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Camera Buyer's Guide

Lesson 15 of 16

Camera Choices

John Greengo

Camera Buyer's Guide

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

15. Camera Choices

Lesson Info

Camera Choices

Alright, let's talk about narrowing in on the choice, and I think really the first thing that you need to do when you're trying to make a choice in these modern interchangeable lenses, is to figure out what camp do you want to be in? And right now, there are four camps. You can go full frame, or you can go crop frame. You can go mirrorless, or you can go DSLR. And these are different camps, because they're whole different ecosystems of lenses and accessories that you can use. Now yes, in some cases, they are related from top to bottom, and from side to side that you can use adapters, but you'd like to use the native lenses if you can. So, in the DSLR cropped frame category, Nikon and Canon rule the world down there. They have the most number of options. Pentax and Sony are making equipment. Pentax, very dedicated, small company. Has a couple of good products there. Sony seems to have theirs on life support right now. When it comes to full frame DSLRs, Canon and Nikon are once again rul...

ing the kingdom here. And so if you wanna get one of these, you're new to the system, I would heavily concentrate on Nikon and Canon. Now it gets a little bit more tricky when it gets over to mirrorless, because there's more people who've got their fingers in the pie, you might say. In the crop frame market, I like Fuji. Sony's got some really good stuff. Olympus and Panasonic have been specialing on that four thirds sensor, and Canon has been dabbling in the crop frame mirrorless market for a few years now, but it's been kind of on the lower end consumer side, not to the enthusiast and professional side. The area that the battle is becoming more and more interesting is in full frame mirrorless, and this is gonna change quite a bit, but the day that we recorded this class, right now, Sony is ruling the mirrorless full frame market. Leica has a nice couple of, actually several different products in different ways out there. Canon and Nikon have just entered the market. Their cameras are decent, kind of middle of the road cameras, that have a few lenses available, with more certainly on the way, and so their prominence in this category is gonna grow very quickly. Panasonic has also announced that they're gonna have a couple of cameras in a short period of time in here, and I imagine for those who like to shoot video, as well as people who just like the Panasonic products, they're gonna enjoy those products there. So this full frame mirrorless group is gonna get very crowded. In the crop frame mirrorless, I like Fuji, and I'm gonna talk more about that when I get to Fuji in particular. One of the biggest dilemmas, when you're getting into this market, is figuring out which sensor you wanna get in. Do you wanna get into a full frame sensor, or a crop frame sensor? And everyone who has a crop frame sensor is already been thinking about this as to whether they wanna go full frame or not. And so there's a lot of benefits that we talked about back in the sensor section, about full crop frame sensors, and so just reiterating some of those points here. If you want to be a professional, and you say I wanna get my gear right now, to fit it out for professional needs, this is what most professionals are doing. Not all. There's a lot of professionals who are making do ... Not making do, but doing just fine with the smaller crop frame sensors. So the crop frame sensors are definitely gonna get you some very good quality equipment at less price, and what it really comes down to, if you're gonna spend less than $5,000, and yes, I know, that's a lot of money for a camera, and a camera system, but if you're gonna spend less than $5,000, you're probably better off in the crop frame world, because $5,000 in full frame will get you a camera, and a lens, maybe a second lens, and you are done. And you can just barely fit within there. But you can definitely fit in the crop frame market for far less than 5,000. You can start off at $400 for a body and two lenses in some cases. And so, $1,000 or $2,000 gets you a very high performance machine, when it comes to the crop frame sensor. And so it depends on your agenda. How much money do you have? What do you want to accomplish? So, there are a lot of different brands out there, and these brands do not come and go very quickly. There was quite a bit of changeover in the switch from film to digital, but over the last several years, there hasn't been any new major players. None of the major players have gone away. This is a very steady state market, you might say, as far as the positions that these companies have. And so, when you think about what company do you wanna go with, you wanna be thinking about what cameras do they offer? How many different lenses do they have, and what sort of lenses might address the type of needs that you have? What sort of accessories are available? What about support? Some people find repair really important, because they're hard on their cameras, and they need to have their cameras in operational shape, and they need them fixed very quickly, and there are some companies that have pro support dealership much more readily available than others. How much availability? Do you have a camera store in your town that sells the brand that you're gonna be working with? And how much growth can we expect from that particular company or brand? For instance, I said that Nikon and Canon have mirrorless cameras, and one of the things I've been honest with, is they don't have many lenses, the day that we recorded this class, but I know one, two, three, four years down the road, these numbers are gonna go up by a lot very quickly, because this is a system that they really want to be behind. And so what is the overall growth and trajectory of that particular company, and that system that you're getting into? Alright, let's start with Canon. Arguably the most common of the brands out there. They make full frame. They make crop frame DSLRs, and they maybe have too many models on the market, as far I'm concerned. When it comes down to the low-end crop frame models, there's a lot of different options out there, and there's very subtle, small differences, where you get a few more features, a few more buttons and dials on them as you go along the way. This