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sigma_24-35_f2_with_lens_hoodAt the end of July 2015 the eagerly awaited Sigma 24-35mm F/2 DG HSM Art Lens will be released. This lens will be offered for Nikon, Canon and Sigma lens mounts and is compatible with Sigma’s mount swapping service. What has photographers chomping to get their hands on this lens it will be the first constant aperture f/2.0 zoom lens designed for the DSLR full frame cameras, meaning in plain English you will get three prime lenses in one with this unique innovation.

There is no need to swap lenses with the Sigma 23-35mm F/2 as you will have a 24mm, 28mm and 35mm all in one lens.   Those who have been lucky enough to give it a trial run report it is solidly built with excellent sharpness all in one single zoom lens.

Sigma has been knocking it out of the park with their Global Vision Art-series lenses and the Sigma 24-35 F/2 is definitely a home run. This lens produces crisp images and at F/2.0 the only reported issue is a little softening around the edges that clears up as you stop down with a sweet spot sitting at F/4.0 to 5.6 providing ultra-crisp images.

There is very little chromatic aberration and only minor fringing can be seen in the outside corner of the frame.   The Sigma 24-35mm F/2 has some vignetting in full frame at f/2.0 but tapers off as you stop down. Barrel distortion was detected which wasn’t surprising considering the wide-angle lens but it is well controlled throughout the focal length with the distortion most noticeable at 24mm focal length. The distortion is well under the 1% average and improves with the longer focal lengths to almost zero barrel distortion.

Physically the Sigma 24-35mm F/2 DG is well built with Sigma’s Thermally Stable Composite material, matte black finish and well gripped focus and zoom rings. This lens is quite hefty because of being so solidly built weighing out at slightly over two pounds. This makes the lens heavy on the camera with 18 lenses in 13 groups with 9-bladed circular aperture diaphragm, a single flurite like glass element , seven SLD elements and at least one aspherical lens but it is a shorter lens so it isn’t overly awkward or unbalanced.

Sigma continued with their Hyper Sonic Motor drive in the 24-35mm F/2 providing the quick and quiet autofocus. The AF motor is virtually silent and you can feel it more than hear it working. Naturally there is the standard manual focusing with distance scale and an AF/MF switch right on the barrel and 90 degrees of rotation on the manual focus ring.

The early reviews are good for the Sigma 24-35mm F/2 DG SHM Art Lens. Those lucky enough to have tested this full-frame three in one lens are excited about the build quality but also the outstanding performance with only slight barrel distortion, vignetting and limited chromatic aberration that most people wouldn’t notice but in testing it was pixel scoped.   It will be a big hit when it hits the stores at the end of the month.

Set your price on the Sigma 24-35mm F/2 DG HSM ART Lens with Greentoe here. 


Samsung_4K_SUHD_JS9000_Series_Curved_Smart_TV-65_Class_1_03Technology is changing the way that you do many things, but it is dramatically improving the way that you can watch television. The days of low quality images on your big screen can be a thing of the past. I have been looking for a smart TV for a few years, but none have been the exact specifications that I’ve been searching for. When I first purchased the Samsung JS9000 Series 65” Class 4k SUHD Smart 3D Curved LED TV I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I quickly became enthralled with this smart TV.

Not only is it from one of the best brands, but it also offers affordability that other options can’t match. It is the perfect blend of the latest features with functionality that most TV users are looking for. This Samsung smart TV is designed to be easy to use, but also offer high image quality that customers are looking for.

Specifications

This smart TV offers an ATSC video system and is 3D. 3D is a huge capability for smart TV’s and is one of the features that sold me on this model. It offers 60W power and stereo quality sound with a built-in subwoofer. It has built-in WiFi and a built-in Octa-Core Processor. It even comes with a pair of 3D glassed.

Easy Internet 

Having the ability to search online using your TV, is a huge benefit. I wasn’t sure how easy this model would be to use online, but was pleasantly surprised with the easy interface. The Samsung JS9000 is very easy to use online. It has a built-in internet browser that allows you to search and use some of the most popular apps through your smart TV. It simply makes things easier for you. I was able to search Facebook and watch all of my favorite YouTube clips with ease. This is what most customers are looking for in a Smart TV, and this version is designed to make browsing online simpler and faster than ever. The built-in Octa-Core processor is the highest quality available.

