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sony_ilce7s_b_alpha_a7s_mirrorless_digital_1044728The Sony Alpha a7S Mirrorless Digital Camera is a full frame sensor mirrorless camera making it the smallest and lightest full frame camera with interchangeable lenses in the world. The Alpha A7S is a 24.3 megapixel camera with embedded phase-detect AF that takes the weight out of the mirrored DSLRs without losing the exacting quality.

The A7S resembles the old school 35mm film cameras. Simple in design but solidly built the body measures 5 inches long by 3 ¾ inches high with an amazing 2 15/16th inch thick. It weighs in with battery and card at 1pound 1 ounce.   Sony stepped up to the plate with the A7 line making it Wi-Fi compatible with almost any operating system. It shoots at 5 frames per second with shutter speeds of 1/8000th of a second to 30 seconds with an ISO range of 100-409,600. It comes with both auto and manual focus. The LCD is a nice 3’ tiltable design that is easy to see even in the harshest of light. One beauty of the A7S is the ability to accept almost any lens with a third-party adaptor. It will easily take the old but true manual focus lenses as well as all the new lenses available.

The highly customizable internal menu system is logical and easy to navigate if not slightly overwhelming in the sheer number of functions, 46 in total and settings. The external dials and settings are extremely convenient therefore using the internal menu is not often needed.

It is repeated over and over that the A7S is not suitable for fast action shooting and performs best for stills or moderate action shots like an animal running versus a soccer ball zipping across a field. Another common complaint is the noise of the shutter more than likely not suitable in quiet environments. The A7 is an E-mount with a full frame sensor and the E-mount lenses don’t work well unless in crop mode and can cause vignetting thus using the lens adapter and other lenses makes for a better option.

The image quality of the Sony Alpha a7S Mirrorless Digital Camera is excellent. The details are sharp, nice colors and accurate exposure. The kit lens is more of a problem than the camera and it is suggested to use your own lenses and disregard the kit one. There are reports of losing skin tone and detail on portraits but it is not enough to not shoot portraits with the A7S. The A7S performs well in low light up to the 1600 ISO range. Beyond that noise creeps in. The onboard noise reduction also is lacking and better to be handled in post processing.

Overall the Sony Alpha a7S Mirrorless Digital Camera has an extremely excellent image quality, a dazzling array of functions and settings, a top-notch view finder, Wi-Fi capabilities and is adaptable for a wide variety of lenses.   On the down side, the kit lens is not on par with the camera itself, the battery life is quite short lived requiring a second battery, it is not great with high speed action shots and the shutter is noisy. It is a great field camera for the weight, size and technology.

Make an offer on a new Sony Alpha a7S now. 

 

Canon_5296B002_Speedlite_600EX_847537The Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT is a radio controlled camera flash that collided with the 21st century to bring high-tech to lighting. It has onboard a 2.4GHz radio trigger operating system used primarily by wedding and portrait photographers giving them full remote command of the flash.

Physically the flash weighs in at a hefty 18.7 oz. and measures in at 3.3”x5.6”x4.9”.   It is powered by 4 AA batteries with an optional external battery pack holding 8-AA batteries for and additional $150.00. The flash automatically goes into standby mode after 90 seconds to conserve battery life and comes back to life when you hit the shutter button. It has a flip-down diffuser for smaller lenses, manual power mode, wireless optical and radio control and programmable lights and colors that can be seen from a distance to help determine if all systems are operating. It is compatible with all Canon cameras.

The Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT is capable of managing up to 15 flashes in groups of 5 and can actually trigger up to 15 different cameras via the remote! The size of the flash makes it quite bulky to be used on top of your camera but it can be done even with the extra pound of weight. This flash is designed more for stand-alone functions and professionals who need and can use small battery powered and remote controlled flashes such as wedding photographers.

While well powered and able to perform flash after flash with a zippy 2.5 second recovery, it is susceptible to overheating as many flashes are but it does have the programmable lighting to warn of this situation. It is quite silent in its operation and doesn’t jump or vibrate when fired. The brightness of the flash doesn’t diminish with repetitive use or low battery.

The bounce of the flash, the ability to bounce the light of other things such as ceilings and walls, is 0 to 90 degrees up, -7 degrees down, -180 degrees to the left and +90 degrees to the right. The Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT provides plenty of light in bounce situations.

The radio portion of the flash is rated to 100 feet with 2.405-2.475 GHz, 15 channels, 10,000 wireless ID’s to be combined with other photographers and not get confused, 5 group settings and the batteries will run up to 9 hours if you use the flash as a “commander” without the flash firing. Using the flash significantly reduces battery life.

The biggest complaint of the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT is the poorly designed LCD screen. It is very tiny and jammed with information making it hard to program and harder to read.

