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Canon is the most Popular Camera brand according to Consumers

Back in 1685, a man by the name of Johann Zahn created the first camera that was small and portable enough to be practical for photography. However, it would be another 150 years before technology caught up and it was actually possible for his vision to be built. Today, over 300 years later, not only is a hand-held camera an essential product in most households, but consumers have multiple options of brands and types to choose from. But how do people know what to pick?

In 2010, Sortable, a Waterloo-based startup company, launched Snapsort.com, devoted to helping consumers find the right camera for them. Sortable surveyed more than 275,000 people over a six month period and found that: In the ever-growing market for cameras, many brands have joined the war to become the best product. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Fujifilm and Olympus are among the many companies vying to come out on top. However, according to consumers, it is Canon that is winning the camera war. The survey shows that 33% of consumers favour Canon to the competition, among the favourite types being the Canon T2i, T3i, 7D, the new 5D Mark III the Powershot S95 and the SX40. Trailing close in second place is Nikon, favoured by 27% of consumers. Nikon has produced many popular brands such as the D5100, D7000 and D3100 DSLRs, the Coolpix P500 and S9100.

Today, not only do consumers have multiple camera brands that they can choose from, but they also have the option of choosing a type of camera that is right for them. During Sortable’s research, they found that consumers’ favourite types of cameras are DSLR’s and Point and Shoots. DSLRs are versatile cameras with interchangeable lenses that are traditionally used by professional photographers, but are becoming increasingly more popular among entry level users. In contrast, Point and Shoots allow the everyday person to quickly and easily capture the photos they want, without having to make many adjustments. It’s not surprising that these two types come out on top. What is really surprising is the surge in popularity of the Mirrorless cameras. A relatively new technology, Mirrorless cameras stuff a DSLR size sensor into a small portable package, with interchangeable lenses for greater flexibility. Canon has yet to enter the Mirrorless market, and Nikon has just entered, with the Nikon V1 and J1. As this type of camera becomes more popular, Canon and Nikon will have to step up their game in order to keep their market share in comparison to Sony, Panasonic and Olympus, who have grabbed the early lead in this Mirrorless market.

So, how do you know which camera is right for you? Well, you can take the advice of other consumers and of your family and friends, but ultimately, the choice is yours. Each brand of camera and each type all have their perks and flaws. It’s up to you to find your camera (and a little help from Snapsort and Sortable might be handy). Here, in 2012, our world has certainly come a long way since Zahn’s initial camera concepts.

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Olympus Announces New Mirrorless E-M5

new olympus mirrorless camera

The new Olympus OM-D E-M5, Micro Four-Thirds in an SLR body

Olympus raised the curtain on a new Micro Four-Thirds camera, the Olympus OM-D E-M5, the first new model not part of the Pen series and sporting a new line of interchangeable lenses.

The E-M5 is styled like a smaller version of the old style Olympus SLR cameras, down to the control knob in roughly the same position as the ISO dial on the old OM-1. Yet the E-M5 has at its core a Micro Four-Thirds, 16.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor, backed up by the TruePic VI image processing engine providing a maximum ISO of 25,600. That compares to the 12.3-megapixel sensor in the E-P3 and E-5.

My question for Olympus would be why they stuck with the Micro Four-Thirds sensor on an SLR form factor instead of going with an APS-C chip? I’m guessing it has something to do with the size, weight and ability to stick with the quieter electronic shutter that makes barely a whisper when taking pictures. The slightly larger prism hump actually houses the 1.44 million dot electronic viewfinder.

The E-M5 incorporates a new type of 5-axis image stabilization built to compensate for multi-direction camera shake and Olympus is claiming they have the world’s fastest 3D AF tracking system that can follow moving subjects at up to 9 frames per second.

Top view of Em-5

Top view of the Olympus EM-5 is reminiscent of the old OM-1

For video the E-M5 offers full 1080i video at 60 fps with automatic correction for rolling-shutter, sometimes also called “jello cam”. Somewhat strangely the in-camera video effects include Echo effect that deliberately creates visual trails behind objects in motion.

back of Olympus E-M5

The EM-5 has a tilt screen LCD in back

What you won’t get is a built-in flash. A detachable flash is included with the camera, but that’s something you’ll have to remember to stick in your pocket or do without if the situation arises.

