Some additional options:
Faststone Image Viewer -- its versatile interface makes using it a pleasure -- great features and fairly powerful -- it's the program that made me not buy Lightroom (I do mostly jpeg, not raw editing).
Virtual Photographer -- excellent features. It also takes many Photoshop plugins. And it includes the awesome Virtual Photographer Plugin which is a film simulator that holds up well against many of the expensive products (i.e. alienskin exposure, silver efex pro) with its color film and black and white conversions. A program made by real photographers instead of software engineers.
Older versions of Photoshop such as Photoshop 7 or Elements 2-5 (both use the old serial key system which is handy if your pc is not connected to the web -- also, these older programs are ridiculously fast on a current pc).
Save some money -- treat yourself to that lens you've been wanting for far too long....
Faststone Image Viewer--awesome interface for viewing and editing images that don't need extensive editing. Surprisingly powerful when you actually explore its features.
Virtual Studio (optikvervelabs.com) -- same as above, but it adds the excellent Virtual Photographer Plugin.
Although both of the above are free, if you can find used copies of Photoshop 7 or Elements 2-5, go for it (both should be dirt cheap and don't even require online registration or activation) -- and they run lightning fast compared to current editions of either). Photoshop 7 meets 95% of my needs compared to current versions.
Thanks for another great review. I don't mind waiting for the reviews from this site -- it's worth the wait, as very few sites do it better. I learn more about a camera from the reviews here than I do from the camera manual.
We often have a zero-sum mentality when it comes to cameras -- in other words, for my camera to be superior, every other camera must be inferior. These days, technology has come so far that comparing Fujifilm to Nikon to Canon, etc. is like comparing Porsches to Corvettes to Ferraris, and so on. As a result, we as photographers have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to camera selection and have the luxury to nitpick over things that may be more or less important depending on the needs of the individual photographer (i.e. arguing over operation speeds that vary only milliseconds from one camera model to another).
When speed is critical, I go to my Nikons. When image quality is crucial, the Fujifilm comes out the box. Why? Because in my studio, it is the portraits shot with the Fujifilm cameras that make customers ask what camera took that shot and place orders. I challenge you to actually use the Fujifilm X-E1 to take real portraits of real people and not be impressed.
Great images from a master photographer. McCurry is clearly one of the great portraitists of our time. I learn something every time I see his work.
PeterFXCassidy: Fujifilm S5 Pro
Definitely -- The S5, S3, and S2, even years later, were ahead of their time. The best out of camera JPEGS of any DSLR, past or present (along with a killer black and white mode), you could tell that these cameras were designed not by engineers, but real photographers who studied what a good film print looks like.
The Fujifilm hands down -- my Nikons are faster, but if the main criteria is absolute image quality (especially for portraits), nothing on this list even comes close. I've been painting portraits for 25 years -- only the Fujifilm gives me that same level of color rendition that I thought only existed at the end of an oil painting brush. This is coming from an extremely loyal Nikon shooter.
I'm always amazed at how territorial we can be when a new camera might possibly be superior to the one we own (I've been guilty of this myself). But I have to be honest -- as a very content Nikon shooter who has invested in some world class lenses, the Sony SLT-A99 is the best camera I've experienced in 25 years of shooting. The OVF allows me to know exactly how my image will look -- I press the shutter only once -- no bracketing or continuous shooting required to get the shot in most cases. This is the only camera I've ever considered to be the last camera I would need to buy. Thankfully, we photographers live in an amazing era where Nikon, Canon, Sony, Fuji and other companies all make state of the art cameras that great photographers of years past could only imagine. Just one photographer's opinion, speaking only for myself.
Excellent review for an excellent camera -- and stunning gallery images. I admit, as a Nikon shooter, I used to not take the Sony cameras seriously -- until I actually used one. For example, the Zeiss lenses on Sony's 10 year old F707/F717 models (2.0 at 38mm, 2.4 even at 192mm) give any of my Nikon primes a run for their money. Regardless of what brand you shoot with, innovations from companies like Sony, Fuji, etc. can only benefit the consumer in the long run.
Seeing McCurry's work over the years is like being alive when Rembrandt was painting. His color photography is every bit as phenomenal as the most iconic black and white images. Thanks DPReview for the links to his blog.
My ideal camera would have to have the following James Bond-like features:
-Laser Hologram Autofocus to allow precise focusing even in complete darkness
-A Zeiss lens with a brightness of 2.0 at the wide end and 2.4 at 190mm
-Built in infra-red shooting capability
-An L-shaped body with a lens that also swivels to allow waist level shooting, shooting over crowds, around corners, and even shooting behind you
-Operates in total silence
-And of course, has excellent image quality
-By the way, it has to cost $100 or less.
No, I'm not crazy -- fortunately, this camera exists. Sony made this awesome camera (the F707) 11 years ago. I still use it for street photography, being as close as 2 feet from subjects who never realize I'm even taking a picture. I often mistake the images for ones taken with my DSLR.
As of this writing, this 2/3" sensor camera is an insane steal for only $50 bucks on Amazon.