Overall the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT is an excellent professional flash best used as a stand-alone versus camera mounted due to the weight. The radio control is outstanding and very beneficial to wedding photographers who have lighting assistants to help set it up or multiple units. At $499.00 MSRP these are great for professionals but other models exist that fit on camera better like the Canon 430EX II that do an almost equally good job.

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fujifilm_16440616_x100t_digital_camera_silver_1080889The Fujifilm X100T Digital Camera is the bomb of fixed lens digital cameras! Sharp, clear, intelligent, super silent and ease of use make this an everyday camera for even the best photographers. Besides the photo quality, the Fujifilm gets such rave reviews because it is able to handle any light situation intuitively.

Physically the camera is a simple square design with a few dials and a view finder but don’t let that fool you the Fujifilm X100T Digital Camera is as well-built if not better than the Leica M240 priced 5 times more than this Fujifilm!   It has a two shutter system comprised of an electronic leaf and a fully and completely silent electronic shutter that can be toggled on or off. The camera is a hefty 15.24 ounces with the battery primarily due to the quality of construction with a metal caps on both top and bottom and it measures 2.9 inches high by 5 inches long and 2.1 inches thick.

The Fujifilm X100T Digital Camera has autofocus, real-time face recognition that functions extremely well even with the subject partially obscured.   Included is a self-timer, frame rate selection, video, fixed and a programmable ISO, light meter and a view finder in addition to an rear LCD. There is a built in flash and a hot shoe for external flashes but you will find they are not needed.

Fujifilm offers additional accessory lenses for the X100DT but due to the outstanding performance you will find little need for additional lenses unless you are after a very specific look. The lens is dynamic in all photos with excellent sharpness and a soft bokeh, background blur.   There is no discernable distortion, barrel blur or pincushion to be found even on very straight lines.

One of the biggest selling points of the Fujifilm X100T Digital Camera is its ability to take amazing pictures in any lighting.   Compared to the big DSLR cameras the X100T can decipher all the various lighting situations and automatically adjust and shoot the picture, whereas a DSLR requires fill flash and lots of fidgeting in the same circumstances.

The macro shots of the X100T are stupendous with clarity virtually unseen in other cameras even without the Macro mode in use. There doesn’t seem to be much of a difference with the mode on or off and some distortion is seen at f/2 but clears at f/4.

There are no image stabilization or vibration reduction systems on board and that keeps the camera a manageable size but it isn’t needed either with the super-fast lens, f/2 aperture and crisp high ISO’s.  The wi-fi feature is limited to Fuji’s own apps so you have to download their app to your phone or computer in order to get the full benefit of this feature.

The Fujifilm X100T Digital Camera is simply an awesome camera on all fronts. The quality of construction with the almost all metal body and dials to the supreme face recognition feature to the amazing range of light in which it takes excellent photos makes this a standard camera for any photographer as a grab and go, photos of life kind of camera.

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81XPZ7sQqsL._SY355_The Canon 85mm f/1.8 EF USM Autofocus Lens is considered a medium telephoto prime lens. In plain terms it is a lens that is stationary and unable to zoom represented by the single 8

Physically this is a lightweight compact lens weighing about 425 grams, less than a pound. The outer barrel is comprised of plastic with a black rubber focus grip ring. It includes an Autofocus (FM) Manual Focus (MF) slider switch to flip between the two.   It measures 2.9” x 2.86” making it quite compact. The 58mm ring accommodates filters.

The lens itself performs excellently for the size and price of $370.00.   The center sharpness is very good at f/1.8 the widest setting but the sweet spot of this lens is at the f/5.6 range where clarity from edge to edge is most pronounced. The falloff, diminishment of light on from the center of the frame to the edges, also stands up to the tests with minimal darkening or falloff detected even at f/1.8.

Distortion is virtually non-existent in the Canon 85mm f/1.8 EF USM Autofocus Lens. Color fringe, the halo of color around objects especially on the edges of frames, is also non-existent. There are a few reports of barrel distortion, a slight curve to lines, but it is extremely minute and easily corrected in post processing.

Flares and ghosts, are the spots and flares seen when there is strong background lighting like the sun and the Canon 85mm f/1.8 EF USM Autofocus Lens performs extremely well in this arena even at f/1.8. Naturally it performs better with smaller stops like f/5.6.

The center sharpness at all stops is gorgeous with beautiful bokeh, background blur, with large f-stops. The auto-focusing is typical of Canon technology with lightening quick focus capabilities. The lens can focus faster than the human eye. The lens does not have IS or image stabilization but doesn’t really need one due to the rapid focus.

Although the Canon 85mm f/1.8 EF USM Autofocus Lens has been in the Canon offerings since 1992, it still retains extreme quality. The f/1.8 works really well but overall the performance improves by stopping down at least one stop. The faults are minimal but to a discerning eye, things like barrel blur will be noticed at f/1.8. Overall this lens is ideal for portraiture with sharp center focus and beautiful bokeh. It has enough flexibility to not be limited to portraiture and can be used for much more.   The size, performance and price make this an excellent prime lens to have on hand at every shoot.