The Olympus E-M5 is due out in April and is slated to have two kit configurations: A 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 for $1,100 and the new 12.50mm F3.5-6.3 lens for $1,300.

Compare to:

Olympus E-M5 vs Olympus E-5

Olympus E-M5 vs Sony NEX-7

Olympus E-M5 vs Sony SLT-A55

Olympus E-M5 vs Panasonic GX1

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Nikon Raises The Resolution Bar With D800

Nikon raises the resolution to 36.3-megapixels in the D800 and D800E

Nikon is raising the bar on resolution and video by fielding two new cameras the D800 and D800E, both boasting an unusually large 36-megapixel image. That would make the D800 the first in the Nikon DSLR line to challenge resolution formerly only available in medium format cameras.

That will mean 7360 x 4912 resolution RAW images that are over 70MB in size, while processed TIFF files will be over 212 MB. The files are so big Nikon decided to add USB 3.0 support to the camera.

At the core the D800 and D800E both start with a full frame, FX-format, 35.9 x 24 mm CMOS 36.3-megapixel sensor backed by Nikon’s Expeed 3 image processor. The imaging system incorporates the latest 91,000-pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering III and Advanced Scene Recognition System, coupled with an improved 51-point AF system that promises lightning fast response.

The D800 also promises minimal noise under variable lighting conditions, with a native ISO range of 100-6400, expandable to 25,600 and will output 16-bit images. Coupled with the image processing is a 91,000-pixel RGB sensor for its Advanced Scene Recognition system, which can accurately detect human faces, and recognize scene colors and brightness, according to Nikon.

Back of the D800 shows a clean layout and full size LCD screen

While recent camera models have included upgraded video specs to make them competitive with Canon cameras, the D800 is the first that aggressively attacks the video market. The D800 boasts manual exposure and audio controls in video mode and 1080p recording at 30, 25 and 24 fps, coupled with a built-in optical filter with anti-aliasing properties. Nikon also claims users can also send full uncompressed video out via HDMI as the video is being captured. It remains to be seen whether that promise delivers on the set, but could be a huge upgrade for filmmakers.

The D800E model is basically the same camera without the anti-aliasing filter and is aimed at studio and commercial photographers who may be less concerned about moire and more concerned with maximum detail.

The D800 will be priced more competitively with the Canon 5D MK II with the D800 being offered at $2,999.95 and the D800E at $3,299.95.

For a long time Nikon seemed reluctant to battle for the DSLR video market, but with the introduction of the D800, it’s on now as Nikon fields a camera worthy of both studio photographers and professional videographers.

The upgraded video specs in the D800 will certainly appeal to filmmakers

More Info At:

Nikon USA

Compare To:

Nikon D800 vs Canon 5D MK II

Nikon D800 vs Canon EOS 7D

Nikon D800 vs Nikon D4

Nikon D800 vs D700

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Do We Really Need $6,000 Cameras?

canon 1dx

Canon and Nikon think we need $6,000 cameras but do we really? - by Canon

Apparently Canon and Nikon think the photography world is ready to trade in their car for a new camera and set of lenses. That’s just about what a Nikon D4 or Canon 1-DX and a set of lenses will set you back. A camera or a car? Not a tough choice for most people.

It’s not at all certain these two particular cameras were aimed specifically at still photographers anyway. Both cameras boast impressive video specs and perhaps the real targets are filmmakers, to whom a $6,000 camera body is a relative bargain. Still, when you start with a $6K body and add lenses, rails, flags, follow focus, and a monitor it starts getting the price up near real digital film cameras like the Sony PMW-F3L.

“While you would still have to add the lenses, the price difference on a budget film production is not that significant compared to what you gain with features like Genlock, Timecode, and 10 bit 4:2:2 HD-SDI output,” says Bill Pryor, a Kansas City commercial video producer who shoots most of his footage on the Canon 5D MK II.

captain america frame

Footage from Canon 5D MK IIs integrates seamlessly with 35mm film in Captain America - via Canon

When shots from Canon 5D MK IIs can be seamlessly integrated with 35mm film in movies like Captain America, it begs the question of just how much more quality do filmmakers really require?

