Tag Archives: camera

Canon, Nikon Top User Surveys

Nikon D7000

The Nikon D7000 gets very high marks in user satisfaction

The big names in the photography business are there for a reason and that reason is because they have consistently produced some of the best cameras in the history of photography. All the same, the question I get a surprising number of times is, “What is the best camera on the market?” That’s not a question anyone can answer. Best in what terms? Best for studio work? Best in a combat zone? Best family camera? Best value for the money? Best for a professional? Best for a beginner? There are different answers for all of those questions and sometimes a different answer between one person and the next.

A quick look around at 10 camera web sites will yield 10 different rankings with a bit of overlap. With so much variation in the rankings, how do you figure out which camera is right for you?

A survey by PC World does present some broad conclusions. An aggregate of other rankings, including here at  Snapsort, does outline some interesting trends.

Canon and Nikon Are The Big Kids On The Block

The data taken together supports the perhaps obvious conclusion that Canon and Nikon are the big two, though the reasons for their popularity are quite different and challengers are evolving. Canon cameras are rated as being more reliable, with Nikon coming in 5th in the reliability survey, behind Canon, GE, Panasonic and Casio. Seriously, if you’re losing to Casio in reliability, maybe you need take a hard look at your QA/QC methodology.

Nikon ranks number one when it comes to owner satisfaction with their camera features, just edging out Canon for the number one spot. Yet Casio and Panasonic both score high marks and end up in the top five in both categories.

With their domination of the video market, it’s likely Canon will stay on top. Nikon was slow to react to the DSLR video trend and Canon carved out a nearly exclusive domain in the video space. Nikon has since improved their support for features like 24p, but with so many wedded to Canon glass and shaping their work flow around Canon, making headway into the video market is going to be slow going for any of the challengers. If Nikon has an edge to elbow into the video market it’s their lenses.

One thing to keep in mind is that one of the reasons it may be so hard to pick a “best” camera is that there are so many good contenders out there these days.  If you have the talent, you can take almost any camera and take fantastic photos.  Truly it’s little things that will make the biggest difference.

As you can see there are no easy answers when it comes to choosing a camera. Take your time, compare a lot of models, ask a lot of questions, and focus on the features most important to you.

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Casio Exilim EX-ZR15

Casio EX ZR18

Casio EXILIM EX ZR18 feels the need for speed - by Casio

Casio decided to field a speed demon in its new Exilim EX-ZR15 camera. Some of the specs will raise eyebrows.

From turning it on until it’s ready to shoot, Casio says 0.99 seconds, about the time it takes to lift it into shooting position. To go along with that the auto focus system only needs 0.13 seconds to get a lock and the time between shots is 0.29 seconds.

If you need a point-and-shoot camera that’s fast, it’s going to be hard to beat those specs.

The sporty little speedster packs a 9.7-megapixel 1/2.3 in CMOS sensor (reported as 14-megapixel in some sources) behind a 7x optical zoom. Nothing in the initial specs about image stabilization, one hopes for at least some stabilization for the price point.

As with most point-and-shoots it’s short on manual controls but has some interesting software gadgets that include a depth of field setting that shoots multiple pictures and meshes them together to produce a bokeh-like effect.

It’s also got in-camera software HDR for photos and video as well as a 360 degree panorama mode.

Surprisingly the video is full HD at 30 fps and has a built-in flash.

All that in a camera that weighs in at just 176 grams with the battery and data card installed. Not bad specs if a tad ambitious on the pricing. Casio says look for availability later this month in Japan with prices starting in the $500 range.

Comparisons

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Be Careful Who You Buy From

camera photo

It's one thing to buy some flash units or lights from overseas, but don't risk it for cameras and lenses

As the world gets smaller and shipping gets easier, a new phenomenon is appearing in the camera market: Web sites that appear to be stores located in the U.S., U.K., or Canada that are actually storefronts for operations in other countries. For many of the cameras and camera electronics, the vendors are located in Hong Kong.

First off, there’s nothing at all wrong with shopping for camera gear outside the country, provided you know that’s where you’re shopping and are prepared to take the risk. I routinely shop at DealExtreme, one of those sites that ships from Hong Kong, because the discounts are pretty good and shipping is free. I know whatever I’m going to buy from them is going to take between 2 and 3 weeks to arrive and I’m okay with that.

I buy a lot of my flash units and strobes from Hong Kong vendors and quite a few of my video lights came from overseas, but buy a high end camera or expensive lens through them? No way!

