While there is much discussion about different camera brands, models, and the development of the market, the perfect camera still hasn't been built. This article will show you where to find information to make your best choice from what's available.
A Camera Needs to Suit You
When I started photography, it was all about Nikon versus Canon. A few years passed by and the mirrorless versus DSLR war took over. Today, it looks like we are discussing all against Sony; even Nikon seems to be back on track.
Many of the current discussions create an illusion about a perfect camera or the best camera on the market. It doesn’t exist, though. While many people declare Olympus to be dead because they sold their camera division, I’m still in love with my handy OMD-EM10. It’s the right camera for many of my needs. I wouldn’t use it for product photography, and I would never dare shooting a wedding only with this camera. Yet, it’s perfect for everyday situations and even small documentaries, where I don’t want to throw a bulky heavy, and expensive camera in my participants’ faces. And after all, most of us have to choose a camera within a certain price range.
Some other photographers' emphasis lies in image quality. That’s fine, too. Every person has made his or her own experience and developed unique needs depending on the area of photography and the way he or she shoots. Thus, it is important to not rely on one single person’s opinion alone but look for advantages and disadvantages of each camera system.
So, what does all this mean? I can’t take the right decision for you, but I can tell you how to find the best information. Here are five websites that can help you out.
Well, this might not be a very secret hint. Nonetheless, when I am searching for a new camera body, lens, or any other photography-related gear, I’m going to check out Amazon first. I don’t really care for the rating and I hardly ever bought camera gear from Amazon. Why do I recommend it, then? Because when I know one single product that I need, Amazon gives me suitable suggestions for similar products from other brands, cheaper products, or more expensive options. The section Compare with similar items helps you get an overview of the market and widen or limit your pre-selection.
If you’re out there checking the reviews of the product, be careful, though. Always keep in mind that not every customer of Amazon is a professional photographer. You can find really good reviews there, but they often hide between opinions which are highly subjective and sometimes even wrong. The sample images don’t offer the right resolution for pixel peeping anyway.
2. Camera Decision
If you already know a range of products or you’re stuck between two camera bodies, Camera Decision offers you a side-by-side comparison. You can easily choose from a huge selection of cameras and compare their advantages and disadvantages. The results come as a summary in five different scores (Overall, Imaging, Features, Value, Size), as well as two charts, describing why you could choose one camera over the other. A chart of common strengths is available, too.
What I also love is the optical comparison of body size from three perspectives. If you already own a camera, you can compare any other body to it and get a feeling of its size. Nonetheless, it’s just specs. Camera Decision works with generic descriptions of the fact sheet of every camera body. It does a really good job here, but can’t tell you how the cameras operate in real life.
3. DxO Mark
Welcome to pixel-peeper’s paradise. Dxo Mark is probably the number one source for all those lens lovers who are looking for accurate, objective, and repeatable tests of image quality. DxO Mark combines most of the common camera bodies which allow shooting in raw with a lot of suitable lenses. Every camera-lens combination goes through the same test. The sets’ total scores are subdivided into sharpness, transmission, distortion, vignetting, and chromatic aberration.
DxO Mark also offers you the possibility to compare the results of three camera-lens combinations on one page. You can also check out other lenses that you might not have come across yet. After choosing a camera body, DxO Mark will show you all the lenses that were tested on that body, which are many. You can filter the price range, focal length, or classification to make a closer selection. Still, it’s just specs.
4. Camera Size
I only came across this tool a few weeks back because of an article by our fellow writer, Mike Smith. Before coming across Camera Size , I used to check the size of a camera at Camera Decision. Yet, I find the presentation on Cameras Size much more compelling.
You can compare two cameras from four directions and even place them behind each other. A small battery at the right side of the comparison also gives you a good idea about the size of the image. The overall website looks a bit cheap, but its main function works great.
5. Find a Practical Review on Fstoppers
When cameras enter the market, the first thing that you will find is the fact sheet. It will tell you a lot about the cameras’ improvements in comparison to its predecessor and its unique selling point. Most people, myself included, will get excited about a new model of their preferred brand — until they find the price tag. Then, the important questions come up: are the improvements really worth the price? And does it really perform as well as the specs promise?
There are two ways to find out: eEither you get your hands on the camera somehow, or you need to search for a good review. On Fstoppers, you will not only find news about the latest camera and lens releases, but also many reviews of gear. Our writers don’t give you just a simple summary of the things you already know from other comparisons or your research on the websites above. We take gear out into the field and test its capabilities right where you will use it, too. If it really performs as it is promised, we will let you know; if it doesn’t, we don’t beat around the bush.
Buying a new camera is an investment that should really be carefully considered. Looking at your camera from different perspectives and getting information from different sources can save you from being disappointed. However, after checking all the different sources and opinions, you might go to a local shop and give your selection one last check-up. No one but yourself can find out if all the dials and buttons are in the right places and in reach of your fingers. After all, the camera also needs to feel right for you.