"What is the best camera to buy"?

September 04, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

“What’s the best camera to buy”?

The question I am always asked is “what’s the best camera to buy”.

Well I have given out lots of advice on the camera I think people should buy, so I thought that I would write a blog post on the subject.  There are two questions I always start with,  "what do you want to use the camera for and what is your budget."  

If you want to know straight away.

This is by no means a final list, you will have to do your own research, these will start you off in the right place.


  • Sony NEX 3n for $390 with a 16-50 mm lens great value.
  • The NEX 5r can be seen for $430, which is basically the same camera as the 5T. Unbelievable price.


  • The Sony NEX 5T, $700 released last week, WIFI, NFC. 16-50 mm lens great value.
  • Sony RX100 $600 or RX100 mk2 $750, expensive but great little cameras.
  • Fuji XE-1 about $700
  • Fuji E-A1 just released $600


  • NEX 6, with a 16-50 mm lens $850 twin lens kit $1100
  • Olympus EP-5 just launched, $1000
  • Samsung NX300 which is a nice looking camera and the images seem great. APS-c sensor with a lens $750 twin lens kit about $1000.


  • Fuji X100s, I think it is about $1400
  • Panasonic GX-7 just released around $1100
  • Olympus OMD EM5 and the upgrade EM1 over $1500
  • Canon 70D approx. $1200-$1500 plus lenses.
  • Canon 6D $2100 plus lenses.
  • Sony RX1 - full frame fixed lens $2700, compact size.

1. Back ground

This is a question that has many answers, depending on the person you are talking to.  I spend time researching, reading review websites, rumour sites, You Tube, etc. because I like to keep up with technology, so I can offer my clients the latest imaging technology. I have also been a professional photographer for 19 years.  I recently bought a new DSLR.   It’s new capabilities came in handy almost straight away.   My clients wanted to send an image to the newspapers straight way – the camera is Wi-Fi enabled so I was able to connect to my iphone from the camera and email the selected image off straight away. This camera also allows the client to view the images as I shoot the job.   The client can rate the images as they pop up on my iPhone or we can view the images together and discuss the shoot, rather than taking the camera off the tripod and looking at the back of the camera.

I must mention that all the cameras listed in this blog post shoot HD movies, some do it better than others.  The Panasonic GH3 is noted for is movies making abilities. Around 2008 Canon bought ou tthe 5D Mk2 with a full framed Canon sensor, this 5D2 was able to shoot HD movies, that camera revolutionised the industry, motion pictures and TV series were being made with the Canon 5D mk2.  I just traded that camera in for its successor. 


open_house-013 Image taken with the Sony RX100

2. The mirrorless revolution

The average DSLR out there has an aps-c size sensor, basically half the size of a Full Frame sensor, I see no reason for any amateur to buy a DSLR anymore as there are smaller, cheaper cameras out there with the same sensor sizes. These are called mirrorless cameras.  Rather than viewing the images though the lens, mirrorless cameras have an evf (electronic view finder) which mean that you look at the image electronically.  Basically, the same as when you look at the images on the back of the camera. 

Professionals are now using these cameras for certain jobs, specially travel, and event photographers even wedding photographers.  The main advantage is that they are smaller and lighter than DSLRs. Mirrorless cameras that Pros use are: Fuji Xpro1, Sony NEX 7, Olympus OMD EM5, and Panasonic GH3.  These cameras are priced at about $1000 to $1500 for the body plus lenses.

I didn’t buy a mirrorless camera as they don’t come with Full Frame sensors (Well there is one but its not for shooting a Professional job, its a fixed lens).  My Canon has a Full Frame sensor which gives me better resolution (detail) with less noise.  I am able to shoot in low light with less grain (digital noise) on the image, the images can be enlarged and cropped. I work for quite a few graphic designers, they like to crop images to fit their design layouts, a Full frame sensor delivers to them fantastic image quality, they they are then able to enlarge an images to billboard size or crop the images without lose of detail.  

I am looking to buy a second camera system that sits along side my Pro Canon gear. That system will be a mirrorless system, I will use it for travel, art and out door events where I need to carry the cameras around all day.

3. Happy snap camera

If you only want a “happy snap” and the images are never going to appear anywhere apart from looking at them on your phone or computer, then buy a phone with a good camera, my iPhone 5 is brilliant I can print from the images up to 5x7” and put them in a photo-book, and email them.  Which is why small camera sales have plummeted in recent years.  I even made a movie on my iPhone 5.


If you have to buy a happy snap camera, then they are all the same; the best is probably the Canon S110 or S100.


open_house-061 Image taken with the Sony RX100 

I’ll do this by sensor size.

