It was the bi-annual Precision Camera Expo yesterday and today, where all the major manufactures displayed their wares, complete with company representatives. It’s a fun time to see friends, both from the camera companies as well as the local photography enthusiasts that I know. I even had the honor of meeting and talking to two dedicated blog readers, Michael and Victor. A big thanks to them for giving me feedback.
Canon had a big presence. Cameras, yes, but more impressively they had a glass enclosed walk-in trailer featuring their high-end imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 and PRO-2000. They made giant prints for customers, showcasing their latest professional printers. I got myself two free 16 x 24″ landscape prints from the larger PRO-2000 printer. With its 12 inks and giant roles of paper, it’s an impressive upgrade from my prosumer PRO-100 13 x 19″ printer.
Also on my radar was my first look at the EOS M5, the first serious mirrorless offering from Canon. It’s similar to the the non-mirror EOS 80D DSLR, sort of. Not quite as quick as the DSLR but it has many of the same features. The M5 is remarkably compact. Ironically, smaller than the newest Olympus OM-D cameras but with a larger APS-C sensor. The controls are good but slightly cramped. Build quality is solid, but not enticing. It doesn’t have the jewel like sparkle or desire of the PEN-F, at least for me, but it focuses decently and is non-objectionable.
It took many years but Canon finally made a competent mirrorless. But the competition, Sony, Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic keep upping their game. What would have been a true contender, a couple of years ago, is mere just adequate now. My biggest gripe, the relatively loud and slightly grating shutter sound. It sounds somewhat like a Sony, but perhaps even a little louder. It lacks the refinement of the Olympus, Panasonic and Fuji offerings.
No mirrorless from Nikon. Looks like they aren’t even trying anymore, with their Nikon 1 series. Pentax also had nothing to show in the mirrorless department. Their fun Q line is probably dead, at least in the U.S. The K-1 DSLR was interesting. And if I were serious about landscapes, that might be the camera that I get. Same Sony sensor as the Nikon D810, but with more landscape oriented features, at a lower price.
Of all the vendors, Sony now has the widest product range — with the outstanding, high-end RX100 point and shoots, to their APS-C Alpha 6xxx series to their full frame A7 series. They even had the new A99 Mark II DSLR, complete with an EVF. I know the A7 series get’s a lot of press. And while I’m generally a mirrorless guy, I actually found the A99 more compelling. While excellent cameras, for some reason, I really don’t like the feel of the Alpha 6xxx and A7 mirrorless cameras. The A99 II, however, with a robust grip, really feels nice. It’s super fast and oozes a feeling of confidence.
No plans, at this time, of getting another DSLR, either from Sony or Pentax.
Olympus had several OM-D E-M1 Mark IIs on display. The decent grip, slightly redesigned, makes it comfortable to attach the recently introduced, heftier Pro Olympus lenses, like the 12-100 f4.
The reality is that all the cameras are good and they all excel in their own way. Each company has seemingly carved a niche and they have their own unique but consistent flavor. I think it’s the design, quality and feel of the cameras that are the most important. These are less tangible qualities than mere technical specs. Opinions and review are considerations but it’s critical that you handle them, in hand, to find your match.
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