Best Portrait Camera? Nikon? Fuji? Canon? Olympus?

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saltydogstudios
saltydogstudios Senior Member • Posts: 2,191
Best Portrait Camera? Nikon? Fuji? Canon? Olympus?
1

I've tested cameras from Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony and Olympus to see which was best for portraits.

I'll keep my personal conclusions to myself - but you can view the results and vote on your favorites here.

http://sodium.nyc/blog/2020/05/camera-jpg-portrait

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fPrime
fPrime Veteran Member • Posts: 3,428
Wow!
4

saltydogstudios wrote:

I've tested cameras from Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony and Olympus to see which was best for portraits.

I'll keep my personal conclusions to myself - but you can view the results and vote on your favorites here.

http://sodium.nyc/blog/2020/05/camera-jpg-portrait

What a comprehensive test of SOOC JPEG engines!

First of four models

Some things that I noticed as I was voting were:

  • No manufacturer dominated the tests, it seemed illumination dependent.
  • Even if I chose a favorite manufacturer panel, one of that manufacturer's profiles would inevitably look "off".
  • Not once did I vote for the Sony panel.
  • Often an older camera's JPEG's looked better than its successor. The Fuji X-Pro1's JPEG's almost always looked better than the Fuji X-Pro2's JPEGS. the Canon 5D largely looked better than the Canon 5DMk2, and the Nikon D700 mostly looked better than the D600.
  • This all begs the question…is camera color science going backwards?

fPrime

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KCook
KCook Forum Pro • Posts: 18,215
Re: Best Portrait Camera? Nikon? Fuji? Canon? Olympus?

Fun project .  While I love my Olympus cameras for natural light, it never occurred to me to use them with studio strobes!

dumbme

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saltydogstudios
OP saltydogstudios Senior Member • Posts: 2,191
Re: Best Portrait Camera? Nikon? Fuji? Canon? Olympus?
1

KCook wrote:

Fun project . While I love my Olympus cameras for natural light, it never occurred to me to use them with studio strobes!

dumbme

I really dislike the Olympus histogram for studio work (I mention this in the post).

But I do quite like the Olympus colors - they're all sort of in the muted range (except for iEnhance which does bizarre things). Admittedly this is all based on personal taste.

I was considering dumping my X-Pro2 for Olympus as my less-than-full-frame every day carry camera and frankly - I'm kinda thinking I'm gonna stick with that.

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saltydogstudios
OP saltydogstudios Senior Member • Posts: 2,191
Re: Wow!

fPrime wrote:

saltydogstudios wrote:

I've tested cameras from Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony and Olympus to see which was best for portraits.

I'll keep my personal conclusions to myself - but you can view the results and vote on your favorites here.

http://sodium.nyc/blog/2020/05/camera-jpg-portrait

What a comprehensive test of SOOC JPEG engines!

Thank you!

First of four models

Some things that I noticed as I was voting were:

  • No manufacturer dominated the tests, it seemed illumination dependent.

Yes. I shot Nikon for years and had no idea how much it influenced my aesthetic - they're warm to Canon's cool. In looking at the work from my Canon friends, I wonder if the same has happened to them. Even though they processed from raw, their work would tend more towards blue tones than my warm. Was that entirely their decision making, or was some of it influenced by the camera - which is how they "Saw" the images before opening them up in a RAW converter.

  • Even if I chose a favorite manufacturer panel, one of that manufacturer's profiles would inevitably look "off".

Agree.

It's really startling how some cameras are good at some skin tones and horrible at others - and how much Standard vs Portrait color mode can affect some people.

It seems that they turn up the saturation and contrast in some color modes and that's worse for people with more pigmentation.

This is what Olympus' iEnhance did to this poor model. It's so bad I didn't even include it in the set. For other models, iEnhance was only mildly overly saturated.

Olympus EPL-5 iEnhance color mode

  • Not once did I vote for the Sony panel.

LOL Same.