4. 1-inch sensor

First of all there is the 1-inch sensor, Nikon V1, and the Sony RX100 and RX100 mk2.  I wouldn’t by the Nikon system, as there are better options for the same price with larger sensors.  I have the Sony RX100 and it is a fantastic little camera, this is the happy snap camera that the pros buy. A small camera, largish sensor, Zeiss lens, HD movies, I’ve had it for a year and I love it.  I have recommended it to others and they love it.  Only problem is that its not cheap, the RX100 is about $530 the RX100 mk2, just released is $750. Only difference is a hot shoe and the back screen is movable.



open_house-002 Image taken with the Sony RX100


5. Micro 4/3 cameras

Then there are the Micro 4/3 cameras; these are mainly Olympus and Panasonic.  They developed this system together.  And it is a big segment of the mirrorless market.  The Olympus OMD EM5 and the upgrade EM1, which is about to be launched, are pro quality cameras, also the GH3 from Panasonic, the GH3 is supposed to be the 4/3 camera for movie making. These cameras are about $1000- $1500 body only lenses range from $250 - $900.  Although, I still think that the sensor is too small.approx. half that of a APS-C sensor.


They also have the Olympus EP-5 just launched, $1000


Panasonic GH3, about $1100 - $1300


Panasonic GX-7 just released around $1100


open_house-053 Image taken with the Sony RX100


This are the sensor I would recommend.

6. APS-C sensors

Most DSLRs sold tody are APS-c sized sensors (or crop sensors), but you can get the same sized sensor in a mirrorless camera, which is half the size, half the weight, of a DSLR. Sony makes the sensors for Nikon and other camera brands so DSLR sensors are no better quality than the mirrorless sensors. The DSLR lenses are no better than the mirrorless lenses in this category. Once we head up to the pro DSLRs that is a different story. So why would you buy a DSLR?  The only thing that used to set them apart was the Phase detection focusing system, although now the mirrorless systems have that as well.

Sony and Fuji, in my opinion, are the ones to buy but Samsung also seems to be making a great product.  The Fuji has great image quality, they have a new sensor called the X-trans and its supposed to be great quality, lots of pros love the Xpro1, Fuji also makes the less expensive XE-1 about $700, and now the E_M1 $600



http://www.stevehuffphoto.com is a great reviewer and tells it like it is.





And Fuji make the much acclaimed fixed lens X100s, I think it is about $1400.

Samsung have a NX300 which is a nice looking camera and the images seem great. APS-c sensor with a lens $750 twin lens kit about $1000.


open_house-030 Image taken with the Sony RX100

7. These are the cameras I would recommend

The Sony NEX 5T, $700 released last week, WIFI, NFC. 16-50 mm lens great value.

Sony NEX 3n for $390 with a 16-50 mm lens great value.

Sony seems to be the all rounder in this area of the camera market.  And they are innovating constantly, all their NEX E-mount cameras are APS-C size sensors, the cameras are tough made of aluminium, which goes for the RX100 as well. Great image quality, great movie quality, the word around the rumour sites are that they are about to bring out a Full Frame NEX camera, that will shake the camera industry up let me tell you.  They already have the smallest Full Frame mirrorless camera the RX1, but it is very pricey at about $2700, it is the big brother to the RX100. It has had rave reviews.

Sony have 4 cameras in the NEX series, the NEX 3n, 5T, 6 and 7 although the NEX-7 is about to be updated and it is not listed on their website?



The NEX 3n is the lowest price and a great little happy snapper that has detachable lenses and an aps-c sensor and fits into a purse or pocket. You can get it for $390 with a 16-50 mm lens great value.


The NEX 5T This is a pro quality camera for $700 including a lens, that’s amazing. I could do a job with this camera in daylight and no one would no the difference, it is amazing quality.  It has Wi-Fi and NFC (where you transfer images to your phone just by touching them). Phase detection and contrast detection focusing.



The NEX 5r can be seen for $430, which is basically the same camera. Unbelievable price.

And then there is the NEX 6, with a 16-50 mm lens $850 twin lens kit $1100 pretty much the same camera as the 5R but it has an EVF electronic viewfinder.


8. The system I will buy into, most likely, is the Sony NEX series.

The NEX 7 has a mic input, APS_C sensor 24 MP, EVF, this is a pro grade camera, but as I said Sony are about to launch the successor to this camera, which is the one I will probably buy. 

So as you can see there are great quality cameras for around $400 up to $2000.  This is a basic rundown of some of the latest cameras. Mirrorless is the system of the moment, Nikon have the V1 and Canon have the EOS M but the Canon has had terrible reviews, slow focus, etc. and the Nikon isn't selling well, small sensor for that system.  Canon and Nikon are holding onto the DSLR system, and why not, DSLRs are the largest selling market segment, but the word from commentators is that the future is mirrorless?  Who knows?  Apparently Canon is about to release two new EOS M mirrorless cameras, a low cost and a more pro grade camera?

This blog is only my opinion; feel free to ask me any questions you may have. The information is a guide; I have included lots of links so you can do your own research. Prices are also a guide I basically, put in the camera model and best price into the search engine and got an approximate price, you will have to hunt around for your own prices. I will add to the post as I receive more info. So feel free to drop back and view.

I have no link to any camera manufacturer, I wish, a free camera would be great.

Feel free to pass on the post, if you think it is worth someone else reading it.

All the best Mark

open_house-048 Image taken with the Sony RX100







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