Sony, please make a 2012 version of this camera!
Boy, we can be a pretty judgmental bunch here at DPReview (I'm as guilty as anyone, I suppose). We condemn cameras we don't like, condemn the companies that make them, and condemn those who would actually choose such cameras. Can't we at least wait until a given camera is manufactured, reviewed, and most importantly -- personally handled -- before we start building the gallows for those who would dare create something that doesn't meet the approval of the hundreds of Magnum and Pulitzer Prize winning photographers who post on this site? After all, Hasselblad is one of the few companies that can say their cameras are built well enough to be used by astronauts in space -- what could they possibly know about making cameras?
I see this as a smart move for all involved and a natural progression from Sony's relationship with Zeiss. Many potential Medium Format users are migrating to high end DSLRs (i.e. Nikon's D800) that approach Medium Format resolution for much less money. This move allows Hasselblad to be competitive at that price point (i.e. why buy a Nikon DSLR with Medium Format quality at a reasonable price when you can buy a Hasselblad/Sony DSLR with Medium Format quality at a similar price -- from a company that makes actual Medium Format cameras?) Just my two cents.
DPReview, thank you for another fascinating article. Unfortunately, there will always be those who reject anything inconsistent with their view of what photography should be. As much as I like reading the equipment reviews, many of us appreciate your willingness to expose your readers to the tremendous mosaic of mediums and techniques in photography. Even the comments were informative (I now know what Cibachrome is -- wow).
As photographers, we tend to have very strong views concerning the tools of our craft.
But consider the following: in the music profession, you could buy a Yamaha digital piano for $2,000 that can stunningly recreate the sound of the most expensive grand piano -- and over 1000 additional instruments as well. It is a technological wonder in every sense of the word. On the other hand, a Steinway grand piano costs $100,000. It only plays a single sound (piano). The technology is basically unchanged from the way they were built 100 years ago. It is tempermental and unlike the Yamaha, must be meticulously tuned and maintained.
Both have their place. The existence of one does not detract from the excellence of the other or the artists who choose either.
Whether it's photography or other artistic fields, all of us have a wonderful array of personal creative choices in terms of how we practice our craft. That's a reality worth embracing and not attacking each other over.
Hey, I've never spent more than $175 on a camera (that includes my DSLRs) and don't plan to -- but in fairness, photographers with an open perspective can be a wonderful thing.... The monochrome camera Phase One put out a while ago cost much more than the Leica -- $40,000 for the back alone -- and certain purchasers (fine artists, scientific photographers for example) found it quite justifiable based on their photographic objectives. Despite Phase One charging 5x more than Leica for a similar concept, I somehow don't remember Phase One being vilified in the same way as Leica has been by many of us.
Just as color photographs are remarkable in the painterly aesthetic they are capable of achieving, monochrome images can possess a scuptural quality that is no less remarkable. Hopefully, this concept will be embraced by other camera makers to the extent that prices come down to a point where all of who choose to can access it.
DPReview, thanks for a thoughtful, balanced article. It's not always the most fully featured camera that makes one remember why they fell in love with photography in the first place. Like most of the readers on this site, I use very current equipment with all the bells and whistles -- but I still relish the mechanical process and rhythm of all the manual adjustments I used to make on a Pentax K1000 (from focusing to cocking the shutter for the next shot). Idiosyncratic, maybe -- but some of the world's best writers still use their typewriters for that same reason.
Coming from a background as a portrait painter (where completing a portrait can take minutes -- or months), I've found the road less traveled (even if it means traveling it at only 2 frames per second) sometimes preferable. It is in overcoming the inherent limitations of a tool that lasting art is often created.
By the way, the photographs in the samples gallery are outstanding.
Leica obviously has its admirers -- and its critics. There are definitely many cameras that take comparable images at a fraction of the price. But how many of us who perceive Leica as being arrogant haven't turned up our own noses at people we feel use inferior equipment (i.e. those who use compacts instead of DSLRs)?
Ironically, Magnum Photographer Alex Majoli (who has used both Leicas and DSLRs) shot stories for Newsweek and National Geographic with neither -- he used a 5 megapixel compact that you could find on ebay today for about $100. It was with this point and shoot that he won both the U.S. National Press Photographers Association's Best of Photojournalism Magazine Photographer of the Year Award and the U.S. Overseas Press Club's Feature Photography Award.
Whether the camera costs $10,000 or $100 -- it's probably a good idea to develop our skills to the level where it doesn't matter which camera we choose.
derfla1949: dpreview is increasingly disappointing.Press releases and marketing hype instead of reviews of cameras and lenses.
The last in-depth review of a lens dates from?The last in-depth review of a camera dates from?
Please, please, think it over.
dpreview not so long ago was a valuable source of information. dpreview today is rapidly losing value.
Also, in fairness to dpreview, they are an excellent review resource not only for current cameras, but for just about every digital camera made in the last decade (I use a lot of older digital cameras made before the the megapixel race got out of hand -- i.e. the Sony DSC S85 -- an f2.0 to 2.5 lens and very decent image quality -- my $15 street camera).
Hughesnet: There is not