For years photographers were spoiled as technology and competition drove prices down and to see the trend reversed so abruptly on the flagship products of both lines will be an interesting trend to watch. The question it begs for photographers centers around the compelling value proposition that would make the EOS-1DX the definitive choice over a Canon 5D MK II?

Certainly the flagship cameras have better low light performance. If you’re a full-time professional sports photographer shooting in highly variable lighting conditions inside sports arenas, perhaps the price tag is worth it. I might argue the Nikon D700 and Canon 5D MK II are fairly capable low light shooters themselves, but the D4 and 1DX push low light performance to new levels.

I could also see a National Geographic photographer on assignment someplace near the end of the world needing both the superior weather sealing and low light performance, which cuts down on the amount of lighting gear they have to carry. In places where every slot in an equipment bag is a precious commodity, then the extra $4,000 for a camera body is outweighed by other factors.

nikon D4 skeleton

Is what's inside a Nikon D4 really justify the price tag?

Overall, I’m really working to find justification for the added expense and just can’t see it. You can buy two D700’s for the price of a D4 and carry a spare body. Instead of a 1DX tricked out for filmmaking, get two 5D MK IIs and use one for covering shots.

It’ll be interesting to see if the photography world proves me wrong and demonstrates there’s a serious market for $6,000 cameras, but I’m not holding my breath.

Compare:

Nikon D700 vs D4

Nikon D700 vs Canon 5D MK II

Nikon D700 vs Canon 1DX

Canon 5D MK II vs 1D x

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Phase One A/S Merges Mamiya, Leaf

mamiya 645DF

Whether Mamiya Leaf is combing for efficiency or clinging together for survival is yet to be seen

Phase One A/S announced today that Mamiya Imaging and Leaf Imaging would be merged into Mamiya Leaf Imaging. The merged company will enter into a licensing agreement with Kodak, which likely means their sensors and image processing will be under the hood of the merged brand.

Whether medium format is merging to optimize service and support as the company claims in their press release, or if the companies are clinging together for survival in the face of rapidly improving DSLR competitors, remains to be seen. Right now it’s all sunshine and lollipops from Phase One. From the press release:

“We’re pleased to be part of this effort. The combination of products brings together the best in medium format photography delivered with service and options to expand the capabilities of professional photographers,” says Henrik Hakonsson, President of Phase One.

The real question is will photographers feel compelled to purchase an 80-megapixel Mamiya Phase One combination which, at over $40,000, is more than the cost of a shiny new BMW sedan. Compare that to Nikon’s new D4, which is just under $6,000.

Megapixels, Shemgapixels

This is where I have to remind people that comparing cameras by their megapixel rating is like my wife picking a new car because she likes the color. The number of megapixels has very little to do with the quality of the final image. Color, tone and sharpness will have far more sway over the quality of the final image, one of the reasons the highest rated cameras are all over the road when it comes to the megapixel rating of the sensor.

The difference in megapixels does effect the resolution of the final image, but even that is a geometric comparison and not a linear scale. In order to really notice a difference in resolution, you have to nearly double the chip size. Doubling the chip size quadruples the number of megapixels.

That’s why comparing the Canon T3i to the Nikon D5100 just on megapixels would be a mistake. While the T3i boasts a 17.9-megapixel chip and the D5100 a 16.1-megapixel chip, the difference is meaningless. Overall the D5100 is generally considered the superior camera.

Which brings us back to megapixels in the digital age and the continued quest of medium format to stay relevant in a camera market where DSLRs are producing incredible quality at a price point that’s a fraction of what you’d pay for a medium format camera.

Another factor impacting the debate is the march of software. In the old days of digital photography, like five or ten years ago, trying to scale low-resolution bitmap images, like JPEGs, was quite hard and most often the blow ups looked like doody.

Today software is much better at scaling JPEG images and you can, for all intents and purposes, scale them indefinitely with little loss in quality.

It should be interesting to see if medium format can find a way to stay relevant in the digital market, or we’ll see the medium format camera go the way of Kodak.

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