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Written By Guest Blogger Arsalan Uljamil

As a person accused of spending way too much time and money on photography, I’m usually the one that my friends and family reach out to when they are planning to get a new camera. They are either graduating from their phone camera or looking to upgrade their current camera to a better one but surprisingly almost all of them have the same thought, that if they get a DSLR their pictures will magically transform from snapshots to masterpieces. A few of them in their wisdom even went to the big box store and bought the the Nikon/Canon DSLR with a kit lens and after shooting for few days in “P” (Professional ? :) ) mode wondered why their pictures are no better than before or in some cases even worse.

I think this is a very common misconception that the only way to get better pictures is to get a DSLR and this was probably true few years ago but with the advancements in sensor and processing technologies there are a lot more options nowadays. These include large sensor point and shoots, bridge and mirrorless cameras. Following are some my pick for each category.

Point and Shoot (P&S) Cameras:

Thanks to cell phones cameras this category is about to suffer the same fate as the Dodo but there are still few cameras that are keeping this category alive and kicking.

Sony RX100 III

As the name implies, this is the third camera of Sony’s RX100 line up that is packed with the usual host of features like 1″ 20.1 megapixel sensor, 3″ tilting screen, Wifi and NFC but he crown jewel is the integrated pop-up EVF.

Sony RX100 III is currently my favorite point and shoot camera because it not only has all the features that I look for in a camera but and it produces amazing results but also because it does all this while still remaining pocketable. This camera not only outputs good quality jpegs but also has an option for RAW output for people who like to have full control over their pictures.  You can find my complete review of the camera here.

Photo1.jpeg Panasonic LX100

If it wasn’t for the the RX100 III’s small form factor and tilting LCD LX100 would have been my choice of point and shoot camera. It features a large 4/3 sensor coupled with fast 24-75mm (35mm equivalent) f1.7 – f2.8 lens, 3″ fixed LCD screen, EVF, Wi-Fi, NFC and hotshoe.  LX100 features multi-aspect sensor that produces 12.1 megapixel photos. On the video side, Panasonic LX100 is currently the only point and shoot camera in the market that can record high quality 4K videos.

Panasonic LX100 is a joy to use and it is definitely a camera made for people who prefer manual controls as the camera features direct control for aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation. Other functions can be controlled via custom buttons. LX100 does not feature the traditional PASM dial but it can be put into complete auto by setting up both Aperture ring and shutter speed dial to “A” position.

PanasonicLX100.jpegRicoh GR

Most people have probably never heard of this camera as it is not as mainstream as the Panasonic or Sony but people who want DSLR quality in a pocket camera are well aware of the awesomeness that Ricoh GR brings to the point and shoot genre. Unlike the other two cameras mentioned above it does not have many bells or whistles and does not even have EVF or Wi-Fi but what it does have is an amazing 16.2 megapixel APS-C sensor mated with a sharp 28mm (35mm equivalent) f2.8 prime lens. Though I would have preferred a more traditional 35mm focal length.

GR has the largest sensor out of all the P&S camera (same sized sensor as Nikon D5500 mentioned below) mentioned in this list and still it manages to be pocketable. GR produces jpeg that are balanced but the color tend to be on the muted side so I prefer shooting raw and then editing according to taste.

RicohGR.jpegSony RX1 / RX1R

When it comes to point and shoot cameras (though it can in a category of its own) Sony RX1 is the king of the hill featuring 24 megapixel Full Frame sensor with an amazing 35mm f2.0 Carl Zeiss prime lens. Like the Ricoh GR, RX1 does not have any bells and whistles to distract the photographer away from what can simply be described as the ultimate photography machine. Both RX1 and RX1R are identical cameras except for that the later one does not have a Optical Low Pass Filter (OLPF) so (in theory) it is capable of producing even sharper pictures.  Sony RX1 is without doubt not only the best point and shoot but also the most expensive. At the eye watering $2800 (as for 6/1/2015) is not your mama’s P&S but if it’s the ultimate picture quality you require without dealing with inter-changeable lens cameras, this is your ONLY option.

The only two improvements that I would really like to see in the next generation of this camera is a built-in EVF and a tilting LCD.

SonyRx1.jpeg

Bridge Cameras:

As the name implies bridge cameras are in between P&S cameras and DSLR/Mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Though this segment is also seeing a decline in sales it as not as bad as P&S category because it has a niche of high megapixel and high zoom range that appeals to people looking for a compact camera for wildlife or outdoor photography.

Sony RX10

Sony RX10 is the elder brother of RX100 and features similar processor and 20.2 megapixel 1″ sensor but in a large body featuring 24-200mm f/2.8 (35mm equivalent) lens. Camera has a 3″ tiltable LCD on the back. This camera made similar waves in the bridge camera market like the RX100 did in the P&S market. Before the Sony RX10 there have been other cameras in the market that featured a fixed f2.8 lens (like Panasonic FZ200) but they had smaller 1/2.3″ sensor.