  • Often an older camera's JPEG's looked better than its successor. The Fuji X-Pro1's JPEG's almost always looked better than the Fuji X-Pro2's JPEGS. the Canon 5D largely looked better than the Canon 5DMk2, and the Nikon D700 mostly looked better than the D600.

Agree. Though not always crazy about the D700. It also didn't have a portrait mode at all. It's also one of the cameras I hear people rave about for skin tones/portraits.

Usually preferred the 5D to the 5Dmk2 - except for when I really didn't.

And I don't know what's up with the X-Pro2. Everything is just so orange. At first I thought it was a fluke but model after model - just very orange. That said the Pro Neg Hi usually did a good job.

  • This all begs the question…is camera color science going backwards?

fPrime

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I also wonder how any of this correlates (or not) to DxO's "portrait" rating, which is a measure of color depth. I'm not sure if this is better or worse for portraits, to be honest.

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KCook
KCook Forum Pro • Posts: 18,215
Re: Best Portrait Camera? Nikon? Fuji? Canon? Olympus?

saltydogstudios wrote:

KCook wrote:

Fun project . While I love my Olympus cameras for natural light, it never occurred to me to use them with studio strobes!

dumbme

I really dislike the Olympus histogram for studio work (I mention this in the post).

But I do quite like the Olympus colors - they're all sort of in the muted range (except for iEnhance which does bizarre things). Admittedly this is all based on personal taste.

I was considering dumping my X-Pro2 for Olympus as my less-than-full-frame every day carry camera and frankly - I'm kinda thinking I'm gonna stick with that.

Caught me. I rarely read articles, just look at the pretty pictures

In my view iEnhance is useless for everything. Unless you just prefer clown color.

I have rented the Fuji X-E2s and X-T20, but never tried one of the X-Pros. Jolly fun playing with the film simulations and tone curves. Also took a crack at their DR100/200/400 feature for shadow recovery. Disappointed that the benefits were mild, in spite of the big ISO boosts that come with it.

After owning 3 Olympus M4/3, decided to try Panasonic for a change. Boy does Panny handle the image files differently, for both JPG and RAW. Taking advantage of the in-camera JPG adjustments, there are things about the Panny that I prefer to Oly. For one thing, the Panny iDynamic feature seems stronger than the Fuji DR400. Unfortunately, Panny RAW files do not play well with some RAW software. Even though Panny does not have X-Trans, this is similar to the Fuji issue for demosaicing.

I brought Panny up because the G and GH series are physically nice to work with, compared to the sleek (and cramped) Oly bodies. But I don't know if there would be any differences in connecting them up with studio strobes.

Kelly

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Donald B
Donald B Forum Pro • Posts: 16,978
Re: Best Portrait Camera? Nikon? Fuji? Canon? Olympus?
2

none of them

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57even Forum Pro • Posts: 14,668
Re: Best Portrait Camera? Nikon? Fuji? Canon? Olympus?
1

saltydogstudios wrote:

I've tested cameras from Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony and Olympus to see which was best for portraits.

I'll keep my personal conclusions to myself - but you can view the results and vote on your favorites here.

http://sodium.nyc/blog/2020/05/camera-jpg-portrait

To be entirely honest, I don't like any of them.

Was white balance corrected for the flash?

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D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 26,763
Re: Best Portrait Camera? Nikon? Fuji? Canon? Olympus?
2

57even wrote:

saltydogstudios wrote:

I've tested cameras from Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony and Olympus to see which was best for portraits.

I'll keep my personal conclusions to myself - but you can view the results and vote on your favorites here.

http://sodium.nyc/blog/2020/05/camera-jpg-portrait

To be entirely honest, I don't like any of them.

Was white balance corrected for the flash?

I don't understand why anyone would shoot portraits and save only JPG files. You are relying on the opinions of some coder employed by the camera company as to what colours look best.