Image Quality

Beyond being easy to use, the Samsung JS9000 features optimal image quality. It is 3D and comes with a pair of 3D glasses that allows you to watch your favorite movies, shows and online clips in the #D. The image quality is designed to be superior.

Motion Control

This smart TV also features clear motion control rate that is 240. This allows you to use built-in motion control features with ease. You can choose your favorite apps and play games by just moving your hand. This makes everything so much simpler. I found that the motion control was easy to use and accurate.

Final Verdict

If you are looking for a smart TV that is high quality, but also affordable, the Samsung JS9000 is the perfect option. It is a 3D smart LED TV with all of the latest features that you are looking for.

Set your price and get a great deal on the JS9000 Series 65″-Class 4K SUHD Smart 3D Curved LED TV here. 


canon_EOS 5DS RThe Canon 5DS R is one of two new cameras launched by Canon offering a whopping 50 megapixel sensor in their full frame DSLR line. The 5DS is the other model and the difference between the two is the 5DS R has a self-cancelling filter and the 5DS has an optical low-pass filter. Canon stepped up their game in rolling out these new models with many new features and exceptional picture quality.

Along with the mega 50 MPs, Canon included 5 frames per second continuous shooting, ISO up to 6400 with extension to 12,800, 61 point AF module with 150k pixel metering, 30 and 19.6 crop modes, 1080/30p video, dual Digic 6 processors and M and S Raw down sampled formats.

The object Canon was trying to reach was for the shooter to get the maximum possible resolution out of the camera. They focused on stability with a reinforced tripod socket, a motorized mirror system and a revised mirror lock-up mode that can be programmed to delay the shutter opening for the exposure and the mirror being raised allowing for the shortest possible delay as the mirror vibration calms while maximizing the sharpness.

The 5DS R offers the same video capabilities as the 5DS with 1080 video quality.   The one feature on the 5DS R is the intervalometer function that allows you take some great time lapse shots that can be combined in camera to make a video.   As far as video goes, other than time-lapse there is nothing to write home about and it is better to get a dedicated video camera if that is what you want.

Physically this camera is identical to its sister the 5DS with a 3.2 inch rear LCD tiltable screen with a 100% viewfinder.   It weighs the same at 1.86 pounds without the battery. This pixel peeper’s dream camera comes with an LP-E6N battery that holds more charge than the older LP-E6 batteries. The LP-E6 battery is interchangeable but gets fewer pictures per run than the LP-E6N.

The 5DS R comes with the flicker synchronization feature that shoots through flickering light by timing the lighting to the shutter release. This is an exceptional feature for nature photographers especially in situations like trees where the light shimmers through the leaves.

Pixel peepers will be pleased with the fine detail picture control that uses in-camera sharpening that lowers contrast to get super fine detail without blowing out the contrast or having it over sharp. Missing from this series is the automatic distortion control. It can be done by converting to JPEG individually but it can’t be done on the fly.   Despite the hefty price tag it is missing a Wi-Fi connection, GPS and lacks a built in flash.

The performance of the 5DS R has Canon lovers and pixel peepers drooling. The clarity even at high ISO is exceptional with little to no noise in the higher ISO range with sharpness from edge to edge across all shooting settings. The only place the 5DS R is lacking is in action shots. They are still extremely good but other DSLRs do much better with action. Overall it is one of the best full frame DSLRs on the market and well worth the money for a professional photographer.

Set your price and get the best deal on a new Canon 5DS R Camera here.

 


GoProHeroSession

GoPro has built a name for being tough cameras that go anywhere and take fantastic pictures. The Hero4 Session was released in the beginning of July 2015 brining a new model to the Point of View camera market.

Not much has changed in the style of GoPro. They are kind of clunky boxes that can be difficult to mount on helmets or surf boards. GoPro broke the clunky mold by making the Hero4 Session a cube. As with GoPro the Session is water proof and is small enough to be unobtrusive when mounted.

Other than being cube shaped, the Session is 1.5 inches and weighs 2.6 ounces. It is water proof as is up to 33 feet without any other special housing.   It is 50% smaller than the Hero4 Black or Silver. The Session shoots stills at 8MP with 10fps bursts, 1080 video at 60 and 30 fps and WVGA at 120 fps.

The Session comes with two frame mounts, one being a standard upright mount and the second one for mounting flush against a surface. GoPro also designed the Session to be positioned inside the frame in any direction so you don’t need the triple joint hinge mount anymore.