RX1 not only produces excellent 20.2 megapixel stills, it also has the ability to record full HD videos in 60 and 24p. RX10 also features similar host of connectivity options like the rest of Sony camera which includes Wifi, NFC etc. The combination of large 1″ sensor and good zoom range makes RX10 a very capable travel camera.

SonyRx10DSLR.jpegPanasonic FZ1000

Panasonic FZ1000 is the Panasonic’s answer to Sony RX10. Though It features similar 20.1 megapixel 1″ sensor as the RX10 Panasonic added a lot of features that makes it even better choice than the RX10. First of all it has Leica branded 25-400mm f/2.8-4 (35mm Equivalent) lens and even though it is not constant f.28 like the Sony it provides double the zoom range. Secondly, it has fully articulating screen and to top all that Panasonic also added the ability to to record 4K QFHD video at 30 fps. Panasonic FZ1000 also features the DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology that was first seen on the Panasonic GH4. This enables super-fast focusing. The fully articulating LCD is very helpful for video recording and shooting from various angles.  The only thing that I miss in this camera is the awesome implementation of touch screen that Panasonic has done on it’s micro 4/3 cameras.

If I was in the market for a bridge camera FZ1000 would have definitely been my first choice.

PanasonicXZ100.jpegNikon Coolpix P900

If you are OK with giving away some of the IQ of RX10/FZ1000 in favor of ridiculous amount of reach then look no further than the Nikon Coolpix P900 that features a humongous 83x zoom that ranges from 24-2000mm (35mm equivalent).  Unlike RX10 and FZ1000 Nikon camera features the traditional 1/2.3″ sensor that produces 16 megapixels images. It can also record full HD (1920 x 1080) video in multiple frame rates. It also offers a cool 120 fps video recording mode but the resolution is restricted to 640 x 480p. Like other cameras in this category P900 also features an EVF and host of connectivity options like Wi-Fi and NFC but it the only camera to feature built-in GPS.

On the image front P900 produces good results (for the sensor size) but don’t expect it to compete against cameras with larger sensors (especially in low light) but what it does cannot be replicated by other larger sensor bridge cameras. With its massive 83x optical zoom range, it is an excellent wildlife and birding camera. If you mostly shoot outdoors in good light then Nikon Coolpix P900 is definitely worth checking out.

Note: Due to massive demand for the camera, it is currently not available anywhere in the US but Nikon is expected to ship out more cameras in the coming months.

 TopofMirrorlessCamera.jpeg

 

Mirrorless Cameras:

I’m a big fan of mirrorless cameras as they offer the most options when it comes to camera and sensor sizes. From the tiny 1/2.3″  all the way up to full frame  you can find a mirrorless camera to suit your needs. Over the years I have used many mirrroless cameras including Micro 4/3, APS-C and full frame one and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. If portability and quality is your main goal then nothing beats micro 4/3 cameras and lens but on the other hand if you want the absolute IQ of a full frame camera you can find that in mirrorless as well, though you’ll most likely lose the portability and lightness that usually associated with mirrorless cameras.

Fuji X-T1

Without doubt Fuji X-T1 is one of my most favorite camera out of the bunch that I’ve used. It’s a perfect combination of retro styling with modern soul. Fuji X-T1 features 16 megapixel sensor with a Fuji’s proprietary X-Trans color filter on top that gives Fuji output a unique look. Couple that with the ever expending Fuji’s lens line up and you’ve got a perfect image making machine that is just a joy to use.

Fuji X-T1 features 0.5″ 2,360k-Dot 0.77x OLED Viewfinder that is hands down the best and biggest EVF that I’ve used in any mirrorless camera. It is bright and provides very details view of the scene. The only issue I’ve found with it is that in very low light it becomes very grainy but unlike other EVFs it does not lag.   Other than the EVF there is also a run of the mill 3″ tilting LCD on the back.

Unlike other mirrorless camera the most unique feature X-T1 is that there are external dials for shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation and in addition to this almost all Fuji lenses feature an aperture ring (except for XC series lenses). Fuji X-T1 also has wifi functionality but no NFC. It does not have a built-in flash but one is provided with it so you can attach it to the hotshoe.

Fuji X-T1 produces one of the best out of camera jpegs that I’ve ever seen from any camera. Coupled that with various film simulation modes and there is hardly any need to do any post processing or shooting RAW. On the negative side, the video from this camera (in fact any Fuji camera) is just plain horrible with lots of artifacts and moire. You are better off shooting video with one of the newer phones than this camera, it is that bad.