is probably one of the safest places for people to be in photography. It's not one of the most exciting. It's gonna get you ridiculed in the forums, because, you know, when you're number one, everybody likes to take potshots at you, and Canon is number one in the number of users out on the market. So they know mirrorless is coming around, so they were experimenting with mirrorless, with their crop frame. And they've just introduced their full frame. Their crop frame mirrorless is, it's not all there, you might say. They don't have intermediate and higher-end pieces, whether it's cameras or lenses, for people to go forward. Over on the DSLR side, you can get something like a 77D, or an 80D, and you can kind of graduate, and move up to the full frame, keeping some of the same lenses. And you can't do that with the mirrorless system, because they have a different mirrorless set of lenses for the crop frame and the full frame. And so, the EOS R, despite the fact that it has essentially got dumped on by a lot of the review sites out there, I think it's been very unfair. And so I'm gonna call out, I'm not gonna mention their name, but there's a famous place that does reviews on cameras, and I was reading the review on this camera, because I wanted to see what they had to say, and they made a complaint on the camera, and we're going back to the reviewers now, and they complained that you can reprogram some buttons to do different features, like you can reprogram a button to become a menu button, but you can't reprogram the menu button to become something else. And I go, well, I guess maybe somebody might wanna reprogram the menu button to do something, so that seems like a real legitimate complaint, but then I thought, to all those 62 different classes that I've done, and all those cameras, and I can't think of a single camera on the market that you can reprogram the menu button, so why are you criticizing this one camera, when nobody else does it? So, I think it's gotten a bad wrap. It seems to be a pretty nice camera. It's got a few little things that's maybe not perfect for everything on, but it's a good entry into the mirrorless world for Canon, and so it'll be interesting to see where they go with that. So this is a very safe place to be in almost any of their little worlds. So you're part of the largest photographic system in the world, as far as the number of lenses, and bodies, and dealerships, and retail establishments, and all of that. They have a time-tested, proven DSLR system. The professional sports photographers. Look on the sidelines of the next Olympics, and you're gonna see a bunch of white lenses, and the majority of those are Canon users. So, anybody who's focusing on a lot of sports and actions, would be wise to look at the DSLR options with Canon. They have a great cinema line of lenses, so they are pretty strong when it comes to video as well, because having good lenses important component when shooting video in the camera. And their mirrorless system, their one camera that they have out right now, adapts pretty well to using their DSLR lenses, and so for those of you that are currently in the DSLR Canon system, and you're thinking about moving over to the mirrorless system, I don't know that I would fully endorse getting rid of your SLR body, and getting a mirrorless camera. I think it could work for some people, but it's something where you might wanna have two bodies for a while, so that you could use each one where they might be best. I think as the mirrorless bodies develop more, then you could completely ditch the DSLRs. Alright, Nikon is Canon's nemesis, close competitor. Nearly as large, nearly as popular. Another very safe place to go, when it comes to the world of DSLRs. They have really honed in, and made cameras that really work very well for photographers, and so you'll find photographers who are very dedicated to the Nikon system. I've owned them for years, and I've loved them. They seem to really adhere to photographers. Nikon's a smaller company than Canon, and Canon makes their own sensors, which is kind of unusual. They make their own cameras and their own sensors. Nikon uses Sony sensors, a variety of other sensors, not that that's a bad thing. Sony makes great sensors, and in some cases, in many cases they're better than Canon sensors, so that's not problem. But they seem to be smaller, and they're very dedicated to their users. So when it comes to the mirrorless category, they introduced two cameras at different resolutions, which is nice. They did have a cropped frame mirrorless system that they recently discontinued, that was I think their experimentation into mirrorless, and I think we're gonna be seeing a lot of switchover, a pivot, from SLRs to mirrorless here, because they've already put out a roadmap of the next 20 lenses that they will be producing for the mirrorless camera system. And I thought when I saw that list, and I saw that long list of all these lenses coming up, I go, well this is great. Anybody who wants to get into Nikon mirrorless, Nikon has staked a claim that says, this is what we are going to do. But I also feel a little sorry for everybody who owns DSLRs with Nikon, because those 20 lenses means that the lens designing department is gonna have their hands full with mirrorless, and we're probably not gonna see many DSLR cameras, and many more DSLR lenses coming forth, both with Canon and Nikon, as this pivot to mirrorless comes forward, and so, we do have the future in the Z6 and Z7, which look to be pretty solid starting points for their entry into the mirrorless world. So, we have another huge collection of cameras and all sorts of accessories. They've been around for a while, so their systems are very, very fine-tuned. Very quick in focusing, so they're very good for action as well. You have that great SLR viewfinder in there as well. And their new Z system does adapt quite well to their lenses, their previous version autofocus lenses. Now I do have to just quickly point out that if you have some of the much older Nikon lenses, they will not autofocus on this new Z system, so you can go to Nikon's website, and get more information about which lenses will work, and which ones won't work. In general, the lenses over the last 10 years will work. Once you go older than that, then you need to really check to see which model lens you have, to see if it'll work on their new mirrorless system. The relatively new big player in the photography world is Sony. And