But my opinion is that the best portraits are taken in black and white. I don't think colour photography can handle skin colours. Artists using oil paint, such as Rembrandt or Velasquez, can succeed. This is partly because the iron oxide pigments they use have similar spectra to skin, unlike the highly saturated red, green and blue or CMYK used in photographs.

One good thing about these tests is that the models are not wearing makeup, so you really are testing skin colours rather than makeup colours.

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Sigma fp
JustUs7 Contributing Member • Posts: 876
Re: Best Portrait Camera? Nikon? Fuji? Canon? Olympus?

I know it’s not a scientific test. I made the mistake of reading the article then noticing which cameras are which prior toward the end.

It would be a better test to have this be a two parter with voting open for a period.  Also, shuffle the order from model to model.

As it is, knowing which row is which will bias the results.  Still an interesting look into the differences in each camera.

I picked Canon as my favorites because it’s what I’ve spent money on already.

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Janoch
Janoch Veteran Member • Posts: 4,540
Best Portrait Camera? Nikon? Fuji? Canon? Olympus?
4

Any photographer can make stunning portraits with any and all of these cameras... it's not really about the gear, but more post processing skills...

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Moti Veteran Member • Posts: 8,885
Re: Best Portrait Camera? Nikon? Fuji? Canon? Olympus?
9

saltydogstudios wrote:

I've tested cameras from Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony and Olympus to see which was best for portraits.

I'll keep my personal conclusions to myself - but you can view the results and vote on your favorites here.

http://sodium.nyc/blog/2020/05/camera-jpg-portrait

Nice to excercise but I really don't see how these samples can give any conclusion or are useful in any way. Serious portrait pros will always shoot raw, and at the end of the day, the skin tones depend mainly on the way the photos are processed, more than anything else.

Moti

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Snapper2013 Contributing Member • Posts: 667
Wow! Can't get over how muddy Nikon is.
1

The other results look good though. Thanks for posting.

sybersitizen Forum Pro • Posts: 17,501
Re: Best Portrait Camera? Nikon? Fuji? Canon? Olympus?
2

saltydogstudios wrote:

http://sodium.nyc/blog/2020/05/camera-jpg-portrait

'Cameras were set to factory default prior to shooting.'

So it's a test of JPG engine defaults.

StarPortraits
StarPortraits Regular Member • Posts: 420
Re: Best Portrait Camera? Nikon? Fuji? Canon? Olympus?

The camera is only part of the equation. There are too many variables to sustain which is the best camera for portraits. You got to also consider the light conditions, the lens used, and even post processing. One thing I give credit to is the focus system of mirrorless cameras today which help a lot on focusing on people eyes. Its part of the portrait shooter scheme of things.

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Smaug01
MOD Smaug01 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,355
I like Canon and Olympus about equally (nt)

No text.

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saltydogstudios
OP saltydogstudios Senior Member • Posts: 2,191
Re: Best Portrait Camera? Nikon? Fuji? Canon? Olympus?
2

KCook wrote:

saltydogstudios wrote:

KCook wrote:

Fun project . While I love my Olympus cameras for natural light, it never occurred to me to use them with studio strobes!

dumbme

I really dislike the Olympus histogram for studio work (I mention this in the post).

But I do quite like the Olympus colors - they're all sort of in the muted range (except for iEnhance which does bizarre things). Admittedly this is all based on personal taste.

I was considering dumping my X-Pro2 for Olympus as my less-than-full-frame every day carry camera and frankly - I'm kinda thinking I'm gonna stick with that.

Caught me. I rarely read articles, just look at the pretty pictures

In my view iEnhance is useless for everything. Unless you just prefer clown color.

I have rented the Fuji X-E2s and X-T20, but never tried one of the X-Pros. Jolly fun playing with the film simulations and tone curves. Also took a crack at their DR100/200/400 feature for shadow recovery. Disappointed that the benefits were mild, in spite of the big ISO boosts that come with it.