Fujifilmx-t1.jpegSony A7 II

When Sony released the original Sony A7 back in 2013 it created a big stir in the camera industry because it was the first ever auto focusing full frame mirrorless camera.  In the end of 2014 so unveiled the follow up of A7 camera which was an evolution of the original. It featured the same 24 megapixel full frame sensor but body design was changed to incorporate a better grip and more custom functions. The biggest update that Sony A7 II brought was the inclusion of IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) which meant that any lens that is attached to the camera will become stabilized. This single feature alone made A7 II an instant hit with the people who had a large collection of legacy lenses or people who prefer using light weight manual legacy glass.  Other than the IBIS, A7 II also brought some improvements in the AF department and overall camera performance.

I currently own Sony A7 II and use with some few manual lenses. Thanks to the focus peaking, magnified view and stabilization manual lenses are a joy to use Sony A7 II. Sony A7 II features built-in EVF, 3″ tilting LCD, Wifi and NFC. Unfortunately, it neither has a built-in flash nor one comes with it so if that should be one of the first accessories you should get with it.

The biggest issues with Sony A7 series (FE mount) is the lack of native lenses. Though Sony is working hard to bring out new lenses there isn’t a lot of choice out there, if you want native AF lenses. This issues can somewhat be mitigated by using A-Mount (Sony/Minolta mount) with an adapter. This opens up a lot more choices but due to the adapter the camera system isn’t as small as it is with native lenses. Also, the adapter (Sony LE-EA4) has it’s own AF module and is based on SLT technology so it completely by passes Sony A7 II’s native AF module.  On the other hand, if auto focusing is not important, you have a lot more options and you can use almost any lenses from any manufacture with the help of cheap adapters. This include lenses from Nikon, Canon, Leica, Contax, Zeiss, Olympus etc.

SonyA72.jpegOlympus OM-D E-M1

With the availability of large sensor mirrorless cameras available in similar (and cheaper) price range it is difficult to recommend E-M1 based on the ultimate IQ but as a system Micro 4/3 delivers the best portability, lens and body options than any other mirrroless system in the market. I started my photographic journey with Micro 4/3 and through out the years I’ve kept many Micro 4/3 cameras and E-M1 is without doubt was one of the best.

Olympus advertised E-M1 as a “Pro” camera and rightfully so. It features a magnesium alloy body that is dust, splash and freeze proof. It features the typical 16.3 megapixel sensor found in most Micro 4/3 bodies. It also has built-in EVF, a 3″ tilting touchscreen LCD along with the host of connectivity features including Wifi. E-M1 is probably the only camera that was built from ground up to provide better focusing with the legacy 4/3 lenses. Though I’m not sure if there is a very big number of them out there but it did open up a lot more high end lens possibilities for the Micro 4/3 users.

Even though the OM-D E-M1 has the smallest sensor out of the mirrorless cameras that I have on this list, it is no way incapable of producing exceptional results.  In good light it produces results that are on par with the rest of the camera but in low light it does lag behind a bit compared to the others. Like Fuji, Olympus jpegs are really nice as well (though I prefer Fuji ones) but if you want the most out of your 16 megapixel images, it is better to shoot RAW specially in low light situation where excessive noise causes lack of detail and other issues.

Like other recent Micro 4/3 cameras Olympus E-M1 is the fastest focusing mirrorless camera out of all cameras in this list and it is the only one that has touchscreen. Also, this camera is one of the most customizable camera that I’ve ever used. You can customized almost all aspects of the camera down to which way the dials should rotate for changing settings.

One of the biggest advantage of Olympus E-M1 over the other mirrorless cameras is the massive lens library that Mirco 4/3 format offers. Everything from pro level f2.8 zooms to fast f1.2 prime lenses, pancake and power zoom lenses Micro 4/3 has it all.

OlympusOMD.jpeg

DSLR Cameras:

Using a DSLR is a new thing for me as I’ve been shooting mirrorless cameras since I started photography but as I get more comfortable with seeing the world from a window (OVF) instead of a TV (EVF) and learning to expose correctly without the instant feedback of WYSIWYG EVF/LCD, I’m really enjoying the benefits it offers over the mirrorless systems.

Nikon D750

Considered to be one of the best DSLR that Nikon has produced in a long time, Nikon D750 feature 24.3 megapixel full frame sensor that outputs amazing results in both good and low light. This is Nikon’s first DSLR to feature a 3.2″ tilting screen and built-in Wifi. The camera also offers excellent 51 point auto focusing system that works marvelously for static subjects as well as tracking moving ones. On the video front it offers multiple options included 1920 x 1080p at 60 fps and unlike the cheaper D6xx model it also has power aperture feature (you can change aperture during video recording without existing the Live View).

This is the first DSLR that made me switch from my long term mirrorless systems and from what I’ve read on the forums, I’m not the only mirrorless user who was pulled to the “dark side” by Nikon D750. I currently also own the Sony A7 II that has the same sensor as the D750 but thanks to Nikon processing I’ve found that D750 produces better results specially in low light and when it comes to auto focusing speed, accuracy and operational speed there is simply no comparison Nikon D750 is better in every way.