so they bought the remains of Minolta, and Minolta-Konica when they went out of business many years ago. And they have completely transformed it into something completely different than it was. And they are coming in with a lot of technology. Sony's a huge company, as you all know. They have a very strong presence in video, so they, and they make sensors themselves, and so they've got all the right potential. And so, they have been going straight for this mirrorless very, very hard. And so they've come out with a very nice line of crop frame Sonys, and my complaint is that they've not been spreading the love recently. They've been sending all of their good stuff to full frame. They're going after Nikon and Canon full frame cameras, and right now, they have the best collection of full frame mirrorless cameras. They have cameras that are affordable, cameras that are good at video, cameras that are good at high resolution, cameras that are good at sports. All sorts of specialties. When it comes to the crop frame, they do make some very capable cameras, but they're not supplying them with dedicated lenses. They're telling them, eh, just by the lenses dedicated for the full frame users, which tend to be a little bit bigger and heavier than they need to be. Now they technically are making DSLR style cameras, which they call SLTs, which is a whole Sony thing. We're not gonna get into it right now, but this is on life support. They've kept a few models out there. They've updated them every three or four years. And I would not expect any new introductions in the SLT system. Now, for all of you that are just ready to write me a letter, and if you're gonna write me a letter, I want a real letter, handwritten, mailed to my home. Nothing on the internet here. The SLT's are actually really nice cameras. It's just that they're part of a dying community, you might say. It's like a small town, where the main businesses have left town. It's a nice place, but without the support system of lenses and other cameras to choose from, it's kind of a hard place to be. And so we're gonna see more action with mirrorless, and less with DSLR's, or their SLT system from Sony. And so they are bringing out new lenses like crazy, for their full frame system. So if you're a professional photographer, or wanting to get very serious, they've got lots of choices, and more on the way. Their full frame is definitely focused on the mid to higher end. And the entry level user would probably be better off looking at their crop frame system. They have fantastic sensors that they use, and they also sell to other manufacturers like Nikon, which use ... Then they redesign the processors, and they get them to work for their own cameras in their own way. But they make really good sensors. As I say, their APS-C is focused on the mid to lower end, and their DSLT system is on life support, so I do not recommend anybody new into the industry to go into that system, because it's got a limited future in my opinion. Kind of a personal favorite here is the Fujifilm system. Now, what I like about them is that they have made cameras for a long period of time, and they've kind of changed with the tides, and so, back in the days of SLRs and film, they just didn't go into that. They were in medium format cameras, and doing some other things special. When it came back into digital, they decided to do a particular style camera, and they designed a camera that was a little bit retro style. They had shutter speed dials on them, and a lot of physical dials and levers on them, that a lot of traditional photographers liked, or people who just liked a tactile control. But what I like about them is that they've decided, we are gonna own the 1.5 crop, or the APS-C crop frame market. This equipment is not shared with any other size sensor, and with Nikon, Canon, and Sony, they make crop frame cameras, but they also say, well, just buy are full frame lenses, they're fine. Here they've come up with a full line of dedicated lenses, and so they are really faithful, and they are bringing out more stuff in this category than anyone else, which I think is probably the right place for many consumers to be. I think full frame is overkill for the average consumer. Now, I will mention that Fuji does make medium format, which is a professional level camera. It uses a larger size sensor. We're not gonna really get into these, but if you wanna go beyond full frame, yes, there are cameras, and they offer some very nice cameras at relatively reasonable prices, that are distinctly different than their crop frame. And so, what I like about Fuji is they are fully dedicated to having a full range of lenses, truly dedicated for that size sensor. They are definitely focused on the mid to higher end user. And so they have some options, but not a ton of options for the low price, entry level user, but there are a few to get you in. I love the traditional control system. A lot of people like it. It's very distinct and unique. And they have the fastest growing system, of anything, of anybody out there in this sensor size, as well as medium format. They're bringing out a lot of lenses for their medium format system as well. And there is a growing collection of pro glass. Now I have mentioned that most of the pros go for full frame, but you know what? Not all pros need full frame, and a lot of them who have wanted to lighten the load, or they just like the way the Fujifilm cameras work, have been going to this system. If you don't shoot in extremely low light, Fuji's can work for you in many cases. And so, I know, right now I've got a book that I'm writing, and one of the cover shots that I'm potentially going to be using on the book, is a Fujifilm image, and so it is capable of professional needs for sure. Leica. Now Leica is definitely a different company, and the fact that it is in Europe as opposed to Japan, is definitely part of it. It's just a different way of thinking. They have a long history in photography. In fact, you could say that they invented the 35 millimeter format, the full frame format that we still use today. They make these traditional rangefinder cameras, which is a whole subject we don't have time for, but they are mirrorless cameras. They have a separate way of rangefinder focusing if you want. They use full frame sensors, and there's and interesting collection with them. But they have also been playing around in the mirrorless world. They have a crop frame. They have a full frame. And