After owning 3 Olympus M4/3, decided to try Panasonic for a change. Boy does Panny handle the image files differently, for both JPG and RAW. Taking advantage of the in-camera JPG adjustments, there are things about the Panny that I prefer to Oly. For one thing, the Panny iDynamic feature seems stronger than the Fuji DR400. Unfortunately, Panny RAW files do not play well with some RAW software. Even though Panny does not have X-Trans, this is similar to the Fuji issue for demosaicing.

I brought Panny up because the G and GH series are physically nice to work with, compared to the sleek (and cramped) Oly bodies. But I don't know if there would be any differences in connecting them up with studio strobes.

Kelly

Interesting. Thanks for your time explaining your experiences with these cameras.

I tried to add Panasonic to the mix, but the particular camera I got was a dud and the manual white balance wouldn't work so each photo was different from the previous - OK for testing RAWs but not good for testing camera JPGs.

I like Olympus for their body styling, weather sealing and to some extent the colors. Also the color wheel feature in the Pen F (and maybe later bodies?) that allows me to dial in colors - though it's almost too much control. Looking a the differences between Fuji and Olympus "recipes" - the Fuji recipes are much simpler and seemingly much less dramatic. You can do really dramatic things with Olympus - like desaturate everything but the reds for the Schindler's List look.

Fuji cameras should be similar across at least sensor generations. You can find a list of which camera has which sensor on Wikipedia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fujifilm_X-Trans_sensor

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saltydogstudios
OP saltydogstudios Senior Member • Posts: 2,191
Re: Best Portrait Camera? Nikon? Fuji? Canon? Olympus?

57even wrote:

saltydogstudios wrote:

I've tested cameras from Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony and Olympus to see which was best for portraits.

I'll keep my personal conclusions to myself - but you can view the results and vote on your favorites here.

http://sodium.nyc/blog/2020/05/camera-jpg-portrait

To be entirely honest, I don't like any of them.

Was white balance corrected for the flash?

See my rather exhaustive section on "Methodology" - yes. The exposure was manual to a grey card, as was the white balance.

For white balance it was either a WhiBal or ExpoDisc.

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saltydogstudios
OP saltydogstudios Senior Member • Posts: 2,191
Re: Best Portrait Camera? Nikon? Fuji? Canon? Olympus?
1

D Cox wrote:

57even wrote:

saltydogstudios wrote:

I've tested cameras from Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony and Olympus to see which was best for portraits.

I'll keep my personal conclusions to myself - but you can view the results and vote on your favorites here.

http://sodium.nyc/blog/2020/05/camera-jpg-portrait

To be entirely honest, I don't like any of them.

Was white balance corrected for the flash?

I don't understand why anyone would shoot portraits and save only JPG files. You are relying on the opinions of some coder employed by the camera company as to what colours look best.

I always shoot RAW + JPG. If I like the JPGs enough, I send those instead of the processed RAWs. It's just faster.

I like my cameras to have opinions - or at least I like my cameras to have opinions that are at least somewhat in line with my own so it requires less work to post process.

But my opinion is that the best portraits are taken in black and white. I don't think colour photography can handle skin colours. Artists using oil paint, such as Rembrandt or Velasquez, can succeed. This is partly because the iron oxide pigments they use have similar spectra to skin, unlike the highly saturated red, green and blue or CMYK used in photographs.

Interesting theory.

I agree that colors having a history - meaning they came from a certain substance that came out of the earth and went through some chemical process - gave them more character.

I also think that the fact that modern colors are all "just numbers" or "just math" tricks people into thinking digital cameras can do anything and that RAW files are infinitely flexible in reproducing colors.

One good thing about these tests is that the models are not wearing makeup, so you really are testing skin colours rather than makeup colours.

Yes, thank you for catching that. I also really hope the makeup industry progresses forward, often models with darker more rich skin tones have a hard time finding a foundation that matches.

I once did a photoshoot where the makeup was so bad, there was almost no ability to post process the colors without them looking horrible - not enough complexity to handle adjustments.

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Bob A L Senior Member • Posts: 2,406
Re: any of them - n.t.

No text.

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