NikonD750.jpegNikon 5500

Though Nikon D5500 is an enthusiast level model it is the most technology filled camera model that Nikon has produced. It features an excellent 24.2 megapixel sensor as the D7100/D7200 with no low pass filter that results in exceptionally sharp pictures. Mated with the excellent 39 AF system D5500 is a very capable camera to capture both static and moving subjects. D5500 is Nikon’s first camera to feature fully articulating 3.2″ touch screen that is perfect for video recording and taking pictures from various angles. It also has built-in Wifi but no NFC.

Unfortunately, not everything is rosy as Nikon continues its trend to purposefully exclude certain functions from the lower end bodies to sell more expensive ones. For example even in this day and age when almost all similarly priced (and even cheaper cameras) have built-in support for controlling off-camera flashes D5500 does not have it. Also, there is no power aperture or the ability to fine tune AF. So if your lenses ever need fine tune, you’ll have to send them to Nikon (along with the camera). Similarly, there is built-in Wi-Fi but no NFC, even though D7200 offers both.

With that said, don’t let the negatives scare you away from a very capable camera that offers excellent image quality and enough modern feature to make any camera enthusiast happy.

Nikon5500.jpeg

Conclusion:

I’m sure I’ll get a lot of complaints from my photographer friends because I did not include their favorite camera in the list but just to reiterate that I complied the above list based on my hands on experience with most of the cameras and my research. I haven’t included excellent cameras like Sony A6000, Nikon D7100/D7200, Panasonic GH4, Panasonic GX7, Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II and others because I don’t have any personal experience with them but they are all excellent cameras as well and should be included in everyone’s list of new camera research.

With that said, depending on what level you are as a photographer you’ll find a camera in the above list that will suit your requirements. For beginners, I would highly recommend getting a bridge or a mirrroless camera as it would not only be easier to use compared to DSLRs but will also help in learning photography (especially with the WYSIWYG EVF/LCD).

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CanonEF70-200_28usm_1_lThe Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens is the bomb in the telephoto class of lenses. This hefty lens weighs in at 3.3 pounds and is 7.8 by 3.5 inches without the tripod collar. This is a stationary glass lens meaning it doesn’t telescope out or moves when focusing or zooming, it is done internally.   Externally it has two rubber grip rings with the zoom ring being closest to the base or the camera.   It is marked with 70, 100, 135 and 200 mm. The second rubber grip is for manual focus. Due to the hefty weight of this lens it works best used on a tripod.

This Canon lens uses an ultrasonic motor to operate. Externally there are several switches and tweeks that can be made. A limiter switch allows you to choose between full or limited focus range from 2.5 meters to infinity.   A stabilizer switch is included that can be enabled or change the mode between one and two. The difference is one is for stationary shots while two is designed for motion shots like sports activity.

All this tech talk needs to be broken down to layman terms. A 70-200mm lens gives you the same amount of lens filling experience if an object is 15 feet away (this is the 70mm) or 150 feet away (200 mm).   These are the numbers you are looking for when choosing a zoom lens to determine length and quality of the zoom feature.

The f/2.8 refers to F-Stop, a feature of how much light a lens allows into the camera. It is like the opening of an eye, the smaller the number the wider the eye opens and the higher the number the eye is more squinted. The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens excels in this arena with the f/2.8.   The ability to let in a lot of light allows for sharp clear pics even when fully zoomed. An added bonus to the Canon EF 70-200mm is the sweet bokeh, or photographer talk for background blur. It keeps the subject crisp with a delightful blur that if so sought in photography.

The optical performance of the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens exquisite at all ranges with only a slight barrel distortion at 70mm. This gives straight lines a bit of a curve which is not noticeable in action shots but in landscapes or architectural shots where lines are critical you will notice the wobble but it is easily corrected in post processing. This was the only minor complaint about this lens.

This is a lens that becomes a workhorse of a professional photographer for its short and zoom telephoto range. The MSRP of this lens is as hefty as the lens itself at $2,499.00. Those who make a living with their photos won’t hesitate to spend this money because it is worth every penny in the crispness side to side and top to bottom in the entire frame throughout the entire zoom range.

Set your price on a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens here: https://www.greentoe.com/CanonEF70-200mmf-2-8LTelephotoZoom

Alex Munoz is a lifestyle and fashion photographer as well as a happy Greentoe customer.  Check out this hands-on walk-through he did of the HD PENTAX DA 645 28-45mm F4.5 ED AW SR:

 

 

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To learn more about Alex and view some of his work, visit his blog:

http://www.alexmunoz.net/

If you’d like to be a guest blogger here, please email ceo at greentoe dot com.

 

OverviewCanon 7D Mark II

As an upgrade from its predecessor, the Canon EOS 7D Mark II blazes past quite a few competitors by offering some of the fastest fps and auto-focus for its price. In fact, the camera forgoes increased shooting resolution to focus on speed, allowing photographers of any experience level to capture anything they desire—especially fast paced action.