they have medium format as well. And so, while they may have a long history in photography, they are reaching into the future with their mirrorless system as well. Now these products tend to be more money, and I say that very lightly. They tend to be a lot more money. Are they that much better? I don't know in image quality, and performance out of the camera, I don't know that they're that much better, but they do offer a unique style of shooting. They do offer a very high quality product that is distinctly different, and it's a different user experience, and there are many people who appreciate that difference, and like it, and it's worth it to them. And so, it is a unique thing. It's not for everybody. So they are premium products. These are all very top of the line products. It is a somewhat limited system, as far as you get into these systems, because there's not a huge range of lenses, but there's good enough for most people. They tend to be very compact and well built, and so there's a very tight construction standard here. They have their L-mount, which is their full frame and crop frame mirrorless cameras, have now partnered with Panasonic and Sigma. So both Panasonic and Sigma are gonna make either lenses and/or cameras that are fully compatible with these Leica full frame and crop frame cameras, which could potentially be a big issue down the road, because they're gonna probably put a real competition to Sony, and Canon, and Nikon in this, but right now, it's brand new, so we will see where it goes. And of course as I mentioned, Leica does come at a premium price for those premium products. Next up is Pentax, which is owned by Ricoh, and so they're officially Ricoh cameras, but because Pentax has such a long tradition in photography, they keep that name alive by calling all their single lens reflex cameras Pentax cameras. So they have not reached into the mirrorless world yet. They are still in the DSLRs. They have some very good cameras. They're very capable. And because they're a smaller, very photographic, dedicated company, they focus very hard on their products, because they know they don't have the marketing department that Canon, and Nikon, and Sony has, and so they've tried to put a little bit more into their cameras. And so if you were to compare these cameras versus other ones at comparable prices, you might find that Pentax offers more for the dollar value than other cameras out there. The problem is, it's a limited system. They don't have as many cameras, they don't have as many lenses, and so the growth potential for you, and the options you have are less here than other places. They do also have a lot of weatherized cameras, so if you are out in the weather a lot, you may wanna look at some of their options, because they have more options than other people. Most of their products have been dedicated around the APS-C crop frame sensors. It's limited selection for pros, as far as full frame. They just have one current model out on the market. And dedicated lenses that the pros would wanna use, that's a little bit limited in that case, and so, if you have Pentax, they're gonna be around for a while, as far as I can see, but I don't know that I would recommend new users going into that. I think there may be some better options out there. Olympus is another company that has reinvented itself, when digital came around. They partnered with Panasonic, in what's called the four thirds consortium, and so they made cameras built around this four thirds sensor. The beauty with the Olympus cameras, is that once again, this is a company this is dedicated to a format. All of their lenses, all of their cameras, work together. There's a lot of cameras and there's a lot of lenses, and the big benefit is that Panasonic makes lenses and cameras that you can intermix with Olympus, and everything works. Asterisk mark. There are a few proprietary features on either camera that may not work with the opposite lenses. It's a pretty rare case, and generally, you can stick a Panasonic lens on an Olympus, and most everything is going to work. So, they have a long tradition of making small cameras, so if anybody can make a small camera good, it is Olympus, in my mind. They do have a very high importance on compact size, so anybody who just has limited space to carry camera gear would be wise to look at Olympus. They've partnered with Panasonic, which has brought them to have a much larger ecosystem of lenses and accessories that you can use. And they are continuing to bring out very high-end lenses. Some very, very high quality lenses. And, there are professional photographers who are shooting with Olympus and Panasonic on this smaller lens mount, because it works for them, and the image quality is still, on the smaller sensor, still very, very, very good quality. Panasonic calls their cameras Lumix cameras, and they have a wide collection of cameras that cover a wide different types of categories here. They have some very compact travel cameras. They have some larger cameras that are more dedicated to video. Panasonic also makes video cameras, and they are very strong in video. And so, some companies have a long tradition in video, some companies are just getting into video, and it's interesting to see how they are working all this technology in, and so we found a lot people interested in video, shooting with these Panasonic cameras. They recently just introduced that they are going to be introducing, product development is what they called it, a couple of new cameras. One is a high resolution model, and then the other S1, many people are suspecting is gonna be highly dedicated to shooting video, and likely to shoot 4K, 60 frames a second, or higher in its capability. So we'll see what that's like, and they're gonna be sharing that lens mount with Leica, so there's gonna be some already built-in lenses, and some system to grow into. So when it comes to Panasonic, I think of them, I think of really good video, and a lot of cutting edge features that you may not find on other cameras. They partnered with Olympus, which gives them a large micro four thirds system. They've also have wanted to make cameras very small as well, and so they're another good company for small choices. And then, as I say, the L-Mount will be with Leica, and Sigma, and that is something that we're gonna look forward to. Where does this grow? How big is this ecosystem gonna get, because it could get real big, and could be a great place to go.