The audio is also improved even in the waterproof casing with two mics that the Session switches between depending on the audio conditions such as wind. The battery life has also been improved over the previous models but has a lag on startup of about 5 seconds before it is actually taking video.

As for the quality of pictures some things seem to have been lost in the new cube redesign. The Session is lacking in both sharpness and color quality. It is lacking the ability to switch settings like the Hero4 Silver, has a fixed battery that can’t be swapped making long outings like a 4 day hike undoable. It is as though GoPro went backwards in technology with the rebuild instead of incorporating the Silver technology into the new shape of the Session.

Due to the slim downed menu options you will need a smart phone to get the most benefit out of the Session.  The app is free to download and you simply pair it to your camera. You will get a live feed from the camera on the phone and can make adjustments via the phone app. The downside is once you start rolling the live feed is no longer available.

The Session does have setting for pixel and frames per shot in video and the camera has the choice for time-lapse, burst or single shot modes.   It also features a QuickCapture mode which allows you to capture candid and unexpended scenes.

Overall it performs well but compared to the previous models, it is lacking and there is a lot of noise in poorly lit scenes. The Session is geared more to the casual adventurer rather than the pros.   It is simplified for easy use like a point and shoot but with the natural state of water proof up to 33 feet without the case.   The pros would be better off sticking with the Hero4 Silver or Black with their many features.

Set your price and get the best deal on the GoPro Hero4 Session here.


SonyMirrorlessThe Sony Alpha a7II Mirrorless Digital Camera is a full frame mirrorless camera meaning the size is much smaller with the new technology yet still full frame. As technology advances the DSLR is now facing competition from the likes of the Mark II featuring the first and only 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization for a full frame.

Olympus was a leader in the mirrorless technology and Sony invested in Olympus in 2012 and used the knowledge obtained in the partnership to create the remarkable Alpha a7II. The 5-axis stabilization compensates for pitch, yaw, roll as well as vertical and horizontal movement.  This system is designed for optimal use with the Optical Steady Shot built into Sony A and E-mount lenses but alone the stabilization provides plenty of support to avoid blurry shooting.

The physical stature of the camera is impressive weighing in at 1.22 pounds with a 3” tilting LCD screen. The body is 5 inches by 3.8 by 2.4 which is quite small for any full frame camera. The physical body is made of a two-part magnesium alloy that is moisture and dust resistant with weather seals on the control dials and buttons. It also has a textured finish compared to the smooth finish of the other A-7 models, increasing the grip. As for the memory card, the Alpha a7II can take SDXC, SDHC, SD, memory Stick PRO Duo (High Speed), Memory Stick PRO HG-Duo and Memory Stick XC-HG Duo giving the user plenty of options for storage.

The a7II shoes in both JPEG, RAW and has video capabilities of AVCHD ver.2.0, MPEG-4, SAVC S and Dolby Digital sound. It shoots at a whopping 24 megapixel at 6000 x 4000 with a 5 frames per second speed. As for the memory card, the Alpha a7II can take SDXC, SDHC, SD, memory Stick PRO Duo (High Speed), Memory Stick PRO HG-Duo and Memory Stick XC-HG Duo giving the user plenty of options for storage.

There are numerous features on the Sony Alpha A7II to customize allowing the user to customize it for a user’s shooting style especially with the additional C2 custom function button located on the top deck allowing for up to 56 function assignments or custom settings.

When it comes to the quality of the photos, the Alpha a7II is impressive and has had massive success in the professional realm.   The images are crisp with spot on colors with the camera leaning toward warmer tones especially indoors.   High ISO shots with the in-camera noise reduction system are really good especially in RAW.

The autofocus works quickly and accurately especially on higher contrast items. The focusing speed slides a little on less well lit subjects. It performs well in high speed sports action situations but is better suited for other genres of photography but still has an excellent buffering capacity for rapid shooting.

Overall the Sony Alpha a7II Mirrorless Digital Camera is an improvement over the predecessor with a more ergonomic and sturdy body, more customizable functions and the amazing 5-axis stabilization system. The quality of the photos are superb with excellent AF and rapid firing in many different situations.

Save big and name your price on the Sony a7II Alpha Mirrorless Camera.


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.

Save big on a Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT. 


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.

Save big on a Fujifilm X100T Digital Camera: https://www.greentoe.com/Fujifilm_X100T6


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.

Save big on a Canon 85mm f/1.8 EF USM Lens now:

https://www.greentoe.com/Canon85mmf-1-8EF


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.

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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.

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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.

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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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