Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Which Camera Should I Buy?
We look at the age-old question in the light of new offerings in full-frame, mirrorless and big-sensor point-and-shoot models
The mirrorless category is growing by leaps and bounds, and many pundits think these sorts of cameras represent the future of photography. There's a lot of variety in the mirrorless interchangeable-lens group, from models that look like retro-35mm film cameras to sleek designs that compare in size to point-and-shoot compact cameras and from Four Thirds sensors to APS-C sensors to CX sensors (from Nikon) to Q sensors (Pentax). It can get a bit bewildering. Looked at as a single category, the mirrorless models offer a lot of choices for nature photographers.
The key advantage to mirrorless cameras is their size. The body is small and the lenses are small compared to conventional DSLRs, yet because of the interchangeable lenses, they give the options of multiple focal lengths and, as a whole, quite good image quality.
Because they don't have mirror systems, the mirrorless cameras rely on electronic viewfinders (EVFs) or just the LCD panel for composition. Nature photographers probably will find that an EVF system is a necessity, whether it's built in or an add-on accessory. The LCD panel is just too limiting in some situations like snow or other very bright conditions.
One other thing to consider about the size of a mirrorless system: the entire system—camera, lenses, accessories—is smaller than a DSLR system, which makes them very attractive for travel, in particular. A number of photographers like having a mirrorless system in addition to their DSLR. If you're traveling with two systems, things do bulk up considerably as you add multiple battery chargers or lens adapters.
Who Needs An APS-C DSLR?
As the price of full-frame DSLRs drops, you might be tempted to think that APS-C cameras are on their way out, but we think these DSLRs still have a future. For one thing, APS-C sensors still make for less expensive DSLRs, which is obviously of some benefit. Beyond price, there are other clear advantages. Sports and wildlife photographers have found that the magnification factor advantage inherent in APS-C DSLRs is valuable because of the boost at the telephoto end of the range. The magnification factor is a tricky point. It's not really a strict "something for nothing" arrangement, where a 300mm lens magically becomes a 450mm lens, but because of the reduced angle of view from the APS-C sensor, the crop of the image circle looks more like that 450mm. Photographers argue this point constantly, but the fact is that using your 70-200mm zoom on an APS-C camera creates images that look like they were taken with a 105-300mm lens. Add a 1.4X teleconverter, and now you're looking at a lens that acts like 420mm at its most telephoto.
Page 2 of 3
Get 11 Issues of Outdoor Photographer for only $14.97!
That's 77% off the cover price!