Class Description

Our Camera Buyer's guide will be your guide to figuring out the best digital camera for your needs.

Gear expert John Greengo dives into the major brands and lenses that are currently on the market.

John breaks down some of the more confusing aspects of mirrorless and DSLR's from focusing systems to sensor size; you'll get a better understanding of what the gear does so you can make an informed decision.

At the end of the class, John gives his recommendations for different types of photographers from the aspiring student to the filmmaker and everyone in between. If you're looking to purchase a camera or gift one to a budding photographer in your life- this free course will be your guide in making the best purchase.

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Denise Watson

Another outstanding class by John Greengo, my favorite Creative Live instructor. John's delivery is entertaining and his info clear and very easy to understand. If you need more explanation, well, don't worry - he's got a slide or PDF for that! I'm a working photographer and I learn something new with each of John's classes. Don't hesitate to buy any of his classes - you won't regret it.

David Reichel

Yes - there is such a thing as a free lunch - this class is it! I enjoy landscape, seascape, architecture, portrait and travel photography. I've been a Canon user for decades (film and then digital full frame with the 5D Mark II then 5D Mark IV). Recently I got a Fujifilm mirrorless medium format GFX 50R and discovered some Fujifilm features (e.g., film simulation, menu system) that resonate with me. I now have over-kill on full frame format and because I like the Fujifilm so much, I've been thinking about moving from my Canon 5D Mark IV to a Fujifilm X-T3 as my walk-around camera. This class helped me better understand the trade-offs and alleviated my concerns about a crop format sensor in the X-T3. On top of that, this is a great refresher course on camera fundamentals.

Sherry Throughmyeyes Prater

There a thousands of reviews/guides/ floating around the internet, but this one is by far the best by far. I usually watch a portion and then move on because I simply lose interest, but I watched every single lesson. John gives a very unbiased explanation of cameras, functions for every type of shooter. Not only would I recommend it, but I am going to recommend. I am a member of multiple photography groups on FB and one of the most asked questions is camera buying advice. This is excellent!