The biggest issue for me is making sure I have a valid warranty here in the U.S. When you buy from vendors in Hong Kong, you may be getting grey market products, refurbished units, or products with menus in another language. What you won’t be getting in any case is a valid factory warranty where you live.

I probably see two or three sob stories every week from people who purchased products from an overseas vendor only to realize they would have to send the product back to China if they need warranty service. Most of those people were just trying to save a buck or two on their camera purchase.

Sometimes it’s worth paying a little more to be sure of who you’re dealing with and that you’re getting a top shelf product. When it comes to camera and video gear, I only shop three places:

B&H Photo Video
Adorama
Amazon

I’ve never had a problem with a return or exchange at B&H Photo, ever. You could buy a turkey from B&H, bring them a bag of bones the day after Thanksgiving and they’d still probably give your money back if you weren’t happy.

Shopping through Amazon you’re sometimes paying a higher price than direct through the vendor, but that means the vendor has to adhere to Amazon’s return policies. That’s a big friend to have on your side and the convenience of one-stop shopping is a time saver.

Snapsort only sells products through reputable sources, so you can shop with ease.

Sometimes it’s just not worth the price difference to shop with vendors you haven’t worked with before. There’s a reason companies like B&H have been around for years and have an excellent reputation in the professional community.  If you want to save a few bucks on a site that doesn’t have that reputation, you’re taking your chances.

 

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iPhone 4 Tops Flickr Camera Stats

The iPhone 4 shoots to the top of Flickr's camera ratings

Data from Flickr confirms what we’ve been saying for a long time: The camera people are most likely to use is the one they’re most likely to have with them. No surprise then that the number one camera on Flickr is the Apple iPhone 4.

Coming along in second place is the entry level Nikon D90. Priced at around $1,200 with the 18-105mm kit lens, Nikon seems to have found the sweet spot between price and performance.

The next three in the top 5 all belong to Canon. It’s no surprise to find the EOS 5D MK II in the list, although the Rebel T2i in the fourth spot is kind of a surprise. Perhaps it shouldn’t be such a surprise for the T2i to be on the list when I consider that among my friends who are professional wedding photographers, one uses the T2i as his main camera and two use it as their backup body.

Anyone who owns a Canon EOS 7D would not be surprised to find it in the top 5. It is one of the most reliable pieces of photographic equipment I’ve ever used.

One should take statistics on Flickr with a grain of salt. While they are reflective of the relative popularity of certain cameras, not all cameras record the camera type in the meta data, which is particularly true of smartphones, and those tend to be under-represented in the data.

Another factor to consider is that statistics on Flickr evolve slowly and are backward facing. So many of the hot new camera models may not be reflected in the statistics for some time to come.

In the point-and-shoot category, Canon owns all of the top five slots. The wildly successful S95 leads the parade, with the G12 coming in second.

Another factor to consider is that Flickr represents a sub-section of photographers actively sharing their photos. Not all photographers are equally active in social media sharing and many of the old timers are skeptical of using photo sharing services.

It is good to check on the statistics from time to time, just to watch the parade of technology. Judging by the stats, for many of you your new camera is also the device you use to make phone calls.

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Hack Your Canon Point-and-Shoot Camera

canon camera

Owners of Canon point and shoot cameras can have fun with firmware hacks

Owners of some models of Canon point-and-shoot cameras have some interesting features that can be added to their cameras with the help of CHDK firmware hacks.

CHDK stands for Canon Hack Developer Kit and can add features like RAW file output, motion detection that’s fast enough to catch lightning in a bottle, automatic bracketing, full manual control, zebra mode, a live histogram, and crazy high flash sync speeds.

The changes are temporary and can be reset just by switching data cards and resetting the camera. All the same the software is free and experimental, you’re responsible if something goes wrong.

Even better CHDK is being actively developed, so you’ll have new features being added all the time.

If your camera is on the support camera list in the FAQ all you need is a spare SD card and you’re right in business.

CHDK does not replace your camera’s native firmware, it loads as an add-on program that extends the firmware’s capability in lots of interesting ways.

For DSLR users of the Canon 5D MK II, 550D, 60D, 50D, and 600D, you also have some nifty firmware hacks you can play with over at Magic Lantern. Initially developed for video users it has since been expanded to find some of the features found in CHDK.

There’s some debate about whether using CHDK or Magic Lantern voids your warranty so it’s worth some research before deciding whether to try it. Messing with the firmware is never completely risk free, even if you’re upgrading the factory firmware.

Still there is no firmware fun for Canon 7D users.  Magic Lantern has finally got the blank firmware to read properly, but no time frame on further developments.

If you have one of the compatible cameras, read the installation instructions carefully and go have fun.

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