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.
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.
More X100 Images
Outlook for 2012: We will follow Fuji in 2012 closely.
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).
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.
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.
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 PhoneArtistry.com. 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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