Friday, December 17, 2010

Camera smackdown

Alright, I've done a fair amount of research, but I eventually decided rather than telling you every single spec about every single camera I would let you look up all of the minute details yourself and instead talk about some of the bigger details.

Let's start with the Nikon D7000.
This is Nikon trying to take on Canon's DSLRs.  It's comparable in price and specs to Canon's 60D, priced at about 1500 dollars.  It has a 16.2 megapixel sensor (compared with Canon's 18 Megapixel for it's 550D, 60D, and 7D).  This camera also tries to implement autofocus, but it does a lot of searching, so most serious filmmakers would (should) never use this feature.  Nikons also tend to be rather good at low light.  The camera seems solid, but unless you are a photographer or have a lot of equipment, Canon still seems to be ahead of the game with video, and it's really nice that you can easily switch Canon bodies while keeping the expensive lenses.

Panasonic GH2
The best non-Canon option would in my opinion be the Panasonic GH2.  It can be had with a really nice included lens for about 1300 dollars (body only is about the same price as the T2I, about 750 dollars).  It has a cool feature where you can just record the pixels in the middle of the sensor, giving you true HD with an added zoom (much like the crop movie mode, but in full HD).  It seems to do pretty well with moire and rolling shutter, and has pretty good HD outputs (for viewing on a monitor when shooting).  It's a solid option to look at.  Disadvantage would be the sensor size is a little bit smaller, meaning less low light capabilities and the same thing I talked about with the isn't Canon.  You really need to invest in a brand with lenses, and Canon just has a lot of great options and lenses, which make it easier to switch from model to model.

Alright, now onto the Canon models.

 The 1D Mark IV
It's 3400 dollars with no lens, and although it has better low light capabilities than any other Canon, it's mainly a still camera.  The 5D's video quality is probably better at a lower price, so unless your main focus is stills this isn't your best option.

5D Mark II:
  The big daddy that really got the DSLR revolution going, this is a really nice camera.  It's a full frame camera meaning the full 35mm film sensor size, wider field of view, better low light...etc.  There are a lot of debates of whether the quality is better than the 7D, it might be a touch sharper, but the two are very close.  This one is 3000 with the lens, but you also have to figure in that it comes with a 1000 dollar lens.  It's only about 2,200 with no lens.  So, if I had 3000 dollars would I get a I wouldn't.  Accessories add up pretty quick and you'll definitely want some.  There are rumors that the 5D Mark III is due out in a year, and it seems likely that Canon will make some innovations, so start saving now.

  This thing is built like a tank.  It's 1.6 Crop sensor meaning a smaller sensor than the 5D, and it also means that a 50mm lens on the 5d is equivalent to 80mm on the 7d.  This one is very similar to the 60d and 550d, it has Full HD monitor output (not true of the 5d actually) and 19 point autofocusing for those still photographers out there.  This is a pretty great option, at around 1500 dollars, but with the 60d coming out recently it would be more difficult to justify the price difference until the 7d update comes out.  You can get it with the 18-135mm EF-S lens (about a 350 dollar lens) or the EF 28-135mm lens, although I love the flexibility of the wider 18mm.

 This is a mighty good deal, sharp, good in low light, same sensor as the 7D, and a great price (1170 for it with the 18-135mm lens).  If you have 1500-3000 dollar to spend, this would probably be the one to get.  It's body is sturdy, it uses the kelvin white balance scale unlike the 550d and is really nice in low light.  It also has a swivel LCD on the back which comes in handy.

If you're on a tight budget though, the 550d cannot be beat.  It can be had for under 1000 dollars, actually under 900 with the 18-55mm kit lens.  It has the 18mp sensor, is incredibly sharp, and is a great great deal.  This is the best camera out in this price range right now...don't get the T1I for video, you lose so much features and quality.  It may be slightly less sharp then the 7D and 60D, it's difficult to prove, and it might have a more plasticey body, and only has one back display and click wheel, but it is still an incredible camera that you will love, I would highly recommend.

Here's a link to some specs if you're interested in comparing

So, to sum up...if you're really budget conscious, the T2I rocks.  The 60D and GH2 are great options as well if your willing to spend a little more dough, and the 5D is still an awesome camera, and quite possibly the best if you've got the money to burn.

*A note on kits...generally I wouldn't recommend them.  When someone makes a camera kit, they have to save money somewhere which means those sweet included lenses they give you are terrible quality.  It may make sense if the company your shopping from has the best deal on everything included in the kit, but often if you shop around you can get things cheaper and pick out the exact things that you want.  Generally speaking...kits aren't that amazing of deals, that's one of the few things I would do differently if I bought my camera again.
Questions, concerns, advice?  Write a comment below!

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