If you’re looking for a camera that keeps up with your subjects, this is it. You might find yourself using this camera in ‘special situations,’ such as those requiring more power to keep up with the action. That makes it a rather situational camera, since it does lack amenities that most casual users recognize in DSLRs nowadays.

The lack of amenities may make this camera a bit difficult for complete beginners to use. Experienced users, however, will get a camera that has the power to keep up with literally anything.

Key Features: A ‘blazing fast’ auto-focus system. Shoots 10 frames per second. Weatherproof and built exceptionally tough in order to withstand most scenarios.

Features At A Glance

  • 20.2MP APS-C CMOS Sensor
  • Dual DIGIC 6 Image Processors
  • 3.0″ 1.04m-Dot Clear View II LCD Monitor
  • Full HD 1080p/60 Video & Movie Servo AF
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF with Live View
  • 65-Point All Cross-Type Phase-Detect AF
  • Native ISO 16000, Extended to ISO 51200
  • 10 fps Shooting at Full Resolution
  • Built-In GPS Receiver & Digital Compass
  • Magnesium Alloy Body Construction

Pros

  • The Canon EOS 7D Mark II has a fast auto-focus and also continuously shoots 10 frames per second. Its FPS makes for a good camera for capturing fast paced or spontaneous action, such as what’s found in sports or wildlife.
  • The camera also has great build quality and can withstand most conditions. Its chassis also has remarkable weather sealing, making a perfect outdoorsy DSLR camera.
  • Face Detection mode actually detect faces ‘very accurately.’
  • The Canon EOS 7D Mark II produces great image quality with a high ISO range. Video quality is 1080p at 60 frames per second.
  • Dual-Pixel AF outputs smooth focus for 1080p 60 fps video footage, allowing users to essentially shoot video ‘like a camcorder.’ Its high ISO range also produces finely detailed photos and video.
  • The Canon EOS 7D Mark II also has a 65-point cross-type Auto-Focus System, considered one of the fastest of its class.

What People Don’t Like

  • The Canon EOS 7D Mark II ultimately has less dynamic range than its APS-C sensor competitors.
  • Soft video doesn’t have enough detail despite smooth focus feature.
  • The Canon EOS 7D Mark II’s live video shooting sometimes undergoes a prolonged screen blackout during live view shooting sessions.
  • The fixed rear LCD screen isn’t a touchscreen LCD like most of its competitors.
  • The camera doesn’t have integrated Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • The Canon EOS 7D Mark II’s SLR-based design features a viewfinder that doesn’t show images or video as they would be captured.

Why Should You Buy Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR Camera (Body Only)?

Some would balk at the idea of getting an entirely new camera to shoot different scenarios, but most camera enthusiasts, professionals and interested beginners know the deal by now. The Canon EOS 7D Mark II is a great camera to get if you’re looking to shoot faster paced scenarios like sports or spontaneous wildlife.

The camera’s features make it rather situational for shooting fast paced action, since it’s not the most well equipped camera for casual users. Its high FPS output and accurate auto-focus sensor alone make it best suited for fast paced action.

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Overview sigma_311101_50mm_f_1_4_dg_hsm_1045458

Although larger and more expensive than similar lenses, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens is a perfectly servicable lens suited for art applications and shooting scenarios where more manual precision may be required. At the time of its release, it was considered one of the better auto-focus 50mm prime lenses on the market.

This lens produces great images with refined sharpness, minimal abnormalities and very little distortion. It’s also great to use if shooting out of focus backgrounds, thanks to the elements that work hard in its camera. Its multifaceted lens elements help it output content most expect of Sigma lenses.

Features At A Glance

  • Compatible with Canon EF cameras
  • Aperture Range: f/1.4 to f/16
  • Measures 3.36 inches by 3.93 inches, weighs 1.79 pounds
  • One Molded Glass + Three Special Low Dispersion Aspherical Elements
  • Compatible with 35mm and Full-Frame Digital Sensor formats
  • Focal Length: 50 mm
  • Refined Auto-Focus allows more accurate auto-focus
  • Super Multi-Layer Coating reduces glare and ghosting

Key Characteristics

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens is compatible with Canon EF cameras. This standard length lens is specifically designed for high optical performance by utilizing its refined components.

The lens possesses a large 85.4mm diameter with a floating system that helps correct vignetting, ensuring peripheral brightness is maintained within images.

This Sigma lens is constructed using Thermally Stable Composite material and traditional metal, affording this lens better precision and versatility in all sorts of temperatures.

Its 9-blade circular diaphragm helps the camera produce great-looking out of focus images.

Lens includes a brass bayonet mount for better accuracy and durability.

Key Features

Four elements comprise this lens’ image refinement system – one molded glass aspherical element and three Special Low Dispersion glass elements. All components help reduce the appearance of sagittal coma flare and chromatic abnormalities, producing high quality image quality and sharpness as a result.

