableSampleSelection=true&slot0LinkWithMaster=true&slot1Camera=panasonic_dmcgh2&slot1Sample=p1010457-gh2-iso200.acr&slot2Camera=panasonic_dmcgx1&slot2Sample=p1030053.acr&slot3Camera=oly_em5&slot3Sample=p1010003.acr&x=0.6402711265011419&y=-0.35216111946642253

If you want that smooothhh open look...

Louis_Dobson wrote:

Just whack up the NR. It's really quite funny to see how everyone has been drooling over the XPro shots and now we actually have comparison samples you can see there is no detail.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1041&message=41462806

Louis_Dobson wrote:

Xpro1. Beset by annoying quirks, slow AF and no lenses, it has real photographer's controls, and that alone is worth almost anything else. Unique IQ, which I personally think is a look that is different rather than better, and can be re-created in post from any of the others.

My, Louis, how one day's time has rather mellowed you so ...

Have you (perchance) been getting excited PMs from X-Pro 1 enthusiasts lately, too ? ...

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Timur Born
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Re: The five best stills cameras (in my view).
In reply to Louis_Dobson, May 10, 2012

Louis_Dobson wrote:

On the slow AF - the chap who wrote Raw Digger was saying (and may he please forgive me if I am mis-quoting) that the way to get quality out of ADCs is to give them time to work.

Yes, I remember having read something along the lines as well.

The XPro (and X100) are designed for max IQ, hence the ADCs may be being given time to work, hence a slow scan rate, hence slow AF.

But for the X100 the was a firmware update that improved AF times considerably.

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Louis_Dobson
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Re: The five best stills cameras (in my view).
In reply to Timur Born, May 10, 2012

Still dreadful by all accounts though...

Timur Born wrote:

Louis_Dobson wrote:

On the slow AF - the chap who wrote Raw Digger was saying (and may he please forgive me if I am mis-quoting) that the way to get quality out of ADCs is to give them time to work.

Yes, I remember having read something along the lines as well.

The XPro (and X100) are designed for max IQ, hence the ADCs may be being given time to work, hence a slow scan rate, hence slow AF.

But for the X100 the was a firmware update that improved AF times considerably.

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Rriley
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Re: The five best stills cameras (in my view).
In reply to Louis_Dobson, May 10, 2012

Louis_Dobson wrote:

Nikon D800. 36MP really does make a difference. The DPR samples don't do it justice because they are diffraction limited.

Nonetheless I think this to be a genuine limitation to this camera.

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Louis_Dobson
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Re: The five best stills cameras (in my view).
In reply to Rriley, May 10, 2012

Yes. But it's not like it becomes a piece of junk stopped down, it just reverts to be being a normal camera.

Rriley wrote:

Louis_Dobson wrote:

Nikon D800. 36MP really does make a difference. The DPR samples don't do it justice because they are diffraction limited.

Nonetheless I think this to be a genuine limitation to this camera.

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Riley

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Aleo Veuliah
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Re: Bhaaaaa ... nothing compares to this, DM
In reply to Detail Man, May 10, 2012

Detail Man wrote:

It does have a rather nice fixed, in-camera 35mm - 420mm (35mm equivalent) Leica lens-system !

  • Bhaaaa My Panasonic Lumix TZ6 have a 25-300mm Leica lens and it is much smaller, and at base ISO 80 is fantastic, similar to the D800 IQ

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God is the tangential point between zero and infinity.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

God always take the simplest way.

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Detail Man
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Re: Bhaaaaa ... nothing compares to this, DM
In reply to Aleo Veuliah, May 10, 2012

Aleo Veuliah wrote:

Detail Man wrote:

It does have a rather nice fixed, in-camera 35mm - 420mm (35mm equivalent) Leica lens-system !

Bhaaaa My Panasonic Lumix TZ6 have a 25-300mm Leica lens and it is much smaller, and at base ISO 80 is fantastic, similar to the D800 IQ.

As the owner of a seldom used DMC-ZS7, and a prior owner of a DMC-TZ4, I know better , Aleo

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