What Camera is Best?

Lakeland View

What camera is the best, Canon or Nikon.  Mirror-less or DSLR.  Is film dead.  Is digital not an option for fine art photography!

There are a lot of strong feelings about what is best on the internet forums, and in camera clubs, still some anti-digital feelings in some areas, lots of anti-film people.  Lets not get into the battle of wills thats is between the users of Canon and Nikon cameras.

I am always getting asked, what camera should I buy, what camera is best?

With the newly announced Nikon D800, and especially the D800E, I am extremely tempted to finally upgrade my D200’s.

The question is what do I want from a camera?

Currently I use several cameras.  My carry everywhere camera is normally either my iPhone or my Nikon V1.

Nikon V1 advantages:

  • Portability
  • Responsiveness
  • Large depth of field

Against this you lose the ability of using limited depth of field and you sacrifice some image quality and have the noise issues that come with small sensors.

These small mirror-less cameras are now extremely popular, cameras like the Nikon V1, J1, the Panasonic and Olympus micro four third cameras, and now high end models from Fuji and Sony with APS-C sized sensors, which sacrifice very little for image quality.

My D200 SLR’s

  • Excellent Image quality
  • Responsiveness
  • Reduced Depth of Field
  • Low Noise

The downsides, are there size, and my long lens are very big and heavy, but the modern SLR is a fantastic all rounder.  With cameras like the Nikon D3X, Canon 5DmkII, Sony A900 and now the Nikon D800; these cameras approach medium format quality in an easy to use body.

Window Light

Next you move up to my Medium Format kit, my Hasselblad.

  • Very High Image Quality
  • Moduler

The downsides are; its very slow to use.  The other problem is cost.  I shoot film with my medium format camera and high quality drum scans are not cheep, digital is also not an option, as a digital back costs around £10000.  The lovely Leica S2 a SLR styled Medium Format camera will set you back £20000 for the body and the lens are £5000 each.

Each format has major advantages, and disadvantages.  On the camera forums, many will argue that one camera is better then the other forgetting that many are designed for different purposes.

For example, you will find Panasonic users arguing that the DSLR is dead and there camera is far better.  Well if you need a small lightweight camera as your priority it possibly is.

A few weeks ago was the American Superbowl, did you see any photographers using compacts or small mirror-less cameras.  Were they after the ultimate in image quality, did you see them using Large Format or Medium Format?  No they all had top of the range professional DSLR’s either the Canon 1D or Nikon D3s, they wanted to use long lens, short lens, and needed high performance.

I know a few top Landscape photographers, and while sometimes they may use Medium Format when they want to travel light, but most often they use big heavy Large Format cameras.  To them, image quality and the ability to use advanced camera movements is key.

Want to shoot casual candids on the street, well you could try a DSLR but you might get noticed.  How about a small mirror-less compact, you can shoot discreetly and if you are spotted then you will be ignored, you don’t have a ‘professional DSLR’ so your not seen as a threat.

For my carry everywhere camera, I want a bit of an all rounder, but size is the key factor and a built in viewfinder, thus I use the Nikon V1.

For my studio work, while I want medium format, I compromise due to cost and use a DSLR, but I may upgrade to something like a D3s, D700 or D800.

For Landscape I use my medium format, its slow to use but the landscape is not moving anywhere and I am thinking of adding a large format camera to my kit as well for the advanced camera movements, its cheaper then buying a tilt and shift lens!

I also have another requirement.  As a motorcyclist who rides all over europe, I want a small outfit that has the best image quality going for landscapes.  This is a camera that I don’t own yet, but so far if I had to choose one now, I would pick either the Fuji X-Pro1, the Sony NEX-7, the Leica M8 or a Lecia M9.

I keep getting asked by people what camera should they buy, what they should be asking is; what do I want to shoot, and how much kit can I be bothered with carrying!

Instead of getting carried away with the latest must have camera, think about what you shoot and what camera would be best for you, and if it suits you then its the best camera, not matter what others think!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *