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Outback Photo Handbook: Cameras

Cameras we used in 2011


field notes by Uwe + Bettina Steinmueller




Note on image processing

Normally we work only with raw files. At the time of this field tests we had not raw converter we are use to. THis means all images here are derived from camera JPEGs,

All images are also treated with DOP Tonality Master and sharpened with our DOP Optimal Sharp scripts (no sharpening in Lightroom).

About our Field Notes

We call this Field Notes because we do not perform rigid systematic reviews like e.g. DPReview. We share observations from our field sessions and sample images in higher resolution (in the SmugMug gallery you can change the resolution). A field session means that we aim for photographs that we can use for our artistic work. We are quite selective in our use of these cameras:

  • Always only use Raw images if available and do not often look at JPEGs
  • Use good lenses and hardly the kit lenses
  • Rarely use flash
  • Do not use in camera filters because we always do these things in post processing

We try to photograph often the same scenes with all the cameras which allows you to compare the results from different cameras.

Why not the full sized images? We always try to get images that may end up in our portfolios. Images at full resolution would make it hard for us to protect our copyright.

All our images are processed from Raw and maybe sometimes manipulated (e.g. cloned elements or Texture Blended).


One thing seems to be clear for us, 2011 was the year of the mirror-less cameras. But it is also clear to us that the big DSLRs are still not dead at all.

We checked some of our top images from 2011 and use them to comment on the different cameras in the order we reviewed them in 2011.

To better understand our judgments you need to know our personal shooting preferences:

  • We like the range from 80-300mm a lot
  • We like macro lenses. Not for real macros but to get closer is needed and have good corner sharpness
  • We prefer zooms because switching lenses is too tedious

Canon Rebel T3i/600D

Loaner from Canon but we own the Canon 60D and 5D Mark II

The Rebel T3i (our Field Report) could be an essential part of our camera set if we did not already have the EOS 60D (our Field Report). Standard DSLRs (like the 600D, 60D or 7D) shine for us in some areas and none of the other cameras mentioned later could replace them:

  • Aerials (need top lenses with IS, we use the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 IS or the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 IS lenses).
  • Macro of moving subjects like flowers (we use the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 and EF 100mm f/2.8 IS macro lenses)
  • Action shots (e.g. at an air show, we used the 70-200mm f/4 IS lens with 1.4x tele adapter).

600D + 100mm Macro


60D + 100mm Macro (Texture Blended)


60D Aerial + 24-105mm zoom


Holiister Airshow with Canon 60D + 70-200mm f/4 IS and 1.4x tele converter

The Canon 5D Mark II is also still going strong but we use the 60D way more often.

Canon 5D Mark II + 70-200mm f/4 IS

More 600D Images

Outlook for 2012: The 60D will be an essential part of out kit in 2012. We hope that Canon is upgrading this line (7D, 60D + 600D) with a new generation of sensors. The sensor is still good but Sony sensors may have an edge. The main argument for the Canon DSLRs is the lens selection and faster action handling. Downsides are price, bulk and no EVF for video.


Fuji X100

Loaner from a good friend

The X100 marked a big comeback for Fuji (our Field Report). This is clearly a unique camera. Great image quality and excellent lens. This camera is not for us because we find a fixed 35mm lens too limiting. Also we are not really sold on the hybrid viewfinder and camera handling.

Fuji X100

More X100 Images

Outlook for 2012: We will follow Fuji in 2012 closely.


Olympus XZ-1

We own the XZ-1

The XZ-1 (our Field Report) is a very fine P&S camera (the best for us at the time of our Field Report).

Olympus XZ-1

More XZ-1 Images

Outlook 2012: Will be still a nice P&S camera but the Fuji X10 and the Nikon J1/V1 are strong competitors. These cameras are also more expensive and bulky.

Olympus PEN E-P3

Loaner camera from Olympus

The Olympus PEN E-P3 (our Field Report) is a very capable camera and good m43 lenses are now plenty. This camera faces at the end of 2011 stiff competition from Sony (NEX-5N and NEX-7), Nikon 1 (V1 and J1) and likely Fuji in 2012. We think the sensor is not as good as the Sony (NEX-5N) competition. We were never that happy with the PEN user interface handling.

Olympus E-P3 with 12mm f/2 lens (very fine lens)

More E-P3 Images

Outlook 2012: Two years ago we complained a lack of good lenses for the m43 system. Except of a missing high quality fast mid-range zoom the lenses are there. But Sony shows what their sensor technology can do and the m43 sensors by Panasonic are not at the same level. Still a nice system but the competition makes it hard (add the Nikon 1 system to that equation).


Panasonic Lumix G3

We own this camera

We liked the G3 (read our Field Report). We repeat from the E-P3 notes above " Two years ago we complained a lack of good lenses for the m43 system. Except of a missing high quality fast mid-range zoom the lenses are there. But Sony shows what their sensor technology can do and the m43 sensors by Panasonic are not at the same level. Still a nice system but the competition makes it hard (add the Nikon 1 system to that equation)". The Panasonic GH2 is quite a bit more advanced for video. We prefer the user interface and integrated EVF of the Panasonic models over the Olympus PEN cameras.

Panasonic G3 with 3rd Nikon 55mm Macro lens

More G3 Images

Outlook 2012: Actually the same outlook as for the E-P3.

Ricoh GXR with A12 M-Mount Module

Loaner camera from Ricoh

The Ricoh GXR with A12 M-Mount Module (read our Field Report) is a great camera if you want to use manual focus prime lenses (Leica, Voigtlaender, Nikon and more). We want to use good zooms to be more flexible. Also finding good macro lenses for the M-Mount is not that easy. We wish this camera would feature the latest Sony sensors from the NEX-5 or NEX-7.

GXR with Nikon 55mm Macro

More GXR A12 Images

Outlook 2012: Ricoh produces fine niche market cameras. Will be interesting to see what the combined Pentax and Ricoh company can deliver in 2012.

Sony NEX-5N

Our own NEX-5N

We did not really like the NEX-5 because of the missing EVF. The NEX-5N (read our Field Report) was a major surprise for us. The EVF is very nice, the camera produces fine images and features high frame rates. The user interface is convoluted which can result in errors. We love the fact that the EVF swivels.

We never thought we would like an 18-200mm slow zoom. But in fact we use this combination most of the time and the images are quite good for such a long zoom range. If asked which camera plus a single zoom to use for a travel trip we may use the NEX-5N + 18-200mm zoom.

We had no chance to use the NEX-7 yet. We are quite certain we will miss the swivel EVF.

Like with m43 system 2-3 years ago the E-Mount system is lacking a lot of lenses. Again a good fast mid-range zoom would be on top of our list. Also the 30mm Macro is not an ideal focal length for macro and close-up work.

NEX-5N + 18-200mm @200mm

NEX-5N + 30mm Macro

NEX-5N + 18-200mm @200mm

More NEX-5N Images

Outlook 2012: The NEX-5N is an integral part of our camera equipment. The Sony NEX-7 will likely be a step forward in handling (except for the swivel EVF). Right now Sony leads the way for APS-C sized sensors.

Fuji Finepix X10

Our own X10

The X10 (read our Field Report) was the second surprise by Fuji in 2011. This camera redefined what a P&S camera can deliver. We personally would prefer an EVF over the built-in OVF, but it still works fine for us.

Fuji Finepix X10

More X10 Images

Outlook 2012: Nice P&S camera. We wait now for the new Fuji mirror-less camera with interchangeable lens. For us the Nikon V1 maybe more used because it reaches so much further into the tele range.

Nikon J1/V1

Our own Nikon V1 System

After all these surprises in 2011 the Nikon 1 J1/V1 are the cameras that surprised us the most. After the announcement the smallish sensor and the slow zooms did not excite most of us. But you have first to test a camera in the real world before you make any final judgment. Here the Nikon J1/V1 are a major surprise to us. We plan to post our initial Field Report soon in early January 2012.

We can say so much: We like to shoot with the V1 a lot, although we have a growing list of shortcomings.

Nikon J1 + 30-110mm zoom


Nikon V1 + 30-110mm zoom

Nikon V1 + 30-110mm zoom

More Nikon J1/V1 Images

Outlook 2012: We believe the Nikon 1 system has a bright future. As it turns out this system seems to be a really clever move by Nikon.

One more: iPhone 4S

We also use the iPhones 4 + 4S quite a bit. The iPhone is of course no match to any of the cameras in our list but it can produce images we like.

iPhone 4S and Texture Blending

iPhone 4S with 6x6 app

iPhone 4S with Hipstamatic

More iPhone 4S Images

Outlook 2012: Photography with phones (mainly iPhones) is a mass movement and good artists show great results. In the end the image matters and not the camera. We plan to post more about (i)Phone photography in 2012. For this we have a new web site If you want to contribute let us know.



2011 was a year with many positive surprises outside the Canon/Nikon camp. But then Nikon may have have started a great development with their Nikon 1 system. We are certain this development will not stop in 2012.

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