Lens elements have been treated with a Super Multi Coating, which helps reduce glare and ghosting, producing better high quality color fidelity and contrast.

The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens Hyper Sonic AF Motor features a highly optimized Auto-Focus algorithm. As a result, the lens produces a smooth, fast and silent auto-focus performance. AF Motor also features a full time manual focus control for fine precision through turning the lens’ focus ring when needed.

Fully compatible with optional Sigma USB Dock to fine tune lens characteristics and also updating its firmware.

Pros

  • Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens is specifically designed for high optical performance by utilizing its refined components. Best suited for shooting art-related scenarios, due to its optical performance.
  • One molded glass aspherical element and three Special Low Dispersion glass elements do a lot of the lifting work in producing high quality images, along with the lens’ other essentials. They help reduce image abnormalities and produce high quality image quality and sharpness as a result.
  • Large 85.4mm diameter lens with floating system maintains peripheral brightness within images.
  • Thermally Stable Composite material and traditional metal affords this lens better precision and versatility in all sorts of temperatures.
  • The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens Hyper Sonic AF Motor produces a smooth, fast and silent auto-focus performance. AF Motor also features a full time manual focus control allow for fine precision.

Cons

  • The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens doesn’t have finely tuned image stabilization when compared to competitors. Chromatic abnormalities may crop up in images at certain settings.
  • The lens isn’t reinforced against the elements like competitors, so it may be tricky to use in different environments.
  • This Sigma lens is heavier and more expensive than similar lens of its class.

Why Should You Buy Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF?

The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens is a great lens for certain applications, most notably art-related applications. It’s not, however, the best lens for situations where a lot of dust or moisture may be, since it’s not weatherproof. Users of full frame cameras will enjoy this lens simply because it possesses a decent aperture range that outputs very sharp images. For its price, it’s a great alternative to similar cameras of its class.

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OverviewCanon 6D

Between expensive and very expensive DSLR fare, the Canon EOS 6D is perhaps one of the more affordable options on the market. Both casual photographers looking for a major upgrade and beginner professionals will benefit from the lower cost and good quality produced by this camera body.

As one of the many inexpensive full frame DSLRs, it does sacrifice a number of basic features found in its professional grade counterparts. What’s left is a pretty good near professional grade DSLR: wireless support for GPS and Wi-Fi, a full frame sensor, HD video and image capture under a high ISO range and continuous shooting at 4.5 frames per second. All of that is contained in a compact, easy to handle body that’s compatible with most lenses.

Underneath a compact chassis is a full frame camera suited for casual and beginner professionals. This camera is especially suited for those who need exceptional video and image quality and wireless connectivity in remote areas.

Key Features: Its full frame sensor, high ISO range and Wi-Fi/GPS connectivity. People looking for a ‘bargain’ full frame DSLR camera with good video and image quality will surely like this one.

Features At A Glance

  • Full frame CMOS sensor @ 20.2MP
  • Continuous shooting mode shoots 4.5 frames per second
  • Manually controlled 1080p HD video recording
  • 11-point AF array system, featuring a one cross-type AF point
  • 3-inch LCD with 1,040,000 dots
  • Saves to SD memory
  • ISO Range: Auto, 100 – 25600 in 1/3 stops, including 50, 51200, 102400 as option
  • Auto-Focus Technology

Pros

  • The Canon EOS 6D produces great video and photo quality when paired with a great lens, mainly thanks to features like its full-frame sensor.
  • The body is pretty lightweight, easy to hold and has an overall great design.
  • Wi-Fi and GPS support make using this camera on the go a pleasure. Its Wi-Fi friendly remote camera control utilizes smartphones and tablets.
  • The camera also outputs excellent quality RAW and JPEG files across the ISO spectrum.
  • The Quick Control menu makes accessing its shooting settings rather simple.

Cons

  • While good quality, video and images are prone to artifacts when it comes to fine detail. Video is considered more prone to artifacts.
  • The Canon EOS 6D doesn’t include a built-in flash.
  • Some of the ‘basics’ for cameras of this price aren’t included, such as multiple card slots, full coverage viewfinder and the aforementioned built-in flash.
  • Burst rate is much slower than its competitors.
  • Experts may not like the Canon EOS 6D’s 11-point AF array with just one cross-type AF point.
  • The Canon EOS 6D isn’t compatible with EF-S lenses.

Why Should You Buy Canon EOS 6D Digital Camera (Body Only)?

If you’re a user searching for a good quality full frame DSLR camera, the Canon EOS 6D Digital Camera (Body Only) might be your best bet. It’s perhaps the most affordable at its price range and provides just enough amenities for casual and beginner professional photographers, despite its shortcomings for serious enthusiasts.

Those who need better quality, however, probably won’t like the video and image output of the Canon EOS 6D.

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