OK, so the fall is here and time to buy things (when isn’t it?). So here is an early Xmas list:
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1. This is the camera to get for something that is light and portable that you can throw into your bag and travel three continents (hint!). 12 megapixels, fast autofocus that is as good as any dSLR. Get it with the excellent Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH lense for every day and if you are going to on safari, get the EVF, the wide angle zoom and the telephoto too. Great RAW results with Adobe’s ACR. Very good ISO performance with even the small sensor Panasonic LX3 pretty good. The DMC-GF1 shoots well into ISO 800, (although the Olympus EP-1 odes well up to ISO 3200 on noise, it has slow autofocus).
- Canon EOS 500D. This is probably the best price/performance for an entry-level dSLR and a good choice to take on the road if you want to reuse lenses. It has a 15MP sensor which is a long way from the original EOS 350D from 12-Feb-05 with 8MP. It shoots well to ISO 1600 and its JPEG output is nearly as good as RAW. Interestingly with the kit lense resolution isn’t much different than the 12MP EOS-450D. Another reminder how unimportant raw megapixels are.
- Canon EOS 7D. I have this massive Canon EOS 5D Mark II that is full frame and takes superb pictures even at ISO 2400, but I still have a ton of great APS-size lenses that are incredible. The 5D is a monster, now Canon has shipped a new 18MP (so about the same size as the 21MP 5DII). Could this be the right choice for most people who don’t need all that low light performance and 8FPS shooting. Plus it has a new 19-point Autofocus system. If you haven’t gotten a 5D yet, its not a bad choice. We will see how reviews find the new sensors performance. The thing is $1800 and actually heavier than the 5DII.
- Canon EOS 5D Mark II. This is the massive $3000 camera whose main advantage is better performance at low light because it is full frame. Shots at ISO 2400 are very good and 3200 are OK. The main issue is making sure you use the right default settings which are highlight tone priority on (this adds about 1EV to shadows). Then there is autolight optimizer which only at strong has some impact in high contrast scenarios where it pulls details out of very dark situations so it is OK to leave both on.